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April 18, 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 that 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

Nolan Reimold – Reimold had an impressive 9-20 seven day stretch, chipping in three homers and a steal, but he missed his second straight game on Monday due to leg cramps. Still, the injury is not supposed to hamper him for much longer and we could easily be witnessing a march to a 20 HR, 10 SB season.

He’ll likely fall a handful short of both benchmarks, but he’s got more than a puncher’s chance. While the power and speed are legit, his current batting average is likely not. Reimold is torching the ball so far, with a 22.2% line drive rate, .353 ISO and .375 BABIP. For his career, he has a 14.1% LD rate, .191 ISO and .288 BABIP. Reimold can best his .261 career average, but expecting him to hit over .270 will leave you disappointed.

Shelley Duncan – Does the two first name thing count if one of the names is a girl’s name? I don’t think it matters if you mash like Duncan (6-13 with two dingers over the last week). Unfortunately for Duncan, the Indians have a bizarre roster crunch at the corners with Johnny Damon being added to the fold. If Kotchman keeps hitting decently, it’ll be difficult for Duncan to get over 250 at bats this season. It makes sense to keep him around in deeper leagues until the playing time situation sorts itself out, given his real 20+ HR potential. In addition, he’s probably rosterable all season long in AL-only leagues.

Casey Kotchman – Speaking of the hot hitting Kotchman (6-16 with two dingers over the last seven days), he has rebounded nicely from a 2-21 stretch to open the season during the Indians home stand. Kotchman, coming off a solid season with an 18.3% LD rate and .335 BABIP, has improved on that LD rate this season, yet has a .179 BABIP. He’s not a .300 hitter, but he should bat .275 with 10 HRs and a good amount of RBIs. If that plays in your league, it makes sense to grab him.

Jordan Schafer – After a 6-24 week with five SBs, Schafer’s ownership levels have skyrocketed. However the real bounce in the speed hasn’t come from an inflated average or luck on balls in play but a huge spike in his walk rate. While he posted nice BB% in the minors, he is sitting at 18.4% this year and has an OBP .150 higher than his batting average. Schafer isn’t swinging the bat at all, posting a 33.2% swinging rate. It’s doubtful that can continue and, when it freefalls, he’s going to be a .235 hitter with a .310 OBP. He could still steal 20 or so bases, but it’s going to come at a significant cost. Grab him while he’s walking if you must, but be quick with the trigger when he stops getting on base.

A.J. Pierzynski – Forget comparing Pierzynski to other catchers, dude is mashing as well as most position players (8-15 with two bombs over the last seven days). Pierzynski is nearly halfway to last year’s HR total and could conceivably bat .280 with 10-14 homers. Given he’s a catcher, the counting stats won’t be there, but he won’t do damage to your average, either. If you got blanked at catcher in deeper leagues (or relied on Devin Mesoraco), Pierzynski is absolutely worth grabbing.

Cody Ross – Bat flippin’ Cody Ross had a bat flippin’ week: 7-21 with two homers. While Ross hasn’t topped 14 HRs since he hit 24 for the Marlins in 2009, he is an easy bet to hit 15 this year, with upside to the 20-25 range. His batting average (likely in the .258-.265 range) won’t be great, but if he keeps batting toward the middle of the Red Sox order, he could grab 80 RBIs or more. Suddenly, Ross looks a lot like Nick Swisher. There’s a lot less certainty in the Red Sox player, but their 5×5 numbers might not be drastically different at the end of 2012.

Chase Headley – Once upon a time, Chase Headley was a major prospect. However, he hasn’t put too many weeks (9-25 with a homer and six runs) like his last one together. He’ll be 28 in about a month, so he could be hitting his stride and adding some power. That said, he hit 27 HRs total from 2009-2011 and he plays in San Diego. He will post a decent average (.272), hit 13 HRs and steal 14 bases. In OBP leagues, he gets a good bump, but in traditional mixed formats he isn’t much more than a 3B fill-in.

Kyle Drabek – Drabek, which should be the name of a Bond villain, had a dominant two-start week: 12.2 IPs, two wins, 10 K’s, a 1.42 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. Drabek was once a top prospect, but his climb to the top was hampered by a massive walk rate. So far, this year, he has walked very few, but he’s also benefited from a nice BABIP (.229) and super beneficial strand rate (86.2%). For the time being, it’s worth using Drabek, however his BABIP and strand rate will regress and there is a decent chance he starts walking a lot more batters.

