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June 26, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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Cody Ross, Red Sox OF

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

Cody Ross – In case you missed it, a Boston red Sox outfielder is both healthy and destroying the ball. Over the last week, Ross has three homers and 10 RBIs. Of course, he’s never been this good (his HR/FB rate is double what he’s done recently), but maybe he is just enjoying the digs at Fenway. At minimum, Ross is a .265 hitter with another 12 bombs and 45-50 RBIs. If he was dropped while injured, now would be your last chance to pick him up.

Chris Nelson – At one point in time, Nelson was on many NL-only watch lists; however he never really produced. He has looked fantastic (aside from a slight injury) of late, going 10/22 with two dingers over his last seven days. Nelson has consistently hit for solid averages in the minors and chipped in a few HRs here and there. In deeper leagues, a middle infielder who can bat .270 with five HRs ROTW is worth owning. He also has a bit of upside on those numbers.

Chris Johnson – Johnson had an awesome weak, going 12/25 with a homer and a steal and is now batting .287 on the year. Of course, as we saw with his “break-out” 2010, his BABIP is elevated. Currently he is averaging .367 on balls in play. While it’s not as outlandish as the .387 he posted in 2010, it seems a bit high for someone of Johnson’s skill set. Johnson is also still striking out a ton and not walking at all. Until his approach changes, I’m betting his BABIP will come back to earth. When it does, you have a .260 hitting third baseman with average power. Nothing exciting here.

Coco Crisp – Crisp had a week: five steals, .292 average. He is now batting .211 on the year with 15 steals. While it appears little has gone right for Crisp, his walks are up and he is swinging and missing less. However, the balls he is putting play just aren’t falling (.238 BABIP compared to .284 last year and .300 for his career). Some of that BABIP downward trend is probably age and decline, however not all of it. Crisp should bat .250+ with a healthy 20 more steals ROTW.

Franklin Gutierrez – Another OF coming off the DL with a vengeance, Gutierrez went 7/19 with two bombs last week. Gutierrez put pretty solid seasons together in 2009 and 2010, but hasn’t played much since then. He’s also going to be getting rest periodically throughout the remainder of this season. He clearly isn’t much of a mixed league option; however he has value for deeper leagues. He’ll get the bulk of his starts against lefties and he torches south paws (.287/.346/.465).

Omar Infante – After seeing his ownership drop below 60% in Yahoo! leagues, Infante responded with a solid week: 11/29 with a homer and a steal. Infante has clearly hit more than half (and perhaps more than 60%) of his homers on the year, but that doesn’t mean he has little to offer fantasy owners. Infante will get you a solid average from the MI position and chip in 10 more SBs this year. He’s like a mini-Altuve if that makes any sense.

Gordon Beckham – An 8/22 stretch has people thinking Beckham is turning the corner. It shouldn’t. It’s true that Beckham has taken a stride this year, improving his plate awareness and striking out less, but that’s left him with a .246/.300/.386 slash line. He has also earned every bit of it and there’s no real significant bad luck. The biggest improvement for Beckham is that he has pushed his HR/FB rate into double digits for the first time. The average won’t be there for him, but he could come close to 10 HRs and five SBs ROTW.

Wilin Rosario – Rosario, just 22% owned in Yahoo! leagues, has been scorching of late: 8/24 over the last week and 11/39 over the last two weeks. Rosario has also eclipsed 10 HRs on the year and sits at .245 with a .267 BABIP. His HR pace might be a bit unsustainable (26.8% HR/FB), but he’s a decent bet for 10 or more ROTW. In reality, will he be much different than the 57% owned Saltalamacchia? Heck no.

Luke Hochevar – Hochevar has been straight dealing recently, as his two-start week included 16.2 IPs, no runs, 14 K’s and a 1.02 WHIP. Sure, it was Tampa and Houston, but the first step in trusting a streaming candidate is whether he can shut-down weaker offenses. Quietly, Hochevar has a 7.03 K/9 rate, possibly due to him throwing more breaking pitches. The new approach hasn’t resulted in more swinging strikes, so you can’t be totally swept away in the increased K’s – they could just be a mirage. That said, Hochevar has also been a touch unlucky: .338 BABIP and 65.5% strand rate. He’s worth grabbing in deep leagues and watching in shallower ones. Still, for the moment, he’s a low end match-ups guy, albeit one of interest.

Travis Wood – Two starts from Wood netted 11 K’s, two wins (for the Cubs, no less), a 0.69 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP, yet just 1% of Yahoo! players benefited from them (of course, I’m the 1%). Unfortunately, Wood isn’t a great pitcher, so he’s been a tad lucky in putting together a 3.54 ERA to date. He has a .233 BABIP and 82% strand rate. In addition, he doesn’t appear to be having the same K success as he did for the Reds in 2010. That said, he should be capable of taking advantage of some of the weaker hitting teams in the NL (Pirates, Astros, etc.) and find his way to an ERA around 4.20 ROTW.

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

Felix Doubront – Starting Doubront against the Blue Jays (if you did) was your fault, however him failing you against the Marlins is all on him. While Doubront has really limited the walks of late, he has given up a homer in seven straight outings. That said, he’s going to be a darling of the “underlying stats fanboy group,” as his K’s are fantastic and his FIP (4.12) and xFIP (3.57) suggest solid reasons for optimism going forward. Indeed, one would expect him to not continue to post a 15.3% HR/FB rate, but the AL East and Fenway Park are tough environments, so expecting the norm there might not make sense. Best case scenario for Doubront is an ERA around 4.30, but he should add enough K’s to make that more than worthwhile in most leagues.

 Lance Lynn – This just in…Lance Lynn is not Cy Young – he got light up by the Tigers and Royals last week. However, before those starts, he went four straight appearances without allowing more than two runs. Lynn isn’t going to fade into obscurity; he’s just simply not the 3.25 ERA pitcher he currently is. In reality, he’s more like a 3.80-4.00 ERA guy with solid K’s and solid chances at wins.

Scott Diamond – This is likely the end of the Diamond in the rough campaign. He has given up 11 runs in his last three starts and K’ed just nine against five walks. If someone offers you an over/under on his ERA at 5.00 for the rest of the year, take the over.

Bryan LaHair – Things haven’t been going great for LaHair of late as he’s 16 for his last 63, five for his last 32 and one for his last 13. Babe Ruth, LaHair is not. However, that pace (.376 BABIP) was never realistic and LaHair certainly looks capable of batting .270 and doubling his HRs ROTW.

Carlos Santana – It hasn’t been pretty for the slugging backstop lately: three for 18 over the last week and he hasn’t gone yard in over 30 days. More worrisome than the batting average woes is the single-digit HR/FB rate. Santana without power is a pretty miserable fantasy option. I’d think his power and BABIP will bounce back a bit, unless he is injured. However, gambling on him surpassing a .250 average and 15 HRs total has a good chance of being a losing wager, making him look a lot like Wilin Rosario…

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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