May 2, 2012 posted by Albert Lang

The Hot N Cold Fantasy Baseball All-Stars

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Dee Gordon, LAD

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 Davis – Davis has been hitting like its 2008 and he’s in Arlington, going 7/20 with three bombs over the last seven days. He now has a .319/.373/.580 line on the year. While he has a .375 BABIP, his success is not a total mirage:  he has increased his walk rate, dramatically decreased his K-rate and swinging strike percentages and is hitting more line drives instead of fly balls. Of course, his swinging strike rate is still amazingly high (13.7%) and it’s unlikely he can sustain a 23.5% HR/FB rate. Some of those fly balls will end up in the field of play and will be outs.

If these small steps forward continue all season, Davis could bat .270 with a .320 OBP and 25-30 HRs. You should probably try to sell him based on those numbers; however if you can’t get value at that level, just keep him and enjoy a .260 hitter with 22-25 HRs.

Pedro Alvarez – Alvarez sees Chris Davis do it and is all like I can do so much better: 8/22 with three homers. Unlike Davis, it doesn’t appear Alvarez is really taking a step forward: he isn’t walking and his K-rate is near 40%. In reality, he’s living off an untenable 28.6% HR/FB rate. He might reach 25 HRs this year (if he doesn’t get sent down), but it’s going to come at a step average cost:  take the under on him hitting .240 all the way to the bank.

Jose Altuve – Altuve hit everything in sight last week (11/26) and chipped in a homer and a steal. He is hitting .373 this year with a .435 BABIP. It is beginning to look like Altuve is going to be everything you wished Jemile Weeks would be: a .300 hitter with 30 SB potential. He doesn’t have much pop and, until the majors last year, hadn’t played above AA ball, so there will be some adjustment. However, scouts seem to like the diminutive second baseman. You could easily make the case for Altuve over someone like Dustin Ackley.

Tony Campana – With Marlon Byrd going to a team that knows how to get rid of a curse, Campana has been given a shot at full time at bats. So far, he hasn’t disappointed, going 7/22 with five steals over the last week. Of course, it’s easy to steal a lot of bases when you’re batting .435/.458 with a .556 BABIP. While he hasn’t walked much in the majors, he did post reasonable rates in the minors. If he can figure out his plate discipline, a .315 OBP is within reach. He’ll get the playing time, given the dearth of other options in Chicago, so 35+ SBs is wholly realistic. If you’re rostering Jordan Schaeffer, grab Campana instead.

Michael Saunders – Saunders is the biggest tease of the Hot ‘N’ Cold All-stars. He’s been on the roster so often without ever being owned much. Not surprisingly, he’s at it again (9/28 with two homers and a steal over the last week). Saunders has had tremendous success in AA and great success when repeating AAA, however it has never translated to the MLB level. While Saunders has a great walk rate, he doesn’t put good contact on the ball. He’s going to end up batting .240 with 11 HRs and 16 SBs. If you squint you can make him a .250 hitter, although he’ll probably end up closer to .230 than .250.

Angel Pagan – If you stood by Pagan, you were rewarded with a three homer, 8/27 week. If healthy, Pagan is absolutely a #3 OF, capable of hitting .275 with 12-15 HRs and 25 SBs. If a trigger happy owner ditched Pagan after 80 at bats, go ahead and grab him.

Gerardo Parra – Who needs Chris Young when slick fielding Parra can go 7/23 with three steals? With 150 games or so, Parra could steal 18-20 bases. He’ll bat .275 and, perhaps, approach double digit homers. Think of him as a poor man’s Pagan.

Josh Reddick – Reddick did some damage away from home over the last week: 9/26 with two homers. So far, in incredibly small samples, Reddick is batting far better away than at home. He won’t be as bad at home or as good on the road, but his home ballpark caps his upside at a 15 HR/8 SB guy with a .250 average.

Carlos Ruiz – In 2011, Ruiz hit .283/.371/.383; last week, Ruiz hit .438. There’s little pop to be had, but a catcher that doesn’t kill you is incredibly valuable, yet Ruiz is owned in 24% of Yahoo! leagues. In two-catcher leagues, Ruiz is a godsend; a catcher you can pair with someone like Jarrod Saltalamacchia and mitigate his poor average. In addition, in OBP leagues, Ruiz gets an added boost as few catchers post .360 OBPs.

Wilson Betemit – While he got off to a slow start, Betemit has been stroking it lately: 6/16 with two homers over the last seven days. From 2009-2011, Betemit batted .284/.354/.467 and hit 21 HRs in 201 games. He should get at least 120 games for the Orioles this year, which could net him 17-20 HRs. He strikes out a lot, so his average will suffer a bit, but he could easily bat .270. Take Betemit and the average over guys like Pedro Alvarez.

Eric Thames – Speaking of slow starts, hot flashes, Thames has been scorching lately: 10/25 with two homers. While Thames isn’t a .300 hitter, he is swinging and missing and striking out less to date. Pencil Thames in for a .270 average with 20 HRs and 70 runs and RBIs. In a lot of leagues, that’s a solid OF.

