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:
The Reds’ Joey Votto is an enigma. He will be 31 in September, and we still don’t know what kind of player he is. He has struggled in terms of power this year and is projected to be far below average in terms of RBI production. This is key, as first base is expected to produce the most RBI (average of 52 among the top 12 in the HVaC) of any position the rest of the season. Losing more than one RBI per week from a premier spot could put owners in a bind. Votto has not been on pace for a 100-RBI season since 2011.
In addition, he is hitting just .280 against fastballs this season, a pitch he has traditionally had far more success against. Couple this with seeing more first-pitch strikes, given that he is not known for taking a hack right out of the gate, and a swing rate on pitches in the zone that has dipped three points from last season, and the reasons to take a look at others at the position get compounded.
Votto is outside the top 12 at the position at this point in the year. His projected lack of of production the rest of the way should be enough to steer them more toward players like Eric Hosmer, Mark Reynolds and others who will yield the positional needs for head to head owners.
Ryan Vogelsong, RHP, Giants
Vogelsong is overdue for some problems and the HVaC has picked up on that, leaving him outside the top 100 pitchers. His strand rate of 76 percent does not fit with the BABIP he is seeing of .315. In addition, his groundball rate has dropped every year since 2011 while his fly ball rate has increased. It makes his HR/FB ratio look lower than it otherwise should be.
In addition, batters are still hitting .316 against him in two-strike counts, showing his struggles in finishing hitters off.
Billy Butler, 1B, Royals
This is a case where we need to be perfectly clear about the value that comes from a player at first base. Plain and simple, an owner needs power here. His two home runs and ISO below .100 spell trouble. When you factor in his projected nine home runs the rest of the way — against a positional mark of 16 for a top 12 player — and run and RBI production greater than one deviation from the mean, and you have a player being added that likely should be left off to the side.
Mike Napoli, 1B, Red Sox
As much as I love what Napoli has done to improve his game this year, the continued lack of power hurts his value. Napoli has done wonders for himself, hitting .275 even when behind in the count this year and lowering his strikeout rate almost 10 points from last season. That said, his injuries have hampered his home run production even in a ballpark like Fenway. While it could be a blip, his ISO has dropped in every season since 2011 despite his average trending up over the last three. With run and RBI projections more than two deviations from the mean, Napoli should not be on rosters.
Matt Carpenter, IF, Cardinals
Carpenter’s owners didn’t expect this. Those playing him at third base are losing out on the categories that typically come with the position. He is expected to be at least two deviations from the average in three categories – H/PA, RBI and home runs. While his run production is better than his counterparts there, it is not as heavily valued at the hot corner. Those playing him at second base will still find he comes in as the No. 14 player at the position, but even here he falls short in terms of RBI and steals.