Proof Is In The Peripherals


The Proof Is In The Peripherals: September 5-11

With the fantasy baseball season nearing a close, here are some last-minute add/drop/bench/keep playing recommendations based on advanced metrics.  Your shot at a league title could very well hinge on these very tips.  We're through the looking glass here, people.

* Long Live The King.  It seems like a waste of bandwidth to even bother writing "keep starting Felix Hernandez" since, well, duh, it's Felix Hernandez.  Panicky owners who are approaching fantasy playoffs, however, might consider dropping their ace as a pre-emptive measure given that King Felix has pitched more like King Joffrey over the last month.  After all, we live in a world where even Justin Verlander is susceptible to being dropped

Hernandez is an ugly 1-5 with a 6.42 ERA over his last six starts, but whereas Verlander has had a few warning signs for a couple of months now, I can safely chalk Felix's bad form up to simply poor luck.  The big ERA is fueled by a .350 BABIP and 54.6% strand rate, as Hernandez's advanced stats (3.25 FIP, 3.19 xFIP, 3.47 SIERA) show that the Mariners stud has pitched just slightly worse than usual in his last six outings.  King Felix could snap back into form at any time, and you just KNOW that if you drop him in your league, he'll immediately fire off four consecutive no-hitters.  Don't be That Guy who outsmarts himself and costs himself a league title by dropping an A-lister after one cold spell.

* Double Dutch.  If you want to worry about an AL West starter, try Derek Holland.  The Rangers southpaw lasted just 4 2/3 innings against the A's in his last start, an outing that could mark the beginning of a rough patch.  Holland has a 2.63 ERA over his last six starts but a .227 BABIP, 87.2% strand rate, 4.52 FIP, 4.33 xFIP and 4.48 SIERA indicate that he's been getting away with some dodgy pitching.  Control has been the biggest problem over that six-start stretch -- Holland's BB/9 has ballooned to 4.54, well above his season average of 2.97.

I'm not saying you should cut Holland, but maybe just strategically sit him against certain opponents.  His next start against the Angels could be an example, as he has been rocked by the Halos throughout his career.  Holland has delivered just a step behind ace-level numbers all year long but he doesn't have the track record of someone like Hernandez when it comes to just dismissing slumps as slumps and not potentially worrying trends.

* Ruf Ryders' Anthem.  There haven't been many bright sides for Phillies fans this season, but if you love the Phils and love fantasy bargains, at least you might've gotten on the Darin Ruf bandwagon early.  The right-handed hitting Ruf has hit .254/.347/.509 with 12 homers over 199 PA for Philadelphia, with a weird reverse-splits trend of hitting righties hard (.934 OPS) and withering against lefties (.600 OPS, albeit in only 51 PA). 

Despite this nice power display, Ruf is owned in just 20 percent of Yahoo fantasy leagues.  I'd recommend him as a cheap pickup for your September stretch drive despite a few worrying trends.  Ruf has been almost all power over the last month, with a whopping .302 ISO (sixth-highest in the majors over the last 30 days) and only a .219/.290/.521 line.  That said, his BABIP over that same stretch was only .231, so there's certainly room for growth.  Pick up Ruf, give him a few strategic starts in your outfield or at first base against certain pitchers, and enjoy some hot and tasty homers fresh off the waiver wire.  Ahhh, is there anything sweeter than waiver wire power?



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: Aug. 29-Sept. 4

What's that?   You want to know how I'm doing in my fantasy leagues?  Oh, thanks for asking, you're too kind!  In my five leagues, I'm currently sitting 4th and 10th in my head-to-head leagues (position is kind of moot just as long as you're in the playoffs) and in my roto leagues I'm in 3rd, 5th and....ugh, 11th.  That's the league I'm in with all my old buddies from my hometown, so I'm going to hear a lot of trash talk over the winter and/or offers to take over the writing of this column.

The biggest reason I'm not leading all five leagues is because I follow my advice from these columns mostly just bad luck, I figure.  My fantasy BABIP is probably no bigger than .220 for the season, plus my strand rate is through the roof.  Yes, that's the ticket.  All just bad luck.  Anyway, for those of you who still have a shot in most/all/any of your leagues, here's a peek into the peripherals....

Bend It Like Gordon  With "Gordon" being such a British-sounding name, you'd think the British soccer legend would be named "Gordon Beckham" and the American baseballer would be "David Beckham" rather than the other way around, wouldn't it?  (And if it was just "Gord Beckham," he'd be Canadian.)  That's just one bit of misfortune that has befallen the White Sox second baseman in life.  Another is the .255 BABIP he's carried around for the last month that is primarily responsible for his .245/.336/.368 line over his last 29 games.  I do like Beckham as a sleeper for your last fantasy month and since he's available in a measly 11% of Yahoo leagues, you'll likely to able to add him for nothing.

Beckham has shown glimpses of his vaunted potential, and while he hasn't truly broken out, he's at least been on the radar.  Beckham has enjoyed a couple of hot streaks (including a .303/.337/.447 line over in 20 July games) and he's doing a better job of putting bat to ball, increasing his contact rate to a personal high of 86.4% and cutting his strikeout rate to a career-low 12.4% this season.  This increased contact has been apparent even in the last month of struggle, as Beckham has actually had a higher walk rate (9.8%) to strikeout rate (9.0%).  If this better contact manifests itself into some more balls finding empty spaces in September, Beckham will be a nice little boost to your 2B/MI situation.

We Called The Dog 'Indiana'  I'm not going to argue with my Roto Authority colleague Alex Steers McCrum when he suggests that you should pick up Junior Lake.  Given Lake's numbers and his multi-positional value at third base and outfield, he certainly has enough momentum for you to take a flier on him.  What I wouldn't do, however, is expect Lake Superior when you're more likely to get Lake E(e)rie.

