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Setting the Trends: King Felix, 2.0?

Senior Fantasy Writer
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In Back to the Future Part II, an old Biff Tannen travels to the past to deliver a copy of the Grays Sports Almanac to himself, in order to help him win a bunch of money gambling and live a more comfortable life.

Most Added Players (as of 5/30)
Player % increase
1. Ernesto Frieri, RP, Angels 30
2. Roy Oswalt, SP, Rangers 28
3. A.J. Ellis, C, Dodgers 25
4. Felix Doubront, SP, Red Sox 21
5. Homer Bailey, SP, Reds 20
6. Dayan Viciedo, OF, White Sox 19
7. Tyler Clippard, RP, Nationals 17
8. Carlos Quentin, OF, Padres 15
9. Andy Pettitte, SP, Yankees 14
10. Jarrod Saltalamacchia, C, Red Sox 14

We often talk about predicting the future in Fantasy, but here's a harsh fact: even if we knew the results of every baseball game this season, it still might be tough to take that information and use it to win a league.

Say, for instance, that we discover Tom Wilhelmsen manages 20 saves on the season. Unless we know which game he started getting the saves, the information could turn out to be useless. Should we start him every game? Should we have picked him up as a Draft Day guess and kept him activated? Wilhelmsen, it might turn out, went nutty in August and set a record in 2012 for saves in a month (20). But if all we knew was that he gets those 20 saves -- and not when -- it could do more harm than good having him sit in our lineups every day.

So what's the point of this sci-fi digression? That situational and split stats matter, to a degree. Hidden beneath 162 games of data are little quirks that can help us divine some Fantasy knowledge. For a pitcher like Ervin Santana, who has massive home/road splits buried beneath his overall numbers, knowing where the good numbers came from could be a tremendous boost for a Fantasy owner, and could help explain why some players are seeing jumps in ownership at otherwise random-looking times during the season.

On to the Roster Trends!

Most Added Highlights

Less than 50, more than 50
Players owned in less than 50% of leagues who should be owned in more than 50%
Player % owned
1. Jordan Schafer, OF, Astros 49
2. Brian Fuentes, RP, Athletics 48
3. A.J. Burnett, SP, Pirates 46
4. Stephen Drew, SS, Diamondbacks 41
5. Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays 36

Felix Doubront, SP, Red Sox
Jump in ownership: 20 percent (from 45 percent to 65)
Reason for the jump: Doubront is 5-2 with a 3.86 ERA through 10 games and is in the midst of a two-start week.
Why you should join the crowd: Besides getting off to a spectacular start in 2012, Doubront has relief pitcher eligibility in most CBSSports.com formats, allowing owners in H2H points leagues to rack up starting pitcher value from a RP slot. For those owners looking at Doubront as a starter, he's been surprisingly effective so far this year. He has also managed to throw a little over one strikeout per inning.
Devil's Advocate: Doubront's minor league numbers were good, but they didn't indicate anything that would translate to wild success in the majors. Additionally, his 1.36 WHIP suggests that his ERA may currently be a bit low, meaning he could be due for a correction. On top of all that, the Red Sox have Daisuke Matsuzaka and Andrew Bailey coming back from injury soon, which could create a crunch of both a direct (Matsuzaka will require a spot) and indirect (Bailey could push Alfredo Aceves to the rotation, sending Doubront to long relief) nature.

Jeff Francoeur, OF, Royals
Jump in ownership: 14 percent (from 60 percent to 74)
Reason for the jump: Francoeur has four multi-hit games in his last six.
Why you should join the crowd: Blink and you missed Francoeur's batting average rise from .235 (on May 19) to .282 (on the 28th). Of his five home runs on the season, four have come in the last seven games. He even picked up his first steal of the season against the Orioles. Francoeur put up a 20-20 campaign in 2011 and has as many as 29 home runs in a single season.
Devil's Advocate: Those 22 bases he stole last year marked the first time in Francoeur's career that he produced double-digits in the category. And while he has a lifetime batting average of .271, that number has dipped as low as .239 during his career. He's streaky and can be one of the more frustrating players in Fantasy, rotating from extremely cold to extremely hot without warning. So beware. His season may look great in September, but there may be plenty of peaks and valleys along the way.

Thanks, But No Thanks
The five most deactivated healthy players
Player decrease in start %
1. Henry Rodriguez, RP, Nationals 31
2. Ricky Nolasco, SP, Marlins 25
3. Hiroki Kuroda, SP, Yankees 24
4. Brandon League, RP, Mariners 24
5. Edinson Volquez, SP, Padres 23

Gordon Beckham, 2B, White Sox
Jump in ownership: 15 percent (from 28 percent to 43)
Reason for the jump: Beckham entered May with a .153 average; as of Tuesday, it sat at .224.
Why you should join the crowd: Beckham, a former first-round pick, has turned his season around in the month of May. He's hit .264, with five home runs and 14 RBI. His OPS jumped .300 points over April, going from .434 to .763. Over the last 14 days, Beckham ranks as the seventh-best second baseman in Fantasy.
Devil's Advocate: Before the recent hot streak, Beckham was experiencing a three-year slide in nearly every offensive category (from 2009 to 2011). His average went from .270 to .252 to .230; His RBI, doubles, OPS, and walk totals all dropped over the three-season span while his at-bats increased. In fact, if the season ended today, his OPS would be only slightly higher than it was last year and his average would be the lowest of his four-season career.

