These guys are ON FIRE…will they stay hot?

Asdrubal Cabrera – Cabrera’s been having a tremendous season. His 11 HR’s on the year are nearly double his previous career high of 6 HR, and his .306 batting average is almost 20 points higher than his .287 career line. Preseason projections were decent, but not earth shattering. Bill James had Cabrera going .292, 8 HR, 59 RBI, 78 R, 13 SB, and ZiPs projected a very similar .286, 8 HR, 46 RBI, 55 R, 9 SB. So, obviously, while his numbers would be quite decent in deeper, mixed leagues, he was a fringe starter at best. And yet, as we enter the second week of June, Cabrera is ranked #9 overall in Yahoo! fantasy leagues, good enough to lay the claim as the highest ranked shortstop in the game, above stalwarts Jose Reyes, Troy Tulowitzki, and Hanley Ramirez. So what’s the deal?

Analysis: Cabrera’s having a great season, and I hate to take anything away from that. But really, where is this coming from? The best power he ever displayed professionally came in 2007, when he hit 8 HR’s in 105 games across Double- and Triple-A. So while natural growth and progression could have allowed him to increase his 6-8 HR’s per year to 12-15, his current pace (31) is way beyond any previous expectations or results. So as much as I want to believe in the guy, it’s hard to do so with a serious face. Yes, he’s changed his approach at the plate, taking bigger swings on advice from teammate Orlando Cabrera. But unlike last year’s freak breakout, Jose Bautista, Asdrubal Cabrera has absolutely no history of any power. At least Bautista had the second half of 2009, in which he slugged 11 HR’s in 193 at-bats. I’m calling the bluff here. Sell high.

Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: .293, 18 HR, 73 RBI, 85 R, 20 SB

Alex GordonAlex Gordon had me worried for a little while there. After I touted him so highly in preseason, I looked pretty good for the first month. But after seeing his OPS reach .940 on May 1st, he went into a bit of a free-fall, and by May 19th, it was down to .780. For all intents and purposes, it looked like Gordon wasn’t having the breakout season it had first seemed. But now, after a brilliant two weeks, his OPS is back up to .838, and his 162-game pace is .287, 19 HR, 85 RBI, 102 R, and 14 SB. Superstar? Not quite yet, but certainly a useful player.

Analysis: I’ve always liked Gordon, ever since he was drafted in the 1st Round of the 2005 MLB Draft. His minor league career was obviously brilliant, albeit brief in its one season. As such, after 4 seasons of relative mediocrity at the Major League level, doubters were plentiful. His ZiPs preseason projection was a mere .257, 10 HR, 39 RBI, 51 R, and 6 SB. But he’s made strides in 2011, hitting the ball with more authority and lowering his K-rate to 21.4% (previous career low had been 24.3%). His ISO is now sitting at .192, nothing amazing but also nothing to sneeze at, and the emergence of Eric Hosmer has finally given Gordon and teammate Billy Butler some additional lineup protection. While my original projection of 25 HR’s may look a little optimistic right now, I do think he’ll come fairly close.

Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: .286, 22 HR, 85 RBI, 90 R, 9 SB

Dillon Gee – Young and unheralded, Dillon Gee has had quite the start to his Major League career. Over his first 16 career games (13 starts), Gee’s line reads 8-2, 2.90 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 87.0 IP / 56 K. Not shabby, eh? He was drafted in the 21st Round of the 2007 MLB Draft and, after 437.2 minor league innings, managed a 3.78 ERA and 1.18 WHIP to go along with a brilliant 4.05 SO/BB ratio. So why wasn’t Gee found on any top prospect lists? Well, his draft status obviously played a role, as did his “stuff,” which is decent but nothing mind-shattering. Gee was thus projected as a low-floor, low-ceiling pitcher who could fit in nicely as a #5 starter. But he hasn’t performed that way. Instead, he’s given every impression of being a solid mid-rotation starter. Much like Jon Niese before him, Gee has provided hope for the Mets’ future rotation.

