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Fantasy Baseball: Bronze Points Period 9 Ownership and Claims Report

We have finally passed the quarter-pole mark of the season, and numbers are (mostly) beginning to stabilize. As is the norm in this space, I will list every player who is at least 50 percent owned either overall or among the top 100 teams. I will also highlight several players at each position who may be worthy of a New Player Claim, using a benchmark of at least 3.50 points per game. For this week I will focus on potential targets whose salaries are less than 2000 because these players are obviously easier to introduce into a roster without too much manipulation. I will tweak that a bit next week as we head into what should be a very interesting and action-packed Memorial Day weekend.

CATCHER
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Gary Sanchez2020859814313.86
Willson Contreras1610709312043.43

And this is exactly why we try to hold onto underperforming players whenever possible. We saw it a few weeks ago when Gary Sanchez had a huge week, and we saw it once again this week with Willson Contreras’ monster effort. Contreras increased his points per game mark by over a full point in just six games, vaulting himself from 10th to fourth among catchers in total points. Both of these catchers are back among the elite and should remain there going forward.

CATCHER TARGETS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
J.T. Realmuto16906186113.74
Francisco Cervelli11907412133.67
Salvador Perez16002180143.64

I do not find it imperative to replace a third catcher at this stage. Most teams will play Sanchez and Conteras almost every week, and it’s not as if a third catcher would serve anyone well as a Utility hitter considering the plethora of options at other positions. Having said that, I would recommend Realmuto by the slimmest of margins if forced to choose from these options. Realmuto hits at the top of the Marlins lineup, which is a rarity for a catcher and is a bonus in Points leagues. Perez easily offers the most power upside of this group and is a fine option as well.

FIRST BASE
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Joey Gallo1710578314833.52
Freddie Freeman2820517818614.54
Cody Bellinger2490465013593.29

Joey Gallo has been secretly terrible recently. OK, maybe not secretly… You are certainly not benching him (much less dropping him) before a seven-game home week, especially when four of those games are against an awful Kansas City pitching staff. But if he doesn’t turn it around soon, it will be interesting to see if owners begin to look elsewhere. Freeman continues to destroy all other first basemen in total scoring, while Bellinger continues to toe the line between being a good value and a poor one.

FIRST BASE TARGETS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Ryon Healy167021102244.25
Brandon Belt17803215223.90
Hanley Ramirez175081013973.76
Mitch Moreland147000107213.57

I have spent the last month or so trying to figure out how Hanley Ramirez can be so sparsely owned considering his value. In that time, Brandon Belt has leapfrogged not only Ramirez,  but every other first baseman not named Freddie Freeman in total points. He’s also done it at a very reasonable price and at an insanely low ownership rate. Remember what I just said about Gallo? The Giants visit Coors Field on Memorial Day. Just sayin’… if you do not believe in Belt or Ramirez, give Ryon Healy a look. He has swung a hot bat since returning to the Mariners’ lineup, and he slides up a spot in the Seattle batting order following the suspension of Robinson Cano. Healy’s 4.25 YTD PPG is not likely to stick, but 3.5-4.0 is reasonable.

SECOND BASE
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Ozzie Albies1210839919714.80
Jose Altuve3100596113673.09

The Houston Astros have played nearly 50 games, and Jose Altuve has two home runs and two stolen bases. Altuve’s three stolen base attempts over the season’s first eight weeks are among the most baffling numbers in all of MLB so far in my opinion. Among the players who have stolen more bases than Altuve are Freddie Freeman and Eric Hosmer. I think it’s safe to say that Altuve improves upon his current pace, but I also think it’s safe to say his 2017 benchmarks of 24 homers and 32 steals aren’t realistic expectations at this point. The question becomes whether we think Altuve can still approach a 20/20 season. If not, he may not be worth his salary. Perhaps Tuesday’s game-winning, bases-clearing double gets him going, but time is quickly running out.

