Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers: Lorenzo Cain, Kyle Gibson and More

Ed Zurga

Identifying risers and fallers in head-to-head points' leagues for Week 13, including Lorenzo Cain and Kyle Gibson.

Risers

Lorenzo Cain, Royals

Cain's greatest value comes on defense, but the right fielder is quietly enjoying a breakout season at the plate. It's easy to overlook batting average contributions in fantasy, but that's where Cain has provided the most value so far. His .315/.354/.420 slash represents a career best, thanks largely to a .382 BABIP, but I still feel comfortable projecting a .280 BA the rest of the way (he's a career .275 hitter with a declining strikeout rate). Over the last 30 days, Cain has helped fuel a resurgent Kansas City team with a .319 BA and .344 OBP, to go along with eight runs, one home run and 17 RBIs. With Norichika Aoki (groin) landing on the 15-day DL, expect Cain to receive the majority of the playing time in the outfield alongside Alex Gordon and Jarrod Dyson. Cain is a solid No. 4 outfielder and still available in 86 percent of Yahoo leagues and 75 percent of ESPN leagues. I prefer Cain to Curtis Granderson (86 percent owned in ESPN), Yangervis Solarte (55 percent) and Denard Span (32 percent).

Kyle Gibson, Twins

Gibson is much better suited for the points' league player, where his 13.5 percent strikeout rate is offset by a low number of walks and quality innings. Gibson has gone seven innings in each of his last three outings, allowing no runs and nine hits in 21 frames. He even struck out eight Red Sox the last time out, but that was likely an outlier than future predictor. Still, I can't help but be intrigued by a .227 BAA, 55.8 percent groundball rate and 34.2 percent O-Swing%. (Over the last 30 days, he has the second highest O-Swing%, behind Zack Greinke.) Gibson has already been worth 1.5 WAR, according to FanGraphs, tied with Andrew Cashner and Justin Verlander. The Twins right-hander has been a rock at home, holding opponents to a .213/.274/.245 slash line, and he owns a 1.54 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 41 innings at Target Field (compared to a 4.93 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 42 innings on the road). I would avoid Gibson in a K/9 league, but start him in all home contests.

Fallers

Alfonso Soriano, Yankees

Soriano had a monster 2013, blasting 34 home runs -- including 17 in 58 games with the Yankees -- marking his second consecutive season with 30-plus long balls. Many expected the veteran to continue his power assault at New Yankee Stadium in 2014, but so far Soriano has been held to just six home runs in 62 contests. That really puts his impressive finish to 2013 in perspective. Soriano has been virtually unplayable in even the deepest of leagues, as he currently holds a .231/.255/.389 slash line with 21 runs and 23 RBIs. That puts him on pace for 13 home runs and 50 RBIs (in 2013, he drove in 101), which would be his lowest totals since joining the league (His previous full-season lows were 18 home runs and 73 RBIs in 2001.) Soriano's value is even worse in points' leagues, with an ugly 64:6 K:BB ratio in 208 at-bats. Dumping Soriano -- if you haven't already -- should be a no brainer, but the 38-year-old is still owned in 43 percent of ESPN leagues and 46 percent of Yahoo games. What are you waiting for?

Leonys Martin, Rangers

I had high hopes for Martin entering the season, but the 26-year-old outfielder has to be considered a disappointment for his lack of production in Texas. He's basically in line to replicate his 2013 season, when he batted .260/.313/.385 with eight home runs, 66 runs, 49 RBIs and 36 steals. ZiPS projects Martin to finish with a .270 BA and .325 OBP, along with seven home runs, 65 runs, 44 RBIs and 32 steals. The on-base skills have been just above league average, and regression (.354 BABIP) could push that OBP number down even more. He is showing more patience at the plate (5.5 percent walk rate in 2013, 7.3 percent in 2014), but his strikeout rate has climbed over 23 percent. With little power and the only real contribution coming in steals, Martin is better left as a fourth or fifth outfielder in standard formats. He enters Tuesday with an 89 percent ownership in ESPN leagues and 66 percent in Yahoo -- numbers I think are too high. You can get by with Martin, but see if you can dangle him as part of a multi-player trade if you don't need the speed. But, keep in mind, this suggestion is more of a hold than flat-out drop.

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