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The Proof Is In The Peripherals: June 6-12

I'm often asked how I started working at Roto Authority, and it all started when they took me in the ninth round of the 2011 Baseball Writer Draft.  Frankly, I was pretty ticked about falling all the way to the ninth round, though it was due to signability issues --- I took some bad advice from my agen...uh, um, er, ah, advisor and asked for a $1.5MM signing bonus.  This was obviously way above the slot price, as even second-round fantasy baseball writers aren't offered more of a bonus than two boxes of Raisin Bran and a Jeremy Sowers rookie card.  Still, our two sides were able to find middle ground and here I am, enjoying my time in the fantasy website big leagues.

Here's the latest trio of players whose metrics aren't reflecting their actual performance....

* Adams (c)An't.  Usually when I note that a player is being buoyed by his peripherals, that's a hint that you should move quickly to sell high before said player comes back to earth.  In this case, however, it'll be a bit tricky for you to trade Matt Adams since that the Cardinals first baseman is currently on the 15-day DL with a tight calf.  This is one of those injuries that could see Adams come back as soon as he's eligible in mid-June, or it could nag for long after his 15 days are up, so for starters, downplay the injury as much as possible to fellow owners.  "He's fine!  Calf injuries are a breeze!  I tore both of my calves yesterday and still completed that marathon!"

If you approach your fellow manager hat in hand and humbly pretend that you "know you're selling low on Adams," you can still pick up a decent bench piece or maybe a third outfielder or fifth starter in exchange.  Your rival might think he's gotten a steal, while you've emerged with something in return for a player who seems primed for some big regression in the second half.

"Regressing from what?" you might ask, and you have a point.  Adams has three homers, 17 RBI and 16 runs over 202 PA, not exactly big power numbers for a fantasy first baseman.  He's slashing an impressive .325/.337/.474 yet there are a few issues with that slash line.  For instance, that SLG isn't translating into homers.  That OBP is almost entirely built on the batting average, given Adams' 2.5% walk rate.  And as for the batting average, Adams is being heavily carried by a .390 BABIP, the second-highest of any qualified hitter in baseball.  Unless he keeps up that absurdly high BABIP for the entire season, Adams isn't bringing much to the fantasy table.

Come on, you've always secretly considered yourself to be the fantasy equivalent of Pat Gillick when it comes to swinging trades anyway.  Challenge yourself by shopping Adams around to anyone in your league with a lack of first base depth and seeing if, despite Adams' injury, someone will bite.

* Jed ZeppelinJed Lowrie just endured a pretty lousy month of May, and in one of my leagues, a manager responded to this slump by releasing Lowrie outright.  Not a benching, not a sell-low trade, but an outright dropping.  Needless to say, this caused something of a frenzy on the waiver wire as an informal poll of league managers (as indicated in a message board post titled "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING??!!") suggested that eight of the other 13 of us all put in bids for Lowrie's services before he was snapped up by the dude with the highest waiver priority.

Basically this item is just for the sake of more public shaming of my league rival, as most managers wouldn't dream of releasing a player with eligibility at both shortstop and second, usually bats second in a powerful Oakland lineup, walks more often than he strikes out and carries a .245/347/.380 line with four homers, 24 RBI and 32 runs scored.  Those aren't the best stats in the world, but consider that Lowrie's production was dimmed by a .200 BABIP.  His red-hot start to the season was generated by only a .313 BABIP in April, so it's not like he was getting overly lucky when he was hitting well, either.

Lowrie's contact rates are all up from last season and he still only has a .263 overall BABIP, so there's plenty of evidence to suggest that his batting average is due to rise again.  Don't be like that one guy in my league, since there's no reason Lowrie should be availa...wait, he's only owned in 65% of Yahoo leagues?!  What the what, people?!  Pick him up for, at the very least, your bench right this minute!

* Young And Restless.  Poor Chris Young has had so much bad injury luck over the last several seasons that frankly, I have to just tip my cap to all of the good fortune that's come his way in 2014.  The veteran righty signed a minor league deal with the Mariners just before the season started and has thus far enjoyed a successful comeback year, posting a 3.27 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a Major League-low 6.5 hits/9 over his 63 1/3 innings.  Heck, he's even regained the title of Most Prominent Player Named Chris Young from a certain Mets outfielder

Okay, now sit back, Young's good numbers come with a zillion caveats.  Young is benefiting from Safeco Field in a major way, as he has a 1.89 ERA (and a .142 opponents' batting average!) in five home starts as opposed to a 4.80 ERA in six road appearances, five of them starts.  Young has the second-lowest BABIP (.188) and eighth-highest strand rate (82.8%) amongst all qualified starters.  He is generating only a 25% ground ball rate, yet is also only striking out 4.26 batters every nine innings.  That nice 3.27 ERA is instantly belied by a 5.40 FIP, 5.74 xFIP and 5.90 SIERA.  According to Fangraphs, Young isn't even performing at the level of a replacement player given his -0.1 fWAR (Baseball Reference is more generous, giving Young 1.2 rWAR).

Whew!  It's like the baseball gods took all of Young's luck from his last six injury-riddled years and filtered it all into his 2014 campaign.  While I wish the guy nothing but the best in his career revival, I also have to warn fantasy owners to stay away.  His peripherals are all so absurdly out of whack that I can't even recommend him as a "start only at Safeco" type of streaming pitcher since once the regression happens, it could get ugly.  Definitely keep Young on your bench for his start in Tampa Bay tonight and hope the Rays don't hit him hard enough to inflate his numbers and hurt your chances to sell high on him.  Then again, wait, am I counting on the 2014 Rays to actually play well?  That's asking a lot.




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