/pauses for laughter

/none comes

Ahem, uh, okay.  Since Lake made his Major League debut on July 19, he has hit an impressive .312/.345/.459 in 166 PA, with four homers and 16 runs.  While this roughly mirrors what he was doing in Triple-A Iowa, however, it should be noted that Lake isn't exactly an elite prospect --- he was rated as only the No. 15 prospect in the Cubs' system by Baseball America's preseason guide.  Not to say that the guy can't pick up his game, but this isn't a case of a touted phenom bursting onto the scene.  Turning to the advanced metrics, Lake has only a 68.1% contact rate, an ugly 0.18 BB/K ratio and a whopping .391 BABIP that is letting him get away with his lack of consistency at the plate.  As I said earlier, it's fair game to pick Lake up since hey, stranger things have happened than a guy retaining BABIP luck over a couple of months.  That said, if you own Lake now and your league's trade deadline hasn't passed yet, you should definitely try to sell high.  If you can work "T-t-t-t TODAY, Junior!" in your trade pitch, all the better.

Half-Eagle, Half-Lion, All-Homer  It has to be frustrating being an A.J. Griffin owner given the right-hander's propensity for shooting himself in the foot.  Over the last 30 days Griffin has allowed precious few hits (.210 BABIP), stranded an above-average number of his runners (79.7%) and yet he has just a 4.33 ERA to show for it.  In fact, despite those nice peripherals, Griffin actually should be doing worse given his 6.37 FIP and 5.25 xFIP.  

The problem is Griffin's tendency to allow home runs.  He's allowed a league-leading 32 longballs this season, nine of them in the last month alone for a 2.29 HR/9 since July 29.  These are high numbers for anyone, especially a guy who pitches his home games in the Coliseum.  Griffin has had good peripheral luck all season (.243 BABIP, 77.5% strand rate) which has been the only thing keeping him from having a worse home run rate than Charlie Brown.

Since throwing a complete game shutout against the Reds on June 26, Griffin has a 4.55 ERA over his last 11 starts.  It's a tough call to just outright release a guy whose overall numbers (3.94 ERA, 2.79 K/BB ratio, 134 strikeouts in 169 IP) are pretty good but if you're heading into a playoff situation in your fantasy league, you don't want to have That Guy on your staff who gets shelled in his one start in a week and single-handedly blows up your ERA category for the matchup.  Griffin is another guy who I'd quietly be shopping in the final days before your trade deadline.



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: August 22-28

So when you make a franchise-altering fantasy deal to acquire Mike Trout (for Clayton Kershaw and Austin Jackson, no less) in the last few weeks before your league's deadline, the last thing you want to see is a nagging hamstring injury.  Oof.  There's another helpful tip for late-season trading: it's dangerous to acquire players on struggling teams, since any sort of lingering injury might well cause them to be shut down for the entire rest of the season.  Let's hope it doesn't come to this with Trout, since otherwise I'll be one unhappy camper.  Seriously, I'll leave town and just live in a tent out in the middle of a remote forest for a month, staring forlornly at a Mike Trout baseball card.

Onto this week's advanced metrics...

* The Hurt Locker  I warned everyone about Jeff Locke back in May, and now it looks like I was right all along.  Sure, Locke continued to pitch well for two months after that but, uh, still, moral victory for the Markster!  Locke benefited from great peripheral luck for much of the season but the Locke Regress Monster has emerged over his last four starts.  Even if you chalk up his last start (8 ER in 2 2/3 IP against the Diamondbacks on Saturday) as just a random stinker, Locke also posted a 4.70 ERA over his previous three outings.

If you're a Jeff Locke owner, you have to think about cutting your losses and moving on.  Sure, Locke has been a nice boon to your rotation all year long, but given the southpaw's peripherals, you've been playing with fire all season long.  Time to drop the match before you really get burned heading into your postseason.  You might give Locke one more start (he's facing the Giants next, who couldn't hit my grandma's offspeed stuff) and then hope he pitches well enough to boost his trade value so you can pawn him off on another owner in a deadline deal.  If he can't handle San Francisco, however, then it's time to sock the Locke.

* Yeah, I Chacin Her.  That Is To Say, I Chasaw Her.  His 5.6 K/9 over the last two seasons won't impress anyone, but you can still make the case that Jhoulys Chacin is one of the more underrated fantasy pitching options around.  Part of it comes from that low strikeout rate, and part comes from the dreaded "Rockies Starter" stigma, but otherwise, Chacin has been pretty stellar.  He has a 2.23 ERA over his last 13 starts and for the season he's been getting only a smidge of BABIP (.291) and strand rate (72.4%) luck. 

As you might guess given that he's pitched well in a Rockies uniform, Chacin isn't giving up many homers.  His 4.3% HR/FB rate is the lowest of any qualified starter in the majors, and it's a sharp drop from his 9.2% career rate.  It's mildly concerning that Chacin's fly ball rate is only slightly below his career average, but by this point in the season, you have to acknowledge that Chacin has made a solid adjustment to keep his flies from leaving the yard.

If I can put the peripherals aside for a second, I'll note that the Rockies have a tough remaining schedule.  Twenty-one of Colorado's final 27 games are against big-hitting clubs like the Dodgers, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Cardinals and Reds, so if you pick up Chacin for your stretch drive, you'll be doing so in the face of stiff competition.  That said, Chacin has pitched well all season long and there's enough evidence for me to believe that he isn't a fluke.  I guess you could say that Cha-seeing (puts sunglasses on) is Chac-believing.  YEAHHHHHHH

* Werthwhile  You may have missed this in the wake of the Nationals' ultra-disappointing season but 34-year-old Jayson Werth has been having one of the best seasons of his 11-year career.  Werth missed a month on the DL but is otherwise hitting .330/.403/.524 with 17 homers, 53 RBI and 61 runs through 375 PA and just for kicks, he's even 7-for-8 in stolen base attempts.  "Wow, signing Werth to that seven-year, $126MM contract was a great move for the Nationals after all!" said nobody, but even still, for all that's gone wrong for the Nats in 2013, Werth has been a nice bright spot.  Of course you could argue that since the club wasted this great year from a 34-year-old thought to be on the decline, it just makes the season even more depressing, but...uh, sorry Washington fans.