Alex Liddi – Liddi, just 23, is starting to impress the Mariners; he went 7/24 with two homers and a steal over the last seven days. Liddi flashed a lot of power in AAA last year but also struck out a lot and didn’t hit for a great average. However, he did dominate AA and A+ in 2010 and 2009, respectively. At the moment, Liddi is just someone for deep leagues, as his route to full time at bats is by no means certain. However, if he somehow finds his way to 530 ABs, he could blast 15-20 HRs. There will be growing pains (he strikes out a ton and his HR/FB rate will come down a bit), but he should bat around .245.

Edwin Encarnacion – They don’t come hotter than Edwin Encarnacion (four HRs, 9/24 over the last week). However, there are some underlying issues with the power, namely that, so far, he’s hitting all fly balls and infield flys. His LD rate (13.7%) and ground ball rate (32.9%) are nearly nonexistent. If he keeps selling out for fly balls, the batting average will suffer. For the moment, he’s still a .270 hitter with 28 HRs. However, he could also end up batting .250 with 32 HRs. It’s nice owning Encarnacion now, but if you can trade him as a top 5 3B, it probably makes sense.

Gavin Floyd – Floyd’s ownership levels (33% in Yahoo!) are shocking. From 2009-2011, Floyd posted a 4.17 ERA and 1.25 WHIP and averaged 155 K’s a season. Floyd was dominant over his last week against Boston and Oakland: 14 IPs, 15 K’s, a 1.29 ERA and a 0.57 WHIP. He’s not as good as he has been going (.203 BABIP), however his ERA will be right around 4.00, he’ll strike-out 165 batters and he’ll post a 1.24 WHIP. That stat line should be owned almost everywhere.

Derek Lowe – Lowe had his way with the Angels and Royals over the last seven days (13.2 IPs, a 0.66 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP). Of course, the previous week, he scuffled with the Mariners and Royals, go figure. To date, Lowe is still getting all those ground balls, but is benefiting from an enlarged strand rate (82.9%) and a miniscule HR/FB rate (6.9%). Lowe is a 4.45 ERA pitcher with a 1.42 WHIP and minimal K’s.

James McDonald – McDonald straight up dealt last week: 14.2 IPs, 18 K’s, a 2.45 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. The one-time highly touted prospect is just 27 and off to an amazing start. Of course, he has a .206 BABIP and just 4% HR/FB rate. While those will come back to earth, McDonald can still be a solid back-end starter for your fantasy team. When it’s all said and done, McDonald will post a 4.15 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 150 K’s.

Chris Capuano – For awhile, Capuano was flying under the radar, but no longer after a nine K performance against the Nationals (who do have some whiffers). With Capuano, health and innings are more the issue than actual performance. He should be good for a 3.90 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. It looks like he can post a 7.70 K/9 rate. If he does that over 160 IPs, that’s nearly 140 K’s.

R.A. Dickey – Another guy with surprisingly low ownership levels (27% in Yahoo!), Dickey went out and grabbed some owners last week: 13 IPs, 13 K’s, a 2.77 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP. In 58 starts from 2010-2011, Dickey had a 3.08 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and a 2.48 K:BB rate. Pick him now up and enjoy a 3.95 ERA and 1.27 WHIP.

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

Bud Norris – Two starts against the Brewers and Mets did not go as planned (12.1 IPs, a 7.30 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP). Still, he did K 13 and has a nice 2.75 K:BB rate. Norris is suffering from the terrible trifecta: high BABIP (.320), low strand rate (68.8%) and high HR/FB rate (15.2%). Of course, none of those are really outlandish, which is why his xFIP (4.18) isn’t all that much better than his FIP/ERA. Still, Norris is getting as many swinging strikes as he normally does and isn’t getting hit unusually hard (17.7% LD rate). Bet on a nice bounce back the rest of the way for Norris: 4.25 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 180 K’s at the end of the year.

Mike Minor – Getting owned by the Pittsburgh Pirates and posting a 7.30 ERA and 1.54 WHIP over two starts is never good. Still, that was just a blip as Minor has been as advertised: 3.42 ERA, 2.53 FIP, 3.42 xFIP with a 4.20 K:BB rate. If a neophyte owner panicked after the disastrous Pirates start, gobble him up and enjoy the 3.85 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 170 K’s.

Clay Buchholz – Getting to face the Twins and Athletics back-to-back is probably as easy as it will get for Buchholz, yet he managed to royally screw it up: 8.25 ERA, 2.08 WHIP. Buchholz is getting killed by his BABIP, strand rate and HR/FB rate. However, a lot of the damage is also self inflicted (4.66 BB/9 rate). Buchholz wasn’t much of a target at the beginning of the year and is looking more and more like a 4.75 ERA and 1.47 WHIP guy without any K’s to make that palatable. Hello, Derek Lowe.

