Gio Gonzalez- Gio Gonzalez hasn't been able to maintain his top tier strikeout stuff throughout 2015 in the same way he did previously. Gonzalez's 21.7% K Rate is the lowest it has been since 2011. Clearly, it isn't a great sign for a fantasy starter to show a decrease in strikeouts as he moves towards age 30. With that said, there is still reason to believe that Gonzalez will have value as a fantasy asset into his early-30's. While his K-Rate has decreased, his fastball velocity has not shown a drastic dip over the last several years staying in the 92 MPH range. Additionally, Gonzalez has had a fantastic up tick in his ground ball rate to 53.9%. The ground ball rate won't help roto-owners that end up 20-30 strikeouts short on projections for 2015, but it does help stabilize Gonzalez's value. He may never be the 190-210 strikeout guy again, but he still has flashed the ability to finish this season in the 160-180 strikeout range while increasing his ground ball rate. This type of player certainly has value to fantasy owners, but it has changed from what we had come to expect from Gio.
Adam Conley- September is kind of a weird time to be writing about fantasy baseball. With the roster expansion and the transition of season long fantasy into playoffs, we get a plethora of new players to discuss as owners try to stream players and look for assets for coming seasons. Adam Conley has been an interesting name as he has flashed some strikeout potential for the Marlins in his 7 starts. Conley's 20.6% K Rate has been substantial enough to raise a few eyebrows as a streaming option. Otherwise, Conley hasn't really jumped off the page as anyone worth paying attention to as more than a match-up option. His 8.3% BB Rate isn't terrible, but it isn't worth writing home about. His contact rates are around league average with a concerning issue with giving up the long ball a bit. Overall, Conley isn't a bad pitcher, but I need to see more to recommend taking any sort of stronger position than that.Starlin Castro- The last four years have been a wild roller coaster for Starlin Castro. His 2012 and 2014 were both very strong years, with Castro producing 14 home runs and averages in excess of .280. His 2013 and 2015 were both subpar seasons that found him struggling to keep his average around .250 with limited power. The biggest difference I have seen between the even and odd years for Castro has been the increase in his ground ball rates. In both 2013 and 2015, hehas had ground ball rates above 50% with 2015 eclipsing 55% thus far. It is difficult to understand why there are so drastically different results based on these seasons, but it something fantasy owners should keep an eye on. For now, Castro has little to no value in 2016, but its an even year so maybe he will stop hitting so many grounders and get back to what we saw in 2014.
Jung-ho Kang- There have not been many better sleeper players in 2015 than Jung-ho Kang. Kang has managed 15 home runs and 5 stolen bases while hitting .288. It has been a fantastic first season in the big leagues for Kang. I'm a bit concerned about his sustainability though long term. Kang's batting average is largely BABIP induced. With a .347 "singles percentage", it is tough to trust Kang's ability to hit in the .280 range long term. Additionally, I'm concerned about his power. Kang is hitting 50% on his ground ball rate, but he has managed to his a very impressive 16.9% HR/FB rate. I'm concerned that a regression in the HR/FB rate may see a drastic power drop especially if he cannot increase his fly ball volume. Kang has been a really fun player to watch and own in 2015, but I'm preaching caution with 2016. Don't assume you are buying a 15-20 HR, .280 hitter on draft day next season.
Wilmer Flores- How things have changed since the trade deadline day for Wilmer Flores. From a sadly memorable image of the young Flores in tears upon learning of a potential trade to fan favorite and fantasy stud., Flores has had a very strange year. The second half has been very good to Flores. His BABIP has positively regressed bringing his batting average with it. A .305 BABIP in the 2nd half has led to a .291 batting average. His ISO is up and his OPS is showing more than 100 point improvement from the first half to the second half. Flores has managed to push his career high home run total to 16. While its unlikely he will hit the 20 home run mark this season, Flores seems ready to build upon his experiences in 2015. The 24 year old is a solid target for middle infield in 2016 as he enters his power prime. What a difference a few weeks can make.
Today's National League Player's Blog is brought to you by Nicholas Rossoletti. You can follow Nicholas on Twitter @NRoss56
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