Fantasy baseball: Avoid Brandon Phillips and Nats catcher Wilson Ramos

August 23

(AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee)

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:

After a month on the disabled list with a thumb injury, Brandon Phillips is back and manning his spot at second base for the Reds. Owners who had dropped him are adding him back with a vengeance. The question that needs to be asked is if that should be the case. Phillips has not been the player that he was last season and we have seen how injuries like this linger and can impact players longer term. Dustin Pedroia has had a similar experience.

After producing 18 home runs or more in every season since 2007, Phillips will struggle to reach double digits this year. While the remaining projection keeps him in line positionally the rest of the way, it is not enough to push him over the top. Phillips has struggled in runs scored, and being pushed further down in the order will hurt his total hits available. While he has stabilized his average, the lack of power and RBI push him outside of the top 12 players at the position and keep him at No. 15.

The change for Phillips is not necessarily in his approach. He is swinging with the same frequency and his splits between ground balls, fly balls and line drives have been consistent.


Brandon Phillips batted ball data (Source: Fangraphs)

He has seen a drop in contact rates driven by a six-point drop in contact with pitches out of the zone. This despite swinging at the same rate he has. Pitchers have not drastically changed their approach and his splits between pitch types have remained relatively in line with the last several seasons.

Let others add him and stand off to the side while they do.

Carl Crawford, LF, Dodgers

Crawford still falls outside the top 100 outfielders and — even with his recent run of production — has enough question marks to keep potential owners at bay. Crawford’s run and RBI totals are well outside of the positional marks and his ISO number this year is well off the pace. His ability to hit for power needs to be questioned as a result. While he may provide a few steals, the rest of the package should keep him off rosters.

Alex Rios, RF, Rangers

Rios is symptomatic of the problems the Rangers have seen on offense. His ISO is at its lowest level of his career while his strikeout rate has climbed for the fourth year in a row. He is being pushed up thanks to his continued ability to steal bases. Rios has a BABIP slightly high from where he has been in the past and his run production is down overall after years of being better than 80 runs scored.


Alex Rios BABIP (Source: Fangraphs)

He has fallen outside of the top 10 outfielders, and his downward trend should be a concern to owners.

Henderson Alvarez, RHP, Marlins

Alvarez is another pitcher who is not going to win your weekly strikeout category. His command and control in keeping his walks down as well as his ability to keep the ball in the park has many owners intrigued. But buyer beware! While one spot above Tim Hudson in the HVaC ranks at No.  64 overall, his 78 percent strand rate coupled with an ERA nearly a full run lower than his FIP should keep owners from adding him.

Wilson Ramos, C, Nationals

It surprises me that Ramos is being increasingly added over the last week. The eight-point jump in ownership in ESPN leagues is surprising when you peel back the numbers. Even if we normalize for the number of at-bats, he is still on the wrong end of the curve in terms of all other categories. The HVaC sees Ramos as the No. 23 catcher overall and only the No. 17 catcher when we normalize at-bats the rest of the season.

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Collin Hager · August 23

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