MARKET PULSE: Chicken of Fried?

Market Pulse looks at the movers each week in respective markets as we search for potential buying opportunities. The data is taken from CBS Sports, which features primarily daily transaction leagues, providing us with some insight as to player movement over the past week leading up to the Sunday waiver deadline in weekly leagues. Of course, depending on the parameters of your league, further investigation of every player is strongly encouraged. Click on the provided links for additional information and deeper analysis from our crack BaseballHQ.com staff. Also, please note that, as the season progresses, players who have been steadily rising or falling may have had additional commentary that still applies written up in recent columns, so you may benefit from perusing the Market Pulse archives.

Column designations include...

  • OWN: Ownership percentage prior to last weekend
  • CHG: Ownership percentage change since then, heading into the current weekend
  • RTG: The author's general rating for each player as follows:

+ = BUY: potentially profitable stock for your portfolio, further research strongly recommended for possible acquisition, depending on league parameters

o = WATCH: put on your radar for potential acquisition, depending on needs & league parameters

 = SELL: dead money, odds of helping cause extremely limited

 

MARKET OVERVIEW

As the regular season gets underway, it can be easy to overreact to early performances, both good and bad. This is where good fantasy players can take advantage of impulsive mistakes by their fellow competitors in a couple of ways. Sometimes a hot start can be a true indication of a breakout, which is worth going after, but quite often it's simply fool's gold. Draft-day analysis based on an off-season of extensive evaluation should not be thrown out the window simply on the basis of a handful of games that are only magnified because they are the first ones out of the gate. The same goes for poor performances. Always keep a list of players who are dropped early in the season by your overreacting leaguemates. Then read this column each Sunday and we will try to find some nuggets worth going after in order to fortify your roster for a title run.

 

BULL MARKET

These are the "hot" stocks, the players who are being most added. If you have a chance to jump on board and grab these players in your league, you should probably consider it, though we will try to point out who you should let slide by, or at least approach with caution.

Over 25% Ownership (Possibly Still Available in Shallow Leagues)
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Swanson,D (SS, ATL) 30% 44% Early power binge likely a mirage
  Diaz,Y (3B, TB) 27% 38% + Strong man with plus skills putting ball in air more
  Shoemaker,M (P, TOR) 53% 32% + Looking strong and healthy out of the gate
  Mancini,T (OF, BAL) 59% 31% o Luck-fueling hot start, but he's been there before
  Boyd,M (LHP, DET) 53% 29% + Carving up hitters, looking like legit breakout
  Chirinos,Y (RHP, TAM) 29% 29% + A fantasy staff asset, even as TB shuffles role
  Zimmermann,J (P,DET) 37% 20% o Came back to earth in 3rd start, but still looks strong
  Jones,A (OF, ARI) 67% 19% + Who needs Spring Training?
  Bruce,J (OF, SEA) 48% 18% + Sending ball into orbit--when he hits it
  Walker,C (1B, ARI) 35% 17% Cooling off quickly
  Hiura,K (2B, MIL) 27% 1% + Buy skills, not role

Matt Shoemaker (RHP, TOR)—While the Red Sox got to him a bit in his first exposure to a legitimate offense, Shoemaker appears fully healthy for the first time in years. Though a win every time he takes the mound is probably expecting a little too much, he offers solid potential as a useful streaming option.

Keston Hiura (2B, MIL)—Likely rostered on draft day in deep leagues, Hiura is one to keep the radar honed in on even in the shallowest of formats. Right now his role is "prospect" with no apparent path to playing time in the talentedand crowded—Brewers lineup. However, he is off to a smoking hot start in triple-A and is clearly ready to make his debut. Perhaps it won't be until after the Super-2 arbitration cutoff in mid-late June, but don't be surprised if Milwaukee finds a way to use his bat if he keeps applying the performance pressure. It will be better to grab him a little early than to miss out.

