David Wright (3B-NYM) - David Wright added to his NL-leading hit total by adding 2 more on Monday, giving him 72 on the season. Unfortunately, his ISO is sitting at a weak .107 and he's currently on pace for his lowest HR season since 2009. Wright is squaring up the ball well, hitting 27% of his batted balls for line drives, which has contributed to the high hit totals. The added line-drives have come at the expense of fly-balls and despite just a 33% fly-ball rate, his HR/FB ratio is artificially low at 6.5%. Going forward, I would expect to see this number rise and in turn, improve the ISO number. Wright is on the wrong side of 30 but based on his the trends in his contact rate and chase rate (contact rate is down this year but his 3-year average is on par with his career and his chase rate has remained steadily below league average), I'm not ready to draw the conclusion that the lower production is age-related. I consider David Wright an excellent buy-low opportunity.
Shelby Miller (SP-STL) - Pitching against the Royals on Monday, Shelby Miller allowed just two hits through his first 6 innings pitched. Unfortunately, things unraveled in the seventh when he allowed a solo homer to Alex Gordon and a two-run double to Mike Moustakas. On the night, Miller was charged with 4 ER over 7 IP giving up 7 H and 2 BB. Not a whole lot has gone right for Miller this year. In his second year as a starter for the Cardinals, Miller's strikeout and walk rates have seen significant regression versus both his major league and minor league career averages. Both metrics are significantly below league average and appear to be largely driven by significant drops in swinging strike and chase rates. Miller is still throwing his fastball about 70% of the time and despite already giving up 10 homeruns (vs. 20 in 2013), he's actually inducing slightly more groundballs this year. Unfortunately, SIERA and his other DIPs point to a high probability that his ratios with continue to erode. If I'm a Miller owner, I would try to sell him after his next strong performance to try to collect on any "prospect name recognition value" that he might still carry.
Jonathan Lucroy (C-MIL) - Jonathan Lucroy continued his hot hitting on Monday going 3-for-4 with a homerun and two RBI against the Twins. On the season, Lucroy is now slashing .325/.394/.483 with a .158 ISO and a great 0.96 EYE. Lucroy's big offensive breakout came in 2012 and since then, he has been an undervalued asset at the catching position. With the highest contact rate of his career (88%) and improved approach at the plate, I'm quite bullish on Lucroy for the rest of the season. He's quickly closing the gap between himself and some of the top fantasy catchers (Posey & Molina).
Bartolo Colon (SP-NYM) - Bartolo Colon had a decent start on Monday in a win over Philly by going 6 innings giving up 2 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks while also striking out 6. Bartolo Colon was one of the biggest suprises of the 2013 season when he went 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with the Oakland Athletics. However, the A's didn't buy into the performance and neither should have fantasy owners. Colon is regressing back to the aging pitcher that he is and has been pretty bad this year. Most of his underlying statistics are in line with where he was at last year except his strikeout rate is about 4% higher and his walk rate is near his career low. How much of his drop-off is due to regression and how much is due to bad luck? Most of his underlying statistics appear to in line with where he performed last year when he outperformed his 20% line drive rate by posting a .294 BABIP. This year his .322 BABIP is right in line with his 21% line drive rate. Colon is an extreme pitch-to-contact pitcher and with little run support from his offense, I'm staying away.
Clayton Kershaw (SP-LAD) - Outside of one rough start in Arizona, Clayton Kershaw has been his dominant self again in 2014. On Monday, Kershaw got the win by twirling 8 innings of 2-run ball, giving up just 4 hits, walking none and striking out 9. His swinging strike and chase rates are the highest of his career and his contact rate is the lowest. He's also inducing ground balls 55% of the time, or 11% more than his career average. The buying low window on Kershaw is effectively closed (if it was ever really open in the first place) and he should finish the year on his typical Cy Young Award pace.
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