Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers for Week 15

Stephen Dunn

Alex Kantecki identifies three risers and three fallers in head-to-head points leagues, including Ben Revere, Kyle Seager and A.J. Griffin.

Risers

Ben Revere

A month or so ago, I wrote about how some one-trick speed ponies -- think Michael Bourn -- aren't worth the investment in points leagues. Ben Revere isn't one of them. Unlike Bourn, Revere is an extreme contact hitter. While he doesn't walk much, he doesn't strike out much either -- he has a 10.9% strikeout rate, compared to 24.4% for Bourn. I was skeptical of Revere when he started his hot streak, but I'm finally willing to buy into what the speedy Phillies outfielder is selling. Through the halfway point, Revere is batting .300/.335/.350 -- all career highs -- with 36 runs, 16 RBI and 21 steals (tied for the seventh most in baseball). If you play in an ESPN league, Revere is probably long gone - he's owned in 97% of leagues. If you play in a Yahoo! league, you're in luck -- he's still available in 47% of leagues. Since the start of May, Revere is batting .337 with 25 runs and 15 steals in 54 games. While his main asset in standard leagues is his speed, his all-around game makes him a smart add in points leagues -- he could realistically challenge his career high in steals (40) and provide a modest amount of runs (70?).

Kyle Seager

Kyle Seager -- still available in 20% of Yahoo! leagues -- has the sixth most points among middle infielders in the Official Fake Teams Head to Head Points League, and the ninth most points among third basemen. After a career year in 2012, Seager is on pace to do even better in 2013. Through 87 games, the Mariners second baseman/third baseman is batting.287/.352/.477 with 13 home runs, 48 runs, 41 RBI and three steals. That puts him on pace for 24 home runs, 89 runs, 76 RBI and six steals. While his speed is down this year -- he stole 13 bags in 2012 -- Seager has made up for it with more power. If he can reach 24 home runs, it would represent a career high after hitting 20 last year. I think 20-plus home runs are a real possibility, as Seager's ISO has gone up significantly from .163 to .190. The other part of Seager's game that has improved is in his plate discipline. The biggest change is his Swing%, which has dropped from 47.9% in 2012 to 41.4% in 2013. Now less of a free swinger, I think Seager can sustain a batting average north of .280 -- both his strikeout rate and walk rate are better than league average. If you're struggling at third with a Pablo Sandoval or a Martin Prado, Seager is a fantastic and unassuming trade target.

A.J. Griffin

I discussed the A's starter in last week's two-start recommendations and -- predictably -- Griffin went out and had his worst performance of the season against the Cubs. He backed it up with a win against the Royals in his next turn, and now sports a 7-6 record with a 3.94 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 91:27 K:BB ratio in 114 1/3 innings. After wins-eating Bartolo Colon, Griffin has been the most valuable Oakland starter in points leagues -- he ranks ahead of A.J. Burnett, John Lackey, Doug Fister and Jon Lester. Griffin gets by on so-so strikeouts (7.14 K/9) and good command (2.13 BB/9), while holding opponents to a .233 BA. His declining ground ball rate (37.5% in 2012; 32.8% in 2013) worries me slightly, but he can get by on more fly balls than the normal pitcher because he plays in spacious O.co Coliseum. While his ERA at home (3.93) and away (3.94) are nearly identical, Griffin has allowed six home runs in Oakland, compared to 12 homers on the road. His 4.26 FIP and 4.28 xFIP suggest he's a little lucky, but I think he can hover around 4.00 the rest of the way. He's someone you can trust starting more often than not, and he should be owned in more than 55% of Yahoo! leagues.

Fallers

Jason Heyward

It's hard to imagine things getting any worse for Jason Heyward, but less than two weeks into July, the Braves outfielder is hitting a pedestrian .228/.326/.378 in 64 games. Heyward missed significant time earlier this year with an appendectomy, and since his return, he has been better. In June, Heyward hit .312/.370/.495, but there still wasn't much in the terms of run production -- four home runs, 12 runs, 9 RBI and zero steals. Coming off a 27-home run and 21-steal season in 2012, owners were undoubtedly expecting more from the 23-year old. I still think the best is yet to come, but it's obvious that his current value isn't anywhere close to his preseason value. There is some good: Heyward has cut out a big portion of his strikeout rate (23.3% in 2012; 16.5% in 2013) and his walk rate has also improved. His line drive rate is up to a career-best 23.1%, so I suspect his .255 BABIP will have to improve going forward. But the power...where is the power? After a career-best .210 ISO in 2012, Heyward has fallen below league average with a .149 ISO. In addition to a 36.4% fly ball rate, one thing that could be holding Heyward back in the power department is a 71.1% contact rate on pitches outside of the strike zone, which has been shown to have a significant effect on HR/FB rates. In the end, I think we're looking at an outfielder hopeful to reach 15 home runs, score 70 runs, drive in 60 and steal 6-8 bags.

Asdrubal Cabrera

Unlike his Indians teammate, Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera has been unable to turn around a slow start in Cleveland. Through 65 games, the Indians shortstop is hitting a disappointing .249/.309/.414 with six home runs, 37 runs, 29 RBI and five steals. ZiPS projects him to finish with a .247 BA to go along with 13 home runs, 71 runs, 59 RBI and 10 steals, which would be a far cry from his breakout 2011 season. Hopefully, you didn't fully buy into that season, in which Cabrera blasted 25 home runs, scored 87 runs, drove in 92 and stole 17 bags -- all career highs. It's hard to put much faith into Cabrera going forward, as the Indians shortstop's skills have regressed significantly in 2013. This season, Cabrera's strikeout rate has gone from average to worse (16.1% in 2012; 24.1% in 2013) and his contact rates have dropped across the board. He ranks 23rd among shortstops in points leagues behind fill-ins and hot hands like Yunel Escobar, Brian Dozier and Brandon Crawford. If you're in any position to make a run at the championship, do yourself a favor and rid yourself of Cabrera.

Yovani Gallardo

Those hoping for a change of scenery for Gallardo may not get their wish after all, as Milwaukee's "ace" isn't doing himself any favors on the trade market. In his last three outings, Gallardo posted a 10.38 ERA and 2.46 WHIP against the Cubs, Nationals and Mets. He lasted just 13 innings total while striking out 13 and walking nine. It appeared that the Diamondbacks had interest in acquiring Gallardo, but now that thought is probably on the back burner. His ownership has dropped more in ESPN leagues (67.3%) than in Yahoo! leagues (82%), and it's hard to blame his owners. On the season, Gallardo sports a 4.85 ERA and 1.46 WHIP, which ranks as the 11th highest WHIP in all of baseball. His strikeout rate is down for the fifth consecutive season, and his fastball velocity is below 91 for the first time since 2008. Anyone willing to take a chance on a declining Gallardo in real life -- let alone, in fantasy -- may have a screw or two loose.

Alex Kantecki is a fantasy baseball writer for Fake Teams. He also writes the "Closer Chronicle" for Vigilante Baseball every Thursday, ranking and tiering all 30 MLB closers. You can follow Alex on Twitter at @rotodealer.

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