 

Under 25% Ownership (Possibly Still Available in Deeper Leagues)
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Fried,M (LHP, ATL) 19% 54% + Freddie Freeman says, "Don't be a chicken. Get him!"
  Vogelbach,D (1B, SEA) 3% 44% + Could hot start indicate breakout?
  Heyward,J (OF, CHC) 16% 37% o Anything's possible, but be wary
  Frazier,C (OF, NYY) 18% 32% + Looking at extended opportunity to impress
  Leake,M (RHP, SEA) 12% 24% Only a serious option in the deepest of leagues
  Swarzak,A (RHP, SEA) 24% 23% + Strong start, looks to be favorite for SEA SV opps
  Gordon,A (OF, KC) 10% 22% o Not dead yet, can be useful filler
  Thornton,T (RHP, TOR) 7% 21% o Rough division, tough home park mitigate some skill
  Ahmed,N (SS, ARI) 16% 16% + Signs of growth in '18 continue positive trajectory
  Margevicius,N (P, SD) 8% 16% + Nothing flashy, just gets outs
  Alvarez,Y (OF, HOU) 14% 1% + See Hiura above

Max Fried (LHP, ATL)—Actually, Freeman called Fried "one of the best pitching prospects I've seen in a long time." The young lefty is throwing with confidence after a strong spring and looking like an ace in the early going, though he has had some luck on his side. Control will be key, as that has been something of a bugaboo in the past. It's been strong out of the gate, however, as early signs are flashing buy.

Daniel Vogelbach (DH-1B, SEA)—After being a disappointment each of the last three seasons at the big league level, Vogelbach has come out of the gates mashing in 2019. While his minor league track record suggests this could be the real deal, there has to be some concern that each of his first six home runs have come on fastballs. Can he adjust when pitchers stop challenging him? A track record of solid command of the strike zone suggests he can. Now that Vogelbach is finally experiencing some success at the major league level, it's worth rostering him while we find out.

Nick Ahmed (SS, ARI)—While his average has been elevated by an early 41-percent hit rate, Ahmed's xBA of .285 last year was complemented by legit power growth. Throw in a moderate dose of speed and we are talking about a very useful fantasy asset.

Yordan Alvarez (OF, HOU)—While the conventional thought process is that the 21-year old Alvarez is "behind" 22-year old fellow Astros outfield prospect Kyle Tucker, performance can quickly change that perception. While Tucker is off to a miserable start at triple-A (following his failed big league trial last summer), Yordan is blistering the ball, including a three-homer day on the first weekend of play. Similar to Hiura, though there is no apparent path to playing time in Houston at the moment, this is a bat worth finding a way to warehouse if possible.

 

BEAR MARKET

These are the players who are being dropped the most, many of which have meaningful reasons for being let go. Sometimes, however, the market may be overreacting and some nice profits can be made by the forward-looking owner who buys when everyone else is selling.

Over 50% Ownership (Possibly Becoming Available in Shallow Leagues)
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  McMahon,R (1B, COL) 79% -15% o Hampson not exactly running away with the job
  Strahm,M (LHP, SD) 67% -14% + This is how fantasy profits are made
  Reyes,A (RHP, STL) 51% -14% o Major control issues cloud murky outlook
  Jansen,D (C, TOR) 92% -13% + If hitting's contagious the whole TOR lineup's infected
  Martinez,J (1B, STL) 59% -13% o Bat can still play—when it gets a chance
  Gurriel,L (SS, TOR) 54% -13% See Jansen above, without the optimism
  Dickerson,C (OF, PIT) 77% -12% + Only approx. 3 weeks from return
  Desmond,I (1B, COL) 73% -12% o At least PT protected by hefty contract
  Winker,J (OF, CIN) 72% -12% o CIN seems reluctant to give him everyday role
  Martin,L (OF, CLE) 60% -12% + Good spot atop CLE lineup, starting to heat up
  Zunino,M (C, TB) 56% -12% o Hope dwindling, even in thin C pool

Ryan McMahon (1B-2B, COL)—Seems a bit drastic for McMahon to be the highest dropped player in the wake of what is reportedly a short-term injury absence. He's not an automatic pickup, but his rehab from a reportedly "minor" elbow sprain should be monitored.

