May 4, 2012 @ 18:55:11 PDT
Note: We've excluded pickups for potential saves, which are covered in Diamond Market and Closer Hot Seat.
Maybe Anthony Rizzo isn't a lock to replace him after all. LaHair's power is shining through in a favorable environment. But a .543 BABIP through 21 games? Come on. That presents some serious negative regression.
Still, his eligibility and late blooming deserve your attention, especially since the North Siders are trying to figure out how to put Lahair and Rizzo in the same lineup this summer.
With the increasing number of injured hot cornermen, it makes sense, as long as you account for the risk-reward.
Second verse, same as the first. But he appears - finally - to be honing his plate discipline. The AL East frontrunners - yup, you read that right - are rolling, and as long as he's hitting in the middle of the order, squaring up ample line drives, and delivering on the titanic power we know he has had all along, he'll be worth owning.
Now that Lowrie is an offensive centerpiece instead of an afterthought, he's getting more out of his inherently intriguing power and contact skills. Injuries and poor health held him back in the past; a spike in walk rate and increasing thump when connecting are moving him forward at age 28, which is hardly a coincidence given his past threats as a breakout candidate.
His in-play average of .377 will come down, but it could stay high if he keeps scorching liners. His fly-ball increase also says to temper BA expectations, but his home park could easily make up for that drop with a 15- to 20-homer season.
As long as he's hitting atop this scorching lineup, he'll have plenty of value for runs scored. He leans on batting average for fantasy value, and he's giving plenty of that right now, though he's a more realistic contributor for deep mixed setups. Beware of Allen Craig taking playing time down the road.
A career-high (so far) 51 percent grounder rate finally justifies, to a degree, buying into his contact-first, supporting-offense-dependent game. Throwing his two-seamer more often has aided his hot start.
His bump of more than one K per nine is lying to you, though, because his opponents have only posted a 5.1 swinging strike percentage, the second lowest in his career for a profile that already sits below average in the category. Ride the soft tosser's wave if you must, but be ready to jump off the board when it gets ugly.
Smyly's heat doesn't singe, but it has been enough for him to register an above-average swinging-strike rate from enemy hitters. The southpaw boasts a diverse arsenal and keeps hitters off-balance. Cutters sometimes augment the K ability of a pitcher with less-than-dynamic stuff (see: Scott Feldman). He works relatively quickly, too, which increases hitters' discomfort when facing him.
Like Saunders, Smyly will hit earth soon; he's pitching above his ability right now. But he holds more upside to contribute in the whiffs column, and there's enough here to justify long-term deep mixed love, given the state of the Tigers' back end.
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 the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.
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