With twenty-one 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 22:
1) Evan Longoria (3B, TAM): We already knew he was a great player, but coming off an injury-riddled 2012, there was concern about how good Longoria really was. Some viewed him as a 25 HR, 90 RBI guy-- good numbers, but not quite first-round material. But with 28 HR and 76 RBI so far in 2013, he’s making a strong case to be a first-round candidate in 2014. Factor in that Longoria and Wil Myers are both under the Rays' control through 2019, and you have a nasty 3-4 punch. Longoria struggled in July with a .194 BA and an uncharacteristically high 33% K rate, but has since rebounded to career norms with seven HR and 13 RBI in August. In the thick of a pennant race, he went deep five times in his last 10 games, with every one of those home runs coming against AL East division rivals. Longo’s in the top three of all major categories for third basemen, and would be the #1 star at the position if not for Miguel Cabrera’s unreal season. The only real knock against Longoria is that he strikes out too much, but that’s acceptable as long as he’s on pace to top his career high of 33 HR.
2) Ricky Nolasco (SP, LAD): The change of scenery from hapless Miami to the hard-charging Dodgers has seemingly revitalized Nolasco. A quick look at his last 10 starts tells you everything you need to know: a 6-1 record with eight games allowing two runs or fewer and no more than three runs in any of those starts. Two of his last four starts were against the Red Sox and Cardinals, in which he pitched a combined 13 IP and gave up no runs while striking out 11. The K/IP ratio hasn't been as high as it is now since 2010, and his swinging strike rate is two points higher than it was in 2011 and 2012. In August, Nolasco’s cut down on his walks to fewer than 1.5 per game, nearly half a batter lower than it had been through July. Nolasco is a solid #3 or #4 fantasy pitcher who has great potential for wins in a weak division on a top team.
3) Jedd Gyorko (3B, SDP): Gyorko’s play through July was underwhelming-- he had eight HR and 26 RBI, and had just wrapped up a miserable month of .100 BA, zero HR, one RBI, 16 strikeouts and zero walks. He’s turned it around rather quickly in August, and has been one of the best waiver wire pickups by smashing eight HR and 15 RBI, including a two-homer game against the Cubbies last weekend. Despite the power burst, he still strikes out too much, with only a slight improvement to 19 K and 2 BB in August. The real Gyorko is somewhere in between the .100 BA July player and the eight-HR outburst in August. The big picture question is what type of player he really is going into 2014. In deeper leagues where draft status and dollars paid factor into a player's attractiveness as a keeper, Gyorko can certainly be an enticing option for next year.
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