Analysis: As mentioned, Gee’s minor league SO/BB ratio was tremendous. Given that his career K-rate in the minors was 7.9, he’s proved his ability to get batters out despite his high 80’s fastball. True, most top starters have a zippier pitch, but there also have been plenty of pitchers who won games without an All Star arsenal. Gee’s poise is that of a veteran; despite being only 4 years removed from not being allowed a legal can of beer, Gee has shown great command on the mound. That being said, being smart and in control does not  make one an ace. His 2011 MLB K-rate of 6.5 is too low in comparison to his BB-rate of 3.3. As such, I don’t see him maintaining an ERA in the low 3’s. He’s also encountered a bit of good luck, with an opposing BABIP of merely .232. He’ll have a rookie collapse at some point, and with his below-average fastball, those starts could be ugly. Still, all in all, I do think he’s a decent pitcher. Consider him an option in deeper mixed and NL-only leagues. Keep in mind, of course, that his youth may push the Mets to monitor his innings as the year progresses.

Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: 13 W, 3.88 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 150 IP / 110 K

Anibal Sanchez – He was always highly thought of. He was ranked as the #40 overall prospect by Baseball America in 2006, and seemed primed to become a future front line starter. But it didn’t happen- not a fault of his talent. Rather, it’s the injury bug that’s continuously bitten, forcing him to fall short of 30 starts in all but one season, 2010. In that season, however, he pitched very well: 13 W, 3.55 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 195 IP / 157 K. He also had a tremendous rookie season, for those of you who could remember all the way back to 2006. That year, he went 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA. So, it’s not totally unprecedented for him to succeed. But will he continue to do so?

Analysis: Sanchez is having a huge year, and seems to be finally delivering on his vast potential. Both his K- and BB-rates are lined up to be career highs, and he’s only gotten better as the season’s progressed. Additionally, after a newly developed labrum tear operation, his average velocity is actually up to 91.3 MPH (a good bit higher than his career average). Most importantly, Sanchez’s command has seen tremendous improvement. He’s sporting near career highs in contact-rate, first-strike percentage, and in-zone contact rate. Reportedly, he’s also improved the movement on his secondary options, and is using his slider and change-up to rack up the K’s. So long as he stays healthy, which his recent surgery should hopefully ensure, Sanchez looks every bit a #2 starter.

Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: 14 W, 3.35 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 203 IP / 200 K

Wow, it’s chilly in here…will the ice thaw?

Dan Uggla – The Braves signed Dan Uggla for his power, which thankfully he’s provided some of by hitting 7 HR’s thus far. His other numbers, however, are deplorable. An OPS of .559 isn’t even bench player material on a bad team, let alone that of a middle of the order slugger on a contending one. While his OPS hasn’t been good at any point this year, it’s absolutely plummeted since hitting a high note (.706) on April 4th.

Analysis: Nobody expected Uggla to repeat his .287 batting average from 2010; a player with his below average speed simply can’t sustain a BABIP of .330. But 2011 has provided a complete reversal in fortune, as Uggla’s BABIP now sits at .186. Additionally, while he’s actually striking out at the 2nd best rate of his career (20.6%), his walk rate (7.9%) is the 2nd worst of his career. So while he’s making slightly better contact (in that he’s not missing pitches for strike 3’s), he’s also seen a pretty substantial drop in his patience. This could be due to him getting frustrated by his bad luck. Or perhaps he’s getting antsy with Turner Field’s large dimensions. Either way, it’s not a good thing. Still, Uggla’s track record is too good for this. He’s hit no less than 27 HR’s in any single season, so while his batting average may never again top .265, there’s no reason to think that the power will vanish. With a .174 batting average, there’s really nowhere to go but up. Buy low, and thank the Maker you can get these kind of numbers out of a second baseman.

Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: .245, 26 HR, 78 RBI, 75 R, 3 SB

Chone Figgins – Ya know when you just don’t like a guy? Not personally, of course, but as a fantasy baseball asset? For me, that guy has always been Chone Figgins. I think it’s the fact that the extent of his fame far exceeds what is worthy of a player with a sub-100 career OPS+. Or maybe it’s because I expect speed players to score 100+ runs on an annual basis. Perhaps it’s simply my confusion on how to pronounce his first name. Whatever the reason, I’ve never drafted Chone Figgins, and have never advised others to, either. Now he’s mired in a season-long funk, which has only gotten worse over the past several weeks. Yes, he’s stolen a few bases when he’s actually been on, but that’s about it.

