By: Jack Moore
Each week we’ll be providing you with insight into the best (and worst) baseball players to play in your fantasy baseball league.
1. Kyle Seager, 2B/SS/3B, SEA: There are two main reasons for optimism with Seager down the stretch. First, he’s regained his power stroke in September, with nine extra base hits (three homers) resulting in a .305/.345/.488 line. Second, the Mariners only have three home games remaining against six away games. Seager owns an .846 OPS on the road and 14 of his 18 home runs have come away from the oppressive Safeco Field. He makes a fine fill-in for any of the infield positions down the stretch.
2. Anibal Sanchez, SP, DET: Sanchez has had about as up and down of a season as possible. He opened strong, posting a 2.01 ERA in his first six starts and was still at 2.56 by the end of May. Then his ERA ballooned to 4.52 by mid-August. Now he has it back down to 4.14 due to a 2.77 ERA in his last five starts. Don’t be too discouraged by his 5.2 IP, 5 ER outing against Oakland – he still struck out eight and walked just two. With the Tigers closing against the Royals, Twins, and Royals again, his matchups are bound to be solid as well.
3. Derek Holland, SP, TEX: Holland’s beginning of the season was abysmal – he exited May with a 5.11 ERA and a 1.298 WHIP. He made one more start before an injury kept him out for a month. Since his return to the rotation in July, he’s been solid – a 3.94 ERA, 77 strikeouts to 22 walks in 96 innings, and a fantastic 1.042 WHIP. He’s been particularly sharp in his last eight starts – 2.93 ERA, 50 strikeouts to 10 walks in 55.1 innings. His home run problems have evened out – he has allowed seven home runs since August 11 after allowing nine home runs in his four starts prior – and that makes him a viable fantasy option again.
4. Logan Forsythe, 2B, SDP: Forsythe has been a most pleasant surprise this season, capitalizing on a solid minor league career (.284/.414/.414 in five seasons; .309/.438/.508 in 62 Triple-A games) to make an MLB impact in his second season with San Diego. Although Petco Park has predictably produced underwhelming power numbers – five homers and 24 RBI in 85 games – Forsythe has hit well. He owns a .290/.359/.407 line (115 OPS+) and has eight steals and 41 runs to go with it, making him another good depth option for the middle infield.
5. Jake McGee, RP, TBR: He’s not exactly Craig Kimbrel, but with 68 Ks in 51.2 innings, McGee is one of the best strikeout men you’ll find on the waiver wire, and he’s been particularly good lately. Since August, McGee has 24 strikeouts to zero walks in 17.1 innings, giving him a tiny 0.404 WHIP and a 1.04 ERA to go with the strikeouts. He’ll saw the rates, pile on strikeouts, and could vulture a win down the stretch too – most stream-quality pitchers won’t offer you that much production.
1. Jason Vargas, SP, SEA: After a brilliant start to the season, Vargas has turned into, more or less, what we thought he was: a 3.94 ERA, 1.193 WHIP, and 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings. He’s somehow parlayed the Mariners’ offense into 14 wins this year, and he deserves props for that, but you can find better options down the stretch. He has a 4.55 ERA since August and his next start comes against the Texas Rangers on Monday.
2. Jaime Garcia, SP, STL: Garcia, since returning from injury in August, against teams not named the Pirates: 33.2 innings, 41 hits allowed, 4.81 ERA, 1.515 WHIP. Garcia has allowed five home runs in those six starts and just hasn’t appeared himself despite a brilliant start against the Pirates in his first start back (8 IP, 10 K, 0 R), a start that had me believing. Garcia has had his share of favorable matchups since, though – San Diego at Petco, Houston at home – and yet he just hasn’t been himself. Maybe he should go on 74 days rest every time out.
3. Mark Trumbo, OF, ANA: Personally, I tend to think small samples carry more significance when they’re shockingly cold than shockingly hot. And Trumbo is going through one of those cold streaks right now: since sitting July 30 with a rib cage injury, Trumbo is hitting just .178/.233/.252. Is that injury lingering? We can’t say for sure, but it’s the easy explanation for his free fall this season – and an explanation that means I’ll be taking late fliers on Trumbo all over the place in 2013.
4. Todd Frazier, 3B, CIN: Unfortunately, Joey Votto’s return has created a roster crunch that means we can’t count on Frazier to play every day – Since September 10th, Frazier has had five days off. If your roster and personal schedule can handle waiting until you see the Reds’ lineup to play him or sit him, hold on to him – can’t argue with .281/.341/.509 – but if not, don’t be afraid to pull the trigger and get an everyday player in there for the rest of the season.
5. Tyler Clippards, RP, WAS: Clippard has two losses (one blown save) in his last two appearances, giving up four runs and raising his ERA to 3.59. Meanwhile, Drew Storen picked up his third save on September 20th and lowered his ERA to 2.59 by striking out the side against the heart of the Dodgers’ order (Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Hanley Ramirez). Storen was the no-questions closer a year ago – keep an eye on him, as he could work his way into save opportunities over this final week.
Jack Moore is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with degrees in Mathematics and Economics. His work can also be found at FanGraphs.com, DisciplesOfUecker.com, RotoWire.com, AdvancedNFLStats.com and ESPN. Follow him on twitter at @jh_moore.