Fire and Ice – Recent call-ups
The 2020 MLB season is a mess of short sample sizes and hot takes, so how you interpret and apply them to your fantasy leagues is up to you. This gets particularly difficult when you’re applying a couple of weeks’ worth of data to a player’s long-term outlook. In most cases, drastically increasing or decreasing your valuation of a player is unwarranted, but other times players can show meaningful and sustainable improvements (or regression) of which you should immediately take note. My goal is to illustrate that there is a wide range of current valuations and opinions on a given player’s performance that may or may not impact their dynasty rankings. At the end of the day, it’s up to the fantasy manager on how to interpret all of that data and apply it to your league.
Below are a handful of player valuations, each has a number of different factors affecting my current and dynasty outlooks, using a scale ranging from 🔥 🔥 🔥 as the best outlook to ❄️❄️❄️ as the worst outlook.
All statistics below are as of 9/14/2020
Alec Bohm, Age: 24, Pos: 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
2020 Season: 3 HR, 0 SB, .318/.369/.482
Drafted number three overall in the 2018 draft, the Phillies number one prospect was called up and made his debut on August 13 and quickly showed that he was right where he belonged. Bohm hasn’t needed much time to adjust to big league pitching and in the month of September has hit .356 over 16 games and ranks in the 90th or better percentile in hard hit rate, exit velocity, and xBA. Despite a below average walk rate this season, Bohm is still managing to get on base at a nice clip likely thanks to his .395 BABIP which has also provided a nice boost to his average. He has always had above average contact and strikeout rates, so as a MLB regular I expect him to settle into at least a .280 batting average and if his in-game power can play up he has 30+ home runs potential over a full season. Right now your chances of acquiring Bohm’s services for your roster are probably pretty small but if he’s on your team he needs to be in your lineup every day. Bohm is likely to be a contender for NL Rookie of the Year and is expected to be a mainstay in the middle of the Phillies lineup, and your fantasy team, for the foreseeable future.
Sixto Sanchez, Age: 22, Pos: SP, Miami Marlins
2020 Season: 3 W, 29 K’s, 1.69 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 8.16 K/9
Traded to the Marlins from the Phillies last February in a deal centered around catcher J.T. Realmuto, Sixto Sanchez has quickly become one of the hottest players in the game. He was promoted to Miami on August 22 and over five starts has impressed with his five-pitch arsenal featuring a four-seam fastball that routinely hits triple digits and a changeup which is his go-to strikeout pitch, that scouts are already pegging as elite and getting Pedro Martinez comps. Many young fireballers tend to lack command of their offerings but Sixto has shown an advanced feel for the strike zone, with only a 4% walk rate, one of the main attributes which made him one of baseball’s best starting pitcher prospects. Despite the hot start, there are some signs pointing to future regression, mainly the more than one and a half run differential between his 1.69 ERA and 3.27 FIP and an above league-average strand rate of 93.3%. From a dynasty perspective, one additional thing to consider heading into 2021 will be how the Marlins handle Sixto’s workload. Coming into this year he has never pitched more an 114 innings in a single season and has some past injury history, most notably with his elbow. While that will not slow down the hype moving forward, the added injury risk will always be there when evaluating his long-term outlook, but make no mistake this kid has the upside to be your fantasy ace.