Werth hasn't carried the Nationals this year, but can he at least carry your fantasy team to glory?  I'd doubt it.  While Werth has indeed been hitting the ball with more authority, posting his highest line drive rate (24.8%) since 2007 and his highest HR/FB rate (18.5%) since 2009, he's also been finding a lot of holes with those hard-hit balls.  The veteran outfielder has a .382 BABIP for the season and a league-leading .452 BABIP since the All-Star break.  That latter stat is bound to regress as we head into September and Werth might be one of those "guys who get a nagging injury and are shut down since their teams are out of it" that I noted earlier, especially given Werth's age and injury history.  There's no reason Werth can't be a contributor to your fantasy playoff run but if you get a late chance to sell high for a more reliable hitter, it wouldn't be a bad move.



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.



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: August 1-7

Good news, everyone!  I'm not going to be leaving Roto Authority at the trade deadline.  The RA general manager tried to work out a deal to move me to Yahoo! Sports for cash considerations, two minor leaguers and a UFC writer to be named later, but I scuttled the deal with my no-trade clause.  I'd only be willing to discuss waiving the clause if I could somehow be traded to Old Hoss Radbourn's Twitter feed, www.creedthoughts.gov.wwwcreedthoughts and any cat-related Tumblr page.

Onto this week's look at the advanced metrics...

Bourn Ultimatum.  Basically, my ultimatum boils down to, "Hey Michael Bourn!  What happened to your so-called speed?  Start stealing more bases or else!"  *shakes fist*  Bourn has a mere 13 steals this season (and been caught eight times), a big disappointment to fantasy owners expecting the player who averaged 51 swipes a year from 2008-12.  Bourn has suffered big drops according to Fangraphs' baserunning statistics (speed score and Ultimate Base Running) and in terms of weighted stolen base runs, Bourn is actually costing the Indians runs this season with his -0.8 number.

The plain fact about Bourn is that if he isn't stealing bases, he has very little fantasy value.  He'll score runs atop a good Tribe lineup, but his decent .284 average is propped up by a .368 BABIP and his power numbers (four homers, 32 RBIs) are nothing special.  In one of my shallower fantasy leagues with 20-player rosters, Bourn even recently popped up on the waiver wire.  I don't know if Bourn is finding stolen bases harder to come by in the American League or if he's starting to lose his wheels at age 30, but whatever the case, the Bourn era in Cleveland has been about as blah as The Bourne Legacy.

Starting To Simmer.  This week's "better than you'd think" guy is kind of an odd candidate since his overall batting line (.249/.287/.373 heading into Tuesday's action) is atrocious.  That said, Andrelton Simmons has quietly been on a roll this month, posting an .820 OPS in July and making himself into a stealth pickup if you're looking for help at a thin shortstop position.  I wouldn't suggest picking him up and then feeling comfortable enough to trade your more established starting shortstop, but if you're hurting at SS or, say, if you're Jhonny Peralta owner worried about a Biogenesis suspension, then the Drel is your man!  Have we settled on "The Drel" as Simmons' nickname yet?  No?  Ok, just checking.

After hitting .299/.352/.397 in 1092 minor league plate appearances (none above Double-A), Simmons hasn't matched that kind of hitting prowess in the bigs but he does have 11 homers.  That's pretty decent for any shortstop but it's jaw-dropping for Simmons himself, who had nine professional homers total coming into this season.  Since Fredi Gonzalez inexplicably keeps putting a guy with a sub-.300 OBP in the leadoff spot, Simmons is also a solid run-scorer, notching 54 touches of home plate.  Simmons doesn't walk much (5.1 BB%) but he also rarely strikes out -- his 7.6% strikeout rate is the fourth-lowest of any player in baseball this season.  Combine this with a .247 BABIP and it could suggest that Simmons will post something closer to his July numbers the rest of the way rather than the .609 OPS he posted over the first three months. 

Across The Sea.  Speaking of infielders who are on fire in July, Simmons can't hold a candle to Kyle Seager, whose .384/.455/.605 line has made him a strong Player Of The Month candidate.  Seager put up good numbers in 2012 and has taken another step forward this year to become one of the better third basemen in baseball, hitting .293/.356/.481 with 16 homers, 48 RBI and 59 runs over the course of the full season.  Seager has comfortably turned himself into a top-10 fantasy third baseman for 2014 and might even crack the top five if he keeps swinging the hot bat.

Mariners fans, you've suffered through a tough few seasons now with a lot of losses, historically-poor hitting and a lot of underachieving hitting prospects.  The good news is that Seager looks like he may be a keeper, as his 2013 stats bear a strong resemblance to his 2010-11 minor league numbers, so while there was no question he has hitting ability, it was just a question of if he (unlike so many others) could handle Safeco Field.  Seager's contact, walk, line drive and HR/FB rates are all up from 2012 and while his BABIP is .318, that's not too crazy a number.  The only drawback is a lack of success against left-handed pitching, as the left-handed hitting Seager has just a .680 OPS against southpaws.  Still, if you have another third base option on days when the Mariners face a lefty, Seager has undoubtedly been a boon for his fantasy owners.

Time To Get Off The BART.  I've been hesitant to even bring up this whole Bartolo Colon thing since it seems like it's beyond statistical understanding.  This living affront to advanced metric analysis has been one of baseball's best pitchers is 12-1 with a 1.53 ERA over his last 13 starts, and for the season has a 2.54 ERA and a 4.28 K/BB ratio that is buoyed by an AL-low 1.14 BB/9.  All of this at age 40 and getting by on one pitch --- 84.8% of Colon's pitches this year have been fastballs, by far the most any pitcher in the game relies on their heater, and "heater" is a relative term given Colon's 90.1 mph average speed.

