With seven 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 8:
1) Mitch Moreland (1B, TEX): The Rangers full-time 1B has spent the last two weeks mashing and now has 10 HR and 22 RBI, on pace for 30 HR and 90+ RBI. He’s perched comfortably in the six-hole in the stacked Rangers lineup, behind Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre, so he should continue to see plenty of RBI opportunities. The real reason he is ranked as a riser is a .289 ISO that ranks sixth in the majors behind the likes of Chris Davis, Justin Upton and Bryce Harper. Moreland is whiffing less, too, tallying a K rate slightly lower than last year's, and a league-average .300 BABIP doesn’t necessarily portend any troubles ahead. If you wasted a pick on Ike Davis or Eric Hosmer, Moreland can be your waiver-wire redemption.
2) Alex Gordon (OF, KC): He’s officially arrived as legitimate upper-echelon fantasy player, with the ability to put up plus stats in four categories - BA, R, HR and RBI. Next year, he’ll likely be going in the top 3-5 rounds, as opposed to round 7 or 8. There’s a good chance that he finishes the year at .300, with 100 T, 20-25 HR, 90 RBI and 10 SB, which is just ridiculous. And he's proving that he can hit lefties, too, to the tune of a .419 BA against southpaws. Sure, the .392 BABIP is inflated and will no doubt regress to normal levels, but it’s worth noting that the current mark is not too far off from from the .356 and .358 he posted in 2012 and 2011. The takeaway here is that at age 28, he has solidified himself as the Royals #3 hitter and is looking more and more like a #2 fantasy OF option.
3) Ubaldo Jimenez (SP, CLE): The Ubaldo of 2010 is finally showing signs of coming back to life. He’s not the 95+ mph pitcher he was with the Rockies, but that’s OK. He’s learned the split-fingered fastball, which he never threw in Colorado, and is now using that pitch to induce more strikeouts and ground balls. In 2012, when he struggled mightily, he had an even split between fly balls and groundballs, but this year he is back to the levels he had in Colorado with a FB%/GB% of 50%/30%. With more than 8 K in each of his last three starts, look to Jiminez for some help with strikeouts. The Tribe’s playing winning baseball too, which should translate into more wins for Ubaldo going-forward.
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