Saturday, July 21, 2007

Look Who's Back! - Hitters Edition

This is the first of my "Look Who's Back!" reports. What I'm going to do here is take a look at a player or players who have recently recovered from a slump & give you my thoughts on which player is the real deal - the slumping one or the breakout one. This first report will focus on some hitters; a pitcher's report is coming soon.

Today I'm going to review a few hitters who have been coming on strong recently.

Corey Patterson (OF)
His July numbers are:
.355 Avg
3 HR
6 SB
11 R
1 BB
12 K

What I find interesting is that his walk totals have gone from 7-4-2-1 since April. Usually, a declining walk rate is not a good sign, but I think in this case, Patterson is finally getting comfortable at the plate again. For him, that means a high K rate, low BB rate, and mediocre Avg...but his free swinging aggressiveness will bring some more HR & likely get his Avg in the .260 - .275 range.

I think he's a smart pick up now if he already hasn't been nabbed in your league. If you need steals & solid peripherals
(although he won't hit .300 from here on out), he's a good choice.

Julio Lugo (2B, 3B, SS)
His July numbers are:
.400 Avg
2 HR
13 RBI
5 SB
9 R
5 BB
4 K

Man, what a way to break out of his season long slump. His April - June monthly batting averages were - .256, .209, & .089! The biggest downside of his prolonged slump & subsequent return to the lineup is Boston has moved him to the bottom half of the order; so the run totals won't be great, but he'll likely finish strong in all other categories.

I actually dropped him in one of my leagues a few weeks back, after giving up on him this year. Thanks to Rickie Weeks' lack of production (and Howie Kendrick's recurring injury bug), I recently picked him back up & I am enjoying this run. He should finish the year strong, so he's a good one to grab if you need middle infield help.

Andruw Jones (OF)
His July numbers are:
.306 Avg
7 HR
19 RBI
2 SB
18 R
9 BB
11 K

I was about the put a fork in him last month, but never underestimate the power of a contract year. His batting average for the month of June was a putrid .143; I can honestly say that I didn't expect such a strong return from the dead from Andruw this month. Apparently, he has been choking up on the bat more, which gives him more bat control, which in turn, has led to the improvement.

He's probably already on a roster in every league out there, but I was lucky enough to pick him up in one league after somebody dropped him earlier in the season; he was hitting around .190 at the time. He'll never be a great batting average guy, but he should good for about 12-15 HR from here on out, along with good RBI production, and maybe a stolen base here or there for good measure. If you've got him, continue to play him while he's also might be able to get someone to bite on trading for him now, which might not be a bad move if you're strong in the OF & weak in other areas. His value is higher now than it has been at any point this season, although he's still going to be valued below where he was coming into the season.

Coming on Strong:
Ryan Garko (1B)
His July numbers are:
.455 Avg
3 HR
10 RBI
11 R
6 BB
8 K

Garko plays for my favorite team (in the city where I was born & raised), the Cleveland Indians, so forgive me if I seem a little biased. He currently has a 14 game hitting streak (Post game update - it's now up to 15, after a 2-3 day on Saturday against the Rangers), which is tops in the majors right now. The only reason he's on this list is his quiet June (OK, that's an understatement) where he hit .192 with only 2 HR & 8 RBI.

I think he's a good sleeper at 1B the rest of the season. I recently dropped Nick Swisher to pick up Garko in one league, and I haven't regretted it yet (although it is risky & I'm normally not a backer of "picking up the hot player & discarding a proven veteran" strategy). He is probably available as a free agent in many leagues currently, but if he continues to hit, his ownership % will increase quickly. I expect him to finish the year around .300, with around 20 HR & 65-75 RBI. Go Indians!

Did you know - Ryan graduated from Stanford University in 2003 with a degree in
American Studies, a mix of politics and economics.

Knocking on the Door:
I'm not quite ready to declare Jermaine Dye back yet, but keep an eye on him. He's hitting .306 since the all star break, with 4 HR & 7 RBI. He may be in one of these reports soon, but I'm just not sold on his turnaround yet...oh yeah, and I dropped him myself in a league before the all star break, so I'm a little bitter about missing out on the recent streak.

That's all for now...I'll be back with a "Look Who's Back - Pitchers Edition" in the next few days.

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