Performance Report: 5/15

How do you find an edge in fantasy in an information age?

Everyone is looking for an edge over their opponents in fantasy baseball… right?

When I first started playing many years ago, everyone and their mother did their research leading up to a draft, but the amount of managers who actually did much in-season research was small in comparison. The thought of only doing pre-draft analysis was not appealing to me… I wanted as much information as I could get my hands on. So, I consumed podcasts and read articles for advice like it was my job. I prided myself on finding the really obscure tidbit of information. Even better was when that info led to a player stashed away before any of my leaguemates had them on their radar.

A few years back I noticed that this edge I had created for myself was not quite as noticeable in my results. You see, baseball podcasts and quality analysis became more mainstream and more of a normal thing to consume. Times have changed and good information is more accessible now than ever.

Savvy fantasy managers now find themselves digging deeply into statcast numbers as a way to peer into a crystal ball. Personally, I love looking into these underlying statistics while trying to decipher them in a way that could help predict a player’s trajectory. This is a big part of what we do here at Pitcher List where I believe we have some of the most intelligent and insightful writers in the industry.

All things considered, we play the game, we consume information, and we do the research because we want the edge over our opponents right? Everything I have discussed here is great, but there is one thing I haven’t mentioned that will give you an advantage. Surprisingly, this is also the thing that a lot of fantasy managers put less importance on or neglect altogether.

It’s really very simple. If you’d like more insight on a player, then you need to watch them play. Believe it or not, there are nuances and clues that can be picked up through observing that you won’t gain from a box score or statcast numbers.

Even some of the best hitters strike out. So, whether you go the route of podcasts, articles, statcast, or using your own eyeballs to gather information, just know that you will whiff on someone from time to time. As I have said in previous weeks, all you can do is your own due diligence to give yourself the best chance of hitting.


Jesús Aguilar


2018 was a magical year for Jesús Aguilar. He came out of nowhere to clobber 35 HR and 108 RBI all while batting .274/.352/.539. His breakout could be largely attributed to him making small improvements across a few areas in addition to receiving a year’s worth of full time at-bats. Aguilar cut down on his strikeouts, lifted the ball a little more, and overall made more contact at the plate.

Unfortunately, Aguilar did not repeat his power breakout in 2019 when he hit only twelve home runs in 131 games played. Statistically speaking, he actually cut down on his strikeouts again and was still hitting the ball just as hard as he did the previous year. The problem seemed to be that he wasn’t barreling it up the same way while also swinging at more pitches in the shadow part of the plate, and so his contact wasn’t as quality as it had been in his breakout season.

Due to the massive falloff from 2018 to 2019, most fantasy managers looked right past Aguilar last season. For the third year in a row, he cut down on his strikeouts while still maintaining a strong ability to make hard contact. He also had more positive results with his pitch selection and overall looked to be pressing less at the plate.

Let’s cut to this year, where Aguilar has hit nine HR and slashed an impressive .303/.385/.590. The power has returned and additionally he has cut back on the strikeouts again. Just so the impact of this isn’t lost, he went from striking out 25.3% of the time in his breakout 2018, to this year striking out in just 15.4% of his at bats. Before I forget, Aguilar also walks at an 11.9% clip.

I am honestly looking for reasons to not buy in here, mostly because I got burned really badly by his play in 2019. The deeper I dig and the more I discover, the more I tend to think Aguilar is just a really good and really underrated hitter. If he played for a team like the Yankees or Red Sox, I believe the hype would be much louder. He’s the real deal and someone I would be looking to buy in on if the price was right (especially in an OBP league). I don’t see Aguilar as some prolific power hitter, but he is about as solid as they come and might see a small boost in his counting stats once the Marlins get Marte and Jazz back into the lineup.

Verdict: BUY


Robbie Grossman


With the way he is playing, and where you likely drafted him, Robbie Grossman could end up being the underrated piece that helps you pad your stats and win your league. Depending on your league format, he is currently a top twenty OF and has contributed modest power, good speed, and a decent amount of runs and RBI. The real question is, will he sustain it?

Let’s look at the good. Grossman is an excellent 7-7 on the basepaths, even with a middling 67th percentile sprint speed. This means that while he isn’t a burner, he is a discerning baserunner and should be good for more bags if he continues to get the green light. There isn’t a ton of pop in Grossman’s bat, but all of the underlying numbers say that what power we have seen is real. On top of this, his BB% is is currently sitting at 16.4% which I am sure is attributing to the Tigers having him be the primary leadoff hitter.

With all of that goodness, where is the bad? Well, Grossman does have an insane OBP, but his batting average is somewhat lacking for a leadoff hitter at just .242. Yes, that means he will get on base plenty, but that also means he will be knocking in few runs. Additionally, the Tigers are one of the worst offenses in the majors right now. The ripple effect a bad offense has on a leadoff batter can be significant. There will be less men for him to bat in (when he isn’t walking), less good hitters to drive him in when he is on base, and potentially less at bats because the lineup won’t turnover as much. Over the course of a full season that can make an impact.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Grossman is a really fine player, and one I am going to advocate buying. However, I will caution you to understand there could be some frustrations with his overall counting numbers if the Tiger’s offense remains as poor as they have been. Grossman could still end the year with 10-12 HR and 20+ stolen bases though, and that is very valuable.


Verdict: BUY 


Rich Hill


Let’s look at one more guy before wrapping things up this week.

Besides having one of the more interesting nicknames I’ve heard, the mention of Rich Hill always conjures up thoughts of injuries and missed time. For this reason, I have always had to restrain myself against my better judgement from buying in on Rich Hill. You have to give him credit where credit is due though, and this year as a 41-year-old pitcher he has looked pretty darn good.

In his last 5 starts, Hill has punched out 27 batters in 21.2 innings and only given up one home run. His ERA in that stretch in minuscule at just 0.83. Hill has still walked his share of batters in these outings, but he has been able to limit the damage because of his ability to strike guys out. At this point in his career, Hill primarily throws a fastball and curve. This year he is getting great results and forcing more whiffs with that combination than he has in years past.

Again, the tough consideration to be made when thinking about acquiring Hill is his durability. We haven’t seen over 100 innings from him since 2018. Then again, for all of these reasons he could be very cheap to acquire. I am at least looking to put feelers out on his cost, but I am not actively giving up anything of real value for him. Quality innings are a valuable commodity for sure, but what are the odds that next week Hill has a hang nail and goes on the IL?

Verdict: INQUIRE ON – check the price, but don’t give up anything substantive



Photo by Mick Haupt/Unsplash | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)

Gabe Zammit

Gabe Zammit has been writing about baseball since 2017. He is a contributor on Pitcher List in addition to Friends with Fantasy Benefits. Outside of the baseball world, Gabe is a music director and producer and loves to chat about anything and everything music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Account / Login