SECOND BASE TARGETS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Javier Baez1620273916824.42
Jed Lowrie16504216133.93
Yoan Moncada14503344116113.87
Cesar Hernandez17102014953.59
Whit Merrifield1940293414143.52
D.J. LeMahieu196097112133.50

There are only 11 Cano owners in the entire Bronze Points Challenge, and they will likely pick from the options above. Baez continues to lead this group, and I continue to wait for his dominance to come to an abrupt end. It’s interesting to see the differences in ownership of, say, Merrifield and Moncada against that of Lowrie and Hernandez considering their eerily similar salaries and production. I suppose perception is indeed reality.

THIRD BASE
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Rafael Devers14805362124143.02
Nolan Arenado3090515814953.92
Alex Bregman1910507313583.14

This trio of young third basemen continues to provide decent production, but none have really outperformed their salary. I expect Arenado to be fine if deployed properly (i.e. home weeks). I can take or leave both Devers and Bregman at this point. I’m sure they’ll have some good weeks, but it’s not as if either is a must-play.

THIRD BASE TARGETS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Eugenio Suarez172045121174.48
Matt Davidson136040134T-93.83
Eduardo Escobar153011134T-93.83
Asdrubal Cabrera16600014073.78
Mike Moustakas17706215833.76
Jeimer Candelario114020130133.51

Suarez heads to Colorado this week, which is always a good time to claim a hitter. However, he is also dealing with an injury, so keep an eye on his status throughout the week before giving him serious consideration. Other than Suarez, I still like Moustakas the most from this group, though Candelario provides good bang for your buck as well.

SHORTSTOP
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Carlos Correa2460719015963.79
Trea Turner2440648616443.83

Not much has changed here. Both Correa and Turner have continued to be popular, upper-echelon choices. Neither has produced at the level of Didi Gregorius or Francisco Lindor thus far, but both should overtake Gregorius before season’s end, and will likely give Lindor a run for his money as well.

SHORTSTOP TARGETS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Didi Gregorius1980414616924.22
Trevor Story1920221716633.86
Andrelton Simmons17403014973.73

Gregorius turned in an absolute stinker of a week, illustrating the frustrating reality that baseball players are not robots. He should still be worth his salary going forward, but there are other options making cases for themselves. Among them is Trevor Story, who I discussed as a potential claim a couple of weeks ago. Story turned in a stellar week in what was Colorado’s first home week. It was so good, in fact, that he surpassed both Correa and Turner in the process. This could be a sign of things to come for Story, as the Rockies’ schedule becomes a little easier to manipulate going forward. I do not expect him to finish as a top-five shortstop overall, but he is certainly capable of performing at that level during home weeks.

OUTFIELD
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Rhys Hoskins17408592146213.74
Mike Trout3280779420724.93
Bryce Harper2850677718544.40
Ronald Acuna1100627771883.74
Giancarlo Stanton29305679162T-113.95
Andrew Benintendi21205165153T-153.92
Mookie Betts2890467221615.68
Mitch Haniger1410436116874.10
Aaron Judge2840406219834.83
J.D. Martinez2630395917364.33

Rhys Hoskins continues his rapid descent into still-pretty-goodness. He was dropped for the first time all season this past week, and I wonder whether that becomes a more common occurrence should his decline continue. Benintendi finally had a good week, likely the direct result of a conversation I had last Monday bad mouthing him and proclaiming that Yoenis Cespedes is a better fantasy outfielder. Mookie Betts is putting up video game numbers, and his ownership continues to climb. He was claimed by 51 teams this past week, which was the most of any player.

