If you're a dice player, you know exactly what six the hard way is, a 3/3. This is my spin on a 3 up 3 down piece. I'll identify players who are in the middle of hot streaks or possibly on the verge of doing their best Will Ferrell impression. I'll also look at those players who are currently disappointing owners. Over the past seven days, there have been numerous top performers, but has anyone been hotter than Edwin Encarnacion? Hit the jump for this week's edition of Six The Hard Way and find out!
Edwin Encarnacion- Over the past 7 days, Encarnacion has batted .435 with 5 home runs, 11 RBI, and 7 runs scored. Bringing those season totals to .320/9/24/16 respectively. He's fueled a Jays offense that was looking anemic. His ISO currently sits at an unsustainable .361 which is about .160 higher than his career average. However, the updated projections by ZiPS has his ISO normalizing at .246, good enough for 28 home runs, 61 extra-base hits total. That seems more reasonable as I doubt Encarnacion can hit the 58 bombs he's currently on pace for. He has 1b/3b eligibility in most leagues adding to his value. The stock is up on Encarnacion and while I don't encourage selling, I'm in it for the long haul, owners may be able to exploit the recent rash of injuries to third baseman around the league (Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval, Mat Gamel) & cash in on his hot start.
Carlos Gonzalez- The only week better than Encarnacion's. His seven day stretch included a .478 BA/ 5 HR/ 14 RBI/ 9 R. Gonzalez is a fantasy owner's dream no matter the format. His power/speed skill set is valuable no matter the league scoring, which is why I was thrilled to get him in the 3rd round of a 12 tm H2H league this year. But enough about me and my draft day steal, CarGo is firing on all cylinders right now. For those worried about a dip in his BA, I wouldn't, his BABIP is very sustainable, it's almost exact to last year's average and about 20 points below his career norm.
Bryan Lahair- Lahair just so happened to hit another home run while I was editing this post. His numbers aren't as gaudy as the previously mentioned E5 and CarGo, but Lahair is locked in at the plate right now. It's to the point where Cubs fans aren't asking every Chicago scribe when will Anthony Rizzo be promoted? Counting today's contest, Lahair has hit 5 home runs, drove in 8, and scored 8. Imagine what those totals would like if he had just a little lineup protection! Lahair is obviously benefiting from a great deal of luck, .545 BABIP, but there is no reason to believe he can't hit 25 or so home runs this year. For those wondering if he could be trade bait in order to free up a spot for Rizzo, I found this piece by Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times that addresses the issue.
Albert Pujols- I don't own Pujols in any league, so including him in this post is not an attempt to work some fantasy baseball voodoo. The Pujols watch is on, as he currently sits at 107 plate appearances without a home run. The sample size is small but his but his BB/K ratio currently sits at .43 (it's been dropping ever since it peaked at 1.93 in 2008). Just how dreadful is Pujols? His wOBA currently sits at .232, that is 200 points below his career norm. Looking at his plate discipline stats, he may be a bit unlucky as his contact rate is at 88%, just a tad higher than his career norm. But upon further review, I see that his O-Swing% (the percentage of pitches a batter swings at & misses outside the strike zone) is at an astronomical 40.8% and it's been trending the wrong way since 2007. They say great hitters like Pujols eventually find their way out of a slump, and while this may be true, I advise sitting him in daily leagues until it happens. Those in weekly leagues with a more consistent replacement certainly wouldn't be criticized for doing the same.
Adrian Gonzalez- Lets stick with the theme of struggling first baseman. A-Gonz has gotten off toa very slow start and is one of the reasons the Red Sox offense has been as inconsistent as it has. Gonzalez has shown very little power, with an ISO rating of .120. Last year Gonzalez experience a dip in power but it was attributed to a surgically repaired shoulder. If that's the case, what is the cause for this year's lack of extra-base hits? Gonzalez showed a remarkable ability to take balls the other way last season. A look at this year's hit chart, which can be found here shows Gonzalez only has 6 hits at home that are from left-center to left field. I don't recommend benching Gonzalez, the Sox offense has been significantly better than the Angels, but it is worth monitoring his production over the next several weeks.
Jose Reyes- In his last 35 at bats, spanning 10 games, Reyes has recorded 7 hits, 1 run, 1 RBI, and 1 stolen base. That's not exactly the type of production people were expecting from the #2 fantasy shortstop heading into the year. He has recorded more walks than strikeouts, the only reason his OBP is over .300, but Reyes owners must be extremely frustrated at this point. The Marlins as a team currently rank 28th in batting average, 27th in on base percentage, and 24th in slugging. The futility is team wide as they rank second to last with 78 runs scored on the season. Reyes is going to have to do a better shop of getting on base and putting himself in scoring position as it's clear he can't rely on the rest of the supporting cast at this juncture. But if you're looking for a bright side to this story, at least he's not injured!