Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market: Kelly Johnson, Darin Ruf, more

by Tim Heaney on July 22, 2013 @ 11:53:57 PDT

 

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KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait? Are they worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?

Hottest Pickups
Most frequently added in leagues polled

2B/3B/OF Kelly Johnson, Tampa Bay Rays

Colorado Rockies RP Rex Brothers
Oh Brothers, where art thou?

Arbitrary endpoints alert: In his last eight games, KJ has clubbed four homers, plated seven runs and gone 12-for-28 for the rolling Rays. Any MI on pace for 20 homers (quietly, he's launched 78 over the last three-plus years) with a bunch of steals thrown in deserves ownership; his recently acquired hot-corner qualification doesn't hurt.

Though nearly half of his connections have been flies, his contact rate has grown noticeably. Remember, however, that he's a roller-coaster raker, so prepare for the impending drop.

RP Rex Brothers, Colorado Rockies

Rafael Betancourt (appendicitis) hit the disabled list. Brothers will close. Rinse, repeat: Pick up the southpaw, whose dominion over saves could last a few weeks. The unfortunate development for speculators, however, is that Colorado might not be able to ship out Betancourt, a reported market commodity, before the non-waiver deadline.

Still, it's rash to give up on Brothers immediately after Betancourt returns given how snake-bitten the vet has been in 2013.

SP Chad Gaudin, San Francisco Giants

The 30-year-old swingman, who recently experienced a bizarre, uncomfortable legal snafu, must be riding high since joining the rotation with a 2.23 ERA and 35 K's in 40 1/3 frames (seven starts). He's probably earned security when Ryan Vogelsong (hand) returns. Gaudin has slashed his walk rate and boosted his K cred with few alterations to his skills indicators.

Lefty bats torment him, though, and his BABIP and LOB% are warning signs that these results have been a fever dream. If he can't sustain his suffocation of right-handed hitters, it could be a painful letdown. On the other hand, the Giants are known for unearthing SP gems, and this one could shine for longer than most expect.

SP Wily Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers

In his last six starts, Peralta boasts a 0.87 ERA over 41 1/3 innings, with 32 K's and a 0.97 WHIP. He's starting to tap into the K-GB potential over which many fantasy players have drooled. His rate of induced swinging strikes has taken a step forward from his 2012 tease.

He's not reaching back for as much velo but looks more comfortable on the mound, thanks in part to his pairing with former minor-league battery mate Martin Maldonado. Peralta has found utility in his slider, as well. He's been regarded as a miniature Yovani Gallardo, but the youngster's worm-burner inducement could eventually help him surpass the archetype. For 2013, settle for about 75 percent of Gallardo's peak as Peralta's ceiling.

SS Brad Miller, Seattle Mariners

He's probably been a consolation prize for unsuccessful KJ chasers. In fact, Miller carries similar positives (walk frequency, homer-steal combo). His chief negative is the likely scuffles he'll endure in adjusting to the highest level of pitching, but he didn't K much on the farm; he has a compact swing that bodes well for his contact skills once he finds his footing.

Miller's first two homers came on Friday, a big reason for his recent love and a sign he might be settling in. At 6-foot-2, 185 pounds, he's not a traditional thumper, but his precise technique overcomes his slim build. He should have the rest of the season to offer Kyle Seager-like numbers at a barren position.

Best Available
Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled

1B/OF Darin Ruf, Philadelphia Phillies

Ryan Howard's knee will probably sideline him for at least another month, maybe more if he hits a rehab wall. Ruf will benefit as long as Howard sits and could fight his way into time even after he resurfaces.

The 26-year-old has done his best to supply homers in his stead with two in his first 37 MLB at-bats of the year, and while he won't keep a pace reflecting the 38 he launched last year at Double-A Reading, it's his best asset. Fortunately, he's not a crater to a fantasy club's BA; he'll at least prove serviceable.

OF Michael Saunders, Seattle Mariners

When he homered on July 5, he had gone 48 games without one. From that contest to yesterday, he hit .311 with 13 RBIs in 45 at-bats, with 11 runs scored. His weakness for empty hacks had resurfaced and stalled him this year. Despite taking more walks, he's not the slugger he was last season.

One of his big problems has been his failure to mash toward the middle of the field. SLG to center field last year: .730; this year: .484. His long swing probably has started causing him problems again. Saunders and the staff fixed it last year to give him more authority. Perhaps he's starting to do the same this time. The power-speed threat should earn your deep-mixed confidence so you're ahead of the curve on a potentially productive stretch.

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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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