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Trend Tracking: Betting on Domingo German

As we near the halfway point of the MLB season, fantasy seasons are coming into focus. Owners now should have a fairly good idea of where they stand moving forward. Even so, waiver wire and trade management remain as high a priority as ever. Today, I’ll look at Alen Hanson and Domingo German. They’ve been sending some mixed signals, but both are showing some signs of short and long-term fantasy value.

Alen Hanson

Hanson’s a former top 100 prospect, but he was abysmal in his first semi-regular playing time with the Pirates and the White Sox in 2017. A minor league free agent entering the season, he was on no one’s fantasy radar entering this year. Through his first 81 MLB plate appearances, though, he has slashed .320/.358/.653, already surpassing his home run total from last season. Obviously, Hanson isn’t this good, but there’s reason to think he might be useful moving forward.

First, his projections are surprisingly optimistic for a player still sporting an 83 wRC+ as a big leaguer. Fangraphs’ Depth Charts forecasts a .253/.299/.408 line. It’s far from world-beating, but if prorated to 600 plate appearances, that also translates to 15 home runs and 27 stolen bases. Those projections alone make him worth owning in most leagues given the scarcity of speed around the league, but there’s also some reason to believe he might offer a bit more at the plate than those projections would suggest.

Hanson’s early-season Statcast data has been about average. Most interesting is that Hanson’s plate discipline metrics aren’t outlandish. Look only at his walk rate, and you might be concerned that he’s too swing-happy to hit for a passable batting average. Hanson hasn’t actually been overaggressive, though. His out-of-zone swing rate is average, as is his overall swinging strike rate. Hanson has simply made a ton of contact and swings often at would-be strikes, an approach that leads to early-count balls in play and tamps down both his strikeouts and his walks.

Where Hanson has seemed to show real improvement, though, is his contact quality. His average exit velocity is up three miles per hour, and his “weak contact” rate, a Statcast bucketing metric, has dropped by six percentage points.

This increased solid contact may not be entirely sustainable, but it’s an encouraging development for a player who is still just 25 years old. More importantly, it’s worth remembering that Hanson need not be a good hitter to have fantasy value, since he’ll almost certainly provide owners stolen bases.

Either way, with Evan Longoria out for nearly two months, Hanson only needs to outplay Pablo Sandoval to garner regular playing time. If Hanson’s just a mediocre hitter, as his projections suggest, he’s probably a reserve option in regular leagues; if his batted ball data is indicative that he’s slightly more than that, then he’s worth playing most days because of the rarity of this type of skillset.

For a little more on Hanson give Al Melchior’s article, “Which Hitters Could Thrive With Increased Playing Time,” a read.

Domingo German

Domingo German pitches in a bandbox, he’s got a double-digit walk rate for his career, and he’s currently sitting on an ERA over 5.00. He’s also worth adding in all leagues.

Among pitchers with at least 20 innings as a starter, the top five in swinging strike rate: Max Scherzer, Domingo German, Shohei Ohtani, Chris Sale, Jacob deGrom. It’s almost impossible to fake that level of dominance.

He gets above-average whiffs on all four of his pitches, and his low-80’s power curve should allow him to continue to rack up punchouts. German has his flaws: he’s got poor command and a lengthy injury history as a prospect. The acquisition cost to grab him would be low, though, and he’s keeping some elite company in striking hitters out.

He issues too many walks and serves up a few too many home runs to have ace upside, so he’ll probably feel frustrating given the flashes of dominance he’ll show, but he profiles as a useful mid-rotation type. He’ll rack up strikeouts and the Yankees’ offense should support him enough to grab a few wins, so Domingo German is worth adding in all formats.

Looking for more great Fantasy Baseball analysis? Check out the Launch Angle Podcast, featuring FantraxHQ’s Van Lee, along with industry stalwarts Jeff Zimmerman and Rob Silver.

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