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August 22, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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Zack Greinke, SP, Los Angeles Angels

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

David DeJesus – Since June 18, quietly, DeJesus has batted .288/.366/.442 in 186 plate appearances with three HRs and four steals. As the summer has heated up in Chicago, so has DeJesus. Of course, he has managed to hit for less power in a better ballpark than he did last year in Oakland, so it’s been a bit of a disappointing year. That said, he’s almost universally available and should be good for a .275 average, three HRs and two SBs ROTW. That ain’t great, but it can help.

Chris Young – Not sure if I can be objective about CBY, as I’ve been a fan of his for awhile and always believe(d). So, you should question by arbitrary slicing and dicing of his performance; however, he has been darn good in his last 114 plate appearances (since July 6), going .260/.351/.510 with five HRs and five SBs. Now, he doesn’t get consistent playing time, so he’s more of a deep league guy. But, still, he’s the type that can really help you down the stretch as he could come out of nowhere to hit six HRs, steal five bases and post a non-damaging batting average (.255). He’s the veritable lightening in a bottle.

Erick Aybar – Aybar is on the other end of the spectrum, as he’s about as reliable going forward as any player. While he got off to a horrible start, he’s been straight crushing it for awhile now (batting .320/.361/.492 since May 18). His ownership levels have crept up recently as people have taken notice, so go grab him or risk missing out on a .280 hitter with seven SBs and a bevy of runs ROTW.

Mark Reynolds – Mark Reynolds does one thing well: hit home runs. After posting HR/FB rates around 20% the last few seasons, so far he is at 14.6%. He appears to be hitting a few less fly balls this year, as well, which has impacted the bottom line. However, at some point, that HR/FB rate is going to skyrocket. He has a legit chance to hit 10 dingers ROTW, heck he has hit three in the last week. If you need power, how can you go with anyone else?

Tyler Colvin – Colvin was a hot pick-up when both Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton were out. Then they came back and Colvin got squeezed when it came to at bats. Both are now out and it’s not likely they will be back this season. In addition, it behooves the Rockies to see what they have in Colvin. So far, he’s looked good in Colorado, batting .292/.333/.549 with 14 HRs. He’s probably not this good of a batsman (.352 BABIP), but a .270+ hitter with four+ HRs ROTW is valuable a lot of places.

Wilin Rosario – Speaking of the Rockies, Rosario seems to have gotten little love this season despite hitting .250 with 20 HRs (I rounded up). While he’s been fairly consistent all year, he has picked it up a bit of late. Since June 14, he is batting .266 with 10 HRs. In addition, he has a pretty bad BABIP (.251) at the moment. It’s not hard to see Rosario batting .265 ROTW and reaching 25 HRs on the season.

Kyle Kendrick – In July, Kendrick was banished to the bullpen. However, he has received four starts in August and looked filthy (in a good way) in three of them. In those starts (22.1 IPs), he has a 3.22 ERA and 16:4 K:BB rate. Kendrick has taken a step forward this year, getting ahead of hitters more than ever and generating more swings and misses. He isn’t as good as these last four starts indicate, but he could absolutely be a 4.00 ERA pitcher with nearly 30 K’s ROTW.

Jeremy Guthrie – Surprisingly, Guthrie has been the best pitching acquisition over the second half of the season. Guthrie, one of the best dudes in baseball, has a 3.23 ERA and 31:8 K:BB rate since joining the Royals (39 IPs). Man, Coors Field is not frosty mountain badness. According to Jeff Zimmerman at Rotographs, “Guthrie has made some changes to his delivery since coming to Kansas City. For now, the changes seemed to have led to big changes on the field, all for the better.”  If Guthrie gets back to the rates he had in Baltimore, you’re looking at a reasonably effective pitcher: 4.30 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 30+ K’s ROTW.

Hisashi Iwakuma – No one wants any part of Iwakuma for some reason. In his last six starts (38 IPS), he has a 2.37 ERA and 37:11 K:BB rate. Iwakuma has also been far better as a starter. He has a better ERA, WHIP, K:BB rate and K/9 rate. Lastly, he has the benefit of his home park. If you’re looking for some cheap pitching, look no further and be delighted with a 3.95 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 32+ K’s down the stretch.

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

Zack Greinke – While Greinke has been walking more batters and striking out less since coming over to the American League, the real issue has been the HR ball. He has a 19.2% HR/FB rate in LA, which is completely out of line with anything he’s done the past half-decade. This has had an impact on his BABIP and strand rate. So, while Greinke has been bad, it has not been entirely his fault (necessarily). Further, he has the same first strike and swinging strike rates in LA as he did in Milwaukee. In short, you shouldn’t be overly concerned with Greinke. He should be fine in a 3.30 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 45 K sort of way.

Ian Kennedy – People expected Kennedy to come back to earth a tad after a spectacular (and somewhat lucky) 2011, however most didn’t expect him to struggle quite this much. Sure there have been injuries, but he’s also given up 14 earned runs in his last 28.1 IPs. That said, most of his numbers are virtually identical to last season. He does have a bit of an increase in his HR/FB rate, but he’s actually getting more first strikes and more swinging strikes. Oddly, this might be the perfect time to acquire Kennedy if you haven’t reached your trade deadline. Look for him to bounce back in a huge way this year and next.

Justin Upton – Where has the power gone, Justin Upton? Everything has been on the ground this year, resulting in a miserable HR/FB rate and pathetic ISO. It’s not just the HRs that have disappeared, Upton is on pace to hit the least amount of doubles in his career (discounting his 108 game 2008 season). At this point, unless he can make the correction on the fly (and if he can, why hasn’t he), it looks like he is who he is right now: a .275 hitter with little to no pop and barely more speed. Unfortunately, the likelihood he reaches 15 HRs/20 SBs is dwindling.

Mark Trumbo – On June 19, Trumbo was batting .326/.380/.629. Since then, in 219 plate appearances, he is batting .248/.292/.461. The power has been there (13 HRs), but the on base skills have eroded along with his BABIP (.363 before June 19, .271 after). After maintaining decent plate discipline earlier in the year, Trumbo is striking out 36.5% in August with a miniscule 2.7% walk rate. Right now, his most recent 200 plate appearances look a lot more like his 2011 slash line than his early 2012 dominance. In fact, over his last two years, he has a .267/.311/.506 line. Aside from slugging percentage, that matches ZiPS ROTW projections for Trumbo almost to a T. I have a hard time deviating from it as well. The power is legit (although a 24.4% HR/FB rate might be a tad high), so expect Trumbo to come close to 40 HRs. However, the average/OBP will not be overly pretty.

Elvis Andrus – Andrus has continued his second half speed swoon. While he has been getting on base at a great clip, he has attempted just four stolen bases. For his career, he is now 81/101 in SBs in the first half and 40/60 in the second half. He has maintained a strikingly similar slash line and does have 384 less plate appearances in the second half, but that doesn’t account for the drop in rate (giving him credit for the difference in plate appearances only gets him to 55 second half SBs). Until Andrus shows he can keep his speed going in the second half, he’s going to be someone who should be traded after racking up the SBs in the first half.

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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