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AL Player Spotlight- July 1, 2007

Drew Dinkmeyer

CC Sabathia:

I love me some CC Sabathia! Big CC went 7 strong innings last night yielding only 2 ER's on 6 hits. He struck out 8 more batters without walking a hitter and raises his season K:BB ratio to 115:17, an astounding 6.7:1. These are goofy near Santana-esque numbers and Sabathia needs to be treated as such when assessing his value. In June, Sabathia's gotten even hotter with a 41:3 K:BB Ratio in just under 50 innings. A lot of people have been anointing Beckett the AL Cy Young candidate, while waiting for Santana to put together one of his big 2nd halves to get into the race, but at some point CC Sabathia needs to be noticed because he's putting together a Cy Young caliber season.

Travis Hafner:

Hafner knocked out his 3rd HR of the week, a solo shot, on Saturday night. Fantasy owners are hoping this is the sign of Pronk finally breaking out that they've been waiting for all season. Hafner's numbers are down and the primary reason is a significant dropoff in power nearly across the board. The lack of power can be directly to a significantly increased GB% that has Hafner's numbers all out of whack. Good news for Pronk owners is his EYE has remained elite and actually improved this year and while his R and RBI numbers are down a bit, he's just a big 2nd half away from reaching them. Over the last 3 season, Hafner's been able to raise his Slugging % on average 104 points. I still believe in Pronk despite the large increase in GB% and think he's in store for a monster 2nd half. He's the premier buy-low candidate in fantasy right now.

Kenny Lofton:

I think Kenny Lofton is one of the most underappreciated players both from a historical perspective and a current day perspective. Lofton's putting together a tremendous June hitting .388 after a 2-4 performance on Saturday night. Lofton's doing all of this at the age of 40 and is pretty much doing the same thing he's always done when given the opportunity. He's getting on base at a solid clip, producing an EYE well over 1, swiping bags when on base, and finding his way to home plate. Lofton's on pace for a 30+ SB season and 90+ Runs, with a .300+ average and isn't getting the attention he deserves. He makes for an obvious play in all but the shallowest formats because of his great speed and run potential.

Jacob Ellsbury:

Ellsbury made his major league debut on Saturday night going 1-4 and manning CF for the Red Sox. He's considered one of their top overall prospects and certainly the most advanced hitting prospect the Red Sox currently have, but I'll suggest owners be weary of rushing out towards adding Ellsbury. First and most importantly when evaluating prospects, I don't think Ellsbury's opportunity is that great right now, while Coco Crisp had been struggling much of the season a recent change in his stance has helped him raise his average 40 points in just 2 weeks. Secondly, I think the hype attached to Ellsbury is a bit undeserved. While Jacob has maintained an advanced approach at the plate and done a good job drawing walks in the minor leagues, he's never displayed above average power at any level. In AAA this season he was only Slugging .354% in over 200 AB's and the highest he slugged at any level was .434%. Ellsbury actually reminds me a little bit of another version of Coco Crisp and I don't think he'll make much of an impact in fantasy leagues this season. Maybe in the future he'll make some noise because of his above average speed and his ability to get on base, but the hype on Ellsbury far outweighs the potential in my mind.

Chad Gaudin:

Gaudin was spectacular on Sunday firing 7 1-hit innings against the vaunted Yankees lineup. He did walk 3 batters and only struck out 4 but now we're just nit-picking. The outing was Gaudin's 2nd quality start in a row against a big-time offense and lowered his ERA on the season to 2.92. Hopefully for Gaudin owners this will create a nice sell high opportunity because I don't see anyway he can keep this up. Right now he's benefiting from an insanely high .79 Strand Rate and has posted a 19:21 K:BB Ratio in June. All of his indicators are heading in the wrong direction and suggest Gaudin's in line for a significant regression in his ERA at some point in the near future.

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