use Current TG Fantasy Baseball Auction Values to identify the winning (and losing) hitters at this point in the season, then cross-check them against Statcast data. What did we miss? Why do these types surprise us so positively and negatively, and how likely are their current values to be maintained? Values are based on a $260 betting cap in a 12-team mixed league playing a standard 5×5 roto.
Sandy Alcantara ($38, #1 SP): He reminds me of young Bartolo Colon when Colon had an elite 100 mph speed but the Ks lagged. Now the Alcantara Ks are at least average. I’ve always been an isolated big guy with pitchers, believing it was predictive of direction no matter how bad the nerds fought me. But we now have better stats and the certainly expected ISO (expected average minus expected slugging) is at least perfectly descriptive. It is around 0.100 in expected ISO. So you only need three hits in an inning to score a run. It is very difficult to do. You can walk around in there, but it’s in the 67th percentile in control. It limits its locations. Man is simply a beast. He’s been on the pace for 238 innings, about 22% more than an average starter. This really increases its value (and its Ks).
Tony Gonsolin ($22, #7 SP): Lots of red ink here, but not much bright red, if we’re picky. In the end, he’s good at everything but not good at anything. When does he hit a wall with the sleeves? I’m not a Verducci Effect guy, in fact I railed against her. We saw how dumb it was after pandemic season, when it was ignored with no ill effect. But Gonsolin has already doubled his previous high in MLB. I’m not saying he’s at risk of injury, but will he have the stamina this year after such a limited career? We are in uncharted territory. I would sell it for $20 now, that’s for sure.
Nestor Cortes ($18, #9): I’m really kicking myself for not respecting Cortes’ weirdness with this hesitant delivery. All pitching stuff like that is good. It makes him a unicorn. Hitters can’t stick to their normal routine and are forced to think, which interrupts the ghost in the machine/area/whatever you want to call it. Luis Tiant has made it his job. Cortes also has a higher turnover rate. I mean, his predicted ERA is 2.75. It’s a real thing. The man is an inspiration to those with average talent (e.g. seventh percentile speed). He found in his delivery the equivalent of having a knuckleball. That’s how I see it, and how you should too.
Martin Perez ($18, #9): I guess he’s the (very) late-blooming southpaw? There is no explanation for why his cutter is so much better than last year. So I tend not to believe it. It’s his third necessary throw, though. He’s more like the No. 30 pitcher for the rest of the year, I believe, not the Top 10. But I think the market agrees with me, so it’s not very actionable.
Kyle Wright ($18, #9): It’s by no means dominant but it’s solid. Not a Top 10 pitcher. More like Top 30 – a solid No. 3 starter in the mixed league. He’s like a Kevin Gausman at the 50th percentile. He really needs a slider to reach his actual ERA. That’s a terrible pitch now (expected .307/.484 average/slugging).
Miles Mikolas ($17, No. 15): He beats the expected ERA by almost a point, but we should expect that with the Cardinals defense. Mikolas has a perfect command of four pitches and it seems to throw the hitters off balance. They are all effective. It also has very good RPMs. The WHIP is real, given the near non-existent rides. Mikolas is the perfect pitcher for his team. The Ks are on the line – he must own about 20%. The hitters help him out here.
The ugly one
Lucas Giolito ($0, unrated): His reviews this year are worse for his mother’s 1980s “Dead Heat” (zombie/cop/boyfriend movie). Yes, I felt COVID explained the month-long lull and subsequent rebound. But he lost one mph of his fastball. The movement of its four seams is halved. He gives up crazy barrels. The big culprit is a change that was just hammered (.490 slugging). But here’s the bottom line – the expected hits when changing it are 140 points less than the real thing. I expect that to stabilize with, perhaps, an exponential effect (ERA the rest of the year should be around 3.60).
Trevor Rogers ($0, unrated): Probably the pitcher that non-competitive teams have scored more than any other. Sure, he’s unlucky – but his expected ERA should still be around 4.00. His walks are up 25% from last year, so there are 0.60 more runs expected per game. If we follow his expected ERA last year, that puts his expected ERA this year, just because of the extra steps, at around 4.20. That’s almost up to its expected 4.92. His change went from excellent to good. Here’s a guy who needs to get that fastball usage down to around 40% and replace that 12 percentage points with more sliders and changes. But, you know, it has velocity! So he’ll keep throwing it (and getting hammered).
charlie morton ($0, unrated): Look, he’s 38 and never been great for an extended period of time, so we all should have seen it coming. It’s not Max Scherzer. It wasn’t a total meltdown, but Morton’s expected ERA is also over 4.00. He was very lucky with a sinker that gets slammed (expected slugging .473). But he keeps throwing it because his four seams are blasted exactly as expected (.453 for both). There will be no rebound here.
(Top photo: Paul Rutherford – USA TODAY Sports)