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Can I Rely On These Streaking Hitters? Gordon, Moss, Frazier, Alexei and VMart

Let’s take a look at some raking hitters who having been filling up the stat sheet. All of these guys have performed as top 25 hitters this season but none of them were ranked in the top 100 hitters prior to the season. Will they be able to continue shining brightly or will they fade to black? Should you trade for them, hold onto them or sell high?

Dee Gordon — 34 Runs, 1 Home Run, 19 RBI, 36 Steals, .280 AVG (Yahoo Overall Ranks: #268 preseason, #26 now)

Coming into this season Gordon was a post-hype prospect who generated very little enthusiasm among fantasy owners. The Dodgers gave Cuban defector Alex Guerrero $26 million to take over second base this year but during Spring Training they felt he would need some extra time to improve on his defense, giving Gordon the chance to hold down the job for a short while in the meantime. But Gordon shocked everyone by going on an epic hot streak for the entire month of April. That combined with Guerrero’s freak ear injury sustained in a fight with a teammate in the minors should enable Gordon to remain in the starting lineup for quite some time yet. Can he keep up the excellence?

All of 2011 – .686 OPS
All of 2012 – .561 OPS
All of 2013 – .612 OPS
April 2014 – .821 OPS
May 2014 – .620 OPS
June 2014 – .681 OPS

Gordon’s stellar month of April was a clear outlier compared to the rest of his career. Don’t expect him to be a good hitter in the future. Gordon is not a young prospect any more. He is already 26 years old and well beyond the age where we would expect to see any major improvement at the plate. He is never going to hit for any power. With the stick Gordon is a huge liability for your team in terms of batting average, home runs and RBIs. On the basepaths however he is fantastic. At his current pace you can expect him to steal about 75 bases for the full season, which is enough to win your team the SB category in your roto league nearly single-handedly. Gordon has large lefty-righty splits, hitting a pathetic .217/.260/.238 vs LHPs for his career compared to .281/.327/.371 vs RHPs. Not only does he struggle mightily to hit against lefties, he doesn’t steal many bases against them either. That is not a big surprise given it is much harder to steal against lefties than righties. I am not optimistic regarding Gordon’s long term value. Verdict: Flash in the Pan. Bench him vs LHPs. Shop him on the trade market to contending teams that need Steals.

Brandon Moss — 32 Runs, 16 Home Runs, 53 RBI, 1 Steal, .267 AVG (Yahoo Overall Ranks: #194 preseason, #32 now)

The 30 year old Moss has been in the major leagues off and on since 2007 but until recently had never really gotten a fair chance to play. This is his 8th season but he has totaled only 1610 ABs in his career, barely 200 per year. He has the reputation of a guy who is a decent part-time platoon hitter who isn’t good enough to earn an everyday starting role. That must be the reason why his preseason rank on Yahoo was only #194 and #210 on CBS, even though he hit a whopping 30 home runs last year and was a top 40 hitter in fantasy leagues! Maybe now people will finally start to realize that Moss is a legitimately talented hitter who deserves to be valued much higher than he is. People are under the impression that Moss is having a breakout season, but in reality he broke out two years ago in 2012 when he hit .291/.358/.596 for a .954 OPS with 21 homers in only 265 ABs. He followed that up last year with a .256/.337/.522 slash line for an excellent .859 OPS with 30 homers in 446 ABs. This year he has finally been given a chance to play every single day without being pinch-hit for against LHPs and he has continued to rake at a .267/.361/.552 clip for a .913 OPS with 16 home runs in 221 ABs. Brandon Moss is not a fluke. He is a star. Verdict: Fantasy Gold. Use him with confidence. Don’t sell high on this guy.

Todd Frazier — 39 Runs, 14 Home Runs, 34 RBI, 6 Steals, .272 AVG (Yahoo Overall Ranks: #227 preseason, #34 now)

Frazier may have one of the most unorthodox swings you will ever see, although he did hit a home run with no hands. He also has woefully poor pitch recognition skills that leave him flailing at unhittable breaking balls low and outside. But despite these flaws he still manages to satisfactorily rack up the fantasy stats for his owners. He is slashing .272/.348/.511 for an .859 OPS. He doesn’t sit in the top 10 in any statistical category but he contributes nicely in all of them, even stolen bases. After his breakout 2012 campaign Frazier struggled last year, especially in batting average at .234. But he still managed to score well enough in the remaining categories to be worthy of starting in fantasy lineups. Some of his struggles last year can be blamed on unlucky BABIP and HR/FB rates, so it is not surprising that his stats have picked back up now that those rates have returned to normal. In fact he is on pace to hit 35 home runs this year. I doubt he gets that many but 25-30 long balls is highly likely — and that has a ton of value in today’s low power environment. Moving forward I wouldn’t expect to see any drastic changes from what he is doing now. He is 28 years old and already in his prime years so I don’t see any major improvements coming. Verdict: Solid fantasy starter for several years to come.

