Selling High- Pearce

Steve Pearce is having a career year for the Baltimore Orioles but is he legit?

Analysis: Through 47 games this season Peace has 10 home runs, 27 runs batted in and is hitting .327. The thirty-one year old Pearce has already set his career high in home runs this year but do not expect him to sustain this kind of pace.

Pearce’s BABIP is 72 points above his career mark this season which makes sense considering his career mark in batting average is just .253(.327 BA this season/74 point difference). His .368 BABIP is good for 18th in baseball this season among batters with at least 150 plate appearances. He’s also sporting an insane HR/FB rate of 18.9%(9.0% for career) which is 21st in baseball. All signs point to a sudden and significant decline sooner than later.

Steve Pearce is available in 30-50% of fantasy leagues. He does have multiple position eligibility but he simply is not a .280 plus hitter nor is he a guy that can be a reliable source of power going forward. A better bet on the wire would be someone like Curtis Granderson, Christian Yelich or Brandon Belt(who returns to action soon).

Under The Radar- Jones

James Jones is quietly having a solid season as the Seattle Mariners continue to push for a playoff berth at the midpoint in the season.

Analysis: James Jones is hitting .295 with 17 stolen bases and 33 runs in 56 games played. During the month of June he was the 9th best fantasy outfielder. Despite only playing in those 56 games he ranks 7th among outfielders in stolen bases and 13th in batting average.

At some point this season or next Jones’ power will start to appear. He is a toolsy, raw talent but the twenty-five year old will provide enough steals to offset the lack of power and RBI production for the time being. Jones does not walk much(4.4%) but he isn’t a high strikeout rate hacker either(16.5%). Among outfielders with at least 200 plate appearances he ranks in the top 30 in contact rate so we can expect the .350 BABIP and .325 OBP to be somewhat sustainable marks.

James Jones is available in 80% of fantasy leagues.

Wire Watch- Colon/Worley

Bartolo Colon allowed 5 earned runs in 6 innings pitched in his last start against the Pirates. Prior to that bad start he had pitched seven consecutive games without allowing more than 3 earned runs. Vance Worley is now three starts into his 2014 campaign and he already has 2 wins with a 1.74 ERA.

Analysis: Bartolo Colon is the 42nd best fantasy starter this season. Over the last month of the season Colon has been the 12th best fantasy starter. He has a 3.88 ERA, 3.70 xFIP and a 1.16 WHIP. His 1.16 WHIP is good for 19th best in baseball, his 5.27 K/BB rate is 7th and his walk rate is 3rd best in baseball. Colon is available in 20-40% of fantasy leagues.

Vance Worley is one of the most interesting pitchers on the wire right now. He does have a 1.74 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP but his xFIP is a pedestrian 4.14. His 4.00 K/BB rate would be 21st in baseball but he only has 20.2 innings under his belt thus far. The twenty-six year old Worley has a career 3.92 ERA, 3.98 xFIP and a 7.1 K/9 rate. He is not a fantasy savior but he is certainly worthy of some attention over his next few starts. Worley is available in 85-95% of fantasy leagues.

Sell High: Chase Utley

Chase Utley is holding on to the top spot for NL second baseman in the MLB All-Star fan voting with an impressive .305/.364/.474 triple-slash line, 5 homeruns, and 33 RBIs. Although, it wasn’t even a month ago that Utley was hitting .333. Since May 24th, Utley is hitting just .253 while slugging a traumatic .326 in 24 games. That’s a batting average 80 points lower and a slugging percentage 220 points lower than his numbers prior to the date!

The Phillies, however, are streaking at the moment, winning eight of their last ten. Perhaps Utley has heated up with the team? Wrong. In those 10 games, Utley is hitting .243 and slugging .324 with just 3 RBIs. His numbers have been visibly declining as the season progresses. Conclusion: we can call April and May just a “hot start” and his current numbers are deceiving of how he is actually producing.

Utley typically performs well in what his former manager Charlie Manuel would call “hittin’ season,” or July. Unfortunately, the following month of August is indisputably his weakest offensive month, given his career record. The fantasy owners of Utley have a decision to make:

A)     Hold on to Utley and pray that he heats back up with the weather, but take the sure hit in August.

B)      Believe in Utley’s decreasing numbers and sell him high while he still has value as a .300-hitter and soon-to-be All-Star.

For most cases, I suggest Option B.

De Aza Still Viable

Alejandro De Aza is putting together another fine fantasy season. He ended the month of May hitting just .173 and has since hit .375 in June. Many fantasy owners do not trust his game but he remains a viable fantasy option despite his struggles.

Analysis: De Aza had a solid line last year- 17 HR, 20 SB, 84 R, .264 BA. Thus far this season he is on a similar pace- 5 HR, 11 SB, 25 R, .222 BA. He currently ranks as the 75th best fantasy outfielder this season and the 38th best over the last two weeks of the season.

We have to keep in mind that the .222 batting average will continue to climb. De Aza is a career .266 hitter and his BABIP is down by about 70 points this season. Other than his poor batting average he remains consistent with his career marks in walk rate, strikeout rate, isolated power, HR/FB rate and contact percentage.

Expect the batting average and power numbers to tick up a bit and expect more of the same in the steals department. He currently ranks 19th among outfielders in stolen bases. Alejandro De Aza is available in 70-80% of fantasy leagues.