Fantasy baseball Roundtable: Can Puig keep up his blazing pace?
We mentioned Yasiel Puig in last week's roundtable, but the young Cuban has become a MLB sensation. But now we ask, how long can he keep this up? And speaking of young players on fire, Domonic Brown keeps surprising us game after game. Should an owner trade him high, or just let him ride out his streak? Our experts Michael Beller and Eric mack have some answers for curious owners.
Do you have a fantasy question that you want our experts to answer? Leave it in the comments below or find Beller and Mack on Twitter. We will be printing and answering them every Wednesday in the SI.com Roundtable.
1. Yasiel Puig has turned into a West Coast sensation nearly overnight. Can he keep up his blazing pace?
Mack: Puig is more than just a West Coast sensation, he's a international marvel right now. But that's an easy answer, because no one keeps up this kind of pace. Everyone struggles somewhere along the line, including players like Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera. The important question regarding Puig is do you sell high, hold, or even buy into this phenomenon? Former Mets GM Steve Phillips asked me on Sirius XM Fantasy Radio on Tuesday if I was more bullish on Domonic Brown or Puig. My answer was to capitalize on the hype. Right now, everyone believes Puig is the second-coming. If an owner can score a more consistent veteran between the ages 26-30 that was picked in the early rounds of your draft this March, you should take it.
Beller: I really wish Mack would have left some meat on this bone, but I think he nailed it. No, Puig won't keep up this pace. Yes, he is legit, and his floor for the rest of the season is solid starter in a 12-team league. If someone is willing to give you $1.20 on the dollar for him because they're intoxicated with his hot start, take it immediately. I will add that you should place a higher premium on him if you're in a keeper league. How high depends on your league's specific rules, but we could be talking about a guy who is a first- or second-round pick before too long.
2. What impact, if any, does the Mets' subpar conditions at their minor league stadium (Las Vegas 51s) have on their top prospects like Zach Wheeler?
Mack: In Wheeler's case it hasn't really hurt him much; he's still the most-owned minor league pitcher in fantasy, and the subpar statistics won't keep him from making his major league debut next week against the Braves. Las Vegas is place for hitters, which is why Bryce Harper did his one year of community college there. It can give Mets hitting prospects like Wilmer Flores confidence. It might also help give recently demoted Ike Davis some confidence. Among the Mets pitchers there, Wheeler is the only one really worthy of fantasy consideration and his talent is such that a bad park won't affect his confidence. The widely held belief is Wheeler is going to pitch much better with the Mets than he ever did in Las Vegas. Judging by Matt Harvey's hot start, who has pitched better in the majors than he did in the minors, we probably should follow suit on that belief with Wheeler.
Beller: I don't think it has much of an impact on a guy with Wheeler's ability. The conditions in Vegas aren't a surprise to anyone who pitches there, and the Mets have been grooming Wheeler for the majors from the moment they acquired him. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that he has been told not to worry about his results in Vegas so long as his mechanics and command are on point. If there were signs that pitching in this environment were getting in his head to the point of stunting his growth that would be a concern, but that certainly doesn't appear to be applicable in Wheeler's case. Most parks in the Pacific Coast League favor hitters to the extreme, but it still manages to produce its fair share of stud pitchers once they reach the majors. We shouldn't let this bother us when valuing Wheeler.
3. Do I cash in on Domonic Brown (in a 13-team modified H2H) or let him ride?
Mack: Like was said with Puig above, you have to consider your alternatives with a player blowing away expectations like Brown is. Brown and Puig are both legit talents, so they are viable players to hold on to, but if someone is offering you a veteran early round talent that is in his prime from age 26 to 30, you should consider selling. Neither Brown nor Puig will consistently be this good -- many would have to agree with that -- but finding a trade partner out there willing to bet the farm on them is likely to be tough. Barring the right offer, you should hold on to Brown.
Beller: Everybody knows the mantra "sell high," but that doesn't mean it's easy to do. You have to be open to moving a player like Brown, but just because he's outpacing what anyone expected of him this year doesn't mean you're duty-bound to trade him. Remember, your trade partner understands the idea of selling high, too. He or she likely also knows that Brown has been playing just a bit over his head this year. Your best bet for selling high is finding someone in your league desperate for power. They're the kind of owners who might be forced to look the other way while buying a surprising player at his peak value.
4. What am I supposed to do with Headley and Castro? I have Kinsler coming off the DL soon and they've been my worst players.
Mack: Don't expect Chase Headley to replicate last season's breakthrough at age 27, but both he and Starlin Castro are a lot better than they have shown this year. These are two talented players who will get hot for you, so don't give up on them. Since Headley is a third baseman, Castro is a shortstop and Kinsler is a second baseman, you probably need to look at dropping a player at second base or another position. Headley, Castro and Kinsler are early round picks you cannot cut or trade. You have to ride them until they pay you back.
Beller: I understand your frustrations with Headley and Castro, but both players are way too good to drop, and there's no way you'll get fair value for them in a trade. There has to be someone else on your roster you can better afford to lose. You can also explore 2-for-1 trades to improve your team in a weak area. But don't give up on Headley or Castro.
5. How would you rank the following: B. Norris, J. Quintana, Kluber, Skaggs, Porcello, Wheeler?
Mack: Frankly, Wheeler is the only one who classifies as a must-own in a standard 12-team mixed fantasy league right now. Norris and Quintana are fringe options because they pitch for non-contenders; Porcello and Kluber are just too inconsistent; and Skaggs was recently demoted to the minors. Wheeler can potentially impact all leagues right away like the Mets' Harvey did a year ago, which means a tidy ERA and WHIP, a strikeout per inning and roughly a .500 record in the win-loss column. Ranking them, go with: Wheeler, Norris, Quintana, Porcello, Kluber and Skaggs.
Beller: Agreed, Wheeler is in a class by himself. When you're considering back-end options for your rotation, your first question should always be, "Who has the most upside?" Adding a pitcher like this should always be low-risk, high-reward. Wheeler is the only one who fits that bill, so he gets the top spot. Norris has some strikeout upside, so he's next for me. He also remains a cut above the rest in my book. After that, you might as well throw darts. Porcello gets the nod over Quintana because of the teams they play for. Quintana gets it over Kluber because he has more of a track record. Kluber gets it over Skaggs because he's in the majors. That makes my list: Wheeler, Norris, Porcello, Quintana, Kluber, Skaggs.