With deference to one of our most ardent contributors, @bdentrek, this week will be a Joc Jam filled one. Due to the fluidity of the Dodgers lineup, Joc Pederson hits lead-off against right-handed pitchers. Unless something changes in the days ahead, Los Angeles will face three right-handed pitchers at home against the Reds, then head to Miller Park in Milwaukee with four more on tap. See what we did there? Knowing how much power upside can help build winning daily lineups, Pederson should surge this week.
Using his expected statistics on Statcast, which do not include Pederson’s sixth home run hit against Jhoulys Chacin on Sunday, positive regression lies in the offing for Young Joc. Prior to Sunday’s MLB action, Pederson owned a .234 average but a .291 expected one. His slugging did sit above his expected by a mere five one-thousandths points, but his weighted on-base average (wOBA) of .406 resided below his expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA) by 23 points. Translation, Pederson’s in line for some hits, more times on base and his power metrics do not show signs of being fluky. Plus, knowing Miller Park favors left-handed power hitters, Pederson’s only accrued 27 plate appearances there but already hit three home runs wiht a .333/.481/.762 slash line. Yes, please. Bonus, if Pederson’s price gets too high later in the week, teammate Alex Verdugo represents a cheap pivot.
Knowing the Dodgers left-handed hitters could be in line for a strong week makes sense. So, Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy will also be popular. In order to roster them, knowing some cheaper stack options to pair with them will be necessary. Here’s three teams with tremendous match-ups and hitters of interest for the week ahead.
Chicago White Sox
- Three games versus Kansas City, Four versus Detroit; Six versus right-handed pitching
There’s no way to sell Yoan Moncada as under the radar. But, his breakout will still be percolating all week. Yes, his average will come back to earth with a .269 expected average versus his .296 mark heading into Sunday’s action. However, his expected slugging of .591 sits 35 points over his actual .556 slugging percentage and his wOBA almost aligns exactly with his xwOBA. On Sunday against the Yankees, Moncada registered four batted ball events: a double (110.5 MPH exit velocity), a single (107.6 MPH exit velocity), a line out (93.8 MPH exit velocity) and a single (113.3 MPH exit velocity). Insert drool emoji. And if he does not hit a home run, Moncada could also steal a base. There’s a 20/20 season awaiting his skill set, and it could happen this year.
It feels like Yonder Alonso always disappoints. Moving to a hitter-friendly park should unlock his power. His metrics suggest he should be doing better. Alonso entered Sunday hitting .150 with a .271 expected average, a .300 slugging percentage yet a .455 expected slugging and a .290 wOBA with a .384 xwOBA. Not eye-popping, but it’s a start. This week provides a perfect opportunity for Alonso to regress to the mean. He’s only hit .235 against fastballs so far but with a .312 expected average. He could be slugging .496 against heaters with a .492 xwOBA, which resides almost 100 points above his wOBA so far. If Chris Davis can shake a slump, so can Yonder. Here’s to new beginnings.
- Four versus Toronto, Three versus Baltimore; Four against right-handed pitching
After a rough stretch of interleague games along with a snow out, Nelson Cruz may not be on daily players radars. He’s a hard-hit machine, finishing first or second in average exit velocity each of the last three years on Statcast. Through his first 13 batted ball events this year, he’s averaging a 96.5 MPH exit velocity, which ranks higher than any of the previous three seasons. In terms of his numbers so far, Cruz owns a .286 average with a .305 expected one, a .524 slugging with a .614 expected slugging and a .431 wOBA versus a .462 xwOBA. His price will rise during the week, but the Orioles staff coughs up home runs by the boatload and Cruz will be cashing in this week.
Teammate Max Kepler‘s been on breakout lists the past two years, but he’s upped his average exit velocity to 92.4 MPH so far, almost three ticks over last year’s average. He’s also increased his launch angle to 24 degrees versus a 16.2-degree launch in 2018. Bake in his expected average 27 points above his actual, his expected slugging 65 points over his current one and 35 points of positive regression within his xwOBA for a reason to get Kepler in lineups this week.
- Three games at the White Sox, Four at the Yankees; Five against right-handed pitching
Going to plus hitter parks with struggling staffs could allow the Royals to stay hot. Viewed as a team with speed, both Hunter Dozier and Ryan O’Hearn will need to be in some lineups in the days ahead. Dozier knocked in the winning run on Sunday and will ride the wave of regression going forward. He owned an expected batting average of .292 prior to Sunday’s action with a .632 expected slugging and .413 xwOBA. Yes, this Dozier. He’s also due to start raking against fastballs. Dozier’s only hit .208 against them but with a .336 expected average and .704 expected slugging. His launch angle so far versus fastballs, 15 degrees plus an average exit velocity of 96 MPH could mean two-to-three home runs this week. Yes, you heard me.
As for O’Hearn, he’s displaying patience at the plate, but the short porch in Yankee Stadium should make him more aggressive. O’Hearn’s expected slugging rests almost 100 points higher than his actual and there’s room for growth in his expected average as well. Using mini-stacks of Royals this week could be a nice way to build strong lineups from top to bottom. There’s more to this team than speed. By the way, do not forget Lucas Duda if desperate for a punt play with power.
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Been writing about fantasy baseball since 2012. Hit the Moonshot in 2016 without a fancy computer algorithm, just blood, sweat and tears, thanks to home runs by Ryan Flaherty along with Preston Tucker. So, each homer matters. Entered three 12-team NFBC leagues last year with a first and second place finish. Complete fantasy grinder, so check out the regression hitter articles weekly for cheap pivots or depressed sluggers due to pay dividends. My work also appears for free and behind the paywall at Fantasy Alarm, the Bullpen Reports on Rotographs and here. Thanks for all the support.