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May 30, 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

 Michael Brantley – Over the last seven days, Brantley went 9/22 with six runs and four SBs, doubling his SB total in the process. While his recent performance has been fantastic, don’t expect it to continue. In reality this was just the bent stick getting Brantley’s line to where it should be. He’s a .272 hitter, with moderate on base skills. He’ll barely eclipse 15 SBs ROTW. That said, Brantley should score some runs, so if you’re in need, look no further.

Dexter Fowler – While battling injuries, Fowler had an impressive 8/15 week with two homers and a steal. Somewhat quietly, Fowler now has a .373 OBP, yet just four SBs to go with that superb on base rate. So far, he hasn’t been caught stealing, but that’s possibly because he hasn’t been given the green light at all. Fowler now has 56 SBs and 28 CS in his career. In reality, Fowler will be incredibly similar to Brantley the rest of the way. Fowler will add a bit more pop and OBP, while Brantley will steal a handful more bases.

Colby Rasmus – Two homers, two steals and a 9/27 week had Rasmus batting toward the top of the Blue Jays order recently. That said, he has just five HRs, three steals and an OBP barely north of .300 on the season. Rasmus has cut down on his swinging and missing and his K-rate, but the balls he is putting in play aren’t finding any holes. An optimist will think his .268 BABIP should improve even though it’s the same. You could paint Rasmus as a .250 hitter with 15 bombs ROTW, however it’s far likelier that the average is closer to .240 and the HRs are closer to 10.

Denard Span – It’s a shame Span is stuck on the Twins, as his talents are going to waste. Last week he went 12/32, with a .375 OBP and scored just five runs. On the year, he has a .362 OBP, yet just 22 runs. Span is certainly capable of batting .285-.290 with 16 SBs for the rest of the season. However, he has little power and will come up short on the runs. As a batting average hedge to players with great power/little average, Span makes sense, but he won’t move the needle much otherwise.

Ty Wigginton – Wigginton tends to take awhile to get going, as he typically peaks in June and July. Perhaps he is heating up, as he went 6/21 with two homers and eight RBIs last week. That said, at best, Wigginton is a .255 or so hitter with 14 HRs the rest of the way. In addition, with Ryan Howard due back at some point this summer, his peak might get eaten into. Still, in the short term, he’s a solid bench bat that can slot in a ton of places.

Kendrys Morales – Morales, seeing his ownership levels dwindle to 65% in Yahoo! Leagues, put together an impressive seven-day stretch (10/29 with a homer). For his career, Morales owns a .285/.335/.493 line in 1,392 PAs. If he was somehow dropped in your league after a slow start, it’s time to grab him. It’s quite possible he’s finally getting his form back after missing nearly two years. At worst, he’s a .280 hitter with 12 HRs, ROTW, but he could easily be a .290 batter with 16 HRs as well.

Justin Smoak – With Lost ending awhile ago and Smoak sucking, the smoke monster references have all but dried up. Then, Smoak went out and hit two homers over the last week (of course, he went just 6/23 and posted a .292 OBP). He has an impressive seven homers on the year, but a totally worthless .218 average. While the power should be solid the rest of the season, he’ll struggle to bat .240.

Matt Adams – With Lance Berkman done for the year, big time prospect Matt Adams got the call and already has Cardinal fans thinking he’s the next Pujols. Adams went 11/26 with a homer over the last week and has a .417 OBP on the year. Adams owned AA pitching in 2011 and was dominating AAA in 152 PAs this season before getting the call. He won’t keep mashing the ball (.462 BABIP) and pitchers will start to strike him out (19.4 K% rate and 13.9% swinging strike), but that should make him a .265 hitter at worst. He’ll add 15 HRs as well. He’s a very good corner get at the moment.

Todd Frazier – Should you want anyone that has to battle Miguel Cairo for at bats? Apparently only in Dusty’s world, as Frazier has been white hot lately (5/16 with two dingers over the last week). He’s not a great batting average guy, but has shown good pop in the minors. If you want a sleeper to hit 15 long ones over the balance of the season, look at Frazier. He might not hit .250, but the power is legit.

A.J. Ellis – Not sure what Ellis has to do to be owned more, as he went 5/18 with two homers last week. He now has a .437 OBP and five dingers on the year. Ellis has great command of the strike zone, but likely won’t come close to maintaining his .374 BABIP. That said a .285 hitting catcher is nothing to sneeze at. The majority of his value will come from AVG/OBP, but there’s an outside shot he falls into some counting stats depending on how the Dodgers line-up shakes out.

Matt Harrison – Harrison rewarded all the Matt Harrison fans out there handsomely over the last seven days (15 IPs, two wins, 11 K’s, a 1.80 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP). Sure, both starts were against the Mariners, but the club is in his division (as are the Athletics). In reality, Harrison is simply a good match-ups guy – you’ll probably need to avoid the majority of his home starts, but he’s a solid win candidate. I’m acquiring Harrison everywhere I can, as he can post a 3.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 82 K’s the ROTW.

