Nelson Cruz (OF-BAL) - Nelson Cruz hit his major league leading 20th homerun and 53rd RBI in today's game in Houston. Cruz is now on pace for a career year and has quieted the critics who believed his power was all a result of performance enhancing drugs. He's locked in right now and is one of the hottest hitters in the game, but the underlying statistics point to a high probability that he will regress somewhat in the power and batting average departments. As it stands today, Cruz's HR/FB ratio is 10% more than his career average at 29% and his .315 batting average is aided by his .321BABIP. Considering a line drive rate of about 16%, his BABIP is probably about 40 points too high and should bring his batting average down closer to his .270 career benchmark. As his HR/FB ratio decreases, more of his flyballs will start resulting in outs, so I have a hard time believing that he'll finish anywhere near the 60-homerun pace he's currently posting. As a result, now would be an excellent time to shop Nelson Cruz around your league to see what type of player you could snag in return.
Trevor Bauer (SP-CLE) - Trevor Bauer tossed a gem against a tough Colorado lineup at home on Saturday afternoon going 6IP, 2ER, 4H, 1BB, 8K. Through his first 4 starts of the season, Bauer has an elite 30.5% strikeout rate and most importantly, his walk rate is below 10% for the first time in his career. Bauer always showed great strikeout ability in the minor leagues but it never translated to big strikeout numbers in Arizona. This year, his swinging strike rate is at an elite 13% and his chase rate is well above league average at 35%. Bauer has likely done enough to prove to the Indians that he deserves a rotation spot for the foreseeable future and he deserves to be owned in all mixed leagues.
Dallas Keuchel (SP-BAL) - You know a pitcher is having a good season when giving up three runs against a tough Baltimore lineup is considered disappointing. Dallas Keuchel didn't bring his best stuff on Saturday against the Orioles and was chased after 6 innings of 6 hit and 3 walk ball. Prior to Saturday, Keuchel limited his opponents to 2 or fewer earned runs in each of his last 4 starts. He's now leading all starting pitchers with a 65.4% groundball rate and also has a fantastic 5% walk rate. Based on his underlying statistics, there's no reason to expect much of a drop-off from the Houston lefty. In fact, considering his 11.5% swinging strike and 36% chase rates, I think there's actually a little upside to his 21% strikeout rate.
Adam Lind (1B - TOR) - Adam Lind had another big day at the plate on Saturday going 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs. Lind's swinging strike rate and chase rate are both below career averages and his contact rate is a solid 82%. Lind has always had trouble staying healthy but as long as he's on the field, he should be a valuable asset to most fantasy teams. Since returning from the DL in early May, Lind has hit .345/.390/.582 with 2 HR and 7 RBI. His 11% HR/FB ratio is below his career average so I would expect his power numbers to rise, especially playing half his games in the favorable Rogers Centre. I'm buying the performance from Adam Lind.
Masahiro Tanaka (SP-NYY) - Masahiro Tanaka continued his dominant rookie campaign by going 8IP, 0ER, 4H, 1BB, and 9 K in a win over the Minnesota Twins. Tanaka has shown excellent composure and mound presence through his first 11 starts and has given up 3 or fewer earned runs in each of his appearances this year. There is a lot to like about Tanaka, from his 14% swinging strike rate to his 48% ground ball rate, the Japanese right-hander is already proving he's worth the $155 million contract he signed this off-season. He's been able to keep hitters guessing and has been getting batters to chase a lot of his pitches out of the zone. It'll be interesting to see how hitters adjust as more teams face him for the second time but as of now, it's hard to name more than a handful starters who I'd rather own over Tanaka.
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