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A season long Fantasy Baseball league is a marathon, not a sprint.

You have time to evaluate players and, for the most part, you do not have to make quick, rash decisions based on small sample sizes. A player’s week long slump or hot streak will not drastically change your team’s fortunes over the six month season.

However, over a month, a batter will accumulate over 100 plate appearances and starting pitchers will throw over 30 innings. These totals are large enough that informed decisions can be made from the data, especially when you can compare it to earlier statistics as well.

For this week’s Fantasy Lookout, we will take a look at some players that had strong June production that are not universally owned. I have looked at players that ranked within either the top 20 batters or starting pitchers based on Yahoo Fantasy figures. I assumed anyone under 75% owned would be considered not universally owned.

We will also touch on the probability of sustaining the strong June production for each of the players. In this week’s deep dive, we will take a look at saves for both the 2015 season and June specifically.

Strong June Production

Hitters

Player
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
BB/K
BABIP
LD%
HR/FB
Hard%
Maikel Franco
18
8
24
0
.352
0.26
.370
16.9%
29.6%
28,1%
Mitch Moreland
16
9
25
0
.323
0.22
.365
23.6%
33.3%
36.1%
Kevin Pillar
13
4
18
5
.365
0.21
.392
30.4%
13.8%
33.7%
Matt Duffy
19
5
15
1
.313
0.31
.333
18.8%
17.2%
35.0%

 

Maikel Franco has hit the ground running since his mid-May call-up from Triple A. However, I think June will go down as his best month of the season. His HR/FB ratio is basically double his minor league mark, so it does not look sustainable. His league average Hard% and subpar LD% do not support the inflated BABIP. Franco will be a useful player for the rest of the campaign, just do not expect another month like June.

Mitch Moreland ended a great June on a tear. He finished the month with two straight two-homer games. He had the fifth most home runs and RBIs for June in all of baseball. Most of Moreland’s underlying numbers are not very different from previous years. Assuming he stays healthy, he should still post career highs in home runs, RBIs, and runs. That being said, the torrid pace he recorded in June will mostly likely fade away. I expect the most regression to occur in both batting average and home runs.

Kevin Pillar’s minor league career showed us he could be a 15 home run and 30 stolen base player with a batting average around .300. Nearing the hallway point of the season, Pillar is on pace for 12 home runs, 25 stolen bases, and a .270 average. His June home run and RBI pace will probably taper off, along with his batting average. That being said, his strong LD% and Hard% supported a robust BABIP. Pillar should continue to be a useful outfielder for the remainder of the season.

Matt Duffy had yet to show the qualities of a power hitter, until June. Based on his minor league numbers, you would have expected a to see a near .300 hitter, with a solid BB/K ratio and with a little speed, nothing else. I do not think his power surge in June will be sustained going forward. I expect we have seen the high on Matt Duffy and a fall in production is on the horizon.

Pitchers

Player
W
K
ERA
WHIP
K-BB%
BABIP
LOB%
LD%
HR/FB
Hard%
Jaime Garcia
2
24
1.03
0.69
17.6%
.214
88.5%
13.1%
5.6%
22.2%
Mike Montgomery
3
29
1.62
0.90
9.9%
.213
83.7%
21.1%
2.3%
22.7%
Lance McCullers
3
40
2.11
0.89
18.8%
.215
75.3%
14.9%
5.7%
25.3%
Yovani Gallardo
2
25
0.54
0.87
12.8%
.220
89.7%
18.7%
0.0%
22.0%
Taijuan Walker
4
36
2.36
1.02
24.1%
.293
93.1%
19.8%
13.5%
19.6%

 

Jaime Garcia has recovered from his latest injury quite well. Since his return in late May, Garcia has gone at least six innings in each of his seven starts. His limited ability to pile up the strikeouts has been offset by some impeccable control. He has been very lucky with respect to LOB% and BABIP. His LD% and Hard% are consistent with a low BABIP; however, his swinging strike and contact rates are trending in the wrong direction so far in 2015. His career sample suggests a return to a mid-3 ERA and a WHIP closer to 1.25; June appears to be a mirage.

Lately, Mike Montgomery has been flirting with no-hitters and throwing complete game shutouts, while everyone else works their 9-5. Montgomery was once a top prospect; however, over the past few years he has posted sub-par numbers in the minors. Over 591.1 innings, he recorded an ERA of 5.01 with a WHIP of 1.49. I expect the regression train to hit Montgomery hard, especially when you look at his K-BB% ratio and his luck stats. Everything clicked in June and that will not be the case in the future.

Lance McCullers had an impressive start to his major league career. He has always shown the ability to strike guys out, evidenced by his minor league career K/9 mark of over 10. In the past, McCullers had trouble with walks; however, this year, he has got his control, well, under control. I expect some regression in his BABIP, but for the rest of the year I expect McCullers to post solid numbers and his strong rookie campaign will continue.

Yovani Gallardo has undergone a transformation over the past few years. He has become more of a groundball/pitch to contact type of pitcher as he has lost a few ticks off of his fastball. He now throws more two-seamers and sliders, while decreasing the usage of his four-seamer and curveball. Gallardo had an incredible June, which was aided by a great amount of fortune, but I do not think it will continue. As the weather heats up in Texas, look for Gallardo’s luck to run out.

Taijuan Walker has consistently been on the industry’s top prospect lists ever since he was drafted in 2010. Walker has improved every month so far this year. He is now limiting his free passes and his strikeout to walk ratio ranked as the seventh best in the majors for the month of June. He also had the second lowest Hard% allowed in June, trailing only Chris Sale. The light has come on for Walker and he has finally turned potential into performance. There may be a slight uptick in his ERA going forward as his LOB% normalizes, but he should continue to post great numbers.

