Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers: Week 13
We are at the mid-point of the baseball season. Three months down with three to go. The waiver wire probably won’t be changing much from here on out. Most of the prospects have been called up so fresh meat may be lacking. Either start making trades or recycle the players who are available. In this weekly column, I will highlight those players who were the best and worst performers over the past week. I will refrain from talking about Mike Trout. I will try and focus on players who may be available for trade or are in the free agent pool.
- J.D. Martinez (OF-Detroit Tigers) – Four hits, four runs, three home runs and five RBI was Martinez’s stat line last week. The power is legit and his approach is much improved, as he has been crushing the ball to the opposite field. Just last Sunday, he hit three home runs in one game! Hitting sixth behind Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez and Yoenis Cespedes should provide plenty of RBI opportunities in the future. It would probably be tough to trade for him, but his ADP was at 145. As Lloyd Christmas said, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance. Yeah!”
- Chris Young (OF-New York Yankees) – 11 hits, six runs scored, two home runs, seven RBI and one stolen base. What year is it? 2011? He hit 20 home runs, stole 22 bases and drove in 71 RBI that year. So far in 2015, Young is hitting .272, 27 R, 10 HR, 25 RBI and 2 SB. He’s been playing every day primarily because Jacoby Ellsbury has been on the DL. Once he returns, Young could start ceding playing time. You have to keep an eye on how Joe Girardi plays it going forward. The two years before joining the Yankees, Young was batting close to the Mendoza line and saw his OPS crumble to the .600s. Since making the move to NYC, he hit .282 last year and is hitting .272 in 2015. The OPS has increased to .826 in 2015 while it was at .876 last year. Even in Young’s best years in Arizona, he was a .250-ish hitter and never had an OPS over .800. Yankees Stadium and the coaching staff are obviously doing wonders for Young. I just have a hard time believing that it is sustainable the rest of the season.
- Maikel Franco (3B-Philadelphia Phillies) – Nine hits, seven runs scored, three home runs and 13 RBI. He’s a very impressive player with amazing bat speed and hand/eye coordination. The thing I most like about him is his plate discipline. Although he doesn’t walk much, he’s only struck out 24 times in 153 at-bats. With his power (10 home runs), that is a great asset to have.
- Curtis Granderson (OF-New York Mets) – 11 hits, four runs scored, four home runs, six RBI and one stolen base. He’s currently on an eight-game hitting streak. He’s hitting leadoff for the Mets, so RBI chances will be few and far between. Now that I think about it, even if he were hitting clean-up, there wouldn’t be many RBI chances. At least hitting lead-off will give him more plate appearances. Is the Grandy man back? He’s not hitting 40 home runs and driving in 100 RBI like his Yankees days, but at least he’s got his batting average back up to the same range (.250-.260). The last three prior years saw his batting average plummet to the .220-.230 range.
- Ben Revere (OF-Philadephia Phillies) – Eight hits, six runs scored, one home run, two RBI and one stolen base. After a horrendous start to the season, Revere is now sporting a .294 average with 18 stolen bases. The one home run was an anomaly because he was a pinch hitter when he hit it, and he has three career home runs in 2,195 at-bats. It will be interesting to see how the new manager utilizes him and if he gets traded to a contender.
- Brett Anderson (SP-Los Angeles Dodgers) – Seven innings, five hits, one earned run, one walk and 10 strikeouts. Wow. That is the best case scenario for Anderson. He is not a strikeout pitcher, so anything you get in that department is gravy. On the year, he’s struck out 62 in 89 innings. The issue with Anderson has always been health. His 89 innings pitched is more than the last two seasons combined and his most since 2011. The Dodgers eased him into 2015 rarely allowing him to pitch more than 70 pitches. He’s gone over 100 pitches in five of his last eight starts. As long as he’s healthy, Anderson is a viable starting pitching option. Not someone to take you to the next level, but a steadying influence.
- Justin Turner (3B-Los Angeles Dodgers) – Four hits, four runs scored, two home runs and four RBI. Turner has locked down the third base position for the Dodgers with his productive play. He’s often been hitting in the three-hole as well. On the season, his line bears a .320 AVG, 30 R, 11 HR, 36 RBI and 1 SB. Even if Hector Olivera, Alberto Callaspo, or Alex Guerrero garner more playing time at third base in the future, Turner should still see action because of his versatility. He’s played at shortstop for one game, second base for four games, first base for nine games and pinch hit in 15 games. As long as he keeps producing, Turner will get at-bats.
- Brandon Phillips (2B-Cincinnati Reds) – Eight hits, four runs scored, two home runs, four RBI and three stolen bases. The ageless one continues to produce. Billy Hamilton who? Phillips has entrenched himself as the Reds leadoff hitter with sterling results. Let’s keep an eye on how the 34-year-old plays during the dog days of summer and beyond. It’s a long season, so will he get worn down?