Kevin Millwood – Two starts against the Rangers, 11 IPs, seven K’s, a 0.82 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP is a huge win in anyone’s book. Meanwhile, on the year, Millwood has a 3.56 ERA, 3.45 FIP and 4.09 xFIP. The reason his xFIP is a bit higher is his 5.5% HR/FB rate, which is below what he’s done for his career (and what is normal for a starting pitcher). That said, pitching for Seattle and against Oakland a decent amount can keep a lot of fly balls in the park. Millwood won’t continue to be his 2009 self, but looks a reasonable bet to come close to his career numbers: 4.10 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. The wins and K’s won’t be there, but some solid innings that don’t kill your ratios are viable in a ton of formats.

Felix Doubront – Doubront looked awesome against two solid hitting squads (Tigers and Orioles) over the last seven days: 15 K’s, 3.00 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 12 IPs. The best part of his outings was that he walked just three batters. Doubront is getting a solid swinging strike rate which can support a good K-rate (probably not the 9.48 rate he has now, but not that far off either). You’ll need to avoid some tough match-ups against teams that know how to work counts (Rays, Yankees, etc.), but you can find some gems that will lead to solid K’s and good win chances.

Brian Matusz – Matusz pitched really well against the Red Sox, then somewhat decently against the Royals last week, combining for a 2.92 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and 14 K’s in 12.1 IPs. That said, while his recent stretch has been good, his 4.82 ERA, 4.50 FIP and 4.57 xFIP aren’t all that close to his 2010 numbers which foretold of greatness. He is walking a few less batters and getting more swinging strikes, but nothing to suggest he can return to the 2.2+ K:BB rates he posted from 2009-2010. He’s worth a gamble in deeper leagues, but he’s nothing more than a low end match-ups play.

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

Doug Fister – It’s been a somewhat rocky return for Fister, as he was shelled recently by the Red Sox (of course a lot of that was the umpires helping the Sox to an extra out). Still, he has a 3.15 ERA, 3.82 FIP and 3.37 xFIP on the season, with a 3.47 ERA, 3.56 FIP and 3.87 xFIP for his career. He is walking a few more batters, but also getting a smidge more K’s and swings and misses. It also appears he is throwing his change-up a lot more this season, resulting in a few more ground balls. ZiPS doesn’t love Fister the rest of the way, however, you should bet on him beating those projections, with a 3.60 ERA and 1.25 WHIP at the worst for the balance of the year. Further, he should be a decent source of wins.

Tommy Hanson – After throwing well at Cincinnati, Hanson gave up a couple of gopher balls and six runs at home against the St. Louis Cardinals. That poor performance aside, Hanson has been terrific this season and should only get better. While, so far, he has lost a bit of velocity on his fastball, his swinging strike rate is still 9.2% and he should be able to limit the walks going forward. In short, he’ll post better ERAs, WHIPs and a few more K’s ROTW than he has to date.

Jordan Zimmermann – A start at Miami is typically a cakewalk, but Zimmermann turned it into disaster. Even with that outing, Zimmermann has an outstanding 2.80 ERA and 1.09 WHIP on the year. However his FIP is 3.65 and his xFIP is 3.56, owing to a .261 BABIP and 80.4% strand rate. That said, Zimmermann is getting more swings and misses this year and getting a good bit more ground balls. Still, that just makes Zimmermann a solid contributor, rather than a sub-3.00 ERA stalwart. Expect an ERA closer to 3.60, a WHIP closer to 1.20 and 70 K’s ROTW.

Freddie Freeman – Blurred vision has really hurt Freeman lately: just one hit in his last 13 ABs and five in his last 37. Projecting him going forward is difficult given the injury element, however you’d have to think the Braves can solve this problem and subsequently Freeman can solve his issues at the plate. If healthy, he’s a solid .275 hitter with a good 15-18 HRs left in his bat. If people panic with the injury, now might be a solid time to buy.

Jimmy Rollins – Rollins went 5/26 over the last week and now has a .282 OBP on the year. When you get on base so little, it’s hard to steal a ton of bases or score a lot of runs. That said, Rollins isn’t this bad: his swinging strike rate is pretty normal, yet he is striking out a lot more. He should bounce back to be that .265 hitter with a .325 OBP. He’s got a chance at seven or so more HRs and about 20 more SBs.

Kyle Seager – There have been a lot less Seager questions on twitter lately, given his 2/23 week and 24/101 last 30 days. Seager owns a .256/.306/.403 career line. His ROTW slash line could be slightly better, and he’ll add five HRs and five SBs, but that’s about it.

Dustin Ackley – Ackley went 2/19 last week and is sporting a .308 OBP on the year with just three HRs and five SBs. He’s still seeing a lot of pitches, so expect this walk rate to get back to double digits, meaning he is fine in OBP leagues. However, in standard leagues, his .255 average and minimal pop/speed make him only an option for deep formats.

Ichiro – Apparently the Mariners can’t score…and Ichiro batting third hasn’t helped (5/28 over the last week). Ichiro’s 2012 line looks eerily similar to his lackluster 2011 effort. At this point, expecting him to hit over .280 is foolish. He’ll add 25 steals, but won’t contribute much else, making him a replacement level OF, i.e., a rich man’s Michael Brantley.

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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