Matt Strahm (LHP, SD)—Pre-season sleeper followed up a great spring training with a clunker in his first regular season start. Rebounded in second outing with solid, if unspectacular effort. If the owner in your league got cold feet, run—don't walk—to get him on your staff. With a great home pitcher's park and a burgeoning supporting cast around him, Strahm offers an excellent chance for profit the rest of the way.

Alex Reyes (RHP, STL)—It's one thing to be sent down for a "tune-up," but the highly touted prospect has struggled with control since the outset of spring training. Unfortunately, initial results at triple-A have been even worse. It's tough to roster him in redraft leagues at this point, with even his post-TJ assumed sterling long-term keeper league value starting to come into doubt.

Danny Jansen (C, TOR)—A twenty percent hit rate is helping to magnify a slow start by the young Blue Jays backstop. With the thin market for offensive-oriented catchers, it makes sense to bet that he will get it going along with his teammates in the fantastic Skydome hitting environment.

Corey Dickerson (OF, PIT)—Although definitive information on his recovery from a posterior right shoulder strain has been tough to come by, original reports had Dickerson out "up to a month" following the April 2 injury. When a potential impact bat like this becomes available, it makes sense to try finding a way to add it.

Mike Zunino (C, TAM)—Never a good hitter for average, Zunino's slow start in his new uniform has been exacerbated by an absurdly low 13-percent hit rate. Even expecting some kind of rebound, however, leaves Zunino near the bottom of useful prospective fantasy catching options.

 

Under 50% Ownership (Possibly Becoming Available in Deeper Leagues)
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Harvey,M (RHP, LAA) 45% -14% Getting hit too hard to hang onto
  Lamb,J (3B, ARI) 44% -12% Even pre-injury did not seem like player of 2 yrs ago
  Tulowitzki,T (SS, NYY) 38% -12% Didn't take long for '19 injury parade to begin
  Miller,A (LHP, STL) 45% -10% Alarming ineffectiveness in wake of injury-marred '18
  White,T (1B, HOU) 34% -10% Limited PT hampering performance, or vice-versa
  May,T (RHP, MIN) 47% -9% o Performance solid, but doesn't appear to be in SV mix
  Dominguez,S (P, PHI) 45% -9% o Getting high-leverage work, but PHI bullpen muddled
  Knebel,C (RHP, MIL) 28% -9% Season over before it ever got started
  Hampson,G (2B, COL) 49% -8% o McMahon injury opens up golden opportunity
  Kang,J (3B, PIT) 41% -8% o At least his (few) hits tend to go for extra bases

Garrett Hampson (2B, COL)—Facing a prime window to seize the Rockies everyday 2B job in the wake of Ryan McMahon's sprained elbow, Hampson must overcome a slow start that will depress his numbers before McMahon's return. A 0-9 BB/KK ratio over his first dozen games may be a sign that the youngster was pressing early on. Monitor his progress as McMahon heals.

Jung Ho Kang (3B, PIT)—It was kinda fun when nine of his 11 spring training hits went for extra bases, including seven that left the yard. Now that the games count for real, however, only four knocks in his first 37 ABs is tough to stomach, even with a pair of doubles and a bomb mixed in. If Colin Moran can find a way to apply pressure (and that's a rather big IF), Kang will need to generate more consistent production to maintain his spot in the lineup.

 

PRE-MARKET

Just as the early bird gets the worm, the best way to gain an edge on the competition is by grabbing an emerging asset before the buying stampede begins. Here we consider lightly owned players who may be just beginning to move in the market. These players may be especially useful considerations in deeper leagues. We will try to dig a little deeper here in the early going, as we seek any useful nuggets that may have been passed over on draft day.

