July 4, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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ROy Oswalt, SP, Texas Rangers

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

Alexi Amarista – When Amarista was traded to the Padres, the thought was he could be a super utility type capable of putting up some solid, if unspectacular numbers, especially with the aging middle infielders there. However, even with Orlando Hudson released and Jason Bartlett on the perpetual DL, it has taken some time for Amarista to get consistent playing time until recently. Somewhat improbably (and having fun with end points), Amarista is the #1 player in fantasy baseball over the last week, sporting a 10/21 line with four HRs and a .476 OBP. Amarista never showed power in the minors so his 16% HR/FB rate in San Diego of all places is mostly mirage. That said, he did run a bit (although his SB success rates are abysmal) and posted solid averages in the minors. His average might come down a bit as those fly balls stop leaving the fences, but he could easily bat .275 and add 5-10 SBs ROTW.

Neil Walker – Walker has been coming out of it of late (12/27 over the last week, 33/105 over the last 30 days). The main disconnect between Walker’s above average 2010 and unspectacular 2011 was his BABIP. It was .340 in ’10 and ‘315 in 2011. Currently it sits at .339. If he can maintain that, there’s no reason to suggest he isn’t a .300+ hitter. In addition, he seems a sure bet for 12 HRs every year, so pencil him in for at least seven dingers. In short, Walker is a .275-.300 hitter with decent MI-level pop ROTW.

Garrett Jones – Long a streaky hitter, Jones has been streaking of late: 9/23 with two dingers over the last seven days. A lefty, Jones has horrid splits (.276/.347/.491 against righties, .196/.234/.355 against southpaws), so he provides a decent roadmap for usage. Simply bench him when there’s a solid lefty starter on the opposing rubber. If you are looking for cheap power, Jones should have no problem eclipsing 20 HRs by the end of the year. He also won’t kill you in average: .260 (but that takes into account some at bats against lefties, which you should avoid at all costs).

Michael McKenry – It’s clearly time to break up the Pirates, right? McKenry was absolutely insane (for him) over the last seven days in smacking three homers. He doubled his total in a week. But, is he any good? Is he even good enough for two-catcher leagues? Probably not. McKenry sees a lot of pitches, swings at a lot of them and misses a lot of them. He does walk a decent bit though (so he gets a bump in OBP leagues). He doesn’t add any average and very little pop (he barely touched double digit HRs in some favorable minor league hitting venues). He probably gets to 10+ HRs (although it’ll be close), but the average will be under .235 and OBP likely right around .300.

Tyler Colvin – All Colvin needs is consistent playing time. With Todd Helton out recently, Colvin went 10/26 with two HRs over the last seven days. He now has nine Hrs in 165 ABs and a .303/.329/.588 line. His walk rate is atrocious and his swings and misses/strikes out a ton, so he’s likely not a .300 hitter. However, a .260 hitter who can pace double digit HRs with 220 more PAs is mighty attractive.

Clayton Richard – Two away starts (Arizona and Houston) produced week-winning results: 15.2 IPs, eight K’s, a 1.72 ERA and a 0.70 WHIP for Richard. While Richard has gotten some help from balls finding gloves (.260 BABIP), his HR/FB rate (13.9%) is a bit high given his recent history and home ballpark. The difference between this year and last is that he has gotten back to throwing his slider a lot more (possibly because he is healthy again). With the increased slider usage has come more ground balls and a depressed walk rate. It’s possible once batters realize he’s changed his approach, they’ll start to take the slider more and we’ll see his walks go up. That said, at worst, he’s a 4.23 ERA pitcher with a 1.37 WHIP. He’ll struggle to compile K’s (maybe he’ll pass 110) and wins, though.

Michael Fiers – His last name either reminds you of fiercesome fires or simply just fierce-ocity. And, really, he’s been fierce all year. Fiers finally has a somewhat stable rotation spot with Shaun Marcum’s recent injury. It’s doubtful he’s as good as he has been (4.4% HR/FB rate), but there isn’t a ton of mirage here: 9.38 K/9 rate, decent swinging strike rate and great control. He should be a 3.60 ERA, 1.24 WHIP guy with an 8.6 K/9 rate ROTW).

Daniel Murphy – Somewhat improbably, the ill-suited second baseman has stayed healthy all year, yet his ownership levels have dipped below 50%. Considering he qualifies everywhere on the IF but SS and he just put up a 9/22 with three HRs week, his ownership levels are set to skyrocket. In reality, owners should have remained calm with Murphy through his slight slump. He’s a solid .285-type hitter with five HRs or so left in his bat.

David Murphy – Sure, Murphy had only 11 ABs last week, but he made the most of them: six hits, two HRs and a .615 OBP. Murphy isn’t going to play against lefties, which is, frankly good for you and him, but he hits righties incredibly well, especially as the temperatures heat up in Texas. The floor for Murphy is a 15 HR-10 SB campaign, as he’ll likely beat each of those marks by a couple. He’s only 12% owned in Yahoo! leagues, so jump on him before his next hot streak.

My apologies, there was simply no way to fight Donnie Murphy into this column

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

Roy Oswalt – Oswalt’s second start of the season wasn’t so good as the Tigers touched him up for 13 hits and two walks in six innings.  Given the environment in Texas, it will be hard for Oswalt to post an ERA under 4.25; however he should be able to get a decent amount of wins. You also shouldn’t expect a WHIP under 1.27 or too many K’s. If you need wins, Oswalt is your guy, otherwise he is more of a streaming candidate than anything.

Jason Hammel – Hammel had two messy starts against West Coast competition, getting shellacked in Baltimore by the Angels and pitching alright, but, by no means, shutting down the Mariners in Seattle. That said, there’s little to suggest (aside from his previous seasons) that his ERA is a mirage. It’s actually a bit higher than his FIP and xFIP. The only cause for concern with Hammel is his ability to throw 200 IPs this year, as he’s never done that. He hasn’t even come within four starts, really, of doing it either.

Rickey Romero – Romero, Romero, wherefore art though Rickey Romero? Romero gave up eight runs in back-to-back starts last week and has a grotesque 5.35 ERA, 5.13 FIP and 4.50 xFIP. Romero has lost a bit of velocity on his fast ball and is throwing it a lot less. So far, that has resulted in fewer strike-outs, more walks and more HRs. If healthy, Romero is probably a few adjustments away from being a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher again. You shouldn’t be shocked if, ROTW, he posts a 4.10 ERA, 78 K’s and a 1.32 WHIP.

Kyle Seager – Seager was horrid last week and has been at pumpkin-level for a month now. Really, he’s not anymore than a .255 hitter with five HRs ROTW.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – As pitchers have adjusted to Nieuwenhuis he has been slow to respond (.275 OBP over the last 30 days). If you’re a betting man, wager that he has already hit half his HRs, stole half his bases and take the under on a .265 average. His .377 BABIP, 11.5% swinging strike rate and 29.5% K/9 rate will bury him over the second half. 

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

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