It’s been a lost season for Cargo. Maybe Margot can take a sad song and make it better.
By Margot we mean Manuel Margot, the 22-year-old power keg in San Diego. He’s been ripping it up during the current homestand, on a 10-for-16 binge with a double, triple, and two homers. If you applied his seasonal stat line to a full 162 games, we’d be looking at 16 home runs and 23 steals. There’s nothing wrong with a .279 average.
The Friars are justified to expect big things here. Margot was one of the primary pieces in the Craig Kimbrel trade, and Margot’s been touted by the main scouting services for several years. Baseball Prospectus tabbed him the No. 14 prospect in baseball entering 2016.
There’s room for growth, of course. Margot’s 5.7 percent walk rate needs attention, and he’s just 10-for-16 on his steal attempts — you’d expect that to improve with experience. His OPS is slightly higher against lefties and it’s significantly higher at Petco Park, an oddity that should smooth out with time.
Power is everywhere in 2017, but power-speed combinations are rare. Margot is widely available in Yahoo leagues, trading at just 13 percent. He’s on three of my clubs, and he gets the Salfino endorsement in the Friends & Family League. There’s room for you on the bandwagon.
• While Margot is the table setter in San Diego, Brad Hand is the current closer, the last word. He’s completed three saves in his new role — taking over after Brandon Maurer left town — with four strikeouts. His seasonal stats build a strong case: 2.04 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 69 strikeouts in 53 innings.
Alas, the Padres are still in rebuilding mode and Hand, as good as he’s been for two years, is considered expendable. A left-handed pitcher who can get both righties and lefties out, that’s a rich commodity. And we’ve already seen in this trading season, contenders will go after relief help. If Hand were to switch teams, we’d still bet on the ratios — but the saves would probably be out the window.
— Chris carlson (@Tophersnuggets) June 10, 2017
If and when Hand packs his bags, perhaps Phil Maton will enter our fantasy lives. He’s been sharp in his MLB debut: 20 IP, 15 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 22 K. That hashes out to a 3.15 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He has the look of a closer — a 6-foot-3, 220-pound frame; a strikeout rate over one per inning; and a fastball in the 93 mph range. He’s also getting swings and misses 14.7 percent of the time. Pound the strike zone, miss those bats.
• While we’re tossing around the idea of closer change, keep an eye peeled to the Atlanta situation. The Braves have no reason to keep Jim Johnson around long-term, and Arodys Vizcaino looms as a perfect trial candidate if Johnson winds up being moved. The Viz has a 2.45 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, zesty strikeout numbers, and a tidy 15-percent ownership tag in Yahoo leagues.
• The Tommy Pham breakout looks more and more real wth every passing week. Reportedly, the Nats are kicking the tires on Pham, and I’d love to see a trade come to fruition. Washington’s offense can blow you off the field — they took a savage round of batting practice Thursday against Milwaukee — and Pham would fit into the Adam Eaton role nicely.
While Pham’s power has been shocking this year, let’s give him credit for some of the improvements he’s made. He’s cut his chase rate down to 19.5 percent — in July, only the savant Joey Votto has chased less often — and his contact rate is up by 13 percent. Pham also has a 24.9 percent line-drive clip, above the league average, and he’s rated a Top 25 baserunner per Fangraphs metrics. Only seven outfielders have a better fWAR, and remember Pham wasn’t a starter at the beginning of the year.
• David Price was kicked around in his last start (6 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K), and maybe there’s more to the story. According to Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe — our source for all things Price these days — the left-hander is dealing with a “barking” elbow. Price has gutted through a 3.82 ERA and 1.27 WHIP this year, despite injuries and his obvious unhappiness in The Hub. A disabled list stint appears likely.