Jhonny Peralta (SS - DET): I checked in on Jhonny Peralta a few weeks back, noting some of the odd discrepancies between his indicators and his performance early in the season. Peralta's posting a career best 31% LD Rate and 11% BB Rate but you wouldn't know It from his .246/.333/.358 line which represents the 2nd worst OPS since he became a full-time player in 2005. A heightened K Rate is part to blame for the problems but it's only 2 percentage points above his last 2 years and actually 2 percentage points below his career average. In addition despite the K% jumping, Peralta's swinging strike rate is at a career low 8.3%. Since I checked in on Peralta the gap between the performance and the skills continues to grow. Peralta's hit just .244/.404/.341 since I checked in on May 7th, but his LD Rate in May is an absurd 38%, his EYE is 1.18 and his BB% is over 18%. From a skills perspective it looks like Peralta is scorching hot, but the performance just hasn't followed. If you're a Peralta owner stay patient and if you're an owner who can afford to sacrifice speed for some power, perhaps make a play for the Tigers SS.
Hiroki Kuroda (SP - NYY): It's been difficult to watch Hiroki Kuroda's transition to the AL East. I've owned Kuroda for a number of years, but his stuff is really struggling to miss bats in the AL. Kuroda's swinging strike rate which was above 10% in consecutive years has dropped to just 7.6% this season. He's also struggled to generate chases outside the zone and his O-swing rate has dropped 3 percentage points to a league average 30%. The result has been a vast drop in his K% (14.6%, 19.2% last year) and a corresponding rise in his BB% (8.6% from 5.9%). The league switch has quickly turned Kuroda into a non-entity in traditional 10 and 12 team leagues after spending much of his career as a mid-rotation fantasy darling in the NL West. Kuroda will likely see some regression in his HR/FB Rate (19.6%) which will allow him spot-start value in traditional formats (especially on the road), but owners need to adjust expectations downward for Kuroda this year.
Daniel Nava (OF - BOS): Perhaps the most difficult player to assess in all of fantasy is the "non-prospect" that puts together a hot start at the big league level. Daniel Nava certainly fits that mold as his .350/.491/.600 line in his first 55 big league PA's is nothing short of stellar. Nava's shown elite plate discipline (16% chase rate, 18.2% BB Rate, 4.7% swinging strike rate) coupled with good LD skills (23.5%) that support the phenomenal start. The career .317/.414/.496 minor leaguer has certainly had extended periods of success, but his lack of ideal power (career high 12 HR's) or speed (15 SB's in last 225 games) makes him a limited fantasy player. Still, any player benefiting from the Red Sox lineup and home park warrants attention and while Nava has been rolling (mostly through elite skill, rather than luck) he deserves attention. The pace will inevitably slow as Nava posted an ISO around .160 the last two years at AAA and is currently at .250. A more normal expectation for Nava would be something along the lines of .270/.365/.440 with limited speed and power contributions. A better option in saber-metric oriented leagues that reward OBP, Nava can be considered a "ride-the-hot-hand" in traditional mixed leagues, while more of a 4th or 5th OF option in deep leagues.
Dan Haren (SP - LAA): It was only a matter of time before Haren's 4+ ERA and 1.33 WHIP corrected and on Thursday night Haren did his best to correct it all at once. Haren entered the start with slightly elevated BB and LD Rates that hinted at some issues with command. In addition his FB velocity had been down early in the season leaving some questions about whether Haren's workload in past years was finally catching up to him. On Thursday night Haren put any of those concerns behind him. He struck out 14 in a dominant complete game shutout effort, allowing just 4 hits and 0 walks. The strong effort immediately corrects any of the slippage in the peripherals and demonstrates that Haren's strong swinging strike rate (entered with a 10.1% rate) was more indicative of his stuff than any loss in velocity. Haren remains a solid high-end #2 SP and should continue to hold that value the rest of the way for the Angels.
Addison Reed (RP - CHW): The White Sox made the formal announcement earlier in the week that Reed was their closer, but haven't had the opportunity to give Reed any work since the promotion became official. On Thursday night he was able to get some work in with a 5 run lead in the 9th. It was a good thing Reed had a cushion as he allowed a 2-run HR to Justin Morneau while striking out 2 in his inning of work. Reed's tremendous K Rate (11.93 K/9, 30% K%) gets a lot of the attention, but there are some risks in his statistical profile that could leave the role up for grabs again. Reed's 4.40 BB/9 coupled with a 27% LD Rate and 45% FB Rate could lead to some explosive innings (which we've already seen this year). The BB's weren't much of a problem for Reed in the minors so there's hope that improves, but a league average chase rate paired with the high LD Rate makes me think hitters see Reed ok. Given the White Sox are in a transition mode and Reed is the face of the future he'll likely have a long leash. Just be prepared that his skill set could lead to bumpy rides. As strong as his K Rates are, enormous FB Rates paired with shaky command can make any closer susceptible to a blow-up.
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