Analysis: Figgins’ steals are actually not as valuable as they may seem. With only 7 steals to go along with his 5 times being caught, Figgins has been extremely inefficient on the base paths. I wonder how many green lights he’ll be given going forward considering that success rate. To make matters worse, his walk rate (5%) is well below his career average of 9.9%, and his BABIP of .209 is inexcusable given his speed. While Figgins possesses a career batting average of .282, he did hit .259 last season, showing perhaps that his decline had already begun. When speed players decline, they do so at a fairly quick pace. Manager Eric Wedge has benched Figgins a few times so far, and if Figgins can’t get his act together, I can see it becoming a growing trend. Not feeling too much warmth here…if you can part ways successfully, it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: .235, 2 HR, 30 RBI, 45 R, 22 SB

Max Scherzer – A huge second half in 2010 (2.47 ERA, 102.0 IP / 96 K) had Scherzer primed for a giant year in 2011. While he’s continued to strike batters out at a substantial pace (8.50 K-rate thus far), his GB% has dropped 6 points from his career average, and he’s allowed a career high 1.38 HR/9. He’s been simply dreadful as of late, allowing 14 ER and 16 H over his last 8.2 IP.

Analysis: Outside of 4 starts, Scherzer has been lights out in 2011. He’s had 7 starts in which he’s allowed 2 runs or less over 5.0 IP, and has also struck out 7+ batters in, again, 7 of his starts. I guess 7 truly is a lucky number. So really, it’s only his last couple of starts that have been a concern. The first, in which he gave up 7 earned runs (again with 7’s?!) in a mere 2.0 IP against the Red Sox was truly brutal. Still, it’s hard to imagine Scherzer has completely lost it. There have been no reports of decreased velocity and, despite being bashed during those starts, Scherzer maintained his K- and BB-rates. I see no reason to believe his recent performance represents a long-term depression. Sit him during his next start to allow him to stretch a bit, but be prepared to insert him back into your rotation soon. While he may encounter a dip or two like this, he’ll contribute in big ways for your W and K categories.

Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: 15 W, 3.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 201 IP / 193 K

Joakim Soria – Who could possibly have seen this one coming? Soria entered the year as an easy choice for Top 5 Closer, but recently lost his job to rookie Aaron Crow. Earning losses and blown saves during his 3 most recent opportunities, Soria gave up 10 hits and 8 earned runs across a mere 2.1 IP. While he sported a 3.86 ERA prior to those games, that’s not too wonderful for a closer, and even worse considering his 2.35 career mark. So what gives?

Analysis: Soria’s metrics are all over the place right now. His K-, BB-, and HR/9 rates are all career worsts, and his first-pitch strike and swinging strike rates have been simply awful. Moreover, his 18.5% outside swing rate is currently last among all qualified MLB relievers, meaning that hitters aren’t chasing his moving balls for strikes. Additionally, scouting reports have been stating his cutter, which has been a plus pitch in the past, has faltered, and for some reason, he has all but abandoned his curve, which had previously been his out pitch. Still, it’s hard to imagine Soria’s morphed suddenly into Mel Rojas, so don’t drop him quite yet. While you’ll need to make allowances for the closer position, Soria should eventually regain his spot. He’s pitched perfectly in each of his last 2 outings (3.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER), so that may be happen sooner than later.

Fantasy Baseball King’s Bold Prediction: 27 SV, 3.98 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 65 IP / 58 K

  1. michael bourne says:

    What do you think about hot Kelly Johnson?

  2. Patrick says:

    RE: Asdrubal
    The thing I don’t hear mentioned is he is only 25. I mean, he is a serious youngster, who has shown flashes in the past and is stronger now. Also, how do you sell high on him? SS is so short, that a replacement (on my team it would be Ian Desmond) would hurt more than someone I could trade for him would help (maybe a young pitcher with upside or a veteran OF or something). I believe in asdrubal, and can’t he just be a kid who has grown up?.

