May 28, 2009

With the season's second month nearly complete, I wanted to look back at some of the players I've profiled to see how they responded since being called out. As I reviewed the list of turds, I was struck by how many of them subsequently landed on the disabled list. In all, nine players have been left in the wake of Slumps and Dumps, presumably because their bodies were unable to withstand such high levels of ineptitude. The other explanation could be this column has become the fantasy equivalent of being on the cover of Madden.

There were times where I was right on the money and others when I wasn't. However, unlike the time I swore that Air Bud was the greatest athlete of my generation, I'm willing to admit when I'm wrong.

All statistics through May 23.

Garrett Atkins: I pegged Atkins as a bust before the season, and so far he has held up his end of the bargain. With his average dipping below .200, Rockies skipper Clint Hurdle recently benched Atkins in favor of Ian Stewart. Atkins continues to hit too many ground balls, which are playing a role in his low Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP). The Rockies have plenty of other infield options, and Hurdle has shown he's not afraid to use the bench as a motivational tool, neither which bode well for the slumping Atkins. I'm not sure why he is owned in significantly more leagues than Scott Rolen and Melvin Mora, both of whom can contribute to your team before inevitably succumbing to injuries.

Chris Davis: I'd like to introduce Adam Dunn, minus the walks. Davis has 10 homers but has knocked in just 21 runs, a typical Dunn-esque ratio. Davis also has 64 punch-outs compared to a measly 10 walks in 143 at-bats, which is good for a 44.8 strikeout percentage (K%). This is largely a function of him making contact on just 61.8 percent of the strikes he swings at, down from nearly 80 percent last year. On a personal note, I want to hit him in the face with a shovel.

J.J. Hardy: As predicted, Hardy turned things around once the calendar flipped to May. He's hitting .328 with two homers and 16 RBIs this month and has more walks than strikeouts. Given how bad his average was in April, it's unlikely he will end around .280, but his owners will still be glad they held on to James Jerry Hardy for his homers and RBIs.

Chris Iannetta: I loved Iannetta to start the year, but when I last wrote about him, he was 1-for-21. Clearly, Iannetta's owners have me to thank for the fact that he has seven homers, 17 RBIs, and a .277 average since. The only stat out of line with his past performance is a .232 BABIP, which could lead to further improvements when it normalizes. Like Hardy, he dug himself a pretty deep hole with his average, but I like him to keep up his current pace the rest of the way when he returns from the DL.

Howie Kendrick: I must have hurt Kendrick's feelings when I said he doesn't hit for much power, because he hit home runs in two straight games afterwards. A couple days later he even swiped a couple bases to show he's got wheels. However, things are now back to normal with a .232 average, four RBIs, and 19 K% in May. Let's put it this way: I believe in Kendrick as much as I believe in my chances of riding a unicorn to work.

Derrek Lee: If ever there was a time to trade Lee, it's right now, given his recent binge when he hit .444 over a seven-game stretch. Jake Fox is ripping up Triple-A, pitching to the tune of a .423 average with 17 bombs and 50 RBIs in just 38 games, so he could be due for a call-up. Also, Micah Hoffpauir has comparable home run and RBI numbers to Lee in about 50 fewer at-bats.

Lastings Milledge: Shortly after I wrote about his poor start, Milledge was banished to the minors. The organization recently issued a statement saying that he remains grounded with no TV or video game privileges.

David Ortiz: After finally hitting his first home run on Wednesday, he is now tied with immortal sluggers like Juan Castro, Augie Ojeda, and Chan Ho Park.

Jhonny Peralta: As predicted, Peralta has gotten hot, hitting .389 over his last 14 games. The power hasn't been there yet, but it will come. His career Home Run-To-Fly Ball rate (HR/FB) is 12.6 percent, but this year it's just 3.1 percent. Just be thankful you aren't putting Alexei Ramirez out there as your shortstop every day.

