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NL Only Fantasy Thoughts: Bryce Harper, Chase Headley, and Others

Ray Guilfoyle offers some thoughts on some NL-only players including Chase Headley, Trevor Rosenthal, Bryce Harper and others.


I have been slacking lately with the NL Only Fantasy Thoughts pieces, but my days aren't as busy this week, so here are my thoughts on some players in NL only leagues.

Chase Headley, SD

Headley came into the 2013 season coming off a career best 2012 season where he hit .286-.376-.498 with 31 HRs, 95 runs, 115 RBI and 17 stolen bases. His full season stats were bolstered by a second half where he hit .308 with 23 HRs and 78 RBI. His 2013 season has been hampered by a thumb injury suffered in spring training, and his power has suffered as a result. In 135 at bats this season, Headley is hitting .259-.365-.415 with 4 HRs, 9 doubles, 14 runs, 15 RBI and 3 stolen bases.

Coming into this season, my concern with Headley was that his 21.4% HR/FB rate last season was not repeatable, and thus far that has been the case, as his HR/FB rate has dropped to 11.8% this season. Headley has always been a much better hitter on the road than at home in his career, which comes as no surprise as Petco Park is known to be an extreme pitchers park. This season, Headley is hitting .318 at home and just .203 on the road, so I see him going on a hot streak real soon. Also of note is the fact that he usually hits left handed pitchers well, but this season is hitting just .214, albeit in 42 at bats.

Justin Upton, ATL

Last season was a disappointing season for Justin Upton owners as he badly underperformed power projections, mainly due to a thumb injury. This season, he is just three home runs shy of his total 2012 output, and it is only May 30th. Upton must have had a big chip on his shoulders to start the season, as he hit .298, with 12 HRs, 22 runs and 19 RBI in April, but has slowed down considerably in May, hitting .232 with 2 HRs, 15 runs and 10 RBI.

Unlike Headley, Upton is struggling to hit at home, as he is hitting just .225 with 7 HRs, 13 runs and 16 RBI in 71 at bats. The fact that the Braves have played just 19 of their first 49 games at home might have something to do with that. Even though the power has dropped in May, Upton is still on pace for 44 HRs and 90 RBI according to ESPN. I don't see him hitting 44 HRs, but do see him hitting 35+ this season, and I see the RBI total getting over the 100 mark.

Trevor Rosenthal, STL

Rosenthal started the season in the Cardinals bullpen and with plenty of hype as the Cardinals potential closer, as Jason Motte ended up needing Tommy John surgery, and his backup, Mitchell Boggs could not stop blowing saves, and was eventually sent to AAA to work on things. But, the young Rosenthal also struggled in April, and did not see a save chance as a result. Instead, Edward Mujica was given the closer job and has probably been the best closer in the NL behind Jason Grilli thus far. Mujica has been one of the bigger stories amongst fantasy owners, but lost in that story is how well Rosenthal has pitched since his early April struggles.

In 14.2 April innings, Rosenthal held hitters to a .271-.344-.379 triple slash, allowing 6 runs on 16 hits, 2 home runs, and a 19-4 K-BB rate. In 11.1 May innings, Rosenthal has held hitters to a .195-.250-.220 triple slash, allowing one unearned run on 8 hits and a 20-2 K-BB rate. He hasn't allowed an earned run since April 24th, a span covering 13.1 innings.

Bryce Harper, WAS

Harper had a crushing meeting with the right field wall in Dodger Stadium back on May 15th, and has played in eight games since then, going 9-37 with 2 home runs. He has sat out the last few games, and there is talk that he could be back on Friday. All this after there was talk that he may miss the weekend series with the Braves. With the Nationals struggling to a 27-26 record, 4.5 games behind Atlanta, I am sure Harper will be in the lineup on Friday night. How healthy he will be is another story, but he is the ultimate gamer. He is playing with bursitis in his right knee, which could impact his power production going forward.

Harper is having a fine start to his first full season in the big leagues, hitting .287-.386-.587 with 12 HRs, 29 runs, 23 RBI and 2 stolen bases. A very good start. But, lost in the overall solid stats is how well he is hitting left handed pitchers. Or, how he isn't hitting lefties, actually.

In 46 at bats against left handed pitching, Harper is hitting .174-.269-.348 with two home runs and a 12-6 strikeout to walk rate. Last season, he hit .240-.300-.415 with 6 HRs, 23 RBI and a 51-15 K-BB rate in 183 at bats. He is crushing righties which is a good thing, and the sample size vs lefties is small this season, but he will have to hit better vs lefties going forward or his batting average and power may suffer a bit.

Matt Harvey, NYM

We already know how good he is, right? Well, here is how he currently ranks among all starter in the majors through 5/29:

K/9 - 9.69 (8th)

ERA - 1.85 (4th)

FIP - 2.27 (4th)

BABIP - .228 (6th)

LOB% - 82.5% (13th)

With all that said, I am in dead last place in one of my NL-only auction keeper leagues, and yesterday I made my first bail trade. I own Harvey at $18 for this year and next, but I decided to trade him, along with a $33 Shin-Soo Choo and Nolan Arenado (no salary), for a $3 Anthony Rizzo ($8 next year), a $10 Lucas Duda and Mike Adams (no salary). I was reluctant to deal Harvey, but I already own Shelby Miller at $6 for this year and next, Jose Fernandez at $7 for this year and next and Zack Wheeler at $3 for this year and next. Oh, I also own Trevor Rosenthal at $1 for this year and next, so I think I am set with starting pitching, and Rosenthal has a chance to close at some point in the next year or so.

I wanted Rizzo as he is one of the better young, power hitting first baseman in baseball, let alone the NL. Owning him at $8 for next year, with $5 salary increases every year going forward, allows me to keep him for at least the next five years, assuming he is the 30 HR, 90-100 RBI bat that I traded for today.

How did I do in this deal?