Fantasy Baseball Mailbag: Thursday 7/7/16

Miguel Sano is back from the disabled list and crushing baseballs again. Should we be buying him in season-long fantasy baseball?

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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.

Am I allowed to pick both? Is that cheating? It feels like cheating. Ugh. If you're forcing me to choose, I'll take Miguel Sano, but Adam Duvall is a whole heck of a lot closer than he was at the beginning of the season.

The reasons for being bullish on Sano should be fairly obvious, but I enjoy drooling over his FanGraphs page, so let's go through them, anyway, shall we?

There are 254 batters who have recorded at least 500 plate appearances since the start of the 2015 season. Giancarlo Stanton -- as you'd expect -- leads them in hard-hit rate at 44.8%. David Ortiz checks in second at 42.8%. Third place belongs to our beloved Sano at 42.6%, making him one of just eight batters to clear the 40.0% barrier, along with J.D. Martinez, Chris Davis, Mike Trout, Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt. All of the other guys are top-tier fantasy assets, and that's exactly how we should view Sano, as well.

As a result of his ball-bashing deliciousness, pitchers seem hesitant to attack Sano in the strike zone. It has helped him churn out a 14.8% walk rate for the year, something that can help you even in leagues that don't have on-base percentage as a category. A meaty walk rate helps that player get on base -- giving him more run potential -- and gives him extra security in the lineup with the potential to slide up in the order. That's an asset Duvall doesn't currently possess, as evidenced by his .289 on-base percentage for the year (though -- spoiler alert -- we'll get back to that in just a bit).

Finally, Sano's move back to third base gives you a bit of extra flexibility in your roster construction. This lowers his odds of getting injured chasing down a fly ball in the outfield, and it means you can use him either at third or in the outfield for fantasy. That's not a huge edge, but it is something to consider.

All of this isn't meant to be a knock on Duvall. Everything that made him a tremendous first-half asset is still in place going forward, and he's actually making a few improvements to his game.

The table below compares some quickly-stabilizing stats for Duvall over the course of the season. His main bugaboo in the past has been his lack of plate discipline, but it really seems like he's making an effort to account for that. More impressively, he has done so without sacrificing too much from his tremendous batted-ball stats.

Time FrameWalk RateStrikeout RateHard-Hit RateFly-Ball Rate
Through June 15th3.9%28.5%39.1%46.4%

Even though we don't want to see a guy's hard-hit rate decline, that type of movement is worthwhile if it comes with drastic changes in plate discipline. That's what we're seeing with Duvall, and it's certainly making him more intriguing from a forward-looking perspective.

Toss in Duvall's drool-worthy park factor, and you can see why this decision isn't as easy as it may have been before. Both of these guys are players I'd still be willing to buy as the market stands right now because they should continue to tear things apart the rest of the season. Sano holds the edge over Duvall, but both are worthy of a trade offer or two as we enter the All-Star break.

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