Alexei Ramirez: Well speak of the devil, look who it is! The Cuban Missile is locked in a tight race with Chris Davis for my fantasy MIP (Most Infuriating Player). I can't decide what's worse: the eight extra-base hits, the 11 runs, or the .224 average. Sure, a .233 BABIP isn't helping, but he has 15 infield pop-ups! Homers in back-to-back games are a positive sign, but I'm not sure how much longer you can hold onto him and remain competitive in your league.

Pablo Sandoval: My harsh words must have lit a fire under Sandoval, because since I wrote about him, he's hitting .340 with three homers, 14 extra-base hits, and 16 RBIs. He's also stolen a couple bases, and his K% is on the decline. You're welcome.

Geovany Soto: Soto's average is starting to show improvement, with a .283 mark in May. The power hasn't returned yet, with just four extra-base hits over that span, which may be the result of his balky shoulder that hindered him early on. Either way, he's unlikely to sniff the 23 homers he hit last year, but he has a good shot at 15 with an average better than most backstops.

Justin Upton: This one has made me look pretty bad, although not as bad as I looked when I tried to bring back Zubaz pants. Since April 20, Upton has raked at a .354 clip with nine homers, 25 RBIs, and four steals, including an 18-game hitting streak. He's still striking out in over a quarter of his at-bats, but he's making pitchers pay when he does make contact with a 20.9% HR/FB rate.

Chris Young/Delmon Young: This just in -- both are still terrible. However, they continued to be owned in vastly more leagues than Michael Bourn, Randy Winn, Melky Cabrera and Ryan Spilborghs to name just a few.

Gavin Floyd: Over a recent three-start stretch, Floyd had an ERA of 12.00, allowed four homers, and struck out just nine batters in 15 innings. He's still owned in more leagues than Rick Porcello, Dave Bush, and even Koji Uehara, who has a great WHIP, but can't seem to win. And no, I don't care that his last start was good, because it was against the Pirates and shouldn't really count.

Brian Fuentes: His BABIP is still at .373, but since writing about Fuentes, he has seven saves, a sub-1.00 WHIP, and no earned runs in eight appearances. I drink Miller Lite in case you want to thank me for motivating him.

Kevin Gregg: Outside of a forgettable outing where Gregg came on to "get some work" and got lit up, he's pitched well in May. Gregg has five saves in as many chances and has improved his control. I said 15 saves was reasonable in April, and nothing I've seen since tells me that's unreasonable.

Cliff Lee: I have to give Lee credit, because after a rough couple outings to start the year, he had fluke written all over him. However, Lee has rebounded nicely over his last seven starts even though his record doesn't show it. In 52 innings, he's posted a 1.56 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a 4.4 Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio. Now he just needs Cleveland's bats to heat up so he can actually get some wins.

Jon Lester: You're running out of time to buy low on Lester. His strikeouts per nine innings are terrific and have come without an increase in his walk rate. His BABIP is at .386 which will normalize, as will his 16.4% HR/FB rate.

Ricky Nolasco: His BABIP is still now over to .400 and his strand rate is 25 percent lower than last season, so I'm not writing him off yet. Nolasco had a strange week to say the least. He started off well against the D'backs with five strikeouts in 3.1 shutout innings before the game was washed out. Then on Friday he got shelled against the Rays, leading to his demotion to the minors. Don't expect him to be there long.

B.J. Ryan: I hope you picked up Scott Downs when I told you to.

Huston Street: When I last mentioned Street, he had lost the closer's job. He has since regained the job and posted five saves while allowing zero earned runs since April 26. Enjoy the saves now, because he's eventually getting traded.

Chris Young: The roller coaster ride has continued, as Young was pounded for four homers with the wind gusting out at Wrigley, but then rebounded by giving up just one earned in six innings the last time out. He's allowed three runs or less in six of nine starts but was bombed in the other three, all on the road at good hitter's parks. Keep that in mind when setting your lineup.

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