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June 12, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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Derek Jeter, New York Yankees SS

Players get hot and cold over a seven-day period, it’s as sure as the samples are small. In head-to-head and roto fantasy baseball leagues you have to make quick decisions on players who are surging and those who are performing at a lackluster level. That’s where the Hot ‘N’ Cold All-stars come in:  to sort through the trends and see which ones are worth buying or ignoring. 

‘Cause you’re hot…you’re yes…you’re in…you’re up

Norichika Aoki – No longer are the Brewers Ryan Braun and a bunch of schlubs as Aoki has stepped up tremendously of late (9/24 with two homers and three stolen bases over the last week). Originally, it appeared Aoki was signed as OF depth with the Braun suspension looming and Corey Hart being banged up, but he’s turned into a valuable piece of their offense. Aoki, a left-handed batter, isn’t quite an everyday player as he should be sit against good southpaws. However, if you’re looking for batting average to balance out a hitter who provides some power but bats .250, Aoki is your guy. He looks like a .295 hitter who can steal a few bases here and there.

Neil Walker – Walker, second baseman, has been putting it together (9/25 with a homer and three steals over the last week). Since a relatively derelicte start to the season, Walker has been hitting fantastically lately (.283/.337/.402 over the last 28 days). By the end of the year, Walker should put up similar numbers to last season, perhaps ending up with a smidge more HRs and SBs.

Russell Martin – Martin has been straight destroying the ball recently, clocking four dingers over the last seven days and doubling his season HR total. Martin has seen his BABIP plummet this year and with it his batting average. However, while he is striking out a bit more, he’s actually swinging and missing less and walking more. It also appears that his batted ball rates (aside from a high HR/FB rate) are similar to season’s past. Consequently, rest of the way, Martin is a decent buy, capable of hitting 10 HRs and batting around .245.

Ryan Theriot – While he has one hit in his last 12 ABs, his week line looks phenomenal: 9/25 with three steals. In deeper leagues, playing time, no matter who it goes to, is a valuable commodity and Theriot looks entrenched as the Giants starting second baseman. Also, it’s not like he is god awful. Sure, he’s not good, but, ROTW, the average (.273) and steals (10) could be pretty helpful in your MI slot.

Brett Wallace – After an 8/22 week with two bombs, Wallace has put up a 10/25 line with a .400 OBP on the year. He has a hit in basically every game since coming back to the majors and has shown good power. Of course, he is also swinging and missing and striking out as much as ever and won’t continue to post near 30% HR/FB rates. That said, he’s not the worst hitter in the world (maybe .265 or so) and could reach 10 HRs ROTW if given 320 PAs.

Gregor Blanco – Blanco is the only Giants player to hit a homer at home in their last 22 games there. I’m also a huge Street Fighter fan, so you knew Blanco was getting included, especially when he goes 10/28 with two homers over a week. I’ve been on the Gregor train for some time now, seeing him entirely capable of hitting .260 with 15 SBs for the rest of the season. In OBP leagues, he gets a bit more value as he routinely posts solid, double-digit, BB%.

Alex Presley – Three steals over the last week and starts in every game since he was recalled should have his ownership levels much higher than they are now. While his to-date numbers are unimpressive, who cares – that’s the past. The future is a .280 hitter with 15 SBs and six HRs.

Everth Cabrera – Cabrera, fresh off the prosecution dropping domestic violence charges against him, had a great week with a steal and .368 average. He hasn’t set the world on fire (20/76) so far, however he has chipped in five steals. That’s where all his value will reside, as he might bat on the wrong side of .250. You can stomach the bad average, as you’re simply not getting 15+ SBs from the middle infield going forward.

Bruce Chen – You have to love pitchers like Chen. He had a two-start seven-day stretch against the Pirates and Twins and went out there and took care of business (12 IPs, 10 K’s, a 2.25 ERA and a 0.75 WHIP). The ERA, on the season, has been a bit messy, but he’s been hurt by a poor strand rate, which has erased all the gains he should be receiving from lowering his walk rate. That said, clearly given the lack of K’s, he is little more than a match-ups option. However, if you are streaming, it is good to know he can own those weaker hitting squads.

