With the All Star Game, we were all witness to the unpredictability of baseball. It’s a long haul, and on draft day in March, very few, if any of us, would have picked Charlie Blackmon to make the All-Star Game roster for the National League. But that’s the case, and Blackmon, along with several other surprises, was most likely scooped up very late in drafts or off of the waiver wire in most fantasy leagues. For this week’s post we’ll look at four players, including Blackmon, whose average draft position (ADP) was 260 or higher but who currently find themselves in the Top 50 on both the ESPN and Razzball player raters. These players had phenomenal first halves but the question most fantasy owners want answered is whether or not they will keep it up. Are they “trash” or “treasure”? Will they carry teams to victory in September or are they about to implode? It’s hard to call any of these guys trash the way they have performed, but some may be more reliable than others going forward. Since all of these playerss have been good, I’ll use the term “TRASH” to designate the guys that are holds instead of buys. I’m not recommending they be dropped or sold for pennies on the dollar. Here are four names that came out of the woodwork in the player rater’s top 50 for 2014 fantasy baseball…
Charlie Blackmon – ESPN 15, Razzball 19
Blackmon is the only hitter that makes the cut. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what that means. The Rockies outfielder has enjoyed the hitter’s paradise of Coors Field this year as much as anybody. He’s swatted 11 of his 14 home runs there, hitting .354. He’s a tad less productive on the road with a .248 batting average and only three homers. What’s interesting for fantasy owners wondering if Blackmon is a “Buy” or “Sell” is that most of the damage he did came in April. Over the first month of the season he hit an obscene .374/.418/.616 with five homers and seven steals. He came back to Earth in May and June, but he’s turned it on again here in the first half of July. A little discouraging is the fact that Steamer is projecting only six more home runs from him ROS, and I doubt he finishes the year as a Top 30 player on the raters. That being said, hes kind of a hard sell so owners will likely need to ride him out and hope that the good times in July continue on. He’s not a bat I’d trade for, but he’s not an obvious sell either. Guess that makes him a hold. TRASH.
Scott Kazmir – ESPN 23, Razzball 17
Fantasy owners didn’t have much faith in Kazmir’s return with the Indians last season based on where he was drafted, but the Oakland Athletics did and now Kazmir is one of the best 25 players overall on the raters. The lefty is sporting a K/9 over 8.5 to go along with a BB/9 just over 2.0. That’s the magic difference of six that Grey chats about on the podcasts, and one of the reasons Kazmir has had so much success. His FIP of 3.20 suggests he’s due for at least some regression in the second half, and the 82% LOB% is the highest it’s been in six years. Like Blackmon, if you were lucky enough to grab Kazmir on the cheap there is no reason to sell him thinking he’s going to turn into a pumpkin all of a sudden, but I would be hesitant to pay ace prices to acquire Kazmir in a trade. We’ll be a bit deep in uncharted waters with him in the second half as he hasn’t thrown more than 160 innings since 2007. TRASH.
Garrett Richards – ESPN 26, Razzball 18
I took a chance on both Richards and his teammate Hector Santiago at the beginning of the year. One of them worked out. Richards has been fantastic except for that start where he couldn’t get out of the first inning. Unlike Kazmir, Richards is working with a 2.69 FIP which is very close to his actual ERA. He’s striking out more than nine batters per nine and allowing a tidy 0.29 HR/9. The Angels play in a tough division, but one of the toughest offenses in that division is their own. Like Kazmir, Richards pitches in a friendly home park, and nothing in his numbers scares me for the second half besides the fact that this kind of success was unexpected even by his biggest backers. Richards wins the day, as he is the only player on this list who I think will end up around where he is right now on the raters. He’s also the only player on this list I would actively pursue in a trade. TREASURE.
Alfredo Simon – ESPN 45, Razzball 38
Simon is a great story. He has pitched really well in the first half. I’m not touching him with a ten-foot pole, though. He’s sitting on a 4.34 FIP and an 85% LOB%. He’s striking out less than six per nine with an 8.7% SwStr%. His home ball park is a nice place to knock some baseballs around. It’s going to blow up at some point in the second half, and when it does it’s not going to be pretty. Not only is he a guy I would avoid targeting in trades, but he’s the only guy on this list who I’d be actively looking to sell right now. Sell him on his ERA. Sell him on his 12 wins. However you decide to spin it get something nice for him before this party is over. TRASH.