Dynasty Dynamics: Paul Goldschmidt, Kelly Johnson, Will Venable and Others
No extended intro this week. All killer, no filler.
I will freely admit that I was slow to join the Goldschmidt party, and I had my reasons. But those reasons are quickly evaporating, leaving me with just awe for a player who has completely worked his tail off to become the player he is today. The reports were pretty widespread when he was an amateur: he was a bad ball hitter, he didn’t have enough bat speed, he struggled against arm-side pitching. There was no shortage of reports telling you what Goldschmidt couldn’t become, but we now have a better idea of what he is. And what he is, is a major league middle of the order force.
One of reasons I was skeptical about Goldy was that he had made a living thus far in the majors destroying LHP, and was below average for a 1B vs right-handers (739 OPS vs starboard-siders in 2012). This year, he’s pulled that OPS versus RHP over 1.000–which is the entire difference in his performance, as versus lefties his performance is nearly identical to last year. On top of that, he continues to run, as he’s on pace for another 14 steals–which is a very underrated boon for his value. As per the most recent Top 500, Goldschmidt is firmly implanted as the #4 dynasty 1B behind the big three (and yes I still say big three even though Pujols has struggled so far this year).
The Rays made a number of low profile, low money signings this off-season and none of them excited fantasy owners too much. Meanwhile, James Loney is second in the American League in batting average and Kelly Johnson is on pace to at least match (and potentially top) his fantastic 2010 season, in which he hit .282 with 26 HR and 13 SB. And the best part? Johnson has, thus far, reduced his strikeout rate from the previous season for the first time since 2009. He’s easily been a top-10 option at second base so far this season, and given his history and the fact that he’s still only 31 years old, there’s reason to believe that he can get back to being the Kelly Johnson we’ve known and loved.
KJ jumped up the Top 500 by nearly 40 spots in this go round, and he can continue to make a similar climb in the next iteration if he just continues to do what he’s doing. The one downside to his performance this year is that he’s been shifted all over the Rays lineup, so he’s unlikely to pile up huge run or RBI numbers. And he should get enough playing time at 2B to keep that eligibility going into 2014 (he’s getting most of his playing time in LF).
So far in 2013, there are seven players who have accumulated at least seven homers and steals. Those names: Carlos Gonzalez, Alex Rios, Mike Trout, Jason Kipnis, Hunter Pence, Jean Segura and Will Venable. Quietly, the 30-year old Padre is putting together a very solid season–as he’s currently a top-30 outfielder according to the ESPN Player Rater. And while Venable is not likely to continue his power surge to this level–his 22.6% HR/FB rate is almost double his career rate, though some of this may be attributable to the fences at PETCO having moved in–he should be worth owning in nearly all leagues while he’s hitting second in the Padres’ lineup. The Princeton grad may not be the type of sexy performer that owners tend to seek out in dynasty formats, but there may not be another player whose actual value to trade value ratio is higher at the moment.
- Just another 3-hit game for Alex Gordon in 2013. Ho hum. The former bust is now hitting .352 with 6 homers, 29 RBI and 30 runs scored this season. He won’t hit at a .350+ clip all year, but Gordon doesn’t have as far to regress as most, given that he’s had BABIPs of .358 and .356 the last two seasons.
- Ike Davis has been nothing short of awful so far this season, as he’s hitting .152 with 4 homers and a 487 OPS through his first 40 games. But for those of you who don’t remember, through 40 games last season, Davis was hitting .161 with 5 homers and a 517 OPS. You can’t have him active right now, but don’t give up on the guy. After all, we’ve seen this before.
- As I’m typing this, the hot report is that Kevin Gausman is getting the call on Thursday to start for the Orioles in Toronto. Dynasty league owners have been excited about him for a while, but his chances of sticking in the rotation are pretty good if he pitches the way he’s capable of. After all, Gausman did have a 49-to-5 K/BB rate in only 46 1/3 Double-A innings. Get psyched.
Follow me on Twitter at @dynastyguru.