By: Jack Moore
Each week we’ll be providing you with insight into the best (and worst) baseball players to play in your fantasy baseball league.
1. Ben Zobrist, SS, TBR: Zobrist gained shortstop eligibility over the week, adding flexibility and the toughest non-catcher position to his name for the last month of the season. With the trading deadline past, that gives Zobrist about as big a spike in fantasy value as a player can get at this point in the season. He’s already been one of the best fantasy players over the last two months – .315/.412/.532 and a 21 homer, 105 run per 162 game pace since June 7th.
2. Jaime Garcia, SP, STL: Garcia’s return from the disabled list Sunday was overshadowed by the Pirates’ 19-inning victory, but don’t let him slip under the radar. Garcia threw eight innings, allowing just two unearned runs, five hits and no walks while striking out 10. He was still available in three of my five standard mixed money leagues – relatively competitive fare – and so it’s worth a peek at your waiver wire. If he’s there, he should be a top-100 player down the stretch.
3. Chris Carter, 1B, OAK: For some time, Carter seemed like just another failed A’s prospect to throw on the heap. He managed just a .585 OPS in his first stint (24 games) in 2010 and an atrocious .310 mark in his second (15 games). Luckily, 39 games don’t define a career. In his 37 this season, Carter is hitting .281 with big power: 10 homers and 23 RBI, to go along with 25 runs powered by an 18.1% walk rate. Carter, at 6’4”, 245 pounds, is big enough to hit them out anywhere, and his rise has gone largely unnoticed by fantasy owners.
4. Todd Frazier, 3B, CIN: Normally, I would consider Frazier’s hot season far too basic for this column. It doesn’t take an expert to shed light on a guy having his kind of year. He’ll enter play Monday hitting .288/.342/.547, with 17 home runs in just 339 plate appearances, giving him a great shot at NL Rookie of the Year. Somehow, though, he’s still owned in less than half of Yahoo! leagues and available in 38% of ESPN leagues. That’s unacceptable. Go get him.
5. Hisashi Iwaukma, SP, SEA: Iwakuma looked out of sorts coming out of Seattle’s pen, giving up six home runs in 30.1 innings and a 4.75 ERA. But since moving to the rotation, with the stability offered there, he’s settled down. In 48 innings, Iwakuma has allowed just a .239/.308/.394 line against, a 3.19 ERA, and even three victories in eight starts. He’s worth a look, especially when he’s pitching at friendly SafeCo Field.
1. Mark Trumbo, OF, LAA: Trumbo’s plate discipline issues are returning. Over the last 30 days, Trumbo is hitting just .233/.282/.320. The power will return and probably sooner rather than later, but a strikeout rate of 32.7% and walk rate of 4.5% don’t portend well for his overall batting line. This lackluster plate discipline is what categorized Trumbo’s rookie season. He slugged .477 and hit 29 homers, but he mustered just a .254 batting average and scored just 65 runs in 149 games.
2. Dan Uggla, 2B, ATL: Uggla has still provided some value in OBP leagues or other leagues where a low batting average won’t tank a squad. In standard leagues, though, with chances to deal Uggla on name value out the window, it may be time to consider dropping him. A .172 average over the last month has kept his average and with a 28% strikeout rate he isn’t primed to turn things around. Unless you’re prepared to punt batting average, check for a replacement on the waiver wire.
3. Derek Holland, SP, TEX: Holland has once again pitched with great strikeout and walk numbers in his return to the Rangers’ starting rotation – 8.3 K/9, 2.1 BB/9, for nearly a 4.0 K/BB. But the problem of the home run ball remains. He has a 2.41 HR/9 over the last 30 days, and although that number is certain to come down, he has a history of similar issues (1.35 HR/9) and as a result is quite unlikely to put up an ERA below 4.00 – frankly, a necessity out of a starting pitcher in a 12-team mixed league with offense as low as it has been in 2012.
4. Ryan Vogelsong, SP, SF: The difference between 2001-2006 Vogelsong – the one nobody missed as he went a half-decade between major league appearances – and current, potential Cy Young candidate Vogelsong is control. Between 2011 and 2012 Vogelsong has nearly equal 3.06 and 3.09 BB/9 rates respectively. Over the last month, however, Vogelsong has showed the first cracks in his armor – allowing a 4.33 ERA with large help from a 4.03 BB/9 rate. It’s far too early to drop him and the trade deadline is gone in most leagues, but just keep an eye on his control down the stretch (and heading into next year for keeper owners).
5. Drew Storen, RP, WAS: Perhaps Storen’s job was lost for good when he came off the disabled list; inertia is a powerful thing in the world of closers. But any chance he had to wrest the job in Washington away from Tyler Clippard has been lost thanks to his utter lack of control so far. He owns a 5.79 BB/9 and his inability to throw strikes has cost him some strikeouts as well, with his K/9 sitting at 6.8. Now instead of grooming him for the closer’s role again, it looks like the Nationals would settle for the Storen of old to return by the playoffs.
Jack Moore is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Mathematics and Economics. His work can also be found at FanGraphs.com, DisciplesOfUecker.com, RotoWire.com, AdvancedNFLStats.com and ESPN. Follow him on twitter at @jh_moore.