2013 Fantasy BaseballAndrew MillerFantasy Baseball

2013 Fantasy Baseball Rookie Report, Week 13: MVPuig?

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Yasiel Puig see ball hit ball far. The Dodgers’ 22-year-old stud hit his seventh homer Monday night in just his 20th MLB game. He’s doing just about everything right. Minus a gaffe in Monday’s game in right field, he’s making highlight plays defensively and offensively. MLB Network’s Heidi Watney tweeted Monday night that Puig is the first player in MLB history to record at least 32 hits and seven home runs in his first 20 games. Madison Bumgarner gave up five hits Monday, and Puig had three of them.

However, there’s one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb when you peruse Puig’s numbers – his plate discipline. In his first 20 games Puig has struck out 17 times and drawn a walk just twice. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Puig has baseball’s 10th-worst chase percentage (39 percent) and the fourth-worst chase percentage in two-strike counts (64 percent).

ESPN’s David Schoenfield wrote an interesting piece comparing Puig to other players who started off their careers ridiculously hot. The most recent example was Josh Rutledge, who, in his first 22 games last year, hit .356/.372/.700 with nine doubles, two triples, six home runs and three steals. He had 14 strikeouts and only three walks in those 22 games. From August 8-on, in 51 games and 197 plate appearances, Rutledge hit .235/.274/.358 with two homers and a very Francoeur-esque 40 strikeouts and only six walks.

I hate how pretty much every baseball article has turned into a written-out Fangraphs page, but Puig’s 26 percent fly ball rate is incredibly low for someone who has seven homers in only 20 games. He’s hitting a home run on 42 percent of fly balls, which is 11 percentage points higher than Pedro Alvarez‘s league-leading 31.1 percent home run rate. So yes, there’s obviously regression coming sometime, and the Rutledge example was just one of many I could’ve used. (Oh, and Puig’s BABIP is .509 so, yeah, expect some regression. Sorry I know I’m being a hypocrite!)

In keeper leagues I’d hold on to Puig, but in redraft leagues I’d be looking to deal him for a top-tier hitter, whom I think you could get for him. If you’ve traded Puig or been offered a deal for him let us know what it was in the comments.

Gerrit Cole has won his first three Major League starts, and while his strikeout numbers (Eight in 18.1 innings, 10.8 percent) are leaving a lot to be desired he’s been very impressive in his first stint in the bigs. Cole’s only home run given up came in the seventh inning Friday to Albert Pujols. Cole didn’t walk a batter until he faced Mark Trumbo – right after Pujols. Trumbo was the 73rd batter Cole faced as a Pirate. He only allowed four hits to the Angels, and two of the hits were of the seeing-eye variety where the hitters just got a bit lucky in where the balls fell in. Cole struck out five Friday, which is the most he’s struck out in any of his three starts. His pitches had some very good late movement. According to Brooks Baseball, Cole finally threw his slider – regarded by MLB.com as his second best pitch – 17 times Friday, and in four at-bats ending in it recorded three strikeouts. He only threw it for a strike eight times, but he got five whiffs on just six swings.

Unfortunately, Cole might be returning to Triple-A when AJ Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez come off the DL, according to Pittsburgh General Manager Neil Huntington. That’s probably still a while away though, so keep running Cole out there but don’t be afraid to part with him if you get the right deal.

Lincoln Hamilton discussed Wil Myers and Zack Wheeler last week at The Fix, and while I’m not as high on Wheeler as he is I think Myers will be an asset for your fantasy team for the rest of the season. I’d take Cole over Wheeler and Myers over Puig for the rest of the season.

Minnesota’s Kyle Gibson will make his Major League debut Saturday for the Twins after putting up a 3.01 ERA and a 2.96 FIP in 92.2 innings in Triple-A this season. Gibson underwent Tommy John surgery a couple of years ago and missed the first half of last season. But he pitched very well in just 28.1 innings last season, and while his strikeout and walk rates have worsened this season he’s still pitching well. He’s only allowing line drives on 18 percent of balls in play, and his ground ball rate is well over 50 percent.

Gibson made the top 50 in Keith Law’s and MLB.com’s pre-season prospect rankings. Both Law and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo rave about Gibson’s fastball, change up and slider, so he does have three very good offerings. Gibson could’ve/should’ve debuted in the Majors in 2011, but his elbow injury derailed those plans. Pitching in the American League I wouldn’t expect better than a 4 ERA if he stays up the rest of the year. He’ll be more valuable to the Twins (now and in the future) than he will be to your fantasy squad this season. In leagues with at least 14 teams Gibson’s worth a pickup. He won’t rack up strikeouts like Shelby Miller or Jose Fernandez, but he should have a good shot at a quality start every time out.

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