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Fantasy Baseball Edge: Drops And Pickups

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By Matt Cott & Moe Koltun of Roto Analysis

The additions and subtractions you make from your team at this point are what make for your team’s success. A key waiver wire pickup could turn your team’s season around, as could finally cutting the big-name player that’s been weighing your team down for weeks. We at RotoAnalysis.com have looked at some guys that are over 90% owned in CBS leagues that we’d be comfortable dropping, as well as some players owned in under 50% of leagues that could make a big difference in your lineup.

GUYS TO DROP

Bryan LaHair (1B, Chicago Cubs, 89% Owned)

Ok, had to cheat 1% on this one but LaHair simply doesn’t have it anymore. It was fun while it lasted, but his power spurt to the season has slowed down tremendously. He has just 1 homer since May 16th. His average was .390 a month ago to .294 right now, and there is no second hot streak in sight. In any standard league, LaHair should not be owned as he is below average in every single category.

Alex Gordon (1B/OF, Kansas City Royals, 94% Owned)

After an outstanding breakout season in 2011, Gordon has sputtered out of the gate in 2012. Was last year a mirage? After 23 homers and 17 steals, 4 homers and 1 steal so far this year may point to that. Furthermore, all of his homers and steals came in April. We believe in Gordon’s skills, but don’t see his production being as high as expected in the second half of this season. There are too many guys producing right now to wait for him to turn it around.

Kevin Youkilis (1B/3B, Boston Red Sox, 95% Owned)

Will Middlebrooks has been phenomenal in Boston, making Youkilis a lost commodity in the lineup once Ellsbury and Crawford come back. He could be traded at the deadline, and hasn’t even been producing at that high a rate. The so-called “Greek God of Walks” in Moneyball is striking out more than ever, and walking less than ever in 2012. His power has decreased for the last 5 seasons, and his average is following suit. Youkilis will not return to his old form this season, and may have trouble getting at-bats soon.

Mat Latos (SP, Cincinnati Reds, 93% Owned)

Latos is apparently a big name, because purely based off of his performance since coming to Cincinnati, he’s not looking like a top 50 SP, or anything close to it. Like several other players on the “Drop” list, he has shown a general decline. His strikeout rate has dropped each of the last 3 years, while his walk rate has increased. Moving out of Petco has obviously hurt, and nobody should be surprised if his ERA doesn’t dip below 4 this season. Unless he improves his control, he’s droppable in 10 team leagues.

GUYS TO PICK UP

Rajai Davis (OF, Blue Jays, 19% Owned)

Davis might be a one-tool player, but that’s really all he needs to be a very solid fantasy contributor. That one tool is, of course, Davis’ speed, which led to him stealing 41 bases in 125 games in 2009 as well as 50 in 143 games in 2010. Davis’ problem has always been playing time, but this year he should have some stability in that department in the Blue Jays’ outfield, backing up Colby Rasmus in center and playing left field until the Jays decide Travis Snider is ready to play in the majors. Davis’ speed will allow him to steal upwards of 30 bases the rest of the way if he has a full time job (he has 12 SB’s already), and I’d add him on any team that needed stolen bases, as he will also add an above average amount of runs, and has actually added some pop this year, with 4 homers in only 42 games.

Andy Dirks (OF, Tigers, 38% Owned)

Dirks is currently on the DL with Achilles Tendonitis, but he is scheduled to return on July 15th, and when he does, Dirks is going to be a huge asset for fantasy owners. That is largely because Dirks plays the vast majority of his games batting second in the Tigers lineup, meaning the team’s top 4 generally goes: Austin Jackson, Andy Dirks, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder. This will obviously help Dirks in the ‘runs’ stat, but Austin Jackson has been playing well enough that it should lead to Dirks getting some RBI’s too, and he’ll also see a lot more pitches to hit with those two guys behind him. So far this year, Dirks is hitting like a first round pick, with a .328 average and 4 homers in 37 games, there is no way he should only be 38% owned.

Scott Diamond (SP, Twins, 34% Owned)

I had never heard of Scott Diamond until I saw him pitch brilliantly in his first start of this year against the Angels early in May. Since then, all Diamond has done is absolutely dominate, boasting a 1.86 ERA in 38 innings so far this year. Diamond pitches for the Twins, which is bad for fantasy because he won’t get very many wins, but good because Target Field is a pretty big pitchers park. He also doesn’t get very many strikeouts, but he pairs his sub par K rate with a Cliff Lee-esque walk rate of 0.93, and reminds me of one of last year’s best pickups: Brandon McCarthy. Diamond doesn’t have great stuff, but his high 80’s to low 90’s fastball has a ton of movement, and it’s been his best pitch so far this season. I’d pickup Diamond and play him mostly in good matchups, but he could definitely be a big asset to nearly any fantasy team.

Anthony Bass (SP/RP, Padres, 41% Owned)

Bass is really underrated and under-owned at this point for one simple reason: he pitches for the Padres. Last year, the exact same thing happened with Cory Leubke, and for the few owners who did take a shot on him, he provided huge value. Bass’ stats on the surface don’t look very pretty: a 4.21 ERA and 1.32 WHIP is nothing to write home about. However, he also has 61 strikeouts in just 68 innings, to go along with just 26 walks. Bass’ ERA and WHIP so far have been mostly luck-based, as he’s stranding an unsustainably low number of batters on base, and I’d expect his ERA to regress to around 3.5 the rest of the year, and his WHIP to go lower than 1.25. When those ERA and WHIP numbers are added to his strikeouts, Bass will be a top 40-50 fantasy pitcher, and he should be owned in well more than a paltry 41% of leagues. Pick him up before the positive regression starts.

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.

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