  3. Sweet D says:

    Always nice to hear thoughts on struggling players but where’s the Morneau post? Your preseason love had me as giddy as school girl when I swiped him in the 6th round. Now I’m as bitter as Brian Sabean except Sabean can atleast put Buster on the DL while I’m stuck with .236 BA with no power. So what’s your take? Maybe throw out a pitcher or OF that you would trade for… or is it the dreaded “hang tough” advice?

  4. Sweet D says:

    Follow-up, pineda, non-keeper H2H. Innings limit gonna render him useless in playoffs? What’s the sell-high date?

  5. Ralph says:


    My league only allows two DL spots. As of right now, those two spots are occupied by David Wright and Jonathan Broxton. I now have Hanley Ramirez on the DL but have no room for him. Do you recommend dropping Bronxton and putting Hanley on the DL so I can pick up another player? Besides Broxton, my current closers are Axford, Salas & Santos. What do you think? Do I need to hang on to Broxton?

  6. Beaten With Uggla Stick says:

    Asdrubal hit over 40 doubles in 2009 at the age of 23. That is an indicator of power to come. If he hits 22-25 HR’s this year, you can justify it coming with the +40 doubles in 09 metric.

  7. tourinct says:

    Start Danks against Seattle tonight? That awful offense semms to have been better lately.

  8. Paulie Allnuts

    Paulie Allnuts says:

    Nice article. I share your feelings entirely concerning Figgy. Have always thought that he was perhaps the most overated player in fantasy. No he is basically unownable.

    Uggla looks like a complete mess. Bobby Valentine commented on how his batting stance has changed markedly for the worst.

    What are your thoughts concerning the Donkey? Has been an albatross around my neck most of the season.

  9. Chubby says:

    Who do you like better for the rest of this season:
    Casey McGehee , Nyjer Morgan , Roger Bernadina, Chris Denorfia, Casey Kotchman or Tony Campana?

    Razzball > >!

  10. Mark says:

    I agree with the Asdrubal support. I actually think smart fantasy owners are likely still undervaluing him a touch, and I might be more inclined to buy on him in situations where owners thought they were selling high. Obviously I wouldn’t look to pay top dollar for him, but if I could acquire him for the price of a mid-tier MI, I would be all over it. There’s nothing in his numbers that suggests a serious fluke aside from the 14.9% HR/FB. HR/FB tends to stabilize pretty solidly around 150 PA, and he’s already up to 260 PA. Plus its not a mark that has been exactly trending downwards since a short spurt, nor is it one that is absurdly high for the run environment context (~9-10% is average). We can pretty solidly infer that he’s added power to his baseline talent level, and while a 15% HR/FB may be unrealistic, 10-11% certainly isn’t. Add in a career high FB% (37%) and an above average contact% (86%) and that could still pretty easily mean he matches his current HR total even if he doesn’t pace it RoS, which along with solid production in the other four categories would put him right in the back end of top tier MIs RoS with some upside to boot. His BABIP is actually below his career mark, so there are no worries there, and in fact almost all of his other peripheral numbers are right in line with his career aside from the elevated FB% and HR/FB.

    There’s actually a pretty recent case of a very similar type of player seeing an almost identical power surge: Jimmy Rollins in 2006. Granted, Rollins was 27, he had a career HR/FB and ISO of ~6.5% and .140, respectively, and they both surged to ~11% and .200. We’re seeing basically the same thing with Cabrera. They were actually very similar players headed into this point in their respective careers: athletic, high contact, modest walk guys with good gap power. Rollins did hit a few more HR per year before that, but he was also getting 700 PAs a year and played in a much more homer friendly park. Otherwise, its pretty plausible that Asdrubal is simply hitting his first true peak season a bit earlier.

    Hittracker indicates 5 of his 11 HR were “Just enough” (cleared the wall by 10 ft or less) and only 1 was “Lucky” (wouldn’t have been a HR on a normal weather day). Seven of his HR would have gone out in at least 25 parks and just three would have gone out in less than 10. These numbers all compare similarly to sluggers like A-Rod (5/10 HR “JE”), David Ortiz (6/13 HR “JE”) and Justin Smoak (5/11 “JE”) and favorably to Kevin Youkilis (5/8 “JE”), Howie Kendrick (5/7 “JE”), and Carlos Santna (4/6 “JE”). His 389.1 avg. true HR distance is a touch on the low side, but basically the same range as A-Rod and Youk and better than Santana.