Roy Oswalt, SP, Rangers
Jump in ownership: 10 percent and rising (from 29 percent to 39)
Reason for the jump: Oswalt has signed with the Rangers.
Why you should join the crowd: Oswalt isn't really a big mystery. Over 2,154 innings pitched, he has a career 3.21 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He's a three-time All-Star who has finished in the top five for Cy Young voting on five separate occasions. The only mystery right now is how long it will take him to get in to playing shape (guessing it will be three or four weeks).
Devil's Advocate: Oswalt's career splits at Rangers Ballpark: 2-5, 4.78 EA and 1.44 WHIP in eight starts. Granted, that's playing against the Rangers, not playing with them, but when you run into a pitcher of Oswalt's caliber, you have to look somewhere for the downside to it all.

More than 50, less than 50
Players owned in more than 50% of leagues who should be owned in less than 50%
Player % owned
1. Delmon Young, OF, Tigers 53
2. Phil Hughes, SP, Yankees 54
3. Russell Martin, C, Yankees 56
4. Jake Westbrook, SP, Cardinals 58
5. Trevor Bauer, SP, Diamondbacks 60

Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Mariners
Jump in ownership: Nine percent (from seven percent to 16)
Reason for the jump: Wilhelmsen looks to be the favorite for saves in Seattle with Brandon League being demoted to setup duty.
Why you should join the crowd: Besides being an awesome story -- Wilhelmsen was out of baseball for six years, backpacking around the world and serving as a bartender in Arizona -- he does look like the early favorite to get saves in League's absence. So far this season, he has 30 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings pitched.
Devil's Advocate: Wilhelmsen also has a 4.44 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. Furthermore, League hit a bit of a bump last year and responded by not allowing a run from May 17 to July 5. So while he has a great story (the movie will end with Wilhelmsen pitching in the ALCS with a full count in the bottom of the ninth to Daniel Nava), it's not the most ideal of scenarios: Wilhelmsen has some pretty high ratios, manager Eric Wedge indicated that he would let matchups dictate who comes in for saves, and League could take a week off and come right back into his closer role.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Report: Giants my look at Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(6:14 pm ET) The Giants may look into acquiring Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, according to Gammons Daily. 

Gammons notes that several general managers believe the club will deal prospects to acquire the 33-year-old Zobrist. San Francisco is currently slated to start Joe Panik at second, but Zobrist can play multiple positions. It's unclear where the Giants would elect to use Zobrist the most. He hit .272/.354/.395 in 570 at-bats last season. Zobrist is entering the final year of his contract, and is due $7.5 million next season.


Report: Yankees have yet to be informed of Hiroki Kuroda's plans
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(5:57 pm ET) The Yankees have yet to be informed of pitcher Hiroki Kuroda's plans for next year, according to the New York Times.

A Hiroshima newspaper reported Kuroda will return to Japan next season, ending a seven-year run in the United States. The 39-year-old posted a 3.71 ERA over 199 innings with New York last season. Kuroda had signed one-year deals the past couple of offseasons so that he could return to Japan when ready.


1B Clint Robinson hooks up with Nationals
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(4:05 pm ET) The Nationals have signed first baseman Clint Robinson to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Robinson had been in the Dodgers organization. He compiled a strong .312/.401/.535 slash line at the Triple-A level a year ago.


Report: RHP Hiroki Kuroda heading back to Japan
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(3:58 pm ET) Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda is heading back to Japan, thereby ending his career with the Yankees, per various reports.

Kuroda, who will be 40 years old in February, pitched seven seasons in the major leagues, including the last three in the Big Apple. He finished 2014 with an 11-9 record and 3.71 ERA.


Astros LHP Downs, IF Petit heading to Fresno
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(2:07 pm ET) The Astros have outrighted left-hander Darin Downs to Triple-A Fresno after having cleared waivers. 

The team has also announced that infielder Gregorio Petit has accepted an assignment to Fresno. He and Downs are set to join the squad in spring training.


Nationals taking chance on 2B Dan Uggla
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:48 am ET) Second baseman Dan Uggla, who has spent most of his recent years creating a breeze at the plate, has signed a minor league deal with the Nationals with a spring training invite.

Uggla received a career-low 141 at-bats last season with Atlanta and San Francisco. He compiled a disturbing slash line of .149/.229/.213 with 46 strikeouts. His batting average has fallen in each of the last four years.


Diamondbacks bring in LHP Dan Runzler
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:57 am ET) Left-hander Dan Runzler did not stick around in Japan for long. He spent the last two months of the 2014 season there, but is back in the states after signing a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks.

Runzler compiled a 3.30 ERA and fanned 53 in 46 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level for San Francisco last season before bolting to Japan.


RHP Juan Gutierrez remains with Giants
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(10:52 am ET) The Giants have re-signed right-hander Juan Gutierrez to a minor league contract. The deal likely includes an invitation to spring training, per Baseball America.

Gutierrez appeared in 61 games for San Francisco in 2014, compiling a 3.96 ERA and allowing 60 hits in 63 2/3 innings.


Darin Downs outrighted to Triple-A Fresno
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(9:41 am ET) The Astros sent left-handed reliever Darin Downs outright to Triple-A Fresno. Downs made 45 appearances with the Astros last season. He posted a 5.45 ERA, a 1.36 WHIP and 27:19 K:BB ratio over 34 2/3 innings.

Report: Diamondbacks sign Jordan Pacheco to minor-league deal
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12/25/2014) The Diamondbacks will re-sign infielder Jordan Pacheco to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, MLBDailyDish.com reports.

Pacheco hit .255/.299/.333 in 153 at-bats between Colorado and Arizona in 2014. He made appearances at catcher, first base, second base and third base last season.


 
 
 
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