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The Proof Is In The Peripherals: April 24-May 1

Time for our weekly look at which players are having some good luck, some bad luck and those whose fortunes are mimicking Jerry Seinfeld's even-steven act.

They're Just Too Good To Be True: Welington Castillo.  Every fantasy owner dreams of drafting a stopgap second catcher in the 20th round or later and then watching in joy as that roster filler delivers a breakout season.  Castillo isn't exactly a total diamond in the rough --- he had some strong minor league numbers and hit .265/.337/.418 in 190 PA in 2012, but obviously, nobody quite expected his current production.  Though 57 PA in this young season, Castillo is hitting .352/.375/.463 and I probably just need to stop right there and point out that small gap between Castillo's average and OBP.  He has taken exactly zero walks and as his .111 ISO suggests, he isn't showing much pop. 

If you're a Castillo owner in a single-catcher roster format, don't get any nutty ideas about trading your (presumably better) starter since you'll be left holding the bag when Castillo comes back to earth.  Keep hiim as your backup or, even better, see if you can swap him to a less-informed manager who doesn't read this column is dazzled by a high batting average.  If you have two starting catchers in your format, I'd also advise seeing if you can sell high and move Castillo for a more proven backstop.

Full disclosure: I may be biased against Castillo simply because of his first name.  I grew up in London, Ontario, where Wellington Road is one of our major streets.  As such, Castillo's lack of a second "L" really sticks in my craw....yeah, this is some REALLY insightful fantasy analysis. 

Don't Take Your Eyes Off Of Them: These are the players whose peripherals match their production, for better or for worse.  Yes, I realize this concept doesn't exactly match the category title but that's the price I pay for trying to shoehorn a Frankie Valli song into a fantasy baseball column. 

Anyway, my "for better" guy this week is Dexter Fowler.  Much has been made about Fowler's red-hot start to the 2013 season and while I don't think he'll continue his current power pace and end up with 50+ homers, there are some intriguing indications that Fowler actually hasn't yet hit his overall stride.  Fowler's production has been almost entirely based around his home runs --- he's hitting .250, his OBP is .348, his BABIP is a shockingly low .211 and his line-drive percentange stands at 20%, down from 27.2% in 2012.  Now, it's worth noting that Fowler posted career-highs in all these categories last year, including a whopping .390 BABIP, so it's quite possible that he's just balancing out a bit.  That said, if Fowler gets the BABIP up to around the usual .300 mark, he'll be an even better hitting force.  

There are two ways to read this, of course.  The negative spin would be that Fowler is actually underperforming, and we're just not seeing it since we're all dazzled by the homers.  I'm not sure this is necessarily the case given the BABIP and the fact that Fowler plays at Coors Field, where logical statistical analysis goes to die.  If you're saying Fowler will be a fantasy liability once his power dips, my counter would be that his power probably won't dip that much given his 81 home games in the thin air.  At worst, Fowler is a must-start every time the Rockies play at home.  At best, he's on pace for a season that will cement him as a fantasy regular, so don't go trading Fowler quite yet thinking he's just an early-season wonder.  

On the flip side of Fowler is Victor Martinez, whose awful start to the season is borne out by the numbers.  V-Mart has only a .190 BABIP and his walk and strikeout rates are roughly around his career norms, but in terms of power, Martinez makes Welington Castillo look like Johnny Bench.  Martinez has just one extra-base hit in 77 PA and his ISO is just .015.  There's a time for "it's early" and "he's having bad luck" and there's also a time for realizing that this is a 34-year-old who is trying to return from a torn ACL that cost him an entire season.  Despite Martinez's strong track record, I would be wary about giving him much more time to prove himself.  If he isn't looking like the old V-Mart after a few more weeks, it's time to bench or even cut him outright.

Hold Them (On Your Roster) So Much: Vance Worley.  The Twins right-hander drew some sleeper buzz during this spring's fantasy drafts as a 25-year-old live arm who was going from hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park to pitcher-friendly Target Field.  Thus far, however, the Vance Vance Revolution has yet to take place.  Worley owners no doubt took a big gulp upon seeing his 7.11 ERA through four starts (rim shot) and dropped him en masse, which is why he is owned in just 3% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.  If you're in an auction league and still have Worley around since he's harder to drop, take heart, since he isn't likely to continue being a drain your pitching numbers for much longer. 

While Worley has the 7.11 ERA, his advanced metrics are much better --- he owns a 3.28 FIP, 4.14 xFIP, and a 4.31 SIERA.  These admittedly aren't great numbers themselves, especially since Worley won't provide big strikeout totals given his career 7.6 K/9.  That said, one metric that is swinging his way is his 0.47 HR/9, which would be a career-best for Worley and likely a direct benefit from the move to Minnesota.  Worley owns the single biggest BABIP (.403) of any pitcher in baseball, so once those balls stop dropping in for hits, Worley's ability to keep the ball in the park would translate to much better results.  The light bulb might've flicked on already given that Worley pitched very well against the White Sox in his most recent start. 




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