TDG Roundtable: Let’s take that victory lap.
Every week on Fridays, our writers here at The Dynasty Guru will be bringing you some quick hit musings about a particular topic so you, the reader, can get a blast of info from a bunch of different writers with some passionate opinions. This week, our staff goes on a victory lap parade.
Austin Riley, 3B, Atlanta Braves and Khalil Lee, OF, New York Mets
The Braves 24-year-old third baseman has made me look good for talking him up and defending him back in our top-30 third baseman rankings. Riley was our 20th overall third baseman then but now is easily top ten. Starting the season batting seventh in the Braves lineup, he is now their cleanup hitter, with RBI opportunities galore hitting behind Ronald Acuna, Ozzie Albies, and Freddie Freeman. He is doing even better lately, with seven home runs, 34 Runs + RBI and an OPS of .901 in the last month. On the season, here is Riley’s line (as of this writing): 66 Runs + RBI, 12 homers, and a slash line of .291/.376/.500 which makes him the 80th overall player on the Razzball player rater. Pretty good return for a player drafted around pick 220 in NFBC drafts back in the spring.
I will also pat myself on the back for noting Khalil Lee as a prospect outfielder to target, and although no one thought he would make the majors this season, injuries caused the Mets to call him up. While he stunk in his short time in the bigs (so did Jarred Kelenic though), the Mets know he is a part of their future. Since he never played above Double-A, I am not deciding Lee’s fate based on being overmatched in 18 inconsistent big league plate appearances. Since being back down on the farm, in his first taste of AAA, Lee is walking more (20% walk rate) while maintaining a .274 batting average.
Ketel Marte, 2B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks and Nick Madrigal, 2B, Chicago White Sox
Hear ye! Hear ye! Gather ‘round the fire for a recounting of my absolutely incredible calls ahead of this fantasy season. That’s right folks, we are on a victory lap tour. For all those who took Ketel Marte’s 2019 and 2020 and cried “FLUUUUUKE!,” well…IN YOUR FACE!! Ketel Marte is one of the best hitters in baseball and but for a hamstring injury would be firmly in the Offensive Player of the Year conversation. Ketel is sporting his highest average exit velocity and has already smashed a ball 115+ mph. His walk rate has rebounded to his standard level of 8% and his k-rate of just 14.4% is elite for any player hitting with power. The steals are likely gone for the season due to the hammy pull, but it does not matter. The dude is hitting .361/.411/.541. He is super freaking good, folks. You doubted him, and you have been found lacking.
Now let’s talk about Nick Madrigal. Yes, he is out for the year with a hammy tear. While this is an unmitigated tragedy on the scale of the extinction of the dinosaurs and the loss of the dodo bird, what I need to say is this: Nick Madrigal is good. Nick Madrigal can really hit. He is the exact opposite of what the archetypal modern hitter looks like, but it doesn’t matter. He had even HIT TWO HOMERS THIS SEASON. So, can Nick Madrigal hit .300 with a good OBP and a bunch of doubles and triples with a handful of home runs? Yes. If he was the full-time leadoff hitter for the White Sox would he put up elite run total numbers? The victory lap with Madrigal is simply that people thought he would be bad. People thought he couldn’t hit for ANY power (he was slugging .424 before the injury). People thought that a teeny little second baseman with historic contact skills wasn’t going to be a valuable fantasy asset. Nick Madrigal is just getting started, doubt him at your own risk.
Trevor Rogers, SP, Miami Marlins
I’d rather be writing about Rodgers than Rogers here. Brendan Rodgers is on all my teams and I’m convinced everyone jumped off that bandwagon way too soon. I will take that victory lap (or die on that hill) someday, but today is not that day. Even though he hit a two-run bomb as I’m writing this, his season stats are not quite up to bragging levels yet.
I was not as adamant about Trevor Rogers, but I was a little ahead of the curve. He first caught my eye last September with a 10-strikeout performance against the Rays. He followed that by giving up nine runs to the Phillies, quickly ending his first stay on my roster, but I remained intrigued. A former first-round pick with a 30% K-rate at age 22 seemed worth keeping an eye on. I had him at 122 in my offseason SP rankings, the highest of any TDG staff, and snagged him late in a 30-team writers’ mock draft.
I wasn’t all-in until this spring though. He dominated exhibition games with an improved slider, the missing piece to an arsenal that already included a strong fastball and changeup. I knew at that point the potential was too good to pass up. A bout of wildness in his season opener tested my faith, but since then he’s been one of the most consistent pitchers in MLB, not allowing more than three runs in any of his first 15 starts. Even I didn’t think he’d be this good, so maybe I shouldn’t brag too much, but having a 23-year-old ace on my main dynasty team is reward enough.
Jazz Chisholm, SS, Miami Marlins
I feel a little funny taking a ‘victory lap’ on Jazz Chisholm, because while I did target him in trades in all my dynasty leagues, I didn’t know he’d break out as quickly as he has. The writing was on the wall though as far as an underrated player, clearly a top 50 prospect, and as high as top 25 on some lists, Chisholm had a power speed combo that rotisserie players drool over. Factor in that he was expected to either make the team out of camp, or be called up quite early, there was reason to draft him in redraft leagues too. The reasoning behind me targeting him was partially his proximity to the big leagues, but also the superstar potential. Chisholm has big time power and above average speed. He was also quickly developing from a project, to a prospect, cutting his strikeout rate after the 2019 trade to the Marlins. We at TDG recently all chimed in on how much a prospect’s first production in the majors affects where he’s ranked, even if it’s a small sample size. This was very much the case for Chisholm in 2020, while many were surprised Chisholm was called up late in the 2020 season, he was over-matched and people seemed to feel he’d never make enough contact to be an everyday player. Well, that was his first taste of the major leagues, and the industry overreacted. I mean, he’s always had a very good walk rate even if he’s had trouble making contact. I have no problem with a player who strikes out a lot, as long as they can maintain a 10% walk rate. Free swinging, and learning to hit spin, are two totally different issues.
