Eduardo Nunez (3B - NYY): Let's take a look at the new Yankees everyday 3B. Nunez showed intriguing skills in a short stint as an everyday player with the injury to Derek Jeter. He was making great contact (91%) and showing a little pop to go with it (.160 ISO). It's unclear whether these skills are being exaggerated by a short-term hot streak or Nunez is making strides in his development. Nunez's minor league track record (career .687 OPS) leaves a lot to be desired. He's always made good contact, but his lack of plate discipline (37% chase rate, sub-6% BB Rate), makes him susceptible to prolonged slumps. The pop he's shown in limited time this season hasn't been there in the past, but at age 25 it's possible Nunez's power is late developing. With 3B/SS eligibility and a spot in the Yankees lineup, Nunez is sure to draw some looks for those in need of help. I think he can serve as an adequate short-term fill in at either position but am keeping the expectations in check. I think he can hit .265 with a couple HR's and in the Yankees lineup should be good for 10 runs and maybe a dozen RBI's over the 4-6 span. There is a bit of additional upside thanks to the lineup support, but Nunez should be viewed more as a fill-in than a savior.
Bobby Abreu (OF - LAA): Abreu's been one of my favorite fantasy players for a long time. I'm not sure he gets the type of credit his offensive game deserves in a historical context, but few provided the consistent 5-category production that Abreu did throughout his career. He posted two 30-30 seasons, one 30-40 season, and had a string of 7 consecutive seasons with atleast 20 HR's, 20 RBI's, and 98 Runs. This blurb may sound like the beginning of a eulogy and there's a reason for it; Abreu's nearing the end. For the season Abreu's on-pace for a solid 20 SB's and adequate .277 avg, but it's also coming with a pace of 60 Runs, 60 RBI's, and just 5 HR's. Abreu hasn't had a month in which his ISO has topped .100 yet this season and his K Rate in June and July has spiked above 25%. He's still walking and hitting LD's at a good clip but without the power and with some deterioration in the lineup around him (Wells, Hunter), Abreu's counting totals are taking a big dip. He still deserves to be rostered in 12 team leagues and even 10 team leagues with 5 OF's, but he's no longer a must-start every week. Be careful in your valuation of Abreu and if you can find a taker who still believes in Abreu's power-speed combination, I'd consider dealing immediately. I'm heavily invested in Abreu and will be shopping him over the next few weeks in hopes of finding a taker.
Billy Butler (1B - KC): I'm sure it will happen at some point, but it looks like the big power breakout many had hoped for from Billy Butler is again being put on hold for this season. Butler finishes the 1st half with just 6 HR's and an ISO below .125. It's the 2nd straight season Butler's ISO has declined after he peaked at .191 in 2009 and while Butler continues to show improvement in his other peripherals (BB Rate climbing, EYE, LD Rate), the lack of power remains a bit perplexing. The most obvious inhibitor to Butler's power continues to be a high GB Rate (49% this year, above 47% each of last 4 years), but I remain a bit surprised his HR/FB Rate hasn't grown. Butler consistently slugged above .550 in the minor leagues as what he often lacked in HR power was made up for with a bunch of 2B's. His major league career started that way but has trended in the wrong direction in recent seasons. His sub-.420 slugging % this year just isn't enough to get it done for fantasy owners as he remains on pace for less than 15 HR's, 80 Runs, and 80 RBI's, a feat that would be accomplished in three of the last four years if he were to finish below those thresholds this year. The upside in his bat warrants owners remaining patient, but if you can move Butler for a player with a bit more well-rounded contributions and sell the high batting average, I'd do it in a heartbeat. As I suspected coming into the season, Butler's counting contributions are being held down by the supporting cast. What I didn't expect is that he'd continue to show regression in his own power skills, and that is a very legitimate concern for the 25 year old.
Grady Sizemore (OF - CLE): I noted back on June 20th that I was losing patience with Grady Sizemore and that the decreasing contact rate Grady was showing this year was something that was evident before his injury in 2010. It's continued to deteriorate as Sizemore's contact rate is nearing the sub-70% level. At that level of contact, it's going to be nearly impossible for Sizemore to even touch .250 and since he's not running anymore or hitting near the top of the order, he's really become a two-category player at best (HR/RBI). While Grady can still get the ball out of the yard, he can't do very much else. In deeper leagues he might still hold value but in traditional 10 and 12 team leagues I think there's better contributors out there than Sizemore. It's been a pretty precipitous fall from stardom for Sizemore and while injuries have certainly played a big role, I'm not sure we'll ever understand what took Sizemore's contact rate from a consistent 82-83% all the way down to 70-73%. Most will point to the injuries that have sapped Sizemore of his speed as the primary deterrent to his fantasy value, but his inability to make consistent contact has been the primary detractor.
Magglio Ordonez (OF - DET): After touching on Ordonez a few weeks back, a figured it was worth checking back and seeing if he was able to maintain the hot streak. Magglio's posted a .281/.378/.406 line since returning from the DL and scored 9 Runs, driven in 9 RBI's, and knocked out 2 HR's in 20 games. He's shown the usual strong EYE, while providing lackluster power production, but his counting totals have been helped by hitting in the middle of a suddenly potent Tigers lineup. His contact skills remain pretty strong at his advanced age and he continues to spray line drives around the field (20+% LD Rate in 3 of the first 4 months). That alone should be good enough for an average near .300 the rest of the way. While the power production won't be as strong as we're used to seeing he should be able to contribute adequately in Runs and RBI's thanks to the good lineup positioning. Injury will always be a concern with someone at Ordonez's age, but a .290-30-7-32 type 2nd half wouldn't be out of the question. He's more of a consideration for deeper leagues and an occasional pick and play in 10 team leagues, but the name should be surfacing more around the fantasy circles than it has been. At 37 he's nowhere near the player we're used to seeing but his still has a bit of value left in his old legs for those in deep leagues.