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Fantasy 411: What's in store for Zimmerman, Sano?

May 5, 2017

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and Al Melchior. To hear the rest of Zinkie and Leach's discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.Zinkie: I want to focus in on one Washington hitter,

The following is a transcript of a segment from this week's Fantasy411 podcast, hosted by lead fantasy writer Fred Zinkie and Al Melchior. To hear the rest of Zinkie and Leach's discussion, subscribe to the Fantasy411 podcast by clicking here.
Zinkie: I want to focus in on one Washington hitter, because i really feel like i haven't talked -- we haven't talked -- about him much on the podcast this year, and I think that's my fault a little bit, because I feel like I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop on Ryan Zimmerman. But he was just named the National League Player of the Month for April, it hasn't really happened yet. Where are you at with Zimmerman? Are you in or are you sell-high on him right now? How are you approaching him, because i do find we get as many questions on him as anyone right now.
Melchior: Yeah, and for many good reasons. Am I in on him? Yeah, I suppose so. I haven't taken action, I don't own Zimmerman, I didn't draft him in any leagues, and it's certainly not the right time to try to trade for him, I don't think. If i owned him, I might test the market just to see what's out there. But I'm in enough on Zimmerman that I'd want really good value, you know, something, maybe 85-90 cents on the dollar, for Zimmerman. Something close to the value he's giving you now, because he's certainly backing up what he's doing in terms of the Statcast™ indicators.
And Fred, he's kind of interesting, because there was a lot about him during Spring Training with him working with Daniel Murphy and him taking more uppercut swings, and then about a week or two into the regular season, he wasn't in terms of these launch-angle stats, that uppercut swing. If he was even applying it, wasn't really resulting in a higher launch angle. And then there was a report that I read that he actually was focused more on his stance at the plate than with his swing mechanics, and that he was trying to kind of load his body up vertically and change his posture at the plate, and that's what he was crediting with his fast start.
Now since then, the launch angle has increased, so it's probably just a combination of all of the above, all the things that people speculated on for why Zimmerman is doing better. Because all those signs are there -- he's changing his stance, that he is hitting with a higher launch angle, and, of course, the results pretty much speak for themselves.
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Zinkie: It's easy to say someone is going to regress. We can say that about Zimmerman or Aaron Judge or anyone else who had just a ridiculous month. He's not going to have a 4-something BABIP all season and a home-run-to-fly-ball percentage around 40, but really, if he didn't regress, he'd hit 65 home runs this season -- we're not even talking about that.
What we're talking about is whether Ryan Zimmerman is going to be really, really good this season. I think the reason that I've been really hesitant to go in on him is my long-term injury concern with him. I feel like that's being glossed over a little bit, because we're spending so much time trying to figure out if his skill changes are for real -- if his per-game production is for real -- that I think sometimes people are forgetting that this is someone who really struggles to stay healthy. He can have an uppercut swing or a different launch angle or all these other types of things, but that probably doesn't change the percentage of chance that he'll spend a significant amount of time on the DL this year, which he has done in recent seasons.
So I think that's one of the reasons I would be interested in getting out from Zimmerman is just the injury concern. He can play pretty well on a per game basis but end up missing six weeks at some point or eight weeks at some point with an injury. That has been pretty normal for him.
Melchior: Yeah, you're right, that has been glossed over, because there has been such a fascination with all the stories around the changes that he's made, and that's a really good point. So yeah, if you're a Zimmerman owner, that is one more reason to behoove you to at least see what you can get from him.
Zinkie: And I've seen on Twitter, some like really nice offers where people are getting quality, reliable stud hitters for him or really high-end pitchers for him. Where I can see with Zimmerman is if you're one of the owners who've lost one of these many ace-caliber pitchers, if you've lost one of them and you happen to kind of luck your way into Ryan Zimmerman, he might be the trade that can get you out of your pitching problem.

Melchior: That'd be a great scenario.
Zinkie: I want to talk next about Miguel Sano. He's someone else who we haven't talked about really much. He led the American League in April in RBIs. I think of him as a bit of a sell-high candidate as well, just seeing a high BABIP, he's not striking out any less than he was in previous seasons. He's actually, he is walking a lot, but between the BABIP and the frequent strikeouts, I just see him as a bit of a sell-high candidate. That being said, when you really look at his batted-ball data, he is someone who really, really hits the ball hard. So maybe I'm selling him a little bit short. If you are a Sano owner, are you holding on now and hoping you get that like 100-RBI season?
Melchior: I am. I am a Sano owner, and I'll say -- somewhat reluctantly, because he's somebody who in the past I thought overachieved on BABIP and wasn't crazy about all the strikeouts -- I'm glad I have him. Partly it's that I like the fact I can switch between third base and outfield, but also just like you said -- the Statcast™ numbers are off the charts.
He's leading the Majors in exit velocity by three and a half mph. He's sort of blowing away the field in that regard, and that is something -- maybe not to this degree -- but that particular skill, it's not like it's something new and it's not like Aaron Judge or Nomar Mazara, where you say, "OK, they've done this for a few weeks, but, you know, what about the next five months?" In Mazara's case, we've already seen a tail off, so with Sano, maybe there's slight regression, but I think that he's somebody who does generate enough hard contact that -- despite a lot of the other indicators that might suggest otherwise -- he can be an above BABIP hitter.

Zinkie: Yeah, and I mean, I think it's reassuring sometimes when we see hitters develop into exactly what we hope they would develop into, so when you see someone like Sano or Aaron Judge on the Yankees developing into these monster power hitters, well, that's what they were supposed to do, so that's fairly reassuring that this isn't coming out of nowhere. This is what they were expected to do when they were in the Minors.
Also, I will say this -- fantasy baseball, though it's competitive, also needs to be fun. And owning Miguel Sano seems fun if you got him in the mid rounds, late rounds, whatever, depending on the league size of your draft, and it's turning out. I could see players like him and Judge, who are just exciting, powerful guys, just enjoy the ride. And maybe you don't get what you hoped, but so far you have, so maybe just see where this all plays out.
Melchior: Yeah, that's a good point. He is a fun, fun player to own. More often that not, he justifies the hype.