So you have a guy who barely strikes anyone out, plus he's allowing homers and walks at less than half his career rates.  Colon has a 3.25 FIP, 4.02 xFIP and 4.25 SIERA, not to mention a below-average BABIP (.280) and an abover-average strand rate (81.6%).  Since he likely isn't facing a Biogenesis suspension, my suggestion would be for Colon owners to sell high as soon as you can....yet geez, isn't fantasy baseball fun when you have a guy on your roster who's outperformed all possible expectations?  Errrrgh, no!  No, Mark!  Stop being romantic!  This is a factual, logic-based column only, darn it!  Check your heart at the door!



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: July 25-31

This isn't really an "advanced metric" fantasy tip but I'm just sayin', if you've got any of the Biogenesis suspects on your fantasy roster, you might want to trade them ASAP.  Also, "The Biogenesis Suspects" sounds like an awesome Ray Bradbury novel.  Let's check out this week's fantasy yeas and nays...

* Swishing Well.  Nick Swisher's triumphant return to his home state of Ohio hasn't exactly gone as planned.  Swisher is hitting.242/.345/.397 with 10 homers and 32 RBI through 362 PA, and while injuries have no doubt played a role in these poor numbers, Swisher is still on pace for the second-worst full-season OPS of his career.  (His worst came in his lone season with the White Sox in 2008, so maybe Swisher just hates the AL Central?)

You can't blame bad luck, as Swisher's .290 BABIP is only a bit below average.  You can't blame his walk and strikeout rates, which are close to his career averages.  You can't blame his contact rates, as a few are up and a few are down, but overall he's been pretty much the same across the board.  The problem just seems to be a lack of power, as Swisher's .157 ISO is easily his the lowest of his career.  I wouldn't have predicted such a drop given that Swisher's power was hardly a creation of Yankee Stadium (his home/road splits as a Yankee were pretty even), but it might just be that Swisher is falling off that cliff like so many 32-year-old ballplayers before him.  I drafted Swisher in one of my leagues with the intent of playing him every day as a third outfielder, but I abandoned that plan long ago.  Staple Swisher to your bench (barring a hot streak) and start wondering if Swisher's days as a model of fantasy consistency are through.

* Kuroda ErosionHiroki Kuroda has always been a guy who has enjoyed very solid Major League results despite only okay peripheral stats thanks to below-average strand rates (73.7%) and BABIPs (.278) over his career.  This year, however, he's really pushing it.  Kuroda has both the third-lowest strand rate (81.9%) and ninth-lowest BABIP (.251) of any qualified starter in the league, so his 2.65 ERA isn't quite as impressive when seen through the lens of the advanced metrics --- 3.56 FIP, 3.73 xFIP, 3.88 SIERA.  

For a 38-year-old who pitches in Yankee Stadium, of course, even these numbers are still pretty good.  Kuroda has been an underrated fantasy starter for essentially his entire career in North America and while he won't regress much over the final two months, I'd guess he'll still regress a bit.  If you can package Kuroda and another player together in a trade for a more proven ace, I'd make that move. 

* But You Doesn't Hasta Call Me Johnson!  "How have I gone this long in my fantasy column-writing career without referencing Ray J. Johnson?" is a question nobody should ever ask of themselves.  Anyway, Josh Johnson's fantasy value took another big hit after his poor start against the Dodgers on Monday, and the Blue Jays righty is now owned in just 58% of Yahoo leagues.  So naturally, just when Johnson is at rock bottom, I'm going to suggest you pick him up since there's evidence that he isn't actually as bad as he's seemed for much of the 2013 season.

Johnson has a 63% strand rate and a .338 BABIP, which is partially why his ERA is an ugly 5.66 in real life but his advanced metrics (4.26 FIP, 3.60 xFIP, 3.71 SIERA) are all pretty good.  The issue is that he just cannot stop giving up home runs.  Johnson's HR/FB rate is 15.7%, almost twice his career average, and since he's giving up less than his career average of fly balls, you can't blame it all on the move from Marlins Park to Rogers Centre and the AL East.  I'd take a flyer on Johnson if you're trying to fill an injury in your rotation or if you've been streaming your fifth starter spot, since surely things have to improve for him sooner or later, eh?  Also, "Surely Things Have To Improve, Eh?" is also the motto for the 2013 Blue Jays team.

* Austin City LimitsAustin Jackson is just 26 years old and in his fourth season, so it's still a little early for anyone to outright claim they 'know' what kind of player Jackson will ultimately become.  That said, I think I'm safe in proclaming that Jackson's BABIP-fueled monster of a 2012 season will probably end up being the best power year of his pro career.  The .300/.377/.479 line that Jackson put up last year topped any of his on-base and slugging numbers from the minors, so my fantasy dashboard just started flashing the OUTLIER light.

The wild thing is, Jackson's .371 BABIP from 2012 wasn't even the highest of his Major League career.  The Tigers outfielder has been kissed by the BABIP gods, as he has a whopping .366 BABIP for his career and a .341 mark this season.  Time will tell if Jackson's luck will eventually turn for but now, he's an absolute run-scoring monster atop that Detroit lineup.  Runs are an underrated fantasy statistic and really no different than the others -- if you have a guy who's a beast in one category, you can overlook any deficiencies in the rest.  Jackson is nothing special when it comes to homers, steals or even average, and a hamstring injury has really put a crimp in his base-stealing ability this year.  Still, don't be down on Jackson's performance if you drafted him expecting a repeat of 2012.  Any power you get from him will be a bonus, so just sit back and bask in the....well, I was about to say 'runny goodness,' but that just sounds kind of gross.  Run-scoring goodness?  Yeah, might as well be grammatically-correct.  #EnglishMajor



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: July 18-24

Since the All-Star Break is all about celebrating the first 3.5 months of the baseball season, let's look back on a couple of my starworthy picks of the first half.  For instance, I told you in early May that Matt Carpenter was the real deal, and just last week, I praised Tim Lincecum's underrated season just before he no-hit the Padres.  Yep, I guess you could say it was a pretty darn perfect first half for the ol' Shukster...uh, except for writing off Ian Desmond or thinking Chase Headley's slump was no big deal.  The moral of the story is, I'm a human coin flip.  Actually, if I was a human coin flip, I'd usually come up heads due to my giant cranium.  Seriously, I can't wear adjustable ballcaps even if they're on the last notch on the strap.  It's a curse.  Forget my being a human coin flip, I'm really a human bobblehead doll.

