The march to the fantasy baseball playoffs and league titles continues. Fortunately, I'll be providing you some handy insight into what players are getting hot at the right time and what players you need to ice. Depending on your team needs and what stats you need to focus on going forward, you may be able to find some sleepers here for your team to trade for, or identify players to sell off and get back someone else who can help you more. Let's get started!
Fantasy Baseball Players Trending Up
Brett Gardner (OF, NYY) - I love Brett Gardner as a player. Not many players are as hard-nosed as he is these days, and the plays he makes in the outfield are often spectacular. BG is having a career year in terms of power, slashing .283/.361/.463 with 15 HR, 71 runs scored, 50 RBI and 18 stolen bases. I imagine the stolen bases are a bit of a disappointment for owners, but considering that Brett has never broken 10 HR in a single season, that has to be a pleasant surprise.
Most of those homers have come since July 21st. Not many hitters have been hotter than Gardy lately, who has hit .333/.415/.759 with 6 HR, 13 runs scored, 10 RBI, and 2 steals in that span. That slugging percentage from a hitter with Gardner's profile is simply ridiculous. I've finally caved: I went out and bought a Gardner shirt-- so yeah, he's one of my favorite players, too.
Rest of the Season: I'd expect Gardner's ADP to rise next season based on his current results. As much as I love him, though, I don't believe in the power lasting. He never broke double digits in the minors either, and I think pitchers will adjust to the fact that Brett isn't just a pure slap hitter. Almost every pitch Brett has hit out has been a fastball, and you have to bet that major league pitching will make the adjustment. One concerning thing about Gardner right now is his hesitance to steal, but continuing to hit in the Yankees lineup, he will score plenty of runs and get you some stolen bags. He's a great OF3 going forward, and while he shouldn't be drafted too highly next year, he deserves higher than he was this year.
Matt Holliday (OF, STL) - On the season, Matt Holliday is hitting .269/.370/.426 with 12 HR, 61 runs scored, 58 RBI and 2 steals. At times he's been so bad this season that I've had owners ask me whether they should outright drop him.
Since July 11th, though, Holliday has done all he can to convince owners to hold on, hitting .296/.361/.677 with 7 HR, 16 runs scored and 14 RBI-- not quite the slugger that Brett Gardner is, but that'll do Mr. Holliday, that'll do.
Rest of the season: Matt Holliday is someone who has put up 20+ homers every season he has been in the bigs except two. This is surely a down year for Matt, but anyone who hits for a .300 average, 20+ HR, 90+ RBI and 90+ runs scored every year more or less is someone I'm willing to put my faith in. His BABIP is way below his career norm, and almost all his numbers are in line with his career norms. Barring an unknown injury, I'd be willing to bet Matt Holliday is a very useful guy to have on your roster the rest of the way.
Homer Bailey (SP, CIN) - Homer Bailey is another guy that early in the year a lot of people were asking me if they should cut him loose. I had trouble defending Bailey and his 5.44 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over his first nine starts. Since then, though, he has pitched to a useful 3.46 ERA, 7.12 K/9 and 1.12 WHIP.
While those numbers aren't overly impressive, it gets even better when you consider his last five starts: 2.38 ERA, 5.82 K/9 and 0.97 WHIP (not including the seven-inning 8K gem he twirled last night). Yes, the strikeouts totals are down, but I'm sure any owner would take the help in ERA and WHIP without complaint.
Rest of the season: It's kind of interesting to note that the lower Bailey's K/9 goes, the more overall success he seems to have. Makes me wonder if before he was too enamored with the strikeout and getting out of his game, especially since Bailey has always sort of been a middle of the pack strikeout guy. In real life, Homer (just a terrible nickname for a pitcher, by the way) is really more of the #3 guy behind Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos. That's about where I'd rank him for the rest of the season, as a very good middle-of-the-rotation option who pitches against the weaker lineups of the NL. Try to buy Bailey before your league's trade deadline by convincing his owner that what we saw early in the season is the real Bailey.
