Archive for Monday, July 31, 2006

Streaky players heat up lineups

Six players primed for late-season surges

July 31, 2006


That zany Clint Barmes. If he isn't breaking his collarbone hauling deer meat up the stairs of his apartment, the Rockies shortstop is busy being fantasy baseball's most unpredictable force.

Last April, no pitcher could get him out. This May and June, no pitcher couldn't get him out. He's the kind of streaky player who can make or break your squad. Now it appears the Barmes of last April is back.

Run, don't walk, to the waiver wire.

He's not the only player digging out of a terrible early season slump. The advantage of their poor overall numbers is that some of these players could be available in deeper leagues.

Each of the following six players have much greater value currently than their statistics would lead one to believe:

Barmes, SS, Rockies

Yes, you were right to dump Barmes when his overall batting average hit .189 on May 30. Even though his production numbers weren't that bad (27 RBIs through one-third of the season), his sub-.200 average was severely hurting your team. It's time to get back on board. Barmes is hitting .358 for July to push his average over .230, and here's the weird stat of the year: Despite just seven homers and having fewer hits than so-called sluggers Todd Helton and Brad Hawpe, Barmes is third on the team with 50 RBIs, ahead of those two. Never one to watch a pitch or three, he's suddenly developed a good eye. He'll still occasionally have an 0-fer, but right now even Barmes' outs are hit hard.

Jeff Suppan, RHP, Cards

On July 5, Suppan joined the ranks of Cardinals starters not worthy of fantasy play when he gave up nine runs in 31â3 innings to the Braves, lifting his already puffy ERA up to 5.83. Were you right, then, to dump him? It seemed so at the time, especially since he's never been a strikeout pitcher, and his WHIP was sky high as well. Three starts later, it's time to rethink the veteran's value. He's on a team destined to make the playoffs that scores tons of runs, and in his last three outings he has allowed a total of two runs. If he's still on the waiver wire, he shouldn't be for the stretch run.

Eric Hinske, OF, Blue Jays

There's nothing wrong with Hinske's numbers (.282-12-28 in 166 AB), but they don't indicate his full value of late. Playing regularly in the absence of Alex Rios, who returned recently, Hinske has hit seven homers in July with an average around .300. With the team in a pennant race, he should continue to see action with Shea Hillenbrand now in San Francisco. Who wouldn't want a guy who will hit .290 and slug more than 20 homers on their team?

Richie Sexson, 1B, Mariners

Is Sexson a bit of a letdown this season? Sure he is. His .228-20-66 isn't close to what some fantasy owners expected when they picked him early in their drafts. But since June 1, he's hitting over .250 with 14 home runs and 37 RBIs. That projects out to another 15 home runs before the season is over, with a respectable batting average. He has more value than a guy like Carlos Delgado, who started hot and has tailed off but still gets more respect from fantasy owners.

Rondell White, OF, Twins

.215-3-25 is a pretty ugly line for this veteran, through two-thirds of the season. But when you look at what he's done in July, it gets a lot prettier. White didn't hit his first home run of the year until July 16, and his .378-3-10 for the month is much more indicative of what he can do than the .182 he was hitting up to that point. White is barely owned in any mixed fantasy leagues, but as long as the red-hot Twins keep putting him out there, he could have some real value down the stretch.

Cliff Floyd, OF, Mets

At the halfway point of the season, the Mets veteran was hitting .234-6-19, and there was talk of rookie Lastings Milledge taking over. It didn't happen, and Floyd has rewarded persevering owners with four homers and 16 RBIs in July, and an average over .300. Yes, his overall average (.253) looks dicey, but he should continue to play every day in New York, and there's no reason why he shouldn't continue to produce at this very nice clip. At least 10 home runs and 30 RBIs await those who will stick with Floyd the rest of the way.

Quick Hit

Reds 1B Scott Hatteberg doesn't hit with enough power to get much consideration in mixed fantasy leagues, but he is hitting over .400 with five homers in the last 30 days. You could do worse at 1B, as Helton owners will tell you.


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