With nine 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 10:
1) Dominic Brown (OF, PHI): Brown has finally seemed to put it all together this year, emerging as a top- tier power hitter. He has 8 HR since May 22, and now is third in the majors with 16 total, behind only Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis. His batted ball stats are surprisingly similar to last year’s numbers, but now his HR/FB rate is an astounding 28.8%, nearly a full 20 points better than last year’s 9.8 rate. That's likely unsustainable, but it's worth noting that Brown plays in a very hitter-friendly park that should benefit him throughout the season. If he keeps putting up these numbers he could flip flop with Ryan Howard and move into the cleanup spot, but really, the #5 spot is treating him well now.
2) John Lackey (SP, BOS): The entire Red Sox staff has improved under John Farrell, and perhaps most uplifting is that overpaid John Lackey is finally living up to his contract. Lackey was (and still is) close to becoming the Boston version of Barry Zito-- the overpaid player who just hangs on because you can’t cut him. Now he is becoming a reliable fantasy option, with a 2.96 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, who can help in multiple pitching categories. Several things stand out when looking at Lackey’s 2013 metrics. First, the GB/FB rate is more than 2:1, which is double where he was last year and for most of his career. You can’t give up homers on ground balls, so that’s a sign that Lackey is doing what he can to limit big inning damage. Second, Lackey's K/9 is back to levels we haven't seen since early in his career-- he's striking out a batter per inning, using his fastball at a rate not seen since 2009. The ERA has benefited from a certain degree of luck and should jump a bit, but he remains a mixed-league viable mid-range fantasy option in most scoring formats.
3) Jason Castro (C, HOU): The Houston backstop is still very much under the radar at this point, but he won’t be for much longer. Batting in the #3 spot, he has a .282 BA with 7 HR and 17 RBI as Houston’s starting catcher, which puts him in the top six for HRs at the position. And we like the average potential to balance out the power. The last two years he has had a 27.5% LD which ranks seventh in the entire league among all batters, which bodes well for a plus batting average. Because he has power, consistent playing time and a decent batting average, he will keep gaining traction as a sleeper catcher option. He is a better long-term option than , say, A.J. Pierzynski, and possibly even superior to a guy like Salvador Perez. Look to Castro if you need help in the catcher position. It’s doubtful he has much trade value now so you may be able to acquire him via trade in single-catcher leagues by dangling a lower-end player.
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