The Numbers Do Lie in Fantasy Baseball: How long can Christopher Morel keep this up?
A simple look at a box score or a study of fantasy categories doesn't always tell the whole story of how a player is performing. Dalton Del Don attempts to identify recent misleading numbers that are worth a closer look.
Yes ... The Numbers Do Lie.
Logan Webb’s three wins are a lie
Webb remains stuck on just three wins, despite posting a 1.74 ERA over his past six starts. He hasn’t allowed more than four runs in any of his 10 starts this season, pitching at least six innings in all but one. Webb ranks top-five in CSW, with only Spencer Strider, Shane McClanahan, Shohei Ohtani and Clayton Kershaw (maybe you’ve heard of them?) higher.
Webb has given up two runs or fewer in 70% of his starts and ranks top-15 in ERA but not top-50 in wins thanks to horrible run support. Brady Singer has as many wins with a 7.48 ERA while playing for a Royals offense with a bottom-three wRC+. Meanwhile, the Giants have an above-average offense (101 wRC+) that’s getting healthier, one of the league’s best defenses and a strong backend in their bullpen, so more wins (admittedly a silly stat!) should be in Webb’s future.
Joe Musgrove’s 6.75 ERA is a lie
Musgrove is off to a rough start since returning from a fractured toe, but his underlying stats suggest that fantasy managers have little to worry about. Musgrove’s velocity and SwStr% are both up compared to last season, so his ERA should come crashing down once his called strike%, HR/FB% (18.2) and BABIP (38 points higher than his career mark) start regressing.
Petco Park has become neutral in homers, but Musgrove has almost certainly been unlucky while allowing four over just 13 1/3 innings (22.1 HR/FB%) at home this season. Musgrove’s spin rate is in the 99th percentile, and his 6.75 ERA is accompanied by a 4.36 xERA. All five of his starts have come against opposing offenses ranked top-15 in wRC+ — and four of them have been top-10 — so his schedule has been incredibly difficult while returning from injury without normal spring training. Musgrove is a screaming buy-low candidate in fantasy leagues.
Christopher Morel’s .980 slugging is a lie
Morel has been the hottest hitter on earth since he was recalled, hitting the second-most home runs (nine) over a player's first 12 games in a season in MLB history — and he has done so against tough pitching. Those nine homers have come with nine barrels and a 36.5 K% that would’ve finished among the league’s highest strikeout rates last season.
While everyone should know Morel’s hot start will regress (no one homers every game), the extent might be severe given his scary accompanying peripherals. Morel leads all hitters in homers since being called up, but he has also recorded the second-most strikeouts over that span.
While Morel might be a Captain Obvious sell-high candidate, all it takes is one person in your league who disagrees. And he’ll remain plenty valuable in fantasy leagues, thanks to his multi-position eligibility and ability to steal bases, but realize he’s projected to hit .240 (and slug around .450) the rest of the season.
Brett Baty’s .743 OPS is a lie
Baty has impressive Statcast numbers and far better expected stats than results so far. Assuming the Mets remain patient, Baty is due for an imminent breakout once his poor luck inevitably turns around. Baty was destroying Triple-A pitching (237 wRC+), has 70-grade power and sports a HardHit% in the top 5% of MLB hitters, so big things are to come.
Baty has been comfortable at home, hitting .340 with a 1.096 OPS (compared to .410 on the road) early in his career, and while that will even out some, the big news here is Citi Field’s sudden change. New York’s home park moved in the right-field fences during the offseason and has quietly transformed from one of baseball’s toughest places for left-handed power to one of the 10 friendliest in 2023. The dramatic change will continue to benefit Baty, who’s somehow still available in 70% of Yahoo leagues.