Each week, Collin Hager uses his HVaC Scoring System to let you know who to start and drop in head-to-head fantasy baseball leagues. This week’s must-starts:
Fantasy baseball owners over-valued Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown at the start of the season and are now just as quick to drop him. But be patient and capitalize on those owners’ mistakes. His early-season isolated power is off 100 points from his career mark, making it exceedingly unlikely that he has a shot at 30 home runs — but there is value. With a BABIP 25 points off last season’s number and a strikeout rate and walk rate very much in line, Brown could easily turn the corner with some slight tweaks.
His issues have come on balls out of the strike zone. Of his 26 strikeouts, all but six came on pitches outside of the strike zone. This correlates to the four-point increase in his swing rate on these types of pitches.
Add in a drop in both contact and swing rate on pitches that are strikes and you can see where he has had problems.
Brown can improve here. Pitchers have given him more fastballs than last year. In 2014, he is hitting just .200 against them (13 for 65) as opposed to .275 last season. Despite issues as a negative outlier in terms of H/PA in the HVaC, he still comes in as a top 40 option the rest of the way. His ability to create runs in conjunction with power that we have seen him produce should be enough to keep him on rosters.
A.J. Pierzynski, C, Red Sox
The one thing to keep in mind is that regardless of the scenario, Pierzynski will not be catching Jon Lester. Beyond that, he lines up well in two key catching categories. The backstop should be one shy of the positional average of 13 in home runs the rest of the season while driving in 57 runs to equal the mark. As a result, he checks in as the eighth-best catcher this year.
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, Indians
Cabrera seems to be a forgotten soul. He has posted a BABIP better than .300 in every year since 2008 and is still just 28 years old. While his 25 home runs and 92 RBI seen in 2011 seem a ways away, his projections of 15 home runs and 82 runs scored are well in line with the positional averages. ZiPS projection expects him to miss steals compared with the position (nine for him against 14 for the average starter), but Cabrera should finish the year as the No. 10 player at the position.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Red Sox
Bogaerts’s rough May has owners second-guessing themselves. He came out of the gate strong, but then the Red Sox have faced some tough pitching in the Rangers and Devil Rays, and Bogaerts combined to go 3-for-30 against those two teams.
With minor league season numbers that show home runs in the teens to go with a low ISO of .099 that is nearly 100 points worse than what he saw in the minors, Bogaerts should rebound. The HVaC likes him as the 12th ranked Shortstop going forward.
Corey Kluber, RHP, Indians
Easy to see why people are not quite ready to buy Kluber, but this is a continuation of what was seen last season. He has generated a total of 98 swings and misses this season and 46 of them have come on his slider, giving him 23 of his 65 strikeouts. Though his K/9 is up two full batters, his other numbers align well and should provide value the rest of the way as a borderline top 40 starter.