Seth Smith just missed back-to-back cycles this weekend. (Nelvin C. Cepeda)
Welcome to the first edition of Diamond Stocks, our newest baseball column. Every Monday, we will examine five players whose fantasy stock is soaring and five players that are plummeting. Brian Roberts will be the first of many surprising names that you might want to start noticing as he is only owned in Fantasy leagues by his friends and relatives at the moment. On the flip side, we will provide some eye-openers about players who are more flash than substance.
Seth Smith, RF, San Diego Padres: Seriously? Eli Manning’s backup at Ole Miss is only owned in 15 per cent of CBS leagues and 1.4 per cent of ESPN leagues? Smith fell a homer shy of the cycle Friday and then just missed it by a single on Saturday as he is now getting a chance to start every day and bat third in the Friars’ lineup. You might want to peek at his numbers because they are pretty darn good. All this guy has done is hit .531 (17-for-32) in his last eight games with a homer, seven RBI, seven doubles, and three triples. Are you kidding me? Smith’s 994 OPS seems almost absurd, but not as absurd as Fantasy owners continually overlooking this guy. We still feel for him because we can’t get the ugly image of Jonathan Papelbon going airborne in celebration after striking out Smith to end the 2007 World Series, but he has managed to take good care of himself since. The Padres sure could use someone wielding a hot bat these days and Smith seems to have exhibited a flair for the dramatic right from his first at-bat with the team (as you can see in the video below).
Brian Roberts, 2B, New York Yankees: Owned in a whopping 4.1 per cent of ESPN leagues (and that’s up three percentage points from last week) and just 14 per cent of CBS leagues, Roberts is worth another look after a slow start to his 2014 season. He cannot and will not fill Robinson Cano’s shoes, but he is batting .290 (18-for-62) over his last 17 games and has seen his OBP rise from .278 to .316. No, Roberts won’t bring you power or speed (one homer, one steal) anymore, but he is an everyday player and a switch-hitter to boot, and he is patient at the plate so if you value the walk (he has 12), then this is a guy that at least warrants a bench spot.
Derek Norris, C, Oakland Athletics: Norris made his loyal (and we do mean loyal) legion of ESPN owners very happy on Sunday. He clubbed a pair of three-run homers, so we imagine he will be owned in more than 2.1 per cent of leagues any day now. Even the astute CBS players haven’t figured this out (20 per cent), but Norris has three multi-hit games in his last four and is batting .385 with four homers and 19 RBI this season. His 1069 OPS isn’t too shabby, either.
Corey Dickerson, CF, Colorado Rockies: Dickerson may have lost the battle in Spring Training with Charlie Blackmon, but he certainly didn’t lose the war. Now that he’s getting more regular playing time, Dickerson is making a case for himself. In May, he is hitting .440 (10-for-22), taking him up to .375 for the year with a 1108 OPS and four homers, yet he’s only owned by 2.2 per cent of ESPN leagues and 25 per cent of CBS leagues.
Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians: The power of the strikeout gets Kluber onto this list. C-K is beloved by his CBS owners (88 per cent) but has yet to catch on in ESPN leagues (42 per cent), although he has skyrocketed 25.6 percentage points in the last seven days. His overall numbers are solid (3-3 record, 3.48 ERA in eight starts), but it’s the Ks we love. Kluber has 57 for the season and 38 in his last four starts.
Martin Perez, SP, Texas Rangers: Perez has been downright abandoned in the Fantasy world, as in ESPN leagues, his ownership is down by 37.2 percentage points in the past week (dropping him 49.4 per cent total ownership, despite still being owned at a 79 per cent rate in CBS leagues). It’s not hard to see why, as Perez has been awful of late, as RotoRob opined in a recent Podcast. In his last three starts, Perez has been bombed to the tune of a 12.83 ERA (19 ER in 13 1/3 IP), having allowed 24 hits, 10 walks and three home runs in that span. And to think, Perez began the year 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA. I think it’s safe to say hitters have him figured out.
Xander Bogaerts, SS, Boston Red Sox: A trendy preseason American League Rookie of the Year pick, Bogaerts has cooled considerably after a hot start. In ESPN leagues, he is still owned in 86.8 per cent, but that’s 7.3 percentage points less than a week ago because X-man has just one hit in his last 16 at-bats. (He’s at 85 per cent in CBS leagues.) Bogaerts is batting just .172 in May and has just one dinger on the season. There is no doubt he will find his stroke again at some point, but he has stayed cold even as the Boston weather has begun to warm up.
John Axford, RP, Cleveland Indians: In ESPN leagues, 92.5 per cent of owners (7.5 percentage points less than he had seven days ago) are not happy with Axford, hoping to give him the axe as Terry Francona did from the closer’s role. Axford was scored on in three of his last four outings and is sporting a 4.91 ERA and 13 walks in 14 2/3 IP this season, not to mention he has already been tagged with three losses. (CBS owners have smartened up a little more, as only 73.5 per cent own Axford.)
Chris Colabello, RF, Minnesota Twins: One of the great early season stories, Colabello has been almost MIA in May. He has 30 RBI on the season, but only three since April 26. Over that span, he is hitting .135 (7-for-52) and has seen his OPS dip from 856 to 707. Colabello isn’t supplying anything in the way of extra base pop, with just one home run and one double since April 23. Fantasy owners are catching on, as he has seen a 17 percentage point drop to 77.7 per cent total ownership in the past week on ESPN, while on CBS, he’s at 72 per cent.
Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals: Universally owned in ESPN and nearly as much in CBS (98 per cent), Desmond has been a colossal disappointment in 2014. And to think, this was a guy who bet on himself by turning down a $90 million contract extension over the winter. No, we’re not saying to jump ship on the talented shortstop, but you might want to start asking yourself why everyone and their brother has him on their Fantasy team when he’s hitting just .217 with four homers, 17 RBI, a .271 OBP and 607 OPS. Desmond is batting just .063 (1-for-16) in his last five games and not only is homerless in May, but hasn’t left the ballpark since April 21.
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below which players you think have been flying under the radar or whose time has come for the scrap head.
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