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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
Ryan Raburn triples in only run of game for Indians
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:54 am ET) Ryan Raburn hit a pinch-hit triple to drive in the only run of the game in the Indians' loss on Friday. 

Raburn came to the plate in the ninth inning and got his first triple, and 14th RBI, of the year off of Seattle closer Fernando Rodney. 


Seth Smith provides all of Mariners' runs with homer
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:52 am ET) Mariners designated hitter Seth Smith hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning to provide all the offense in a 2-1 win over Cleveland on Friday. 

"You are working aggressive and hoping to get something over the plate,” Smith said. “You don’t know what it’s going to be, but you just hope you are in a good place for a good swing."

Smith went 1 for 3 with a walk. His homer gave him five on the year, to go with 13 RBI. 


Angels RP Joe Smith had stiff neck on Friday
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:51 am ET) Angels manager Mike Scioscia said reliever Joe Smith was unavailable for Friday's game against the Tigers due to a stiff neck, according to the Orange County Register.

Smith hasn't pitched since Tuesday, and his status for Saturday's contest is uncertain at this time. The veteran right-hander has a 3.80 ERA over 21 1/3 innings this season.


Shaky Fernando Rodney earns 14th save for Mariners
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:50 am ET) Mariners closer Fernando Rodney couldn't preserve the shutout, but he earned his 14th save in Friday's win over Cleveland. 

Rodney allowed a run on one hit and a walk in the ninth inning. He struck out one and was able to save Seattle's 2-1 win. 


Trevor Bauer drops to 4-2 with loss for Indians
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:48 am ET) Indians starter Trevor Bauer suffered a loss, Friday, against Seattle. 

Bauer dropped to 4-2 on the year, giving up two runs on six hits over seven innings. He walked three and struck out 10. 

Bauer's next start is Thursday, at Kansas City. 


Taijuan Walker moves to 2-5 with win for Mariners
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:46 am ET) Mariners starter Taijuan Walker improved to 2-5 with a win, Friday, over Cleveland. 

Walker pitched eight shutout innings, allowing two hits. He didn't walk a batter and struck out eight. 

"I think he’s taken a step forward in his last two outings,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He worked fast, he threw strikes and worked ahead in the count. He did everything we asked of him

His next start will be Wednesday, against the Yankees. 


Chris Carter drives in two runs for Astros
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:45 am ET) Astros first baseman Chris Carter had two RBI in Friday's loss to the White Sox. 

Carter went 2 for 4, lifting his average to .185. His two runs driven in gave him 26 on the year.  


Gordon Beckham homers, drives in two for White Sox
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:43 am ET) White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham hit a pinch-hit sacrifice fly in Friday's win over Houston. 

Beckham remained in the game and went 1 for 2, with a solo home run. The homer was Beckham's third, and the two RBI gave him 13 on the year. 


White Sox's Jose Abreu leaves game with finger injury
by Shawn Krest | CBSSports.com
(1:41 am ET) White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu left Friday's game in the eighth inning, with a finger injury. 

Abreu was 2 for 4 with a run scored when he left. He was taken to the hospital for X-rays, per Comcast Sports Net Chicago

Abreu said he initially hurt the finger about two weeks ago and has been playing through it. 


Padres SP James Shields goes six strong innings in no-decision
by Jason Lempert | Staff Writer
(1:41 am ET) Padres starter James Shields was effective, if not brilliant, in a no-decision on Friday. Shields went six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out six as the Padres walked off on the Pirates 6-2. 

The only runs Shields gave up on Friday came on a two-run single by Pedro Alvarez in the third inning. Shields then proceeded to retire 11 of the final 12 batters he faced before exiting in the seventh.

Shields (6-0) lowered his ERA to 3.69 and has pitched six innings or more in each of his last five starts. He'll take on the Mets at home in his next start on Wednesday.


 
 
 
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