Fantasy MLB with Tristan Cockcroft
Welcome to SportsNation! On Monday morning, ESPN.com fantasy expert Tristan Cockcroft will drop by to take your questions and analyze all the latest baseball news from a fantasy perspective.
Cockcroft is a two-time LABR member and was the 2012 Tout Wars champion. He is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hall of Fame.
Send your questions now and join Cockcroft Monday at 11 a.m. ET!
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Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:02 AM)
Good morning everyone! Plenty of fantasy baseball questions fresh off a weekend with another major trade -- Huston Street to the Angels -- and I'm sure that some of you here might play in leagues that separate today through Sunday into its own scoring period; I'll sprinkle in some "Week 17" thoughts for those of you seeking that info.Let's get right to your questions!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:03 AM)
First note for these coming seven days: Eighteen teams play a full seven games, but the Rays and Cardinals play just five apiece. And we don't even know the Cards' rotation plans, because now there are rumblings that Shelby Miller could start Wednesday. (My guess: He doesn't, after Sunday's relief appearance.) If he does, no Cardinals starter will start twice, which is bad news for Adam Wainwright owners (though he's a must-start either way).
Starting Niese today?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
Yes. Mariners don't hit lefties. Simple as that.
Is it time to give up on Oscar Taveras?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:04 AM)
I just don't see the path to regular at-bats. All year I've stressed he's NL-only material at best, and I think he's suffering the Xander Bogaerts/Jurickson Profar-in-2013, "can't get into a regular groove" effect. This is a dynasty league prospect, not someone who matters in redraft.
Are you really buying Kolten Wong over Martin Prado (who had a big second half in '13) the rest of the way?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:05 AM)
They're pretty close, sure. Remember, Prado's is an investment in batting average, which can be awfully fluky from week to week. Why not aim for Wong, who has good contact ability of his own -- therefore fueling his own strength in that category -- and can chip in a handful of steals?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:06 AM)
More "Week 17" (July 21-27) info: The top five two-start pitchers by my Forecaster Game Score grades are Chris Sale, Cliff Lee, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Scott Kazmir and John Lackey.
Sal (Teaneck NJ)
Offered Sale and Gee for Wainwright and Samardjia,,,Pull the trigger?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:09 AM)
I'd rather have Adam Wainwright's side, with a healthy chunk of that the value difference between Jeff Samardzija and Dillon Gee. I have both pitchers on that side of the deal ranked higher than the ones slotted in either spot on the other side.
Just wanted to let you know that I am also trying to get into your weight loss challenge. I am 200 lbs and if I can lose 10-15 lbs by the end of the six weeks I will be very Tristan HAPPY Cockcroft. My question is who has a better chance of being a top 10 RP ROS, Benoit or Mcgee of tampa?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:13 AM)
I'm rooting for every single person joining in our weight loss challenge; as we said on the podcast, tweet a pic of your weigh-in amount and let's see how you do! Kudos!We discussed this very topic on the podcast today, and that's an impossible question to answer because of the nature of risk versus upside. The correct answer to your question is Jake McGee -- all breaks right, he's just the better pitcher the rest of the way in my estimation -- but I'd also say that if Benoit stands pat, he has a considerably greater chance at being the every-game closer of the two, and that's going to drive his fantasy value higher.Ultimately, I keep saying Benoit is the immediate pickup for all right now, but in 10 days you might be looking for the next closer. That's how this works. Enjoy it, don't get cozy.
That time of year (FFL)
What do you think of David Wilson this year. After what round do you think he might be worth a gamble??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:14 AM)
Ok, let's toss a quick football question in there. I was a huge David Wilson believer last year, and, well, that didn't go so well (largely due to injury). I still think he's got the skills; he's also one of the highest-risk players in the injury department now. Was cleared for training camp, so that's a plus. Still, I cannot see how he's even a top-30 running back. Maybe he's a 10th-12th rounder. He's a sleeper late, and a high-risk one. It's Rashad Jennings' job, after all.
