Here in the first week of August, with a little over two months left here in the fantasy baseball season, it is time to check in on the rookie class of 2015, and see who the most valuable rookie has been up until this point, and who will carry that through the rest of the year.
By looking at the ESPN Fantasy Baseball Player Rater, Kris Bryant is the highest rated rookie hitter through August 3, 2015 coming in at rank 39. Bryant, who came up from Triple-a a few weeks after the season started jumped out to a hot start to his rookie season, but has struggled recently and has seen his batting average fall from .300 to where he currently sits at .246 over the past month and a half. Pitchers have been able to find holes in Bryant’s swing as evidenced by his 36.6% strikeout clip. With 14 homeruns, 61 rbi’s, and even chipping in 10 steals, he has shown the power and run production potential he carried with him all throughout college and the minor leagues, and with a few adjustments, he should help owners in the power department the most out of all the rookies over the final two months of the season.
Coming in second at 47th is Joc Pederson. Pederson took the league by storm in 2015, with 20 homeruns by the end of June. Pederson was already being named the Rookie of the Year by many sports writers and it looked as if there wouldn’t be a debate come August as to who the most valuable rookie would be. Turns out, pitchers have found holes in Pederson’s swing as well, and have limited him to just one homerun since June ended. Pederson’s batting average and slugging percentage have dropped every month and is now hitting .222 and is striking out in 36.1% of his at-bats. Pederson still carries tremendous power potential but has not been able to keep up with the adjustments pitchers have made against him, and until he does he is not going to provide any value to your fantasy team.
Jung Ho Kang sits at 76th, and may be the safest of the top three rookie hitters in terms of batting average. Kang is hitting .291 with 8 homeruns and 35 rbi’s. In 58 at-bats since the All-Star Break, Kang is hitting .397 with 4 homeruns and has cut down on his strikeouts a bit. With Jordy Mercer’s leg injury, Kang has been getting consistent playing time as the shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates. With Kang feeling more comfortable at the plate, hopefully he can continue his second half surge and show more of the potential that he showed over the years in Korea. Fantasy owners are usually always looking for middle infield help, so if Kang is still available, pick him up.
Chris Heston, the highest ranked rookie pitcher at 28, sports an 11-5 record with a 3.24 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 130.2 innings pitched for the San Francisco Giants. Heston threw a no-hitter on June 9th against the Mets, and since then, has caught the attention of all fantasy players. Although Heston has shown some inconsistency with his starts, his overall numbers remain strong, and so does his fantasy value, since he plays in a pitcher friendly park, in front of a good defense, and for a good team. Heston may be a better streaming option as he is a lot stronger at home, with a 2.57 ERA compared to a 4.01 road ERA.
Noah Syndergaard, is 42nd among fantasy pitchers and comes in second among rookie pitchers. Syndergaard at the young age of 22, is part of the dynamic and young future of the New York Mets staff and has shown the ace-like potential stuff he carried all throughout the minor leagues. Syndergaard sports a 6-5 record with a 2.66 ERA and has 100 strikeouts in 94.2 innings pitched. Syndergaard may seem like a streaming option himself as well, with a sparkling 1.57 ERA at Citi Field, compared to a 4.34 ERA on the road. Even so, fantasy owners should put him in their lineup no matter where he starts, because when he is locating his high 90’s heater and big breaking ball, he can dominate any lineup at any given night and carries the most fantasy value for the remaining two months.
Mike Montgomery is third among rookie pitchers at 87th and carries the lowest fantasy value of the three top rookies. Montgomery has a 4-4 record with a 3.07 ERA and has struck out 56 batters in 76.1 innings. Montgomery caught the attention of fantasy owners with his stellar month of June, where he had a 1.62 ERA in 6 starts. Since June however, he hasn’t carried nowhere near as much success, as evidenced by his 5.88 ERA in 5 July starts. Montgomery has even home and road splits so he isn’t so much a streaming option depending on the park, he just has to find the rhythm he had going in June to be able to carry any value in leagues that hold under 12 teams.