B. J. Upton- TB- Hot- Although his homer total is way down from last season (from 24 to 8), Upton’s has hit 33 doubles, as opposed to 25 in 2007. His Batting EYE has also improved dramatically, from .42 to .72. Of course Upton’s steals have skyrocketed, from 22 to 41 and counting. The drop in his batting average from .300 to .272 may be found in a decrease in his BHIPx from an extreme .341 to a still above average but reasonable for someone with his speed .264. This all adds up to a player that, if his doubles power gets translated into a higher homer rate next year, could be a fantasy stud in 2009.
Frank Francisco- TEX- Hot- Francisco has taken to the role of closer like a duck takes to orange sauce. He is a perfect 4-for-4 in save opportunities and has not allowed a run since gaining the finishing job. Francisco has allowed only 1 hit in 4-1/3 IP and not walked any while striking out 8. These are not cheap saves, either, as three of the leads he was called on to protect were only 1 run and the other was 2 runs. Francisco has handled both the mental and performance aspects of closing and so is getting himself more and more entrenched as the 2009 Texas closer.
Mike Hessman- DET- Hot- Yes, Hessman hit a homer last night, but that is going to happen with an all-or-nothing hitter of his type. At AAA Toledo this year his 34 homers in 399 at bats were accompanied by 140 strikeouts. Hessman did walk 59 times, giving him a Batting EYE of .42, significantly higher than his mark of .30 entering this season. Still, don’t expect miracles at the age of 30. There is a reason he has been a career minor leaguer. In his brief appearances in the majors prior to his September promotion he has a batting average of .191. While he has hit 9 homers in 145 major league at bats he has also struck out 48 times.
Nick Swisher- CHA- FYI- The White Sox’ official site says that Swisher’s 23rd homer of the season, which he hit yesterday, set a new career high for him. I guess that they missed that 35 he hit in 2006. Just another example of how you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet. Still, it is Swisher’s second highest seasonal total. He has been battling bad luck this season as evidenced by a .215 BHIPx, and that has had a noticeable impact on his batting average. However, he has kept his power, which is a good sign heading into 2009.
Dennis Sarfate- BAL- Hot- Sarfate struck out 5 and allowed only 1 hit in a lengthy, 3-inning scoreless relief stint. Most importantly he did not walk a batter. Opponents are only hitting .217 against Sarfate, but with 60 walks in 77-1/3 IP, they don’t have to hit much to get on base. With Orioles pitchers dropping like files from injury, and effective Sarfate could assume a more prominent role either in the bullpen or rotation in the last few weeks of the season.