Deep Dive: Saves

Saves are a much talked about category in Fantasy Baseball. It is one of the only statistical categories where the role is more important than the skills of the player. Any pitcher that has the closer tag is probably owned in almost any type of league. Saves are a function of the team’s performance. The more wins the team has, the more save opportunities there will be. Historical data shows us that teams save roughly 50% of their wins. Also, teams will convert roughly 70% of their save opportunities. Remember, not all blown saves are the closer’s fault. A blown save can also occur earlier in the game due to a middle reliever not getting the job done. Let’s look some team saves figures for the season so far. I have included the team’s wins, saves, blown saves, save opportunities, save to win ratio, and their save conversion rate.

Team
W
SV
BS
Opps
SV/W
SV/Opp
Rays
42
34
7
41
81%
83%
Braves
36
26
13
39
72%
67%
Twins
41
27
4
31
66%
87%
Mariners
35
22
9
31
63%
71%
Orioles
41
25
5
30
61%
83%
Yankees
41
25
4
29
61%
86%
Cardinals
51
31
5
36
61%
86%
Mets
40
24
7
31
60%
77%
Rockies
34
20
10
30
59%
67%
Nationals
43
25
10
35
58%
71%
Pirates
43
25
8
33
58%
76%
White Sox
33
19
7
26
58%
73%
Royals
44
25
9
34
57%
74%
Angels
41
23
11
34
56%
68%
Phillies
27
15
4
19
56%
79%
Brewers
31
17
4
21
55%
81%
Diamondbacks
37
20
15
35
54%
57%
Padres
37
20
6
26
54%
77%
Red Sox
36
19
9
28
53%
68%
Giants
42
22
4
26
52%
85%
Astros
46
24
8
32
52%
75%
Rangers
40
19
11
30
48%
63%
Tigers
39
18
9
27
46%
67%
Reds
35
16
10
26
46%
62%
Indians
35
16
5
21
46%
76%
Cubs
40
18
10
28
45%
64%
Marlins
32
14
11
25
44%
56%
Dodgers
44
19
12
31
43%
61%
Athletics
35
15
12
27
43%
56%
Blue Jays
41
12
12
24
29%
50%

 

A few things deserve mentioning.

The Rays and Braves had an abnormally high amount of their wins result in saves, over 70% for both teams. They are finding a way to win the close games. Brad Boxberger and Jason Grilli have required some help just to manage the workload they have been seeing.

On the other hand, the Blue Jays have saved a mere 29% of their wins. This is a function of only having a 50% save conversion rate, coupled with a league low save opportunity ratio. The Jays have the highest run differential in all of baseball, which means that a lot of their games end in blowout victories or blown saves. They have struggled with winning the close games. It should come as no surprise that the Blue Jays have struggled with the closer role all year.

On average, the teams with the most wins have the most saves and vice versa. The Brewers and Phillies rank near the bottom of the league in saves, despite having impressive save conversion ratios, since they have both struggled to win games of any kind all year. For Francisco Rodriguez and Jonathon Papelbon owners, the trade deadline can’t come soon enough.

Let’s look at the same data, but now only for the month of June.

Team
W
SV
BS
Opps
SV/W
SV/Opp
Diamondbacks
14
12
4
16
86%
75%
Braves
11
9
6
15
82%
60%
Rays
16
13
3
16
81%
81%
Royals
15
11
1
12
73%
92%
White Sox
10
7
4
11
70%
64%
Pirates
17
11
2
13
65%
85%
Red Sox
14
9
2
11
64%
82%
Brewers
14
9
0
9
64%
100%
Cardinals
18
11
1
12
61%
92%
Mets
12
7
3
10
58%
70%
Padres
12
7
2
9
58%
78%
Marlins
12
7
2
9
58%
78%
Orioles
18
10
2
12
56%
83%
Mariners
11
6
2
8
55%
75%
Twins
11
6
1
7
55%
86%
Reds
13
7
4
11
54%
64%
Yankees
15
8
1
9
53%
89%
Dodgers
15
8
6
14
53%
57%
Cubs
14
7
2
9
50%
78%
Giants
12
6
1
7
50%
86%
Athletics
15
7
4
11
47%
64%
Nationals
15
7
2
9
47%
78%
Rangers
14
6
3
9
43%
67%
Angels
14
6
3
9
43%
67%
Rockies
12
5
5
10
42%
50%
Phillies
8
3
1
4
38%
75%
Indians
11
4
0
4
36%
100%
Blue Jays
18
6
3
9
33%
67%
Astros
15
5
3
8
33%
63%
Tigers
11
2
5
7
18%
29%

 

The Rays and Braves are joined by the Diamondbacks at converting a large percentage of their wins into saves. Brad Ziegler had a great month of June, but he may not see the same amount of opportunities going forward.

The Blue Jays again show up near the bottom when you look at the save to win ratio. The Tigers, specifically Joakim Soria, have struggled both in getting save opportunities and converting them when they do arise.

With summer in full swing, strong June production can provide great insight into what lies ahead. Sometimes a strong month is nothing more than luck and good fortune. However, sometimes the underlying peripherals support the performance and the breakout should continue. Until next week’s Fantasy Lookout, enjoy the games!

 

Unless otherwise stated, data courtesy of www.fangraphs.com and www.minorleaguecentral.com

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Fabian Taylor

Fabian Taylor lives in Vancouver, BC. In his previous life, he traded natural gas for a couple firms in Calgary. He now trades stocks, bonds, and commodities out of a float home office. Family, finance and Fantasy Sports -- Is there anything else?
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