Each week, Collin Hager uses his HVaC Scoring System to let you know whom to start and drop this week in head-to-head fantasy baseball leagues. This week’s must-starts:
The Indians’ Jason Kipnis is about to be activated from the DL following his abdomen injury. To say this is good news for fantasy owners is an understatement. While the initial .234 average he posted is a concern, it largely resulted from a low BABIP (.250) and a fly-ball rate that was hovering above 45 percent, where his last three years have been in the low to mid 30’s. Owners who have been patient should be ready to ride this one out.
The balance of power, speed, and average makes Kipnis a unique player. He has put up 30 steals the past two years and the projections of 17 the rest of the way are second only to the Astros’ Jose Altuve. This also helps push Kipnis’s run numbers above the average. With power and RBI marks that all project better than the positional marks, Kipnis should provide a welcome return to those who have been struggling at second base offensively.
Josh Reddick, RF, A’s
So long as you are not expecting Reddick to hit for average, he brings value for head-to-head owners. His H/PA is a strong negative outlier, but his 13 home runs, and 49 RBI are in line with the positional marks the rest of the season, even in a pitchers’ park like Oakland. Reddick is a starting outfielder in 12-team leagues that play four or more outfielders.
Derek Norris, C, A’s
Matt Wieters had a platelet-rich plasma injection in his strained right elbow last week, which bumps Norris into the No. 12 spot in the HVaC catcher ranks for the rest of the season. The only red flag is in batting average. Norris’s ability to sustain a .366 BABIP should be questioned given his history in the minors and majors.
With that putting him four deviations from the mean to the wrong side based on projections the rest of the way, it is good we do not need average from our backstops in head to head. Focus on the power, runs and average he can provide and add him.
Tyson Ross, RHP, Padres
Because he is in San Diego, Ross is often overshadowed by Andrew Cashner, but he is pitching just as well. Ross has shown consistency in his numbers from his strong finish to 2013 to his start in 2014. Another pitcher with a strong reliance on his slider, Ross’s BB/9, K/9 and strand rate make him a strong add for the rest of the year and a top 60 starting pitcher.
Justin Masterson, RHP, Indians
Masterson has struggled, but the numbers indicate with a few corrections he should be back on track. In 2013, Masterson dominated using his slider, holding batters to a .108 average and .212 BABIP. The pitch generated 115 of his 195 strikeouts. In 2014, he is throwing the pitch far less often, but it has been just as effective (33 of his 55 strikeouts). This, coupled with an improvement in a below-average strand rate of 62 percent early on, will pay dividends for owners who buy him now. The HVaC still sees him as a top 40 pitcher the rest of the way.