Joe Saunders – Baseball is a confoundingly amazing sport. To wit, Joe Saunders put up a 0.64 ERA over 14 IPs last week. Of course, he was facing the Pirates and Padres and now carries a .250 BABIP and 93.3% strand rate. That said, Saunders is streamable, but be careful. If you can coax some of the tastier NL West match-ups out of him, you might wind up with a good bit of innings and solid ratios. That’s it for his upside, however.

Danny Duffy – I swear I intended to write about Duffy as a sleeper this year (mostly because I kept trying and failing to make a Wynn Duffy Justified reference, but also because he strikes out a lot of dudes). Well, for at least one week, Duffy looked awesome: 12.2 IPs, 15 K’s, a 2.13 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. While one start featured the hapless Athletics, he did shut down the Tigers. He’s somehow benefiting from an even more ridiculous strand rate than Saunders (98%) but has also given up more HRs than you would expect. He’s probably going to best a 2.0 K:BB rate, although it might not be by much, leaving his ratios in some danger. A 4.70 ERA seems within the realm of possibility, but the WHIP will be ugly (1.42). He should strike-out about eight guys per nine, which could end up being a ton of K’s. If you own Duffy, you need to start him against lesser teams, but I’d still hold him back against the tougher offenses in the league.

Ross Detwiler –Detwiler went the minimum for a win in both his starts last week, but also nearly allowed the minimum amount of runs (0.90 ERA). Suddenly, there’s a little wiggle waggle in Detwiler this season and if he continues to limit the walks (which is in line with his minor league work), he could be a 4.00-4.20 ERA pitcher. There won’t be a ton of K’s or wins in the arm and it’s unclear how long he’ll have a starting rotation spot, but he’s good for NL-only and a streaming candidate in most every other reasonably deep format.

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

Brandon McCarthy – I drove the McCarthy bandwagon last season, yet I’ve been off it completely this year (mostly due to cost and injury risk). In his two starts last week, McCarthy went 13 innings and posted a 4.85 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. The majority of the damage can be traced to McCarthy coming out for the 8th inning against the Angels and giving up two runs without recording an out. In reality, McCarthy is a fine pitcher capable of a 3.50 ERA and 1.20 WHIP the rest of the way. The only concern remains how many innings he can throw; last season was the first he threw over 100 IPs.

Matt Moore – Moore had a forgettable last week: 13 IPs, 5.54 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. He had a decent start against the Tigers but allowed a lot of base runners. Boston then got to him for 12 base runners in 6.1 IPs. He has as many K’s as he does walks this year and has actually had a solid BABIP (.243) and strand rate (77.4%). Moore should finish with an adequate ERA (4.15) and good K/9 numbers, but he’ll have a higher WHIP than expected by most. Long term, Moore will be a fine and awesome pitcher and he’ll certainly flash some brilliance this year; however, he’ll end up a disappointment.

Daniel Bard – Bard’s first start last week didn’t seem so bad (only one walk) even though he got tagged for five runs. His second start of the week exhibited everything that should scare you off him (seven walks), yet he only allowed one run. Baseball is weird. As a starter, Bard will bring the K’s, but they’ll come with a lot of walks and bloated WHIP, making him a match-ups type guy. It’s also anyone’s guess as to how many innings he’ll throw this year and there remains a slight outside chance he goes back to relieving.

Jay Bruce – After a 4/24 week, Bruce is batting .205, albeit with solid power (three homers). He is hitting more fly balls and a lot less line drives in the early part of the season, but that can’t explain his dreadful BABIP (.179). His average will get back to where it was last season, but, unless he really starts hitting fly balls, any more than 34 HRs is unlikely. When it’s all said and done, Bruce 2012 will look a lot like Bruce 2011.

Matt Joyce – Joyce had a somewhat bad week (8/32 with a homer). Basically, Joyce is getting dominated by left handers, as he is hitting .182/.182/.182 off them. He isn’t quite that bad against southpaws, but you should be benching him when a tough lefty starter is on the mound. Joyce is already batting ninth in the line-up on those days. Still, this just gives you a solid blueprint on how to use him, i.e., against righties.

Nick Markakis – Man, that first week for Markakis was phenomenal. Unfortunately, his most recent week (3/25) has erased any good feelings generated by his hot start. Markakis is fine and is who he is, but serves as a cautionary tale about jumping on early hot starts. It is still early in the season. Right now there are not a ton of trends that we can draw substantial conclusions from. At this time of the year, it makes sense to shy away from drastic moves and stay the course.

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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