Jered Weaver (SP - LAA): I spent much of the early portion of the season handling some sell high questions regarding Jered Weaver by poo-pooing them and noting he was a Top 10 starter for the rest of the season. Back then Weaver was showing the big jumps he posted in his K Rate in 2010 were legitimate as he struck out 9.66 batters per 9 in April. Since then though the K Rate has steadily dropped and now I'm inclined to believe Weaver is a legitimate sell high candidate. He's posted K Rates in May and June below 7 K/9 and while he's maintained his success it's been much more luck-dependent than early in the season. For the year he has a .240 BABIP, 80% LOB%, and a 3.3% HR/FB Rate that is half of his career rate. In the last two months Weaver has been pitching like a solid #2 fantasy starter as opposed to a true #1. Looking at his swing data, 2010 looks even more like an outlier. His chase rates the last 5 years have been: 29.6%, 28%, 25%, 33.5%, and 29.7% this season. His contact rates the last 5 years have been: 81.4%, 78.6%, 78.4%, 75.4%, 79.8%. Weaver was a legitimate ace in 2010 and while he started off strong in 2011 making us believe the growth in his K Rate was legitimate, the recent two months of data suggests 2010 was the outlier and Weaver's more likely going to settle in as a solid #2 fantasy SP. If you can sell him as an ace, now may be an opportune time after Weaver posted his 8th straight quality start.
Derek Holland (SP - TEX): Holland is one of those guys I want to believe in, but it just doesn't appear to be coming together for him. I noted on twitter during the games on Sunday that Holland was having a tough day with the umps, and he was, but it doesn't excuse Holland going strikeout-less over 30 batters faced on Sunday. Should Holland have been out of a few innings sooner and escaped much of the damage he faced on Sunday, yes, but with 0 K's you're not inspiring much confidence in fantasy owners. After starting the season strong in April with a 7.67 K/9, 2.84 BB/9, 48% GB Rate, Holland's peripherals have steadily declined. In May his BB Rate spiked to over 4.5 BB/9 and in June his K Rate will finish below 5.0 K/9. Holland has big-time potential. He throws hard and can ground balls in bunches, but he doesn't appear close to putting it all together.
Eric Hosmer (1B - KC): Hosmer broke out of an ugly 7-51 slide with a 2-4 effort on Sunday that resulted in a Run and an RBI. Digging on Hosmer's production to date we see some signs that should temper our expectations for his production going forward. Hosmer's ISO (.139) is right in line with the ISO he posted at AAA this year (.143) and is in line with ISOs of prodigious power hitters like Lyle Overbay, Yadier Molina, Erik Aybar, Brett Gardner, and Chris Coghlan. Alright, so I admit there was some selection bias in that sample, it's also around the likes of Dustin Pedroia, Torri Hunter, Billy Butler, and Aramis Ramirez. Regardless of the comparables the point is the ISO Hosmer has displayed is more in line with a 15-20 HR type hitter than an elite power monster. When we saw Hosmer's ridiculous .439/.525/.582 line at AAA this year, most looked at the .582 Slugging % and believed he'd hit for big-time power right away. The truth is the line was so heavily driven by good luck on singles (.500 BABIP) that it unfairly exaggerated Hosmer's power potential. His power the rest of the year might end up being more like Todd Helton than Gaby Sanchez.
Ricky Romero (SP - TOR): Romero continued his spectacular run on Sunday tossing a complete game shutout against the Cardinals. Romero's now posted quality starts in 8 of his last 9 outings and dropped his ERA from 4.04 to 2.74 during the span. While Romero's been red-hot, there are indicators that suggest his value may be peaking. Mike Leone mentioned a few weeks back that Romero has an extended track record of seeing his K Rate fade as the season wears on and we're seeing some evidence of that now. For his career Romero has posted a K Rate of 8.3 K/9 during the season's first two months, only to see it fall off to 7.1 K/9 over the final four months of the season. This year hasn't been much different. Through the first two months of the season Romero posted an 8.25 K/9 rate and here in June the rate has fallen to 6.8 K/9. For Romero's career he's posted a 3.26 ERA in the 1st half of the season and a 4.63 ERA in the 2nd half. While we're looking at a relatively small sample to make judgments on (just 2 full years of data), Romero's smaller frame (6'0, 215 lbs), ties in with the narrative that Romero may tire as the season wears on. Given we've seen it happen two consecutive years and the early trends in June line up with the career rates, I'm inclined to suggest capitalizing on Romero's value by selling high after his complete game shutout of the Cardinals on Sunday.
Jhonny Peralta (SS - DET): In the ongoing twitter battle between Mike Leone and Joseph Hettler, Sunday was a win for Mike Leone and the pro-Peralta camp as Jhonny continues his dominance over Joe Saunders by posting a 3-4 effort that included his 12th HR of the season. The timing might seem disingenuous but I'm on Mike's side in the debate over whether Peralta can maintain a Top 10 SS pace over the 2nd half of the season. Peralta's been around seemingly forever, but he's just 29 and while his power is spiking (entered Sunday's contest with a .207 ISO), he's posted a few different seasons with ISOs in this range before. In 2005 he posted an ISO of .228 and in 2008 he posted an ISO of .197. We've joked about the every other year phenomenon with some players, perhaps Peralta has an every 3-year phenomenon where his power returns? While the power would seem likely to fade, even a .160-.170 ISO should produce another 8-10 HR's over the remaining half of the season. In addition to the increased power Peralta's been able to maintain the big improvement he made in his contact rate last season, when he pushed it above 80% for the first time in his career. His swinging strike % is now at an all time low and while hitting behind Victor Martinez and Miguel Cabrera he'll continue to get plenty of RBI opportunities. Will the pace slow? Probably, but he'll be quite valuable from here on out as a Top 10 SS option. I suggested in the preseason, via twitter, that Peralta could be a sleeper SS option and a potential top 10 candidate and while he's surpassed even my wildest expectations, I don't expect a significant collapse in the 2nd half.