Fantasy Baseball Players Trending Down
Brandon Moss (1B/OF, OAK) - I know I seem to include an Athletic almost every week, but when you're one of the hottest teams in baseball your players get plenty of ink. Sue me. I recently acquired Brandon Moss for traded Yoenis Cespedes, figuring I could use Cespedes's increased value after moving to Fenway to get the owner to part with Moss, whom I noticed was hitting .251/.332/.487 with 23 HR, 51 runs scored, 72 RBI and a steal. That was a poorly researched idea.
Little did I know, Moss has been struggling pretty hard for a while now, hitting a paltry .204/.262/.388 with 5 HR, 12 runs scored and 12 RBI since the beginning of July. The numbers get even uglier when you look at his last two weeks: .158/.238/.263 with 2 HR, 5 runs scored and 6 RBI since July 19th. The power is still there somewhat, but currently Moss is really hurting your team in terms of average and OBP.
Rest of the season: Now comes the good news: Moss's walk rate is up from a career 8.9% to 9.3%, and his strikeout rate is down from a career 25.4% rate to 24.6%. The line-drive and fly-ball percentages are up as well, suggesting harder contact this year than ever. So what's the deal with Moss? His BABIP seems to suggest he has been getting incredibly unlucky, but he was never a guy you expected to help you a ton in average or OBP. I also love the fact that Moss is hitting in the middle of the Athletics lineup, that offensive is jelling and I want a part of it. Moss is a good guy to buy low based on his last month if you're in need of power.
Billy Hamilton (OF, CIN) - Billy Hamilton was supposed to break onto the scene and instantly steal 100 bags. Unfortunately, so far he only has 43 and the season is two-thirds over. How dare he not live up to our unrealistic expectations and only be third in stolen bases in his rookie season?!
On the year, Hamilton has a pretty solid .271/.299/.397 with 6 HR, 57 runs scored, 42 RBI and 43 steals. The last two weeks since July 21st have seen a bit of a dip in the slash lines for Hamilton, who has a .230/.226/.295 with 1 HR, 10 runs scored, 4 RBI and 5 steals over that span. However, it's fairly impressive that while he's not getting on base consistently he's still putting up decent counting stats.
Rest of the season: "Slumps," if this could even really be called a slump for Hamilton, are just part of the game when you take a chance on a high-upside rookie. That said, if this is his floor, you have to be happy with what you got on draft day. Just imagine how many bags he would steal if he could actually get on base consistently. If you didn't just whistle to yourself, you're not doing his stolen base projections correctly in your head. In fact, I think the only reason he made the "trending down" list is because I found the tiniest of reasons to put him here and I'm jealous I didn't trade for him when I could have. Try to buy on Hamilton if you need steals or runs scored before trading closes.
Julio Teheran (SP, ATL) - Some of you may be scratching your head at this one. You might even find yourself asking, has Rek gone crazy? Isn't Julio Teheran a to-ten starting pitcher in most leagues? You'd be absolutely right. Teheran's season line has him with a 2.69 ERA, 8.07 K/9 and a 1.04 WHIP. Those are, simply put, amazing numbers.
However, have you stopped to take a look at what Teheran has done the past month or so? No? Maybe you should. It's not quite as pretty, with a 4.31 ERA, 9.48 K/9 and 1.40 WHIP in five starts since July 8th. Even worse news for Teheran? Three of those five starts came against the light hitting Mets, Cubs, and Padres. Ouch.
Rest of the season: Anyone else noticing a trend that when a pitcher gets too thrilled with going after strikeouts their other results seem to suffer? No? Just me? Alright. Anyway,these stats didn't even include Teheran's stinker against Seattle earlier in the week. Something is clearly off right now, and he's making it very hard to trust him. It doesn't help that Teheran has been out-pitching his peripherals all season, as his xFIP indicator has him as more of a 3.54 pitcher this year. I'm not saying to bench Teheran by any means, but given his recent run of starts I'd be using him more as a match-up play until he indicates that he is back on track.
Agree? Disagree? You know where to find me @RekedFantasy. Until next week RotoBallers...