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Last week’s five biggest fantasy surprises: Is Anthony Rizzo’s resurgence real?

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Anthony Rizzothe first taste of New York was wonderful. After being traded by Rizzo from the Chicago Cubs at the deadline, he posted basically the same numbers with the New York Yankees as he did with the Cubs. He did not take advantage of the team’s short right porch as expected and posted a lower hit percentage when he got to New York.

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Everything has changed in 2022. Rizzo hit 19 home runs — just three short of last year’s 22 — in 66 games. It took an off-season, but it looks like Rizzo has fitted his swing to his new home.

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With that said, Rizzo is 32 years old. Can fantasy managers really trust him to set a new career high in dingers, or was his burst of power in the first half due to nothing more than luck?

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Ranks are based on standard Sportzshala fantasy leagues.

Anthony Rizzo, New York Yankees 1B

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 1

Seasonal Fantasy Rank: 20

It’s easy to look at Rizzo’s home run distribution and assume that the power surge is the result of home games at Yankee Stadium. All but one of his 19 home runs were carried to right field.

Rizzo’s expected home run data shows that he would have had fewer home runs if he played at a different home park, though not by much. He would have 17 home runs if he played at Progressive Field, which is slightly below average park for home runs, for example. He would have 12 home runs at Oracle Park, but those are extreme conditions for lefties.

Half of his games at Yankee Stadium certainly help, but Rizzo deserves credit for changing his approach to fit his new home park. He decided to sell out for strength, displaying extreme ball-throwing speed and pulling the ball 50.3 percent of the time. The advantages of this approach should be obvious. In Yankee Stadium, strong balls thrown into right field are more likely to turn into home runs.

The main disadvantage of Rizzo’s approach is its average performance level. Hitting bats with such extreme speed can lower your average and BABIP. Those flying balls that fly past the stands usually fall into the trap.

Don’t expect Rizzo’s .238 average to jump much, but the power spike looks real.

Andrew Vaughn, Chicago White Sox 1B, OF

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 19

Seasonal fantasy rating: 153

After an average rookie season, Andrew Wong fulfills its promise.

Won is hitting .330/.381/.505 in 48 games. His breakthrough was one of the biggest surprises of the 2022 MLB season, but should fantasy managers believe it?

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Even in his disappointing rookie year, Won showed promising signs. He constantly hit the ball hard and had an elite top speed on the way out, indicating a strong power ceiling. He was held back by the fact that he was a rookie and saw a pitch in the major leagues for the first time in his career. Vaughn, as a rookie, showed slightly below average speed, and was extremely vulnerable to fouling.

Andrew Vaughn delivered on his fantastic promise.
Andrew Vaughn continues to be a fantastic force. (Photo by Sarah Steer/Getty Images)

It’s a cliché, but Vaughn seems to have learned to hit in the offseason.

He’s made the necessary adjustments to his secondary offerings and is hitting .273 against broken balls and .368 against out-of-speed serves. Vaughn hit .164 and .214 respectively on those types of pitches as a rookie. Vaughn did well against fastballs last year, but he will wipe them out in 2022; he has a .365 average against heaters. He drastically reduced the percentage of his scent, turning it into one of his greatest strengths.

Vaughn’s barrel speed has slowed down and he’s still ready to chase creepers out of the zone, but there’s more than enough evidence that he’s had great success as a striker. Having started the season ranked seventh, Vaughn is now the White Sox’s No. 2 forward, indicating that Tony La Russa and the front office believe Vaughn is the real deal.

Nick Pivetta, Boston Red Sox SP

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 17

Seasonal fantasy rating: 84

Experienced fantasy managers know that there are three constants in life: death, taxes, and persuasion. Nick Pivetta after two good starts.

That’s not exactly what’s happening this time. Pivetta’s sample size is much larger than two games; his last nine starts have been excellent. He has a 1.77 ERA and has eliminated one batter per inning in the last 61 frames.