- Mike Montgomery (SP-Seattle Mariners) – Nine innings pitched, five hits allowed, zero earned runs and walks, with 10 strikeouts for the win against the Kansas City Royals. Post-hype sleeper? He was a top prospect of the Royals in 2008. The left-handed pitcher throws a low-90’s fastball, curveball and change-up. He does also possess a slider, two-seam fastball and cutter. He’s not a huge strikeout guy as his 22 strikeouts in 35.1 innings show. Striking out 10 Royals is no small feat though. I don’t think anyone is rushing out to get him, but it might be a good idea to keep him in the nether regions of your consciousness. He currently has a 2.04 ERA with a 2.99 FIP and had a career minor league mark of 7.4 strikeouts per nine innings.
- Torii Hunter (OF-Minnesota Twins) – Seven hits, seven runs scored, three home runs and seven RBI. Hunter is a streaky hitter, but at the end of the year, you can bank on 17-20 home runs, 80+ RBI and a .280/.330/.450 line. That’s not bad for a player with an ADP of 225 who could be available in many leagues. Hunter has a career BABIP of .309. He’s currently sporting a .286 figure, so there could be some good times ahead. An interesting quirk to Hunter’s 2015 season is that he is hitting righties better than lefties (.274 vs .250). His career mark is .275 against righties and .290 against lefties.
- Michael Pineda (SP-New York Yankees) – Had a rough outing at home against the Phillies. He allowed eight earned runs on 11 hits in 3.1 innings. He walked one and did not record a strikeout. The DFS Gods must’ve been angry as Pineda was a popular pick against the lowly Phillies. Granted, the Phillies are an improved offensive ball club, but they are still near the bottom of the league and eight earned runs in three innings shouldn’t happen to anyone. Pineda did bounce back for his second start of the week going eight innings and allowing two earned runs on seven hits in Houston. He did not walk a batter and struck out eight. Pineda’s arsenal and control is excellent. There are times, however, that he can’t get a feel for his pitches and can be flustered mentally at times. The inconsistency is maddening. There are also the injury concerns and Girardi skipping starts to limit the innings. With that said, the upside with Pineda is immense, as evidenced by his 16 strikeout game. Make sure not to skip the prayers and sacrifices to the DFS Gods.
- Tim Lincecum (SP-San Francisco Giants) – Only lasted 1.2 innings after getting hit by a line drive. He allowed three earned runs on four hits, while walking two and striking out one. Six days earlier, he couldn’t make it out of the second inning against the Dodgers. Lincecum may be headed to the DL and might be relegated to the bullpen for the remainder of the season, as Matt Cain and Jake Peavy are slotted to return soon.
- Trevor Bauer (SP-Cleveland Indians) – Got rocked by the Tigers for seven earned runs in three innings pitched. He allowed nine hits, walked four and struck out three. Six days later, he allowed four earned runs on five hits, pitched seven innings, walked one and struck out five. While Bauer has made strides this season, he still is not at that elite level. The control disappears from time-to-time and he gets punished by the long ball. He’s only 24 years old, continues to improve and strikes out a batter-per-inning. He will be relevant this year in fantasy but will be inconsistent. It may take a few more years for him to take that next step to the upper tier.
- Wandy Rodriguez (SP-Texas Rangers) – Allowed eight earned runs on eleven hits in four innings pitched against the Oakland Athletics. He walked three and struck out four. The Athletics are a tough team but he just didn’t have it. It happens. Rodriguez is a control pitcher who relies on changing speeds, so when he’s off it can get ugly. He allowed three or fewer runs in his previous six starts so that is probably more indicative of his value. The weather will heat up soon and he pitches in a tough ballpark with the designated hitter, but Rodriguez could be a solid option at the back-end of a fantasy rotation.
- C.J. Wilson (SP-Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) – The Astros tagged him for seven earned runs on eight hits in 3.1 innings pitched. He walked two and struck out three. This was on the heels of shutting down the Arizona Diamondbacks and Oakland Athletics in his previous two starts. Very inconsistent. At least you know his hair is nice. His ERA and FIP are in-line, he’s walking fewer batters this year, but he’s giving up home runs and has 10 wild pitches.
- Shin-Soo Choo (OF-Texas Rangers) – Two hits with one run scored. Choo missed two games due to back spasms. That could explain some of his ineptitude. On the year, he’s hitting .225 with 32 runs scored, eight home runs, 32 RBI and zero stolen bases. Man, this guy was a 20 HR/20 SB player just two years ago. He used to hit in the .280s with a .880 OPS. Now? Just a .225 AVG with a .685 OPS. The only positive is that he’s batting leadoff. I guess that’s more opportunites to sink your batting average.
Good luck to everyone this week and have a safe and happy Fourth of July!