The Numbers Do Lie in Fantasy Baseball: Is the best yet to come for Matt Chapman?
A simple look at a box score or a study of fantasy categories doesn't always tell the whole story of how a player is performing. Dalton Del Don attempts to identify recent misleading numbers that are worth a closer look.
Yes ... The Numbers Do Lie.
Matt Chapman’s five home runs are a lie
Chapman’s terrific performance at the plate this season could be even better for fantasy managers, as he sports the biggest difference in home runs and expected homers (he should have about four more). After swatting 19 long balls over 78 games at home last season, Chapman has just one in Toronto in 2023. Part of the issue is him playing 63% of his games on the road so far this year, and the other is the Rogers Centre bizarrely playing like an extreme pitcher’s park over the first six weeks of the season, landing bottom-10 in HR for right-handed batters.
This is surprising not only because Rogers Centre was highly favorable for right-handed power in 2022 (increasing HR by 18%), but also the fences were also moved in during the offseason, with beat writers calling it a “launching pad.” Instead of Toronto’s new dimensions being hitter-friendly as expected for Chapman, he sports a lowly 4.8 HR/FB% at home despite his HardHit% and expected slugging both in the top 1% of the league. Chapman also leads all hitters in Barrel%, and only five hitters have a higher expected wOBA — those handful have an average of 9.5 homers.
Chapman’s season hasn’t exactly been unlucky, as he also leads the league in BABIP (.431). Expect a lower batting average but far more long balls for Chapman moving forward.
Dustin May’s 2.68 ERA is a lie
May is one of my most rostered players, so it pains me to say this. Most pitchers with a 2.68 ERA are due for regression, but that’s especially true for those with May’s incredibly shaky peripherals, which include a 6.1 K/9 and a 3.1 BB/9. May’s K-BB% ranks 65th among 74 qualified starters this season. May ranks 16th in ERA and 64th (out of 74) in SIERA, thanks to the fifth-lowest hit rate and the second-lowest HR/FB rate (2.1% this season despite owning an above-average career 12.8 HR/FB%).
All that said, May has ridiculous stuff and is still developing as a pitcher while returning from Tommy John surgery. He owns a career .245 BABIP and was leading the league in CSW before going down in 2021, so May still has strikeout potential even if he doesn’t induce as many swings and misses as we’d like.
May will continue to have plenty of fantasy value, thanks to pitching for the Dodgers, but his ERA is in danger of jumping significantly if his nasty stuff doesn’t start translating into more strikeouts soon.
Editor's note: Dustin May has reportedly been diagnosed with a flexor pronator strain. He is reportedly expected to be placed on the IL with the injury.
Braxton Garrett’s 5.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP are lies
Garrett remains available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues, thanks to ugly season numbers exaggerated by one horrific start; if you removed that outing against the NL’s best offense, Garrett would have a 3.06 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP this season. Garrett’s fantasy managers can’t erase that appearance, but his peripherals suggest he’s a worthy add moving forward. He doesn’t possess dominant stuff, with a fastball averaging just 89.7 mph, but that hasn’t stopped Garrett from ranking top-20 in CSW this season, sandwiched between starters with ERAs of 2.82 and 2.16.
Garrett should be rostered in all serious fantasy leagues.
Craig Kimbrel’s 6.60 ERA is a lie
Kimbrel’s 6.60 ERA comes with a 3.28 xFIP; his .269 career BABIP is up to .357 this season, while his career HR/FB rate (10.7%) is up to 23.1%. Meanwhile, Kimbrel’s 37.5 K% is seventh-best among relievers. It’s commonly a roller coaster with Kimbrel, but his elite stuff remains intact, and this is a reliever with a career 2.41 ERA and the eighth-most saves in MLB history.
Kimbrel has a better CSW than Jordan Romano and Devin Williams and should be the favorite to close in Philadelphia while José Alvarado is sidelined by an elbow injury. Kimbrel remains available in nearly 50% of Yahoo leagues.