Here are seven players for your consideration to either acquire or send packing.
Josh Hamilton – There were a lot of doubts about Hamilton coming into the season, specifically if he could remain healthy. So far, so good on that end, although there will always be health-related concerns around him. Hamilton is laying off more pitches outside of the zone and has the highest BB% (11.6) of his career. Some will look at his .333 BABIP and 14.3 HR/FB rate and conclude this is the best he is going to do all season. But from a fantasy perspective, Hamilton could see a big rise in RBIs in the coming months. The Rangers have already removed OBP sinkhole Julio Borbon from the top of the order and hopefully Ian Kinsler can slot into his customary position ahead of Hamilton and bring his .391 OBP with him.
Justin Masterson – An 0-3 record and a 5.40 ERA has Masterson owned in only 41 percent of CBS Sports leagues. But it is hard to imagine anything but the shallowest leagues where a 10.46 K/9 is not worthy of a roster spot. Masterson’s walk rate has never been good in the majors, and this year is no exception with a 4.05 BB/9. But what is really hurting him this year is a 26.7 HR/FB rate. Masterson has allowed 4 HR in 26.2 IP. His xFIP checks in at 3.11. Previously Masterson has had normal HR/FB rates and if it regresses to those levels the rest of the year, he should be a very valuable fantasy pitcher, even on the 10-16 Indians.
Scott Rolen – The past three seasons, Rolen has played in 128, 115 and 112 games so he is not the most durable player out there. But he remains a productive hitter while in the lineup. And right now Rolen’s numbers are being dragged down by a .239 BABIP. He has a nice .250 ISO, thanks to 6 HR in 84 ABs. Obviously he will not be able to keep up that HR pace, but Rolen should easily surpass preseason expectations that he would hit just 10-14 HR. He has really enjoyed hitting in the Great American Ballpark, as lifetime Rolen has 14 HR in 208 ABs at the GABP. And once he raises his current .200 BABIP in road parks, Rolen could be on his way to his best season since 2006.
Jaime Garcia – Everyone’s favorite rookie pitcher, Garcia has seen his CBS Sports ownership jump from 24 percent at the beginning of the year to 84 percent now. We know all about his phenomenal ground ball rate and how pitching coach Dave Duncan has had success in the past with these types of hurlers. But now is the time to sell high. He has a 3.73 xFIP and RoS ZiPS projects him with a 4.43 ERA (although its IP estimate seems way off). Garcia is likely to remain a useful to good fantasy pitcher the rest of the season, but like Joel Pineiro can tell you, eventually you give up some homers regardless of how many ground balls you allow.
Kevin Gregg – If you look at Gregg’s FanGraphs page you might conclude that his success this season is due to throwing fewer fastballs and sliders and more cutters and splitters. Last year both his cutter and splitter were below-average pitches and both have been tremendous in 2010, helping Gregg to a 64.3 GB%. But PitchFX guru Mike Fast thinks that Gregg has not really changed his arsenal much at all and that it is more of a reclassification of the BIS identification system. Gregg has lost his closer’s role for the Marlins in 2008 and the Cubs in 2009. Right now he is on a nice hot streak so look to sell high before regression hits since he likely has not added anything new to his repertoire.
Aramis Ramirez – Many people view Ramirez as a buy candidate, since he got off to such a terrible start (perhaps due to not being fully recovered from injury) and his BABIP is so low. But the strikeouts are alarming, with his 25.7 K% the first time since his rookie year in 1998 that it tops 20 percent. Ramirez is not chasing more pitches out of the zone and his O-Contact% is nearly identical to what it was last year. Instead, it appears that most of the trouble comes from catching up to fastballs. Ramirez has a Z-Contact% down over 9 percent from last year and his wFB/C has gone from 1.36 a season ago to -4.90 in 2010. Meanwhile his wSL/C has nearly tripled, going from 0.55 to 1.44. Ramirez has started to hit better in the last week (only 4 Ks in his last 38 ABs, although with a .184 AVG) but there should be at least a little bit of concern about his slider-speed bat. This is not a recommendation to sell at all costs but to see if you can get close to his preseason value. RoS ZiPS still forecasts him to finish with 20 HR and 97 RBIs, nearly identical to its preseason prediction of 21 and 101. But I am not optimistic that he will hit those marks.
Brian Matusz – Most people would shy away from a rookie pitcher in the AL East who is a flyball pitcher in front of the Orioles outfield defense. While coolstandings.com shows the remainder of the Orioles schedule against teams with a .545 winning percentage, I like Matusz to exceed his Updated ZiPS marks of 10 W, 4.51 ERA and 7.16 K/9.
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