September 21, 2023

Who should pack before week 11

The editors would like me to write a fantasy drops column this year, and we’ll be rolling it out to you every few weeks. But first, let’s establish some ground rules.

One size never fits all on this stuff. What is good for you may not be good for some. Season. Outside advice is worth considering, but it’s just a suggestion. At the end of the day, it’s your decision. Make the best you can.

Some leagues allow you to trade some of these drops. In other pools this may be difficult or even impossible. You know your competition better than an outsider.

Another concept to keep in mind: if you never make a regretful drop at any point in the season, you’re playing way too conservatively. Being afraid of making a mistake IS the mistake. The goal isn’t to hit 1,000, the goal is to have a positive hit rate, to get to the good stuff before your opponents do. And to achieve that, you have to make some cutbacks. If you want a nice omelette, you have to break some eggs.

Okay, let’s get to the point.

Bryce Miller, SP, Mariners

Starting to pitch is always hard to come by, and Miller probably has trading power in some leagues. I’d try to offer him for a cut and never name a player when you’re shopping him unless he’s a demigod. Tell your opponents you want to “move a pitcher” and see if the conversation organically comes to Miller.

Miller has a 4.46 ERA but a sterling 0.97 WHIP, and when ERA and WHIP don’t tell the same story, we like to rely on the WHIP. But his Baseball Savant profile has some shakiness under the hood – he struggles with hard contact and walking. If you give out all batted ball numbers, his expected ERA is a problematic 4.02. Sometimes the extreme attackers have too much control for their own good.

The two Miller misses of late came against the Yankees and Rangers, nasty matchups. Maybe he will settle back into a positive matchup game. And again, he’s more of a shopper person, not one to outright cut. Keep in mind that his strikeout percentage has dropped since that delightful 10-whiff debut against the Athletics. See what the market will bear.

Alek Manoah, SP, Blue Jays

I don’t mean to kick anyone when they’re down, and maybe a trip to the minors can make Manoah better. But it’s going to take time, and you may not want to waste any more time. Manoah was the most destructive pitcher in fantasy baseball this year, with a 6.36 ERA and 1.90 WHIP. He has only two good starts. And this is all despite Toronto’s park shockingly playing as a pitcher-friendly yard. It’s a good job if you can get it, but Manoah’s control issues and relapse in strikeouts will haunt him everywhere.

Manoah has been dropped here and there in the past few days, but he’s still in 60% of the Yahoo competitions. Hope is a good thing, perhaps the best thing, but it may be misplaced here. Manoah needs to pitch well enough to earn a recall to Toronto, and then he’ll probably need several MLB-level starts before you can trust him again. I don’t like to commit my selection, waiting for miracles like this. Prove it to us first.

I’m in six Yahoo leagues and Manoah is still in five of them. Fine with me. If my opponents want to play a man down, that’s their business. I wouldn’t wait.

DEEP LEAGUE CUT: Mickey Moniak, OR, Angels

Moniak’s roster tag is less than 10% in Yahoo, so you may be wondering why I bother writing it down. There are two reasons: I want you to understand the basic concept, and I also want to discuss the players that I recently dropped from my own squad. It stings because I’ve been promoting Moniak on some platforms for the past few weeks. But the trend is going in the wrong direction.

Moniak’s play hasn’t been bad – .304 average, four home runs, two steals over a modest 56 at bats. But he just doesn’t start enough. Moniak automatically sits down when the Angels face a southpaw, and that doesn’t have to be a deal breaker; LaMonte Wade Jr., just to name one player, make things sing in San Francisco as a platoon man with a strong side. Sadly, Moniak isn’t an automatic start either when the Angels face a right-hander; he rested in 4 of 10 games in that recent sample.

We should also mention Moniak’s swing-and-miss game (19 strikeouts) and a modest two walks. Perhaps that’s why he dropped to eighth place two days ago, even though he did bat the first Wednesday. If the Angels find a 75 percent role for Moniak in the future, I’m willing to reevaluate things. But I’m not going to wait for the sea change to happen.

DEEP LEAGUE CUT: Nick Senzel, 3B/OF, Reds

Senzel’s pro case is very similar to Moniak’s – a post-hype sleeper who offered plausible benefits. And the case of cutting Senzel is a lot easier – he was on the injury list this week due to a knee problem. The Reds are optimistic that Senzel could return after the minimum stay to win the 10-day IL.

But I wonder what Cincinnati Senzel lineup will return to in a week or so. Elly de la Cruz is on and he is a spectacle, a man with a combination of strength and speed with a huge ceiling. Evidently, Jonathan India going to play somewhere. Kevin Newman has just enough OBP skills to earn a look in the lineup. Stuart Fairchild can steal a base. Spencer Steer rocks a 127 OPS+.

Part of my Senzel angle was the idea that the Reds had finally entrusted him with a permanent job. Has Senzel done enough to keep that job? He cuts .258/.332/.380, which adds up to an OPS+ of 89 (the league average is 100; it’s an indexed stat). Four homers and four steals are helpful, but this is not a source of category juice. I had some deeper class Senzel stocks that I finally liquidated this week. Even with IL slots, I felt others deserved more of a wait-and-see stock.

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