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September 13, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-stars

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Cameron Maybin, OF, San Diego Padres

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

Chris Denorfia – It seems, every year, Denorfia finishes strong. He does own a .318/.370/.453 line in September/October, which is also the month he has the most at bats during. And, not surprisingly, he has been heating up of late as well, batting .438/.453/.688 in 53 plate appearances since August 17. While he hasn’t typically been an everyday player, he has appeared in the Padres last four games. Denorfia also mashes lefties (.319/.385/.454), so he’s clearly worth having around in deeper formats for when the Padres face a southpaw.

Will Venable – I’ve not watched a Padres game all year, yet I’m going to talk about four of them in this column, go figure. Maybe no one else is watching and that’s why so many are under-owned/utilized. Venable has taken a pretty solid step forward this year, chopping his K rate, while upping his walk rate. He has swung and missed a tad less this season and is well on track to post a 10 HR/25 SB campaign. There’s very little to suggest he can’t be the guy he has been for the balance of the season. It’s not a bad average and it comes with decent power and solid speed. In actuality, Venable, a lefty, is the perfect platoon partner for Chris Denorfia, as he really struggles against lefties, but hits well against righties. Consequently, in deep leagues pairing Venable with Denorfia will give you one heck of an outfielder.

Norichika Aoki – There’s really no need to split, slice and/or dice Aoki’s performance. Since getting full time at bats, he has been fantastic. There’s really no sign this is a fluke either – he doesn’t strike out much, doesn’t swing and miss much, walks a decent amount, has a sustainable BABIP, etc. Basically, he’s a .290 hitter with a handful of steals and solid run production hitting in front of Ryan Braun.

Ben Revere – Revere had a horrid start to the year, earning a knee-jerk demotion. He received sporadic playing until the beginning of June. Since June 1, in 392 plate appearances, he has batted .299/.336/.343 with 30 SBs. Revere is on record as wanting to reach a crisp 45 SBs by season’s end, which would be nine SBs in about a month. He’s pretty available and could gobble a point or two in ROTO leagues.

Russell Martin – It’s easy to make fun of Martin, given his .208/.312/.383 line. However he has flashed decent power on the year (16 HRs) and has batted .247/.323/.433 since July 15. That’s pretty solid production from a catcher. Since July 15, for instance, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is batting .198/.274/.355. If you need power without huge downside at the catcher position, Martin is a good bet.

Donovan Solano – Depending on your format, Solano likely qualifies at every meaningful IF position. He’s also been solid in 235 plate appearances: .293/.349/.351. There’s not much power there (10 extra base hits), but there is speed (7/7 in SB attempts). Solano hasn’t done much in the minors, although he had about 1,000 before he even turned 20. Still, he hasn’t really ever BABIP’d as well as he is now, so his average is a bit high, but he has exhibited solid plate discipline. Call him a .270-.275 hitter ROTW with three-five steals.

Everth Cabrera – Cabrera can’t really hit worth a lick, but he runs like haze, so there’s that. He is 29/30 in SB attempts this year in just 373 plate appearances. And, while he doesn’t bat well, he does walk at a decent clip, which means he is useful in OBP leagues and can continue to steal bases. Think of him as the SB version of Luke Scott: a low batting average guy who can put up real good numbers in a single category.

Adam C. Eaton – Eaton batted .381/.456/.539 in AAA over 562 plate appearances. He had a .432 BABIP. So far, in the majors, Eaton is batting .400/.423/.480 with a .455 BABIP. It’s kind of incredible. Surprisingly, Eaton hasn’t walked much in the majors, despite getting ahead of the count and not swinging and missing a ton. While that BABIP will likely go down a bit, his OBP should stay at a palatable level, which will lead to steals. He probably has 65-80 more at bats this year, which could easily net five or so SBs. The average (in any small sample) is incredibly hard to peg, but plan on him batting .265, and take anything above as gravy.

Johnny Giavotella – Giavotella has had an uninspiring career to date, but has really picked it up since he was recalled to the majors on August 18, batting .258/.303/.339 with three steals. Maybe “really picked it up” is an overstatement, but he hasn’t been completely overmatched either. That said, batting stats can tend to get inflated toward the season as teams out of contention use pitchers that are more of the 40 man roster talent level than the 25 man roster. Still, there is optimism for the youngster. He shows a decent approach at the plate (7.3% swinging strike rate), which hasn’t translated to much success in his K rate (probably because he is getting behind pitchers at a huge clip), yet. In addition, he’s always flashed solid BABIPs in the minors, but continues to be mired in the <.290 world in the Bigs. You could easily envision Giavotella BABIP’ing .295-.310, which would push his average closer to .270. Still, he hasn’t been a huge speed or power guy in the minors, so you’re looking at a full timer with a decent average and double digit pop ceiling (i.e., what people were hoping Dustin Ackley would be). For those of you hurting with Neil Walker’s injury, Giavotella makes a solid back-up for the time being.

Cameron Maybin – In interest of full disclosure, I’m a huge Maybin fan/believer. Regardless, in a not insignificant sample (321 plate appearances) since May 23, Maybin is batting .265/.315/.372 with six HRs and 12 SBs. He’s been scorching hot for the past month or so, batting .345/.385/.425 since August 5. The underlying numbers seem to support part of this surge. After routinely swinging and missing upwards of 11+%, Maybin is swinging and missing just 8.6% of the time this year. He has also cut down on his K rate and increased his walk rate. In addition, his BABIP seems a tad low. It rests at .298, while his career mark is .321. He might not be a huge force down the stretch, with so little time left, but a handful of bombs and a few steals look mighty appetizing. His average could even be a solid .260 or so. Maybin should come pretty cheap next year and I’ll likely be buying universally. So, umm, Call me Maybin…and there goes my one reader.

