We love the game of baseball, and with so many players, it’s easy to think of 10 things every week. Here are our thoughts for week 17.
1) Jorge Soler is finally doing what he’s been capable of doing all along.
I’ve written about Soler a couple of times in this column, essentially just pointing out that he was smashing the ball and massively underperforming his power projection. Soler’s 92.3 MPH average exit velocity, 13.2% barrel rate, and 17.4-degree launch angle all say that he’s been a legitimate power threat this year, but he hasn’t been — until recently. Soler’s terribly unlucky 13.1% HR/FB ratio and .242 BABIP can no longer hold his true skill level down. After hitting just seven HRs all season before July 20th, Soler crushed six HRs in a week and a half to end the month of July with seven bombs in total. The ridiculous power display makes sense because it was coming all along. This is why it’s advantageous to stay on underperforming players, even if it takes a while for their luck to come around. Soler didn’t just break out though, he also got traded to the Atlanta Braves, who have a much better home park for power hitters. Right as he’s getting hot Soler is moving away from the 10th ranked hitters park in Kauffman Stadium to the 4th ranked one in Truist Park. I expect Soler to hit .240 ish with a massive amount of power the rest of the way.
2) I’m still in on Reid Detmers despite a poor debut.
Detmers, the Angels’ top pitching prospect was called up for his debut on Sunday after pitching to a 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 15.9 (yes 15.9, it’s not a typo) K/9 in AA/AAA. Things didn’t go as planned in his big league debut, as he gave up six earned runs in just 4.1 innings pitched and only struck out two. I’m always willing to look past a rough debut, especially when a guy puts up a 15.9 K/9 in his first taste of professional ball and makes it to the majors. Detmers was probably extremely nervous, so I want to throw the results out the window and see what else can be gleaned from his debut. First, he showed off a robust five-pitch mix featuring a four-seamer, curveball, slider, sinker, and a changeup. More pitches typically means more success in the bigs, so that’s a major positive. The movement on his pitches was also good as could be assumed for a pitcher who posted a 15.9 K/9 in the minors. The curveball, thrown at just 73.1 MPH, moves a ton on both planes of motion and it made Matt Olson look silly up there. Detmers’ fastball also has slightly above average ride and tail while his slider is of the gyro/vertical movement ilk, with above-average drop. If someone in your league is upset about the debut and has already cut him, or if he’s still on the wire, I would suggest snagging Detmers ahead of his next start.
3) Pump the brakes on the Abraham Toro hype.
As someone who’s always liked Toro as a prospect, I admit that I started getting hyped up when Toro was mashing with his new team. Something about a new uniform and new opportunity with production to boot just sucks you in… but not so fast. Toro’s torrid pace with the Seattle Mariners isn’t sustainable. Toro’s slash line so far in 2021 is a solid .252/.319/.472, while his Statcast expected line is much worse at .230/.319/.386. What’s going on here? Well, right off the bat I can see that six of eight Toro HRs have been pulled down the line in right field. Max Kepler has taught us that hitting homers just inside the foul pole is a dangerous game to play, and one that almost always ends in negative regression. Additionally, Toro just doesn’t have any impressive underlying numbers — an 85.9 MPH average exit velocity is very poor, a 6.7% barrel rate is average, and a 31.4% hard-hit rate is awful. If a few of Toro’s drives down the line go foul we’d be looking at rough numbers. I will say that Toro’s ability to keep whiffs in check while using the whole field bodes well for him, but until he improves his quality of contact I would highly suggest fading the hype around him right now.
4) The closer carousel is in full swing post-deadline.
What a crazy deadline it was with so many players changing teams, and relievers were part of it all. I’ll cut right to the chase and note who will be winning and losing in the saves department. Relievers now projected to see more save opportunities include: Kyle Finnegan, Diego Castillo, Tyler Rogers, Tyler Clippard, Dylan Floro, David Bednar, Dan Winkler, and my guy… Anthony Bender. Relievers who project to lose save opportunities include Craig Kimbrel, Liam Hendricks, Hector Neris, Jose Alvarado, Ranger Suarez, Brad Hand, Richard Rodriguez, and Daniel Hudson. Invest in murky situations before things shake out to get an edge on your opponents.
5) Brian Anderson is back and… better than ever?
Anderson has always quietly gone about his business, rarely receiving acclaim while being a glue guy for fantasy teams. Anderson is even more under the radar this year than usual because he recently returned from a serious injury that kept him out multiple months. Like clockwork, Anderson is on pace for a .260 with 20 HR and solid counting stats, but he’s added a valuable and unexpected facet to his game. Anderson’s career-high in SBs is five back in 2019, but he already has four SBs this year in just 151 ABs; he’s also yet to be caught stealing. All of this information is to say, Anderson is probably being overlooked in your league and he deserves to be rostered everywhere the rest of the season now that he’s running.
