With most leagues ending in a few weeks, now is NOT the time to be sitting idly by and not making moves. Last week, I covered generic strategies for whatever position you find your teams. This week I want to look at various players that you all requested and/or I have been interested in recently. Don't forget to send me Fantasy questions over twitter (@timnicodemus) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Who is a good pick? Who should get dropped? Answers, jokes, and wOBA to follow.
1. Chase Utley. I know he is hitting terribly as of late. I know he is not 100% from his injuries. But in 40 games, he has put together a 1.5 WAR season (roughly 6 WAR if he had played the whole year). Also, I will go out on a limb here, and say that I fully expect his 0.226 BABIP to regress higher. It certainly can't get much worse. BABIP may not be all luck, but he is a good hitter who should be able to improve his hitting stats by continuing to work hard and get some hits away from fielders. Another hidden benefit (to non-sabermetric minded people) is that he is continuing his career ability to strike-out less and walk more than league average. This is particularly helpful for leagues when getting on base counts. And let me honest; part of my love for him is because I want to 'have a catch' with him.
2. Mike Moustakas: I own him in two leagues, and I'll be honest-- I almost dropped him several times this season. Sure, he has good upside, but if you have him in a non-keeper league, then his sub-0.200 average the past month is scary. Even with that, he is still wOBA-ing (is that a word?) 0.318 on the season. His 0.192 ISO is still a sign of his ability to pound the ball, and he is actually striking out less than league average. That stat surprised me, but he is slightly-better-than-average in wOBA and K%. Considering he is also getting slightly unlucky with his BABIP, that is a good sign for a good end of season. If an owner in your league panicked and dropped him, grab him quick. If not, maybe an artfully worded trade for him. Example, "I could use a 3B and I noticed Moustakas has been on a slide recently. Want Kelly Johnson for him?" Laugh uproariously when the offer is accepted.
3. Justin Masterson: I know his record is 9-10 and this does nothing good for W-L heavy leagues, but as I talked about last week, he is playing good baseball. He carries risk, as his meltdowns recently have been to the tune 7,8,6 and 8 earned runs, but aside from two dreadful starts, his control is improving and is league-average in walk and strike out rates. Not ace level, but league-average is very acceptable at this point in the year. Don't play him against high octane offenses, and you should see your pitching stats improve.
1. Chris Young: I was unapologetic about picking this kid in a few leagues. Even through his injury, I was sure he would come back on the great season he had early. But since he has come back, he has been rather dreadful. His 20-20 talent has been reduced to a full-season adjusted 20-10. His strike out rate is higher than it should be, and while his slugging ability should come around, his 0.211 average is going to decimate you if you are in a league where that matters. If you can cover the risk, he does have upside, but if you are offered a trade for him, I would take it.
2. Trevor Cahill: I would maybe classify him as a 'watch' than 'sell' but I only have the two categories, so here he is. My rationale for this designation: he is not going deep into games and is not exhibiting the ability to be either a control artist or strike out pitcher. His WHIP might be league-average, but his FIP is not. An increase in his HR/FB ratio, currently 14.7%, spells continued trouble. Maybe keep him if you are in a crazy deep league, but consider a trade for a player with better upside if you can.
3. Wandy Rodriguez: This might be the most obvious of the six, but even with his change to a better team, his performance has been, politely, terrible. Once considered a decent strike out pitcher, his 5.85 K/9 is just upsetting. Sure, his control is coming around, but there are only so many ways to dress up a 4.05 FIP, 4.06 ERA, and 4.18 xFIP. (Translation, he could actually be considered lucky). Not exactly what owners want to hear. Oh and yes, the last time he had a start without giving up at least 3 earned runs was July 7th. He has 25 starts, but only 9 have been with him giving up 0-2 earned runs. Not good.
Overall, I encourage you to dig past who is 'hot' or 'cold'. BABIP is a good place to start, so are other regressive stats, like LOB% or HR/FB%. And DO NOT get too caught up in WAR. It is a great overall stat to compare players, but it factors in (too much, in my opinion) extremes in fielding, which is not a category most leagues care about. Until next week, keep on with the fantasy domination.