Kevin Millwood – Before the season, I pegged Millwood as the most likely to have a Brandon McCarthy.2011-type season. A portion of a no-hitter certainly helps this prediction. In addition, in only one of his last six starts has Millwood given up more than one run. Either Millwood is really using the Mariners’ home ballpark to his advantage (4.8% HR/FB rate), or he is due for a bit of regression. Still, even if he regresses a tad, Millwood looks like a strong match-ups play when home, which puts him squarely at the back of your bench in deep leagues.

Greg Holland – Holland went from potential saves savior to single-digit ownership pretty quickly this year. Superficially (4.26 ERA and 1.53 WHIP), his numbers don’t look great, but he has been straight dealing of late (seven K’s, no runs and a 0.50 WHIP last week). In fact, since May 20 (in 10 appearances), Holland has given up just one run and struck out 26 batters in 10 IPs. If you’re looking for a flame throwing middle reliever in the Tyler Clippard mold, go out there and grab him.

Francisco Liriano – Following two shut-out outings, Liriano gave up four runs to the Cubs in his most recent start. However, he did allow just seven base runners and K’ed six. His velocity, so far, is up over last season and he is getting the same swinging strikes and K/9 rate as ever. In addition, his BABIP (.340), strand rate (61.6%) and HR/FB rate (12.8%) should all move back toward career norms, giving Liriano a boost in his ratios. That said, given the volatility in his control, it’s going to be near impossible to peg which starts he’ll be locked in for. ROTW, he could post an ERA anywhere from 4.00-4.50, so tread lightly.

Then you’re cold…then you’re no…then you’re out…then you’re down

Tim Lincecum – In six of his last seven starts, Lincecum has allowed at least four runs. The only outlier was a start against the weak hitting (to be generous) San Diego Padres. It seems people have predicted a downfall for Lincecum since he began his career and there is a lot of crowing this year; however his peripheral stats look decent. He has a 6.00 ERA, but a 3.66 FIP and 3.85 xFIP owing to a .335 BABIP and criminal 61% strand rate. For his career, Lincecum has a .296 BABIP and 74.8% strand rate. In addition, Lincecum has the same swinging strike and K/9 rate as ever. Of course, he has lost a bit of velocity and isn’t throwing his slider quite as much as last year – both of which could contribute to his spike in hitability/BABIP. In addition, it is possible these stumbles have hurt his confidence, as he is walking a ton more batters than he normally does. That said, you should be buying him, as he has always posted solid control numbers. Don’t be shocked if he posts a 3.35 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and a bevy of K’s ROTW.

Jason Hammel – After a Cy Young start to the season, Hammel has been anything but recently as he has allowed at least four runs in four of his last six outings. That said, his numbers to date are still fantastic: 3.22 ERA, 3.55 FIP and 3.56 xFIP. He has gained a bit of velocity this year and is mixing his pitches more, resulting in a 9.7% swinging strike rate. The last time he had a swinging strike rate near this level (2009), he turned in a very solid season for the Rockies. His latest stumbles are not the beginning of the end, but rather a solid opportunity to buy this hurler.

Michael Cuddyer – After being a top 60 player for most of the season, Cuddyer hasn’t been great lately, as he is hitting .256/.314/.472 since May 1. While he has been slumping, his season to-date line is almost identical to his career marks. However, he is striking out and swinging and missing more than he has in recent years. Right now, Cuddyer is on a near 20 HR/20 SB pace, yet he won’t reach either mark. He won’t fall off dramatically, but if someone is willing to give you a top 65 player value, it’d be worth exploring that.

Derek Jeter – After reaching a high of .404 for his batting average on May 4, Jeter is batting .248/.313/.307 since then in 151 plate appearances. However, he is showing a solid command of the plate and looks to be a 10 HR, 15 SB, .295 hitter at the end of the season. If you can use the recent slump to pluck him on the cheap, it’s a solid idea.

Albert has been playing and arguing about baseball and fantasy sports since 2002. Since 1982, he has also been largely miserable (here’s looking at you Armando Benitez) because of the Orioles and Eagles. Albert has won leagues and lost leagues, but he has the most fun debating player values. Albert typically plays in several baseball and football leagues a year. He also is an avid baseball card collector and writes about older players and their historical value relative to the Hall of Fame and their peers/current players. When not harassing league mates with trades and analyzing what categories his team performs poorly in, Albert is a communications professional in Washington, D.C. Follow Albert on Twitter @h2h_corner. He has an awesome puppy named Charlotte. You can find all of Albert's work at http://h2hcorner.wordpress.com/.
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