J.J. Hardy (SS – Brewers)
J.J. Hardy had by far his best game of the season on Tuesday night, as he went 3 for 3 with 2 walks and 4 RBI. This line was very much necessary for Hardy owners to be able to maintain their sanity. Hardy has certainly been a victim of bad luck this season with a .155 BHIP%, but he has also seen his K rate rise by 7% compared to his career average. It does not appear that the reason for the increased K rate is chasing bad pitches, because he is actually swinging at about 4% fewer pitches outside of the strike zone in ’09 versus ’08. But, at the same time, he is swinging at 4% fewer pitches inside of the strike zone in ’09 versus ’08. I am taking this as a positive sign, as it means that he is not trying to swing his way out of his slump; rather, he is trying to work the count and get better pitches to hit, although unsuccessfully thus far. Hardy is a notoriously streaky hitter, so all owners must be prepared. He will likely follow up any prolonged slumps with the obligatory prolonged hot streak, and I get the feeling that the latter is about to happen. Hardy owners must exercise patience, as he is a prime buy-low candidate.
Brandon Phillips (2B – Reds)
After a painfully slow start to the season, Brandon Phillips appears to be turning things around by collecting 3 hits last night, which included a HR and 6 RBI. Phillips is an interesting case, because he has actually managed to improve his EYE by a great margin (1.00 in ’09 vs. .35 career), but has seen his production tumble across the board. Bad luck would seem to be the largest contributor to his lack of production, which is evident by a .167 BHIP% on the season. Phillips is greatly under-valued right now due to his bad luck; while his greatly improved EYE shows that he could be in for a career year in ’09. It may be about a week too late to steal him from an impatient owner, but it is definitely still worth a try.
Josh Geer (SP – Padres)
Josh Geer walked his first batter of the season on Tuesday night, as he allowed just 1 ER in 8 IP. Geer’s K/BB ratio fell from 9.00 to 6.00 as he walked 2 and struck out 3. Geer is a pitcher who relies on exclusively on command to be effective, which he has done brilliantly this year while posting a 3.96 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. His minor league statistics further display his control (1.8 BB/9), which help to off-set his lack of dominating stuff (5.6 K/9 in minors). Furthermore, Geer has historically been a FB pitcher, which will play well at Petco Park by suppressing his HR rate. Geer is essentially a poor-man’s Kevin Slowey – he has similar command but inferior stuff, meaning fewer strike outs. Just as with Slowey, Geer is likely to have an ERA that is higher than his WHIP in relative terms. However, the games that he pitches at home should help to mitigate the disconnect between ERA and WHIP, and close the sizeable gap between him and Slowey. Geer is definitely someone worth monitoring in leagues with large benches, as he could be a smart play when pitching at home.
Jimmy Rollins (SS – Phillies)
Jimmy Rollins picked up 2 more hits on Tuesday night to raise his BA to .210 on the season. Slowly but surely the snapback is coming. In fairly inconspicuous fashion, Rollins is now batting .313 in his last 7 games. Granted, Rollins has only posted a LD% of 13.1% on the season, but his BABIP of .220 is still somewhat rotten luck. His BB rate has also fallen this year, but I remain steadfastly unworried. Even at just 30 years old, we have 8 full seasons to base our judgments upon with Rollins. It is nearly impossible to make a case that he is on the decline, since he has posted some of the best numbers of his career in recent years (career high in HR in ’07; career high in EYE and SB in ’08). Unlike NFL running backs, baseball players do not go from peak to trough in a span of one year. If I did not already own Rollins, I would be aggressively pursuing him before it is too late.
Todd Helton (1B – Rockies)
Helton collected 2 more hits last night to raise his BA to .341 on the season. In his last 10 games, Helton is hitting .459. However, only 3 of those 17 hits have been of the extra-base variety. Helton’s EYE has begun to elevate back to its normal levels during this stretch, but his current lucky BABIP of .379 has been the major contributor to his hot streak. In fact, Helton’s current LD% is the lowest mark of his career, while his GB% is the highest mark of his career and a whopping 11% higher than his career average. These aren’t the kind of career highs that you want to be setting. Don’t be fooled by Helton’s recent BA surge, as it is not well-supported by his peripherals.