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Last week’s five biggest fantasy surprises: Have the Rays found their next Ben Zobrist?

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When should a fantasy manager buy into skill changes? This is a complex question that can have a huge impact on your fantasy league.

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In the case of a young, promising prospect taking a step forward, how Andrew Wong, fantasy managers jump on board early. Vaughn and players like him were always meant to be good, so fantasy managers are willing to believe in skill changes relatively early.

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But what if the same phenomenon happens to a player who has been playing at the intermediate level for many years? Fantasy managers are rightfully skeptical and tend to wait out such situations.

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This provides a buying opportunity for those willing to do more research. If you’re one of the early advocates of getting a previously mediocre player to the next level, you might just end up at the next level. Ben Zobrist on your fantasy list. Speaking of which…

Ranks are based on standard Sportzshala fantasy leagues.

Isaac Paredes, Tampa Bay Races 2B, 3B

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 1

Seasonal fantasy rating: 528

The Rays have already experienced Zobrist’s experience, and they may have done it again.

Isaac Walls hitting .255 / .315 / .612 since he was drafted to the majors. He has an incredible 10 home runs in 34 games.

There are many reasons to doubt Paredes’ game. Until 2022, Paredes had a .215/.290/.302 slash and only 2 home runs in major tournaments. His performance in junior high was better, but Paredes was not considered a big-name prospect.

With that said, Paredes has shown some talent. He has been named to Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects twice. In 2019, he was ranked 94th, and in 2020 – 100th. Even though he has already played two different seasons in major tournaments, he is only 23 years old and it is easier to buy his breakthrough at that age.

Considering it’s only 34 games, the numbers show promising signs. Paredes increased his fire rate and hit rate, which could explain his sudden power surge. It also helps that its top exit speed is 110.4 mph, which is in the 70th percentile. Last season, Paredes topped out at the 42nd percentile, showing that the Rays have unleashed the power potential of his racquet.

This season, Paredes himself helps these forces, using an extreme approach. More than 50 percent of his batted balls are pulled, and his flying ball percentage is up nearly 6 percent.

All this is very promising. Paredes looks like a different player after joining the Rays in the offseason. Some regression is inevitable as he is not going to maintain a .612 miss percentage all season long, but if you need help in second or third place and are willing to make a speculative addition, Paredes is already showing huge upside potential.

Christian Javier, Houston Astros SP

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 8

Seasonal fantasy rating: 79

After going seven innings without a hit against the New York Yankees juggernaut, Christian Xavier deserves more attention. After that performance, Javier now has a 2.73 ERA in 62 2/3 innings this season.

Is his breakthrough sustainable?

Javier has always shown a lot of ability, but he needed a constant opportunity. Now that he has it, this performance shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.

Christian Javier with the Astros is big on fantasy
Christian Javier has a recurring role which makes him a strong fantasy character. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)

With that said, Javier has eliminated one of his biggest weaknesses this season. His walking speed decreased from 12.5% ​​to 9.4%. He can still improve in this area, but that’s a positive sign nonetheless.

He also had great success with his fastball. Batters is hitting .168 on the field in 2022. He has a bit more vertical movement and Javier uses him to zone up and against right-handers. When they made contact, the batters toss Javier’s fastball into the air, but do not hit him hard enough to cause serious damage.

However, there is one problem with Javier’s escape. This season, he has turned into an extreme pitcher. His 23.9 percent of ground balls would be the lowest among starters if Javier were in contention for the ERA title.

Despite this, Javier’s flyball home run ratio is 4.8 percent, the lowest of his career by a wide margin. While it’s true that Javier limits hard contact, it’s still a dangerous combination. Eventually, some of those flying balls will turn into home runs, boosting Javier’s ERA.

Even so, Javier still has a lot of value. Now firmly entrenched in the Astros rotation, Javier should continue to be a viable fantasy starter. There should be some concern about inning caps going forward, but he will be a fantastic above-average starter as long as he’s in the rotation.

Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves 3B

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 591

Seasonal Fantasy Rating: 55

Austin Riley didn’t fully justify last season’s breakthrough, although that didn’t greatly affect its fantasy value. Riley is still ranked 55th among all players, although he dropped .050 points from his average in 2022.

