MLB: One Man's Trash... (Week 24)

MLB: One Man's Trash... (Week 24)

This article is part of our One Man's Trash series.

Throughout the season, I've been looking at some of the players being dropped by fantasy managers to see if their decisions were a little rash. Some of the players dropped will provide fantasy value going forward. Someone who will remain nameless decided it was a good idea to drop Robbie Ray and Tyler O'Neill last year in the first couple of weeks.

The players I'm looking at this week are a mix of immediate adds and those who are just a tweak or two away from taking a step forward.

For the information, I'm going to focus on players dropped at the NFBC and CBS. Both Yahoo and Fantrax's add and drop numbers are based on the past day or so and can be dominated by streaming starters. CBS and NFBC are based on the past week. 

As a general rule, I will stay away from injured players and just focus on players expected to play.

Batters

Keston Hiura (65 NFBC Drops, -2% at CBS)

After hitting .303/.368/.570 with 19 homers and 9 steals in 348 plate appearances as a 22-year-old in 2019, Hiura has gotten worse each season. The basic reason for his decline is an exploding strikeout rate.

SeasonK%
201931%
202035%
202139%
202242%

The deal is that an eight percent walk rate and .229 ISO has him with a .775 OPS this season. Of the batters with at least 200 plate appearances, he currently ranks 79th in OPS, ahead of Ronald Acuna

Throughout the season, I've been looking at some of the players being dropped by fantasy managers to see if their decisions were a little rash. Some of the players dropped will provide fantasy value going forward. Someone who will remain nameless decided it was a good idea to drop Robbie Ray and Tyler O'Neill last year in the first couple of weeks.

The players I'm looking at this week are a mix of immediate adds and those who are just a tweak or two away from taking a step forward.

For the information, I'm going to focus on players dropped at the NFBC and CBS. Both Yahoo and Fantrax's add and drop numbers are based on the past day or so and can be dominated by streaming starters. CBS and NFBC are based on the past week. 

As a general rule, I will stay away from injured players and just focus on players expected to play.

Batters

Keston Hiura (65 NFBC Drops, -2% at CBS)

After hitting .303/.368/.570 with 19 homers and 9 steals in 348 plate appearances as a 22-year-old in 2019, Hiura has gotten worse each season. The basic reason for his decline is an exploding strikeout rate.

SeasonK%
201931%
202035%
202139%
202242%

The deal is that an eight percent walk rate and .229 ISO has him with a .775 OPS this season. Of the batters with at least 200 plate appearances, he currently ranks 79th in OPS, ahead of Ronald Acuna Jr., Matt Olson and Teoscar Hernandez. Prorating his stats out to 600 plate appearances, he would have 35 home runs and 13 stolen bases. In the real world, he has been a positive contributor. 

The issue in that the fantasy realm his .229 AVG is a major drag, especially since he's only starting about half the time, with Rowdy Tellez and Andrew McCutchen also spending time at DH.

It'll be interesting to see if he gets another chance at full-time at-bats. If so, he might be a solid contributor except in batting average.

Spencer Steer (56 NFBC Drops, -4% at CBS)

I could not have been more wrong about the 24-year-old when he was called up. In 492 minor league plate appearances this season, he hit .274/.364/.515 with 23 home runs. His eye seemed decent with a walk rate over 10 percent and a strikeout rate under 20 percent. Since getting to the majors, he's just not hitting the ball with authority.

So far, he's posting a .218/.328/.327. It's not like he has been unlucky, as he owns a .213 xBA and .294 xSLG. His 32 percent hard hit rate ranks 409th out of 550 batters this season (min 25 balls in play). The power disappeared, as he's hit few line drives (17 percent) and just one homer. 

The Reds have noticed his struggles, and he's only started in two of the last four games, both of which have come against lefties (.750 OPS vs LHP, .629 OPS vs RHP). 

Between the struggles and the lack of playing time, he's a fine drop. It's interesting to see how much the Reds are trying to make it work for him and I might take a late-round flier on him next season. 

Willson Contreras (41 NFBC Drops) and Nico Hoerner (40 NFBC Drops, -4% at CBS)

Both batters were having great seasons. Contreras is the ninth-ranked catcher according to our earned auction values, hitting .246/.351/.471 with 21 homers and 4 steals. Hoerner is the 14th-ranked second baseman, with a .291 batting average to go with 9 nine and 18 steals even after dealing with an early season ankle injury.

