Fantasy Baseball Edge: Who’s Hot, Who’s Not
By Matt Cott & Moe Koltun of Roto Analysis
In fantasy baseball, there are always opportunities to make trades and get value for your team. One of the most prevalent ways that these opportunities are created is through random variance creating hot or cold streaks for players. It is up to the prudent fantasy owner to determine whether or not these streaks are going to become actual trends, or are just blips on the radar before either hot or cold players return to their legitimate skill set. This week, we’ve set out to help you figure that out, focusing on five recently hot players and four recently cold players who could create the opportunity to add value to your fantasy team.
Hot: Albert Pujols, Cardinals 1B
Those who drafted Pujols first in their leagues are probably still freaking out, but it’s time to relax with him. He was another perfect example of a player with a slow start this year, with no homers in April in 92 at-bats making it the longest drought of his career. He got hot towards the end of May, hitting 6 homers and batting .321 these last two weeks. While he still won’t be worthy of the first overall pick in an Angels uniform, we updated our 1B rankings last week and he slotted in as #3.
Cold: Jemile Weeks, Athletics 2B
Jemile Weeks hasn’t just been cold recently, he’s been pure ice for the entire season. Yet, despite his awful statistical results, I believe Jemile Weeks has actually gotten better this year, and that makes him a phenomenal buy-low. Despite his lowered batting average, Weeks is walking at exactly double the rate he did last year, while striking out and making contact both at nearly identical rates as last season. The only difference between Weeks’ stats this year and last year is a much lower Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) of .247 as compared to .350 last year. For comparison’s sake, Elvis Andrus has a .351 BABIP this year, and Pedro Alvarez has a .256 BABIP. As BABIP often correlates to a players’ speed, who do you think Weeks’ speed is closer to: Alvarez, or Andrus? It’s obviously Andrus, and throughout the rest of the year Weeks should rebound and become the .300 hitter that his stats show he can be. Trade for him or pick him up now.
Hot: Robinson Cano, Yankees 2B
Quite frankly, Cano looked absolutely horrible in April. It’s a good thing most people were still faithful to the guy who has been one of the most consistent players for the Yankees these past few years. He matched his April totals of 1 homer and 4 RBIs rather quickly, going for 7 homers and 18 RBIs in May. He also raised his averaged from .267 to .303, and should continue for the rest of the season with these May statistics.
Cold: Gavin Floyd, White Sox SP
Floyd started off the year extremely hot, with a 2.54 ERA and 42 strikeouts through his first 46.1 innings. However, in his last three outings Floyd has blown up, nearly doubling his ERA all the way up to its current 5.02. The most disconcerting part of Floyd’s cold streak has been the opponents he’s faced: first allowing 7 earned runs at the Angels’ spacious park, then getting absolutely smoked by the Twins’ offense giving up 9 runs without getting out of the 4th, and finally finishing off with 5 runs against Cleveland in just 5 innings. As of right now, I wouldn’t consider Floyd a buy-low option, as I believe he’ll end the year with an ERA over 4, so this is a cold streak fantasy owners should probably buy into and try to trade him while he still has some value.
Hot: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins OF
Stanton has matched Josh Hamilton homer for homer in May. There’s no doubt he has one of the most powerful bats in the majors, but is also one of the streakiest. On April 29, Stanton had just 5 RBIs to go with no homers and a .246 average to boot. As of May 31, he’s got 13 homers, 39 RBIs, and a .304 average. While he can’t stay this hot, look for Stanton to continue to make huge strides in his game over the summer.
Cold: Matt Wieters
Fantasy owners overvalue hot starts. It’s just something that happens. So when I looked at Matt Wieters’ stats and realized he was hitting .226, I was absolutely shocked, as I was still holding on to the perception that he was hitting around .300 as he was at the end of April. Despite this cold patch, Wieters still ranked first among catchers in RotoAnalysis’ most recent rankings update, so there are two ways to go about dealing with Wieters: trade him to someone who still values him for his hot start (aim for a top 30 overall player), or keep him and wait for him to turn his batting average around to its more natural .260-.275 range. The choice hinges on how the other owners in your league value him—either way, any Wieters owner should send out an email looking for interest.
Hot: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates OF
McCutchen always seems like that player ready to take the next step in his game, and truly live up to his scouting report of being a 5-tool player. He has heated up this season (including hitting all 8 of homers in May) to provide the power, speed, and average that every fantasy owner drools over. Right now, he ranks in the top 10 in the NL in batting average, stolen bases, and OPS. That’s a perfect combination of power, average, and speed. He is a top 10 outfielder in any format, and could creep into the top 5 by season’s end.
Cold: Matt Garza
Garza was absolutely killing it this year with a 2.58 ERA through his first 7 starts of the season, that is, until his last two starts where he’s managed to raise his ERA all the way up to 4.22. In my opinion, this has created a prime opportunity to buy into a top 25 starting pitcher at only a top 40-50 starting pitcher’s price. Despite his semi-high ERA, Garza still has a very good 2.58 strikeout to walk rate, and is striking out guys at an above average 8.27 batters per nine innings ratio. Garza’s high ERA is mostly influenced by a really unlucky Home Run per Fly Ball ratio, which is nearly 6% higher than any year of his career, and more than double his 2011 rate. This is a mostly luck-based statistic, so Garza should expect a lot of regression the rest of the way, so I’d project around a 3.00-3.30 ERA the rest of the way. Buy low on Garza while you still can.
Hot: R.A. Dickey, Mets SP
Pitchers are naturally streaky; knuckleballers even more so. But R.A. Dickey this season has shocked many around the industry this season for one main thing: his ability to strike batters out. For his career, Dickey has averaged 5.76 strikeouts per 9 innings, and never more than 6. This season, he has posted a career-high of 8.49 that puts him just below the rates of aces like CC Sabathia and Felix Hernandez. If he can keep that strikeout rate up, he could be a top 25 pitcher at season’s end.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems and Matt @KidCotti21. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.