    Again, this isn’t to say I think he’s suddenly turned into a 30 HR guy, but more like a ~20+ HR guy. I’m banking he just about doubles his current total, throws up 10-15 more SB and hits around .290 RoS. If I could deal a #3 OF or SP for that, I do it, maybe even a bit more. I own both Asdrubal and Jose Reyes in one league plus have Ackley stashed, and once Ackley comes up and gets his 2B eligibility, I’m seriously considering selling Reyes and not Asdrubal to clear a spot at MI for Ackley and give me a much needed 1B or OF upgrade.

  11. Dominic says:

    So my pitchers have been getting hammered lately.

    I have D Hudson, Bud Norris, Brett Anderson, Tim Hudson and Jhoulys. Obviously I was going for high K rates but they are killing me on the ERA and WHIP with the exception to Jhoulys.

    Players like Gee, Colon, C. Morton, Niese and Jordan Zimmerman are available.

    I just have a hard time dropping one of my starters for these other pitchers. What do you think, should I just hold strong with what I got or what?

  12. quimmy says:

    his choo and colby lewis for my pence. thoughts?

  13. Jonathan O says:


    10 team roto (6×6 R,RBI,HR, BB, AVG, SB)
    Braun and Gio for Ryan Howard and J Weaver.

    I’d be giving up the Braun side.
    My OF consists of Kemp, Cruz, Rasmus, Abreu, Kendrick is flexible there. Right now he is at 1st for me.

    What do you think? I have Panda on the DL, coming off soon? Obviously Weaver is a big upgrade over Gio, but is Braun for Howard worth it?

  14. Buge Hoobs says:

    Lucky me has 3 out of 4 icers … “no where to go but up” I suppose

  15. Mark says:

    Breaking prospect news: Dodgers call up top prospect Dee Gordon. He was hitting .316 / .363 / .372 in Triple-A. He has very little power but elite speed and a decent contact profile. He’s stolen as many as 73 bases in a minor league season (2009, in A-ball over just 131 games) and was already 22/25 in SBs this year in Triple-A in 49 G. He doesn’t strike out much, and though the AVG is somewhat BABIP inflated (.365), for a speedy contact hitter an above average BABIP isn’t so shocking. I grabbed him in one deeper league already. Upside is probably .280 with basically no power but 35-40 SB RoS if he plays every day, but obviously some of that depends on what happens with Furcal, though perhaps if he performs either he or Furcan can shift to 2B later in the year. It will also be interesting to see how other teams treat this in terms of how it affects the Super-2 date. If they believe Gordon’s up for the long haul, perhaps this could trigger some other callups.

  16. A Hill O' Beans says:

    @Mark: Thanks Mark! I just picked him up in my 20 team league where I have been stuck with Alcides Escobar starting at SS all year.

  17. @michael bourne: I think Kelly Johnson is definitely a good buy right now. Should end the year with numbers lower than last season, but still above average for a 2B. Buy!

    The Fantasy Baseball King

  18. @Patrick: I never said that Cabrera isn’t a good player, nor that he wasn’t coming into his own. I just feel that his value right now is at an all-time high, so if you could make a trade to benefit your team, it’s probably a good idea. He’s hitting for mega power right now, and has no history of doing so. Yes, he’s hit a ton of doubles in the past, but I can’t see him hitting 25+ HR’s. He may come close to 20 this year because of his hot start, but if you can improve in another area and have a 15-15 season from Desmond at SS, that’s a better deal.

    Just my two cents ; )

    The Fantasy Baseball King

  19. @Sweet D: I don’t see him getting past 150-175 innings pitched…start shopping him at 130 innings so there’s some value to him in a trade. Plus, young pitchers tend to wain in strength towards the end of the season, anyway. With an innings limit (if you have one in your league), you may have milked what you could get by then, anyway.

    Hope that helps!