Last week was especially bad as Riley hit just 3 of 15 without a home run. Recessions happen to every player and Riley’s managers don’t have to worry about it in the long run.

So why focus on it here? Because he has the potential to be even better than the 55th player moving forward.

Riley somehow became an even bigger monster at the plate. His average exit speed is 93.4 mph, placing him in the 97th percentile. Its barrel rate of 15.7 percent is even better than last year and puts it in the 93rd percentile. His hit rate has increased and he is throwing the ball in the air more often. This should lead to a huge number of home runs, but you knew that when you picked him.

What about the middle level? Riley’s figure of 0.307 last year was supported by 0.368 BABIP. It would be difficult for Riley to maintain this, although hitting the ball hard could make up for some of that loss. However, some of the fights for averages are perfectly legal. Riley chases pitches with a bit more speed and hits more often.

But there is still a chance that he will improve those numbers. Riley’s performance against fastballs has plummeted in 2022. After hitting .291 with a .508 hitting percentage against fastballs in 2021, Riley has a .230 batting average and .454 hitting fastballs in 2022. Riley is actually hitting even harder fastballs in 2022, so it’s hard to imagine that this fight will continue.

If you chose Riley, you are probably happy with his performance. Although he is not as good in numbers as he was last season, there is evidence that he has actually been a better offensive player this year. Perhaps in the second half, he will take another step forward and finish even higher than last year, when he was the 40th fantasy player in Sportzshala’s standard leagues.

Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox SP

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 547

Seasonal Fantasy Rating: 704

The Fantasy Managers Who Have Been Waiting So Long Lance Lynn must be disappointed after his first three starts. Lynn is carrying a 6.19 ERA over those first 18 innings – not what you want.

At first glance, Lynn looks like the same pitcher. His out rate remains stable and his walking speed is elite. He was unlucky with his .354 BABIP, 20 percent home run to flyball percentage and 52.9 percent remaining on base. All three numbers are so out of Lynn’s norm that they should all improve as the season progresses.

It’s also worth digging through his game logs to see just how Lynn struggled. His first outing was bad. Lynn gave up 10 hits against the Detroit Tigers and was unable to go deep into the game. His other two outings were solid until his last inning. Lynn gave up one earned run in five innings against a tough offense from the Toronto Blue Jays before falling apart in the sixth. He had a similar experience against the Baltimore Orioles, giving up two runs in six innings before everything fell apart in the seventh.

Lynn has some responsibility for this, but White Sox manager Tony La Russa also needs to understand when Lynn needs to be removed from games. Lynn threw 99 passes against the Blue Jays and 109 against the Orioles in his second and third starts on the injured list. If La Russa had been more careful, Lynn’s managers would likely have fared much better at the start of his season.

La Russa remains Lynn’s real manager for now, which is worrying. Ideally, Lynn won’t be as tired later in the start as he plays a few more matches. He’s shown enough to suggest he’ll still be an above-average fantasy starter soon. Fantasy managers should not panic after a disappointing start to the year.

John Bertie, Miami Marlins 2B, 3B, OF

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 17

Seasonal fantasy rating: 121

If your league values ​​stealing, John Bertie should already be on the register. He leads the majors with 22 stolen bases, has only been caught twice and has one of the best sprinting speeds in baseball. It looks like he gets the green light every time he’s on base, which means he’ll keep posting tasteless totals of stolen bases.

Since the stolen bases are guaranteed, the biggest question is whether Bertie can continue to advance. Bertie is hitting .297/.389/.421 on the season. All three of those numbers represent a new career high for Bertie (in his sample of four games in 2018).

John Bertie with the Marlins.
John Bertie keeps stealing bases, but will he keep hitting like a star? (Photo by Michael Reeves/Getty Images)

Maintaining these numbers will be difficult. Bertie uses a BABIP in .394 which is likely to be regressed. His speed can help in this area, as fast players can land more shots when they put the ball in play, but a BABIP of around .400 is extreme.

Bertie hasn’t changed much in his game either. He’s not known for hitting the ball hard and that hasn’t changed. His barrel speed is faster, although that doesn’t say much compared to what Bertie has done in the past. Its launch angle is also higher, although not extreme. Must,…


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