FANTASY PLAYS: Is Cody Bellinger the best player in fantasy?
Cody Bellinger is the best hitter in fantasy baseball, Jose Berrios is finally the prospect everyone hoped to see, Father Time has seemingly caught Jose Bautista and Michael Fulmer is struggling. How you should treat each of these players and pitchers who are quality Week 13 streamers are covered in this week’s Cheers, Tears and Fears.
Cody Bellinger, LAD – Aaron Judge wishes he was Cody Bellinger. At least, we can assume as much considering how amazing Bellinger has been. Bellinger leads the league in home runs (22) and RBIs (49) since his debut on April 25, and the home runs are four more than Judge’s total. So, just how good is Bellinger? Even with those gaudy numbers and 41 runs tacked on, there are a few concerns. Bellinger has a 30.0 K percentage, which was 28.6 in his 18 Triple-A games this season. Any time you strike out nearly 30 percent of the time in the minors, there is a high likelihood that you will struggle to hit for a quality average in the majors. Bellinger also has a .395 ISO, which dwarfs David Ortiz’s league-leading .305 mark last year. Bellinger’s career high in the minors was .284 before his call-up this year, so it’s safe to assume we’ll see regression there. Don’t misunderstand; this isn’t a breakdown telling you Bellinger isn’t for real. If you own him, though, you need to field offers if you’re not in first or second place. Bellinger isn’t going to hit 60 home runs, and an adjustment phase is coming.
Jose Berrios, MIN – Speaking of the adjustment phase concern, Berrios looks to have reached that mark and is still having success. Berrios has a 7-1 record in eight starts with a 2.67 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Both Berrios’ FIP and xFIP are higher, which should have you looking deeper into his numbers. The first stat that jumps out at you is Berrios’ .227 BABIP. While he’s a significantly better pitcher than what we saw last year, his BABIP was .344 last year. Marco Estrada was the league leader last year, and his mark was .234. and he’s also a major league veteran. On the positive side, Berrios’ Hard percentage and LD percentage against are both excellent, which leads to fewer hits when batters make contact. Berrios has also has batters swinging and missing more and has better control than last year. Berrios’ transformation is real, and he’s looking like the prospect we hoped to see last year. The only reason I mention the BABIP is that Berrios isn’t quite a sub-3.00 ERA pitcher, meaning you should test the trade waters to see if anyone is going gaga over his performance so far.
Jose Bautista, TOR – Calling Bautista’s season a roller coaster would be more than accurate. In April, Bautista had a .178 average with one home run, seven RBIs and 13 Runs. In May, Bautista woke up with a .317 average and 9/21/23 for homers, RBIs and runs. Well, June came and Bautista hit the snooze button. This month, he’s batting .123 with 2/3/8 in those categories. What should you do? Is Bautista in store for a monster July or is there more bad than good here? You can see a sign of luck being a factor, as Bautista’s BABIPs have gone .246, .329 and .143 each month, but that goes hand in hand with his Hard percentage marks of 27.4, 36.7 and 25.0. So, it’s not entirely good/bad luck, and that is echoed in Bautista’s LD percentage falling and his GB percentage increasing. Bautista is making poor contact, and it’s fair to wonder if age is catching up to him, especially after his lackluster 2016 season. If you own Bautista, I would try to sell him while claiming, ”Bautista is about to bounce back like he did in May.” If you can get anything near Top 25 outfielder value for Bautista, do it, as the signs are telling us that he might not ever have a month like May again.
Michael Fulmer, DET – Most everyone expected some regression for Fulmer this year. However, through May 22, it appeared Fulmer was on his way to another terrific season. Unfortunately, Fulmer’s last four starts have been quite poor with a 5.54 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and just 13 strikeouts in 26.0 innings. Fulmer saw his K/9 fall to just 4.5 in those starts, and his competition ranked poorly overall or had a high strikeout percentage. He should have fared better. Two reasons for Fulmer’s struggles are his pitches (slider and changeup) lost effectiveness, and Fulmer is hanging pitches in the strike zone more often. It’s quite possible that Fulmer is just slumping, but it’s worth monitoring his next start, especially for pitch location. Either the league is adjusting to Fulmer or he’s struggling a bit with the rigors of his second year in the majors. Either way, another rough start would be worthy of some panic from his owners.
The Padres strike out more than any other team and struggle to score, which makes Mike Foltynewicz of the Braves and Brandon McCarthy, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers great starts. The Orioles have struggled this past month, especially with the loss of Chris Davis. Feel free to start Blue Jays J.A. Happ and Jacob Faria, and Rays pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb against them. Lastly, both Mike Fiers and David Paulino are interesting streaming options against the weak Athletics offense.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by Jake Ciely of the Fantasy Sports Network, http://FNTSY.com