Players Who May Just Be Appearing on Radar, Depending on League Size/Format
  PLAYER OWN CHG RTG COMMENT
  Kelly,M (RHP, ARI) 15% 15% + S.Korean import/export showing great promise
  Galvis,F (SS, TOR) 6% 15% o New home park enhances moderate production
  Parker,B (RHP, MIN) 19% 14% + Early favorite for SV in muddled MIN bullpen
  Anderson,B (P, OAK) 17% 11% o Still effective (when healthy enough to take the ball)
  Neris,H (RHP, PHI) 3% 11% + Once again a trusted arm in PHI bullpen
  Mahle,T (RHP, CIN) 5% 10% o Early signs encouraging
  Davis,JD (3B, NYM) 2% 10% o Weak side platoon work probable ultimate upside
  Turnbull,S (RHP, DET) 7% 8% + Strikeout upside mitigated by poor supporting cast
  Garcia,L (OF, CWS) 3% 8% + Hitting and scoring runs atop emerging CWS lineup
  Swihart,B (C, BOS) 6% 5% Only in the most desperate of times...
  Gant,J (RHP, STL) 4% 5% o Fluke SV will be rarity in current swingman role
  Ross,T (RHP, DET) 3% 5% Tough division & diminishing stuff on rebuilding team
  Stammen,C (RHP, SD) 8% 4% o Ace setter-upper (for those who are into such things)
  Elias,R (LHP, SEA) 3% 4% o Appears to be top SEA high-leverage lefty option
  Avila,A (C, ARI) 2% 4% o Freak injury interrupts hot start
  Lovelady,R (LHP, KC) 0% 4% + Power arm lefty w/chance to grab key role in KC pen
  Goodwin,B (OF, LAA) 9% 3% o Performing well in strong-side platoon substitue role
  Lyles,J (RHP, PIT) 7% 3% o Initial strong starts provide encouragement
  Stanek,R (RHP, TB) 2% 2% + May be first all-star "opener"
  Duggar,S (OF, SF) 1% 2% + Starting role appears relatively secure on tanking SF
  Wendelken,J (P,OAK) 1% 2% o Versatile multi-inning bullpen arm
  Canha,M (OF, OAK) 4% 1% o Flashing power & improved plate discipline early
  Fletcher,D (2B, LAA) 4% 1% + Versatility leading to steady work (BA+SB asset)
  Cabrera,M (OF, PIT) 1% 1% + Hot start ensures meaningful role for time being
  Forsythe,L (1B, TEX) 0% 1% o Primary fill-in for injured Guzman
  Martin,J (OF, PIT) 0% 1% o Strong-side platoon fill-in offers minimal upside

Merrill Kelly (RHP, ARI)—A former eighth round pick who advanced as high as triple-A with Tampa Bay, Kelly headed overseas where he spent four years refining his arsenal and adding some octane to his heater. Though his spring training results were middling, he was named the D-Backs #5 starter and early returns have been promising, including a sterling performance against the Red Sox.

Hector Neris (RHP, PHI)—While he seems to have recovered from the struggles that saw him demoted not only from the closer role in 2018, but all the way to triple-A, manager Gabe Kapler's unconventional reliever usage makes it tough to target saves in the Phillies pen. That said, Neris appears to be in a prime high-leverage role, which should put him in prime position to rack up his share as the Phils compete for a pennant.

Tyler Mahle (RHP, CIN)—Showed flashes last year before a sore shoulder shut him down. Though control is still an issue, Mahle appears healthy to start the season and could be an option for those trolling for pitching help in deeper leagues.

Spencer Turnbull (RHP, DET)—Wins may be tough to come by, and defense may not be the best for converting ground balls into outs, but Turnbull appears to offer some intriguing strikeout upside.

Richard Lovelady (LHP, KC)—With a dearth of enticing options for high-leverage work in the Royals bullpen, the fact that Lovelady, who was not on the 40-man roster, was summoned to the big leagues so quickly is quite significant. With a history of good control and the ability to miss bats, he is in prime position to quickly emerge. Get him now, before the stampede begins.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.