Fantasy Baseball: 3 Things We Learned in Week 20

Some new faces are turning heads in season-long fantasy leagues. Could some of them still be available on your waiver wire?

Welcome back to the 3 Things We Learned Series for the 2022 MLB season! This weekly piece will look at the trends, patterns, and interesting statistical touchpoints of the MLB season in order to help you make actionable fantasy decisions.

Baseball fans love their stats. We devour them, dissect them, and build our fantasy rosters around them. Each week of the 2022 baseball season, we will be gifted with another statistical sample size of pitches, plate appearances, and playing time. Knowing it often takes hundreds or even thousands of pitches or batted-ball events for trends to normalize, how should fantasy managers adjust to the ebbs and flows of weekly player performance?

Each week during this season, this piece will look at trends that have emerged over the past week and determine if it is signal or noise moving forward. What is prescriptive in helping build winning fantasy teams and what can be ignored as small sample size noise? Hopefully, we can make sense of what has just happened to help us make smarter roster and free agent budget decisions.

Let's take a look at some of the data from the 19th scoring period of the 2022 fantasy baseball season.

Vaughn Grissom Could Be the Next Atlanta Superstar

Just 43 plate appearances in 11 career games is all it took for uber-prospect Vaughn Grissom to become a top-five player in fantasy baseball. Since his debut on August 10th, Grissom is the fifth-best batter in rotisseries leagues, putting up a .385 average with 3 home runs, 2 steals, 12 runs, and 8 RBI.

And you might think he is doing it against some watered-down competition, but so far he has faced NL Cy Young frontrunner Sandy Alcantara, plus the New York Mets and Houston Astros pitching staffs.

The 21-year-old, who looks like he could be David Justice's son, has been an unbelievable fill-in at second base while the Atlanta Braves await the return of Ozzie Albies from injury. In his first MLB game, he homered and stole a base, then proceeded to get at least two hits in five of his first eight games after the call-up.

In Yahoo fantasy leagues, Grissom is eligible at both of the desirable middle-infield positions, and he might just be playing himself into some kind of regular roll even when Albies returns.

Speculation now has him perhaps moving to the outfield when Albies returns. We know the Braves have some issues there with Eddie Rosario's performance and Marcell Ozuna's extracurricular antics, so the outfield seems like the right spot for a player like Grissom who can slot almost anywhere.

Playing well beyond his years, Grissom already possesses elite plate discipline. His strikeout rate is just 16% through 11 games while his walk rate is now 9.3%. With those kinds of numbers, he should be able to adequately weather the storm when the rookie wall eventually finds him.

Grissom is already picked up in 67% of leagues as of Sunday night, but that means he is still out there in one-third of fantasy leagues on that platform. Whatever FAB money you kept in the chamber, now is the time to fire it off if you need middle-infield help the rest of the season. Grissom can help you make up ground in just about any category you need.

Drew Rasmussen Is Going to Win People Fantasy Championships

In case you missed it last week, Drew Rasmussen came within two outs of a perfect game against the Baltimore Orioles. He had to settle for a win after 8.1 dominant innings and seven strikeouts, but it put Rasmussen in the national fantasy spotlight when really he really should have been living there for some time.

Since a tough outing on June 10th against the Minnesota Twins, Rasmussen has allowed more than two earned runs just once (July 3rd against the Red Sox) and is now on a stretch of six straight starts allowing two or fewer earned runs.

This comes after the season started slowly for Rasmussen due to a combination of injuries and the Tampa Bay Rays wanting to take it slowly with one of the prized picks of the 2018 draft. Rasmussen only went more than five innings once before June 4th, and then he missed a month with an injury.

But he now finds himself with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP as he seems to get stronger as the season progresses.

Rasmussen is the second-best rotisserie pitcher of the past 14 days and is also top-20 over the last month with a 1.95 ERA and 0.69 WHIP.

He is available in 27% of Yahoo leagues as of Sunday night and could be a potential league winner for those in need of pitching. The Rays are, of course, in a playoff battle and will need to ride their best horses as much as they can over the final five weeks.

Vinnie Pasquantino's Future Is Royally Bright

Ever since Eric Hosmer left Kansas City in 2017, the starting first baseman for the Royals has been a revolving door -- but more like one that is squeaky and always broken. They have had four opening-day first basemen in the five years since Hosmer departed (anyone remember Ryan McBroom?).

But that is likely to change next year, as the Royals look locked in for the foreseeable future with power prospect Vinnie Pasquantino.

After some adjustment periods following his call-up and debut on June 28th, Pasquantino looks ready to put the full range of his offensive game on display. Over the past two weeks, Vinnie "The Italian Breakfast" Pasquantino is a top-15 rotisserie batter, hitting .405 with five home runs and nine RBI.

Pasquantino had a very slow burn once he reached the Majors, hitting one home run in his first 13 games and not reaching .200 in batting average until his 14th game. But since July 16th, he is slashing .306/.371/.514 with 6 bombs and 12 RBI.

That elite combination of both on-base percentage and slugging percentage is what will pay the fantasy bills for years to come. He never had an OBP below .371 at any level of the minors, and he never had a slugging percentage below .560. He is also striking out at just a 13.6% clip in his first 48 games, which is an unfathomably good number for a hard-swinging rookie.

Pasquantino is long gone, of course, in dynasty leagues. But the relatively slow start dropped him off of many managers' radar in redraft leagues. The rookie first baseman is available in 46% of Yahoo leagues and should continue to be an excellent source of power and RBI for the balance of the season.