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:
When someone like Royals DH-1B Billy Butler has his fantasy ownership on any site jump 45 points in a week, the HVaC radar goes right up to see if it’s something that can be sustained. To date, Butler has struggled. His power numbers have been decidedly down and his walk rate is at its lowest since 2008. The scores in the model do not play out in his favor. Though he shows to be a positive outlier in H/PA, his power numbers — which are so paramount at first base — are not strong enough to put him inside the top- 15 at the position.
Owners keep going back to Butler’s stats in his all-star 2012 season. In every number though, Butler posted career bests that year. From his ISO, to his BABIP, to his slugging percentage and his OPS, Butler had a season that he will never forget.
Pitchers have since adjusted to him and provided a steadier diet of breaking and off-speed pitches than they have fastballs. Though swinging more often this year, his contact rates overall as well as on pitches in and out of the zone are consistent with prior years. In fact, he is seeing far more strikes than he has in the past.
Based on Butler’s low expectations for the rest of the year, this latest burst is nothing more than a hot streak. Buyer beware.
Brandon McCarthy, RHP, Yankees
The Yankees effect has people adding McCarthy, but this is a case where owners should not follow the crowd. After New York acquired him in a trade with the Diamondbacks in early July, McCarthy is playing at a more hitter-friendly park and in a division that is notorious for more offense. With an FIP already out of line and a high HR/FB ratio, McCarthy has been trending down over the last three weeks in the HVaC. Leave him on the sidelines.
Michael Morse, LF-1B, Giants
Morse got off to a slow start in August and his owners have responded by dropping him in ESPN leagues. The HVaC agrees, keeping Morse outside the top 100 outfielders. Morse is showing numbers we have seen before. He has not adapted to the increase in breaking pitches thrown to him, hitting just .200 against curveballs with a 22 percent strikeout rate.
Morse has done his damage against fastballs, hitting well over .300. Overall, his eight-point jump in contact rate on pitches outside of the zone is likely not sustainable. Join the parade of those dropping him.
Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox
Viciedo is falling out of favor with owners and the HVaC. He finds himself on the outside looking in of the top 60 outfielders, making him a bench player if anything at all. His BABIP of .268 signals there should be some upside in average the rest of the way, but he is on the wrong side of the mean in each of the five categories, showing he actually is negative value in many respects compared to those available.
Angel Pagan, CF, Giants
Pagan is a tough case, because the returns thus far have indicated he could be a strategic add for owners. The HVaC says to hold off. He has not had a BABIP this high since 2009 and that number is driving his average well above historical numbers. Pitchers are pounding him with fastballs and he has found his average to be only .281 against the pitch this season. That’s down from .331 just a season ago.
He checks in at No. 90 for outfielders overall.