We come to the end of the two to add and two to dump series…at least for now. We will likely revisit this later in the season when the fantasy season is coming down the stretch. We started just after Memorial Day when the summer unofficially begins. This is the time when fantasy trades start coming in a majority of leagues. If you pay attention to the batted ball statistics you can find some values and you can jettison an overrated rated just in the nick of time.
One of the big mistakes that fantasy players make is that they pay way too much attention to the conventional numbers. It makes perfect sense. Those are the numbers we are graded on. There are no categories for chase rates, hard contact rates, or BABIP. However, those statistics are excellent predictors for the conventional numbers. On a long enough timeline the survival rate drops to zero.
For those that are new to this series, we are looking at contact rates, chase rates, hard contact rates, and home runs per fly ball in connection with BABIP. In order to give you a frame of reference, we are taking the median level for each of those statistics amongst qualified right fielders. Naturally, these numbers can be taken in conjunction with center field and left field to reach an overall conclusion if need be.
Hard Contact: 41.5%
Two to Add
Max Kepler–Minnesota Twins
Hard Contact: 41.3%
Kepler is a bit of a throwback to a bygone era. At least, the idea of Kepler is. Before the Reserve Clause was obliterated, teams had to get better because each individual player improved. Kepler has been around for awhile and has seemingly gotten a little better each season. This season his power has taken a significant step forward. However, his home run per flyball rate is not obnoxious. So, he should continue to hit home runs at the rate he has while seeing his batting average improve.
However, the biggest factor in Kepler’s favor is the overall strength of their team. Eddie Rosario and Byron Buxton round out what could be the best outfield in the business. If you include Nelson Cruz as an outfielder then that definitely throws them over the top. The Twins offense has been overwhelming in the early going, so they should continue to be productive through the end of the season. He is owned by a majority of owners, but you could swing a trade and be very happy for the remainder of the season.
Jesse Winker– Cincinnati Reds
Hard Contact: 40.9%
There is an expression that players eventually produce the numbers you see on the back of the card. When you are looking at a young player you definitely have to pay more attention to process. In this case, just about every indicator points to Winker being a really good player. The Reds are definitely committed to him as they have jettisoned Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, and Matt Kemp to make room for him and Nick Senzel. Unlike Kepler, he is available in a number of Yahoo leagues.
Yahoo projects him to have just over 20 home runs on the season, but that might be a little conservative. All of the Reds got off to slow starts on the season, but this is a team with a lot of offensive talent. When Scooter Gennett comes back that will just be one more good hitter in the lineup. This is a team that could take off in the second half and he could be a huge part of it.
Two to Drop
Jeff McNeil– New York Mets
Hard Contact: 37.2%
McNeil is a hard guy to get rid of. He fits in so many positions. In most Yahoo Leagues he is eligible at second base, third base, and the outfield. So, those owners that do own him have probably enjoyed plugging him in at a number of different positions. These glue guys are hard to replace, but someone like Marwin Gonzalez is also owned by a similar percentage (40 percent) and could fill that multi-position flexibility well. The two will likely hit for a similar average from here on out, but Marwin brings more power and actually is eligible at every spot other than catcher.
The trade market for McNeil is likely more limited than what you would find with some other players, but you can still get someone that will help your team. He brings enough contact to the table to be somewhat useful, but the lack of power and lack of plate discipline will come up at some point. You can’t live off of a .370ish BABIP forever.
Avisail Garcia– Tampa Bay Rays
Hard Contact: 42.5%
Gerry Hunsicker had a saying when he signed Terry Clark that he was trying to “capture lightening in a bottle.” The phrase seemed ridiculous at the time, but teams with lower payrolls have to do this from time to time. Garcia was jettisoned by the White Sox, but showed in the past that he is capable of hitting for high average for short bursts. Welcome to Tampa Bay.
What those teams know is that the lightening rarely ever stays in the bottle. Garcia is a tech stock that is about to burst. Fortunately for the Rays, they have plenty of bats to spread the risk around. Most fantasy owners picked him up off the waiver wire, so they shouldn’t be relying on him for major production. You could flip him for a more reliable bat and happily bank what he has given you so far.