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July 24, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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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

Carlos Gomez – Gomez looks pretty enticing right now, posting a 6/19 with six steals 14-day stretch. However, his .242/.298/.429 line is pretty similar to his work in 2010 (.247/.298/.357), which was his best offensive season. It does appear this is what he is: a weak hitting no upside sort. That said, he could reach double digit homers and should come close to 30 steals. In deep leagues, there is value in that. Just make sure to mind his starts, as he’s not an everyday player.

Ryan Doumit – Doumit has been hot hot hot after the All-star break, as he is 26 for his last 75 with three bombs. Only 39% owned in Yahoo! leagues, Doumit is hitting .290 with 10 dingers on the season. While those appear to be pedestrian numbers, the HRs tie him for 11th at catcher and he trails only Carlos Ruiz, Joe Mauer, Buster Posey and Yadier Molina in average (minimum 270 ABs). He might not be this good of a hitter, but a .285 average with seven HRs ROTW seem certainly plausible – that’d make him an easy top 10 catcher.

Danny Espinosa – When he has it going, Espinosa looks like a game changer. He’s 31 for his last 103 with two homers and four SBs. This hot spell has brought his season line up to .249/.320/.398. His BABIP (.331) does appear out of whack with his career line, but he has posted similarly good BABIPs in the minors and it seems like he is hitting the ball harder. A .245 hitter at short who can steal 10 more bases and add a bit of pop is definitely valuable.

Lorenzo Cain – Cain, largely ignored after an early season injury (18% owned), has been destroying the ball of late: 14/37 with two homers. He is batting .308/.310/.481 on the year which seems really hard to do. He has never walked a lot so he’ll have to put together a solid average to rack up any sort of SBs. He should be good for around five homers and steals ROTW and shouldn’t have much of a problem batting .280 or so.

Roger Bernadina – Bernadina went 12/24 over the last week. While the .500 average is impressive, it’s more important to see those 24 ABs. With Rick Ankiel DFA’ed, Bernadina should get more playing time. He won’t be a world beater but he is available everywhere and should steal another 10 bases.

Brennan Boesch – Boesch recently got starts against Chris Sale, C.J. Wilson and Wei-Yin Chen – all lefties. For his career, as previously discussed in this space, Boesch has a bit of a reverse platoon (albeit in small samples). However he was being utilized as if he was a normal lefty who couldn’t handle southpaws. With Leyland trusting Boesch going forward, Boesch should reach 20 HRs and pair that power with a solid .270 average.

Jeff Samardzija – A two-start week from Samardzija resulted in 13 innings and one run allowed. Confoundingly, Samardzija is owned in only 38% of Yahoo! leagues, yet has 114 K’s in 114 IPs and a 4.25 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. His 12% swinging strike rate and 2.78 K:BB ratio are superb. Expect him to build off those numbers and post better ratios ROTW. He’ll even add 55 K’s or so.

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

Wandy Rodriguez – Sillily the Astros/WandyRod are blaming his recent scuffles on trade rumors. In reality, he has just hit a rough patch (although, as a fantasy owner, it’s tough to see rough patches include the Padres and Giants). This is likely only a little bit of a correction as Wandy sits on a 3.79 ERA, 3.78 FIP and 3.90 xFIP, eerily similar to his career norms. His lack of K’s (6.19 per 9) are a tad disconcerting but his velocity has remained and he is limiting walks. There’s no reason Wandy can’t be a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher with 60 K’s ROTW.

Francisco Liriano – While Liriano has struck out 17 batters in his last 16 IPs, he has also allowed 12 earned runs and five HRs. On the year, his strand rate is abysmal (64.8%), but that probably has something to do with his inflated HR/FB rate (14%). Those rates seem completely out of whack with his norm; however you can’t just give him a free pass for the bad pitches that are being deposited over the fence. You should expect Liriano to be a tad better ROTW: 4.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 65 K’s. Basically, if you need K’s, Liriano is a solid target, but you better be certain you can afford the decline in ratios.

Jon Lester – Lester has been called every name in the lexicon the last few weeks. We can talk about how good he has been (and he has been a top starter since 2008), but his performance from 2008-2010 isn’t overly pertinent at the moment. While there has been a good amount of what could be considered bad luck on Lester’s ledger (.332 BABIP, 64.1% strand rate and 14.4% HR/FB rate), some of that has to be his fault. His fastball velocity has declined a bit from his heyday, but it’s no different than his career line or 2011. That said, his change velocity is a bit elevated, creating less separation in speed between the two pitches. Consequently his fastball is getting killed. That said, he posted a fine season in 2010 with negative value on the fastball.

Of course, his breaking and off-speed pitches were plus that season and they’re anything but so far. It seems hard to believe that Lester all of a sudden turned into a crummy pitcher with bad stuff. Perhaps he’s tipping his pitches, but, of course, that’s just speculation. At a certain point, though, fantasy is about speculation and I’d be willing to mine for future value in Lester. You shouldn’t start him any time soon, but that doesn’t mean you don’t pay pennies on the dollar to acquire him. If he goes out and posts a 4.00 ERA and 1.28 WHIP with 68 K’s ROTW, you’ll gain a lot of points in the standings.

Hunter Pence – The Twitter questions about dumping Pence (currently a top 60 player) have been astronomical of late. Sure, he is four for his last 25 and five for his last 40, but he is 25 for his last 96 with four HRs. He is swinging and missing a tad more this year, however that hasn’t impacted his walk or K rates. In fact, his batted ball rates and ISO are pretty much mirror images of his previous performance. He is having a bit of a decline in BABIP, but that’s about it. Pence will likely set a career high in HRs this season and pull his batting average up to .274. If people are panicking, this is a perfect time to pounce on Pence (yeah alliteration!)

Trevor Plouffe – Slight injury aside, Plouffe just hasn’t been good lately (four for his last 14). That said, it’s an incredibly small sample, as he is hitting .284 with five HRs over the last 30 days to bring his line up to .259/.330/.525. The power (21.6% HR/FB rate and .266 ISO) have been impressive, but they have also been completely out of whack with anything he has done anywhere. His previous ISO high in a meaningful sample was .187 in 445 PAs during his third stint at AAA (he did have a .323 ISO in AAA in 220 PAs during his fourth time there last season). Twins Daily did an interesting look at Plouffe’s mechanical adjustments this year (http://twinsdaily.com/content.php?661-Where-Did-Plouffe-s-Power-Come-From) and they make a compelling case that his power could continue. However, he’ll have to regress somewhat (no one posts those good power numbers) and he’ll struggle to keep his average over .250. Of course, a lot of people said that about Jose Bautista as well. They also said it about Brady Anderson!

 

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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