Last week, I looked at starting pitchers who have been trending both positively and negatively, by examining their last 30 day SIERA marks. Today I jump over to the hitters and check on the surprising ISO (isolated slugging percentage or SLG minus AVG) positive trenders.
Daniel Murphy | .307 ISO
This is primarily driven by doubles and a pair of triples, but he has hit his only three homers of the season over the last 30 days. Murphy has 1B, 2B and 3B eligibility in my CBS league and that type of flexibility could really come in handy when injuries inevitably strike. Of course, in a shallower league, he’s going to be much more valuable at 2B, but if you own him in a deeper league where replacement level is essentially the same across positions, his value would be similar. Murphy really hasn’t shown much power potential in his career, so it is doubtful that this surge has any meaningful predictive value. However, he does hit in the middle of the Mets order, makes excellent contact which should ensure a beneficial batting average and will even chip in a steal here and there. He is a bit like what Placido Polanco used to be good for, with upside of about 10/10 and a strong batting average and that ain’t bad at all.
Justin Ruggiano | .284
With 5 homers over the last 30 days, Ruggiano has been quite the pleasant surprise in Florida. With Giancarlo Stanton out, Ruggiano as earned every day at-bats and has been taking full advantage. Ruggiano has never enjoyed a full-time job, tallying a career high at-bat total of just 105 last year. The 30 year old is no prospect, but has shown decent, albeit unspectacular power in the minors. He strikes out a little too often and his HR/FB ratio sits at 24%, which is likely unsustainable. In Triple-A in 2011 and this year, he did experience a power spike, but that could also simply be a function of him spending his 5th and 6th seasons at the level. He will undoubtedly slow down, but he has posted inflated BABIPs in the minors and so he may still contribute in batting average even when his power declines. With some speed as well, he’s worth a short-term add for as long as he is seeing consistent playing time.
Neil Walker | .242
Walker has been red hot over the past 30 days, hitting .418 and swatting 4 homers. I guess he felt bad that he had been way off the pace of earning top 5 value at second base like I boldly predicted and decided it was time to go on a tear. His BABIP is a tad on the high side right now, but it’s actually fairly supported by a 24.5% line drive rate. For the season, his ISO is nearly identical to where it sat last year. However, his average fly ball plus home run distance has increased about five feet since last year over the entirety of the season, while over the past 30 days, his distance has surged, jumping from 285 feet to an incredible 329 feet. His HR/FB for the season sits at just 9.3%, which isn’t significantly higher than what he has done in the past. Though in the last 30 days, he has seen a spike to 17.4%, so we might see continued improvement in his batting line in the power department.