Fantasy Baseball: Will these bad-luck batters turn it around?
We’re into the second half of June. The fantasy baseball season isn’t new and fresh anymore. Stat samples have some weight to them.
And so do the luck stats.
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Today we’re going to discuss some of the batters who have been unlucky, per Statcast metrics. Hitting the ball hard is a good thing, but it doesn’t always get rewarded. Perhaps some of these players could be acquired or trade targets, as you take advantage of other managers who are focusing merely on back-of-card stats, the old standbys.
Will Smith, C, Dodgers
If you went Big Catcher this year, you’re likely disappointed — the Big 4 of Salvador Perez, J.T. Realmuto, Smith and Yasmani Grandal have all underachieved to this point. But Smith could be a perfect buy low, as Statcast says he should be batting .298 (not .244) and slugging .581 (not .424). The Dodgers surely haven’t soured on him, and Los Angeles probably has the deepest lineup in the majors.
Christian Walker, 1B, Diamondbacks
The 16 homers play, the .201 average is a killer. But Walker ranks third in batting-average bad luck — Statcast suggests he should be batting .278. And while a .469 slugging percentage is no embarrassment, the expected number shoots up to .621. In shallower pools, you can make this into a pickup recommendation — Walker is rostered in just 40 percent of Yahoo leagues.
Austin Meadows, OF, Tigers
Detroit has the worst offense in the majors by far, the underachieving team of the world. So if you don’t want to step into this sad dugout, I hear you. Meadows is batting .250, but without a homer and without a stolen base. Who wants an outfielder without category juice?
But Statcast says you should stay open-minded. Meadows’ profile hashes out to an expected average of .316, and an expected slugging percentage of .502 (he’s being cheated 174 points).
Maybe he hasn’t forgotten how to play baseball after all.
Corey Seager, SS, Rangers
The Rangers paid up big for their new double-play combination, and both players got off to horrendous starts, though Marcus Semien woke up about three weeks ago. Perhaps Seager will follow soon — Statcast says he should be batting .293 and slugging .472, instead of the .222 and .412 numbers he’s stuck with. Seager still has excellent plate discipline stats, and although his barrel rate is down slightly, it’s still comfortably above league average.
Jesse Winker, OF, Mariners
We worried when Winker shipped from Cincinnati to Seattle, concerned the new park could wreck his production. So when you see him batting .212 and slugging .305, the confirmation bias kicks in (mmmm, confirmation bias). But let’s be fair, Winker’s expected average is .269 and his expected slugging is .450; not great stats, but playable ones. He also leads the American League in walks.
Winker’s mediocre production thus far can’t be blamed on the home park, as his stats are about the same on the road. But he’s oddly struggled against right-handed pitching this year, in stark contrast to his previous profile, which if anything suggested he might be a good heavy-side platoon option.
I wouldn’t want to pay up for Winker given his curious profile, but if I could get him at a discount, he’d be an interesting piece to throw into the back half of a trade.
Yordan Alvarez, OF, Astros
I wanted to finish this piece with a fun player, an MVP candidate with monster numbers — and still, they’re unlucky numbers. No one complains about Alvarez’s .312 average and .620 slugging, but the hard-hit data says he should be batting .363 and should be slugging .747. Absurd. There is no way to pitch to Alvarez; he’s David Ortiz 2.0. Perhaps Alvarez will be firmly in the first round of 2023 drafts.