Hearing rumors about Cishek being traded before deadline. Who is next in line for saves in Miami? Please rank Dunn, Ramos, Hatcher and Jennings?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:15 AM)
We touched on this briefly today on the podcast, but not the potential fill-in. A.J. Ramos just returned from the DL and I think has the long-term grasp on the role, but considering his injuries and developing command, I wouldn't be surprised to see that a Dunn-Hatcher-Ramos committee at least initially after any possible Cishek deal. Being clear: A Ramos add is long-term speculation, not "I've got the Aug. 1 closer" strategy.
Good luck with the weight loss. I have lost about 65 in the past calendar year and feel its great your trying to lose weight. Good luck
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:16 AM)
Thanks Kevin, and kudos to you for your success the past year!
Archie Bradley looked good last outing. Promotion to Arizona by August?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:17 AM)
I didn't see the outing, but I saw the stats. Bradley is making every single one of the steps I've cited here the past few chats, and I'd say that, yes, at his current rate of progression an Aug. 1 (or so) arrival is entirely within reason. At this stage, let's say speculate if you've got the bench room (which you almost certainly do not in our 10-team standard mixed, but anything deeper, I'm going to bet that you do).
Matt (Cleveland, OH)
Think Polanco figures it out this season, or now that the league has figured him out, time to move on?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:18 AM)
I think that he's facing a positively dreadful 10-day stretch of matchups -- he struggles mightily against lefties, not uncommon for a player at his experience level -- as the Pirates face a slew of lefties the remainder of July. Could merely be a buy-low opportunity. That's my angle, at least.
Confident in Jacob de Grom as a 2-starter this week?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:20 AM)
He would rank somewhere between 50-75 if I was to do rankings for this seven-day period, and that's a start, but one who isn't overwhelmingly good. Most of that is the Brewers matchup; Miller Park is a bit too hitter-friendly for my tastes. But as the Brewers haven't hit that well in July, I'm fine with him in the vast majority of weekly leagues (as the ranking shows).
Currently in 4th (last money spot) in a keeper. Would you trade Wil Myers for Jose Bautista and Hunter Pence to try to move up for more money?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:21 AM)
What are your odds of improvement? You're the only one who can judge your categorical standing, but I'd say that's a steal of a deal for a contender, so if you've got a reasonable shot of moving up you should do it. Heck, either outfielder is probably a smarter keeper for 2015 alone than Myers; it's the years beyond that where you'll lose value.
Can you rank Ordorizzi, Stroman, and Bauer in a keeper league? Thanks
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:23 AM)
I'd keep them in that order, and will readily admit that the only reason I wouldn't switch Jake Odorizzi and Marcus Stroman around (as in, Stroman first) is that I've still got a little fear that he might have a closer's rather than starter's future. If you're more confident in his arsenal than I, I've got no problem with that swap. As for Trevor Bauer, love the guy, but has the most to fix in my opinion; WHIP could be a career-long problem for him.
Any fear of Britton losing his job?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:27 AM)
I think that if it's going to happen, it's going to be because the Orioles brought in a closer with "more experience"; something like a Jonathan Papelbon trade. In other words, I don't see significant reason for panic, not as much as Joe Smith's owners had, but also a nonzero amount.
How many games out of the last playoff spot do you have to be to consider yourself out of contention. I have a team where I can go 8-2 each week if my team played great.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:28 AM)
It depends upon how many weeks you have remaining in your "regular season." In most cases, it's going to be about six more (this one included). And I'd say it's reasonable to expect to gain as many as 2-3 games in the standings per week, so I'd say you'd need to be well into double-digits to be "out of it."
Thoughts on Alcantara. I know he will have his ups and downs, but seems like he finds ways to make things happen. Roll with him in a deep league?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:29 AM)
I think you've described Arismendy Alcantara quite well, and sound like you're adequately valuing him. In a deep league, certainly. He's on my 12-team NL-only roster in Tout Wars and I'm pleased with that; have no plans whatsoever to cut or bench him.
I was ready to drop Victorino straight off of my DL spot. Why did he have to come back hitting the ball? I can drop him, right? He's not going to do much, right? Right?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:31 AM)
Hey, Shane Victorino came back from injury last year, hit quite well despite not even being able to keep switch-hitting because of that very injury... who are we to say he can't do something like that again? The Victorino issue is the risk of injury sapping his statistics or returning to the DL. Entirely a matter of how risk-averse you are, and if you are, believe me I understand it if you decide to cut him.