Enough of that nonsense.  Let's look at this week's advanced metric All-Stars and No-Stars!

* Porce Of A Different Color.  If it weren't for the Los Anaheim Angels, Rick Porcello would be looked on a lot more favorably by fantasy managers.  Porcello has a 4.80 ERA in 99 1/3 innings, but if you subtract the 16 runs in five innings (!) that Porcello allowed in two starts against the Halos, Porcello's ERA drops down to much more respectable 3.53 mark.  I'm forced to conclude that Porcello has been targeted by a Christopher Lloyd-esque spirit, a la Angels In The Outfield.  For instance, Porcello has a career-best 57.3% ground ball rate this season but also a 15.7% home run rate, so even though he's allowing fewer fly balls, more of them are inexplicably leaving the park.  It's almost as if those flies are being carried over the fence by a winged figure, HMMMM???

Whether it's vengeful spirits or just bad luck, Porcello hasn't caught many breaks this season given that his 3.52 FIP, 3.07 xFIP and 3.15 SIERA all indicate that he should be seeing much better results on the ERA front.  The Tigers righty has posted new career bests in K/9 (7.2), BB/9 (1.7) and K/BB ratio (4.21) but hasn't had much to show for it thanks to a .317 BABIP and a below-average 65.4% strand rate.   Unless the supernatural phenomena continues, I'd expect Porcello to be a solid fantasy contributor in the second half.  He'll likely be available for a cheap price in a fantasy trade or he could even be on the waiver wire.  Since the Tigers don't play the Angels again, you're set.

* Not On A Roll.  It's been a long and distinguished run for Jimmy Rollins as a major fantasy contributor, but at age 34, I think J-Roll is about done.  Rollins is hitting .258/.317/.345 with 38 runs, 30 RBI and just four homers in 403 PA.  It's been a total power outage for Rollins, as his .088 ISO is the 14th-lowest of any player with a qualified number of plate appearnces.  Even his base-stealing has gone to pot, as Rollins is just 9-for-15 in stolen base attempts and he's registering only a 3.8 in Fangraphs' "speed score" statistic, barely half of his 7.4 career total.

Rollins owners have undoubtedly been looking for upgrades for several weeks now and all I can say is keep searching, since there's nothing to suggest that Rollins can turn things around.  He is what he is, a lower-tier shortstop whose former pluses of speed and homers have both seemingly left him.

* Colby Beware.  "Hey, would you be interested in Colby Rasmus?  He only has a .695 OPS against lefties but his .866 OPS against righties is terrific, and since you shuffle your lineup every day, you'll know when the Blue Jays face a southpaw.  Rasmus is having a sneaky-good year, on pace to recapture the promise he showed in his big 2010 season.  He'd help your outfield and since you already have an excess of (insert stat here), you can spare a (insert position here).  Think about it!"  

There, I just provided your sales pitch for your upcoming trade offer.  You openly admit Rasmus' splits, you butter up your rival manager by implying that he's both already smart enough to know about the splits and how to play Rasmus correctly, and you plant the seed about Rasmus' would-be breakout season from three years ago.  The best part is that this description is truthful, as Rasmus has indeed been a great streaming play against right-handed pitching.  That said, move now to sell high on Rasmus.  Almost all of Rasmus' contact rates are down from last year and below his career averages, so I'd say his .344 BABIP indicates that Rasmus has been lucky to find open spaces when he has been making contact.  Not that seasonal splits are a good forecaster, but for his career Rasmus has a .615 OPS after the All-Star Break, for what it's worth.  I'd cut bait on Rasmus now and let another owner deal with his probable regression.  Would you really let my brilliant sales pitch go to waste?  If there was a Pulitzer Prize for trade offer notes....

* Stop.  Hamels Time.  Cole Hamels isn't really having a bad season, but he's just the victim of high expectations (not unlike his team itself).  Like many of you, I drafted Hamels in one of my leagues with the expectation that he'd be a rotation-carrying ace, but the Phillies southpaw has instead performed more like an okay #2 or good #3 starter.  Is it ideal?  No, but it's not like Hamels is being rocked every time out.  It's fine to have just a "solid" ace if the rest of your fantasy rotation has been smartly constructed and hey, Hamels does have a 2.95 ERA over his last eight starts, so maybe his best is yet to come.

Most of Hamels' 2013 peripherals aren't appreciatively different from his past numbers except when it comes to leaving men on base.  While Hamels' 70.8% strand rate is roughly average, Hamels has never been "roughly average" in this category, as he's enjoyed a 76.5% strand rate over his career.  Simply put, more of Hamels' runners are scoring than usual, and that's the likely culprit behind his 4.05 ERA.  Given that his strand rate isn't low by any means, this might simply be a case of Hamels' good luck running out.  If he regains his strand rate mojo, look out, the vintage Hamels might yet re-emerge.  It'd be ridiculous to try and trade Hamels simply because he isn't pitching like a Cy Young candidate so don't even think about throwing Cole Hamels down the Camel Hole.  Basically, it's that pit from Return Of The Jedi, except instead of a Sarlacc, it's a bunch of wild bloodthirsty camels.  You're right, it doesn't make sense.



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: July 11-17

Remember the character of Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how she'd always use the phrase "five by five" when saying that someone was all right or okay with her?  Does this mean that Faith was secretly a big fantasy baseball fan who stuck to the 5x5 leagues?  I shouldn't have brought this up, since now I'm going to presume that every stranger I'm playing against in a public league is actually Eliza Dushku, which may induce me to make stupid trades in a vain attempt at getting a phone number.