Triston McKenzie, Age: 23, Pos: SP, Cleveland Indians
2020 Season: 2 W, 33 K’s, 3.91 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 11.72 K/9
The Indians called up Triston McKenzie on August 22 amid some turmoil within their starting rotation, headlined by some antics from Mike Clevinger (who was since traded to San Diego) and Zach Plesac (who was demoted to the alternate site for a couple weeks) which left a void that needed to be filled. McKenzie, nicknamed “Sticks” due to his 6’5” 165 lb. physical frame, happily made his major league debut and wasted no time racking up 10 strikeouts over 6 innings and earning his first win and a permanent spot in the rotation. Sticks leans heavily on his fastball, nearly 55% usage, and a steady mix of breaking pitches that he commands decently well as evidenced by his 6% walk rate. But, since his quick start hitters have adjusted to McKenzie and roughed him up over his last two starts, including a three homer performance by the Twins this past Sunday that raised his ERA up a couple runs. The righty flashed some brilliance within his first five starts but still might need some further seasoning before he is ready to blossom as a starter. Most concerning, he lost a tick on his fastball during his three September starts and has seen his whiff rate fall by nearly 10%. Triston’s very bleak injury history, that led to missing substantial time in 2018 and the entire 2019 season, is a significant enough concern to knock him down my dynasty rankings. While he possesses the skills to be a high-end starter, in my opinion the small chance he hits upside isn’t worth the inherent injury risk.
Dean Kremer, Age: 24, Pos: SP, Baltimore Orioles
2020 Season: 1 W, 14 K’s, 1.64 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11.45 K/9
Coming over from the Dodgers along with Yusniel Diaz and others in the Manny Machado trade from 2018, Kremer was viewed as a potential middle of the rotation arm with the upside of a number three starter. After making his debut this September and working through two starts against the New York Yankees and allowing only two earned runs and giving up zero home runs while striking out 14, he looks to be tapping into that upside already. Kremer features a four-pitch mix that includes a mid-90’s fastball, power curve, sinker, and cutter, all of which are holding hitters to an under .200 batting average thus far. Overall, Kremer has looked great and I’m rolling with him for the rest of the season in most any match-up. However, I’m not so confident in his long-term outlook to emerge as anything more than a mid-rotation cog. I expect hitters will adjust to Kremer over his next couple of outings, and while he’s had success with his fastball so far the average exit velocity and hard hit percentage may indicate he’s getting a little lucky. I’d prefer to see some more swing and miss from his secondary offerings, mainly his curve ball, which isn’t generating a very high whiff rate and will be needed in order to work deeper into games.
Julian Merryweather, Age: 28, Pos: RP, Toronto Blue Jays
2020 Season: 0 W, 15 K’s, 3.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 11.25 K/9
A deep league name to keep an eye on is Julian Merryweather. The former Cleveland Indian was drafted in the fifth round of the 2014 MLB draft as a starting pitcher and has dealt with a number of injuries over the last several years, highlighted by Tommy John surgery in 2017. Merryweather was traded to the Blue Jays in the fall of 2018 and has been converted to a reliever/opener (for now) and finally made his major league debut on August 20. Now healthy, the righty is consistently in the upper-90’s with his fastball and looks to have the makings of an impact arm in the back-end of Toronto’s bullpen. Merryweather makes for an intriguing speculative add as he could challenge as a future closer, or the possibility exists that he can get stretched back out for the 2021 season and have a chance to crack the starting rotation. Outside of holds leagues, Merryweather will likely only help your team’s ratios for the rest of the 2020 season. Looking forward, there is more of an opportunity for Merryweather in 2021 to become a coveted fantasy option, especially if he stays healthy and moves into a closer or starters role. There is little-to-no risk in adding Merryweather to your roster and seeing how it plays out.
Joey Bart, Age: 23, Pos: C, San Francisco Giants
2020 Season: 0 HR, 0 SB, .262/.333/.338
The number two overall pick from the 2018 draft made quick work of the minor leagues and debuted with the Giants on August 20. Known for his offensive upside, Bart brings some thump to a position that is largely struggling from a fantasy perspective. Although he’s gotten off to an overall slow start, hindered by his chasing of pitches out of the zone, Bart has a .353 batting average and .405 on base percentage during the month of September. While strikeout rate and walk rates are still trending in the opposite directions of what is desired, during his time in the minors he showed plenty of patience at the plate, and I encourage you to do the same if Bart is on your roster. The small sample sizes from 2020 do not tell the story of Bart’s upside, but thanks to his offensive prowess we get an early look at him this year. Bart has the potential to be a top fantasy catcher as soon as 2021.