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:
Lucas Duda is getting a fair amount of love right now as he continues to demonstrate tremendous power. He has seen a jump of 30 points in ownership over the last seven days and on the surface those numbers are worth the add. The question is whether or not he can continue at this pace. While there are a couple minor concerns, the numbers overall are worth owning both now and in the longer term the rest of the season.
To say he is capitalizing on fastballs is an understatement. Duda has seen the volume of fastballs decrease, but he is hitting .308 against them this season.
The struggles have come in his .152 average against sliders and .234 mark against changeups. To counteract that, he has been swinging earlier in the count and has had a .444 mark when swinging at the first pitch. With all of this, he has been able to improve his contact rate on pitches in the zone. Do not be fooled by the drop in walks and increase in strikeouts. The fact he is taking cracks at more pitches in the zone is a good thing for owners.
With stronger contact rates than last season as well, Duda should have the ability to keep this up through the season’s final months. The HVaC is not thrilled with him at first base, but as an outfielder he is certainly a starter.
Speed and runs are the name of the game in the middle infield. Harrison is proving that he can do that. With a projection of 20 steals, he certainly hits the first piece. He is also showing to be more of an everyday player than many would have expected. Once we normalize his number of plate appearances, Harrison becomes a top-12 option the rest of the way if you play him at Second Base.
There are reasons to be skeptical on Martinez, but the recent drop in ownership is something others should capitalize upon. He hit .345 in July and has continued to post strong power numbers. While a normalization in his 20 percent HR/FB rate is likely to come, the HVaC still likes Martinez as a number five outfielder in all formats the rest of the way.
When an owner drafts Alvarez, they need to know what they are getting. Though he is having a down year in ISO and home runs compared to the last two seasons, he still is a 25-home run hitter. The HVaC still sees him as a top-five player at his position and the 11 point drop in ownership across ESPN leagues should have those that see him on waivers drooling. Add him and simply understand that he is going to hit .230.
Interesting to see ESPN owners dropping him this past week. Wood is producing nearly nine strikeouts per nine innings and has an ERA and FIP strongly in line that would indicate the numbers are safer than not. Batters are swinging at more of his pitches, but they are not making contact any more often than they did as he split time between starting and relieving last year. Wood is one of those pitchers that could be a sneaky add over the last two months.