Pivetta’s fast ball seems to be the driving force behind his success. This season, Butters is hitting just .156 against Pivetta’s four-running machine. Butters hit .255 against the field in 2021 and .286 against him in 2020.

It is difficult to say exactly how the field has improved. His speed of spinning and hitting the fastball hasn’t changed since last season. The field has slightly more vertical movement and slightly less horizontal movement, which may partly explain the success. Pivetta also has better command of the field. He was better at holding the ball high and inside against right-handers and high and outside against lefties. These are positive changes, but they probably don’t fully explain why Pivetta’s fastball was so dominant.

Even if the pitch improves, there will likely be some regression in Pivett’s numbers. His .156 batting average against a fastball is likely to rise, as is his low 8.3 percent of home runs against a flyball. Pivetta is allowing more flying this season, but is close to giving up home runs. He still forgoes a lot of hard hitting and a high average exit rate, which means the low home run rate is sure to rise.

Fantasy managers have seen this before from Pivetta. He looks good for a few starts but fails to build on that success. Pivetta may be the better pitcher this time around, but regression still seems inevitable.

Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies, of.

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 13

Seasonal fantasy rating: 74

If Rizzo can show a career in old age, perhaps Charlie Blackmon can too. Blackmon, 35, is hitting .270/.326/.471 with 11 home runs in his first 60 games in 2022.

The strength numbers came as a big surprise as Blackmon hit just .422 between 2020 and 2021. If his power surge in 2022 is real, he may have a chance to return to No. 2 outfielder territory.

Charlie Blackmon with the Rocky Mountains.
Charlie Blackmon has turned back time this season. (Photo by Isaiah Vasquez/Clarkson Creative/Getty Images)

However, unlike Rizzo, it looks like Blackmon will have a hard time supporting this.

Most of his indicators are moving in the wrong direction. His average exit speed is a career low 85.5 mph and his hit rate is down to 32.5%. In addition to that, he hits more, walks less and takes more steps outside the zone. These are warning signs for an aging striker.

Despite these changes, Blackmon is making more contact and his hitting frequency has remained consistent, giving hope that he can still reach a decent average. Power remains a big issue. His 11 home runs are for the most part earned if you look at his expected numbers. But Blackmon’s indicators suggest that it will be difficult for him to maintain such a pace.

Craig Kimbrel, Los Angeles Dodgers

Fantasy rating for the last seven days: 517

Seasonal Fantasy Rating: 368

After a disappointing second half of 2021 Craig Kimbrel looked like an easy candidate for bounce back after being acquired by the Los Angeles Dodgers shortly before the MLB regular season. The Dodgers seem to improve every pitcher they get, and Kimbrel had little to no competition for a closer role on one of the best teams in baseball. It was a union made in heaven.

In 2022, everything went wrong. Kimbrel has a 4.71 ERA in 22 games. He’s been especially bad lately, posting a 7.00 ERA over his last nine appearances.

Luckily for Kimbrel’s fantasy managers, better things are on the horizon. In the same terrible stretch, he has 2.24 FIP and 0.500 BABIP, which suggests that he was out of luck.

Despite his poor ERA, Kimbrel is doing some encouraging things in his first year with the Dodgers. His ground ball rate increased significantly, resulting in an extremely low home run rate of 5.6% per flyball rate. His strikeout rate has dropped but is still high enough to suggest that Kimbrel is still a good pitcher.

However, there are still some reasons for concern. Kimbrel’s walking speed increased and this put him in a few bad situations. His fastball, in particular, was terrible. The batters are hitting .341 against him. Kimbrel hasn’t lost much speed on the field, so either he puts himself on the fastball and gets knocked down, or he’s dealing with a mechanical or rollover problem.

When batters get to Kimbrel, they score more often than usual. The Kimbrel Base Remaining Rate is 64.4 percent. His career average is 82.3 percent, which suggests things are about to get better in this area.

It’s been a bumpy ride, especially lately, but it’s enough to suggest that Kimbrel is in for better days.



Source: sports.yahoo.com

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