Matt Kemp, Justin Upton or Carlos Gonzalez. I see the only three players currently in MLB who have shown the tools to actually reach 40/40 club (I will publish a special article on this as Kemp continues to approach the lofty goal.). That epitomizes a blue chip stock in fantasy baseball. I will continue to draft all three of them ahead of most players each and every season until they display trends to suggest otherwise. In order to play the fantasy game you need to know who to BUY, SELL and HOLD as the long season unwinds. Each Wednesday I will explore three players based on where their values are heading. This week I will examine a nosediving Hanley Ramirez, who I sold about four weeks ago in three leagues. I will salivate over Andrew McCutchen, who I have failed to obtain in any of my four leagues. Lastly, I will review the astounding GB% of Charlie Morton and weigh its affect when compared to his control issues.
Hanley Ramirez (27)
You've likely read about the low percentage of line drives, highest GB% (he's not alone here), ISO below league average, not hitting fastballs, etc. Many experts claim they didn't see this coming and they have no idea why this is happening. This is exactly why i don't listen to most so-called experts.
I'm not a scout and I don't have the luxury of knowing exactly what goes on in the trainers room. What I do know is that the trending hasn't been pretty for some time now. 2011 will mark the fourth straight season in which his power numbers have dropped. In 2008, he hit 33 HR, followed by 24, and then 21 in 2010. Hanley burst onto the scene swiping 51 bases his first two seasons, followed by a steady hold in the 30 range. The speed seems to have held steady this season as the power numbers continue to dip.
Hanley has been a top pick for several years now. As a shortstop, he needs to continue to hit for power in order to hold his place atop the draft value pool. Without 20 HR pop, he's just a another speedy middle infielder. How overvalued is he?
(A) Asdrubal Cabrera (B) Ben Zobrist (C) Danny Espinosa
If you can sell Hanley over his next hot streak I would do it. I would even sell .75 on the dollar if you have to. He may bounce back next season when the Marlins move into the new ball park, but current trending suggests the power has been slowing for several years now. At such a young age, this is troubling indeed. SELL
Andrew McCutchen (24)
At the time of this writing article, the Pirates are in first place in the NL Central. Andrew has been a large part of the newfound success in Pittsburgh. We already know he was a high profile prospect and we all expected him to provide five category goodness for fantasy managers. He has arrived. He's still crazy young too. In keeper and dynasty leagues, he's a golden nugget who you must own.
We know how scarce a true 30/30 player is in baseball. Andrew is on target this season. We also need to keep in mind that players who steal 30+ bases seldom provide enough pop in their bats to be in the .800 OPS range. We're looking at a future five category stud who will carry fantasy teams for years to come. How good is McCutchen so far this season?
(A) Matt Kemp (B) Justin Upton (C) Carlos Gonzalez
IF you can somehow pry McCutchen from any owner, you should. He could eventually get injured by playing all-out defense, so use that in your sales pitch. Bottom line, this kid is going to hit or come close to 30/30 this season and should continue to provide plenty of five category goodness for several more years to come. BUY
Charlie Morton (27)
If I was told before the season began we'd have another Pirate in my inaugural article I'd have told everyone they were sniffing glue. I can tell you to hold onto Cargo, but isn't that obvious? Morton is a very interesting investment right now for several reasons. First, he's playing for what could be "THE" up and coming team in baseball right now. They just drafted two spectacular pitchers and stole a couple of hitters in the draft. Should they sign everyone by the deadline, things could be scary in Pittsburgh very soon. Neil Huntington is saving this team from many years of misery.
Secondly, you have to look at Morton's 61.1 GB% this season. Why is this important? You can not hit a HR off a guy who induces the Ground Ball at a rate like Morton. As long as the Pirates continue to sport sufficient defensive play behind him he will continue to be a dangerous presence on the mound. His GB/FB is 3.52. This is insane.
It's hard to pin down what to expect from a guy who has just rebuilt himself. In deeper leagues, he needs to be owned and possibly targeted depending on your specific needs. He's not going to provide a ton of K's but he does have a respectable stat line so far this season.
102 IP | 8 W | 60 K | 40 BB | 110 H | 0.26 HR/9 | 3.62 ERA | 3.49 FIP
You may ask why he's not a strong buy? His 71.6% LOB is a red flag, and his 3.53 BB rate is far too high compared to his low 5.29 K rate. His 1.47 WHIP is much too high for him to continue to rely on the double play. That said, he could harness his control and become someone worthy of fantasy stardom. Morton is one of the most intriguing players in fantasy at the moment. If he limits the walks to the 3.0 range and gets his K rate over 6, he could become very good. If the BB rate falls under 3.0 and the K rate enters the 7.0/9 IP territory, he will be a star. HOLD
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