Stock Watch: Joey Gallo moving into elite status

Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo has been showing a more patient approach this season. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)
Texas Rangers slugger Joey Gallo has been showing a more patient approach this season. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)

STOCK UP

Joe Musgrove, Pittsburgh Pirates

He’s surpassing expectations of a breakout, posting a 2.06 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP with a 31:7 K:BB ratio over 35.0 innings to open the year. Musgrove’s fastball has been noticeably down so far this season, but it hasn’t mattered at all, as his slider is one of the best pitches in baseball, helping lead to a 12.6 SwStr% that ranks top-25 among starters. His 2.51 FIP ranks sixth in MLB, and it helps calling PNC Park home, as just three other venues in baseball have limited homers more over the past three seasons. Jameson Taillon cost a much higher fantasy pick, but Musgrove is the Pirates’ best pitcher.

Sonny Gray, Cincinnati Reds

While it’s true getting out of the AL East and Yankee Stadium were good news for Gray’s fantasy value, I remained skeptical since he joined another extreme HR hitter’s park in Cincinnati. I was wrong, as Gray has been nothing short of terrific in 2019. Fantasy owners would like to see his first win of the season, but the righty sports a 0.98 WHIP with 36 strikeouts over 29.2 innings to go along with an MLB-leading 2.06 FIP. Gray is likely to start seeing more fly balls go over the fence soon, but he’s clearly benefitting from the move to the National League, as are his fantasy owners.

Joey Gallo, Texas Rangers

Him having nine homers and 23 RBI are hardly shocking, but his .259 batting average has been a pleasant surprise. It was even up to .300 last week, which is hard to do with a 35.6 K% that’s in the bottom 2% of the league. Gallo is able to accomplish this feat by hitting the baseball really hard, as he leads all of MLB in exit velocity (98.7 mph, which would easily be the highest in a season since the advent of Statcast) and ranks second in Barrel% (30.6). Gallo’s BB% (17.3) is a career high, so a truly monstrous season could be in store. Only Coors Field has increased run scoring more than Texas over the last three seasons, and we haven’t reached the summer months yet. Treat Gallo as a truly elite fantasy commodity moving forward.

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Griffin Canning, Los Angeles Angels

The Angles’ top pitching prospect, Canning is set to make his major league debut Tuesday. While there are long-term questions about his ability to hold up, the rookie has an intriguing enough arm to be grabbed in all fantasy leagues. He had allowed just one run while flashing a 25.0 K-BB% over three starts in Triple-A to open the year, and Canning is still available in more than 70% of Yahoo leagues. And if you happen to be searching for another under-owned prospect in Anaheim but are in need of steals instead of pitching, Luis Rengifo is your guy. He possesses good speed and is now getting a chance with Zack Cozart on the IL.

Michael Chavis, Boston Red Sox

He’s homered three times over the last six games while proving capable at second base, where he recently became fantasy eligible. The prospect has also attempted two steals already and has walked (six) nearly as often as he’s struck out (seven). The 23-year-old sure looks like Boston’s regular second baseman moving forward. Chavis is still available in nearly 75% of leagues.

Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs

He’s already up to seven homers on the year after finishing with just 10 in 398 more at bats last season, as Contreras has been fantasy baseball’s best catcher so far (he’s even attempted three steals). The increase in power doesn’t seem like a fluke either, as he’s increased his launch angle (6.8 degrees last year) this season (11.5) in a big way. Contreras’ wOBA (.433) is in the top 4% of the league, which is awfully impressive given the state of catchers around the league.

STOCK DOWN

Noah Syndergaard, New York Mets

To say Syndergaard’s results (6.35 ERA, 1.47 WHIP) haven’t matched his stuff so far this season would be an understatement, as performance continues to be as big of a concern as health with the disappointing righty. Syndergaard’s fastball velocity remains strong (97.6 mph), and he’s no doubt suffered some bad luck (.376 BABIP), but the problem is the poor Mets’ defense will continue to contribute to the latter over the rest of the season. Syndergaard will surely produce better results moving forward, but he’s done serious damage (24 earned runs over 34.0 innings), and an injury is always lurking with the hard-thrower. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to spend early fantasy draft capital on starting pitchers.

New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been a major disappointment so far in 2019. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard has been a major disappointment so far in 2019. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Mallex Smith, Seattle Mariners

His eight steals are tied for second in MLB, so he’s still helped fantasy owners, but Smith has an ugly .165/.255/.247 line in a hitting environment and on a Seattle offense that ranks No. 2 in MLB in wRC+ (121). Smith needs to be putting the ball in play but instead sports a 30.0 K% that’s 16th-worst in baseball. Since he’s also a negative defensively, he better be a very good baserunner to remain in the lineup, where he’s recently been moved from first to last. Smith is capable of swiping 40 bags from here on out, but he’s also becoming an increasing threat to lose his job.

Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

Uh oh. Maybe the end is closer than we hoped, as Cabrera has remained healthy in 2019 but is slugging .364. The 36-year-old has a career-worst 26.5 K%, and while he finally homered for the first time this season recently, he’s recorded just six extra-base hits over 99 at bats. Maybe it’s a small sample that’s meaningless, but Cabrera now has a .750 OPS over his last 800 plate appearances since 2017. An unlikely .391 BABIP for the slow runner is masking an otherwise rough start at the plate for Cabrera, who appears to be no better than a league average hitter right now.

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