Ray's Ramblings - Friday Check-In
Ray takes a look at the infield (Bogaerts, Bryant, Contreras, Jose Martinez, O’Brien) and the outfield (Conforto, Dahl, Haniger, Piscotty, Schwarber, Soto, Stanton, Upton). He also touches on what is likely to happen in the Cubs bullpen with Morrow, and now Strop, on the disabled list.
I don’t think he will get there, but he’s awfully close. With a strong power push, it’s possible that Xander Bogaerts could post a .290-25-100 season. He’s currently sitting at .291 with 21 homers and 93 RBI. He’s also added seven steals to the package leaving him with a pretty impressive set up of numbers.
Kris Bryant simply hasn’t lived up to expectations. Some down work early on, as well as injury, have conspired to hold him down. That said, he’s been on a run of late that has pushed the numbers upward. In 18 games since returning from the DL, Bryant has just one homer but he has hit .290 with a .366 OBP. The power is MIA, see the .419 SLG, but I’m still a fan of the skills. He will be only 27 next season, and with many folks moving on from him you would be wise to head this statement – he will be undervalued last season, and as a result, you should be buying.
Willson Contreras went .276-21-74 last season for the Cubs in his first full season. This season he has 83 more plate appearances, but the results haven’t matched as he’s gone .257-9-50. His BB/K is one hundredth off last season at 0.47, but there are some slight signs of decline. He’s failed to lift the ball as effectively as he did the first two seasons when his HR/FB ratio was 23.5 or better. That’s a level that very few hitters can sustain, so it’s not surprising we’ve seen a pull back this season (9.0 percent). It might be a bit too drastic, but it’s only pulled his career ratio down to 18.1 percent. He’s also see his hard-hit ball rate fall from 35.5 percent last season down to 29.1 percent this season. He’s also hit 28 percent of his batted balls to the opposite field versus a 21 percent mark last season. He’s still young and finding his game, and I would assume next seasons effort would be better than the one we’ve witnessed this year.
Jose Martinez has a .417 OPS and a wRC+ of 12 in September.
Peter O’Brien has big-time power. He’s getting a chance to flash it with the Marlins as they are attempting to see if the cheap, 28 year old slugger, will be able to hold down first base for them next season. He’s only hit .176 with seven homers in 91 games as a big-leaguer over three seasons, but he can mash. Peter has slugged 66 homers in 317 games at Triple-A, and that includes 30 homers in just 356 at-bats this season in the minors. Mash he can. Will he make enough contact for it to matter? That’s the question.
Michael Conforto hasn’t been all he was cracked up to be this season, but he’s just two homers from tying his career best of 27 set last season. He’s been much better the farther away from shoulder surgery he’s moved with a .270 average and a .864 OPS in the second half. That’s the type of hitter, with health, he should be next season.
David Dahl is 24, stands 6’2”, weighs in at 200 lbs., and frankly, flat out looks the part. He’s dealt with a myriad of injuries over the years that have limited his exposure at the big-league level, but look at the production to this point. Dahl has appeared in 125 games hitting .300-17-55-62-10. He’s hit only .200 this season against lefties, and just .221 on the road, but when he’s facing a righty (.966) or hitting at home (.966) he’s been beast like. So much to like – if he can stay healthy.
Mitch Haniger has had a hell of a season. The 27 year old has a .278-24-87-78-8 line with a .361 OBP. That type of effort seams about right to me, meaning I could see him cranking out a few seasons right along with what we’ve seen this season.
Stephen Piscotty has five homers and 13 RBI in 11 games in September for the Athletics. Have you noticed? Did you notice that his second half has been pretty darn solid as well as he’s gone deep 12 times with 30 RBI, a .545 SLG and a .873 OPS. He’s been a mixed league asset for a long while.
Kyle Schwarber is dealing with some back stiffness of late, but I wanted to check in with his progress this season. I’ve long said he cannot hit lefties. People have constantly argued with me. Folks, can we please, PLEASE, stop the back and forth. The fact is this – he cannot hit left-handed pitching. Deal with reality. This season he has hit .211 with no homers and a massive 28 punchouts in 71 at-bats. He has a .588 OPS against lefties this season, a nearly direct match for his .585 career mark. He should be on the bench against lefties. Period. Just how it is.
Juan Soto has hit .383 with a .473 OBP and a .638 SLG the last two weeks. Through 101 games, Soto has hit .304 with a .417 OBP and .529 SLG. He’s been flat out remarkable. He doesn’t turn 20 years of age until late October.
Giancarlo Stanton has avoided injury appearing in 144 games. I was wrong about that. As for his performance… I was totally right there. Sure, he’s hit 33 homers, but barring a strong kick to the end of the season he will fail to reach 100 RBI for the third time (he currently has 86). Thanks to his current/horrific slump, he has hit one homer with a .113 averaged and 31 strikeouts his last 19 games, his slash line this season (.264/.339/.499), despite being in the vaunted Yankees lineup and spending half his time in hitter friendly Yankee Stadium, is actually worse than his career levels (.268/.357/.547). Currently, that .235 ISO mark is also a five year low showing that he just hasn’t powered the ball like in the past. He also has his worst strikeout rate, 30.6 percent, since his rookie season. Has he been worthy of a first round pick in fantasy this season? The answer is no.
Justin Upton has dealt with some injury even hitting the DL this season, but he’s still been… Justin Upton. Over the course of 132 games, Upton has posted a .261-27-79-72-7 line with a .807 OPS. He’s just barely 31 years old too, meaning efforts like this should continue for years.
THE 9th INNING
The Cubs lost Pedro Strop in a baserunning accident. It’s unclear who will close now. "I have no idea," said the Cubs' skipper. "All these guys are on fumes." Brandon Morrow (biceps) is still out, so the most logical answer to who will close comes down to Carl Edwards, Jessie Chavez and Steve Cishek. Over his last 24 outings Edwards has a 1.80 ERA and a .205 BAA, but he also has a mere 15 Ks in 20 innings with a hideous 1.07 K/BB ratio. Cishek has a 3.18 ERA in the second half, but he has held batters to a .188 average, has a 3.5 K/BB ratio, 11.12 K/9 and a 1.01 WHIP. I’d say Cishek is the most likely leader, but what do I know?
You can hear Ray, Monday through Friday, on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). Ray is on The Fantasy Drive 8-10 PM EST Monday-Friday, and he’s also on the Guru Elite Show Thursday from 2-4 PM EST. You can follow Ray on Twitter at @baseballguys.