Austin Jackson- Austin Jackson is finally starting to run. After a disappointing season marked by his worst power output since he got called to the major leagues (3.3% HR/FB rate in both 2010 and 2014), Jackson has begun to show signs of life to fantasy owners with his legs. Jackson has always been a "speedy" outfielder, but he hasn't really helped fantasy owners with steals since 2011. It seems the change of scenery to Seattle may be changing that trend. His 5 attempts in the month of August are the most for any month this season, which is saying something considering we still have almost two full weeks left in the month. Jackson is 4 out of 5 on those stolen base attempts, and he, suddenly, looks like a player who could contribute another 7-8 steals over the course of the remainder of the season. This is fantastic news for Jackson owners as he has not produced any single skill at an elite level all year and has been generally disappointing in most ways.
Adrian Beltre- There may not be a more steady presence in all of baseball at third base than Adrian Beltre. Considering the season the Rangers have had, I don't believe many would have blamed Beltre for sleep walking through the second half of the season waiting for 2015. Instead, Beltre is putting up a prototypical fantastic year. He has maintained his stellar batting average for 3 seasons running despite having nothing in the way of "protection" in the Rangers lineup. The biggest concern that Beltre owners may have for the remainder of this season and moving forward is his slowly decreasing power production. For the third year in a row, Beltre has seen decreases in ISO (.240, .193, .179) and HR/FB Rate (17%, 13.5%, 12..7%). The lack of power is equally worrisome based on his highest Ground Ball Rate and lowest Fly Ball Rate in 4 years. All of this will likely end up with Beltre's home run total decreasing 6-7 total homers from 2013, which would be the second year of such a drop. Overall, its hard to argue with what Adrian Beltre provides at the hot corner, but if the power trend continues, you may only be getting 18-20 home runs next season to go with that terrific average. As is, you will be lucky to see 5-6 more bombs the rest of the way.
Chris Archer- Chris Archer is on the verge of that Kevin Brown Plateau that fans of the Fantastics Sirius/XM Fantasy Baseball show will remember. Archer has been spectacular this season at inducing ground balls. His Ground Ball Rate is creeping toward the 50% rate we are looking for as it sits at 47.8%. His K Rate is just below the 25% threshold at 22.3%. Archer does have some warts including a 9.3% BB Rate, but if he continues to grow, he will make up for that issue and then some. It is funny to think that Tampa Bay just traded David Price, but they still have several potential aces on this staff. Alex Cobb is one, and Chris Archer has proven that he could be another if he can limit his walks and just progress a tick on his strikeout and ground ball rates. Certainly, I can't understand how Archer is only owned in 81% of leagues currently. If he is available in your league, I would suggest you risk the walks to get the rest of his upside. He may be on an inning limit this season for the out of contention Rays, but it is worth the risk to grab him if he is available.
Ubaldo Jimenez- I hope any who still owned Ubaldo Jimenez in mixed league cut bait long ago, or at the very least, listened to our own Derek Carty on Sunday when he mentioned the Orioles intent to examine their options with Jimenez. Today, Baltimore announced that Ubaldo would move into the bullpen Whether this is a temporary move or one for the remainder of the season, we can't be sure, but certainly, Jimenez can be dropped just about everywhere. Before today's announcement, Jimenez had set a career high with a 13.6% BB Rate. We all know that owning Jimenez comes with the risk of a devastating WHIP, but the fact that a player with such a tendency towards walking batters is hitting all time highs tells us just about everything we need to know. It is now safe to drop Jimenez even in AL-Only formats. You have to wonder where his career goes from this point.
Brian McCann- A couple weeks ago, I wrote that I thought McCann would still be a decent bet to provide fantasy owners a bit of power as we moved through the last two months of the season. Thus far in August, McCann already has 3 home runs on the month despite missing the last week on the disabled list. It is easy to be uber-negative on McCann given his immense struggles this season, particularly with a lack of the traditional plate patience that has made up for some of his warts as a hitter. McCann is swinging at more balls outside of the strike zone than ever before (granted it is only a 2-3% increase over 2013), walking less and making weaker contact. All of that isn't great long term for an aging catcher, but in the short term, his contact rates have normalized over the longer sample size. He isn't hitting more ground balls than traditionally nor is he striking out. His biggest issue is that his HR/FB Rate is still at a 5 year low at 9.5%. Thus far in August, we are seeing a bit of regression in that number. His HR/FB this month is 18.2%, and it seems realistic that McCann can put together another 5 or so home runs this season. Is this the year we were hoping for from McCann? No. Is he an elite option as a fantasy catcher? No. With that being said, I don't see any reason not to use him if you need some home runs from the catcher position in the next couple of weeks. He should be able to get to 18-19 home runs before season's end if his HR/FB continues a positive regression.
Today's American League Player Blog is brought to you by Nicholas Rossoletti. You can follow Nicholas on Twitter @NRoss56.
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