BP Fantasy Beat
Riding hot streaks at the beginning of the season is common in fantasy baseball, and it's easy to do considering that players are starting the year from zero. Later in the season it's a bit more difficult, as you have to weigh their overall performance against their recent output to see whether or not a player is worth a roster spot. We'll take a look at that angle today, checking out some players who've been on both ends of the production spectrum since the All-Star break.
Gerut has shown flashes of this kind of power before -- during his rookie campaign, Gerut had a HR/FB of 14.7 percent, close to this year's 13.8 mark. Granted, that 13.8 is made up of both his punchless first half and his hot-hitting second, but striking a balance between the two going forward isn't that much of a stretch, assuming he's found the power he was missing from '04 until July of this year in the majors. Considering that he lost a few homers due to his home park earlier in the year, that's a believable scenario, especially given that it's hotter this time of year and balls can gain a few extra feet of distance in the less-dense warmer air.
Chances are good that he won't be hitting eight homers a month (as he just did), but he has more use than he did previously; if you're hard up for help in the outfield, Gerut is more than likely available in your league.
I certainly don't expect Mora to keep up the pace he's been on during the last month and a half of the season, but even if he were to level out around where his overall line is now, he would be a worthwhile addition to your team. Given his early-season struggles, like Gerut you should find that Mora is available in many leagues, though if trades were still an option this late in the year, he would be a player I would sell high on due to the reputation he built up during the middle portion of the decade. If, for whatever reason, he's still available at this date in your league -- maybe because old habits die hard, and he's certainly scarred his share of fantasy owners with his last two poor seasons -- he's worth a look to shore up your offense for the stretch run.
We can chalk up some of his recent struggles to possibly playing hurt, but even accounting for that, his line isn't good enough to merit consideration unless you're playing in an MLB-sized fantasy league. He's not going the other way with the ball, hitting just 15.8 percent of his balls in play to the right side of the infield, and he's having no luck on ground balls to the left side. That's his second-"favorite" spot to hit the ball this year, at 26.6 percent of the time, and he's hitting just .173 in that situation. That, more than anything, has cut into his production, although it doesn't help that he has zero power to center field; despite hitting 27.9 percent of his balls in play there, he has yet to pick up a home run that way, instead relying entirely on his pull power. The only real positive for Lowell going forward is that his BABIP is below expectations, as it should be around .328 rather than .285. Adding that into his line would make him look more like the Lowell we are used to seeing, but between his injury, aging, and reliance on pull power, hoping for more than that might be a stretch.
When Teahen does manage to get the ball in the air, nothing much happens. He only has a few home runs to each side, and though he has more to center, those have come on 21.3 percent of his balls in play, his highest rate for balls in the air. Even without the power, Teahen used to have some value in certain leagues due to his batting average and solid eye at the plate, but that has not been the case in '08. His .249 average is close to expectations, as his BABIP of .302 is close to the BABIP his 19 percent liner rate should generate. The only significant difference in Teahen's performance from last year's is his BABIP, as his ISO is roughly the same (.136 to .125), but he's had much worse luck on balls in play. Whereas he was well over expectations last season -- his 20.8 percent liner rate should have resulted in a BABIP of .328 rather than .361, a significant difference -- this year he's been closer to where he should be. Due to last year's luck, it appears as if he's fallen further and harder than he actually has, when in fact he is closer to his talent level given his indicators. If any of you are still holding onto Teahen and hoping for a surge like we've seen from him in the past, it may be time to pluck him off of your roster and pitch him back into the free-agent pool.