Now that we're past the halfway point and approaching the All-Star break, it's a good time to look back at what has happened in an effort to foretell what will be. This week the focus will be on players that have overachieved and if they are likely to continue to do so. Next week we'll do the same for underachievers.
The Knights were asked for a name and brief explanation if they so desired. Here's what resulted.
AL OVERACHIEVING HITTER MOST LIKELY TO CONTINUE ELEVATED LEVEL OF PLAY
Not Joshin': He's good
Todd Zola: Chris Davis -- K's will drop average but power is real
Perry Van Hook: Josh Donaldson
Tim Heaney: Chris Davis -- Cheap answer, sure, yet the most applicable. The BA will drop but, thanks to his increased oppo-field efficiency, not at a rate that'll keep him from finishing as a top-five overall player.
Rob Leibowitz: Davis is the most obvious one. Batting average might not tank, though it will regardless, as badly as one thinks. Davis is a consistent line drive hitter (when he makes contact).
Brian Walton: Josh Donaldson -- I like everything about his game, and especially his twitter handle, @BringerOfRain20.
Nicholas Minnix: Josh Donaldson -- Lawr was convinced that Donaldson has evolved into a sound, mature hitter, and I didn't listen. His rate of power production is nothing absurd, even for O.co Coliseum or whatever it's called these days. Another 10 to 12 homers and a BA that finishes around .300 is keeping it up, I think.
Lawr Michaels: Josh Donaldson -- A year from now he won't be considered overachieving: He will be established as a star.
Ryan Carey: Chris Davis -- Yeah sure the batting average may come down a bit, but who cares. He's still going to mash and drive in runs in bunches.
AL OVERACHIEVING PITCHER MOST LIKELY TO CONTINUE ELEVATED LEVEL OF PLAY
TZ: Hmm, the NL has a lot more candidates. I'll go with Bartolo Colon mostly by default. So long as he's healthy, he'll continue to put up quality numbers.
PVH: Max Scherzer
TH: Hisashi Iwakuma -- Expect a few more spotty starts, but his control (notably getting ahead in counts) will continue keeping hitters off-balance. Guys like him will keep elevated LOB%s, and even if his dips, he will adjust.
RL: Tough to identify an "overachiever" who won't regress much. I'll go with Bud Norris as he has achieved a new level of play. He's no longer striking out as many guys (hasn't lost any velocity), but he looks more like a pitcher now, throwing more strikes and keeping the ball in the park for once.
BW: Hisashi Iwakuma -- What a bargain! Along with the 2.60 ERA, he is locked up through 2015 averaging less than $7 MM per year.
NM: John Lackey -- He seems to be one of the select few to whom Tommy John surgery has bestowed greater powers. Haven't seen this kind of velo from him so consistently since 2005ish. Even if he doesn't maintain a sub-2.00 BB/9, he may bring the HR/9 down given how frequently he's kept the ball on the ground.
LM: Max Scherzer -- You have to be lucky to be good. Scherzer makes his luck all by himself.
RC: Justin Masterson -- Masterson has taken a big step up in value thanks to a significant increase in his K%. He is throwing his slider more and working deeper into games more often, which has gotten him in position for a career high in wins. He induces enough grounders to keep this up all year.
The shaky AL players....
About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.
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