New Team… Different Output?
As I watched everything transpire around the trade deadline this year, overall team success wasn't the only thing on my mind. When each transaction was finalized, I kept contemplating what this move would mean for this particular player's fantasy value. Does Josh Reddick moving to the Dodgers improve his offensive potential? Will Carlos Beltran continue to outperform his age amongst a much stronger lineup in Texas? How will Jay Bruce's offense be affected by playing at Citi Field instead of Great American Ball Park? Even though these questions won't be answered right away, we can take a look at each of these transactions and determine whether each player's new situation is better than his previous one.
With the amount of trades completed at this year's deadline, it will be difficult to touch on every one. Therefore, with limited top of the rotation guys on the move, I'll be focusing on the offensive side of the deadline. Let's see what we can determine just two days removed from all of these changes.
Jonathan Lucroy (C) and Carlos Beltran (OF) – Texas Rangers
Let's start with the team who likely received the most offensive help at the deadline. Lucroy leaves a Milwaukee team where he hit cleanup nearly every time he was in the lineup. He followed former MVP Ryan Braun and sat in front of slugger Chris Carter, and played his home games at Miller Park. He arrives in Arlington to a team who averages 4.73 runs a game, 0.7 higher than the Brewers. It appears that Lucroy will be hitting further down in the order than he's used to, as he filled the six hole in his Ranger debut. Other than having potentially fewer at-bats, Lucroy has joined one of the elite offenses in the game, with nearly every player in the lineup being a threat. Hitting in a better ballpark among better offensive talent should project Lucroy to have better offensive numbers than he had with Milwaukee. That said, I'll leave you with an interesting fact; Lucroy has hit .320 without no one on base so far this year. With runners on base, that average drops to .275, and with runners in scoring position, he falls all the way to .235. So maybe hitting in a lineup where more guys will be on in front of him will hurt him instead of help. Only time will tell.
Beltran leaves the third hole in New York only to enter that same spot in Texas. He leaves a Yankees team who is sixth worst in the major's in offensive WAR, and joins a team 10 spots ahead of them. The Yankees have averaged 4.02 runs per game, fourth worst in the AL. Both Yankee Stadium and Globe Life Park are favorable offensive parks, but Beltran's placement in the Rangers lineup behind Ian Desmond (the majors tenth best offensive player so far) and in front of Adrian Beltre will likely prove to be beneficial to his overall numbers. However, like Lucroy, Beltran has struggled with runners in scoring position, hitting only .217 on the year. It's hard to believe that Beltran won't improve that number, as well as succeed even more in Texas than he did in New York. Look for Beltran's numbers to remain top notch in Texas.
Jay Bruce (OF) – New York Mets
Bruce joins the Mets as the NL's leader in RBIs with 80. The Mets hope Bruce can fix their problem with runners in scoring position, as they're batting a league worst .208. Lucky for them, Bruce's RBI numbers correlate well with his situational hitting, as he's batting .348 on the year. Even though Bruce is leaving one on the majors most offensive friendly parks, he's hit more than .030 points better on the road this year. He'll likely be following Yoenis Cespedes in the Mets lineup, who compares well to Bruce's former teammate Joey Votto in every category other than OBP. Bruce seems to have the clutch gene that the Mets are looking for, and I expect him to continue to perform well in New York.
Josh Reddick (OF) – Los Angeles Dodgers
Reddick also gets to leave one of the worst offenses in baseball and join a Dodgers team who needs offensive help of their own. He leaves a team where he was a staple in the three-hole, to join one with much more offensive options with Corey Seager, Adrian Gonzalez, and Justin Turner all capable of filling the third spot in the order. Even with the Dodgers demoting Yasiel Puig, the outfield is a little more crowded. Reddick will likely be a platoon player, as he's hitting .337 against righties and only .167 against lefties. Dodger Stadium is a little friendlier than the Coliseum, and Reddick has hit well there over the past three years, going 6-9 with a homer during that span. Look for Reddick to thrive against NL pitching and in a stronger lineup than he had in Oakland. He'll be a great option in DFS against righties.
Eduardo Nunez (SS, 3B) – San Francisco Giants
The Giants picked up All-Star Eduardo Nunez from the Twins a few days before the deadline, and he's started slow for his new team. Nunez has gone 2-13 so far with the Giants, and is definitely feeling the effects of leaving a team where he was the best player. He started two games as the leadoff man, and has also been put in the nine spot by Bruce Bochy. Even though he joins a stronger lineup, Nunez will likely be used in more of a utility role than the one he had in Minnesota. Without the comfort and ease of knowing where and when he'll be in the lineup, I expect Nunez to struggle and become less of a DFS impact over the remaining two months of the year. Also, Nunez has never played a full season, topping out at 112 games in 2011, which is the only time he's played over 90 games. Even in that 112 game season, he only had 338 plate appearances, about 80 fewer than he already has in 2016. I expect the dog days of August as well as his new role in San Francisco to negatively affect Nunez from here on out.
Matt Kemp (OF) – Atlanta Braves
Even though this acquisition doesn't have any impact on the playoff push in 2016 for the Braves, it still affects the DFS landscape for the rest of the year. Kemp has performed well so far this year for the Padres, and joined the Braves while hitting successfully in 13 of his last 14 games, including seven home runs in that span. He joins the league's worst offense in Atlanta, and will hopefully provide another middle of the order threat alongside Freddie Freeman. Even with his success this year, Kemp will likely see a decline in overall numbers just due to the shortcomings of Atlanta's overall offense. They've scored the fewest runs in the league, and average nearly a run less per game than the Padres this year, even though the Padres are below the league average in that category as well. Unless he and Freeman can create a 1-2 punch that opposing teams can't pitch around, look for his value night in and night out to suffer.
Melvin Upton Jr. (OF) – Toronto Blue Jays
Upton joins a much more crowded lineup and outfield in Toronto. After being a staple in the Padres lineup at either the leadoff or fifth spot, he joins a team where he's only started three of his first six games. He seems to have found his offensive game after searching the last three years, and joins the Blue Jays slugging .570 against left handed pitching with an OPS of .903. His numbers are much worse against right handers, so the Jays will probably play to that advantage while he's there. It will be interesting to see where Upton falls in the Blue Jays lineup, as he's been in the seven spot the past two games. The Rogers Centre is a much more favorable hitters' venue than Petco Park, and if Upton becomes a platoon outfielder, I expect his overall numbers to improve in Toronto. As a fantasy player, he has increased value in a better offense in Toronto, but only against left handers.
Overall, it seems that the majority of these players have left bad teams to join better ones. But a change of scenery and increased pressure affects players differently. It will be interesting to follow these seven guys and see how they respond to their new situations. Only time will tell.