Road Trip Week 4 & 5

By Matthew Rosser and Curtis Bailey

Road Trip Week 4

One of the best, most subtle inappropriate jokes ever made is a suspension bridge. Not just any bridge though, a particular one. Just North of the (sometimes) beautiful Mobile, Alabama, there is a five mile bridge of interstate 65 that traverses something like eight bodies of water, with the coup de grace being two giant, semi-circular suspension sets (complete with little red airplane beacons on top). This bridge, officially called the Dolly Parton (forreal. Google it), is when people from the 251 area code know they are starting an excursion. It’s the point of no return, the plank all travelers must walk to venture into the northern 99% of the country. Well, week 4 is our Dolly Parton Bridge. We finally have enough of a sample size to start gearing up for the long journey ahead of us.  Much like last week, it’s still too early to drop most of the struggling players you are starting to worry about, but not all of them. Today we are going to tell you who you should add, hold, and drop going into week 4.  As always, green lights are your adds, yellow lights are your holds, and lastly, red lights are your drops. 

Green Lights

Raimel Tapia:

We loved Raimel Tapia this off-season, and you’ve probably seen us reference his name a few times. Last year, he hit .321 and had the best numbers of his career in the short season. That little taste of success emboldened Tapia, urging him to declare that he wanted to win the batting title in the offseason. He started 2021 pretty slowly, but he’s starting to turn it on. He’s batting .360 over the past 14 days, .411 over the past week, and slugging .555 and .823 over those same windows. Tapia is a staple at the top of the Rockies lineup, provides a solid hit tool with plenty of runs, and can throw in 25 HR+SB. He’s only owned in 26% of leagues and you could do much, much worse at the back end of your outfield. -MR

David Peralta:

David Peralta is just a damn good ball player. In 8 seasons, the 33 year old has turned in a WRC+ of over 100 all but one time, with a career number of 115. He doesn’t do anything particularly great, he just does everything well. He will hit above average, slug when he needs to, and drive in runs when ducks are on the pond. He exploded this week with a huge 5-6 day that saw him collect 10 bases and finish a double short of the cycle. That’s what Peralta does. He’s a grinder of the highest order, and when he goes boom it’s always a welcome treat. You could do a lot worse supplementing your injury riddled team than Davey P. -MR

Alex Kirilloff:

Ladies and gents, it’s happening. One of two prospects in recent memory with an 80-grade hit tool got the call this week. Kirilloff has set every level of the minors on fire, and profiles to be a more contact driven J.D. Martinez. It may take a beat for him to settle in, but dude is going to ball out. If he hits .260, he will probably still have an OPS over .750. Sometimes with prospects, you just want one who is a known commodity and won’t make mistakes. With a sub-20% k-rate at every minor league stop and a bat that can spray the ball to all fields with pop, Kirilloff is the rare blend of known floor and infinite ceiling you look for in prospects. Get him on your team. -MR

Yellow Lights

Cavan Biggio:

Biggio exploded onto the scene last year as part of the Blue Jays arsenal of 2nd generation MLB players, shining just as brightly as Bo Bichette and often brighter than Vladdy Jr. He shot up draft boards, but then almost instantly fell back down after concerns about his free swinging approach and power sustainability came up. So far, all the concerns seem valid; Biggio has a k-rate in the 30’s for the first time in his professional career and is batting an atrocious .135/.262/.288. No power, no contact, a lot of strikeouts. His X-stats on Statcast say this is all legit. No bueno for Biggio owners, right? Well, here’s the silver lining: he has a .137 BABIP, which is the first time in his career it’s ever been below .300. Yes, he’s hitting more fly balls, but we’ve seen contact guys sell out for power early-season before, and they settle in just fine (Ozzie Albies, Jose Ramirez). You drafted Biggio too high to drop him yet, and you can’t get anything for him in a trade, so just sit tight and keep an eye on that BABIP and K-Rate. Once those go up, so will Biggio’s production. -MR

Eugenio Suarez:

Back to where it all began. Eugenio Suarez is one of the players who kickstarted our obsession with fantasy baseball here and it looks like he’s back to his old, old ways. Suarez is batting .157 with a 38% strikeout rate. Like we did with Biggio, we can look to his BABIP for grace -.222- and here we get none. Yes, that is lower than his career .308 number, but it’s higher than his 2020 rate of .214. Suarez has had terrible batted ball luck for almost 80 games now. He still barrels the ball at a good rate, but the frustration from not being able to land anything for 2 seasons is clearly taking a toll as he presses at the plate and misses pitches in the zone. Also like Biggio, it’s a little early to outright drop him, but if you can offload him for something decent, do that. -MR

Charlie Blackmon:

Remember last week, when we said that Zach Davies was droppable because even if he turned it on, he wouldn’t be good enough to make you look really stupid? Well, Charlie Blackmon is good enough to make you look like you’re throwing the season. Yes, he is hitting an abysmal .164, but almost all of his batted ball numbers look identical to his career. His Exit velocity, launch angle, and hard hit profile are all well within his career norms, he just also has a .182 BABIP. Given the rest of his peripherals, I have more faith that Blackmon will normalize to his top-50 self more than either of our other two yellow lights. Also unlike Suarez and Biggio, Blackmon doesn’t have to settle any plate discipline issues either. He is still showing a great eye and contact tool, so just give the man some time and water will almost definitely find its level. -MR

Red Lights

Devin Williams:

Our first traffic school flunkee! We are dropping Devin Williams from a Yellow to a Red Light. Williams finally got his first hold of the season this week, but he is still walking guys at an unprecedented rate by his standards and has given up 4 runs in 5.2 innings on the season. Drop him for someone more useful, and if he finds his groove again, just pick him up, because he isn’t going to be snagged on waivers. -MR

Ryan Mountcastle:

Turns out, the guy everybody thought could win rookie of the year isn’t even the best rookie on his team (shouts to our guy Cedric Mullins). Mountcastle hit .333/.386/.492 in the Covid season, but is sitting on a measly .174/.205/.275 slash line so far in 2021. Unlike all of our yellows, this doesn’t seem as BABIP driven, as his is .244. That’s lower than average, sure, but it’s proportional to his profile (.398 in 2020). The issue for Mountcastle is that he looks utterly lost at the plate. His strikeout rate has ballooned to 32% from 21% in 2020, and his walk rate has gone down. His contact rate has dropped ten percent, and his called strike+whiffs percentage has gone up. Mountcastle? More like Swampshack. Unlike all of our Yellows, you probably drafted him as a supplemental bat, so feel safe to drop until he proves he can be at least a zero in points leagues. -MR

Victor Robles:

I really, really wanted to think this would be the year for Victor Robles. He had an electric spring training and seemed destined to finally be a fixture at the front of a very top heavy Nationals lineup, but now he looks hopelessly aloof at the dish. He is rolling over everything, and it’s led to a .192 average and a .564 OPS. Sure, he isn’t striking out, and can take a walk, but it looks safe to say that the power that was touted when he was a prospect isn’t going to manifest, and he doesn’t get on base enough to be a good steals or runs contributor. Someone in your league may still believe, but it is safe to sever ties with him in redraft leagues. 

Road Trip Week 5

Green Lights

Kyle Higashioka: 

          Higgy proved capable in a fill-in capacity in 2020, where he had enough of a power output for a 102 WRC+ over 48 PA’s but he took as many walks as you and me, and probably would’ve been a liability if given full-time at-bats. Fast forward to this year: The Bronx is about over El Gary and his atrocious .639 OPS, and Higashioka is running away with the opportunity. He is tearing the cover off of the ball to the tune of a .276/.364/.759 slash line, and has taken four walks so far this year (400% more than he took the past two years). Pick him up and ride him till the wheels fall off. -MR

Kolton Wong:

      Kolton Wong is 30 now. On one hand, that’s not surprising, since it feels like I’ve been hearing about him for 10 years, but on the other hand, he’s a perpetual 24 year old. He was a glove first infielder for the Cardinals forever, cracking 100 WRC+ just twice over eight years with a max of 108, but since signing with the Brewers and coming back from injury, he has been on fire, hitting .318 with a .946 OPS; good enough for a 161 WRC+. Wong has a proven hit tool, and if the pop sticks, he could be a great waiver add for a few months, if not the whole year. -MR

Nico Hoerner: 

It’s been a long road to consistent playing time for Nico Hoerner. He has been bounced between the majors and the farm multiple times over the past 3 years, but he is finally on the Cubs permanently. This has been achieved by honing his approach at the plate. He already had elite contact skills, but he lacked the eye for balls and strikes. Now with his newfound ability to work the count and his god given talent for putting bats on balls he is ready to take your team to the next level. -CB

Yellow Lights

Dominic Smith:

This is a tough case to make. Dom Smith has been bad. He has been really bad. If your team is crazy injured and you don’t have space for him, then you have to do what you have to do, but that shouldn’t be dropping Smith. His triple slash right now is .203/.224/.328. As previously stated, that is really bad. If you look at his statcast it tells a very different story though. His expected triple slash line is .300/.390/.557. Those numbers are right in line with his production from last year when he was the breakout sensation we were all fawning over. I can’t guarantee that he will turn around his season but I can say with gusto that I expect him to. Don’t give up on him. -CB

Jeff McNeil:

There was a lot of news over the offseason about how McNeil had put on muscle so that he could take greater advantage of his considerable hit tool and finally start hitting for power. Instead, he has stopped hitting all together. He still has his elite contact skills though, so how is he not getting hits? His career BABIP is .333 and right now it’s .191. To say he has been unlucky so far is an incredible understatement. So, much like his teammate you just read about you can’t give up on McNeil yet. He will turn this around and you want to be there to reap those rewards. -CB

Ryan Weathers: 

Weathers was on a lot of adds lists last week, and that’s because the 21 year old phenom has been a monster this year in his limited time in the big leagues. Then, he had an elbow injury that cast doubt on whether he would play again this season. The same people that had been singing his praises just a few days earlier were ready to lower him into his grave at the drop of a hat. I am not one of those people. The prognosis has come back and Weathers lives to fight another day. He is not getting Tommy Johns and remains in the Padres rotation. So don’t do your leaguemates the favor of dropping him. -CB

Red Lights

Keston Huira: 

      When I picked Keston Hiura in our head to head booms and busts article, I expected to be able to take a victory lap at some point. I did not expect that point to be before May, but here we are. Might this be a little premature to stick a fork in the worst named prospect in recent memory? Sure, but like Hiura trying to determine if the pitch is in the zone or not before swinging, I don’t care. His strikeout rate is over 35%, and he has a .568 OPS. Dude is bad and getting worse. Time to move on. -MR

Dylan Moore:

This hurts me in my soul. I was so in on Dylan Moore this offseason. Moore’s fantastic plate approach that initially drew me to him has remained intact but everything else has vanished into thin air. He is struggling to make contact and the few times he does there is no pop in his bat. The Mariners are trying to make the playoffs and they have better options waiting in the wings. Moore is playing himself right out of the lineup and my heart. Moore was a high floor play in drafts this year and he obviously doesn’t have one of those so without a high ceiling there is no need to be scared to drop him. -CB

Dansby Swanson:

         People have been trying to make Dansby happen for years, and after a hot 2020 season, people thought this was his time to put it all together. Let me state this very clearly: Dansby is not going to happen. Stop trying to make Dansby happen. His strikeout rate is at a career high, his walk rate is at a career low, and he has a .198 average with a .607 OPS. On top of all of that, his supposed power breakthrough seems to be all but zapped, as his isolated power number is the lowest it’s been since 2017, when he hit 6 home runs. While he may have the hottest head of hair in baseball, he also has one of the coldest bats. Cut your losses and pick up Kolten Wong for your MI spot. -MR