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:
Brandon Moss of the Oakland Athletics looks to remain the No. 8 first baseman in the HVaC. He continues to provide a tremendous amount of power in a park that is notorious for taking at-bats away from players because of its foul territory size. Moss simply has found his groove here: His HR/FB rate has normalized, coming off a true high in 2012, to settle right around 20 percent. He has shown improvement in his strikeout rate in every season in Oakland, furthering his case as one of the more effective players at his position.
With his BABIP in line with last season’s numbers, the only question would be his ability to sustain the contact rates that are keeping his average up. Moss may see some slight regression here, especially if he continues to see the increase in changeups over 2013. He is seeing them 50 percent more often than last year and is just 4 for 32 against them overall. It will result in a slightly lower ISO the rest of the way, but his numbers stand out from the pack regardless of these issues.
In terms of runs, RBI and home run totals, the HVaC sees that he should be right around or above the mean the rest of the way, keeping him ahead of Joey Votto, Jose Abreu and David Ortiz the rest of the way while just behind Albert Pujols. Moss owners should not be looking at a drop-off and owners should be enjoying the ride.
Austin Jackson, CF, Tigers
It’s time to capitalize on owners growing frustrated with Jackson’s early production. Funny thing is, Jackson’s peripheral numbers look good. He is striking out less and walking more than he did last season and his ISO falls largely in line with his 2013 numbers. His BABIP is significantly down compared with his performance in the last four seasons and that is what is driving down his average and OBP numbers.
His fly ball rate is 13 points off his career mark at the expense of his hitting the ball on the ground. A change here and things become far more productive for fantasy owners.
Michael Bourn, OF, Indians
Bourn is another addition that makes sense. He comes in as the No. 56 outfielder in the HVaC for the remainder of the season for good reasons. The Cleveland outfielder shows remarkable consistency. Though his walk rate has fallen each year since 2010, from 9.8 percent to 6.4 percent this year, his BABIP has shown the ability to stay north of .335. Though a negative outlier in RBI production, his speed and H/PA make him a welcome addition to any lineup.
Phil Hughes, RHP, Twins
It is surprising to see Hughes still available in nearly 25 percent of leagues across various sites. These are numbers that he has put up before. In his 16-win campaign in 2012, Hughes had a 74 percent strand rate while striking out 7.8 hitters per nine innings to go with a 32 percent ground ball rate. While the BABIP is slightly higher in 2014, the strikeouts, strand rate and groundball rate are very close.The Minnesota starter is giving up the same amount of fly balls as a percent of his total as he did last year, just fewer are leaving the park.
Leaving the launch pad that was Yankee Stadium has certainly helped.
Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies
The HVaC still sees Rosario as a top five catcher. This is another case where BABIP correction will lead to far better production levels. The question is how much improvement. Rosario’s numbers last season are likely not within reach, but with a BABIP of closer to .300 the rest of the way he should be a .260 hitter. He continues to see a similar pitch selection as last year, though the contact is coming more in terms of ground balls than line drives.
Given his track record of line drives being nearly 20 percent of his contact, the model continues to believe he should find a way into the top of the Catcher ranks.