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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
Giants manager Bruce Bochy sticking with Casey McGehee at third
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:46 pm ET) Giants manager Bruce Bochy knows the struggles of third baseman Casey McGehee. The veteran, who was moved to seventh in the batting order for Friday and Saturday's games, is hitting just .163 with a home run and two RBI in 43 at-bats. Bochy wants McGehee to get his confidence back, reports the Mercury News.

"If I think he needs a couple days, we'll do that," Bochy said. "He's out there today and I think he needs to know that we're with him."


Yankees' Chase Headley finding his way in the batting order
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:42 pm ET) Yankees third baseman Chase Headley is finding the transition to New York to be easy so far, according to NJ.com.

Headley, heading into Saturday's game, is hitting .242 with two home runs and nine RBI in 66 at-bats. 

"It's fun to just be another guy in the lineup," Headley said before the game Saturday against the Mets. "I feel like guys aren't game planing against just me. There's other guys in the lineup they have to worry about."

Headley is glad that his so-so start to the season isn't effecting everyone else in the batting order.

"If you're going to do that, there are other guys who can get you," Headley said of opposing pitcher game-planning against one hitter in the Yankees' lineup. "There's consequences with that."


Astros' Brett Oberholtzer tosses three innings in extended spring
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:27 pm ET) Astros pitcher Brett Oberholtzer was able to throw three innings in an extended spring training game Saturday, according to The Houston Chronicle.

Oberholtzer, who is currently on the 15-day DL after picking up a blister on his left index finger, may be back with the big league club in a couple weeks. He posted a 5-13 record in 2014 with a 4.39 ERA and 94 strikeouts in 143 2/3 innings.


Astros' A.J. Hinch not concerned with Pat Neshek's slow start
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:21 pm ET) Astros reliever Pat Neshek hasn't had the best start to the 2015 season. The veteran has a team-high 5.87 ERA with three home runs allowed in 7 2/3 innings. Neshek also struggled Friday, allowing a two-run shot to Marcus Semien in the bottom of the 11th.

With all the problems, manager A.J. Hinch remains optimistic Neshek will figure it out, according to the Houston Chronicle.

"He hasn't gotten away with too many mistakes and I think that’s unfortunate for him and ultimately unfortunate for us," Hinch said. "You want him to make better pitches. … It's not (always) going to be that way for him, if he hangs a slider every time it’s hit out. But it feels like that in the early going. One of the home runs, I think the one he gave up to (Albert Pujols on April 19 at Minute Maid Park) was a little more of a fly ball. The ball last night was hit pretty well."

Neshek has recorded 10 strikeouts without allowing a walk so far this season.

"I don't make too much of it," Hinch said. "I think he's tough on righthanded hitters. He's had little stretches in his career where he's given up a little bit of damage and responded fine. Regardless of the couple home runs that he's given up, I don't think right handed hitters will be comfortable when he’s coming in."


Angels' Mr. Freese shows Friday he's still hot in the clutch
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:21 pm ET) There is nothing cold about Mr. Freese. Angels third baseman David Freese has been consistently hot since the bell rang to start the season - at least in terms of production - and Friday night was no exception. He slammed his fourth home run, a game-winning two-run shot in the seventh inning.

The blast gave Freese hits in 12 of his last 16 games and six RBI in the last five. His 13 RBI on the year ties him for sixth in the American League. His .250 batting average is at its highest point since April 12.


Rays' James Loney hits homer on Friday after return from DL
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(6:19 pm ET) James Loney returned from the disable list on Friday and hit his first home run, a two-run shot, since Sept. 9 in the Rays' victory over the Blue Jays.

"It's fun being back out there again," Loney said. "I'm just glad it's over." 

Loney's 15-day stint for a strained right oblique was his first-ever trip to the DL.


Yankees pitcher Nathan Eovaldi looking to build off strong outing
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:13 pm ET) Yankees pitcher Nathan Eovaldi is hoping to continue his hot start Sunday when he takes the hill against the Mets. Manager Joe Girardi is hoping to see more of the same, including his devastating slide, reports The Journal News.

"I saw in Detroit the best slider I've seen him have. I thought it had great depth," Girardi said. "I thought he threw his curve ball well. They had a predominantly right-handed lineup, so maybe he didn't throw as many splits as in some of the other games. Probably as important as anything, I thought he pitched inside to them. You throw 95, 96 and you're able to pitch inside for strikes and a little bit off the plate, guys aren't really comfortable. That's really important."

Eovaldi is 1-0 with a 3.12 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings pitched this season.

"I think sometimes because he's been up a few years, people forget about how young he really is," Girardi said. "He's a young starting pitcher. He's still developing. When you learn how to do some of the things he’s learning how to do, it just makes you that much more effective."


Blue Jays' Justin Smoak hits second HR in three games in Friday's loss
by Ted Leshinski | Staff Writer
(6:12 pm ET) After entering the game as a defensive replacement in the seventh inning, first baseman Justin Smoak connected for a ninth-inning solo home run in the Blue Jays' loss to the Rays on Friday.

It was his second home run in three games.

Rays C Rene Rivera makes rare contribution with Friday blast
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(6:12 pm ET) Rays catcher Rene Rivera only joined his team's hit parade against Toronto once Friday night, but he had a "blast" doing it.

Rivera slugged his first home run of the season, a two-run shot to center that landed 421 feet from the plate. The tater only served to brighten a still-dismal slash line of .143/.186/.232, but Rivera has managed four hits in his last five games.


Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes in Carlos Beltran getting going
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(6:07 pm ET) Yankees veteran outfielder Carlos Beltran isn't hitting well to start the 2015 season. Beltran is hitting a lowly .173 and just 6 for 39 batting left-handed. After going with Chris Young over Beltran in the lineup Saturday, manger Joe Girardi had words of encouragement for the veteran, according to The Journal News.

"I know he's frustrated," Girardi said. "He had a couple big hits the other day. It's been a little bit harder left-handed for him, but I really believe he's going to get going. I do. He probably needs a break here and there and it will start happening for him."

Beltran also sat out two games last week due to an illness and Girardi was worried he wasn't ready to come back when he did.

"I'm sure it hasn't helped," Girardi said. "I thought he was still somewhat weak in Detroit. At the end of the road trip, he still had a little bit of a chest cold. I think he's better now. He's really important to our offense and we have to get him going."


 
 
 
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