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Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers: Dexter Fowler, Evan Gattis and More

Identifying risers and fallers in head-to-head points' leagues for Week 8, including Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler and Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock.

Bob Levey


A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks

Pollock is on an offensive tear in the desert, slashing .391/.435/.734 over the last 30 days, including four home runs and six steals. He's separated himself from the pack in the crowded Arizona outfield, appearing in the second most games behind Gerardo Parra. Kirk Gibson can't sit Pollock, who already has five home runs and six steals in 141 at-bats. The 26-year-old was much more valuable with the glove than the bat in 2013, but his offensive game has really come to life with regular playing time. He hasn't shown this kind of power before (.231 ISO in 2013, .159 career), so expect something closer to 15 home runs and not 20. Still, he has the wheels to produce 20 steals as a full-timer, and a 15/20 outfielder is extremely valuable in any format. That's the kind of production Chicago was hoping for from Adam Eaton, who Arizona traded to the White Sox in the offseason. Still available in 70% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues, Pollock is someone I trust to produce even when Mark Trumbo returns.

Dexter Fowler, Astros

One look at Fowler's .263 BA and .393 SLG and it's easy to ignore Houston's starting center fielder. But sandwiched between those lackluster numbers is a .375 OBP, thanks to a career-best 14.2% walk rate. Fowler has been consistent in that area throughout his career, with a walk rate between 12-13% from 2011-2013. And he hasn't had an on-base percentage below .360 since 2010. For the third straight year, Fowler's strikeout rate has dropped, from 21.3% to 19.9% -- and he's chasing just 23.4% of balls outside the strike zone. That's the 28th best mark in baseball, better than the eye god himself, Joe Mauer (soon to be Kris dreamy). Fowler hasn't displayed much power (three home runs, six doubles), but the improvement in plate discipline helps make up for it. I'm not suggesting Fowler for anything more than a fourth outfielder, but I can see him finishing inside the top-35 outfielders in a points' format. He's still available in roughly 65% of ESPN and Yahoo leagues.


Evan Gattis, Braves

After a fast start that had his owners saying, "I told you so," Gattis has predictably regressed in the last calendar month. The catcher with big-time power and big-time whiffs has a .190 BA over the last 30 days. While he has four homers over that span, it's come at the cost of a .238 OBP. Gattis has also struck out 21 times and walked just five in those 79 at-bats. Now his owners are scrambling for replacements on the waiver wire, as players like Josmil Pinto and Dioner Navarro have higher rankings in points' leagues. I still view Gattis as a .240 hitter with sporadic pop and frustrating cold spells. He's striking out even more this year than last, and his walk rate is also down. This is who Gattis is, whether you like it or not. I have a hard time understanding why he's still owned in 96% of ESPN leagues while backstops like Yan Gomes (24.6%) and Derek Norris (27.7%) are so widely available.

J.J. Hardy, Orioles

I wish I could tell you what's really wrong with Hardy, and I welcome any suggestions in the comments below. Through 34 games, Hardy has yet to hit his first home run. This is a shortstop with 20-plus home runs in three straight seasons, including 30 bombs in 2011. His .062 ISO is by far the worst of his career. With only eight extra-base hits (all doubles), it's hard to recommend using Hardy in anything but deep leagues. In points' leagues it's been even more frustrating, as the 31-year-old veteran has drawn just four walks in 129 plate appearances. I still think a power surge is coming, but 20 home runs aren't happening. I'd take a chance on Arizona's Chris Owings, who is batting .275/.488/.797 over the last 30 days and can offer better all-around production, until Hardy shows signs of life.