We have seen many hitters emerge as fantasy stars the first month of the season, but who will continue their early season success and whose April will be an outlier by the end of the season?
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants (Buy)
Belt was an intriguing player going into this season. I really liked the skills, but his home park is one of the worst hitters' parks in the league. With a career line drive rate of 24.7% and 14.3% soft contact rate, Belt could easily post a batting average above .270 this season. His ability to routinely hit fly balls and make hard contact make him an intriguing home run option, even though his home park eats up fly balls like Joey Chestnut at Nathan’s hot dog eating contest.
Although Belt owns a career strikeout rate of 23.9%, his contact skills are not as bad as you would think. With a 76.7% contact rate this season, he is actually above the major league average of 76.5%.
Belt is a no doubt must start in points and OBP leagues, and his outstanding batted ball profile should make him a must-own in roto leagues with a corner infield spot.
Christian Villanueva, 3B, San Diego Padres (Sell)
Villanueva burst on the scene this season after having a three-homer game and then following that performance up by hitting a home run in three straight games. Although he has a tremendous batted ball profile this season, some of his underlying numbers suggest that he is in for some regression.
With a contact rate of 66.9%, it seems that Villanueva will have a high strikeout rate at the major league level. He also has a slugging percentage .109 points higher than his expected slugging percentage, which is a significant warning sign of regression.
With terrible plate discipline and a high strikeout rate, Villanueva should be avoided in most points leagues. Although he has the potential to hit 25+ home runs, his batting average will most likely be below .250 by the end of the season. This should make him a must add in only the deepest of roto leagues.
Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves (Sell)
Swanson has had a good start to his 2018 season as he is currently hitting .316 with two home runs and two stolen bases. Even though he is going to have a strikeout rate above 20%, it is likely that he will have a batting average in the .260-.280 range with his high amount of line drives and ability to limit soft contact. The problem with Swanson is his stolen base and home run numbers will most likely not be much higher than 10.
Swanson has the speed to steal 20 bases and stolen bases are about intent, but the problem comes when you look at Swanson's baserunning metrics. With below average base running skills, the coaches will most likely be hesitant to let Swanson run into outs on the basepaths.
Swanson's other concern is his power. WIth a high ground ball rate and relatively average hard contact rate, he is most likely looking at hitting around twelve home runs this season. It seems we have considered Swanson a better power hitter than he actually is.
Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics (Buy)
Chapman had one of the greatest two weeks to start the season. He has slowed down a little bit but is still hitting .269/.370/.516 with five home runs. His power is not surprising as his fly ball rates and hard contact numbers suggested 30+ home run potential. The surprise concerning Chapman is his batting average.
Coming into the season, Chapman was mostly seen as a .230 hitter. This season he has cut his swing and miss percentage down by 6.5% and raised his line drive rate to almost league average. With these changes, Chapman has the potential to be a .260 hitter with tremendous power numbers and a good walk rate to boot.
Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals (Sell)
Taylor was seen as an interesting fantasy option coming into the season after hitting .271 with 19 home runs and 17 stolen bases in just 432 plate appearances in 2017. Taylor does have 20/30 potential, but that could come with a .225 batting average.
Taylor does get the biggest boost in today’s game as stolen bases and batting average have dropped immensely. He should be rostered in any 10-team league with five outfield spots, but I’m not all that giddy to add a player with a career contact rate below 70%.
If there are any hitters not mentioned that you have questions about feel free to post in the comments section and we’ll try to give you the most accurate advice possible.
Which hitter are you buying into the rest of the season?
This poll is closed
Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants
Dansby Swanson, SS, Atlanta Braves
Christian Villanueva, 3B, San Diego Padres
Matt Chapman, 3B, Oakland Athletics
Michael Taylor, OF, Washington Nationals