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:
The Yankees’ Mark Teixeira is both one of the most enticing and most frustrating players in fantasy baseball. We all know his capabilities, yet of late he cannot stay on the field. But owners are starting to buy the hype, as he has seen a nine-point jump in the last seven days. What should be made, though, of a player being added to rosters who is still hitting just .241, and only .239 in June?
Projections have him buried because of injury concerns, and that makes him hard to judge by raw numbers. The Yankees have 85 games remaining and ZiPS suggests that he would only see another 205 plate appearances over 48 games. Let’s assume Teixeira can stay healthy. If we gross his numbers up and assume the same rates over a span of 310 at-bats (the number projected for Albert Pujols), Teixeira becomes a top 10 option at first base the rest of the season.
The numbers add up. His ISO is back in line with numbers he saw from 2009 to 2012 with the Yankees.
His .241 average is not spectacular, but he has shown the ability to hit more in the .260 range as well. Given the rebound in his contact rate to levels seen in the past on pitches in the zone as well as his seeing more pitches in the zone, and the ability for him to succeed is there. He just needs to stay on the field. Buy now.
Wilson Ramos, C, Nationals
I rarely go into this and then tweak projections, but it looks like Ramos will be back this week. If that’s the case, it is very likely he gets closer to 240 at-bats than the 164 ZiPS projects him to have. Using the same rates and projecting against greater at-bats puts Ramos inside the top 12 catchers. While his H/PA numbers are still light, his four other categories all fall inside half a deviation from the mean, making him a more than adequate starter.
Andrew Cashner, RHP, Padres
Cashner does not believe his shoulder injury is serious and expects to play catch this week, indicating the DL stint is likely not longer than the 15 days he has been there. Cashner has shown progression in his first three seasons as a full-time starter in both his ERA and FIP as well as HR/9 numbers. With batters hitting just .225 against his fastball, it makes sense that he has gone away from his change-up this season, and it’s why he is the No. 30 pitcher in the HVaC.
Denard Span, CF, Nationals
It always surprises me how little people think of Span. He may be just the 60th-ranked outfielder, but that gives him value and makes him a player to add. He projects to be nearly two positive deviations from the mean in terms of H/PA despite a lack of power. While there are potential lineup concerns once the entire Nationals team is healthy, his production now should not be overlooked.
Tanner Roark, RHP, Nationals
Many owners can still grab the Washington starter and should take the chance. While his ERA could regress given his FIP of 3.40 against his 2.79 ERA and a strand rate near 80 percent, Roark’s numbers otherwise fall in line with a No. 4 starter in a fantasy rotation. His strikeout levels have improved closer to what they were at the minor league level, which is another strong sign.