FACTS/FLUKES: T. Turner, Fowler, Grandal, Wood, Wainwright

Turner not living up to the hype ... Trea Turner (SS, WAS) exploded onto the scene in 2016, and was one of the more valuable fantasy assets throughout the second half of the season. As a result, he was being selected in the first round of many drafts this spring, but owners who selected him there have been disappointed so far. Can he get back on track?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA/xBA   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd  SBO
====  ===  =====  =========  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  ===  ===
2015* 494   7/27  .295/N/A    7    77     N/A    37   N/A   79/N/A   N/A  115  24%
2016* 638  18/56  .313/.276   7    79  43/25/32  37   111  107/122   17%  193  35%
2017  145   4/9   .241/.257   3    76  46/18/36  29    97  108/106   10%  139  40%  
*Includes MLEs

Turner has taken a step back in 2017, but still has a lot to offer:

  • Speed is obviously a strength of Turner's, and the constant green light, as well as the fact he's 9 for 10 on his attempts, indicate he'll continue to be a reliable speed source.
  • His lack of patience at the plate has led to a .270 OBP so far, so while he can be counted on for steals, he'll need to draw more walks if he's going to get back to last year's pace on the base paths.
  • He hit .342 during his time in the majors last year, thanks to a line drive stroke, plenty of hard contact, and a little luck. This season, he's striking out more, hitting fewer line drives, and his balls in play aren't finding as many holes.
  • His home run per fly ball rate was a little high in 2016 as well, and with less hard contact, the balls aren't leaving the yard at the same rate this year.

Turner hasn't been able to duplicate the success he had during the second half of last season, as he's regressed to some extent across the board. The drop in his batting average and on-base-percentage has been more drastic than expected, and has cut into his opportunities to run. Turner's lack of walks is a little troubling, but his hit rate, and in turn, his batting average, should improve significantly, which along with his power/speed combo, should yield plenty of value. Turner will be hard-pressed to make up the ground necessary to earn his draft day cost, but better days lie ahead, and the future remains extremely bright.


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Fowler off to slow start ... Signed as a free agent over the winter, Dexter Fowler (OF, STL) has had a disappointing start to his tenure in St. Louis. Is there reason to be concerned, or is he about to turn things around?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f  Spd
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====  ===
2013  415  12/19  .263  .246   14   75  42/23/34  33   81   102  102   11%  139 
2014  434   8/11  .276  .240   13   75  44/21/35  35   95    94  107    7%  148
2015  596  17/20  .250  .245   12   74  43/20/36  31   90   109   98   11%  167
2016  456  13/13  .276  .250   15   73  41/24/36  35   90   110  100   11%  147
2017  137   6/1   .212  .246   12   74  40/17/43  24  107   120  167   14%  153 

Fowler's skills are still intact:

  • His approach at the plate hasn't wavered, as he's still drawing walks, and striking out at his typical level. 
  • He's traded some line drives for fly balls, which is part of the reason his hit rate has dropped. Still, he's been pretty unlucky on balls in play, and given his track record, the hit rate should soon be on the rise.
  • As a whole, his power metrics are the best of his career, and point to the possibility of his first 20 home run season, particularly if the fly ball gains stick.
  • He still possesses excellent speed, but has attempted only one steal so far this season. Given that the Cardinals rank eighth in the majors in stolen base attempts, odds are in favor of Fowler running more, and still perhaps reaching double digits in the category.

Fowler's numbers are down in the early going, but a glance at the skills provides reason for optimism. A hit rate that is well below his career norm has bogged down his batting average and on-base-percentage, and his inactivity on the base paths has nothing to do with a lack of speed. Fowler should provide significantly more value going forward, and makes for an excellent target if his current owner in your league is beginning to have his doubts. The window to buy low won't be open for long.

 

Grandal heating up ... Yasmani Grandal (C, LA) flashed his upside during the second half of 2016, connecting for 19 home runs in 212 at-bats. He's picked up the pace after coming out of the gates slowly, but can he be counted upon for elite production at a shallow position?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====
2014  377  15  .225  .242   13   69  43/19/38  28   108  139  132   15%
2015  355  16  .234  .229   15   74  46/17/37  27    97  110  117   16%
2016  390  27  .228  .251   14   70  45/16/39  25   111  152  155   25%
2017  131   5  .298  .264   10   77  48/16/36  35   115  142  112   14%

Grandal can definitely fill up the stat sheet:

  • He's cut down on the strikeouts in 2017, a sign that he may not be the BA drag he's been the past few years. He's also been helped greatly by a much higher than normal hit rate, and isn't likely to flirt with a .300 average all season.
  • Last year's power explosion was fueled by a 47 percent fly ball rate during the second half of the season, and an extremely high home run per fly ball rate, but both numbers have regressed toward his usual level in 2017. That being said, Grandal showed big-time power in the first half of 2015 as well (23% hr/f, 12 HR in 199 AB) before a shoulder injury ruined his second half.
  • Though he's not drawing quite as many walks this year, he's still a very patient hitter, which adds to his already strong value in leagues that count OBP. 

