Adam Jones OF (BAL) - Jones cracked his 7th homer of the year last night. In the pre-season I took the under on 23 homers for Jones and seeing as how he is almost a third of the way there already, fellow analyst Drew Dinkmeyer (who took the over) will be sure to remind me of this fact on the Fantistics Sirius/XM radio show today. Here's what is going on with Jones so far that has made me look like a fool. Jones has dropped his chase rate to 38.1% (over 40% each of the past 2 seasons). In my opinion this has had an exponential effect on Jones' current numbers. He is chasing less and naturally striking out less, which means more balls in play, which means more chances at homeruns. Also, since Jones is chasing less, he is putting into play more hittable and driveable pitches. This is reflected in a career best (as a full time player) LD+FB% of 56.8% and allowed Jones to post a HR/FB% even higher than last season's, which I had thought would regress due to him swinging at pitcher's pitches. In other words, Jones' current power output is legitimate. As far as going forward, though, I am not so optimistic and think he is a sell high candidate. On April 20th fellow analyst Eric wrote about Jones and quoted, like I did in this blurb, his improvements in chase rate and GB rate, but if we look at how those numbers have changed since then we already see that Jones is going back to being his old self. Since April 20th, Jones' chase rate has grown from 27% to 38.1%; his GB% has increased from 35.8% to 43.2%. It is not a coincidence then that after hitting 5 homers in his first 13 games, Jones has hit just 2 homers in 14 games from April 20th on. Unless Jones can stop the quickly rising chase rate and GB%, the latter pace is the one we are more likely to see out of him the rest of the season, which is why I recommend selling high.
Kyle Drabek SP (TOR) - It's funny when you are higher on a player than most - only to end up discouraged with that player despite him slowly gaining in popularity and ownership amongst the rest of the fantasy community. That is how I feel with Drabek. I pegged him as a late round flier in the pre-season in large part due to his prospect status and hopes that he had solved (or at least curbed) his control problems. Following last night, Drabek has a 3.34 ERA in 6 starts which should be encouraging and has the fantasy community taking notice. I for one am as pessimistic as ever. Last night Drabek walked 5 batters while striking out just 2 in 5 IP. He gave up 5 ER, and I think we see a lot more results like this out of Drabek in the near future. His control problems are still present as seen by his 12.3 BB% which is about 50% higher than the league average, and that does not take into account last night's wildness. Going into last night's start, we really should have seen the wildness coming as Drabek's Zone percentage actually was lower than last season's when he walked everything in sight. Drabek's Zone % is 31.9%, well below the league average around 46%. It's not surprising then that Drabek has a career HR/FB% of 13.7%, which is well above the league average. He is just as likely to miss with ball 4 outside as he is to leave one hanging over the middle of the plate. Drabek owners are in a good position. They have gotten a bit lucky with his performance over his first 6 starts to help their stats. On top of that, the good start and his prospect status may allow you to sell him high in deeper leagues.
Ben Zobrist 2B (TB) - Zobrist hit his fourth homer of the season last night. He is off to a bit of a slow start with a .189/.339/.378 line. However, Zobrist's indicators are solid. As a result, he is still our 5th ranked rest of season second baseman. Zobrist's .189 ISO is in line with his .201 mark from a year ago. He has shown tremendous patience at the plate as indicated by his whopping 17.9 BB%. The main reason for Zobrist's slow start is a .138 singles average. His past 3 seasons Zobrist has posted singles averages of .260, .226 and .222. Given that Zobrist's current EYE is a stellar .87 and the LD% a solid 20.9%, this should correct itself sooner rather than later. Buy low now as the hits are coming and all the indicators suggest a repeat of Zobrist's fantastic 2011 fantasy season.
Alex Gordon OF (KC) - Fellow analyst Tim noted yesterday that Alex Gordon was showing signs of breaking out. Tim's timing could not have been better as Gordon proceeded to have a 4 hit ballgame last night to raise his average from .237 to .265. Some owners may have been concerned with Gordon's slow start, feeling last year's breakout was just an aberration. A look at the indicators, though, and I can't help but to think - buy, buy, buy! Gordon's chase rate has dipped from 27.1% to 24.2%, which has led to an increase in his EYE from .48 to .61. Meanwhile Gordon's ISO of .186 is in line with his .200 mark from a year ago. He is also seeing the ball very well as indicated by his whopping 25.7 LD% and a career best 16.7 HR/FB%.
Kyle Seager 3B (SEA) - Seager has been on fire this week. He blaster his third homer of the week last night and went 2-4 to raise his season average to .297. I'm not sure how sustainable Seager's numbers currently are. He isn't showing much patience at the plate (2.2 BB%) and has a pretty atrocious EYE as a result (.15). Currently the ISO is at .195 (not counting last night's game), which is very nice to see as Seager's .287/.303/.483 batting line is not being driven by luck on balls in play. My concern here, though, are Seager's minor league numbers. In 2010 he posted a .158 ISO at A+, and last season the two spots he spent the majority of his playing time were AA and the Majors where Seager posted respective ISO's of .147 and .121. In other words, I don't think he can keep hitting for this much power, and when he stops doing so the lack of patience and low EYE could lead to a prolonged slump.