Michael Saunders OF (SEA) - Saunders has flashed decent power (6 HR in 39 games), but I am critical of his ability to contribute to fantasy teams the rest of the season. He is striking out too much (33.3% of the time) and with a 16.9 LD% that gives him almost no chance at a respectable batting average. Furthermore, the one thing Saunders has going for him, his power, may not last. I expect his 47.7 FB% to drop as well as his 16.1 HR/FB%. That HR/FB% is not that out of whack on the surface, but when you consider Saunders’ poor patience over his short minor league career (5.8 BB%) and the fact that practically a third of fly balls he has hit this season have been of the infield variety, I don’t see the current HR/FB% as sustainable.
Javier Vazquez SP (NYY) - Vazquez pitched decently last night, striking out 8 batters while walking 2 over 6 IP. However, he continues to get bit by the long ball, giving up 2 HR. The move back to the AL has resulted in Vazquez allowing more balls into play and percentage wise more of those balls are fly balls. On top of that, the AL hitters and Yankee stadium has led to a spike in Vazquez’s HR/FB%. There’s nothing to indicate a reversal of this, so Vazquez will likely get plagued by the long ball all year long.
Coco Crisp OF (OAK) - Crisp entered play yesterday enjoying a hot June since his return from injury with a .435/.519/.826 line on the month that has him hitting out of the Oakland leadoff spot more times than not. He continued his hot hitting with a 3-run homer against Baltimore. Crisp is a worth a pickup in AL leagues and a look in deeper mixed leagues. He hit just .228 last season, but he actually made significant progress at the plate (1.26 EYE) that has carried over to a solid .80 EYE to begin this year. His low BABIP last season (.245) was to blame for the low batting average, not lack of skill. With the ongoing strides Crisp has made in his plate discipline, particularly an elevated walk rate, he is getting on base more which is key for him to utilize his speed and get into good run scoring opportunities. His current average will drop when his ridiculous .345 ISO comes back down to earth (.132 career mark), but he’s a guy who with regular playing time could hit over .280 while registering double digit steals and decent RS totals the rest of the way.
Zack Greinke SP (KC) – A bizarre night for Zack Greinke. Instead of pitching great and getting no run support, for once his offense picked him up. Greinke gave up 6 ER, but was still credited for the victory. Greinke is suffering a setback after a career year. His main problem is a decreased K rate, which was on display last night as Greinke struck out just 3 batters over 8 IP. His curveball has been the main cause of that. Currently, Greinke’s curveball rates as 2.67 runs below average per 100 pitches compared to .50 runs above average per 100 pitches last season. As a result, Greinke is a.) not getting the desired result with his curveball and b.) relying more often on his just average changeup. I suspect Greinke finds his curveball at some point, but until then he moves from elite pitcher to good pitcher.
Carl Pavano SP (MIN) - I’m a bigger Pavano backer than most, but his current 3.33 ERA is far from sustainable. Pavano will likely experience some regression soon, as he has been quite lucky. His BABIP is .256 which is a whopping 52 points below his career average. Meanwhile, Pavano’s LOB% of 74.8% is well above his 69.9% career mark and even higher above the LOB percentages in the 66th percentile he posted in ’08 (7 starts)/’09 (33 starts). When Pavano’s BABIP and LOB% normalize, his ERA will rise towards his FIP that is around 4.