By: Jack Moore
Each week we’ll be providing you with insight into the best (and worst) baseball players to play in your fantasy baseball league.
1. Adam Dunn, OF!, CHW: Interleague forces some unfortunate things upon American League managers, and one of the most unfortunate was Robin Ventura finding defensive spots for both Paul Konerko and Dunn without a DH. That meant Dunn got five starts in the outfield, enough to qualify there in many leagues. Although outfielders haven’t had much less power production (two fewer HR and just six fewer RBI per 162 games) the need for three or five in many leagues means dipping deep into the talent pool. Dunn’s new eligibility makes him a more flexible and flat out better fantasy play.
2. David Ortiz, 1B!, BOS: Bobby Valentine also had to get a DH into the lineup, and that meant exactly five games for Ortiz as well. Just getting a position to play Ortiz at can be huge, particularly in leagues where just one utility spot is available. Ortiz’s newfound eligibility could free up a trade of a first baseman for a much-needed piece or just allow owners to play matchups better with their utility spots.
3. Tyler Clippard, RP, WAS: Nationals’ manager Davey Johnson said Clippard’s performance as the Nationals’ closer would make it tough for anybody – including sidelined former closer Drew Storen – to overtake Clippard for the job. Most managers have a policy that a player – particularly closers – don’t lose their jobs due to injuries. We wouldn’t care about Wally Pipp otherwise. But Clippard’s 1.95 ERA and 10.9 K/9 certainly support Johnson’s notion, so it wouldn’t shock to see Clippard hold the closer’s rule from here on.
4. Bobby Parnell, RP, NYM: Parnell is the confirmed beneficiary of Mets closer Frank Francisco’s placement on the disabled list. It’s about time Parnell got this opportunity. Parnell’s 3.19 ERA is the best of any Mets’ reliever with at least 10 innings pitched and only lefty specialist Tim Byrdak has a better FIP. Parnell has strikeout stuff (9.0 K/9), solid control (2.3 BB/9), and the velocity (95.3) to put a little knock in hitters’ knees. He’s no lock to succeed, but he has the skills to do so, and now the opportunity as well.
5. Cody Ross, OF, BOS: Ross is doing his best to make sure owners don’t forget how good he was before hitting the disabled list about a month ago. He has three home runs since returning to the Red Sox to go with eight RBI. He’s been excellent all year, with a .581 slugging percentage in his 43 games as a whole. He’s especially a must-play against left-handed pitching: he owns a .304/.377/.804 line against them so far this year and a .284/.351/.578 line lifetime.
1. Chris Davis, 1B, BAL: Davis hit just .222/.292/.457 over the last 30 days. The culprit is a familiar one: the strikeout. Davis whiffed in 28.1% of his plate appearances over that span, just a couple ticks better than his career mark. That’s the main reason why Davis only owns a .255 career batting average and could never lock down a starting job in Texas. Still, as a .250 hitter with power, there’s some value to be had at third base or the outfield in a pinch. Just don’t expect a five-category hitter.
2. Chris Archer, SP, TB: Archer has been a popular add of late after going six innings with just one earned run in his first start as a major leaguer. However, Jeremy Hellickson is going to be back this weekend and as such Archer’s run as a Ray is likely over for now. Don’t expect him to hit the rotation full time until next year at least. Hellickson was called up at a similar point in his development in 2010, made four starts, headed back to the minors, and came back up later in the season as a reliever. Archer could do the same this season – not the best for his short-term fantasy value.
3. Ricky Romero, SP, TOR: Romero has been significantly worse than last year’s version in every way. Fewer strikeouts. More walks. More homers. More of these baserunners allowed to score. The Romero that looked like an ace has been absent for all of 2012, and there might not be any reason to believe he’ll be back – Romero thrived in 2011 on the back of a .242 BABIP and a 79.2 LOB%, both rates that even the best pitchers struggle to maintain. He could very well struggle to even get his ERA back under 4.00.
4. Dustin Ackley, 2B, SEA: Ackley is not a power hitter – his best minor league slugging percentage was .487. As such, he’ll have to hit for average to be of much use in Seattle, and there remains a huge obstacle: strikeouts. The former second overall pick has struck out in 21.3% of his career plate appearances, and as such it’s tough to imagine him hitting much better than .255 without making a significant improvement in contact rate. He’s even been dropped in the lineup to sixth or seventh depending on the day, killing his contribution to the runs category that kept his value afloat.
5. Ryan Cook, RP, OAK: Cook finally cracked Friday, allowing two hits, two walks and eventually getting charged with all four runs without getting an out. His ERA skyrocketed to 1.71 and there’s good reason to believe loftier heights are yet to be attained. Cook has walked 20 batters in 31.2 innings and as hits start falling in, he’ll start to pay for those walks. He also hasn’t given up a home run this season – an area in which he’ll pay doubly for his walks once the dreaded regression comes.
Jack Moore is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Mathematics and Economics. His work can also be found at FanGraphs.com, DisciplesOfUecker.com, RotoWire.com, AdvancedNFLStats.com and ESPN. Follow him on twitter at @jh_moore.