FOLLOW UP ON ALCANTARA (Positions)
THC, where do you see Alcantara having eligibility next season? If he doesn't get 20 games at either OF or 2B this year, does he start next year only SS eligible? How does it effect his value in your opinion?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:33 AM)
He's probably going to earn qualification at one of those two positions, but as Alcantara has major league time -- as is the case with anyone who logs major league time -- if the player falls short of 20 games at any one spot, he'd become eligible at the position he played most. So far, Alcantara has played six at second base, two in the outfield, so he'd be a second baseman only.
Okay, I have Cliff Lee coming back today, who do I drop? Lohse, Hammel, or Quintana?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:35 AM)
Argh. Hate cutting any of them. I guess Kyle Lohse goes, just think he's got the lowest rest-of-year ceiling of the three. And hate, hate, hate making that move.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
More July 21-27 advice: Among two-start sleepers, I like Taijuan Walker, Roenis Elias and Jake Odorizzi. And if I'm a Jonathon Niese owner, I'm activating him mostly upon the strength of his Monday matchup at Seattle.
Manny Machado (Baltimore)
Am I a top-25 keeper for next year, or is my recent success all smoke and mirrors?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:37 AM)
Read my Keeper Top 250, published last week. Couldn't make more of a statement answer about Manny Machado than that.
Karabell has me nervous on Donaldson (splits vs. R's are bad) and Davis. Been offered either if I give Harper. I also gain mildly in SP and RP in the trade, but I'm not comfortable with Donaldson or Davis - would you be? If so, which do you prefer?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:38 AM)
Well... what exactly is this "mild gain" on the pitching side? You can't selectively inform trade details; that's not how trade evaluation works. Because I look at your deal and say, no, I'm not dealing Bryce Harper for either player, though if I was going to, it'd be for Josh Donaldson of those two.
You answered a trade question before stating that Samardzija was much better than Gee, trade analizers all say tht Gee is better, do you know of a good one that uses current data that may help in future analizations?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:40 AM)
I'm not sure which trade analyzers you're using; my rankings had Samardzija higher and I think he's the better fantasy pitcher of the two, simply put. ZiPS projections agree with me: Samardzija has the better ERA, WHIP and K/9 projection of the two, it's by a noticeable enough amount and I don't think anyone would bet that Gee will win more games than Samardzija the rest of the year.
Jeff (Rochester, NY)
Sorry I'm late, I was hooking up my new modem.....I had to choose between picking up Hosmer or Dickerson. Chose Hosmer. OK by you?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:41 AM)
I'm a huge Corey Dickerson fan, but ranked Eric Hosmer higher... a matter of your patience level. Hosmer is speculating on the second-half breakout for a player with future All Star skills.
Is it worth taking a flyer on Danny Salazar for his start on Tuesday?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
Sure. Just don't get cozy, as I've cautioned all year (opinion unchanged today). His minors performance was hardly extraordinary so there could be work to do facing the tougher future matchups.
I left the details out because I'm only concerned about the hitters. Complete deal: Give Harper, Soria, Archer, Get Donaldson or Davis, Melancon, Arrieta. Thanks Tristan!
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:44 AM)
I think the only way in which you clearly upgrade there is by purging the risk of lost saves; Soria could wind up a setup man via trade come Aug. 1. Frankly, I'd stand pat ... but I'm also a big Chris Archer fan.
RE: Hosmer. Is this blind hope you have for Hosmer, or do you really see something in his numbers during his current hitting streak. This isn't a critique, just wondering if this is a skills are too good type prediction.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:46 AM)
What drives me crazy about Eric Hosmer is the specific things I saw last year that I liked -- opposite-field ability, countering increasing rate of shifts; also a slight uptick in ground-ball rate -- were things I've seen in brief spurts from him this year. So I just can't resist, like a moth eyeing a bug zapper. Maybe you can. I'm just saying that I see things that could one day help him explode with the bat. Problem is, I'm fine admitting that such a thing could happen in 2016, not now.
