Look to Add Shane Bieber

If you were just to look at Shane Bieber’s ratios, 4.58 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP, the thought of actively targeting him in American League only fantasy baseball leagues might seem somewhat underwhelming. Looking at the last 31-days (5 starts), a painful 6.41 ERA likely leads many to recoil even further in the thought process of acquiring Bieber.

The underlying skills that Bieber has displayed this season have been drastically better than the end result.

A strong first-pitch strike percentage and swinging strike rate give credence to Bieber’s walk and strikeout percentages. An unfortunate hit rate and strand rate have been the primary culprits behind Bieber’s poor results despite solid underlying metrics.

The skills being displayed by Bieber are not that different from the skills shown during his minor league career. When attempting to acquire a underpriced asset, targeting a pitcher with a history of displaying the low-walk, ground ball skill set is a great place to begin.

Bieber is a target not only for this year but also makes for a great 2019 and beyond keeper play.

Dave Morris Jr

On Devon Travis

Devon Travis is the type of fantasy baseball asset that at least one owner in every fantasy baseball league will want a piece of… Just in case, right?

Travis has shown average skills, which isn’t to take anything away from his skill set, while on the field. Unfortunately, Travis has been hurt far too often to establish a reliable production baseline.

When Brandon Drury was traded to the Toronto Blue Jays it appeared Travis could get squeezed for some playing time. Travis did his best to hold onto his playing time by hitting .297/.338/.500 over 64 at-bats. The underlying skills for Travis’ hot month are right at league average levels. Also in Travis’ favor is an unfortunate DL trip for Drury, which is expected to keep him out for a month.

A player like Travis, often injured and with average skills, is a necessary evil in American League only formats. When active and playing well Travis is the type of mid-tier performer that contending rosters scoop late or via FAAB. The coin flips the other way however when Travis is targeted and a premium is paid for his best case season, following a productive year such as the one we’re witnessing now.

If you find yourself contending with Travis on the roster, now is the time to consider your options. If your chips are all in, hang onto Travis and worry about next year then. If you’re simply hoping to cash and even that could be a stretch, look to sell Travis on his hot month.

Dave Morris Jr

Current & Future Valuation: Yoan Moncada

Heading into the 2018 fantasy baseball season, I had a decision to make regarding Yoan Moncada. At an affordable price heading into his option year, I could either keep Moncada for a single year at the then fair price or extend him a year or two with an escalating salary.

Entering the season at 23-years-old and with top prospect pedigree, I knew that I wanted to give Moncada another try despite his so-so performance over 231 plate appearances in 2017. A high walk rate, coupled with well below average contact made for a player who could either tread water in the batting average category or completely crater. Moncada’s batting average was a painful .231 in 2017, without much support in the underlying metrics to predict a high likelihood rebound. It was clear however that Moncada’s power/speed profile that propelled him into the upper ranks of prospect leaderboards was still intact at the big league level.

This season Moncada’s skills have only slightly improved. The contact challenges that continued in 2017 at the big league level are still as poor as ever for Moncada. Moncada has added some loft to his swing this season, which has resulted in a five percent increase in fly ball rate. Moncada’s speed has also remained intact with 11 stolen bases to his credit with only 3 caught stealing. Moncada’s current deficiencies continue to manifest themselves in the ratio categories. Both Moncada’s batting average (.226) and on-base percentage (.306) are actively hurting fantasy owners.

Looking at the sum of the parts and in an American League only context, Moncada is a considerably high-value asset in the fantasy baseball marketplace. The batting average and on-base percentage issues documented above certainly removes the tool for valuable consideration on the fantasy-based “5-tool-player” scale. That said, at the moment Moncada ranks top-5 among fangraph second basemen in runs, RBI, home runs & stolen bases.

Moncada is a valuable contributor for the 2018 season. Going forward he has established a high floor for which fantasy owners should bid confidently on. The White Sox lineup should continue to improve in the coming seasons as well. Also, do not rule out the flakiness of batting average in any given season. We’ve detailed Moncada’s relative elite status in the four counting categories, now imagine he has a fluky high batting average year.

It’s a season changer.

Moncada has now played in 163 games and amassed 699 plate appearances. Over this time he’s hit 22 home runs, stolen 14 bases and challenged for 90 runs scored.

Fantasy owners in American League keeper leagues with strong foundation type keepers should highlight Moncada and his high-floor / high-upside profile on their auction day lists. It would also be a good idea to acquire Moncada prior to this year’s trade deadline if the specific categories and team-needs lineup.

This is a player who has established what could be viewed as a somewhat shaky floor as people overrate batting average results, as compared to overall plate approach, that I’d call a high upside play going forward.

For my specific league, I ended up taking Moncada into his option year to preserve auction day capital. I will be attempting to reacquire Moncada at next year’s auction.

Disclosures: I/We own one share of Yoan Moncada in 2018 fantasy baseball leagues.
Dave Morris Jr