Now that the NHL has crowned the mighty Chicago Blackhawks as their champion, we wonâ€™t be seeing any teams win titles until fantasy baseball leagues finish in early October. The time to look for potential second half breakouts is right now.
The old adage that fantasy GMs fall back on is â€œYou canâ€™t win a fantasy league in March, but you can lose one.â€ Well, you can win a fantasy league with the right moves in June and July, but you can also lose one.
The Kansas City Royals have oozed potential for years. Theyâ€™ve had names dotting top prospect lists for the past decade as theyâ€™ve been rebuilding. It started with names like Dee Brown and Ken Harvey in the early part of the previous decade and itâ€™s turned to names like Mike Moustakas, Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez.
Mike Moustakas had a mini-breakout last year in his first full season at the major league level. He mashed 20 homers with a mediocre .171 ISO. Some made the case that his issues were largely BABIP related.
Moustakas posted a meagher .274 BABIP last year, but it came with a 0.68 GB:FB ratio and a 49.8% fly ball percentage. Thatâ€™s an awful lot of balls in the air and the overwhelming majority of them found gloves. He actually should have a lower than average BABIP and his current .227 BABIP shouldnâ€™t come as a surprise. Heâ€™s hitting slightly more balls on the ground this year (38.9% GB % this year vs. 33.8% last year), but his line drive rate is slightly lower (15.1% this year vs. 16.4% last year).
The good news on Moustakas is that heâ€™s not striking out over 20% this year. His K rate has fallen to 13.9%. The bad news is that his new found selectivity has sapped his power. Heâ€™s still hitting a ton of fly balls, but his HR:FB ratio has plummeted to 4.7%. His ISO is only .102. A hitter who hits as many fly balls as Moustakas who doesnâ€™t hit homers is essentially useless. Thatâ€™s a lot of outs and thatâ€™s a huge drain on your fantasy team.
Moustakas is a mess right now and canâ€™t be used in any format other than a super deep AL-only. The Royals have remained committed to Moustakas, but itâ€™s time for fantasy GMs to wonder if heâ€™s more Brett Wallace than Anthony Rizzo at the hot corner. Itâ€™s looking more and more like Wallace while his 36-homer performance in 2010 is becoming ancient history instead of his future. Heâ€™s absolutely not a buy-low guy at this point and doesnâ€™t deserve a bench spot in most mixed formats.
Eric Hosmer has been equally frustrating on the other side of the diamond. Heâ€™s usable in most formats because his batting average (.275) isnâ€™t a killer and he swipes an occasional base (seven so far this year).
The concern is that the power that Hosmer displayed in 2011 is a mirage. The 13.5% HR:FB ratio that Hosmer posted in his first extended look in the big leagues is a career high. The problem with Hosmer is that heâ€™s not a fly ball hitter. Itâ€™s hard to hit home runs with a 19.8% fly ball percentage.
Hosmer simply isnâ€™t a power hitter and he shouldnâ€™t be drafted like one. Expecting more than 15 homers from Hosmer simply isnâ€™t a winning strategy because he would need a huge statistical variance to occur in order to do that. His ISO has declined since his rookie year and currently sits at an anemic .112.
The good news is that his line drive percentage is at a comfy 22.0% this year. Heâ€™s spraying line drives everywhere and his .314 BABIP is actually a little low for a guy that hits as many liners and ground balls as Hosmer does.
Additionally, his swing metrics have actually shown improvement. Heâ€™s swinging at fewer pitches outside the strike zone this year (only 29.6%) than he has in both previous seasons. Heâ€™s also swinging at more pitches in the zone (71.7%) than he has in years previous.
Hosmer is a solid bet to hit for a higher average depending on which way his luck swings, but the power that everyone was expecting and predicting probably wonâ€™t show up. Hosmer would have to make a drastic change in his approach in order to improve his power numbers. Hosmer is fine to own as a utility/corner guy. Heâ€™s more of a â€œholdâ€ than an â€œacquire,â€ but thereâ€™s not a lot of upside.
Salvador Perez is the dreaded â€œbetter real life player than fantasy baseball player.â€ He teased fantasy GMs by looking the part (dude is enormous) and hitting 11 homers in his first extended look at the big leagues last year. His career high in the minors was 13 hit across three levels in 2011. His ISO has plunged to only .106 and he has exactly three more homers(three total) than Corey Hart. The only problem is that Corey Hart hasnâ€™t appeared in a game yet.
Perez is similar to Eric Hosmer in that the batting average is probably legit, but the power just isnâ€™t there. Perez only hits fly balls 31.0% of the time and only 4.9% of those balls have found the cheap seats.
The good news is that his .324 BABIP and .299 actual average is likely legit. He owns a 22.8% line drive rate and makes a lot of contact in the strike zone (he hits 91.6% of pitches he swings at inside the zone).
Perez is a healthy catcher with some ability to hit for average, but the power isnâ€™t likely to show up this year. He should be in your lineup as long as heâ€™s healthy and has a job because heâ€™s a catcher and catcher is essentially a â€œset and forgetâ€ position. Heâ€™s another guy who should be in a holding pattern if you have him on your roster. Heâ€™s not a solid bet to justify his draft slot and itâ€™s absolutely fine to jettison him if something better comes along.