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Pick up Jorge Mateo, Yandy Diaz to bolster your team

by admin

As the month of April closes out, it is time for fantasy baseball managers to begin evaluating each player on their roster to determine which hot and cold starts are believable.

For many, adjustments are still being made, as evidenced by Juan Soto’s recent declaration that he is still struggling with the pitch clock. Others, however, have found themselves in a positive groove, to which we need to pay attention, especially if they were players we avoided in drafts.

In fantasy, there is nothing worse than FOMO (fear of missing out), so if your competition is looking to sell-high, we have a couple of players you may want to acquire.

Despite stealing 35 bases last season, few people were interested in Orioles shortstop Jorge Mateo.

The naysayers’ rally cry of “you can’t steal first base” was loud and clear, as his .267 OBP drove his ADP all the way down to nothing more than a 22nd-round pick.

Baltimore Orioles' Jorge Mateo gestures after hitting a double during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Tuesday, April 18, 2023, in Washington. The Orioles won 1-0.
Mateo has honed his plate discipline, which is paying dividends.
AP Photo/Jess Rapfogel

But Mateo spent his entire offseason honing his plate discipline, and the results have been strong.

He posted a .333 OBP over 44 spring at-bats and is currently sitting on a .418 mark, thanks to a much-improved 8.8 percent walk rate and his ability to cut his strikeout rate to 15.8 percent.

His glove always helps him to stay in the lineup, but with these positive adjustments made, Mateo’s job not only sounds secure, but he also is likely to provide fantasy value way beyond his draft position.

Another player few people looked at this spring was Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz.

He has been great for batting average and OBP, but he has never hit for any real power.

In 2019, the year home runs were completely out of control, Diaz hit just 14. He came close with 13 in 2021, but last year he topped out with just nine.

With six homers through 17 games this season, Diaz is on pace to shatter his career-bests, and everyone seems to be in on it thanks to an offseason dedicated to improving his launch angle.

His hard-contact numbers were always solid, but now he is lifting the ball with a near 50 percent flyball rate that has pushed his HR/FB rate to 23.1 percent.

Tampa Bay Rays' Yandy Diaz
Diaz has the potential to shatter his career-best records this season.
AP Photo/Scott Audette

It is a change that has everyone interested, and you as a fantasy manager should be, too.

Preconceived notions can hurt you on draft day in fantasy baseball, so you, like the players, need to make the proper adjustments. Do not dismiss a hot start without truly studying its reasons. If you find something, as we have with Mateo and Diaz, your chances of rising through the standings will increase exponentially.

Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.

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