This week for the hot hitters, I’m focusing on players who are great to pick up while they’re hot, but they’re not long-term investments because there’s a lot of luck factor involved in their rise to relevance. Sadly this is the most common case of hot players you pick up in the FA pool: the skills don’t support the results, so when reality hits them, your team suffers. So really, these hitters on the rise aren’t really stocks worth investing in, unless you’re feeling lucky and like riding streaky bats. I guess I’m just Mr. Negative this week.
Players on the Rise
Steve Pearce – He’s getting hits and smashing home runs right now, so grab him while he’s hot. However, bear in mind he’s got an inflated BABIP and a career high HR/FB right now, so this isn’t likely to keep up all season.
Howie Kendrick – He’s been hot in July and is producing RBI despite no HR. However, his BABIP is .583 for the month, so there’s simply no way he keeps this up. Bear in mind that his FB% is ridiculously low at 18%, so HR won’t appear anytime soon.
Justin Ruggiano – He’s hit two HR, and he’s shown some pop in the past, but this is mostly due to an unsustainable (for him) HR/FB of 25%. His BABIP is .647 for July, so obviously the BA boost is a mirage. The Cubs are desperate for warm bodies with some pop, but you shouldn’t be.
Christian Yelich – A BABIP of .478 is propping up his average in July, though his speed does allow him to have a BABIP above league average. Like Kendrick, he’s hardly hitting any balls in the air, so the HR total won’t increase if he doesn’t change his approach. His speed is the most valuable thing about him this year. I don’t expect the BA to stay above .270, and I would take the under on 15 HR.
Andrelton Simmons – Have you notices the trend yet? Hitters with high ground ball tendencies are not likely to maintain their luck this month. Simmons has a BABIP of .500 in July. His next highest month this season is .280, and his career BABIP is .266. That average won’t stay propped up much longer, because he’s not a speedster and he’s hitting more balls on the ground this month than any other in the year, which also kills his HR chances.
Players on the Decline
Xander Bogaerts – His keeper stock is still huge, but let’s face it, this slump isn’t a short-term thing. He’s been bad for weeks now, and it’s not really getting any better. Managers who have been relying on him as their only 3B or SS have been suffering, and it’s time to get a backup or outright replacement for redraft leagues.
Billy Butler – I wasn’t high on him to start this season, and he hasn’t done anything to make me change my mind on him. Slow runners who hit 50% grounders and have a dropping HR/FB are going to be awful. It’s clear 2012 is a career year, and at this point I don’t expect him to even be able to repeat 2013. Cut and run for 2014 and beyond if you haven’t already.
Shelby Miller – There’s been a little bit of bad luck to his season, but he’s also simply not pitching well. His K/9 has been in decline all season, as has his swinging strike rate. His LD% is a bit high at times, meaning batters and squaring up well on his pitches. He’s clearly not going to be as good as good as we’d all hoped, and Wacha is the true SP stud on the Cardinals. He may net some wins because of the Saint Louis offense, but don’t expect an improved ERA in the second half.
Aaron Hill – He’s been nowhere near as good as I’d hope this year. His contact rate and walk rate have dropped this season compared to recent norms, even though he’s not chasing more balls out of the zone. Some bad luck is a slight factor for his poor average, but I’m more concerned about his poor HR/FB rate, which is down to 5%. I don’t see any obvious, glaring reasons for the drop in homers, so there’s a chance he has a good second half, but at this point teams pushing for the playoffs need to find another 2B option, just to be safe.
Rougned Odor – We were hoping that after Profar went down, Odor would be a nice replacement prospect. However, his speed, which was a big part of his value in his minor league stats, hasn’t yet translated to SB in the majors. He’s also hitting a lot of balls on the ground, especially in this first week of July, so a double-digit HR total for the season is in doubt. His BABIP is a bit low, so the average may return to decent, but there’s simply not much to like here in redraft roto leagues.