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May 16, 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 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

Elliot Johnson – Over the last week, Johnson is 9/18 with three steals. He is now hitting .273 on the year and has stolen as many bases in 25 games as he did in 70 last season. So far, Johnson has been walking more than anyone would expect, which has increased his chances at SBs. ROTW, he’s a .250 hitter with 15 SBs at best. There are a lot of leagues where a dual-eligible middle infielder who won’t decimate your average and chip in some steals can help. In those leagues, grab Johnson.

Daniel Nava – Have you heard this one before:  recently called-up Nava goes on a tear? In the 2012 version, Nava is 7/12 with a homer and steal. Nava has posted impressive walk rates in the minors and should be a guy who can get on base in the majors (hello OBP leagues), however, he won’t flash any power or speed. He might be good for another 350 plate appearances, which would net him six more HRs. He’ll bat .260 with a .345 OBP. His upside will come in runs scored. If he can get on base at a decent clip, he might find himself hitting higher in the order, because “Mike Aviles lead-off hitter” makes absolutely no sense.

Brandon Inge – Yes, Inge has six hits in his last 21 at bats with three homers and 12 RBIs. However, even with this awe-inspiring surge, his slash line is .188/.243/.469. Brandon Inge is a fine fielder, but you don’t get points for that in fantasy. He’s going to do much more damage the rest of the way (.205 hitter with eight HRs). Do not pick him up.

Roger Bernadina – Most have given up on Bernadina being a consistent regular; however his last seven days could bring people back into the fold (8/24 with two HRs and two SBs). His blend of power and speed has always been alluring, but he’s never gotten on base enough to get a long stay with the major league club. Early on, Bernadina is seeing a bunch more pitches, as his walk rate and K-rates are up. Still, he isn’t swinging and missing more, so there’s a chance he can maintain this walk rate while cutting down on the K-rate. Bernadina, with 360 at bats ROTW, will hit 10 HRs and steal 18 bases. The batting average will struggle to pass .250, though.

Danny Espinosa – Battling dwindling ownership levels and confidence in his ability, Espinosa collected eight hits in 27 ABs last week. He also added two homers and two steals. Espinosa swings and misses and strikes out a ton, so a batting average over .245 is incredibly unlikely. Still, he has a near elite blend of power and speed that can help mitigate those average issues (especially in a h2h league). He’ll hit 15 more HRs and chip in 15 more steals ROTW.

Gregor Blanco – Blanco had, likely, his best week in the Bigs, going 6/17 with two steals. Blanco has been getting most of the starts in right for the Giants, so playing time seems to be secured. He has always posted decent walk rates, but never hit the ball with a ton of authority. In deep leagues, Blanco is absolutely worth a grab, as he could bat .270 with 20 more SBs. Of course, he could also hit .230 with five SBs and lose the job. Still, the potential is worth speculating on.

Ryan Doumit – With catchers dropping like flies and Doumit crushing the ball (6/21 with two homers over the last seven days), his paltry ownership levels are startling. Doumit is getting a bit more at bats than your average catcher and will be a solid .260 hitter with double digit bombs the ROTW. Grab him and start him with confidence, my friend.

David DeJesus – DeJesus went 10/25 with a homer over the last week and, in the process, upped his OBP to .371. So far, DeJesus has put together an under-the-radar OBP-league season. Unfortunately, he doesn’t add a ton of pop or speed, which leaves the OBP gains somewhat hollow. ROTW: seven HRs, a .275 average and a .360 OBP.

Yonder Alonso – Way over Yonder in the minor key, Alonso has been smoking of late: 8/21 with a homer and steal over the last week. On the season, Alonso has posted a respectable .370 OBP, but without much in the counting categories. While Alonso won’t continue to bat .361 on balls in play, he is posting decent swinging strike, K and BB percentages. If he can continue similar paces, you’re looking at a .275/.355/.415 line the rest of the way. He’ll add 10 HRs and five steals as well. That line screams corner infielder in deep leagues.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – a 6/19 week with six runs and one steal upped Nieuwenhuis’ OBP to .379 on the year. While he strikes out a hefty bit, he does pair that with an equally impressive BB%. The combination of the two with a double digit swinging strike rate suggests Nieuwenhuis will be far more valuable in OBP leagues than standard. You shouldn’t expect a .429 BABIP or .300+ average to continue. In fact, ROTW, he’ll hit .260 with a .335 OBP and add nine HRs. Given his current rate this makes him a “sell high,” if you can.

Seth Smith – Smith got on base at a .483 clip over the last week. He also went 9/24 with a homer. So far, he is walking a ton and cutting down on his K-rate, however any sort of potential value gets zapped by his team. Smith is, at best, a .265 hitter with a .330 OBP ROTW. He might get to 14 HRs total, but that’s uninspiring from an OF.

