Every Thursday from now until September, you can come here to find an in-depth look at fantasy baseball's sell-high and buy-low candidates ...
Javier Vazquez, SP, White Sox: It's about time Vazquez made this spot as he's consistently underrated and unappreciated. He was underrated last season, underrated heading into this season, underrated during the regular season, and he'll probably be underrated years from now, long after the Robo Cop-style machines we created to replace umpires have violently turned on us humans (and that's why we can never, ever have instant replay).
Vazquez was a stud a year ago, going 15-8 with a 3.74 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 213 strikeouts. This year, he's been only ever so slightly worse. His K per 9 innings is down from 8.87 to 8.49, and his BB/9 is up from 2.08 to 2.55. His groundball rate is also slightly worse. But, of course, thanks to some bad luck Vazquez is sitting at 8-9 with a 4.66 ERA, and 1.35 WHIP. While his opponent BABIP was a mediocre .294, it's risen to .328, even higher than his .311 mark during his disappointing 2006 season.
On top of that, Vazquez traditionally pitches his best ball at the end of the season. Over the past two seasons, he posted a 4.48 ERA in April through July, and a 3.90 ERA in August and beyond. And his best month has been September, when he's posted a 3.42 ERA with an absurd 106 strikeouts in 76.1 innings over the past two Septembers combined.
The news isn't all rosy. Vazquez is still a flyball pitcher, and with the ghost of Ken Griffey Jr. now roaming centerfield of all places, they have arguably baseball's worst defensive outfield. But Vazquez overpowers enough hitters that he should be in for a big finish or, at worse, a much better finish than his frustrated owners are expecting.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers: Baseball's most unbelievable story is entering unchartered territory. The most baseball Hamilton has ever played in a season was 96 games for the Charleston RiverDogs of the South Atlantic League in '00 and that was before he turned his body into a makeshift pharmaceutical testing ground. Even last season, he missed a month of the dog days with a sprained wrist.
So what happens now? There's really no telling. But considering what he's put his body through over his darker years, he can't be expected to produce the kind of numbers over the final two months what he produced over the first four. In fact, he's already slowing down a little. In the first 56 games of the season, Hamilton hit .326 with 14 homers and 61 RBIs and struck out once every 7.8 plate appearances. In 56 games since, he has hit .283 with 13 homers and 47 RBIs and is striking out once every 4.9 PAs.
He's obviously not a giveaway candidate. But as long as Hamilton nets you an elite player in return, it's worth making the move.