I've never been one of those guys who gets too bent out of shape either way about the All-Star Game. Yes, I'll watch it. Yes, I think Johnny Cueto and Zack Greinke should be on the NL team -- but it doesn't bother me. You won't find me spewing vitriol on Twitter about the silliness of the player voting or the manager selections. I watch the Home Run Derby. Non-ironically. And not on mute. As you can tell by the AQA thread I participated in along with our own Jason Hunt and Craig Goldstein, I'm very much into the Futures Game. The thing I'm most excited about is seeing Mike Trout play. But then again, I get overly excited about that no matter what the game is.
It's an opportunity for the casual fan to see a whole bunch of great players in one location at one time. It's a greatest hits album. But the one thing you can be sure of is that the local, and sometimes even national, media will use this opportunity to make a big deal out of all of these participants. Essentially, it will be three days of putting the players on a pedestal. But don't be fooled -- there are players of very, very different values being showcased here. And fortunately, I'm here to tell you which ones you should target as mid-season trading starts to pick up in your league.
First up, the guys to trade for. After the jump, of course:Fernando Rodney
When I wrote my Ten Bold Predictions Based on April's Small Samples post back on May 1st, I wrote that Rodney would save 30 games for the Rays this season. Turns out, that prediction wasn't bold enough. Kyle Farnsworth is back now and Rodney shows no signs of slowing down. Not only is his walk rate still crazy low compared to his career rate, but it's getting better: 4.8% in April, 3.8% in May, 2.9% in June and 0.0% so far in July.
This is more dependent on how your league's current Napoli owner values him. But there's a good chance he/she may be having buyer's remorse after being sucked in by last year's huge season. Yes, his strikeout rate is a career-high 30.1% (compared to a career K-rate of 25.1%) -- but his swinging strike rate is right in line with his career average. I expect this to normalize over the second half, and you know what they say about summers in Texas..
The best thing about Ortiz's first half hasn't even been his performance -- though it's been exquisite -- it's been the 1B eligibility he's picked up in leagues with 5-game in season requirements. Everything is there this season with Papi -- he's walking more than striking out, he's got his highest ISO since 2006 and he's got a 969 OPS against LHP. He should be in the Votto/Pujols/Miggy class of first basemen, but that's likely not how he's being valued.
This is purely a value recommendation. It's true that Jeter had a great April (.430 wOBA) and then followed it with a lackluster May (.314 wOBA) and pretty awful June (.273 wOBA). However, he's showing some signs of life in July and it seems like people are just looking to dump Jeter and run. This would be a mistake. He's not going to recreate his magical April, but he's on pace for the lowest K-rate of his career. He can still be a top-10 SS and he can be had.
Speaking of players who can be had, Chipper is currently a little more than halfway through his farewell tour. However, in case you haven't been paying close enough attention, he also has an 876 OPS. This would put him 4th among MLB 3B if he had enough plate appearances to qualify. And therein lies the problem with Chipper. However, if you need a boost and aren't risk averse, he should be able to help -- especially in points leagues. Just have a backup plan.
And the guys who I would think about dealing:
Don't get me wrong, Hamilton is great. But he's has averaged less than 118 games per season in his career. This year he's on pace for 149. I don't know about you, but I'm not confident enough in his ability to make it there to consider him nearly untouchable, as someone with his ability should be. If you can get another star player, plus a good extra piece or two, I'd seriously think about it.
This one's just a gimme. He was a great story back in April, but if you're Furcal, April seems like a lifetime and a half ago. In fact, over the past 30 days, Furcal is the 54th most valuable SS according to the ESPN Player Rater. He's behind Munenori Kawasaki and Austin Romine. Seriously. Your time to unload him while his overall stats still look decent is about to run out.
Consider me skeptical about the success Miley has had in the first half. Yes, the 3.04 ERA isn't THAT far off from his 3.52 FIP and 3.81 xFIP, but I expect his regression (which has already begun with 12 ER in his last 2 starts) to continue into the second half. He is unlikely to maintain his .261 BABIP against or his 9.0% HR/FB rate, especially in Arizona. If someone values him as a top-50 pitcher, let him/her take that chance.
See Hamilton, Josh. Peavy has already thrown 120 innings so far in 2012. He hasn't thrown 120 innings in a season since 2008. He's been great this year, but this is a DL stint waiting to happen.
It's not every day you find a closer with a 1.41 ERA and a 5.1 BB/9. Or a .155 BABIP against and an 83.3% strand rate. If there was a picture next to the definition of "regression" in the dictionary, it would be of Ryan Cook's totally unprepared mug.
Follow me on Twitter at @tfw_bret.