Here are seven players for your consideration to either acquire or send packing.
Dan Haren – One of the top 10 pitchers off the board in most fantasy drafts, Haren has produced a -$3 fantasy value this year according to Last Player Picked. On top of that, Haren is known as a first-half pitcher, as his ERA is nearly a full run higher after the All-Star break and his WHIP goes from 1.085 to 1.316 in the second half of the year. But Haren has been one of the unluckier pitchers around, with a .342 BABIP and a 17.0 HR/FB rate. His GB/FB ratio is nearly identical to where it was a year ago and Haren’s K/BB ratio of 5.53 is the second-best mark in baseball.
Juan Rivera – His ownership rate in CBS Sports leagues has declined from 77 percent on Opening Day to just 45% this week. Rivera got off to a slow start in April and did even worse in May. But Rivera had just a .203 BABIP last month. With Kendry Morales on the shelf, there are no worries about Rivera not getting the playing time to work out of his slump. He is likely available for little cost and could provide a nice HR bump going forward. And with a little better luck on balls in play he could prove not to be an anchor in AVG, either.
David Wright – Current owners may look at his .353 BABIP and .269 AVG and decide that Wright is no longer an elite fantasy player. Certainly, the 35.5 K% is troubling to everyone. But Wright’s HR power is back from its 2009 vacation, as his 16.4 HR/FB mark is nearly 10 percent higher from a year ago and right in line with the numbers he produced from 2004-2008. (U) ZiPS sees him getting the same 27 SB he did a season ago. So the big question is: How will Wright do in AVG here on out? A plethora of Ks killed his AVG through most of May, but Wright seems to be getting on track recently. In the tiny sample of eight games, Wright has 6 Ks in 29 ABs and a .310/.382/.517 slash line. In his previous 21 games, Wright fanned in 34 of his 80 ABs and posted a .250 AVG. If Wright can keep his strikeouts down to his career level of 20.9 percent, he is a good bet to challenge for .300 going forward.
Elvis Andrus – Despite a .267 AVG last year, Andrus excited fantasy players with his ability to steal bases. (U) ZiPS shows him finishing the 2010 season with 43 SB, which would top all of the preseason projections for him. Andrus is also projected to smash the preseason predicitions with 92 R, thanks in part to his move to the top of the order. But now is the time to sell high on the Rangers’ shortstop. His .380 BABIP screams regression. (R) ZiPS sees a .318 mark here on out and even that might be optimistic. As a GB hitter with good speed who can hit line drives, Andrus profiles as a player who would post a high BABIP. But last year he had a .305 mark in 541 PA.
Matt Garza – A four-category contributor on the first-place Rays, Garza is ready to challenge for career-bests in each fantasy category. But his K/9 is down from 8.38 a year ago to 7.11, his GB/FB ratio is a career-low 0.84 and he has a .266 BABIP. Garza has consistently posted low HR rates, so his FIP might be a better marker than xFIP, but both of those metrics are a full run above his current 3.08 ERA.
Andy Pettitte – The Yankees ace just keeps rolling along and is on pace for a 20-win season for the first time since 2003. But (R) ZiPS sees his production from here on out falling off significantly. And given Pettitte’s age (38 in June), xFIP (4.09) and injury concern, that projection should be taken seriously. Pettitte missed a start in early May due to elbow inflammation. In four starts since returning, he has a 3.08 ERA and a 4.85 K/9.
Torii Hunter – Last season Hunter was enjoying a career year before ending up on the DL with a groin injury which cost him 39 games. This year Hunter got off to a solid start in April but scuffled in May. After pounding fastballs last year, Hunter is below-average against them this season. I like Hunter to recapture the magic from last year and exceed his (U) ZiPS projection of .278-21-83-77-12.