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August 7, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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Yu Darvish, TEX

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

Angel Pagan – Last night, I opened an Allen and Ginter pack and got an Angel Pagan card; the fiancé first called him a pagan, I told her it was Pagaan, and rolled my tongue. Then I flipped it over for her. She said Angel Pagan. I smiled. Over his last 44 at bats, Pagan is batting .318 with two homers and two steals. On the year, he has a healthy .283 average and is on pace for a 10 HR/30 SB season. Somewhat surprisingly, he is hitting for a bit more power in San Francisco than he did with the Mets: his ISO is up, his doubles pace is up and his HR/FB rate is up. Pagan also has a positive platoon split, hitting righties better than lefties (although this year he is actually hitting southpaws better). Nevertheless, you should be comfortable putting the guy out there almost every night.

Ben Revere – Revere has been in this space a lot and has been ignored recently only because of oversaturation consternations. In his last 105 at bats, Revere has a .352 average and nine SBs. Revere is living high on the BABIP at the moment, as he is sporting a mark (.359) that he never reached in the minors and is a bit higher than his career to date (.317). He’s probably better than that career mark, though, so even with a bit of regression he should rest in the .290-.300 batting average range. He doesn’t walk at all, so don’t expect much more than a .330 OBP. That said, another 15 SBs are certainly within reach. So, why is he available in 62% of Yahoo! leagues?

Jarrod Dyson – Dyson, just 2% owned, hasn’t gotten a tremendous number of opportunities since Lorenzo Cain came back from the DL. However, he is making the most of them: 14/35 with seven runs and seven SBs in the last 30 days. His lack of ABs might change soon as Jeff Francoeur continues to be Sucky Francoeur. Dyson bats left-handed and could get the bulk of the at bats in a platoon with Frenchy. Pencil Dyson in for 160 PAs ROTW with 13 SBs and a .260 average.

Lorenzo Cain – Cain has been straight Abeling it since coming off the DL. He is 27/87 with three homers and four steals over this last 30 days. With his torrid resurgence, Cain has brought his line up to .284/.330/.431 with a .325 BABIP. The BABIP is entirely reasonable, but one has to worry about his propensity to swing and miss (11.7% of the time this season). If he continues that whiffage, his batting average could take a slight tumble ROTW. Still, his floor is eerily similar to Dyson, albeit with more power. Call Cain a .265 hitter with four HRs and six SBs ROTW.

Mitch Moreland – Speaking of dudes coming off the DL and mashing, Moreland is 8/23 with a dinger and an SB since getting healthy. He should form a fine platoon with rookie Mike Olt, getting the lion’s share of ABs. That said, he’s more of a deeper league option, as he’ll top out at .275 with eight HRs ROTW.

David Murphy – How much do I have to write about David Murphy? Sure he doesn’t do a ton against lefties, but since June 9, in 144 PAs, he is hitting .355/.441/.540. He is going to steal five more bags and hit five more HRs and post a solid average. You also know when to sit him (against lefties), so he’s a perfect guy for moderately deep leagues.

Chris Johnson – Johnson is certainly enjoying his new digs, going .333/.385/.750 with the Diamondbacks. He’s also muscled three homers in just seven games. Obviously that pace is unsustainable; however he could be a fine .275-.280 hitter with moderate pop (seven HRs ROTW). In standard 5×5 leagues, he won’t be far different from Chase Headley.

Josh Rutledge – It’s impossible not to include Rutledge for a second time in the space. He has batted .329 with six HRs and three steals in just 85 ABs on the year. Aside from the power, however, Rutledge’s performance isn’t all that crazy. He is swinging and missing a bunch and there’s likely going to be an adjustment period. Still, he could certainly hit .300 ROTW in hitter friendly Coors field. In addition, he’ll be good for a handful more SBs and HRs, making him a decent target in all leagues at shortstop. It would not be shocking if he was a top 10 SS ROTW.

A.J. Ellis – Man, Ellis can’t get any respect, no matter what Vin Scully tries to do. Ellis is hitting .285 on the year with 10 dingers. He has been quite good of late:  11/33 with three dingers over the last two weeks. He does have a bit of an inflated BABIP, but he is also striking out way more than one would think given his paltry swinging strike rate and minor league and career history. He should easily be a .280 hitter with a few HRs (3-4) ROTW.

