Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers: Week 15
The All-Star Game is upon us. A little tangent. Why does an “exhibition” have any significance? Since it does determine home field for the World Series, shouldn’t both teams field the best players, rather than making it a popularity contest? Back to your regularly scheduled program. There are roughly 70 games left in the season. We are not yet at the stretch run, but it will be upon us very soon. Figure out where you need to make up counting stats and plan accordingly.
In this weekly column, I will highlight the players that performed the best/worst over the past week. Hopefully, some of these players can help you accumulate those much-needed stats. As usual, I will refrain from talking about the elite options.
- Taylor Jungmann (SP-Milwaukee Brewers) – The rookie had two great starts last week. In Cincinnati, he allowed one earned run on four hits in eight innings. He walked two and struck out four. In his second start, he went the distance in Los Angeles and allowed one earned run on three hits. He walked two and struck out seven. On the season, he’s compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.15 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He’s struck out 34 batters in 46 innings pitched. The righty throws a low-90’s fastball with a curveball and change-up. While Jungmann has been fantastic so far, I could see some serious regression coming soon. His career minor league numbers are 4.10 ERA, 1.358 WHIP, and 4.4 BB/9 in 505 innings pitched. So far in the big leagues, he is sporting a 2.35 BB/9. His BABIP is .252 while his career mark is .306. He has an 80.9% LOB%. His career mark is 68.9%. His FIP is 3.27. Sell Mortimer Sell!
- Nick Castellanos (3B-Detroit Tigers) – 10 hits, five runs scored, two home runs, and eight RBI. On the season, Castellanos is hitting .247 with 20 R, 6 HR and 38 RBI. He hits sixth in a Miguel Cabrera-less offense, although the Martinez brothers (J.D. and Victor) have been stepping up in the MVP’s absence. Castellanos struggles against righties (.228) while he mashes lefties to the tune of a .322 AVG. There is a reason for optimism, though. He’s only 23 years old, and Wally Joyner has done wonders with J.D. Martinez. Maybe the same magic can be worked with Castellanos.
- Kelly Johnson (3B/1B/OF-Atlanta Braves) – Eight hits, four runs scored, three home runs, and eight RBI. Johnson has been replacing Freddie Freeman at first base. He has been sitting against left-handed pitching for some reason. He’s a career .273 batter against LHP and is hitting .318 against them in 2015. If anything, he should be sitting against RHP! He’s hitting .269 against them in 2015 and has a career mark of .243 against them. Very strange. Someone, please notify Fredi Gonzalez.
- Gerardo Parra (OF-Milwaukee Brewers) – Eight hits, five runs scored, three home runs, and five RBI. Parra continues to produce. With the return of Kris Davis, playing time may be an issue going forward though. Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun are set in center and right field. He may platoon with Davis and give Gomez and Braun the occasional day off. Keep an eye on how Craig Counsell parcels out playing time going forward.
- Lorenzo Cain (OF-Kansas City Royals) – Eight hits, seven runs scored, two home runs, six RBI, and one stolen base. Cain did all that while missing three games. On the year, he’s batting .311 with 52 R, 8 HR, 41 RBI, and 17 SB. The eight home runs are a career-high, and he’s currently on pace to post career numbers across the board. He’s entrenched in the three-hole, and the breakout looks legit. His walks are up (6.9% vs. 5.7% career mark) and his strikeouts are down (17.4% vs. 19.6% career mark). Plus, his power has improved (.175 ISO vs. .129 career mark). His BABIP is a tick above his career mark (.358 vs. .347), and he is crushing LHP (.352 vs. .294 career).
- Aaron Hicks (OF-Minnesota Twins) – 10 hits, six runs scored, two home runs, five RBI and one stolen base. Hicks has been able to receive consistent playing time because of the injury to Byron Buxton. On the season, he’s hitting .256 with 14 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI and 7 SB. The 25-year-old has been in the majors for three years and has accumulated 588 at-bats. During that span, he has a .213 AVG, .299 OBP, .625 OPS with 12 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
- C.J. Cron (1B/DH-Los Angeles Angels) – 12 hits, four runs scored, two home runs and four RBI. The right-handed power bat seems to be locked in as the Angels designated hitter. He was a decent OBP hitter in the minors (.337), but it’s been a different story in the major leagues (.287). The power is legit, but his approach at the plate needs work. He hits lefties better than righties and has better numbers on the road than at home. We can all use power and Cron can be a cheap source.
