With ten full weeks of the 2013 season in the books, today RotoBaller casts a critical eye on three players who are on the rise heading into Week 11:
1) Howie Kendrick (2B, LAA): Kendrick’s been a draft-day teaser since 2007 when he had a .322 BA in 88 games. The thought was that he always had the potential to put up stats comparable to Brandon Phillips, and actually he did that in 2011 with a .285 BA, 18 HR and 86 RBI, only to regress in 2012 to 8 HR and 57 RBI. Suffice it to say that fantasy owners overpaid going into 2012, and underpaid as far as return-on-investment so far in 2013. Kendrick has already matched his 8-HR total from 2012 and has a .328 BA with 6 SB to go along with it. Perched in the #6 spot in the Angels lineup behind the underwhelming/overpaid duo of Albert and Josh Hamilton, Kendrick has been something of a bright spot for the Halos. He’s squaring up better than ever with a 27.2% line drive rate, nearly 8 points better than his career 19.7% mark. In his last 10, he’s gone 19-for-36 and shows no signs of letting up. Overall, you can expect the power to cool down, but count your luck with this draft pick. If you’re looking to trade, good value (accounting for Kendrick's positional flexibility and scarcity) would be a player in the range of Shin-Shoo Choo.
2) Hisashi Iwakuma (SP, SEA): Iwakuma is pitching lights-out, having only allowed more than 2 ER in a single start since April 18. Part of this is the result of an unsustainable .221 BABIP and 88% LOB rate, neither of which we should expect to hold up over the course of the year. Still, let’s show some respect-- Iwakuma's is strikeout rate jumped 5 points from 19.5% in 2012 to 24% in 2013 even while the BB rate halved from 8.3% to 4.0% in the same period. His K/BB rate now stands at 6:1 which is a big reason he has a WHIP under 1.00 going into June, and it's one factor in maintaining that high strand rate. With 5 reliable pitches that he can throw consistently-- fastball, splitter, sinker, slider and curve-- he keeps hitters guessing, as evidenced by their 14.6 line drive rate, the lowest in the league. Keep him active in all formats and reap the dividends.
3) Josh Donaldson (3B, OAK): It’s almost certain that you got a great draft-day value from Donaldson, if he was even drafted at all. He’s heading to his first full year with more than 300 AB and already has 9 HR, 42 RBI and a .328 BA/.395 OBP in 63 games played. He can hit both righties and lefties showcasing a .308/.368 righty-lefty BA split which will guarantee everyday ABs, and he's also showing no favoritism to hitting on the road, going over .300 both at home and away. For a young player in Oakland, where Billy Beane loves platoons, Donaldson is playing like he deserves every AB. To temper expectations slightly, his .368 BABIP is higher than ever and should drop a bit. A .300 BA is more realistic than a .328 pace, but that's no reason not to keep riding Donaldson at a thin fantasy position.
If you want this article and other high-end fantasy baseball advice and analysis delivered to you on a daily basis, sign up for our daily newsletter. And be sure to check out the 2013 Waiver Wire Watch List (updated daily) for in-depth analysis on gems that you may be able to find sitting on your waiver wire. It’s one of the best fantasy baseball features currently on web!