Scott Diamond – Two starts, 14 IPs, two wins, 10 K’s, no runs and a 0.71 WHIP has people seeing stars. However, Diamond has never really posted any sort of decent K-rate in the minors and hasn’t shown the command to best a 2.2 K:BB rate. In pitching-starved leagues, he’s worth a speculative add. However, be shocked if he beats a 4.95 ERA, 1.55 WHIP and 6.15 K/9 rate ROTW. In short, he’s one of the weakest match-up SPs there is.

Christian Freidrich – One point in time, Friedrich was a top prospect, sporting eye-popping double digit K/9 rates and reasonable walk rates. While his K/9 rate plummeted last season in AA, the Rockies pitching woes have Friedrich in the majors after he posted a 6.75 K:BB rate in 30 AAA innings. Clearly, he’s not going to post Strasburg-esque numbers going forward, but he’s capable of a 4.10 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 7.8 K/9 rate.

Bruce Chen – Chen keeps on getting outs (13.1 IPs, 12 K’s, 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP last week), yet the pitcher is barely owned. So far, Chen has actually been a bit better than his ratios and is capable of a 4.00 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 6.35 K/9 rate ROTW. He’s a match-ups type and does play in the same division as the Twins and White Sox…

Patrick Corbin – Corbin owned the Giants in his last start (1.29 ERA and 0.43 WHIP over seven innings. At AA, he posted 3+ K:BB rates; however he won’t reach that level of success in the majors yet, but is obviously capable of shutting down the weaker line-ups in the National League. It probably won’t be overly pretty ROTW (4.60 ERA, 1.50 WHIP), but he can look darn purty against teams like the Giants.

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

Justin Masterson – Two starts against the Sox (Red and White variety) turned into a pretty dismal week for Masterson owners: 12 IPs, seven K’s, 6.00 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. While most of the damage was done by the Red Sox, he actually walked five White Sox in just six innings. For the season, Masterson has a destructive 4.84 BB/9 rate. In addition, he has lost velocity on his fastball and isn’t throwing it as much, instead relying on his slider a lot more. If this trend continues, it’ll be impossible to know when the good, strike throwing Masterson will show up. In addition, he’ll keep facing lefty-heavy line-ups which will limit his upside. ROTW: 4.35 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 6.45 K/9 rate and 3.75 BB/9 rate.

Jarrod Parker – While, at least superficially (2.84 ERA), Parker was decent against two tough teams (Detroit and Toronto), he really had trouble keeping people off base (1.50 WHIP). Parker didn’t have the greatest control in the minors, so he won’t suddenly settle down in his first significant taste of majors. Expect a few more K’s the rest of the way (6.9 K/9 rate), but far worse ratios: 4.50 ERA and 1.48 WHIP.

Daniel Bard – Bard, facing Kansas City and Cleveland, walked a ton of batters and virtually struck no one out. Not surprisingly, given his “success” starting in the minors, his walk rate is incredibly high and he is suffering because of it. He is still getting swinging strikes and should post far better K/9 rates the ROTW (maybe 8.05); however his ERA (4.20) and WHIP (1.33) will make him a dicey starter.

Ross Detwiler – Detwiler, as hot a starting pitcher as there was, got destroyed by the Padres and Pirates of all teams. While his 2.80 K:BB rate could support solid ratios going forward, expect his K’s to go down (5.90) and walks go up (3.09) ROTW. Consequently, he’ll post an ERA well north of 4.00 and a WHIP above 1.40. In short, he’s at best a match-ups type.

Pedro Alvarez – After a 3/25 week, people have suddenly remembered that Alvarez is who he is. Expect a .235 average and 18 HRs the rest of the way. If that works in your league, by all means keep him around. If not, drop away.

Rickie Weeks – With a 0/12 week, Weeks found himself on the bench, potentially because he was hit by a pitch on Friday. While Weeks has been striking out a ton, he isn’t swinging and missing anymore than usual. He’s also walking as much as ever. In short, Weeks will turn it around in a big way. He’ll post a .250 average and .355 OBP, hit 17 HRs and steal 10 bases the rest of the way, as long as he’s healthy and gets 440 more ABs.

Dee Gordon – There’s a reason a lot of people weren’t on Gordon at the start of the season: his inability to get on base. After a 3/22 week, his OBP has plummeted to .250. If he gets to 680 ABs, he’ll steal 48 more bases, however he’s going to bat .255. In addition, if he continues to scuffle, there’s a reasonable chance the Dodgers send him down to work on that “hitting the ball hard thing.”

Jordan Schafer – A 6/24 week has brought Schafer’s OBP down to .326 for the season. His walk rate continues to regress to the single digits it normally is. It’s a solid rate, but he will not walk as much as he has so far, and thus won’t have as many opportunities to steal bases.  It was good while it lasted, but, ROTW, he’ll bat .240 with 17 SBs, i.e., he’s nothing special.

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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