Billy Butler (DH - KC): Butler is mired in a pretty frustrating 6-35 slump that includes just 1 XBH. On the season Butler is posting some of the best chase rates (24.8%) and contact rates (83.3%) of his career, but despite better zone command and contact rates he's posting the worst batting average of his career at .254. A big part of Butler's struggles can be attributed to his batted ball distribution. Butler's posting a career high 52% GB Rate which is resulting a below average BABIP (.285) due to a lower LD Rate. Along with fewer LD's, Butler is suffering from a low FB Rate which is sapping much of his power. The .133 ISO is by far his lowest mark since 2008 and represents a vast change from his breakout .197 ISO last season. As many of us have speculated Butler's 2012 power outburst would be hard to replicate, but with a career high GB Rate it may be difficult to expect him to even challenge 20 HR's. Butler will eventually correct the LD Rate as he's always been a high LD hitter and the average will trend towards .290 again, but there are legitimate concerns about the power playing up.
Jarrod Parker (SP - OAK): Parker made it 5 consecutive quality starts with 6 1/3 shutout innings against the White Sox. Parker allowed just 2 hits and 2 BB's, while striking out 7. In May he posted a 20.5% K%, 7.9% BB%, and 42.2% GB Rate which would all constitute slight improvements over his performance in 2012. With Parker gaining consistency and no notable differences in velocity or pitch selection it's probably time to write off the first month of the season. Parker struggled with command early on and it funneled through in elevated BB and LD Rates in April. Since the close of the first month though he's practically been the same pitcher he was at the end of last year if not a touch better. Coming into the season I thought of Parker as a Top 45 fantasy SP and I think we can get back to evaluating him in that context. If he's floating around your waiver wire, he's likely a solid #4 fantasy starter the rest of the way.
CJ Wilson (SP - LAA): I've been the biggest dissenting voice at Fantistics with regards to Wilson's fantasy value so it's only right I chimed in after Wilson rebounded from a rough last outing to pitch well against the Astros. Wilson gave up 3 ER's over 7 1/3 innings as he allowed 6 hits and most importantly no walks while striking out 9. My biggest issues with Wilson as a fantasy asset in the past have been unacceptable BB Rates that have made his WHIP a detractor and declining K Rates that leaves him heavily dependent on ERA and W's as a fantasy contributor. Wilson hasn't done anything to fix the command issues (3.81 BB/9) but he has enticed more swings outside the strike zone this year and subsequently the K Rate has risen. With a rise in K Rate he's actually serviceable in traditional leagues even with below average ERA (3.91) and WHIP (1.31). My one concern around Wilson's improved K Rate is the fact that a quarter of his starts this year have come against the Astros and he's posted a 11 K/9 against them. Against everyone else he's posted a 7.9 K/9, which is consistent with the rates he posted last year. Once Wilson stops facing the Astros every fourth start I believe the K Rate will decline and Wilson will be back to posting slightly above average K Rates at the expense of poor WHIP and ERA. I'd try to sell Wilson's increased K Rate as a reason to believe he can be a #3-#4 fantasy starter because by season's end I think he'll be closer to a spot-starter in traditional formats.
Rick Porcello (SP - DET): Back in spring training Porcello was one of the guys who I bought into the spring training improvements (in his K Rate) as reason for optimism regarding his 2013 outlook. He was using his curveball more and scrapping a slider which based on previous pitch values was a huge plus. Through the first four starts of the season, Porcello posted just a 2.07 K/9 and I felt like an idiot who was once again fooled by meaningless spring training data; but shortly thereafter, something changed. Porcello has struck out 44 batters in 44 innings over his last 7 starts while compiling a 3.47 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. Porcello has scrapped the slider (2.7% of pitches thrown) and he's relying on the curve-ball instead. The swinging strike rate is up modestly and he continues to build on his strong GB Rates, posting a career best 56.6% mark this year. I'm a believer. I think Porcello has turned the corner and is now a legitimate mid-rotation fantasy starter. I'm not sure the K's hold quite at this level (9.0 K/9 - if they did he'd be a #1-2), but with a 55%+ GB Rate, his usual strong command, and K Rate growth that at least looks legitimate enough to raise expectations from a 14% rate to a 19% rate, Porcello looks like a viable fantasy commodity to me in all formats.
Jhonny Peralta (SS - DET): Peralta picked up 2 more hits on Sunday raising his 2013 line to .332/.378/.487. Peralta doesn't exactly profile as a batting title contender given he has a career batting average of .267 and he's never finished above .300 in a season, so what gives? Peralta hasn't shown any improvements in his plate discipline and his contact rates are actually down from last year (although in-line with his career averages), but he's posting an incredible 26.7% LD Rate. Peralta has always been a pretty good LD hitter (career 20.6% LD Rate), but with the career-best LD Rate he's been able to post a .405 BABIP. A 27% LD Rate would traditionally result in an expected BABIP close to .390, so it's not as if we can write this off as just "luck", but it remains unlikely that Peralta will continue to post a 27% LD rate over the course of the season. As the LD pace slows Peralta's average will fall which makes him a strong sell high candidate.