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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
Twins pitcher Brian Duensing struggles in outing Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(1:41 am ET) Twins pitcher Brian Duensing struggled through his start Monday against the Red Sox, allowing six runs on eight hits in just one inning of work.

It was Duensing's first true rough start of spring training, after allowing just one run in his last seven appearances.

'"He couldn't make pitches, he got behind. But he's had a good spring overall. Things kind of snowballed on him," manager Paul Molitor said to the Star Tribune. "We just couldn't get him through that inning. I'm willing to let that go by. Obviously, you don't want to see that for anybody, but he’ll be back out there."


Red Sox C/1B Mike Napoli homers in win over Twins
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(12:30 am ET) Mike Napoli of the Red Sox homered Monday in the team's 14-2 win over the Twins, reports MLB.com.

Napoli's homer was a broken-bat homerun and he talked about it after the game.

"I watched the video on it," said Napoli. "It looked like I got the barrel to it. My at-bat before, when I shot the ball to right field, he kind of got in a little bit on me. That's probably where it broke there."

"It was just a weird feeling," said Napoli. "The bat exploded and it was just kind of sitting there. It's a weird feeling any time you do that. I don't know. I can't really explain it. I was just kind of running around the bases like, 'What just happened?'"

Napoli, 33, hit .248 last season with 17 home runs and 55 RBI. 

 


Rockies P Rex Brothers struggles again in loss to Athletics
by Dave Peters | CBSSports.com
(3/30/2015) Rockies pitcher Rex Brothers struggled again in his latest outing against the Athletics, per MLB.com. The Rockies fell to the Athletics an 11-2 loss on Monday.

After only giving up one run and two hits in his first five appearances, Brothers has yielded six runs on five hits with five walks in his last three outings (2 2/3 innings pitched).

The 27-year-old lefty finished the 2014 season with a record of 4-6 posting a 6.07 ERA with 55 strikeouts and 39 RBI.


Report: Dodgers sign P Freddy Garcia to minor-league deal
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/30/2015) The Dodgers have signed pitcher Freddy Garcia to a minor-league contract, according to a report from MLB.com

Garcia spent 2014 pitching in Taiwan, and was with the Braves and Orioles in 2013 before that. He has a career 4.15 ERA since entering the majors in 1999. 


Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts rips eighth double of spring training
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/30/2015) Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts continues to rip through pitchers in spring training. Bettes went 2 for 3 with a double, one RBI and three runs scored for Boston against Minnesota Monday. 

Betts now has eight doubles this spring with a blistering .467 average in 45 plate appearances.


Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson gives up one run in outing Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/30/2015) Red Sox pitcher Justin Masterson went 5 2/3 innings Monday, allowing just one run on five hits with four strikeouts against the Twins.

Masterson is now 2-1 this spring with a 3.50 ERA in five appearances.


Royals P Jason Vargas gives up five runs in win over Rangers
by Jason Butt | CBSSports.com
(3/30/2015) Royals pitcher Jason Vargas gave up five earned runs in five innings in Monday's 11-7 win over the Rangers. 

Vargas surrendered seven hits, one walk while striking out five batters. His ERA this spring is now 9.68. Vargas struck out five batters but gave up four home runs. 


Blue Jays pitcher Daniel Norris posts eight strikeouts Monday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/30/2015) Blue Jays pitcher Daniel Norris recorded eight strikeouts over six innings of work Monday against the Astros. Norris allowed four runs on five hits in the outing.

"I'm actually glad that happened tonight, just being able to bounce back and make the adjustment in-game," Norris said to MLB.com. "It was a good finish. It was one of those nights where 90 percent of the mistakes I made got hit. That's baseball, I guess."

Norris has posted a 3.28 ERA in 24 2/3 innings of work with a team-leading 29 strikeouts in spring training.


White Sox pitcher Zach Putnam tosses straight scoreless appearance
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/30/2015) White Sox pitcher Zach Putnam continues to make a push for a role in the bullpen. That journey continued Monday, throwing his fourth consecutive scoreless appearances after giving up eight runs over 3 2/3 innings in his first four games of spring training.

"I feel as if it's been there since the start of camp, but what changed was the frequency with which I was throwing it," Putnam said to MLB.com. "I was going into at-bats early on trying to kind of work on my fastball and polish my cutter just a little bit.

"When you are not fine with those pitches and guys are coming in taking massive hacks trying to hit homers, as they are sometime in Spring Training, I got hurt a lot. As soon as I figured it out and started throwing it more and setting up hitters the same way I set them up during the season, things fell into place for me."


Orioles comfortable with Everth Cabrera at short
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(3/30/2015) Orioles GM Dan Duquette gave Everth Cabrera a vote of confidence on Monday. 

With expected starting shortstop J.J. Hardy missing the start of the season with a strained muscle in his shoulder, Duquette was asked if the team was in the market to acquire a shortstop. 

"We signed one just before camp opened," Duquette said, per MASN Sports. Cabrera signed with the team as a free agent in late February. 

Cabrera has hit .238 this spring. 


 
 
 
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