Todd Frazier- Perhaps not surprisingly, Todd Frazier has struggled to generate the power that made him such a successful piece of fantasy lineups in the early part of the season. Since the All-Star Break, Frazier has managed only 1 home run in 93 Plate Appearances. This is after averaging a home run every 19 or so plate appearances during the first half. Clearly, Frazier's power has slowed considerably. During the same period, Frazier has seen a large increase in his Ground Ball Rate. In July and August, Frazier has posted Ground Ball Rates of 49.4% and 51.4% after being consistently around 35% in the previous two months. This leads us to the conclusion that Frazier's contact rates are regressing back to his career norms. I would say that you have probably squeezed the majority of the juice that you can out of Frazier this season. He has been a spectacular asset for several months, and he should finish the season as an unexpected 20/20 contributor, but he has done very little to assuage concerns that his power spurt is over for 2014. If you can still deal him at a high, I suggest it. He has accumulated the majority of his production, and it seems like you will be lucky to get another 3-4 home runs and 3-4 steals over the next 7 weeks.
Ender Inciarte- Ender Inciarte has taken over as the lead-off man in the Arizona offense of late, and he has shown some value with his ability to hit for average in the 2nd half. Inciarte's value will inherently be tied to two things: 1) his playing time and 2) his speed. He does not hit for enough power to be a realistic contributor in those statistical categories. His 55.0% Ground Ball Rate is enough to tell us that he will need to leg out singles more often than not. With that being said, he has flashed very solid speed in each of the last two seasons. In 2012, he managed 46 steals across A and High-A, and in 2013, he managed 43 steals in his stint at Double-A. He has only 6 steals so far this season, but he has struggled with playing time. With the D'Backs seemingly ready to hand the keys over to their younger players, there is little reason that Inciarte won't get a solid compliment of plate appearances the rest of the way. With those plate appearances it is likely that he can contribute significantly to a team's stolen base needs. He is probably more valuable in NL-Only and deep mixed leagues, but he should carry value as a speed specialist the rest of the season. As he is available in basically every league, he is a solid low cost addition for those owners in need of some steals down the stretch run.
Oscar Taveras- After the Allen Craig trade, the expectation was that Oscar Taveras would begin to show signs of life as more consistent playing time became available. The part we got right was that Taveras would get more playing time. Since the deadline, Oscar has started in right field 17 times. In that same span, he has exactly 3 extra base hits and only 1 home run. Taveras has shown very little in the way of power, but he certainly has shown a knack for hitting the ball on the ground with a 56.9% Ground Ball Rate. It is more than worth noting that Taveras hasn't hit for too much reasonable power in several years on the farm as his combined home run totals in 2013 (granted he was injured) and 2014 is 13 at Triple-A. His .080 ISO has been disturbing, and he has not been able to make solid contact with major league pitching as shown by his Line Drive Rate of 14.7% and his IFFB Rate of 18.2%. In case you missed that, Taveras is only putting the ball in the air 28.4% of the time and almost 20% of those balls never leave the infield. This is atrocious. In non-keeper formats, I'm selling or dropping Taveras. In keeper formats, his ceiling is still worth hanging onto, but he should be on your bench. He hasn't shown anything to support the hype at this point.
Michael Taylor- Michael Taylor brings a very interesting profile to the Nationals' lineup. Taylor hit for power in Double-A this season (22 home runs over 441 plate appearances), but power isn't really where he makes his money. Taylor is an OBP and speed player. He has managed to walk in excess of 9% of the time at each level since 2012, which topped out this year with an 11.3% BB Rate at Double-A. He also has managed 51 stolen bases in 2013 and 35 across two levels in 2014 thus far. Taylor is a very interesting player for fantasy owners moving forward. We have talked about Rymer Liriano the last two days as a "counting stats" player, but Taylor could be an even more valuable if given the playing time. He has flashed similar power to Liriano, but his stolen base tool is far more developed. The Nationals batted him lead-off on Wednesday, and while I do not expect him to accumulate a ton of plate appearances at the top of the Nats' lineup, he is a name to know especially with Jayson Werth's balky shoulder giving him problems. He is also someone to keep in mind for 2015 if the Nationals' decide not to exercise Denard Span's $9 million dollar club option.
Javier Baez- In the last eight days, it seems like we have all written about Javy Baez. I'll be damned if I'm not going to get in on that action. Baez crushed another home run on Wednesday night to make it four in nine games. I'm not sure we have seen middle infield power like Baez since Alex Rodriguez came up through the Mariners system. I don't know if he realistically portrays as a long term middle infielder or if he will eventually move to the outfield, but he is currently a monster at second base. I'll take the 35% strikeout rate and the negative effect it has on batting average. When Baez does make contact so far 45.8% of the time it is in the air. Baez has a chance to hit 10 home runs in 200 or less plate appearances. He had 16 stolen bases in Double-A. Can you imagine if this guy starts running? Can you imagine Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez and Kris Bryant in the middle of the Chicago lineup next season? Baseballs are going to be flying out of Wrigley. I rarely say this, but ignore the strikeouts. Baez reminds me a bit of another young power hitter who struck out a lot when he reached the majors, Giancarlo Stanton. He won't walk the way Stanton did, but the power is just so similar. That's the kind of upside we are looking at on Baez.
Today's National League Player Blog was brought to you by Nicholas Rossoletti. You can follow Nicholas on Twitter @NRoss56.
This is just a small sample our our daily analysis, join our member area for more premium content: http://www.fantistics.com/join/join.php3