We are creeping closer and closer to the end of the fantasy baseball season and the playoffs. Meaning it's getting more and more important to pay attention to who is getting hot and who is getting cold. A hot player could make the difference between making the playoffs or not. So could a cold player. It's more important than ever to try and identify in-season breakouts and sleepers, in any league including NL-Only and AL-Only formats. Ride those hot streaks and don't be afraid to make some risky moves. Good luck RotoBallers!
Fantasy Baseball Players Trending Up
Carlos Santana (1B/3B/C - CLE)
Carlos Santana had a rough start to the year for the Indians hitting .146 in his first 201 plate appearances this year, with only 5 HRS, 18 runs scored, 13 RBIs, and a still a decent OBP at .303. This led to an opponent in one of my leagues outright dropping him to waivers, and me claiming him on the hopes that he could bounce back and still have some value in our OBP league.
Well, all Carlos Santana has done is reward my faith. Since May 22nd, he has hit .311 with 15 HRs, 30 runs scored, 37 RBIs, and an insane OBP of .431. Between July 21st and now, few have been hotter than Santana. Over that time he hit .516, scored 8 runs, hit 6 HRs, hit 10 RBIs, threw in a steal, and had an OBP of .595 in that span. "Smooth" is certainly living up to his nickname lately.
Rest of the season: I love Carlos Santana at catcher or 3B. Here is a guy who has reached 20 HRs in 3 of his 4 full major league seasons played, and he did that while being a catcher took a toll on his body. Now that is no longer a catcher, I could easily see him reaching 30 HRs for the first time in his career. His average may not end up being the highest because his strikeout rate is up, but his walk rate is also up meaning if you play in an OBP league this is the guy you want to own. If he gets hot like he has been since July 21st, he is someone who can easily carry your fantasy team for a week or two.
Jayson Werth (OF, WAS)
I wasn't high on Jayson Werth entering the season. At least not relative to his ADP, especially since in 2013 he had very similar numbers to Torii Hunter who is not a bad player but was not being drafted as high.
The start of the season to the end of June saw Werth hit only .266/.349/.370 with 6 HRs, 43 runs scored, 35 RBI, and 5 steals which seemed to justify my being low on him. However, since then Werth has been worth his weight in gold hitting .364/.464/.709 with 6 HRs, 18 runs scored, and 23 RBIs in the month of July.
Rest of the season: Unfortunately for Werth, he sprained his ankle on July 28th and had to exit the game. He was used as a pinch hitter the next day, but I'd imagine this might impact his hot hitting. I don't see Werth's average rising too much from what it already is, because he is making less hard contact this season as evidenced by his line drive rate being down, grounder rate being up, and fly ball rate being up. I also expect that the ankle issue may linger, and he won't necessarily have the speed that may let him beat out some infield hits. Werth is a borderline top 30 OF to me, which means he is very serviceable as long as you're not relying on him to be a top producer.
Alex Cobb (SP, TB)
Alex Cobb was widely expected to have a great season coming into this year after his last season where he won 11 games, had a 2.76 ERA, 8.41 K/9, and 1.15 WHIP. Unfortunately, things didn't exactly go as planned to start the season. Cobb missed almost 6 weeks near the beginning of the season due to a strained side, and when he did come back the numbers weren't pretty.
In 11 starts between April 1st and June 29th, Cobb won only 3 games, had a 4.20 ERA, 7.83 K/9 , and 1.24 WHIP. The WHIP not being all that bad is what made me have faith that Cobb would eventually bounce back. In his past 6 starts, Cobb has rewarded that faith. He has won 5 games, has a 2.65 ERA, 9.40 K/9, and 1.07 WHIP. Two of those six games came against the heavy hitting Tigers and Orioles as well, so it wasn't like strength of schedule helped Cobb to put up those numbers. I'll take more servings of that Cobb please!
