Since we last met, the pitching market has become even scarcer with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettite both hitting the DL, while Tommy John visited Arizona pitcher Daniel Hudson as well. If you took my advice from my last piece to trade for Tim Lincecum, then these injuries aren’t going to kill you, but they still show the volatility in the pitching market this season. Looking ahead at this week, America’s birthday is coming up on Wednesday and with it comes one of the worst days for baseball. Despite baseball being “America’s pastime,” players born on July 4th have combined for 3 total all-star games. For comparison, those born just a day earlier, on the 3rd, have combined for 20 all-star game appearances. Go figure.
Players to Add
Anthony Rizzo and Yasmani Grandal
There really aren’t too many statistics to pull when talking about these two since they just got called up to the show, but they both have potential to make an impact in the fantasy game.
Grandal, first off, is worth the pickup due to his position alone. It’s always difficult to project catchers, and this season is no different: the highest-drafted catcher this season, Mike Napoli, ranks 11th using the ESPN.com scoring system, while Jarrod Saltalamacchia (owned in less than half of leagues) ranks 6th. With that being said, it’s worth taking a flyer on Grandal in a deeper league, especially considering that he hit two home runs in his first start and has one of the purest swings of any catcher out there.
Rizzo is still available in only 1/3 of ESPN.com leagues, so you may not be lucky enough to snag him at the moment, but he’s poised to have a big year for a rookie. After hitting .345 with 23 home runs in AAA, the first baseman is looking to replicate the big-time success of fellow rookies Mike Trout and Bryce Harper.
Lee enters the week with a 0-5 record for a struggling Phillies team looking to unload its roster—depending on who you listen to, the Phils may even be attempting to trade young starter Cole Hamels. Admittedly, this may not be Philadelphia’s year in the NL East (with Washington and Atlanta performing well and Miami hoping to make a run for the division title), but this is still a team with a lot of talent. Lee has been walking more batters this season, up from 1.62 BB/9 innings last season to 1.91 this year. However, his FIP of 3.02 compared to his ERA of 4.13 shows that his ERA should be well under 4 and that he just has been experiencing bad luck in the first half of the season. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is also at a career high, further showing Lee’s misfortune. Don’t look for Lee to be the same pitcher that finished third in Cy Young voting last year, but he is poised to improve, as this Phil’s roster is simply too talented to not provide more run support.
Players to Avoid
The Giants’ surprise star has had a very strong first half and is fourth in the MLB in ERA at this point. However, when you look at the list of ERA leaders, Vogelsong is a clear outlier. His WAR (wins above replacement) of 1.5 is the lowest in the top 10, his FIP of 3.66 (a full 1.43 points higher than his ERA) is the highest, and his xFIP (a good predictor of future ERA) is also the highest.
To summarize: Vogelsong was a pleasant surprise in the first half of the season with his low ERA and 7-3 record, but his advanced statistics point to a regression in the second half. Trading away pitching at the moment is ill-advised due to injuries, but trading him for Chris Sale (9-2 with an ERA of 2.27 with much better advanced statistics) is a wise move heading into the second half of the season.
Dunn has been one of the better surprises of the 2012 season thus far, hitting 24 home runs, which makes fantasy owners believe he’s back to the Adam Dunn of old that consistently popped 40 a year. (He actually hit exactly 40 home runs for 4 straight seasons; that’s consistency). Dunn’s certainly performing much better than last season, in which he hit .159—the lowest batting average for any regular player since 1910—and cost the White Sox 3 more losses than if they were to call up a AAA player (his 2011 WAR was -2.9).
This season, Dunn is pairing his 24 home runs with a strikeout in 36.9% of his at-bats. That number is even worse than his abysmal 2011 season and puts him on pace to break the record for strikeouts in a season. His batting average has been dropping consistently for the past month to his current .213, and Dunn’s performance in the last 15 days has been terrible. This could be the best time to sell on the aging slugger before the 2011 Adam Dunn reappears.