Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire: Mac Williamson and Brandon Belt riding power surge
Heath Cummings highlights a pair of Giants who are crushing the ball right now.
In 2017, Fangraphs' Park Factor ranked AT&T Park as the worst park in baseball for righthanded home-run hitters. It was even worse for lefties. While these factors aren't totally constant year-over-year, this was no anomaly. It's easily the worst park in baseball for home runs, regardless of which side of the plate you hit from. No one knows that better than Brandon Belt.
Belt has a career hard-contact rate of 35.3 percent and he hasn't had a season below that mark since 2014. He owns a career road HR/FB rate of 15.5 percent and hits a ton of balls in the air. But Belt has never hit more than 18 home runs in a season. That's largely thanks to his home park. On Tuesday night he hit his second home run of the season at home and his sixth overall. His hard contact rate is out of this world, and Belt looks like he could be useful in any format. That's because he can.
In the more shallow points format, Belt's excellent plate discipline (11.8 percent walk rate) boosts him up into the Utility discussion. In most Rotisserie leagues with deeper rosters he's enough of an across-the-board contributor that you can find a spot for him somewhere. The one place you might overlook him is a head-to-head categories league with smaller rosters. But they may be the best format for him yet because they're generally daily lineup leagues. Belt has just over 1,100 career plate appearances on the road against righties, he has a .357 OBP and a .218 ISO. You want that in your lineup.
Mac Williamson doesn't have the mastery of the strike zone that Belt does, but he has even more power. Williamson hit another home run Tuesday and now has 12 in 253 major-league plate appearances. He could have strikeout problems, but when he hits the ball, he hits it hard. We were cautious when he first came up, but this ownership isn't going up fast enough. Williamson should be owned in any 12-team or deeper categories league.
It's been a rollercoaster ride for Tyler Mahle and his owners in 2018. Mahle started the season by shutting out the Cubs over six innings, striking out seven. The Reds' rookie was terrible in his next two starts, allowing 10 runs over 10 innings. But his past two starts are pretty encouraging.
On Tuesday, Mahle gave up three runs over six innings to the Braves. But this was far from your typical quality start. He struck out 11 Braves and generated 19 swinging strikes. He did give up two more home runs (now seven on the season), but in every other way he looked dominant.
I wouldn't feel confident starting Mahle next week, but I'd like to have him on my roster. Across two minor-league levels in 2017, he posted a 2.06 ERA with a WHIP of just 0.96. There's enough upside here to go grab him after a good start and put him on your bench.
Marco Gonzales does not have an encouraging profile. After Tuesday night's six shutout frames, he's now thrown 100 innings in the big leagues and has a 5.22 ERA. As a starter he's been even worse and owns a ridiculous 1.75 WHIP. But he's just 24 percent owned and there is something to keep an eye on here.
Gonzales has a 10.72 K/9 and a 1.59 BB/9. Those numbers are elite. The only starters to have a K/9 over 10 and a BB/9 below two in 2017 were Chris Sale, Corey Kluber and Clayton Kershaw. Gonzales is none of those, but it does show that his 4.37 ERA is misleading.
While I'm not ready to buy into these numbers, it is interesting that his K percentage is a career-high 27.6 percent and he's getting hitters to swing at more pitches out of the zone (32.1 percent) than he ever has. His next start is Sunday at Cleveland, and I'll be watching closely. If one of the Mariners next four games gets rained out, Gonzales will become a two-start pitcher next week, and I may even start him in a points league.
With Ronald Acuna finally getting the call, Mike Soroka becomes one of the next Braves we should start hearing rumblings about. Actually we've already heard them. The 20 year-old righty is off to a fantastic start in Triple-A, striking out 24 in his first four starts with just a 1.99 ERA. He has not shown huge strikeout potential in the minor leagues, but he's also never had a BB/9 above 2.0. He's still extremely young and there's a chance he's only called up for a spot start his first call, but in deeper leagues he has upside worth stashing.
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Scott White is an award-winning Fantasy Baseball analyst
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Scott White is an award-winning Fantasy baseball analyst