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:
Juan Francisco is one of the hottest names in fantasy baseball right now and has seen his ownership in ESPN leagues jump 39 points in the last seven days. Through 79 at-bats, he has six home runs and 17 RBI and plays a position — third base — that needs to produce that kind of power. Better still, the Blue Jays have said that he will remain at third base while Brett Lawrie shifts over to second.
Just dial back the expectations a bit on this one.
Francisco simply has an unsustainable BABIP at this point based on his history, at .405. This goes along with an ISO of .304. In 124 games last season and 385 plate appearances, Francisco put up a BABIP of .314 and an ISO of .195. This is far more in line with the numbers he saw in part-time duty with the Braves and Reds over 2011 and 2012.
The other concern would be that he is striking out nearly 35 percent of the time. This is certainly similar to what he has done over the course of his career and it typically begets the .230 average he has shown as opposed to the .291 he has now. Francisco will continue to get pitched away until he shows improvement. With 16 of his 32 strikeouts coming off the plate and outside, as well as swinging and missing at 14 percent of those pitches thrown to him, there is a correction coming.
Casey McGehee, 3B, Marlins
McGehee has not sustained a BABIP at this level at any point in his career. The .358 mark is his best since posting .330 in 2009. At 70 points better than his career average, this should be a red flag. The other side here is that McGehee is not providing the power that the position needs. Even should he return to levels seen in 2011, it still likely keeps him in low double-digit home run totals. His run and RBI projections the rest of the way of 37 and 47 put him over two deviations from the mean on the negative side. Needing home runs and RBI from the corners therefore bury McGehee in the HVaC.
Ryan Howard, 1B, Phillies
A player owned in 90 percent of ESPN leagues should produce more than what Howard is giving. Part-time or full-time duty, Howard’s ISO has dropped each year since 2011 and he has not hit .270 since 2010. In every category, he is falling at least one deviation away from the mean on the wrong side of the curve.
Jordan Lyles, RHP, Rockies
Lyles has posted a strand rate 13 points better than his career mark with a BABIP 50 points lower, and an ERA at half of his career mark. When the covers are pulled back to see an FIP — a measure of what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period — assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average, and nearly a run worse than his ERA to boot, there is some regression here.
The HVaC does not see him as a rotation starter the rest of the way. Sell high.
Josh Beckett, RHP, Dodgers
I love seeing Beckett dealing the way he is again, but he is pitching at a rate that he has not seen since at least 2007. With a strand rate near 85 percent and an FIP closer to 4.00 than the 2.38 his ERA shows, there should be pause from owners. While he has shown remarkable consistency in pitch velocities across his repertoire, he is showing an incredible reliance on his curveball early on, throwing it 30 percent of the time while dropping his fastball 10 points to 35 percent of his pitches.