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:
It took a no-hitter for many people to notice that Tim Lincecum is actually having a pretty good year. While the strikeout numbers continue to fall as they have each year since 2008, he has found ways to pitch around the issue and generate success for himself and the Giants. Lincecum’s FIP is two tenths of a run lower than his current ERA and he has managed to successfully keep a strong ground ball ratio and strand rate along the way.
There should be obvious concerns about his fastball velocity, which has dipped below 90 miles per hour this year. Lincecum has compensated for that this season by throwing more sliders and holding batters to a .212 average in doing so. In fact, he has bettered this mark in each of the last three seasons as his fastball has left him in the process. In 2014, 34 of his 89 strikeouts have come using the slider.
There is little doubt in 2012 he fell apart, but this is a new iteration. Lincecum checks in as the number 51 pitcher overall and the number 32 starter. He is an add worth making to help fantasy owners in the stretch run.
While gaining traction, there is still time to grab Yelich in many leagues. He is a top-50 outfielder on the leaderboard and continues to play as such. While his .261 average is likely as good as it gets, his BABIP has shown to be sustainable given his minor league numbers. Where he helps owners is in runs and steals. His production in runs is expected to be a positive contributor on the scale while his speed levels should put him with the average starter. If you do not need a 20-home run hitter, look to add Yelich.
Beltran’s value comes in home runs and RBI. He still is seeing ownership drop and this is a case where it is possible to grab a top-50 outfielder on the cheap. His HR/FB ratio is at its lowest point in his career and should get a boost as Beltran continues to heal.
The low BABIP will ultimately correct itself to some degree and the ballpark and lineup should give him more value than not. Beltran has kept his ISO at the same level it was in St. Louis last season and has substantially improved his contact rate. These are good signs heading in to the second half.
If you can deal with a platoon in the middle infield, Gennett should make your head turn. Against righties, he has all six of his home runs and a .338 average.
While not a starter in the HVaC because of the plate appearance concern, if you play a middle infield spot Gennett is worth a look. As the number 17 second baseman, Gennett does have value. His production levels take a hit some because of the splits, but facing more righties than not will mitigate the risk.
What if there were a top-10 catcher available for head-to-head owners right now in 80 percent of leagues? There is in Zunino. While the 33 percent strikeout rate and .223 average may scare an owner off, focus on the power numbers. The bulk of the positional value comes in home runs and RBI and in both cases Zunino is a positive addition in the HVaC. He checks in at number 10 going forward, so look to make the move.