We are nearing Memorial Day, which has been viewed by many as a cut-off to determine whether Fantasy teams are contenders or pretenders this season.
Memorial Day also marks the very end of the Super 2 deadline, which causes chatter and hype about the next top prospects to reach a fever pitch.
We are also in the midst of some history as Jackie Bradley Jr. has been incredibly hot, like much of the Red Sox lineup, and has posted an impressive hitting streak.
There’s always plenty to talk about in the baseball world, but those are just a few of the hottest topics around the game.
Let’s take a look.
2016 Fantasy Baseball Hot Topics
Top Prospects and Hit Streaks!
Potential June Call-ups
As the calendar prepares to turn from May to June, the baseball community at large gets in a frenzy about which top prospects will get the call as the Super 2 deadline passes. This is such a tradition by now that players like Tyler Glasnow, Lucas Giolito, and Julio Urias were drafted and stashed in many leagues. We all want the next star that can change our fortunes mid-season.
In some cases, these players can be catalysts to a championship run for your Fantasy team. One only needs to flip the calendar back to last year to see Carlos Correa emerge from top prospect to the best shortstop in Fantasy Baseball. Michael Conforto was also excellent upon his call-up. Pitchers like Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, and Carlos Rodon, to a lesser degree, all were Fantasy assets last season.
While we may not have seen the highest prospects yet this season, we have seen some highly regarded prospects hit the major leagues including Jose Berrios, Sean Manaea, Blake Snell, and Robert Stephenson. To this point, they haven’t been able to find the same success as last year’s class.
Taken together, the group has pitched 58 innings, roughly the equivalent of a full-time starter this season, and in that span has recorded a 6.83 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 47 strikeouts, and a 4-3 record.
These numbers aren’t mean to suggest that these players will never find success in a real life and/or Fantasy context later in their career or even later this season. Rather, it is just a warning to temper expectations and to not expect the next Syndergaard to swoop in and save your season.
There are already concerns about each of the top pitching prospects, either due to their likely role on their team or the stuff they have shown in the minors this season. Pittsburgh Pirates GM Neal Huntington has made it clear that Tyler Glasnow has to work on his changeup. Lucas Giolito was seen as the most bulletproof of these prospects, yet he has 22 walks in 35.1 innings of work this season. Finally, it has been reported and speculated that Urias will get the call this year, but it may only be as a reliever coming out of the bullpen.
That said, these players are fine stashes and they are being hyped because they are ultra-talented. They could propel you to a Fantasy championship. Just don’t count on it.
Jackie Bradley Jr.
Bradley was once a heralded prospect. While he was known mostly for his glove, it was assumed that his bat would catch up. With a .709 career OPS to date, however, that hasn’t been the case.
That may be changing this season. As of May 23, Jackie Bradley has a 27-game hitting streak that has been intact since April 24. In that time, he has recorded nine multi-hit games, seven home runs, seven doubles, three triples, 30 RBIs, 17 R, and one stolen base.
His current OPS for the season is 1.031, or roughly .400 points higher than his career rate. The easiest answer to why this has happened is that he has made more contact as his current contact rate is nearly five points higher than his career rate.
This has seemingly given him the confidence to be more aggressive at the plate as he is also swinging at the highest rate of pitches he has seen in his career. Not only is he making more contact, but he is also making better contact.
While it is pretty easy to say he won’t continue to outhit all qualified hitters besides Yoenis Cespedes and David Ortiz (as measured by OPS), it certainly seems as if Bradley has taken legitimate steps forward. Some comparisons that properly approximate his value this season include Dexter Fowler, Marcell Ozuna, Yasiel Puig, and Josh Reddick.
In other words, Bradley could turn out to be the next great post-hype breakout.