Anyway, just as you shouldn't use fantasy baseball as a way of hitting on actresses, you also shouldn't use the 5x5 stats as your sole guide to determining a player's value.  Here's your weekly look at the advanced metrics to see which players you should put your....faith...into.  *rimshot*

Say Yes To Ricky No: Things are looking up for Ricky Nolasco these days.  He was recently released from purgatory traded from the Marlins to the Dodgers, where he gets to pitch in a pennant race (sort of) and near his SoCal hometown.  It also helps that Nolasco is on pace for his best overall season since his breakout 2008 campaign, in large part because for once, Nolasco's peripherals are pretty normal.  Sabermetricians still speak in hushed tones of Nolasco's bizarre 2009 season (a 5.06 ERA but a 3.35 FIP) and for his career, the right-hander has a .308 BABIP and 68.7% strand rate, both higher than average.  This season, however, Nolasco's BABIP is a solid .299 and his strand rate is actually a bit better than average (72.5%).  The only somewhat worrisome stat is that Nolasco isn't allowing as many grounders as he did in the previous two years, though since he's pitching at Dodger Stadium, his increased fly ball tendencies aren't likely to cause many problems.

Nolasco has a 7.2 K/9, 3.6 K/BB ratio and a 3.85 ERA (3.51 FIP, 3.70 xFIP, 3.80 SIERA) in 112 1/3 innings this season, yet he's only owned in 36% of Yahoo fantasy leagues.  It's possible owners stayed away from Nolasco in their drafts due to his years of good-but-not-great performances and the fact that the Marlins in general were going to be a disaster, but there's no reason to not snatch him up now. 

Alexei Sale: Alexei Ramirez's career is taking a weird arc, as he began his career as a solid power-hitting shortstop but now seems to be morphing into a no-hit stolen base threat.  Ramirez has 19 steals already this season, putting him easily on pace to break his career high of 20, so I can't say that the White Sox shortstop has been a total fantasy bust.  Ramirez has hit .277/.305/.345 with one homer and 33 runs scored, plus a stunningly low .068 ISO that indicates the Stark family on Game Of Thrones are the only ones with less power than Ramirez right now.

Not that steals aren't a valuable category and it's not like shortstop is brimming with big bats anyway, but I always hate having a "steals-only" guy on the roster who swipes a few bags and usually has a decent average but just kills you in every other category.  If you have one or two other speed threats in your fantasy lineup, I'd recommend moving Ramirez for a better shortstop since his bat just isn't coming back.  He even has a .314 BABIP on the season, so if this is the lucky Alexei, I shudder to think how he'll be hitting if his luck turns.

Shell Hhigh Ohn Jhonny: There's a chance that Jhonny Peralta won't be on anyone's roster for a large chunk of the remaining season, but suspension rumors aside, Peralta is a classic sell-high candidate if you have him on your team right now.  And if there's an owner in your league that isn't following the Biogenesis story then hey, caveat emptor!

Peralta was recently named to his second All-Star team as a result of the .304/.360/.445 batting line he carried into Tuesday's play, and when combined with seven homers, 42 RBI and 38 runs scored, Peralta has been one of the best fantasy shortstops of 2013.  It's a marked improvement over his disappointing .689 OPS in 2012, though I'd argue that Peralta's hot hitting isn't likely to last into the second half.  Forget about the PED accusations --- it's all about Peralta's league-leading .385 BABIP.  This ridiculous number obscures the fact that Peralta's peripherals are largely the same as usual, except for a 26.6% line drive rate that is far above his 20.7% career average.  Peralta is bound to regress so do your best to move him for a shortstop that has fewer statistical red flags.

Big Time Timmy Jim: I think most fantasy owners would be pretty pleased with having a pitcher with a 9.39 K/9, 2.35 K/BB rate and a 3.48 ERA in their rotations, eh?  Well, that's what you would have if you owned the much-maligned Tim Lincecum, and also owned him in a just universe.  Lincecum's 3.48 number refers to his FIP, and his 3.31 xFIP and 3.61 SIERA likewise indicate that the Freak is having some freakishly bad luck this year, as his real-world ERA sits at 4.61.  A handsome and talented MLB Trade Rumors writer pointed out in February that Lincecum faced a bit of extra pressure this season as he not only was trying to regain his old consistency, but also had to do so in a contract year.  Lincecum has more or less done his job, but the high BABIP (.327) and low strand rate (66.2%) have kept his ERA from matching his advanced metrics.  In non-luck based numbers, Lincecum also has a career-high 27.2% line drive rate, so with more hard-hit balls in play, it's perhaps unsurprising that more are landing for hits.

All this said, Lincecum's fortunes are due to change during the second half, and owners who rolled the dice on Lincecum following his rough 2012 could still get the maximum return on their risk if the righty delivers a couple of vintage Freak months.  After all, he's "Big Time Timmy Jim," a nickname I had literally never heard until I surfed onto Lincecum's Baseball-Reference page.  What an unwieldy nickname.  And his middle name isn't even James, so it makes even less sense.  Whomever's in charge of handing out nicknames in San Francisco really dropped the ball on that one.  Kruk and Kuip need to get on this.



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: July 4-10

We're under a month away from the trade deadline, so of course everyone's refreshing MLB Trade Rumors on a minutely basis, right?  Since every baseball fan's mind will be focused on deals, deals and more deals in July, I thought I'd focus this week's column on four players whose names (i.e. Lowenstein) have been whispered as the trade winds whistle through the leaves...