OUTFIELD TARGETSthis
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Tommy Pham19503740146T-214.17
Nick Markakis18302016784.07
Michael Brantley163020123363.97
Teoscar Hernandez114066114423.93
Gregory Polanco1920103145233.92
Eddie Rosario188040147T-193.87
Odubel Herrera191010147T-193.87
Corey Dickerson189021137T-253.70
Jorge Soler113031133293.59
Kevin Pillar 171020150173.57
David Peralta176020132T-303.57
Nomar Mazara18301111148183.52
Denard Span173000126T-333.50

I still cannot explain the resurrection of Nick Markakis. He surely benefits from hitting in the middle of a potent Braves’ lineup, but he is also hitting .333 with seven home runs. For reference, he has averaged eight homers per year in his previous three seasons in Atlanta. I don’t know if I can fully justify using a claim on him, but he has been wildly productive. Brantley was absent on this list up until this week, and now suddenly finds himself third in points per game among this group. When healthy (a big if), Brantley is among the best pure hitters in baseball. Hernandez and Polanco are not the safest Roto plays out there, but many of the concerns surrounding them are reduced in Points games. Mazara is certainly intriguing, having already hit 10 home runs. However, one would think that power would result in more than just 3.52 points per game.

STARTING PITCHERS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Noah Syndergaard19108998142.67T-2215.85
Luis Severino 24606992189321.00
Max Scherzer32606079219.67124.41
Corey Kluber31805969186.33420.70
Aaron Nola19905469169.67818.85
Chris Sale32504861166T-918.44
Gerrit Cole24203964194.67221.63
Lance McCullers158039781601417.78
Mike Clevinger14602250127.33T-3815.92
Charlie Morton16902154160.671220.08

Noah Syndergaard is quickly turning into the Rhys Hoskins of pitchers. He is universally owned, and his production isn’t exactly bad, but he has been a bit underwhelming of late. Owners need not panic, but Syndergaard is another player whose ownership may dip a bit if he doesn’t right the ship soon. A month ago I argued for dropping Nola, and now he’s eighth in total points and averaging three points more per game than Syndergaard. The Houston Astros are good at pitching. Lance McCullers is averaging a very respectable 17.78 points per start, yet ranks just fourth among Houston’s starting five in that category. All five Astros’ pitchers are in the top-30 in overall scoring, which is quite remarkable.

STARTING PITCHER TARGETS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
J.A. Happ1920201412317.62

I’m going to be honest – as good as J.A. Happ has been at times, I would probably not claim him this week. In fact, I do not think I will claim any starting pitchers this week, barring anything unforeseen. When looking ahead to Memorial Day week, there are going to be a ton of seven-game weeks, which equates to an abundance of two-start pitchers. I would prefer to see how the next 7-10 days shake out before deciding on which pitchers (if any) to claim heading into Period 10.

RELIEF PITCHERS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Sean Doolittle18706678146.67108.15
Felipe Vazquez20704362124.67T-177.79
Brad Hand2010395718739.35
Brad Boxberger1760355517249.05

As I have been stressing in this space, saves come in bunches, and Sean Doolittle finally had the big week we have been waiting on. Surely a similar fate will smile upon Felipe Vazquez in due time. The two Brads (Hand and Boxberger) continue to put up huge numbers. At some point the well will likely dry up a bit, but so far so good for them and their owners.

RELIEF PITCHER TARGETS
Player SalaryPct OwnTop 100Total PtsRank
PPG
Blake Treinen18301011142.33139.49
Brandon Morrow18603529128168.00
Bud Norris136010136.33157.18

Part of the reason I decided to go strictly with sub-2000 players this week is that I got a bit tired of ruining Edwin Diaz’s career. Expecting him to go the entire year without a minor hiccup or two was not realistic, of course. But he has shown a bit of vulnerability lately. His job is still secure though, and that’s ultimately what matters. As is the case with Doolittle and Vazquez, the save opportunities have just not been there yet for both Morrow and Treinen, but it should merely be a matter of time before they come. I do favor the Cubs’ chances of winning more games than the Athletics’, which is why I would prefer Morrow over Treinen, though the latter has been solid. Norris is very intriguing, as he continues to outpitch Greg Holland, who signed with St. Louis on Opening Day. Holland apologists will point out that the last six weeks has essentially stood as Holland’s de facto Spring Training, and that he is simply rounding into form. The $14 million dollar salary Holland is earning certainly means he is likely to get another crack at the gig. But Norris isn’t going without a fight, and owners may benefit from riding the wave for as long as they can.

 

 

 

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