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May 10, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

Four Hot Hitters

by Josh Shepardson


Selling high on fast starters is largely a myth these days. There is simply too much information available for fantasy gamers. Not all fast starts are created equal, though, and sometimes it pays to inquire on the availability of some of these players. Occasionally, owners will feel like they are selling at peak value, and now is the time to make a deal with them. In other cases, those owners are selling a player at peak value, and it is best to avoid acquiring him now. The key is determining which hot players are likely to sustain their high level of success.

There were quite a few players for me to pick from, and I opted to eliminate superstars from the discussion. Superstars do great things, and telling you that Miguel Cabrera will continue to play well and is worth acquiring isn't terribly useful. With that in mind, I selected four hitters that had an ADP outside the top 100 at the end of March for NFBC leagues.

Carlos Gomez, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

  • ADP: 108
  • 2013 Stats: 22 R, 6 HR, 14 RBI, 7 SB, .386 AVG

Gomez is dialed in. He's leading all qualified batters in batting average, and he's providing his owners with the type of power and speed they sought when they drafted him. His homer and stolen-base totals aren't outlandish, and actually line up nicely with last year's breakout totals. In fact, he's pacing to fall short of the number of bases he stole last year.

The real outlier in the early going is his MLB leading batting average. His .447 BABIP is 151 points higher than last year's mark of .296, but while it’s safe to say he won't maintain his current clip, it's also not helpful to end the discussion there. His BABIP this year isn't just good luck. Last year, he had a line-drive rate of 16.9 percent and a popup rate of 10.1 percent. In the early going, those rates have improved to 25.3 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively. Little from the rest of his batted-ball and plate-discipline stats stands out as a substantial improvement, though. His contact rate is up less than two percent, and he's not being much more selective, still walking in less than five percent of his plate appearance, and swinging at more than one-third of the balls thrown out of the strike zone (38.62 percent o-swing rate in 2012 and 34.66 percent o-swing rate this year).

His batting average is going to fall hard, as pitchers will eventually exploit his free-swinging approach. Expectations should be up some from what they were in the spring, and an improved final line from last season's is highly likely. That said, if you own him and someone is willing to pay through the nose for his services, take advantage of that. Otherwise, sit tight and enjoy the unique combination of thump and speed he'll add to your fantasy team. If you don't own him, now is an awful time to try and acquire him. He has improved, but many of his faults that made him a .260 hitter last year remain. An average in the .270-.280 range going forward this season feels about right.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: No-Hittin... (05/09)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Fer... (05/08)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Dum... (05/13)
Next Article >>
Fantasy Mailbag: The S... (05/10)

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