6) Matt Manning is trying new things to adapt to big league hitters.
It’s been a struggle for Matt Manning in the big leagues thus far, but to his credit, he’s making some changes after seeing what works and what doesn’t. Despite a cumulative 5.59 ERA and 1.45 WHIP this season, Manning has allowed two earned runs or less in four out of his last five starts. During that period Manning started using a sinker that he’s now throwing more than his four-seamer (which was getting obliterated). Additionally, it appears that he made a change to his curveball, which is now being thrown with significantly more break. The key for Manning going forward is going to be limited hard contact and missing more bats. A sinker and improved curveball could be what he needs to do both of those things. Manning is still a top 25 prospect in the game, so seeing him make adjustments after struggling reinforces the belief that he still has a chance to live up to the hype. I’ll continue to watch Manning closely, and I don’t think we’ve seen the last changes he will make to his arsenal this year.
7) Jose Miranda is a prospect that can’t be ignored.
It’s okay if you don’t know who Jose Miranda is, most of your league mates don’t either, but now is the time to get acquainted. Miranda was a solid prospect coming into 2021, but he was projected to be a role player at the highest level. Miranda has changed all of that during a truly Ruthian 2021 AA/AAA campaign in which he’s slashed an absurd .347/.410/.612 with 22 HRs and a 30:48 BB/K ratio at just 23 years of age. With the Twins falling out of the AL Central race, it would be shocking if they don’t give Jose a shot in the big leagues, he sure as hell deserves it the way he’s played. Miranda is a priority stash in all leagues, and he’s one of the most intriguing buys in all of dynasty.
8) Touki Toussaint is a textbook post-hype sleeper.
Plenty of talent? Check. Struggled with injuries? Check. Flamed out in limited MLB action to this point? Check. Touki Toussaint checks all of the boxes as a post-hype buy whose value will likely never be lower. Toussaint has electric stuff, headlined by a famously wicked curveball and a nasty splitter to go along with low to mid 90s heat. Other than staying healthy, Toussaint’s issue at the MLB level has been command. He’s walked 5.4 hitters per nine innings to this point in his career, but he’s making a concerted effort to throw more strikes. Case in point — Touki has only walked 2.1 hitters per nine in 2021. In those 17 innings pitched he has 3.24 SIERA and a 10.6 K/9. I’m all in on adding Toussaint anywhere you can.
9) Will Edward Olivares finally get a fair shake?
Dayton Moore has struggled as the Royals GM since the glory days when they won it all, and his handling of Edward Olivares is another example. Olivares has done nothing but dominate AAA and display his upside in the MLB action he has this year, but they continually send him down as soon as he looks like he’s settling in. Even more maddening is that the Royals’ other OF options have been atrocious save for Andrew Benintendi. Olivares is back up with the big league club again now, and if he is finally allowed to remain there then he could be a well-rounded fantasy asset. Olivares has displayed the ability to hit .260+ (he’s even hitting .322 at AAA) to go along with a 20/20 level power and speed combo. It’s time that the Royals give him a fair shake, and because I don’t think they really have a choice I’m adding him where I can.
10) Luis Garcia will get his shot in Washington following Trea Turner’s departure.
Luis Garcia has been a well-regarded prospect for a few years now, and he’s put together a decent .257/.291/.359 line in 167 MLB ABs from 2020-2021. Garcia’s most promising skill at the MLB level has been his ability to make contact. Garcia’s 16.7% K rate in limited 2021 action is excellent for a rookie, and he could improve to an elite mark in that area as he develops. In part because of his ability to limit K’s and use the whole field, Garcia has hit for average throughout his time in the minors and he projects to do the same in the big leagues. The big question is whether or not he can improve his quality of contact to generate more power. Garcia has hit 13 HRs in only 142 AAA ABs this year, a massive number in such a short amount of time especially considering that his career-high in any season was seven HRs in 500 ABs back in 2018. A -5.9 launch angle and 87.2 MPH average exit velocity is odd to see for him in the majors this year when you contrast it with the AAA power surge. Because of the discrepancy, he’s one to watch very closely if the power starts showing up in any way at all. Garcia should have ample playing time to iron out the kinks with Trea Turner out of the picture, and if the AAA power ever does arrive he would be an elite asset. I like buying Garcia right now in dynasty before a possible surge, but in redraft leagues, I want to see some pop before I roster him.