* Supernatural Success.  Since the baseball gods love to laugh at the Kansas City Royals, the Royals' additions of Ervin Santana and James Shields have indeed helped turn around the club's pitching rotation...but now the team can't hit a lick.  Oh well.  Santana can't do anything about his team's weak lineup, but he's more than done his fair share in the starting rotation, posting a 2.84 ERA, 7.2 K/9 rate and a 4.05 K/BB ratio over 16 starts.  The 30-year-old has rebounded nicely from his brutal 2012 season, set himself up for a nice free agent contract this winter and been a boon to fantasy owners who took a flier on him as a fifth starter. Aside from him extending Rob Thomas' music career by at least a decade, there's not much to dislike about the Santana experience. 

So what's the problem?  Santana has personally enjoyed all the luck that the snakebitten Royals franchise lacks.  The righty's .250 BABIP and 81.4% strand rate explain why his advanced ERA numbers (3.88 FIP, 3.52 xFIP, 3.56 SIERA) are significantly higher than his regular ERA.  These aren't bad stats by any means, but I'm more worried about Santana's unnerving 13.8% HR/FB rate.  Santana's struggles last year were caused giving up a ton of homers (1.97 HR/9) and while he's cut back on his career-worst 18.8% HR/FB mark from last season, that 13.8% number is still the second-highest total of his career.  While Santana has cut down on his fly balls from 2012, his long ball tendencies might only be being held in check by the fact that he pitches in one of the most homer-unfriendly parks in the majors.  Santana is bound to regress anyway over the next three months, and if he gets traded away from Kansas City, he could find himself again bit by the homer bug.  If you've enjoyed having Santana on your roster so far, sell high and move him now before the regression kicks in like a wicked guitar solo.

* Sorry.  Cubs fans have wanted to be rid of Alfonso Soriano's millstone contract for years now, but things have been complicated by the fact that, well, nobody else has been particularly interested in absorbing that contract, not to mention the fact that Soriano hasn't been overly keen on waiving his full no-trade clause.  Soriano seems a bit more open to leaving Chicago now, though the problem now is that he's on pace for one of his worst seasons.  Soriano entered Tuesday hitting .257/.284/.428 with nine homers and 35 RBI in 306 PA, and at age 37, it's fair to wonder if the veteran is simply too washed up to be of any real value to either the Cubs or any other team that might wonder if Soriano could regain his old pop in their uniform. 

It's hard to see Soriano catching fire in the second half whether he's at Wrigley Field or elsewhere.  Soriano is putting up that lousy slash line despite the fact that his contact rates are up across the board and that he's getting a bit of extra BABIP (.308) help.  Fantasy-wise, Soriano has been a verrrrry borderline starter for the last few years, averging 26 homers and 82 RBI between 2009-2012 but of little help in the runs scored (62) or batting average (.252) categories.  If your league tracked walks, then yikes, Soriano's .310 OBP made him bench depth at best.  This is the year where I think Soriano can be altogether dropped and considered to be more or less fantasy-irrelevant.  On the bright side, you'll have an easier team moving him in your fantasy league than the Cubs will at the deadline.

* Young At Heart.  I owe Michael Young an apology.  I thought this guy was seven kinds of washed up after his fall-off-a-cliff 2012 season and avoided him in all of my leagues.  Since I'm sure Young monitors my fantasy leagues and took my snub as a personal affront, he has rebounded to hit .290/.346/.410 for the Phillies this year.  His power numbers (five homers, 21 RBI) impress nobody but his average and 33 runs scored make him a decent play as a second baseman, and he also qualifies at both first and third base for some added versatility value.  Young's .326 BABIP would make him seem like a regression candidate but he's always had a high career BABIP (.334) and this year, he's walking more than ever before.  Young's 8.0% walk rate will be a career high if he keeps it up for the entire season, so at age 36, the old dog isn't exactly learning a new trick, but the extra patience is paying off. 

Young is, of course, playing in Philadelphia and in the National League after spending his previous 13 seasons in Texas, so if he is traded, I'll predict continued success due to the "a move is easier the second time" theory.  Several players who have moved to a new team after long stints with their original club have spoken of a longer adjustment period, and once they've moved on to a third team and gained a few journeyman points, they've gotten used to the moves and in many cases find their old form.  Young has already fit in just fine in Philly, so if he's dealt again, heck, he may just upgrade his performance yet again.  It's like the first time I moved into a new apartment and how I took a million cardboard boxes from home, overpacked my car, had Mom pack a box of canned goods so that I didn't starve, etc.  By that third move, though, I had my entire wardrobe stuffed into one suitcase and enough spare room in my car that I could've picked up two hitchhikers and told them how they should keep Michael Young on their fantasy teams.  Aha, you didn't think I'd get back on topic, did you?!  Point, Polishuk.

* Electric Edinson.  Petco Park has helped prop up many a pitcher's stats, but the "Petco Effect" has yet to really take for Edinson Volquez, now in his second season with the Padres.  The right-hander is pitching okay...but he has little to show for it, with a 5.50 ERA that has been inflated by a low strand rate (63.9%) and high BABIP (.328).  Volquez's 3.95 FIP, 4.13 xFIP and 4.39 SIERA all indicate that he's basically the same borderline-fifth-starter fantasy pitcher he was last season, he's just been unluckier. 

While there's reason to believe Volquez can turn things around and still produce for you if you've stuck with him in your rotation this long, drop him immediately if he's traded.  Volquez's home/road splits are very lopsided since joining the Padres --- a 2.95 home ERA and 5.60 road ERA in 2012, and a 4.73/6.23 split between home and away this season.  As long as the Volqswagen keeps running in San Diego, he still has some fantasy value and even a bit of underdog pickup status in the second half.  If he's dealt anywhere else, however, the Volqswagen is running on empty.



The Proof Is In The Peripherals: June 27-July 3

As we approach the halfway mark of the 2013 season, it's fair to note that some of the "luck" that factors into advanced metrics may simply be here to stay (or will never arrive) for certain players.  If so-and-so has a high BABIP that "should" correct itself, well, some guys just go an entire year without ever coming back down to earth; Dexter Fowler's 2012 season waves hello.  So essentially, my analysis can be taken with a grain of salt since while I'm trying my best to use logic and statistics to predict fantasy value, some players just put up numbers that defy all reason.