    The Fantasy Baseball King

  20. Mike says:

    Would you give up Haren or Marcum to get McCutchen? If so, which SP out of Dempster, Baker, Volquez, or Morton would you pick up to replace him? Thanks!!

  21. AdamH says:

    Wanting to add Clayton Richard for tonight and his 2nd start this week since both are at home. Are Jeter or Alfonso Soriano droppable in a 12 team H2H keeper?

    My hitters:

    C – Santana
    1B – Votto
    2B – Utley
    3B – Reynolds
    SS – Y. Escobar
    OF – Krispie
    OF – Gordon
    OF – Ryan Roberts
    UTIL – Pujols

    Bench – Espinosa, Moreland, Jeter, Soriano

  22. WDE05 says:

    Asdrubal with a 2 run homer to get the week off to a good start. In order for him to meet the projections mentioned, he will really have to fall off a cliff. Not sure I’d bet on that.

  23. Oregon Nut Cups

    Oregon Nut Cups says:

    Agree with WDE05. It’s rare that I fall for hype (hence I missed Jose Bautista) but here are some facts:

    As-Cab is 25 years old so he still has a chance at upside/potential

    He also hit 42 doubles when he was only 23. Some of those doubles are translating over to HRs with a slight change in approach.

    I also don’t believe 31 HRs is coming but I do believe in 25 this year with maybe 20 turning into his base output.

    I believe.

  24. JD says:


    how about DUNN and ALEX RIOS?

    Bought low on both… make me feel good about this please!

    RIOS for my backup Catcher

    Dunn for Rickie Weeks.. I have UGHHHHH-la

  25. I own Hanley Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Jason Heyward, Ian Kinsler, BJ Upton, Josh Johnson, and Geovany Soto — am I the unluckiest fantasy player in the world?

    Oh, though to be fair, I did flip David Wright, Max Scherzer, and Nelson Cruz for Hanley and Johnson (not that they’ve been good).

    My team is currently being carried by Daniel Murphy, Allan Craig, Mike Morse, and Jonathan Lucroy, so I think I am up there in the bad luck category …

  26. Carlos Z has slurpees says:

    Nice Boesch pair tonight.

  27. @Ralph:

    How is your lineup? Broxton is the guy I’d drop over the others at this point, but if you can afford to hold him, of course do it. Need to see your lineup first, though.


    The Fantasy Baseball King

  28. @Paulie Allnuts:

    Regarding Adam Dunn, his biggest problem is K’s, as he’s striking out about 7% higher than usual. Otherwise, his BB-rate is the same as always. It’s a puzzling situation, but perhaps one caused by his recent problem with fastballs. Pitchers are challenging him in a way they hadn’t previously, and for whatever reason he hasn’t been able to get around on them. I doubt that will continue. Don’t ditch him; it’d be the ultimate sell LOW. Keep the faith.


    The Fantasy Baseball King

  29. @Chubby: McGehee, Morgan, and Bernadina are the only ones I touch, in that order, unless in the deepest of leagues.

    Best of luck,

    The Fantasy Baseball King

  30. MeanMachine says:

    Would you trade Storen for Farnsworth or League? I’m a wee bit worried

  31. @Dominic: I like all the pitchers available, specificallly Gee, Niese, and Zimmerman, but I also like the pitchers you currently have. I don’t think I’d make a change. If you have excess strength somewhere else, though, dump it for one of the above.

    Good luck!

    The Fantasy Baseball King

  32. @quimmy: I’d only do that deal if you really need pitching. Do you? Lewis is OK, but Pence is the best player in the deal. Choo could come close when he turns things around, but why mess with it? That is, of course, unless you need SP ; )

    Good luck!

    The Fantasy Baseball King

  33. Jonathan O says:

    @The Fantasy Baseball King

    10 team roto (6×6 R,RBI,HR, BB, AVG, SB)
    Braun and Gio for Ryan Howard and J Weaver.

    I’d be giving up the Braun side.
    My OF consists of Kemp, Cruz, Rasmus, Abreu, Kendrick is flexible there. Right now he is at 1st for me.

    What do you think? I have Panda on the DL, coming off soon? Obviously Weaver is a big upgrade over Gio, but is Braun for Howard worth it?

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