Grandal has quickly put his slow start to the season behind him, and is now sporting a surprisingly high batting average, along with some pretty solid power production. The average is sure to drop some, but the reduction in whiffs suggests he may be able to maintain a respectable mark going forward. Grandal also remains a good bet for 20-plus homers, and last year's second half shows that his ceiling is sky high. He is making it increasingly clear that he ranks among the top offensive catchers in the game,. 

 

Wood off to dominant start ... Injuries limited Alex Wood (LHP, LA) to just 60.1 innings in 2016, but the skills he displayed were excellent. He's been even better, in terms of both health and performance, in 2017, but is his success sustainable?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ====  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2013* 140  2.43  2.83  2.8   8.5  3.0  62%  10%  91.7  49/24/27  32  80    5%  113
2014  172  2.78  3.20  2.4   8.9  3.8  62%  10%  89.8  46/19/35  30  79   10%  121
2015  190  3.84  4.01  2.8   6.6  2.4  63%   8%  89.1  49/23/28  32  73    9%   70
2016   60  3.73  3.32  3.0   9.8  3.3  64%  10%  90.6  53/20/27  33  72   12%  128
2017   43  1.88  2.43  2.7  10.9  4.0  64%  13%  92.9  68/14/19  30  81    5%  168

Wood has been virtually unhittable:

  • He added some zip to his fastball in 2016, which led to an increase in Dom. This season, he's throwing even harder, by a pretty wide margin, and missing far more bats than ever before.
  • He's always kept the ball down pretty well, but now has the second highest ground ball rate in the majors among starting pitchers. He may not be able to keep it quite that high, but homers aren't going to be much of an issue for him.
  • His Ctl has typically been a little better than average, as has his FpK, so expect more of the same going forward in that part of his game.

Wood didn't even begin the season in the rotation, but has quickly made it clear that he belongs there. He has more life on his fastball and is throwing his change-up more, which has led to a jump in his swinging strike rate, and he has at least a 65 percent ground ball rate on all three of his primary pitches. Wood's ERA won't stay quite this low, but the skills are definitely worth buying into, and bode well for continued excellence the rest of the way.

 

Can Wainwright get back on track? ... After missing most of 2015 due to an Achilles injury, Adam Wainwright (RHP, STL) suffered through a rough 2016 season, and the struggles have, for the most part, carried over into this year. Should owners expect any improvement? 

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2013  242  2.94  2.94  1.3  8.2  6.3  65%  10%  49/23/28  31  74    8%  139
2014  227  2.38  3.31  2.0  7.1  3.6  61%   9%  46/24/30  27  78    5%   98
2015   28  1.61  3.35  1.3  6.4  5.0  54%   8%  51/26/23  30  83    0%  110
2016  199  4.62  4.23  2.7  7.3  2.7  61%   9%  44/25/31  33  69   12%   81
2017   49  4.81  4.38  3.7  7.8  2.1  54%   9%  48/23/29  38  72    9%   66

Wainwright's skills have slipped, but he's been a little unlucky as well:

  • He's always had stellar control, but is currently having trouble getting strike one, which has led to far more walks than usual.
  • His SwK is in line with his career norms, so he is likely to remain a respectable source of strikeouts.
  • He had a career worst 1.0 hr/9 in 2016, thanks to the lowest ground ball rate and highest home run per fly ball rate of his career. He's keeping the ball down a little more this year, and home runs shouldn't be a major issue for him.
  • He's been victimized by a severely inflated hit rate so far in 2017. He should have better luck going forward, which could help send his ERA in the right direction.

Wainwright clearly isn't the front of the rotation anchor he once was, but he may still have something to offer for fantasy owners. One thing worth noting is his home/road splits, as he owns a 3.23 ERA at Busch Stadium since the beginning of 2016, compared to a 6.33 mark on the road. The walks are certainly something to keep an eye on, but Wainwright's ability to miss bats and keep the ball down haven't fallen off all that much, and he's been victimized by an extremely high hit rate so far in 2017. He doesn't offer a great deal of upside at this point in his career, but a sub-4.00 ERA the rest of the way is possible if he can cut down on the walks, and at the very least, he should be worth deploying in his home starts. 

 


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