Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Tuesday 6/28/16

Maikel Franco has had a largely miserable season thus far for the Phillies. Is it time to drop him in season-long fantasy leagues?

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Now, enough of that. Let's dig into today's mailbag and see what's popping in the world of fantasy baseball.

If this were a simple re-draft league, it's a trade I'd make because Michael Fulmer is on an innings limit and Jurickson Profar is battling for playing time. But with the keeper caveat, I would likely favor holding your side and forgoing the trade.

A couple weeks ago, numberFire's Ben Bruno detailed how Fulmer's ability to limit hard contact was putting him in some quality company. That's one of the harder things to decipher from a player's minor-league stats, but Fulmer is performing well enough there. Add in his above-average strikeout rate (one that he also flashed last year in the minors) and an 11.0% swinging-strike rate, and this is someone we should be pretty excited about moving forward.

With Profar, his peripherals (namely a 20.8% hard-hit rate this year) are largely underwhelming. But there are a few things we need to keep in mind with him. First, this is still just his age-23 season, and he has already racked up 437 plate appearances in the big leagues. Second, he plays in one of the best parks for offense in baseball, a place where others have excelled without the benefit of jaw-dropping batted-ball stats. For those reasons, it might be best to ride him out and see how things go before cutting bait.

Overall, I love the line of thinking here, as both Wilson Ramos and Jackie Bradley are guys who have flashed sustainable improvements this year that should make them valuable assets in the future. It would just be giving up a bit too much capital for me to execute the trade at the moment.

I feel your pain on Maikel Franco as I fell victim to his absurd spring numbers and drafted him in a keeper league. It hasn't been a fun ride, to say the least. But at the same time, there have been some interesting changes in his batted-ball stats that may keep him as a more desirable asset than Prince Fielder.

My general point of emphasis in looking for changes in batted-ball stats is narrowing the scope to the past three weeks. Because these samples stabilize so quickly, we can use this time frame to determine whether or not a player has seen a true shift in how he's striking the ball. In Franco's Statcast data for those three weeks, we can see a pretty actionable shift relative to what he was doing prior to that.

Time Frame Exit Velocity Average Distance Launch Angle
Through June 6th 86.9 209.2 10.5
June 7th On 91.8 225.3 17.0

Franco has jacked up his output in every major Statcast category, helping him up his fly-ball rate to 41.9% over that time with a 39.5% hard-hit rate. Given that he plays in the league's best park for dingers, that's going to help the cause quite a bit, and it's enough to get me to hold on in 10-team leagues in hopes the Gucciness continues to flow.

This isn't to say that Franco is a sure-fire boon going forward, a concern that numberFire's John Stolnis accurately portrayed last week on The Good Phight, and we should still be skeptical about whether or not these shifts will take hold. However, it's enough to keep him for fantasy when the alternative has as bleak of an outlook as that of Fielder.

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