Cameron Maybin OF (SD) - Maybin went 0-4 last night to drop his batting average on the season to a dreadful .201 mark. If the Padres are patient with Maybin and continue to play him every day, this is a good buy low opportunity. For starters, Maybin has been quite unlucky. His current singles average of .207 is well below his career mark of .262. Yes, the LD rate is low (14%) but not that far off from his career mark (15.3%). Also, despite having the highest GB rate of his career Maybin has seen his infield hit % drop from a career mark of 10.3% to 4.6% this season. That discrepancy alone has cost Maybin 11 hits which equates to over 40 points of batting average. Furthermore, Maybin has made strides in terms of his plate discipline. His EYE is a career best .46 thanks to a chase rate and swinging strike rate both below Maybin's career marks. Given Maybin's improved plate discipline I fully expect his singles average to normalize as well as his power (.094 ISO currently, career mark of .125; 5.8 HR/FB%, career mark of 9.1%). This should result in a big second half as Maybin has still managed to steal 16 bases in 19 attempts despite the limited opportunities. With regular playing time, look for Maybin to hit .250 ROS with a handful of homers and 20 steals.
Homer Bailey SP (CIN) - Bailey has been a bit of a disappointment for me as his K% has dropped from 18.9% to 16.2%. Bailey should rebound here at least a little bit as the season wears on given that his chase rate (30% compared to 29.8 in 2011), swinging strike rate (9.5% compared to 9.3 in 2011) and first strike rate (66.2% compared to 62.4 in 2011) do not show any reason for a step back in K rate. That said I've sat him in some leagues for today's start. Bailey's biggest weakness may be the long ball (1.10 career HR/9, 1.25 over this season and last season) and that weakness is magnified at home. In 7 home starts Bailey has give up 10 homers; in 7 away starts he has given up just 2 homers. He's simply just a matchups play, and I don't like the matchup today. However, be patient if Bailey has a rough outing today, as anticipated, and even scoop him up if another owner jettisons him as Bailey has 2 juicy matchups (at LAD, at SD) lined up for next week. Those are weak lineups and big parks.
Jay Bruce OF (CIN) - Jay Bruce hit his 17th homer of the year last night. Today, I mentioned that Giancarlo Stanton could contend for the league leader in HR. His main competition in the National League may be Jay Bruce. Bruce consistently keeps pitchers honest with his patience as evidenced by his walk rates the past 3 seasons: 10.1/10.7/9.8. This year Bruce is generating an absurd amount of loft (LD+FB% of 70.2%), and it has resulted in a career best ISO (.268). So far Bruce's increase in extra base hits has been seen mostly in his doubles production (1 double every 14.7 at bats, every 21.23 at bats for his career) versus his HR production (1 HR every 15.6 at bats, every 18 at bats for his career). If Bruce is able to convert some of the extra base hits he is getting this year from doubles to homers, he will challenge the 40 HR mark. Either way Bruce looks like he's taken his game to the next level this year.
John Axford RP (MIL) - Axford took the loss last night, allowing a go-ahead HR to Drew Stubbs; he entered the game tied in the bottom of the 8th inning. He retired the next 3 batters in order, striking out 2. There are some glaring red flags with Axford. At first glance, owners might dispel his recent cold streak and chalk it up to an abnormal HR/FB% of 18.2%. However, given Axford's lack of control (13.6 BB%, career mark of 10.7%) and high LD rate allowed (27%, career mark of 18.9), it would be naïve to assume the HR/FB is just bad luck. Clearly something is wrong here (injury?), and Axford owners need to own Francisco Rodriguez as insurance.
Jeff Samardzija SP (CHC) - Despite his recent struggles (ERA has gone from 3.09 to 4.34 in June), Samardzija's hot start was not a fluke, and I am still starting him confidently today in leagues where I own him. Samardzija currently owns an impressive 23.7 K% to go along with league average control (8.5 BB%). In addition to this, he is generating ground balls at a 48.1% clip that is above league average. Put it all together and Samardzija has a 3.29 FIP and 3.37 xFIP. So, the current 4.34 ERA has more to do with bad luck (.332 BABIP, 69.7 LOB%) than it does with Samardzija not owning skills.