If you’re at all interested in how valuable a power-hitting middle infielder might be, take a look at Javier Baez and his +93% jump in ownership this week. Like any big call-up there is some helium to sift through, but once we get past the hype and the temporarily high-pitched voice, we are left with a very talented player – the type that can impact fantasy teams down the stretch. This has been well-documented, but Baez has typically struggled early on with each promotion to a new level. He also has a lot of swing and miss in his game which we’re already seeing with 12 strikeouts in his first 29 plate appearances. On the positive side, he’s made the necessary adjustments at each level (most recently his June/July surge in Triple-A) and with that swing and miss comes elite bat speed and home runs. Baez can also steal bases by the way. He swiped 16 in 104 games with the Iowa Cubs prior to his call up. As a top prospect he should have been long gone in keeper leagues, but owners in redraft leagues as shallow as 10 teams should be acquiring Baez for the stretch. There’s more upside in his bat than any you’ll find on the wire, and it’s my guess that as the calendar turns to September, we’re already going to see less strikeouts and more slugging. Here are the other big adds and drops for this week in 2014 fantasy baseball…
Dustin Ackley – 64% owned (+36%)
Ackley has enjoyed quite the hot streak lately. He has four home runs and eight runs batted in over his last ten games. That’s as many as he had in the first three months of the 2014 season. Simply put, he’s hitting more balls in the air this month than he had all year. His August fly ball percentage of 45% is ten points higher than in any other month this season. 21% of those are leaving the park which is about 14% higher than anything he’s posted in his previous years. It all feels fluky and streaky to me, which is fine if you’re shuffling players who are hot in and out of your lineup. It’s not so great if you’re picking him up just in time for the streak to end, which seems to happen to me quite often. Complicating things even more is the acquisition of Chris Denorfia and the return of Michael Saunders. If Ackley’s bat gets cold it could kill some of his playing time. TRASH.
Kole Calhoun – 75% owned (-21%)
Fantasy owners are souring on Calhoun, whose hot June and July have given way to a meh August line of .263/.317/.316 with no home runs and only one stolen base. He’s still hitting line drives, but he’s putting more balls on the ground and less in the air in August. This isn’t the worst thing in the world since Calhoun does have speed, but a lot of fantasy owners are playing him for his ability to chip in the occasional homer and steal. Without homers, Calhoun loses some of his luster. Steamer is still projecting Calhoun to finish the year with 15 homers and seven stolen bases. He should also continue to see plenty of hittable pitches and runs scored leading off in front of Mike Trout. Like any Angels player, my biggest fear with Calhoun is that he starts to sit if Scioscia gets any crazy ideas. Calhoun sat out against lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu recently, but I’d be comfortable moving forward with the Angel leadoff hitter as he’s recorded multiple hits in each of his last three games. Could be the start of another hot streak like we saw in June and July. TREASURE.