KFFL.com's Fantasy Baseball Diamond Market gives you candid reviews and ratings of fantasy baseball players making MLB news in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball leagues. Are they trade bait? Are they worth your FAAB dollars in your fantasy baseball games?
Most frequently added in leagues polled
SS Derek Jeter, New York Yankees
Bailey will be closing again soon
Many formats with few disabled list spots were hosting The Captain on their free-agent list. The news that Jeter's belongings (gift baskets?) were shipped to the Bronx prompted a scramble for No. 2's services. The Bombers need his potential in the lineup, where he's batting second today.
He looked OK at the outset in his first few plate appearances, but remember that recovering from an ankle fracture depends on how quickly one regains playing strength and lower-body drive. Will that start rolling after nine farm at-bats? Maybe they're using this weekend as an extended tune-up because of the All-Star break.
Expecting a prorated total of the 15 homers he clubbed last year, regardless of health, was already lofty. Settle for the ceiling of a BA approaching .300 after an up-and-down battle, but it's safe to wonder whether this offense helps pad his runs and RBIs as much as it did in the past.
OF Michael Brantley, Cleveland Indians
Fantasy owners are revisiting their late-May love of MB, this time while trying to hop on his July run of 12-for-33 with two homers (both on July 7), eight RBIs (five on that day), seven plate crossings and a swipe. He's mostly hitting fifth for the Tribe, not a bad spot for someone with his contact skills, though it'd be optimal if he were hitting near the top.
Leaving the yard isn't typically a part of his game, but in what could be the start of his breakout years, its development wouldn't be shocking, because he's already old by baseball standards. As noted during his first waiver feature, Brantley will provide stability at the back end of any fantasy outfield.
SP Jeremy Hefner, New York Mets
Notice his last nine starts: 2.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP with 49 K's in 56 frames. He hasn't coughed up more than three earned tallies in any of those. What the....
He's still susceptible to the long ball, and his batted-ball allowance hasn't differed much from last year, outside of a promising increase of pop-ups by about 2 percent. Run support and wins won't help him, but he's aiding himself as much as possible.
OK, maybe he's learning from the coaches, too: He's rotating his torso more during his delivery (a la A.J. Burnett, it would seem), which breeds more deception in his offerings. It's improving his punchout ability (7.04 per nine so far compared to 5.96 last year) to continue his monthly command growth.
His advanced metrics say this won't last, but the Mets secretly have made a habit in recent seasons of extracting excellent stretches from formerly discarded pitching assets. Don't dismiss the possibility that he's the next one, at least for the balance of this campaign.
Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled
RP Andrew Bailey, Boston Red Sox
If you caught Hot off the Wire yesterday, you saw that John Farrell hinted at the importance of the BoSox relievers sliding back into their "normal roles." Hmm. Bailey's normal job involves closing games, right?
Ramirez is back in bigs
One big fix has fine-tuning his important breaking pitch: His cutter had backslid into a slider this spring, and a tweak made by him and the coaching staff a few weeks ago restored it to look like a cut fastball once again.
The righty hasn't yielded a run or walk over his last three outings (4 1/3 frames). As well as Koji Uehara has done in the role, Bailey's reputation, regardless of his struggles, works in his favor for working back into save chances. Here's a chance for a sneaky, difference-making grab.
SP Ivan Nova, New York Yankees
Since rejoining the rotation four starts ago, Nova has compiled a 2.45 ERA with 28 K's, six walks and a 0.92 WHIP in 29 1/3 innings following an eight-frame, one-run gem Wednesday. He's now fanned 54 in 52 frames this year. In throwing 17 innings in his last two starts, he's used just 207 pitches.
Efficiency has been missing from his talent, which resembles that of a front-end starter. He's still posting solid first-strike attack rates and has displayed a positive, downward trend in opponents' contact over the last three years. His fastball velocity is up nearly 1 mph, per PITCHf/x, and his curveball has become lethal in terms of producing empty hacks.
It's hard to think Nova loses his spot in the quintet if he keeps going at this pace. David Phelps (forearm) seems like a better fit for a swingman, anyway, and the off-chance of a Phil Hughes trade would protect both anyway. Nova may be hovering near the doorstep of combining the positives from his 2011 (3.70 ERA) with those from 2012 (8.08 K/9) over a full campaign, and that would bolster many a fantasy staff.
SP Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle Mariners
The Eraser's first start Thursday versus the Boston Red Sox isn't the optimal time to try him, but putting him on your bench to test him out puts you ahead of others scared to grab him.
The 23-year-old has been lauded among the fantasy community as one of the next big things, with just cause. Of his tosses, 53.1 percent hit the zone, which if he had qualified would've sat among the league leaders last year. He touches the mid-90s with his four-seamer, and Ramirez boasts a diverse arsenal, including a jaw-dropping changeup. The 8.66 K/9 he posted at Triple-A Tacoma says he can at least sustain the 7.85 he showed in the rotation in 2012, a vast improvement on his farm record.
He could stand to generate more ground balls and tends to try climbing the ladder once too often, which could cultivate homer issues. (Safeco Field hasn't played as pitcher-friendly as it had been in recent times thanks to its renovations, either.) It'll take careful navigation and conservative sequencing to revisit the excellent 14.8 percent rate of infield cans of corn from last year.
How quickly will that happen? It'll seem that pundits will peg him as the second coming of Pedro Martinez, but for this summer, his ceiling will more resemble a tempered, abridged incarnation of Kris Medlen v.2012, which still deserves some love.
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, he appears on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursdays and Sundays, and every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.