Fantasy Baseball: Nick Senzel’s post-hype case

Everyone loves a good post-hype fantasy story — at least, I do. So let’s start today’s fantasy baseball lap by checking in on Nick Senzel.

Once upon a time, Senzel was a big deal. He was the second overall pick in the 2016 class, after a great career at Tennessee. He was routinely ranked as a top 10 prospect from 2017 through 2019. Stardom was projected, it was just a matter of time.

And, of course, we’re still waiting. Injuries and ineffectiveness have held Senzel back, though the Reds haven’t always set him up to succeed. At times they’ve been eager to jerk him in and out of the lineup, and they’ve also used him at multiple defensive spots, perhaps to the detriment of Senzel’s offensive growth.

Senzel currently has a .257 average (that’s good), a .313 OBP (ordinary) and a .330 slugging (bad). But I want you to focus on the recent form. He’s homered in two of his past three games, and over the past two weeks, he’s on a 19-for-43 binge, with those two homers and three steals. It hashes out to a .442/.489/.605 slash.

Nick Senzel is starting to live up to his fantasy potential. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Hey, I get it — if you look at the clouds long enough, you’ll swear you see meaningful patterns. Maybe this is one of those hot streaks that flashes quickly and then disappears. But I can’t accept that Senzel simply forgot how to hit a baseball, or that every scout was wrong on him a few years back. His slow development of him could be an excused absence. Perhaps the light is finally going on in his age-27 season.

Senzel qualifies at second base and the outfield for Yahoo managers, and he’s rostered in a modest 17 percent of leagues, though that number is trending upward. The time to act in the medium pools is right now.

Another underrated catcher to consider

Catcher has been a fantasy wasteland for most of us this year. I still remember my LABR foibles a month ago, when I was outbid for Cal Raleigh, then rebuffed in trade attempts. Raleigh was batting a sturdy .165 at the time. These deeper leagues that require two starting backstops, they can crush your soul.

But I think it’s time we show some respect for eric haase, a Detroit slugger. He has homered 22 times last year over 98 games, with a passable (in today’s game) .231 batting average. His average of him is about the same this year, with seven homers. And he’s worked his K/BB ratio into a much better place.

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Haase and tucker barnhart have basically shared the Detroit catching job over the last few weeks, with Haase getting a slight edge in playing time. Haase’s offense justifies that split, as he’s carrying a 104 OPS+ (slightly above league average) while Barnhart lags at 57. Heck, you wonder why Haase isn’t picking up more off-catcher work, given how ugly the Detroit lineup has been this year. Most of the offense is struggling to keep up, though Javier Baez and jonathan schoop have been perkier in recent games.

Are you a catcher-struggling manager like me? Maybe Haase can be a temporary jam. He’s rostered in nine percent of Yahoo leagues.

A prospect making noise in Pittsburgh (no, not that prospect)

Jack Suwinski is rostered in just 15 percent of Yahoo leagues, and I get it. He wasn’t a buzzy prospect. The Pirates are a pedestrian and anonymous team. And maybe that .222 average is a turn-off for some managers.

That said, we need to consider Suwinski in the prism of today’s game. Buoyed by a juicy .480 slugging percentage, he actually has an OPS+ of 118 — that’s 18 percent better than the league average. He’s hit 14 homers. He’s also willing to take a walk, drawing 20 of them over 222 plate appearances.

If you can get the better slice of Suwinski’s game, all the better. The lefty slugger has a .246/.329/.515 ledger against right-handed pitching. Normally you’d take that and run with it, but the Pirates have a curious upcoming schedule, where they face five lefties in seven games. Keep Suwinski in your plans for next week, when the Pirates head to Colorado and draw a couple of gettable right-handed opponents.

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