Kyle Seager (3B - SEA): Seager is putting together a bit of a poor-man's version of Chase Headley's 2012 season. Seager plays in a tough home-park with a lineup around him that most write-off in fantasy, but he's managed to post a really solid .286/.352/.483 line. He's shown significant improvement in his zone command, chasing just 25% of pitches outside the strike zone, as well as his ISO (.198, career .168). At just 25 (26 in Novemeber), Seager is showing legitimate growth as he's on-pace for a 25+ HR season. With the Mariners offense around him showing some improvement, he's quietly turning into a 4-5 category producer. He's currently ranked as a top 10 3B at a stacked position and with the Mariners lineup improving as the season goes on (Nick Franklin, Brad Miller upgrades), Seager's value appears on the rise even further.
Joe Mauer (C - MIN): It's flying a bit under the radar because Mauer is still posting a strong .320/.402/.471 line, but Mauer has seen a meaningful drop-off in his contact rates this year. He's posted a 83.1% contact rate (career 88.1%) and as a result his K% has jumped to a career high 18%. Mauer's been able to cover-up the deterioration in his contact rate by posting a career best 29.8% LD Rate and a corresponding .390 BABIP. It's hard to envision Mauer holding the growth in his LD Rate, but a dip in his contact rate (specifically inside the strike zone) is one that has me hesitant about investing in Mauer's future. His value has already taken a small hit as the Twins offense has entered a rebuild mode around him, but considering his batting average is the primary driver of his value now, any meaningful dip in his contact rate should be considered a warning sign. I certainly don't think we're going to see Mauer fall off a cliff in his production, but I do think the jump in K% is the start of an eventual slow decline for Mauer. In keeper formats I'd look to move while his value still appears near its peak.
Elvis Andrus (SS - TEX): Andrus is seeing a drop in his value with the recent lineup shift that has pushed him down to the 7th or 8th spot in the lineup. Andrus was built around being a 2-category player while hitting 2nd in the Rangers explosive lineup and generating an awful lot of runs scored. The 2nd spot also delivered more plate appearances and allowed him more opportunities to steal. Each spot in the order being dropped down is somewhere around 15-20 PA's so if we cut Andrus down from the 2nd spot to the 7th spot we're looking at anywhere from 75-100 less PA's. For a player that has averaged a SB every 21 PA's, we're looking at a handful of lost steals a season (should this change end up being permanent) along with a drop in Runs by 10-13. Those would be meaningful hits to Andrus' value which is just another reminder of how susceptible a player of Andrus skill-set is to a slight change in management.
Chris Archer (SP - TB): As a Cubs fan I've long followed Chris Archer's career and was always skeptical over whether he'd have enough command to succeed as a starter at the big league level. His stuff has always been great, but he hasn't gone a full season walking less than 4 batters per 9 innings since 2007 in rookie ball. It's very difficult to succeed at the major league level with those BB Rates, but Archer appears to be trying to prove me wrong. He got through 7 innings allowing just 1 ER on Sunday, despite walking 4 and striking out just 1. The strong results lowered Archer's ERA to 2.76 on the season despite having an xFIP of 4.70 and an FIP of 4.30. A .234 BABIP and 80% LOB% are really masking some mediocre peripherals. With Alex Cobb working his way his way back from a concussion, you have to think the Rays view Archer's shaky peripherals as the most vulnerable spot in the rotation. With peripherals that suggest imminent rotation and a possible replacement looming, I think Archer is one of the bigger sell high candidates in fantasy.
CC Sabathia (SP - NYY): Sabathia continued to struggle with the long-ball on Sunday night as he served up 2 more HR's while allowing 7 ER's in 5+ innings. Sabathia's velocity has been building modestly as the season has worn on, but he still remains nearly a MPH below his year-over-year velocity targets and we're seeing the dips in velocity play into a persistently high HR/FB Rate. Sabathia's HR/FB Rate has been above 16% in each of the last three months. Sabathia, like Verlander, is fighting the effects of velocity dips which are naturally occurring parts of age-related decline. Both pitchers will be able to hold some semblance of fantasy value, but it's impossible to expect them to perform as they were with greater velocity in years' past. With the higher HR/FB Rates, I think Sabathia's ERA range raises from 3.00-3.50 to something more like 3.60-4.20.