"Mark, are you just trying to excuse your terrible Jeff Locke prediction last month?"

Shut up, Voice of Reason!  Onto this week's featured players!

* Off To Ne Verland Verland  If I had Kate Upton publicly teasing me, I'd be a little off my game as well, but Justin Verlander has not been himself this season.  Verlanded allowed four runs from seven hits and three walks over just five innings (!) against the Red Sox in his last start, recording just four strikeouts (!!) and raising his ERA to 3.90 (!!!) for the season.  What the what?  This isn't what you want to see from a guy who has been a slam dunk top-of-the-rotation ace for the last couple of seasons.  If you're a Verlander owner, should you be worried or even thinking about selling low?

The answer, simply, is no.  Well, I guess maybe a little worried since Kate Upton's eCard taunts carry a bitter sting, but the advanced metrics suggest that Verlander has just been unlucky in love on batted balls, as his .347 BABIP is the third-highest of any qualified pitcher in the majors.  Verlander is on pace to for his highest walk total since 2008, but he's also posting a higher K/9 (10.2) than ever before, so while he isn't quite Vintage Verlander, it's hard to complain about a guy with a 2.86 FIP, 3.29 xFIP and 3.35 SIERA.  I myself own Verlander in one of my leagues and while I'm not thrilled with the results this far, I highly doubt I'll be regretting my decision to take him with the 15th overall pick.  And really, in this particular league I'm in second-last place, so I've had far bigger disasters going on than Verlander's below-average performance.  *sob*  Can someone send me a condolence eCard?  Not you, Upton!

* Not The Bester  If you're going to be worried about an ace in possible decline, forget Verlander and look at Jon Lester.  The general feeling in the offseason was that Lester's disappointing 2012 campaign could be written off as an aberration given that a) Bobby Valentine had been extracted from the Red Sox manager's ofice and b) John Farrell was back in the fold to help get Lester and Clay Buchholz back on track.  Buchholz has been back on his game (when healthy) this year but Lester got off to a good start and then has just cratered over the last month, to the point that his current numbers bear an ugly resemblance to his 2012 stats.

It's worth noting that Lester's 4.82 ERA last season was a bit overblown (4.11 FIP/3.82 xFIP/3.94 SIERA, 67.6% strand rate, .312 BABIP), though when seen in combination with this year's 4.57 ERA through 16 starts, you have to wonder if the left-hander has just plateaued.  Lester has a 4.30 FIP/4.00 xFIP/4.02 SIERA this season, so there's a bit of bad luck involved here too, but is a best-case 4.00 ERA something you want to see from a guy who, in his prime, was a solid fantasy ace?  Lester's line drive and HR/FB rates have spiked over the last two seasons, another bad sign. 

If you're a Lester owner looking for some good news, you could point to the fact that Lester has a 2.86 ERA at Fenway Park this season and has only made five home starts (as opposed to ten on the road), so he could get back on track once this quirk of the schedule balances out.  I'm not sure you can hang your hat on home/away splits, however, given that Lester was far worse at Fenway in 2012 than he was on the road, plus his career home/away splits are nearly identical.  It's high time to start shopping Lester around your league to see if someone else thinks they're buying low, and if there aren't any takers, maybe check out the waiver wire for a better option.  

* Bautarnacion  The list of baseball's lowest BABIPs (among qualified hitters) bears a strong resemblance to a list of baseball's flat-out worst hitters of the 2013 season.  No surprise here --- some guys are just unlucky and some guys just aren't putting many balls in play since they're striking out like mad (hey there, Adam Dunn's .197 BABIP).  On this list of mediocrity, however, you'll find a couple of Blue Jays sluggers who actually are putting up very strong numbers in Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.  The duo entered Tuesday's play with the kind of power stats you would've expected from them in the preseason, yet Encarnacion carries only a .250 BABIP while Bautista's BABIP is only .255.

For fantasy purposes, it's hard to say you'd be buying low with either player since both men are hitting like their usual selves to the layman.  But now might indeed be the time to swing a trade for either Joey Bats or the former lead singer of I Mother Earth since their best might be yet to come in the second half.  Heck, in Bautista's case, I'd say that's solidly the case given that his red-hot .994 OPS in May was sandwiched by a .200/.302/.533 line in April and a .595 OPS thus far in June.  I acquired Encarnacion in one of my leagues this past week, picking him up for the price of Anthony Rizzo and Howie Kendrick.  Pretty solid deal on my end, in my opinion, especially since I have Aaron Hill returning from the DL to replace Kendrick at second base.  Speaking of which....

* Howie Doing This?  Let's talk for a minute about Kendrick, who is less a ballplayer than he is a living affront to the idea of a league average .300 BABIP.  The Angels second baseman has a .343 BABIP for his career, so the fact that his BABIP currently sits at .371 isn't necessarily cause for alarm.  Kendrick apparently just has a knack for hitting them where they ain't, and it's translating into what could be the best season of his eight-year career.  Kendrick is hitting .323/.366/.471 with 32 runs scored, eight homers, 36 RBI and even six steals as the cherry on top, seemingly finally establishing himself as a legit top-tier fantasy second sacker.

There are a couple of outliers within Kendrick's statistics that could be cause for concern.  His HR/FB rate is 16.3%, well above his 9.4% career average (though he had another outlier season like this in 2011).  What stands out even more is Kendrick's 29.7% line drive rate, which dwarfs his 20% career rate and sits almost eight percent higher than his next best career mark in a season.  This being said, however, Kendrick's .148 ISO isn't out of whack with his .137 career ISO, so it's not like his hitting the ball harder is manifesting itself in any blatantly unusual way.  I'd say that Kendrick can safely be counted on to more or less continue his hot hitting and you should definitely hang onto him...uh, unless you can get Edwin Encarnacion and you have Aaron Hill around to man second base.




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