Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers: Trevor Plouffe, Pablo Sandoval and More

Ronald Martinez

Identifying risers and fallers in head-to-head points' leagues for Week 6, including Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe and Royals second baseman Omar Infante.

Risers

Trevor Plouffe (78.9% ESPN, 44% Yahoo)

Plouffe is owned in more leagues than I normally highlight in this series, and I imagine the majority of his owners are looking to sell high. But if I owned Plouffe, I'd hold tight assuming I couldn't get anything of greater value in return. Entering play on Sunday, the Twins ranked fifth with 144 runs scored and first with a 11.9 percent walk rate. Plouffe has been a big part of the offensive turnaround in Minnesota, contributing a .275/.375/.440 slash in his first 128 plate appearances, including 20 runs and 20 RBIs. The biggest change has come in the form of a 12.5 percent walk rate (6.5 percent in 2013). His strikeout rate is still on the high side, but we've seen a giant drop in his O-Swing% (29.3 percent in 2013, 20.1 percent in 2014) and Swing% (43.6 percent in 2013, 38 percent in 2014). It's still early, and he could easily start looking like the streaky, up-and-down Plouffe of old, but it might be worth the gamble to bet on the new and improved version. I also expect Plouffe's power to reemerge soon, as he launched 24 home runs just two seasons ago -- and 14 home runs in 2013. I like Plouffe to set new career highs in runs and RBI, with the chance of reaching 70 in each category.

Omar Infante (48.6% ESPN, 31% Yahoo)

Among Royals' position players, Infante is tied with Alex Gordon with a team-leading 0.8 fWAR. Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler were no shows in April, and it's Kansas City's free-agent keystone who has picked up the slack with a team-best 19 RBIs. Heck, even his two home runs are second most on the team -- Mike Moustakas leads Kansas City with four long balls. In addition to a .286 batting average, Infante is getting on base at a .345 clip, which is identical to his on-base percentage while with the Tigers in 2013. Infante makes great contact, rarely strikes out and his counting stats should see a bump if his teammates start turning things around in May. Second base is filled with surprises at the top (Brian Dozier, Anthony Rendon, Neil Walker, Dee Gordon are the top four in points' leagues entering Sunday), and the position lost one of its strongest preseason players in Jason Kipnis. Infante makes for a fantastic pickup no matter the format, and I expect him to provide around 60 runs and 60 RBIs when it's all said and done.

Fallers

Pablo Sandoval (73.9% ESPN, 85% Yahoo)

There are some slow starts I'm not worried about (Robinson Cano, David Wright and Matt Carpenter to name a few), but I'm very concerned about the early-season production of Kung Fu Panda. Sandoval's best contribution thus far has come in the form of an Instagram, in which the struggling Giants third baseman posted a slimmer version of himself in spring training. The 27-year-old entered Sunday with a .175 batting average and .546 OPS, including two home runs and six RBIs in 28 games. April is normally one of his better months (career .300 BA), so the slow start is definitely worrisome. Sandoval's contact rates are down across the board, including a 78.1 percent contact rate on pitches inside the strike zone (down from 86.7 percent). The slump has even triggered manager Bruce Bochy to move down the .293 career hitter to the sixth spot, where his runs and RBI opportunities will suffer. I expect Sandoval to turn it around eventually (he's been unlucky with a .208 BABIP), but it might not be enough to justify using him as your third baseman in 12 or even 14-teamers. He isn't someone I'm targeting to buy low.

Matt Adams (100% ESPN, 82% Yahoo)

I was pretty high on Adams entering the season, but I've been disappointed by the slugger's start to the season, which includes just two home runs and eight RBIs in 30 games. He blasted 17 dongs in 108 games in 2013, and I thought we might see 25-30 from the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder in a full season. That's looking like a real long shot right now, and despite a solid .333/.350/.482 in 117 plate appearances, I'd be looking to move the Cardinals first baseman as soon as possible. Adams is among the league leaders with a .409 BABIP, but where is the power? As FanGraphs' Mike Petriello points out, Adams is making an effort to go to left field as teams implement an extreme shift to the pull side. Petriello also points out that "each and every one of his 20 career homers have gone to center or right field," which means we're witnessing a tradeoff for a higher batting average and fewer big flies. That's fine if you're the Cardinals, but as a fantasy owner you drafted Adams for home runs and RBI production. I'd much rather buy low on Allen Craig if I'm looking to acquire a St. Louis position player. Adams' fantasy value is suffering as a result of his new approach. I still think he can reach 20 home runs, but see if you can sell that unsustainable batting average.

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