The problem is that both are on the injured list right now with no reason for the Cubs to rush them back. Fantasy teams are needing every at-bat and lineup spot over these last couple of weeks, and these two aren't going to help. It's time to play to win and these two are fine drops.

Jack Suwinski (36 NFBC Drops, -1% at CBS)

Suwinski has some Hiura vibes. He's shown power, hitting 16 homers in 324 plate appearances, but a 32 percent strikeout rate and .230 BABIP have led to a .192 batting average. While it's tough to ignore someone with 30-homer power, his average is a drain. 

The issue with him was that he hasn't shown any signs of improvement. He started getting full-time at-bats in May (.699 OPS) and June (.915 OPS). The league adjusted to him and he posted a .493 OPS in July before getting demoted. Since being promoted, he has .473 OPS, and his strikeout rate has climbed up to 35 percent.

The league has found several holes in his game. First, he hasn't been able to hit lefties (.515 OPS vs LHP, .726 OPS vs RHP). Also, he's struggled against sliders (16 percent swinging strike rate) and changeups (also 16 percent). 

The league took about a month to adjust to him and he just hasn't made any adjustments. Right now, he looks to be on the strong side of a platoon with Greg Allen

Starters

Hunter Brown (133 NFBC Drops, -18% at CBS)

Through three appearances, Brown has been on fire, posting a 1.20 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 66 percent groundball rate and 8.4 K/9. He's had some extreme batted ball luck (.263 BABIP, 0.0 HR/9), but his xFIP stands at a reasonable 2.94. The reason behind the drops is that the Astros removed him from the starting rotation and sent him to the bullpen. 

It is tough to find a hole in his game. The one "issue" might be his sub-9.0 K/9, a drop from his higher strikeout rates in the minors (including an 11.4 K/9 in Triple-A). He has leaned heavily on his four-seamer (56 percent usage) that has the shape of a rising fastball (comps in table) but is posting a 53 percent groundball rate. 

He gets the higher groundball rate by keeping the pitch lower in the zone compared to other four-seamers. 

I bet the pitch's groundball rate does drop some but so far his curve (62% GB%) and slider (83% GB%) have helped push up his overall groundball rate. 

While a drop is reasonable considering his role but should be interesting going into next season depending on the Astros rotation.

Luis Cessa (48 NFBC Drops, -0% at CBS)

What an unexpected two starts from Cessa last week. In the easy start against the Pirates, he allowed five runs and eight hits over five innings. Then, to finish off the week, he threw five innings of shutout ball against the Cardinals. 

Personally, I took a chance on him because I thought a high overall ERA covered up some OK traits. While he has a 4.76 starter ERA, that stat is inflated by a 2.2 HR/9. His 7.0 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9 point to a reasonable 3.87 xFIP. While not great, it was worth taking a chance on for the two-start week. 

His managers moved on since he only has one start this week against the Brewers. 

Bailey Falter (42 NFBC Drops, -5% at CBS)

Falter just got done with a two-start week at Atlanta and at Miami. While he only got seven strikeouts, his final line was 10 innings pitched, 1.69 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and one Win. That will work all the time. 

With Falter, the person and stats a fantasy manager sees is what they get. There's nothing lucky or unlucky going on. 

This week he has just one start, at home against Atlanta. While he doesn't get a ton of strikeouts (7.6 K/9), he also doesn't walk many batters (1.8 BB/9). His heavy flyball nature (31 percent groundball rate) will lead to a low BABIP (.271) and high home run rate (1.7 HR/9). Overall, he has a 3.68 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, with his ERA estimators sitting in the low-4.00's. 

Falter might not have been dropped if it was the middle of the season. He seems like a pitcher to keep on your bench and stream against weaker opponents. The problem is that he wasn't going to be started in the next few weeks, so that made the drop easy. 

Eric Lauer (32 NFBC Drops, -0% at CBS)

Lauer's season has been filled with an up and a big down. Through the first two months, he had a 2.49 ERA, 10.8 K/8, and 1.09 WHIP. Since then, he has posted a 4.67 ERA, 7.4 K/9, and 1.34 WHIP.

Most of the difference can be linked back to an early-season velocity bump. He ended the 2021 averaging 92.6 mph on his fastball. Over the first two months, he was up at 93.8 mph. Since that point, it's down to 93.1 mph. In addition to that lack of velocity, he's throwing his effective slider fewer times, dropping its usage from 21 percent to 14 percent..

Lauer is now dealing with an elbow issue but is expected to come off the injured list and start at Cincinnati on Friday

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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