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5 players who are both intriguing and terrifying in fantasy baseball this year

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Should I believe in the Punisher?

Getty Images/Pete Rogers Illustrations

Fantasy baseball drafts are coming and before we here at Fake Teams jump into our positional week previews, I wanted to take a look at five players who both intrigue me this year in fantasy and terrify me.

Let’s begin!

Aristides Aquino

I felt among the blessed to pick him up on a flier mid-way through last season when he was called up at the start of August and proceeded to hit 11 home runs in his first 16 games (even hitting three home runs in his game against Chicago Cubs on August 10th).

Why You Should be Intrigued: He ended August with a .320 average, hitting 14 home runs in 29 games scoring 22 runs and 33 RBIs over that time. Soak that in for a minute. He scored 33 RBIs in 29 games, that’s hardly a one to two week sample—that’s a whole month where he didn’t see a ball he couldn’t destroy. It’s not as if he was swinging wildly either. He amassed 23 strikeouts and 10 walks over that time which is equivalent to a 22% strikeout rate (a bit high) and 8% walk rate (spot on MLB average).

Why You Should be Nervous: Like any batter who comes up and rakes, the question always emerges...can they keep this up? Can they continue to rake while teams adjust to the pitches they can and cannot hit, can they continue to make quality contact at this rate over a long time period of time? This is what makes the Mike Trouts of the league amazing: amidst everything, they still produce. Well, Aristides could not. He dropped at a precipitous pace last year, hitting just .196 with five home runs, nine runs and 14 RBIs over his final 27 games. His 33% K-rate and 6% BB-rate would both fall into below average territory and most notably here is one reason I am nervous: FanGraphs put together a piece on hitters who struggle with slow fastballs down the middle of the plate are commonly busts in MLB. Aristides has a high slow fastball SwStr% at 20%.

Ty France

For some of you this name might be coming out of the blue, but for anyone who was watching the Pacific Coast League last year, you surely heard this name. He spent some time back and forth with AAA than MLB than back at AAA returning to MLB.

Why You should be Intrigued: Ty had a league leading .399 AVG last year across 76 games and 296 PA at AAA. You saw that correct, he was approaching Ted Williams numbers at the highest level of the minors. It didn’t stop there, Ty also had 27 home runs, a 1.247 OPS and a solid 10% BB rate and 15% K rate. When he moved up to the professional league for his very first time, he hit a respectable .250 AVG having 2 hits in his first 8 AB. Then late in the season over September and October he batted .259 AVG with five home runs in his final 21 games.

Why You Should be Nervous: The months that were not April and September are far less rosy and ultimately over the course of the full season at the MLB level he hit .234 AVG (MUCH LOWER than AAA) with a 5% BB rate and 24% K rate. Furthermore, on a lowly Padres team, he is still a backup averaging decent time only when Manny Machado and Jurickson Profar get hurt or need some rest.

Byron Buxton

The #1 prospect turned bust turned good?

Why You should be Intrigued: If you take the 87 games he played last year into a full season you get these numbers: 19 home runs, 89 runs, 86 RBIs and 26 SB with a .262 AVG. In 2019 he finally began to show the player that we thought he could be across the board. This was also the culmination of his pitch selection improving such that he was really honing on in pitch selection and making contact on pitches inside the strike zone.

Why You Should be Nervous: Injuries and inconsistent play have really made it tough to get an accurate pinpoint on him over the last few years. It’s not just the injuries though, even with a better pitch selection, he is still swinging too much and not making the amount of contact (both inside the Strike zone and outside are below MLB averages) that will help him become a great player in MLB. Baby steps as always in his career cause him to improve at a slow pace

Carson Kelly

A catcher who struggled to find his way.

Why You Should be Intrigued: What if I said that he changed teams between 2018 and 2019 and he more than doubled his batting average, and on a per game basis nearly doubled his runs and RBIs per at-bat. For 2019, among catchers with at least 300 AB he was in the Top 15 in batting average. Furthermore, going away from averages, he was top 10 among catchers in home runs, was top 20 in both Runs and RBIs and he drew the 3rd most walks.

Why You Should be Nervous: That 2018 season where he batted .114 doesn’t look good. Furthermore if you went with his track record, he has more seasons at the MLB level batting below .175 than he does batting above .200. Also, at home last season he batted .192 while he was .294 away and last time I checked he still plays at Chase Field which does NOT bode well for his 2020 season.

Austin Riley

The power bat that fizzled.

Why You Should be Intrigued: Much like Aristides, he entered the league in May hitting .356 with seven home runs across 59 AB and ended up the first half of last year with a .257 average, 16 home runs, 34 runs and 41 RBIs across just 49 games. He also consistently strove to spread the ball around, muting any chance for a shift to affect him. He went from hitting opposite side 21% in the beginning of the year to 28% later on. Austin will be working with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer this offseason to overcome the string of bad calls that derailed his judgement last season as they strive to get his swing back into form.

Why You Should be Nervous: The bad side to the second half of last year hit where he continued to strike out at a strong rate (teetering up to 43%), but without the home run bonus to go with it. His AVG dropped to .161 and his home run to fly ball rate dropped from 27% down to 8%, meaning lots of catchable fly balls out there. If a handful of bad calls was all it took to make Austin second guess at-bats, I’m nervous at how consistent he can be when perseverance is needed.

Poll

Who on this list are you most confident in?

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    Aristides Aquino
    (34 votes)
  • 4%
    Ty France
    (7 votes)
  • 42%
    Byron Buxton
    (64 votes)
  • 18%
    Carson Kelly
    (28 votes)
  • 12%
    Austin Riley
    (19 votes)
152 votes total Vote Now