Mike (Toronto, ON)
What is holding you back with your rankings for Dickerson? Future playing time? Cause as far as I can see, his numbers are super solid.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:48 AM)
I don't know, I actually thought I ranked him generously. Yet another example of rankings perspective. The only things that bother me with Dickerson are the diminishing chance that Michael Cuddyer's return could cost him a handful of at-bats, not to mention the fact that he's still pacing in the teens in homers and steals. Dickerson isn't a megastud; he's just a very good player.
Thoughts on David Peralta? He's been a nice injury replacement in a very deep league...not much for counting stats but he doesn't hurt
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:51 AM)
Peralta is one of two players to appear in a major league game this season who was not in my preseason database of analyzed players (meaning, everyone who gets an examination of his stats, a quick scouting look and consideration for a projection/profile); the other was Odrisamer Despaigne. So I'll admit that I don't know a whole lot about Peralta other than what his stats tell me. And when I look at them, I don't see 20-homer power and I see a 3.4 percent walk rate that makes his numbers look a bit fluky. Back-end-of-NL-only roster material, I'd say.
What is the realistic upside for Gregory Polanco in a keeper league? 20 HR's 30+ SB's? Or is that too high in the power?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:53 AM)
I think there's a realistic chance that he'll offer fantasy owners 2-3 seasons of 20-plus homers and 35-plus steals. But let's also not ignore how difficult it is for any player to consistently achieve those benchmarks (both of them in the same year, I mean). If Polanco's 2015-24 annual average was 17-29, I think fantasy owners would be extremely happy.
Fister vs Rockies......Like or Dislike?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:55 AM)
"Like" isn't the correct word/phrase; "OK with the matchup" is the right one. Groundballer with control, good combo to have going to Coors. As I said on the podcast, the one instance in which I'm sitting him is in daily formats, ones where it's mixed and a ton of big-name starters are in your daily available pool. Or if you face a ridiculously tight starts cap; and yes, these things do exist.
Dickerson has not a full season... So if you look at his pace using PAs instead of the calendar, he is closer to 30 homers than in the teens
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:56 AM)
True, and we can keep playing the nitpicking game and I'll counter that Dickerson's homer/fly ball rate is 20.4 percent, which is a tad high for that style of hitter. I'm a monstrous Dickerson fan, and have been criticized for being too much so ... you're not going to get any hate for him out of me.
Are you holding onto Mookie Betts at this point? Does he come back up this year.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:57 AM)
Only dynasty formats or AL-onlies with deep benches (eight-plus). He's got a solid future, but I don't think we see any of the positive stuff before 2015, to be honest.
Carlos Gomez (Rankings Plummett)
Can you share some insight on why Carlos Gomez continues to drop in your rankings? Think he will bump back up since he clearly has the green light to steal in the leadoff spot??
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
I forget which column this was where I pointed it out, but Gomez's batting-average slide the second half of 2013 bothered me. It makes me wonder whether he's just naturally fit to exceed expectations in terms of BABIP in the early stages of the year, but bound to regress late. That's all it is; he's still an unquestioned top-25 player overall for me.
In a league with starts caps, do you start deGrom twice or roll out Lee in his first start off the DL and Fister at Coors?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (11:59 AM)
They all start twice this week. Lee, Fister, deGrom for me.
Is there any reason to hold on to Joe Smith?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:00 PM)
Huston Street handcuff material or AL-only ERA/WHIP/K's support. If you're in one of our standard formats, no, there's really no reason.
Has Springer proven to be the better keeper than Polanco or will those strikeouts cost him?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:01 PM)
I think Springer is the better keeper of the two simply because of his superior power potential as well as his athleticism, which should keep him within range, value-wise, of Polanco. But if we were to take bets on their annual batting averages, I'd be tempted to say Polanco has the higher average in every year in which they both qualify for the batting title.
Giants just put Cain on the DL with "elbow inflammation"-- time to drop in 12-team leagues?
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
Argh. Yes, that move is on the table if you need the roster space.
Tristan H. Cockcroft (12:02 PM)
OK, time to wrap things up for today. Thanks for all your questions, and sorry if I couldn't get to yours. Take care everyone, and best of luck to you in your matchups this week!