Josh Johnson – A 4.30 ERA, 1.33 WHIP two-start week actually lowered Johnson’s ratios! For the year, he has a horrid 5.34 ERA and 1.74 WHIP. Of course, a good pitcher is never that bad without a little help, and, in Johnson’s case, it’s been a tremendous amount of negative aid: .436 BABIP and 66% strand rate. Johnson’s ERA is nowhere near his FIP (2.15) or xFIP (2.86). He is getting the same swinging strikes as ever and hasn’t dramatically lost velocity or changed the pitches he is throwing. At the end of the year, Johnson will have a .3.20 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and post an 8.31 K/9 rate.

Ervin Santana – Santana also had a pretty bad ratio week (3.75 ERA and 1.50 WHIP) that ended up improving his overall numbers. Big Erv’ is getting absolutely destroyed by the long ball, as nearly ¼ of the fly balls he has allowed have cleared the fence. For his career, his HR/FB rate is 10.2%. While the HRs are a major culprit, Santana is just not fooling batters: 6.3% swinging strike rate and a 5.58 K/9 rate. He hasn’t lost any velocity, however he is throwing his slider a lot less than he did last year. It’s still just 30.2 innings, but it is disconcerting that the slider and, with it, swings and misses and ground balls are disappearing from his repertoire. Santana isn’t this bad and is worth picking up from the free agent pile in case he turns it around. However, he does not fit the no-doubter buy low mold.

Emilio Bonifacio – People drooled over his eligibility and place in the batting order, while ignoring his lackluster hitting skills. Last week, Bonifacio went 4/29 and is now hitting .244/.330. In reality, Bonifacio is who he is, as his BABIP is the exact same as his career line (last year’s .372 BABIP was a complete mirage). That said, Bonifacio is batting .245 instead of .265 because of a decent spike in his K-rate. However, he isn’t swinging and missing any more than usual, so this is probably a small sample size creation. Expect Bonifacio to bat .265 with a .329 OBP and steal 37 bases.

Ian Desmond – Remember when he was going real well? Well, he went 3/24 last week and his hitting .250. Desmond just isn’t very good: a .250 hitter with wretched on base skills, capable of blasting 10 HRs and stealing 15 bases. Pass.

Mark Teixeira – Teixeira had a hard time putting the bat on the ball in a meaningful way over the last week: 4/23. He is now hitting .244/.290/.395, his walk rate is nonexistent and he is getting squeezed a bit on his batted ball rates (stable LD rate and less fly balls but a crappy BABIP). Since coming to the Yankees, Teixeira has hit .265/.360/.508. Don’t expect his final line to be any better than that. He’ll add 30 HRs but will struggle to reach the 90 run threshold.

Albert Pujols – Pujols went 4/27 and you had to check if that improved his average or not. That’s how horrendous he has been. Indeed, this is the worst stretch of his career, as he’s parked at .217/.265/.304. Pretty much everything is bad; however, he isn’t swinging and missing more and is hitting the ball well (24.4% LD rate). While the poor walk rate and high K-rate are disconcerting, expect Pujols to come back with a vengeance and soon.

Peter Bourjos – With Trout’s call-up, Bourjos received just eight plate appearances and went hitless over the last week. Apparently catcher defense, not outfield defense, matters to his manager, so Bourjos has been banished to pinch-running and defensive replacement duties, which is great if you’re in a league that values that. At the moment, it’s time to ditch Bourjos.

Dee Gordon – As indicated by his 3/24 week, even Dee Gordon is incapable of stealing first. He is now hitting .207 with a .247 OBP. There have been some decent increases in his walk rate, but it has come with an increase in his K-rate and swinging strike percentage. He isn’t quite this bad and his BABIP is doing him no favors. Still, a .258 average and .297 OBP are about the ceiling. That said, even with those substandard on base skills, if he spends the year in the majors, he will steal 45 – 55 bases.

Nelson Cruz – Cruz went 5/22 last week with one measly RBI. He is swinging and missing and striking out a lot, even for him. While his average is poor by his standards, his BABIP is actually better than the norm. Cruz will be 32 by the end of the season and is 600 at bats removed from his great 2009 and 2010 seasons. At the end of the year, Cruz will bat .262, hit 26 HRs and steal 10 bases. It’s a shame he didn’t get a chance to play earlier in his career.

Brett Lawrie – Lawrie had a lowly 6/25 week and hasn’t quite busted out like people expected (hitting .278/.327/.378). So far, he is hitting a tremendous amount of ground balls and seeing a few more sliders than he did last season. It’s early, though, and Lawrie is fully capable of batting .278 with 20 HRs and 20 SBs, with upside. That’s a fine fantasy player.

Eric Hosmer – Another youngster people counted on, Hosmer has been struggling mightily (three for his last 21 and 16/85 on the year). While it looks bad superficially, he is walking more and K’ing less. In addition, his batted ball rates are nearly identical to last year, yet his BABIP is in the toilet. If you can acquire Hosmer on the cheap, it’s about time to do that. At the end of the year, he’ll be a .282 hitter with 25 HRs and 10 SBs.

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

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