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 players to avoid:
With a 50-point increase in ownership over the last seven days across ESPN leagues, the Twins’ Josh Willingham is the most-added outfielder in fantasy baseball right now. With a small sample of 93 plate appearances, it makes sense for owners to be jumping on his bandwagon. But peeling back the onion, it should be understood there are some concerns that need to be addressed.
Willingham is currently walking at a rate five points better than 2013 and seven points better than 2012 while striking out less than he has in any season since 2009. This has helped push his BABIP up to .354 and his OBP to .462. If he were not a career .260 hitter, this might make more sense. His .232 ISO figure is slightly high, but he has proven to be able to hit for power over the course of his career and his HR/FB ratio is well in line with his annual totals.
The HVaC sees barely a top 100 outfielder out of Willingham the rest of the way. As the sample becomes larger, his run and RBI totals are expected to fall over three and over one and a half deviations to the left side of the curve the rest of the way. Both categories mean he will produce more than one and a half runs or RBI fewer than the average outfielder.
In addition to a new middle-infield platoon being attempted by Arizona involving Hill, Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings, Hill has continued to under-perform. While he has hit .351 against fastballs, breaking balls continue to give him fits and is only 18 for 85 when he gets behind in the count. His lack of run and RBI production bury him outside the top 12 the rest of the season.
Many Peavy owners are cutting the 13-year veteran loose, for good reason. His fastball velocity has been in decline since 2008 and is hovering around 91 mph this year.
Despite this, he continues to rely on the pitch more often. Batters are hitting well over .300 against it and he is generating a strikeout rate of just 9 percent (compared to his 18 percent overall number) this year.
Owners seem to be giving Machado more of the benefit of the doubt than they would others. While his hits per plate appearance keep him inside the top 10 at third base, his RBI production is more than two deviations to the wrong side of the curve while he is expected to produce half a home run per week less than the positional average. Replacements are scarce, but in yearly leagues Machado’s production should be questioned the rest of the season. Mark Reynolds, Ryan Zimmerman, and Brett Lawrie all could produce equal to Machado with Jedd Gyorko coming closer than some might expect.
The bulk of Hardy’s value in the past has come from the fact he can hit for power. But without a home run this season, the shortstop is losing value quickly. With steals and runs below average and power expectations the rest of the year barely expected to beat the average, Hardy owners need to look to move on. He comes in as the No. 17 shortstop from here on out.