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The Proof Is In The Peripherals: August 15-21

With only six weeks left in the baseball season (and perhaps even less time left in your fantasy season if you're in a head-to-head league with playoffs), it's time for a minor format change here at TPIITP headquarters.  Firstly, we're going to acknowledge that "TPIITP" sounds like the noise you make when you try to spit four sunflower seeds at the same time.  Secondly, we're deep enough into the season that we're going to narrow our focus to more recent results. 

It does little good at this point to say "hey, this guy has been really unlucky, he'll turn it around!" when he's been killing your team for four and a half months already.  Likewise, I could point out a so-called regression candidate who's had great BABIP luck all year long but with just six weeks left, there's not much time left for this player to regress --- he might just be one of those players who is lucky from start to finish in a season.

Essentially, I'm just cutting the sample size.  Rather than a season's worth of peripherals, I'll just examine the info from the previous 4-6 weeks to see if a player's hot-or-cold streak is a temporary condition or something you should be paying attention to as you enter your fantasy playoffs.  Let's begin!

* Dan The Man?  I'll start with one of those players who seems ripe for "he could still turn it around!" buzz since Dan Haren, as of late, has indeed been turning it around.  Haren's peripherals (5.05 K/BB, 8.02 K/9, 4.26 FIP, 3.81 xFIP and 3.66 SIERA) suggest his actual 4.99 ERA is inflated though there's no denying that Haren's first three months as a National were total garbage.  Since returning from a DL stint to correct, a shoulder injury, however, Haren has posted a 2.43 ERA over his last six starts. 

I wouldn't presume, however, that the ol' statistical pendulum has swung back in Haren's direction quite yet.  Haren has posted career-highs in fly ball and home run rates this season and also has a career-worst 34% ground ball rate.  While he's only given up two homers his last 37 innings, I worry about the .215 BABIP since the All-Star Break, not to mention that Haren's GBR (30.4%) is even lower since the Midsummer Classic.  Also, we could just put these fancy metrics aside and simply tell you that of Haren's last six starts, five have come against lower-tier lineups (the Brewers, Marlins, Mets and twice against the Phillies).

There's a great chance that Haren's early-season struggles have made him available on your league's waiver wire.  I'd hesitate before picking him up, at least until he shows what he can do against a legit team.  Unless it really was his shoulder that was bothering him all along, Haren might have a few frights left in his nightmare season.

* MORE MORE MOREMitch Moreland hasn't been getting much help from the BABIP gods this season (.269) and that trend has worsened in August as Moreland only has a .238 BABIP.  The difference is that Moreland has overcome that below-average number to post an .875 OPS.  Now, this is a verrrrry small sample size, so don't go releasing Chris Davis, inserting Moreland into your 1B lineup spot and dusting your hands off in triumph.  My point is that while Moreland had cooled off after a scalding hot May and spent time on the DL with a hamstring injury and generally doesn't play against left-handed pitching and he's never really been that big a fantasy contributor...wait, this is a pro-Moreland piece, right?

Right!  If you look at the 5x5 stats, Moreland has 16 homers and 45 RBI, so he'll easily top his previous career best of 16 HR/51 RBI in 2011 (in 512 PA, mind you, and Moreland has already basically matched that total through 377 PA in 2013).  What I'm suggesting is that since Moreland is owned in just 16% of Yahoo fantasy leagues, he's worth a cheap pickup to be used as a bench option or as a start whenever the Rangers face a righty starter. 

* Gee MinorDillon Gee has an impressive 1.53 ERA over his last five starts.  Gee whiz!  He also has an absurd 94.5% strand rate and .179 BABIP over that span, plus a measly 3.57 K/9 that largely explains his 4.32 FIP and 4.80 xFIP.  Aw geez!  Gee hasn't had a bad year overall, but his fantasy value will be limited until he starts posting more consistent strikeout totals.  As for the here and now, I wouldn't be in any rush to pick him up since his current good form is largely due to great luck.  Or, geeeee-reat luck, as he pronounces it, to Tony the Tiger's annoyance.  This is why Tony always roots against the Mets.

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