CC Sabathia- C.C. Sabathia has started the 2015 season with an ERA of 5.68, which is probably not surprising for most of the baseball world. Sabathia has struggled with injury, age and decreased velocity for several years. The interesting part about his start to 2015 is that his peripherals don't support an ERA anywhere near 5.68. While we are dealing in an extremely small 12 inning sample, Sabathia has actually pitched quite well despite his ERA. His K Rate is up to 28.3% (probably unsustainable given his 88 MPH velocity but impressive nonetheless), his Ground Ball Rate is 67.6% and his BB Rate is down to 1.9%. All of these numbers should eventually revert closer to his 3 year norms, but the take away from this is that Sabathia has actual pitched very well despite his ERA. I'm not advocating an immediate add as he has a tough match-up against Detroit coming up, but at this point, I'm seeing a pitcher that could make for a fine rotational start in mixed league depending on match-up. Sabathia is currently owned in fewer than 20% of leagues, which makes him an intriguing add as an injury replacement if his peripherals can continue trending well after the Detroit start.
Mike Moustakas- I was asked on Twitter for my one hitter that was being overlooked during draft season as a potential breakout candidate. Mike Moustakas was my guy. Mous' statistical profile supported a positive regression in his favor entering 2015. He had decreased his K Rate in 2014, his BABIP of .212 was deflated even for a player with his lower career average BABIP and he is an aggressive fly ball hitter, who is entering his power prime at age 26. Lucky enough for me, he has started the 2015 on fire, which makes me look terrific. In all honesty though, owners need to be aware that, while Moustakas is likely to be better than last year, the current trend of production is unsustainable. The .407 BABIP he is currently sporting will invariably regress negatively, and with it his batting average will decrease. Mous should be around a .250-.260 BABIP given his statistical profile. That decrease will occur, which will cause for a serious regression in batting average. In other words, we are going to start seeing some 0 for 4's in the Royals' third baseman's future. With that said, I still like him as a potential 20+ home run threat with a solid position in the upper-end of the Royals lineup. He should be owned in all leagues even as a bench option. Just be cautious with how you deploy him as the hot streak can't last forever.
Kennys Vargas- We touched on Kennys Vargas briefly in Friday's player blurbs with a news item about his first home run of the season. Vargas broke onto the scene last season with an impressive .181 ISO in limited plate appearances (224). His fantasy profile is only really interesting as a power presence, but I have my doubts about how effective he can be as a consistent power hitter. While his HR/FB of 17% in 2014 was a fine rate, his overall profile as a hitter just doesn't support a volume of power worthy of fantasy ownership. Specifically, Vargas just hits the ball on the ground too frequently to offer extensive power profile. His Ground Ball Rate of 47.4% in 2014 was just too high to justify owning a player whose entire value is tied to the big fly. His 57.1% ground ball rate in our limited sample of 2015 does nothing but exaggerate my concerns about his ability to put the ball in the air. I'm hopeful that the trend changes, but for now, I'd let someone else take a shot on the Twins' power hitter, who can't hit fly balls.
Jered Weaver- It appears as if the Jered Weaver magic is finally run its course. We have discussed in the past that Weaver's success over the past several years has been odd. He has suffered velocity deterioration for five (5) consecutive years with his fastball velocity topping out at 83.3 MPH in 2015. Despite his decreasing fastball velocity and tendency towards being a fly ball pitcher, Weaver has survived by limiting home runs and controlling his BB Rate. With the drastic decrease in velocity (3 MPH under his 2014 number), it appears that hitters are finally squaring up and taking Weaver deep. His HR/FB ratio is an unsustainable 17.6%. This would basically be the death knell for Weaver as a fantasy relevant starter as he won't survive allowing a 45.9% fly ball rate and an almost 20% HR/FB rate. I was adverse to drafting him and continue to be even more disturbed by his results in 2015. Avoid Weaver at all cost for now.
Mookie Betts- The early returns on Mookie Betts have been impressive. His combination of power and speed have made for a fantasy owners dream during the first two weeks of the season although his batting average has been particularly low considering his minor league and brief major league sample size. I expect that Betts will show even more value over the course of the next couple weeks as his BABIP is exceedingly low. A .233 BABIP seems likely for a positive regression in favor of the player, which should increase his batting average valuation. Betts is a strong three-four category player moving forward this season with a very realistic opportunity to approach 15/25 in home runs and stolen bases while also contributing in batting average. He is one of my favorite players to own in all of fantasy.
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