- Kyle Hendricks (SP-Chicago Cubs) – Two shutouts at home last week. In the first game, he allowed five hits in 7 1/3 innings against the Marlins. He walked one and struck out six. Five days later, he allowed five hits in seven innings against the White Sox. He did not walk a batter and struck out four, putting him at 4-4 with a 3.55 ERA and 1.12 WHIP for the season. He’s struck out 79 batters in 99 innings. Hendricks is a righty, who primarily throws a sinker in the high-80s. He could be a serviceable fantasy option, but don’t expect too many strikeouts and the occasional blow up is always lurking.
- Erasmo Ramirez (RP/SP-Tampa Bay Rays) – Pitched two excellent games last week. Allowed one earned run in six innings against the Yankees in the Bronx. He walked three, struck out three and allowed three hits. Five days later, allowed one earned run in six innings against the Astros. He walked one and struck out five while allowing four hits. Ramirez is a RHP, who primarily throws a fastball/change-up combination, with the fastball sitting in the 92 mph range. Ramirez currently has a 3.63 ERA, but his FIP is 3.88. Also, he’s sporting a 1.109 WHIP while his career mark is 1.287. Some regression may be in order, but the Rays do such an excellent job developing their pitchers that you should keep an eye on how he progresses.
- Yasmani Grandal (C/1B-Los Angeles Dodgers) – Six hits, five runs scored, two home runs, and five RBI. Grandal has been as good as advertised, both offensively and defensively. On the year, he’s hitting .282 with 35 R, 14 HR, and 36 RBI. He’s only started 61 of the 90 games so far. On one hand, this may keep him fresh for the whole year, but on the other hand, he’s missing out on opportunities to accumulate fantasy stats. For all you DFS guys out there, A. J. Ellis usually catches Clayton Kershaw and Grandal has hit all 14 of his home runs from the left side of the plate. He’s a switch hitter so I hope there’s no need to expound.
- Andrelton Simmons (SS-Atlanta Braves) – Four hits. If you play in a league with defensive metrics, then he’s your No. 1 pick. Since most leagues count offensive stats, Simmons is probably on the waiver wire. He’s currently the No. 27 shortstop on ESPN’s Player Rater. There’s always chatter of Simmons breaking out since he hit 17 home runs in 2013. I think at this point we know who Simmons is. He’s a .250 batter, who won’t strikeout often but also won’t take a walk. He will run into an occasional ball and hit it out, but that’s about it.
- Chris Carter (1B/DH-Houston Astros) – One RBI. Houston…we have a problem. On the season, Carter is hitting .187 with 34 R, 15 HR, 41 RBI and 1 SB. This is what Carter does. He will go weeks without anything then…BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! For those in weekly leagues, you will sit him then he will go on a tear. You will insert him into your lineup the following week, and he will proceed to put up donuts. He makes fantasy baseball entertaining.
- Grady Sizemore (OF-Tampa Bay Rays) – Two RBI. The Grady Sizemore experiment is the Rays getting too cute. The Philadelphia Phillies released him. Think about that for a second.
- Alfredo Simon (SP-Detroit Tigers) – The regression fairies are relentless. In Seattle, Simon allowed five earned runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four. Five days later in Minneapolis, the Twins tagged him for five earned runs on 10 hits in 2 1/3 innings. He struck out one. At least he didn’t walk a batter. After four starts to begin the season, Simon was sporting a 1.65 ERA. On June 14th, his ERA was 2.58. After last week, he’s sporting a 4.53 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. His BABIP is .322 and his FIP is 3.90 so it’s possible that the pendulum will start going the other way.
- Derek Norris (C-San Diego Padres) – Three hits with one run scored. At one point, Norris was the No. 2 catcher. Now, he’s No. 8 and looks to be venturing into double digit territory. Norris is batting .228 against right-handed pitching and has struck out an absurd 81 times in 317 at-bats. After being a high OBP batter in Oakland, Norris is at .279 in that department.
Enjoy the All-Star break! It’s probably time to start prepping for some fantasy football, right?