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August 15, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds, 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

Manny Machado – A heck of a debut for the young kid who will eventually qualify at third and shortstop, two of the weaker positions in fantasy. Machado is, by no means, looking like a 20-year-old out there, posting a decent K-rate and not swinging and missing a ton. In addition, when he has gotten pitches to hit, he’s destroyed them. That said, his batting average and value is almost directly coming from a 37.5% HR/FB rate. Machado hit all of 11 HRs in AA this year and three MLB HRs ROTW seems like the consensus over/under. In addition, he doesn’t have blazing speed, so expecting more than a .260 hitter with three fingers of homers and steals is going to leave you disappointed.

Garrett Jones – If you’re really looking for corners, I’d suggest you go after someone like Garret Jones. In his last 91 ABs, Jones is batting .308 with five HRs. Jones has long had a tremendous platoon split – hitting decently against righties and looking lost against southpaws. Little has changed this year as he is exhibiting the same trials and tribulations against lefties. That said, way more pitchers are right handed, so you simply bench Jones against lefty starters. Look for Jones to get close to 25 HRs and finish with a batting average around .280.

Coco Crisp – Why are people sleeping on Crisp? Since getting healthy and with a surprisingly surging and solid A’s line-up behind him, Crisp has gone 25 for his last 80 with nine SBs. At worst he’s a .260 hitter with 13-15 SBs ROTW. If you’re in the need for speed like Jessie Spano was, go get Crisp.

John Jaso – Jaso has had a solid year-to-date line and has done a good bit of the damage recently: .298 with three HRs and three SBs over the last 30 days. Jaso is basically walking as much as he is striking out and appears to be taking playing time away from Miguel Olivo, who is terrible. With 115 PAs ROTW, Jaso could bat .265-.270 with three HRs or so. He gets a huge bump in OBP leagues.

Matt Joyce – While Joyce hasn’t set the world on fire since returning from the disabled list, he does have three HRs and two steals. Joyce, who just turned 28, was batting .288/.399/.534 with 11 HRs on June 15 before he got injured and missed a bunch of time. He scuffled in his return, but, since July 30, is batting .308/.386/.615 albeit in just 44 plate appearances. That said, he’s owned in less than 50% of leagues and there is a legit chance he’s a close approximation of the early season Joyce.

Erick Aybar – Aybar sure has put that “breakout” 2011 behind him and turned back into 2010’s pumpkin-sized version. However, he is showing some life of late, batting .303/.352/.458 with five HRs and five SBs in his last 221 plate appearances (since May 25). His BABIP during that stretch is .316; his BABIP before May 25 was .264. His career BABIP is .305. You should bet on Aybar continuing to rebound over the second half, posting a solid .275 average ROTW and doubling his SB output.

Salvador Perez – Catchers who don’t hurt you (i.e., Miguel Olivo) can be a huge help to teams. Not only does Perez not hurt you, but he chips in here and there as well. Since coming back from a crushing injury, Perez is 42/134 (.313) with eight HRs. In his last 153 plate appearances, Yadier Molina is batting .301 with seven HRs. Going into the year, Perez looked a lot like a Yadi clone – expect the two to be similarly valued ROTW.

Todd Frazier – Frazier is batting .280 on the season with 14 HRs. He qualifies at 3B. Quite simply, Frazier is easily a top 15 3B ROTW, capable of not hurting you in batting average while hitting a good amount of HRs. Depending on the health of Joey Votto and the Reds division lead, Frazier could see a lot more at bats and be even more valuable.

Alex Cobb – In his first six starts, Cobb posted a 3.82 ERA. In his next six starts, he posted a 6.25 ERA. Since then, in his last three starts, Cobb has posted a 1.29 ERA. In addition, in his last four starts, he has walked just three batters, while striking out 21. For the year, he has a 2.58 K:BB rate, 65.9% strand rate and 4.08 ERA. You could easily make the argument that Cobb has been UNlucky. Going forward, expect an ERA right around 4.00 – consider anything under (which is likely) delicious gravy.

