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July 11, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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Norichika Aoki, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

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

 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.” I wrote that for last week and Colvin has made several Hot n Cold All-stars with recommendations to add him. So, what ya waiting for?

Michael Brantley – Brantley, quietly, put up a respectable first half: .288 with 10 SBs. He saved his best for last, going 9/23 with two dingers and a steal over the first half’s last seven days. Brantley is getting on base at a decent clip for him, but we aren’t seeing any increase SBs that should accompany the uptick in OBP. Unfortunately, Brantley is just 10/16 in SBs this year and now 37/54 on his career. Brantley can duplicate his SB output in the second half, but won’t offer much in the way of batting average or power. At this point, he remains a poor man’s Juan Pierre.

Casey Kotchman – Kotchman, like Brantley, didn’t want to see the first half end, as he was destroying the ball in the last week (9/17 with two dingers). Oddly, for his career, Kotchman has horrendous numbers in June: .241/.298/.353, with remarkably better numbers the rest of the year (especially in May and July). If the miserable June caused owners to drop Kotchman in deep leagues, now might be a good time to grab him. He’s hitting the ball pretty well in Cleveland and we should see more HRs in Cleveland than we saw in Tampa last year. Call Kotchman a .270 hitter with seven HRs ROTW.

Delmon Young – A four-HR seven day stretch will get you on the All-stars every time. After disappointing as a human being early in the year, Young, the ball player, has put together one of his better power campaigns. In reality, it looks like last year’s dismal HR output (and HR/FB rate) was more of the outlier. Last season’s single-digit HR/FB rate looks crummy next to the 10.6+% rates he posted three of the past four seasons. There’s no parsing his power as, his second half should mirror the first in HRs.

Justin Ruggiano – Another one-time Rays’ prospect, Ruggiano just couldn’t seem to catch a break in Tampa – maybe the water’s just better in Miami? Since joining the Fish, Ruggiano has hit everything in sight. He has an incredibly high .448 BABIP. Clearly, that or his 25% HR/FB rate will not continue, but he should be good for eight HRs, 10 SBs and a .272 average in the second half.

Pedro Ciriaco – Since taking over a more full time role with the Red Sox (following Pedroia’s injury), Ciriaco has seven hits in 13 ABs and two SBs. Ciriaco has virtually no on base skills and probably won’t maintain the .636 BABIP he has now, so the batting average/OBP will be a struggle. However, when he does get on base, he should run a bit. He is 4/5 in SB in the majors, although his AAA track record (46/65) isn’t overly positive. In deep leagues, where guys like Alexi Amarista are owned, Ciriaco should be worth a look, otherwise he likely won’t reach Everth Cabrera levels.

Norichika Aoki – Aoki’s Yahoo ownership levels (18%) are criminal. You’d expect more, especially coming off a week that saw him go 9/25 with a homer and steal, bringing his first half totals to 69/229, with five HRs and 11 SBs. Aoki doesn’t have a crazy BABIP, isn’t striking out much, isn’t swinging and missing at all and has a decent walk rate. He should put up 12-15 SBs ROTW with an average that doesn’t dip much below .300.

Adam Lind – A svelter Lind came back to the majors in a thumping fashion: 7/22 with two dingers over the last seven days. If the rumors that he wasn’t in shape are true and Lind is finally into “mid-season form,” there should be a bunch of power (maybe 13-14 HRs) and a .250 average (at worst) ROTW.

Bronson Arroyo – Arroyo finished off a surprisingly decent first half (3.73 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) with a complete game shut-out (of course it was in San Diego). Arroyo, it appears, has started to throw his slider dramatically more, which has resulted in a K-rate that Arroyo hasn’t reached since 2008. That said, there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in swinging strike percentage. His rate is higher, but it’s not significantly higher than in 2010 and not near the 8% that he was posting 2006-2008. Consequently, betting on Arroyo continuing to spin a 4.11 K:BB is a loser’s wager. In reality, now marks the best time to trade Arroyo (in deeper leagues obviously) as his ERA in the second half will be closer to 4.50 than 4.00.

Jose Quintana – Carlos Quintana he aint, as Jose dominated the Rangers at home in his last start before the All-star break. Aside from his previous outing in New York during which he gave up six runs, Quintana hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs in any start all year. Has he been lucky? Of course, anyone with a .261 BABIP, 83.3% strand rate and 2.04 ERA has been a tad lucky. However his FIP (3.03) and xFIP (3.72) all suggest a serviceable pitcher. The real question about Quintana is if he can maintain his pinpoint control (1.57 BB/9). While he flashed solid BB/9 rates in the minors, he never really came close to this kind of impeccable rate. In addition, Quintana hasn’t thrown a ton of innings in the minors and was bounced around between starting and relieving when he was in the Yankees system. It’s a good time to speculate on Quintana, but investing heavily or counting on him could very well prove faulty.

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

 A.J. Burnett – Burnett gave up 39 runs in 93 innings in the first half. Six of those runs came in five innings against the lowly Astros in the week before the All-star game. That was the only blemish on his otherwise sterling first half: 3.68 ERA, 3.61 FIP, 3.59 xFIP. It’s amazing how decently AJ can pitch when he isn’t hanging up a 17% HR/FB rate. That said, is he his good? Probably not. Burnett is getting fewer swinging strikes in the NL, which is odd. Consequently, it doesn’t appear he’ll come close to last season’s 8.18 K/9 rate. However, a 4.00 ERA in the second half with 65 K’s is decent. If you can buy based on the poor Houston outing, it makes some sense.

James Shields – While you can forgive Shields for giving up four runs to the Yankees, giving up four in the start after against the Indians is hard to stomach. In addition, he has allowed double digit hits in three straight games now and at least four runs in four straight starts. When you dig deeper in Shields first half, though, you don’t see much different from last year. In 2011, he had an 8.12 K/9, 2.35 BB/9, 0.94 HR/9 rates. In 2012, he has an 8.27 K/9, 2.58 BB/9 and 1.06 HR/9 rate. His .335 BABIP is completely out of whack with his career line of .302. One has to wonder if the poor Rays defense is exacerbating the situation, as Shields is getting a ton of GBs that appear to be finding holes. If you need pitching help, it does make sense to buy Shields. The Rays should improve on the defensive side and his BABIP should come down. If those occur, you’re looking at 3.80 ERA and 95 K’s in the second half. That can be a difference maker.

Elvis Andrus – It is only 80 games and 347 plate appearances, but Andrus has a miserable stat line (.236/.307/.292) in July. In fact, his second half numbers are a tick worse than the first half, with a substantial reduction in his SB rates. He is 80/101 in SBs attempts in the first half and 37/56 in the second half. He does have 500+ more plate appearances in the first half, which should make up for the quantity in steals, but it’s odd that he has virtually the same amount of caught stealings in far fewer attempts in the second half. At a certain point, you’d expect him to buck this trend, however one could make the argument that he tires in the summer heat in Texas (he is 23/37 in SBs in July/August and 18/25 in September/October). Basically, if you need steals, Andrus in the second half might not be the guy you want.

 

 

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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