Wade Davis – Davis has been filthy this year in his transition to reliever. While he has a pretty “lucky” BABIP and strand rate, those things happen for successful relievers and you can’t just expect them to get back to the norm like you would for a starter. In his new role, Davis has added a few MPHs to his fastball and actually used his curveball a higher percentage of the time than he did as a starter. With that combination, he’s getting an unreal amount of swinging strikes, which suggests his K rate isn’t a mirage. That said, it is a tad disconcerting that he is getting behind hitters as much as he is, posting a below average first strike rate. Of course, his stuff, so far, has made up for that. If you’re up against an IP limit, he’d be one of the first relievers I’d turn to to maximize K/IP. In addition, file him away for next year as a potential late round closer. If you’re in a keeper league, it might be good to roster him now.

Chris Archer – Without much hoopla, Archer has been recalled by the Rays and dominated the Rangers in his first start. He has an incredible 6.25 K:BB rate in an incredibly small sample. While that likely won’t continue (he tends to walk a ton, although has been getting ahead of batters in a big way so far), he looks to be baffling major leaguers: 10.2% swinging strike rate and 12.05 K/9. Archer works with primarily two pitches which could get him in trouble over a long haul, but we don’t have a long haul left. It’s possible major leaguers don’t have enough time or tape to adjust to him. It’d be tough to start him against the patient Yankees in his next go, but otherwise he could be a solid high K option down the stretch (just make sure you have some wiggle room in your ratios, WHIP especially).

Homer Bailey – In his last 12 starts, Bailey has a 3.77 ERA and 70:17 K:BB rate. He has been unheralded and decent the last two seasons, posting a 3.13 K:BB rate, 4.21 ERA and 1.31 WHIP over 306 IPs. He gets ahead of hitters well and gets them to swing and miss a good bit. While he will likely never be a world beater in ERA, given his FB tendencies and home ballpark, there’s nothing wrong with a guy who can pound the zone, get a few K’s and grab a few wins.

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

Edwin Jackson – With the Strasburg shutdown looming over Washington, people haven’t noticed that Edwin Jackson has been flat out terrible since June 28 (13 starts): 5.00 ERA, but a 81:26 K:BB rate. During that stretch he has a .343 BABIP compared to a .234 mark in his first 14 starts. Basically whoever is in charge of the ball bouncing in baseball wanted Jackson to pitch phenomenally in the first half and miserably in the second half. While he’s been bad, this season actually represents a real step forward for Jackson. He has the best first strike percentage of his career (i.e., he’s getting ahead of hitters) and the best swinging strike rate. He is also continuing last season’s progress in his BB/9 rate, leading to a career high in BB:K rate (2.87). In short, Jackson has been brilliant. He might post a tick worse ERA ROTW given his career BABIP is still a bit higher than his current mark, but don’t expect his failures to continue much. He’ll be the same old 3.90 ERA guy with solid K’s and good wins.

Shaun Marcum – Since coming off the DL, Marcum has been horrid (5.03 ERA, 17:6 K:BB rate, .339 BABIP and just 19.2 IPs over four starts). He has clearly been a bit more hittable than normal, which is easy to attribute to rust. It’s doubtful (if Marcum is healthy) that there is much actual skill erosion here. He is still getting swings and misses and getting ahead of batters. He also should want to start down the stretch as he enters free agency, so don’t be afraid to use Marcum ROTW.

A.J. Burnett – Since the calendar flipped to August, the Pirates and Burnett turned into pumpkins. Burnett, in his last seven starts, has a 4.84 ERA and 47:17 K:BB rate. It could be much worse as he has allowed 24 runs, only 17 of which were “earned.” During that time, which basically pulled his BABIP up to his career norm, we got a real sense of what Burnett looks like in the National League. There’s little reason to think his current season line can’t be replicated ROTW, meaning the last few starts were just a bunch of bumps  all mashed together, instead of spread evenly across the long season.

Josh Reddick – It’s been a tough go for Reddick over the summer, as he is batting just .236/.283/.415 with nine HRs since July 3 (358 plate appearances). Before July 3 (334 plate appearances), Reddick batted .261/.339/.525 with 19 bombs. That said, a lot of the second half swoon can be attributed to his recent 3/35 stretch. In addition, throwing out his 10 HRs in May, Reddick has hit four-six every month. Basically, Reddick’s May (which featured a 25.6% HR/FB rate) has carried him a bit. So, Reddick is what he is a .245-.255 hitter with 20-25 HR pop who had one scintillating month. He’ll be good for four or so more bombs ROTW.

Pablo Sandoval – Sandoval has sucked in the second half: .241/.295/.328 this season, which has created claims that the Giants are unhappy with his weight/conditioning. For his career, though, he has posted nearly identical first and second half numbers. Perhaps instead of conditioning, it’s really the injury he suffered in late July that is the culprit. Since he came back from the injury (August 13), he has batted .232/.291/.274. From June 18- July 24, he batted .284/.333/.495. Of course, the why he is struggling doesn’t really matter. Unfortunately, if it is the injury, there is really no way of knowing when he’ll be fully acclimated. That said, he’ll continue to get at bats and he’s a good hitter when healthy. It does make sense to bench Sandoval if you have any sort of reasonable replacement. However, at the first sign of life, get Sandoval back into your line-up(s).

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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