Zach McAllister – McAllister has come of out nowhere to post serviceable ratios (3.46 ERA and 1.22 WHIP) without benefiting from a ton of luck. He is posting an above average first strike rate and not walking a ton of guys. While there might be some correction coming in his strand rate and he doesn’t get a ton of ground balls, don’t expect him to fall off a cliff if he continues to get ahead of hitters. You can expect an ERA around 4.25, WHIP around 1.35 and some decent K’s.

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

Anibal Sanchez – A lot of fantasy thinkers (not including me) thought the move to the AL by Sanchez would damn his value to near replacement status. So far he has been far worse, posting a 7.97 ERA, 6.49 FIP and 4.89 xFIP in the AL. Of course, that’s just a paltry 20.1 IPs and he had two tough match-ups (in Toronto and against the Yankees). So far he is posting a decent first strike rate in the AL, however his swing and miss and K/9 rates are way down. He is actually throwing the ball a bit harder with the Tigers than he did this season with the Marlins. It’s near impossible to tell whether he is overthrowing, but that certainly could be one reason for Sanchez’s suckitude. It’s hard to think he went from above average starter in the NL to waiver wire fodder in the AL – that difference is just too much to be all league driven. Look for him to post an ERA better than 4.25, WHIP better than 1.25 and more than 40 K’s ROTW.

Wade Miley – Perhaps the NL Rookie of the Year leader, Miley hasn’t been good lately. In his last eight starts, he has a 4.63 ERA and .331 BABIP, despite a solid 35:8 K:BB ratio. Before the last eight starts, he had a 2.19 ERA and .256 BABIP with a 64:18 K:BB rate. Go figure. Miley has built his success off tremendous control this year – levels he never reached previously in his professional career. It’d be nice to believe in the narrative, however he doesn’t seem to get ahead of hitters or cause them to swing enough to continue this level of success. His walks will likely go up and his K’s down. He won’t be useless, but more of a match-ups type with a 4.30 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 35 K’s ROTW.

Ryan Dempster – Regardless of where Dempster landed he wasn’t duplicating his first half brilliance – it just wasn’t happening. That said, so far, he doesn’t appear a ton different in the underlying numbers. He has a similar first strike percentage and similar swinging strike percentage. He is even K’ing more batters (while walking a tad more). The main difference is a huge jump in his HRs allowed (20% HR/FB rate!). Partly because of all the balls leaving the park, his BABIP (.358) is inflated and his strand rate is miniscule (47.8%). He’ll clearly be better than he has been: 4.35 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 44 K’s ROTW. In fact, Dempster seems to be the perfect match-ups guy: use him against weaker line-ups and avoid those tough parks where the ball flies.

David Freese – The baseball season is long, my friends. On May 4, Freese, World Series hero, was batting .326/.381/.573 with six HRs. Since then, he is hitting .292/.362/.447 with just nine HRs. He hasn’t been bad, just not nearly a top 10 3B. Basically, Freese is pretty much the same hitter he was last season, expect he is healthy in 2012. While he is a decent option going forward, don’t expect more than a .290 average and three HRs. basically, he’ll have the same value as Todd Frazier.

Jay Bruce – After Bruce got off to a sensational start (batting .259/.332/.518 with 17 HRs in his first 78 games/319 plate appearances), I grew concerned my touting Nick Swisher over him would look foolish. Since July 4, though, Bruce is batting .204/.308/.407 with five HRs in 32 games/130 PAs. My thought process was that Bruce couldn’t surpass last year’s HR total without hitting a ton of fly balls, which would, in turn, torpedo his average. Well, so far, his HR/FB rate is nearly identical to last season and he’s actually hit less fly balls. Instead, he appears to be hitting a few more line drives. This should have resulted in a better average on balls in play, yet he’s stuck at .267 (he has a career .288 BABIP). So, I’m in the weird position of actually advocating for a Bruce turn around. He’s not a .245 hitter, but rather a .255 one at worst. In addition, expect him to pick up a few more homers ROTW and get eerily close to last year’s 32. Right now might be the best time to acquire Bruce, especially in keeper/dynasty leagues.

 

 

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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