Rest of the season: Alex Cobb's numbers this year are almost exactly in line with what he did in 2013, except that players are hitting less line drives off him and way more grounders. Combined with his WHIP, this leads me to believe that Cobb was getting unlucky with balls finding holes they maybe shouldn't have. Cobb is a top 35 pitcher ROS, and potentially top 25 if he keeps this pace up.
Fantasy Baseball Players Trending Down
Todd Frazier (3B, CIN)
I know this is my 2nd time writing about Frazier, but it had to be done. This one is painful for me to write because I picked Todd Frazier to beat Giancarlo Stanton in the Home Run Derby and he made me look like a genius. However, despite the season line of .279/.339/.474 with 20 HRs, 60 runs scored, 55 RBIs, and 16 steals to boot - it's hard to ignore the fact that Frazier has been slumping really hard this month.
Before July, Frazier had a line of .287/.354/.506 with 17 HRs, 52 runs scored, 46 RBIs, and 12 steals. The month of July has seen Frazier cool off faster than a polar bear swimming in the arctic with a line of .253/.290/.368 with only 3 HRs, 8 runs scored, 9 RBIs. But at least he still had 4 steals.
Rest of the season: It doesn't just seem to be Frazier who has cooled off. The Reds collectively have not been scoring many runs lately. Regardless, a lot of people expected that some regression would hit Frazier eventually, and it looks like that's happening now. However, while his line in July is not great, it's still very serviceable for the thin position that is 3rd base. If this is his floor, I'm still loving Frazier going forward and so should you. He's still easily still a top player at the position.
Carlos Gonzalez (OF, COL)
Carlos Gonazalez just can't seem to stay healthy ever can he? I assume you knew that when you drafted him, but it has to be very frustrating to be a Cargo owner especially when you consider his draft position and the fact that on the year he is hitting .243, with only 10 HRs, and 2 steals. Yikes. So how can it get worse?
Well since returning from the DL on July 11th, he has .191/.240/.362 with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs, and 5 runs scored. The counting stats are actually good for him this year, but he lacks the average he usually hits for and the steals are still non-existent. Oh, also he rolled his ankle back on July 26th so he really just can't stay healthy. I'm starting to believe he may in fact be made out of glass.
Rest of the season: I have a hard time trusting Cargo for the reasons stated. Also, by comparison, Cargo is making Corey Dickerson look like the best superstar alive. If I were a Cargo owner, I'd hope that I had picked up Corey Dickerson while Cargo was hurt. Corey Dickerson is looking a lot like what people expected Cargo to be. That said, if Cargo gets hot, he can still help carry your team for a week or so. Just use him with caution.
Jason Hammel (SP, OAK)
Jason Hammel was great as a Cub pitching to a 2.98 ERA, 8.61 K/9, and 1.02 WHIP. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the starts he has made since making the transition back to the America League with the Athletics. In the 3 starts since his trade, Hammel has pitched to a 7.11 ERA, 5.68 K/9, and 2.05 WHIP.
Personally, I thought Jason Hammel's value would increase by getting some run support from the Athletics but it appears I may have been wrong about that. The Cubs must have some secret formula for turning OK pitchers into studs, as they are now doing with Jake Arrieta. I thought the Athletics had that magic formula too, but maybe it only works for younger pitchers.
Rest of the season: So far Hammel's numbers are more in line with what he did in 2012 with the Orioles than what he did in 2013, and that is a good thing. I do believe he won't pitch anything like he did with the Cubs, but he also won't continue to pitch to 7.11 ERA either. I could see him hovering between a 3.50-4.00 ERA for the rest of the season, which still makes him valuable, especially if he can get his strikeout totals back up. I'm not quite ready to be the Chicken Little of Jason Hammel's year after just 3 starts in the AL.
That's it for this week guys. As always, would love to hear your thoughts on what I've wrote here. Let's get a dialogue going by tweeting @RekedFantasy. Until next week RotoBallers!