The Fantasy Baseball Numbers Do Lie: Yes, the wins will come for Reese Olson — but so will the rough stats

A simple look at a box score or a study of fantasy baseball categories doesn't always tell the whole story of how a player is performing. Dalton Del Don attempts to identify misleading numbers that are worth a closer look.

Yes ... The Numbers Do Lie.

Díaz has coughed up seven earned runs over his last three appearances (2.1 innings), resulting in his ERA ballooning from 2.30 to 5.50 and being temporarily removed from New York’s closer’s role. His velocity has been notably down this season returning from missing a year after knee surgery, but Díaz has also deserved better.

He’s recorded one save since April 15, and his 5.50 ERA comes with a 2.40 SIERA that ranks top-25 among 187 qualified relievers. Díaz isn’t going to match his historical 2022, but most of his peripherals (K%, BB%, CSW) this season are in line or better than his 2021 campaign when he finished with a 2.48 FIP and 1.05 WHIP. Díaz’s LOB% (62.5) and HR/FB% (27.8%) are both career-worsts, with his home run per flyball rate bottom-five among relievers. Díaz’s average exit velocity is in the top 5% of the league, and his expected batting average is .183, so expect major regression in both areas.

Adam Ottavino and Reed Garrett are both borderline elite relievers who will pick up saves in the short-term, but Díaz (who signed the richest contract ever by a reliever) should regain the role soon enough. Díaz’s stuff remains plenty effective to be a top-five fantasy closer once he does.

Álvarez has hardly been a fantasy bust, but he also hasn’t come close to matching his ADP (16.6) so far. However, Álvarez qualifies more as a buy-low candidate than someone for fantasy managers to worry about. His walk rate and Hard Hit% are a bit down, but Álvarez’s K% is the lowest of his career, and his max exit velocity is in the top 1% of the league. His .345 wOBA comes with a .380 expected wOBA, and Álvarez’s HR/FB% (13.2) is well below his career mark (23.1%).

Moreover, he’s batting .300/.381/.500 with the bases empty compared to just .133/.226/.244 with runners in scoring position. That’s the third-lowest BA with RISP among 187 qualified hitters. Last season, Álvarez hit .342 and slugged .760 (1.234 OPS) with RISP, so expect a correction moving forward. Álvarez also sports just a .723 OPS against right-handers this season (.971 career), which seems like another fluke.

Álvarez should be valued the same as he was on draft day.

López’s ERA suddenly looks ugly after getting blasted for seven runs in Washington during his last start, but there’s no reason for fantasy managers to be concerned. His 4.72 ERA is accompanied by a 1.12 WHIP and a 2.96 SIERA that ranks top-10 among starters. López has a better K-BB% this season compared to last, and he’ll benefit greatly from pitching in the AL Central moving forward. Opposing batters are hitting .366 against López with runners in scoring position versus .196 with no runners on base, so timing has been the main culprit. It’s harder to pitch out of the stretch, but López had a .195 BAA with RISP last season, so regression is coming.

López hasn’t been a top-250 fantasy player so far, but he should be a top starter (barring health) moving forward. It's time to buy low.

Sandoval has turned his season around in May, posting a 2.63 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with a 19.4 K-BB% over four starts. Sandoval’s .351 BABIP is the fifth-highest among all starters this year and well above his career mark (.303). He’s experienced by far the worst luck when it comes to defense behind him, with Angels defenders racking up negative 10 outs above average.

Sandoval could revert (and LA’s poor defense will remain a problem), but his latest stretch makes him an intriguing waiver wire add in deeper fantasy formats. He’s available in more than 90% of Yahoo leagues.

Olson somehow has yet to record a victory despite posting an ERA (2.16) that ranks top-10 among all starting pitchers. He had allowed two runs or fewer in seven of eight starts before departing early during Monday’s outing with a minor hip injury. Thanks to a lowly 2.2 runs of support per start, Olson is the only SP among 80 qualified starters with zero wins this season. He has a 0.84 ERA with a 0.75 WHIP at home this year and a 0.83 ERA with a 0.74 WHIP in May.

Olson has been remarkably unlucky not to have at least a few wins.

That said, Olson’s peripherals are good but not great (13.3 K-BB%), and his BABIP (.257) and HR/FB% (2.3) are sure to go up. Detroit’s offense will also remain a problem, as the Tigers have the seventh-lowest wRC+ in MLB.

Olson should have more wins, but his ERA is also due for major regression moving forward.