2015 Fantasy Baseball: Evan Gattis, a Tale of Two Very Different Months
The window to buy low on Evan Gattis has likely faded. The designated hitter who is catcher eligible, plays every day, and hits a ton of homers has finally started to seriously contribute to fantasy teams after a slow start. The question now is do you move him while he is hot, hold on to him, or go out and try and buy him if you are looking for help at catcher or in the utility spot.
Looking at strikeout and walk rates, Gattis has been who he has always been. We now have just under 1,000 plate appearances of Gattis in the majors, and he has consistently been right around a fiver percent walk rate and just above a 20 percent strikeout rate. Those are not exactly comfortable numbers, but given his power and position eligibility, we can live with them. The strikeouts do not allow him to help out your batting average, but he has avoided being a complete bust in that department as well. His rookie year he hit .243 and his sophomore campaign he hit .263, as much of the variance in his average lies with his BABIP.
Taking a deeper look at his BABIP, not too much has changed between last year and this year for Gattis. His line drives are a percentage point lower, and he has traded in a few fly balls for ground balls. Overall, that should not be as drastic of an effect on his average as he has shown this year. His hard hit percentage is down, which could be a reason for the dip, but it is not reason enough for him to have a .224 BABIP after being just under .300 last season.
Until his recent hot streak, which really began midway through this month, his BABIP was .179 and he was slashing .179/.205/.384. Over his past 14 games, he is slashing 302/.345/.660 with a .316 BABIP, so it looks as if the BABIP correction along with his overall production has started to correct itself. The guy can mash baseballs and although he started off very slow, he has gotten back on track and looks like the same old Gattis we got used to in Atlanta.
The difference now is playing time. With Gattis having a role as a full time designated hitter, he does not have to be sat a number of times per week. Fredi Gonzalez handled him even more cautiously than most managers do with their starting catchers, so the fact that he hit 20 home runs in consecutive years despite averaging under 400 plate appearances is a very positive sign for those who invested in him on draft day or bought low during his struggles.
There is a very real possibility that Gattis surpasses 30 home runs. Currently, in Yahoo formats, only Steven Vogt, Russell Martin, Buster Posey, Carlos Santana, and Derek Norris are ahead of Gattis in overall fantasy value produced. Only Vogt has as many home runs and the rest have gotten off to relatively fast starts compared to their career averages.
If I am looking for a catcher to buy while I am struggling with offense, I think Gattis is a great target given his surplus playing time and immense power. I would avoid selling him now, as his yearlong stat line does not accurately project how well he should hit over the rest of the year. In long term leagues, Gattis still has a lot of value as a perennial 30 home run threat as a utility option, even if he does not gain eligibility at first base or outfield this year as many had hoped when the season began. I am looking to acquire Gattis in all formats, and hopefully your trading partner is thinking this is just a hot streak and not the Gattis to expect moving forward.