Week 9 is on the horizon, and we quickly recap last week’s article. Talked a few names that are coming back from injury like Kyle Seager and Jimmy Nelson. Mitch Moreland was another first base option mentioned after C.J. Cron from weeks before. Griffin Canning had another plus outing against the Rangers, and has allowed just ten earned runs in five starts. Below remains a list of players I am actively watching, which will usually be filled out with prior article players who have not been picked up enough. They could also be names that were on the outside looking in.
Kevin Cron – 1B, 3B – 21% Owned
Kevin Cron is a part of the Cron MLB family, with his brother C.J. playing in Minnesota. Cron has been in the minors, but just was called up by Arizona. Cron posted over a .200 ISO in each of his minor league seasons, and was on a ridiculous tear this season. In 44 games he had 21 home runs and 62 RBI. His strikeout rate dropped 8%, and his walk rate went up 5%. Christian Walker and the Arizona offense overall has been struggling. Cron is looking to jumpstart them again. He is an exciting mid season call up with power upside at the corner positions.
David Fletcher – 2B – 18% Owned
David Fletcher wasn’t really in the plans for Los Angeles, but he hit .275 last season, and chipped in with some runs and RBI. Through just over half of his games he is on par to surpass last year’s production. He has a .780 OPS, and has a .333 xBA. His power and hard-contact is below average, so if you are in the need for a power bat, he isn’t your guy. Fletcher has improved his line drive and pull percentage in May, and shows pop against left-handed pitching. His hard-contact rate is 48% against southpaws, but just needs some better luck in the BABIP department. Not a bad add for a multi-position infielder.
Mallex Smith – OF – 34% Owned
After getting things straightened out in the minors on a rehab trip, Mallex Smith is back up with Seattle. We need to see if that can transition into some positive success. This was a guy who had a .367 OBP and stole 40 bases last season. He also had 39 XBH. His overall expected numbers are putrid, but I still hold out hope. I am going to give him some more time to get back in a groove from his minor league stint. Smith brings some upside for no risk if he is out there, and if he doesn’t get going, he can be an easy drop within a few weeks.
Kevin Kiermaier – OF – 11% Owned
Health has always been the biggest downside for Kevin Kiermaier, playing less than 100 games in each of the last two seasons. He has been healthy so far this season, but his production has been minimal with a sub .300 OBP. He has seven stolen bases, and five home runs this season. His overall power numbers are up, as his his hard-contact. He sat at 29-30% over the last few seasons, and he is at 38% this year. This past month he is getting more lift on the ball, and in May he has suffered some tough luck with a .186 BABIP. Kiermaier brings a good mix of speed, and is in line for some better numbers.
Josh Reddick – OF – 26% Owned
I am going to revisit Josh Reddick here from a few weeks ago. He is currently sitting with a .383 OPB and notched a few home runs since the last article. He is up to four on the season, and is hitting .329. His strikeout rate remains minimal at 12.2%, and he has been actually hitting lefties well this season with a .526 wOBA. His batted ball stats have remained consistent, and expected stats back his current production. Reddick isn’t a flashy player, but he continues to produce in a good offense.
Sonny Gray – SP – 34% Owned
Sonny Gray was once a viable fantasy arm, then he was one to target against, and now he is back to being a viable fantasy arm. However, his ownership doesn’t reflect it yet. He has a 3.58 xFIP and 27.4% strikeout rate this season. Lefties have just a .215 wOBA and .049 ISO against him. Hitters overall have a 72% contact rate, and the only negative is the 9.6% walk rate he brings. Gray is working a curve and slider as his off-speed pitches, generating a 35% whiff rate on both. His sinker generates a 77% groundball rate. Gray’s fastball is getting whiffs, but when hit, he is getting crushed there. Getting away from the fastball has been a success for Gray, and many of us might be still surprised or in non-belief that he is pitching this well.
Wade Miley – SP – 31% Owned
I can’t seem to figure it out, but Wade Miley has already. His ERA estimators continue to be poor, but he also continues to out-pitch them. Miley being in Houston is going to put him in line for a lot of wins, and he will also pitch in a mainly pitcher parks within the division. His groundball rate is at 48%, and any lefty has done little damage off of him. Hard-contact and a .321 wOBA is pedestrian to right-handed hitters, but Miley continues to dance around trouble. Using that cutter nearly 50% of the time, hitters have a .291 wOBA and 55% groundball rate off of it. Miley is a solid filler if you are in need of a backend rotation arm.
Tyler Mahle – SP – 22% Owned
It is weird to have two Reds pitchers, but Tyler Mahle is just 24 years old and has figured some stuff out. Overall the Reds rotation has been a surprise. After posting a WHIP above 1.50 in his first two seasons, it is down to 1.17. His strikeout rate is up 5% from last season, sitting at 26%. He has a 3.29 xFIP this season, and his walk rate is down 5% from last season. Going from a slider to a curveball in his arsenal has been a plus. Mahle has dominated right-handed hitters, but lefties still have a lot of success. Against heavy left-handed lineups, Mahle should be left on the bench. But facing teams with a lot of right-handers or just average lefties, Mahle is in play. He has held right-handers to a .248 wOBA, .101 ISO, and 32% strikeout rate.