2021 has been a clean slate for Jazz, with 8 homers and 10 steals in 49 games. He’s missed some time due to injury, and has been in a slump of late, but he’s on pace for 24 home runs, 30 steals, 81 runs scored and 72 RBI if he played 150 games. That far exceeds what most people thought he’d do in his rookie year. In fact, I’ve had multiple trade offers for Jazz from league mates who are looking to 2022 or starting a rebuild, meaning they believe in him long term. The strategy was sound, Jazz was a player with superstar potential, who was undervalued by the industry because of the perceived risk, and poor results in his first 56 at-bats, which made it a risk worth taking. Here’s a quote from one of my favorite movies, The Big Short, where a savvy investor shares his investment strategy “People hate to think about bad things happening, so they always underestimate their likelihood. So when we were wrong we were small, but when we were right….” My strategy was the exact opposite in targeting Jazz this offseason, that in dynasty baseball people seem to constantly think about bad things happening, at least to prospects who strike out, and then underestimate the upside of said player. Let’s face it, we don’t roster prospects for three or four years in hopes they become corner infielders or a 4th starter. We want them to be superstars, so why not go out and get the guys who can be that.
Jonathan India, 2B, Cincinnati Reds
A few months ago I downed a Big Red soda while recording the first episode of the podcast Dynasty Divorces. Why am I telling you this? The reason is because in the article I wrote about India before the podcast my verdict for India was “give me a Red Solo cup of Big Red”. In that article I talked about how India’s drop from prospect lists was unwarranted. During the 2019 season he was on six lists. Some sites had them in their top 50. When 2020 came around some took him off their list entirely and others dropped him significantly from the top 50.
I like this victory lap. I could name some other victory laps but I really love bragging about this one. Why? For me it is because I love evaluating prospects. When it comes to dynasty if you want an edge you have to do your research in prospects. Doing your research on MLB players isn’t a cakewalk in the game of baseball, but evaluating prospects that have never proved anything at the biggest level and then seeing them dominate when you believed they could is pretty cool.
India is playing pretty solid by the way. He is currently the leadoff hitter for the Reds. He is currently hitting .261/.375.402 with 6 home runs, 29 runs batted in and 5 stolen bases. I didn’t earn this victory lap. India earned it and I am the beneficiary. If you believed in Jonathan India take a victory lap. Pat yourself on the back. Tell yourself you are awesome. Tip your cap to India. Do whatever feels natural.
Jonathan Schoop, 2B, Detroit Tigers
Schoop, there it is! Schoop, there it is!!
You know, some might say it’s too early for victory laps. Me? Well…I agree, but here we are, and this definitely won’t be a flashy lap.
Joe Garino and I did a sleeper draft on the Join The Ranks pod before the season where I drafted Jonathan Schoop as my late-round second basemen. He fit the bill for the majority of my teams, as I tend to wait on my keystone players until later in drafts anyway, and in the 20th round, the biggest thing I’m looking for is consistent plate appearances and upside. He’s certainly providing both.
I did NOT see him hitting 15 homers in under 300 plate appearances. Heck, who did? I was even able to pick him up in an early round of FAAB in the TDG Roto league earlier this season, and that league is chock-full of sharks. With career-best numbers as far as strikeouts and walks are concerned as well, I’m feeling pretty dang good about taking the leap on him this draft season.
Amed Rosario, SS, Cleveland Baseball Team
Keaton O. DeRocher
I took a lot of heat for my loyalty to Amed Rosario in all the industry drafts and leagues that we tweet out and even a few mocks prior to this season so naturally when we were sourcing ideas for this weeks roundtable, I wanted a chance to be selfish and talk about Rosario’s awesome season he’s having. 2020 was bad, but given the circumstances of the season I just found it easy to write off the weirdness as noise. There was enough of a sample size for Rosario in the majors of steadily progressing that I thought he could repeat his 2019 season, or, as his trend suggested, maybe even top it. Then came Andres Gimenez and because Rosario struggled in 2020 it appeared his path to playing time was over, until the Cleveland trade. Thankfully Cleveland’s roster is very bad that Rosario was going to get to play somewhere. And since then all he’s done is slash .270/.325/.378 with four homers and more importantly 7 steals. Showing again that with playing time he can be a late round gem at the shortstop position for fantasy.
Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs
I had quite a few players I think I can claim victory laps on this year. Picking up Kimbrel after he was dropped by a disgruntled owner has paid dividends and steadfast belief in Vlad being one of the league’s top hitters are two that come to mind. I also thought there would be an Ohtani rebound and worked a trade for Ketel Marte despite his disappointing power output in 2020. However, none of them have played out as well as putting my faith behind Kris Bryant, considering the discounted price I paid to add him to my lineup. Bryant started the year at an MVP pace. He has predictably cooled off after the torrid start, but still owns a very respectable .278/.364/.522 triple-slash, which is, by the way, very close to his career .280/.379/.509 line (the basis of me presuming a rebound was likely). 2020 was a strange season and Bryant is still just 29 years old. Despite his 2020 struggles, this was probably one of the more predictable rebounds in hindsight. Bryant has further rewarded his owners with eligibility at multiple positions and should continue to produce around his current levels, if history has anything to say about it.