Kris Medlen – Medlen has posted back-to-back solid starts, sure they were against the Astros and Marlins, but he has nine K’s and three walks in those starts. There’s not much of a question of whether Medlen can be a solid starter, it’s more of whether he can stay healthy. If he keeps taking the ball every fifth day or so, he should be good for a 3.45 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and nearly 40 K’s ROTW.

Grant Balfour – Take a peek at Balfour’s game logs and you’ll see only two appearances in which he allowed runs since May 19. While he has been good, he does only have a 27:14 K:BB rate during that span. Meanwhile, in the midst of a Wild Card race, the A’s closer, Ryan Cook, has been spurting, allowing runs in five of his last seven appearances. This isn’t overly surprising, as Cook walks a ton of batters and was/still is living off a totally unsustainable BABIP. Will Balfour be much better ROTW? Probably, expect an ERA about 0.50 better actually. At some point, it’s certainly possible Balfour will be the Oakland closer.

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

Yu Darvish – In the first half, Darvish had a 2.21 K:BB rate, 3.59 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. So far, in the second half (31.1 IPs), he has a 1.76 K:BB rate, 7.76 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. He has the 18th worst xFIP during that time. Surprisingly, Darvish has been demolished this season by the Seattle Mariners. He has a 1.00 K:BB rate, 9.00 ERA and 2.13 WHIP against the weak hitters. Darvish has similarly struggled against the Angels and Athletics – all teams in his division and teams he has faced multiple times. In addition, in his second start against the Tigers, they roughed him up for four runs, while his second start against the Blue Jays didn’t go well either. It seems the more the league sees Darvish the less they swing at his pitches. Somewhat surprisingly, but also probably useless, Daisuke Matsuzaka gave up 22 walks through May of his first season (72.2 IPs). In the next four months (132 IPs), he issued 15-14-16-14 walks and saw his K:BB rate plummet. This is the point in time where we’ll see what Darvish actually has. The league has clearly adjusted to him, and he’ll just have to adjust back. ZIPs is betting on him getting his mojo back. You should be a bet more cautious and expect a 4.25 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and 68 K’s as a best case ROTW.

Adam Dunn – On May 14, Dunn was batting .250. Since then, in 314 PAs, he has an .185/.318/.431 line, which is only slightly better than last season’s debacle (.159/.292/.277). The power has clearly returned, but it’s doubtful he’ll maintain a 30%+ HR/FB rate. He has never had a rate over 24.2% and his career number is 22%. Furthermore, Dunn has a .181/.317/.376 line over his last 960 plate appearances. While his walks are back up this year, that’s only good if you’re in an OBP league. Bet on Dunn batting worse than .200 ROTW. He’ll add 10 or so homers and could end up with the second highest tally of his career, but they certainly came with a lot of cost.

Brett Lawrie – I’m a Brett Lawrie owner, of course it’s in a keeper league and he only cost a 26th round pick. Others, who drafted him highly, might not be happy with his season, especially his recent production (.271/.311/.410 line in his last 149 PAs). The slash line isn’t the biggest source of disappointment though; it’s the .153 loss in his ISO. He hit nine HRs in 171 PAs last year. He has nine this season in roughly 250 more PAs. The real culprit is an 8.9% HR/FB rate – nothing is leaving the park. In addition, he is hitting far fewer fly balls and putting a ton of contact on the ground – not a recipe for power. You’d expect a bit more power than what he is showing though. With even a moderate urge, Lawrie should put up 6-7 HRs ROTW, given 220 PAs. If he could get on base a tad more, as well, you’re looking at near 10 SBs. It’s not the season you paid for, but don’t let this jade you on Lawrie as a 15 HR, 20 SB season from a 22 year old is pretty sweet and he should be better next season.

Ike Davis – Davis is back right? At least that’s what everyone said when he blasted three homers on July 28. Since then, he is batting .167/.242/.233 and is hitting .212/.277/.430 on the year. In over 1,000 MLB ABs, Davis has a .250/.330/.450 which would be fine for a catcher. Unfortunately, he’s not a catcher and there aren’t a ton of leagues where a 25-HR, .220 hitting first baseman is valuable. Davis is getting behind the count early and swinging and missing a ton. Until he figures out a better approach, his average will be mired in the dregs.

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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