Bobby Abreu (OF - LAA): Abreu extended his hitting streak to 6 games on Sunday with a 2-3 effort that included his 10th SB of the season and 2 more BB's. At 37 it appears Abreu's showing little signs of slowing down. His BB and K Rates have stayed in the same range as much of his career and he's remarkably on pace for his 13th consecutive season of 20+ SB's. While his K and BB Rates haven't deteriorated much there are some small signs of skill decline in his chase and contact rates. After 3 years of contact rates above 83%, Abreu's contact rate has declined to 80.6% this season. Similarly after a career of chase rates below 16.5%, Abreu's chase rate the last two years has jumped up to 18%. These aren't drastic erosions of skill but they are mild deteriorations in skill. In addition to the small erosion in plate discipline, Abreu has seen his power drop significantly this year. His ISO which gapped back up to .180 last season after a slow decline the previous 3 years, is back down under .100 this year. His performance hasn't suffered much thanks to a .356 BABIP, but Abreu's overall skills are in decline. He's on-pace for barely double digit HR's and 75+ Runs and RBI's. Instead of his usual 20-20 season with 80+ Runs/RBIs, we're looking at a .280-70-10-70-20 campaign, good enough for a OF spot in traditional roto leagues, but likely below expectations. With Abreu hot of late and still swiping bags, owners might want to cash in on the recent hot streak and deal for a player with a bit less name value that might be able to fill-up the box-score a bit stronger.
Gordon Beckham (2B - CHA): With HR's on consecutive days and hits in 4 of his last 5 (7-24) Beckham is giving his owners some reason for hope. Unfortunately I'm not sure how much hope there should be. Despite the recent success Beckham has struck out 5 times in those 24 AB's, while walking just twice and has a 2:10 BB:K Ratio in his last 10 games. Beckham did have a strong May hitting .303/.379/.421 thanks in part to a fantastic 29% LD Rate and corresponding .404 BABIP, but his strike zone peripherals continued to struggle. He struck out in over 30% of his May AB's and walked in under 7% of his AB's. For the season he's already posting a 21% LD Rate and been able to muster just a .238 average to go with it. Add in the fact that he's only contributing above average production in the Runs category and I remain a bit pessimistic on Beckham's value going forward. I'm such a believer in talent that I want to buy in on Beckham and believe he can reel off a big 2nd half like he did last year, but his K Rates last year were in the low 20's, not the 30's and until those contact rates improve it's going to be an uphill battle for Beckham to get on-base consistently and contribute in all categories. I'm still holding and hoping the strong May allows the indicators to come along with it, but the high K Rate even in the midst of this hot streak has me concerned.
Brett Anderson (SP - OAK): After a scorching start to the year (2.77 ERA through first 7 starts), Anderson has slumped mightily of late. The Yankees got to him for 9 ER in just 5 1/3 IP and the Red Sox beat him up on Sunday to the tune of 5 ER's on 9 hits and 2 BB's in just 5 innnings of work. The big difference between Anderson's strong start and his recent fade can be found in his BB Rate. In the first 7 starts of the season Anderson posted a tidy 1.47 BB/9, but since he's posted an ugly 4.41 BB/9. The numbers have certainly been exaggerated by some difficult matchups (@BOS, @TEX, vs. NYY in 3 of the 6), but it's worth noting that Anderson has also seen his velocity dip this year. His avg FB clocked in at 92 mph last season and this year has been under 91 mph at 90.9 mph. I don't want to sound like chicken little here, but command issues coupled with velocity drops can be warning signs for me with potential arm issues. Considering Anderson made a couple trips to the DL last year with elbow soreness, consider me mildly concerned. I don't own Anderson in any leagues this year (something I was kicking myself for early in the season) but if I did its something that would be in my mind. I'm not suggesting selling Anderson at any offer that comes by, but if you can get a similarly skilled fantasy option with a bit less risk, there might be an opportunity to dampen your team's risk profile. I'm a huge fan of Anderson's and hope the warning signs I'm noting are nothing more than a blip on the radar screen exaggerated by a difficult schedule, which they very easily might, but the combination is one that raises my senses a bit.
J.P. Arencibia (C - TOR): You won't find a much bigger supporter of JP Arencibia than me so when I'm asked to write about him by a twitter follower, I'll happily oblige. Arencibia has prodigious power and while he strikes out a lot has shown improvement quickly at the big league level. He's improved his contact rate from 67% last season to 78% this season and dropped the K Rate to just over 26%. Even better the K Rate has improved month-to-month dropping from 27.7% in April to 24.4%, while maintaining a solid 8.5% BB Rate. With the improved skills at the plate and behind the plate, he's earned more playing time, seeing 65 AB's in April and getting 86 in May. He's gone from a 4-5 start per week guy to almost an every day catcher, which with his power will easily result in 20+ HR and potentially 25+. I've called Arencibia a borderline Top 7 catcher the rest of the way and feel pretty comfortable he lives up to those expectations going forward. His skills remind me of Mike Napoli and without the playing time concerns Napoli has had throughout his career I think we could see Arencibia provide fantasy owners with full-season lines like the ones owners always wanted to see out of Napoli. I'm looking for an average in the .260's with 25-30 HR's and 70-80 RBI's, making him a contender as a Top 5 catcher option the rest of the way.
Erik Bedard (SP - SEA): Bedard made it 8 straight starts in which he's surrendered just 3 ER's or less on Sunday with 7 strong innings against the Rays. Early on it looked like Bedard was going to get singled to death as he gave up 7 hits and 3 ER's in the first 3 innings, but he eventually settled in, retiring 13 of the next 14 batters. The final line was solid - 3 ER's on 8 hits over 7 innings with 0 BB's and 7 K's. It's another good outing from a peripheral perspective as Bedard continues to show the improvements he made in May were legitimate. Those peripherals that he posted in May (8.9 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 53% GB Rate) were elite and translated to a 2.19 FIP. I wish my confidence hadn't wavered in Bedard with the early season struggles, but it turns out I was right from the beginning: as long as Bedard is healthy, he's dealing and someone you want to own. While there are always going to be concerns about how long he can stay healthy, there shouldn't be any concerns about how good he'll be. He gets the Tigers in his next outing, a team that he's already faced twice this year and allowed 4 ER's over 12 innings against.