Alexei Ramirez — 34 Runs, 7 Home Runs, 36 RBI, 12 Steals, .311 AVG (Yahoo Overall Ranks: #191 preseason, #28 now)

The 32 year old Cuban defector is playing better than he ever has, putting out career-best rates of  .348 wOBA, 117 RC+ and .790 OPS while also stealing bases faster than he ever has. Ramirez is at the top of his game right now. The only one of his peripherals that is significantly out of sync with his career rates is his .338 BABIP, which is 40 points higher than normal. What this tells me is that his stats this year are not flukish, although perhaps we should expect a slight regression as the season progresses. He is healthy and playing at the best of his abilities. In recent years his home runs were steadily declining while his stolen bases were steadily increasing. This year his power has returned and he is still stealing lots of bases. So it is the best of both worlds. How long can he keep this up? I don’t know, but I can say there are not any big red flags hiding under the surface waiting to ruin his performance. He has always been a good fantasy player and this year has gone really well for him. Consider this an extended hot streak, but he is still a good player even when he is not streaking. Verdict: The Real Deal, but getting to an age where some decline will be expected. If your team is contending you should keep him and ride him. If your team is rebuilding you should sell high on him.

Victor Martinez — 29 Runs, 16 Home Runs, 41 RBI, 2 Steals, .329 AVG (Yahoo Overall Ranks: #156 preseason, #21 now)

Just like with Ramirez, VMart is playing better than he ever has. He is way above his career averages across the board. We shouldn’t expect him to continue to hit at the superstar level he is right now, but even after he cools off he will still be very good. He has always been a very good hitter. He has a .304 career batting average and has been amazingly consistent year after year after year. After being a perennial early round draft pick in fantasy leagues for a decade, Martinez’s stock has been way down the last few years. There are three good reasons for this: he missed the full 2012 season due to a devastating knee injury, he no longer qualifies as a catcher and he is now 35 years old. Those things haven’t stopped him from being a potent hitter, so leverage those facts to pry him away from his owner in your league. An owner who isn’t in contention for a championship this year would likely be willing to sell high on Martinez. Hitters with a swing as sweet as Martinez’s can often succeed into their late 30’s (like David Ortiz or Carlos Beltran), so I don’t think Martinez is close to being finished just yet. You can count on him to bolster your lineup for a few more years. Verdict: Fantasy Stalwart. If your team is contending you should keep him and ride him. If your team is rebuilding you should sell high on him.

If you missed Time to Worry About These Struggling Aces? or Unexpected Aces or Trade Targets be sure to read those columns too.

If you have any questions about any other players ask them in the comments below. I will reply ASAP!

Nick Doran writes all kinds of cool stuff about the game’s ultimate flamethrowers at Blazing Fastball. Follow Nick on Twitter @BlazingFastba11.

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Nick Doran

Nick Doran


  1. […] fantasy owners rely on streaky hitters like Dee Gordon, Brandon Moss, Todd Frazier, Alexei Ramirez, and Victor Martinez? […]

  2. Will
    June 14, 2014 at 9:50 am

    What are your thoughts about Allen Craig? Thanks

    • June 14, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      I am not a fan of Allen Craig. I think he has always been a bit overrated as a fantasy player. His value is tied up completely in his batting average and RBI. He doesn’t hit many home runs and he doesn’t steal bases at all. He is a weak option for your first base slot. His BABIP is 50 points below his career average this season, so I would expect to see his batting average steadily improve as the season progresses. RBI are a team-based stat and Craig’s teammates are not getting on base very much this year, which is going to limit his RBI opportunities severely. Craig is also an extremely injury-prone, non-athletic player whom you can’t count on to stay healthy and produce for you down the stretch. He doesn’t have a whole lot of trade value at this point, so I would use him sparingly for now and sell him after his next mini hot streak.

  3. Will
    June 14, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Also curious about your thoughts on Hosmer. I’m competing for a title and need to decide if I should ride it out with these two guys or swap them out…can they both be this bad when the dust settles? tnx

    • June 14, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      I am also pessimistic regarding Eric Hosmer. He has been an extremely streaky hitter throughout his career, even in the minors. He will go on extended slumps followed by extended hot streaks, but so far the slumps have trumped the hot streaks. He has proven that he has the talent and skill to be a good hitter, but he just hasn’t been able to exhibit that skill consistently. He is still only 24 years old and far from a finished product. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him develop into an upper crust hitter, but I wouldn’t bet my team’s fortunes on it.

      I am not trying to crap on your players, I am just trying to help you out.

      To answer your question about whether you should stick with Hosmer and Craig this year or swap them out, I have mixed feelings and I can see why you are perplexed on what to do. It is a tough choice. I guarantee you thousands of other fantasy owners are debating the same choice as you are. On the one hand they could both break out at any point and carry you to victory, on the other hand they could continue to struggle and sink your hopes. Since your team is contending for a championship this year I would be inclined to try to upgrade both of them with a more reliable player, especially if you can get an older veteran like Victor Martinez on the cheap from a non-contending team. I would hold onto Craig and Hosmer on your bench if possible. Wait for them to heat up and then either start them or trade them. Their value just isn’t high enough right now to justify selling them at a price far lower than it was 2 months ago.

      After you make your decision be sure to report back here to let me know how it turns out.

  4. Matthew
    June 14, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Thank you! These articles are very helpful in knowing which players to trust and which players not to. What are your thoughts on Bret putting Brandon Moss at 82 on his most recent update? The players ahead of him are Cespedes, Andrus, Wacha, with Reyes, Tanaka, and Hosmer behind him.

    Thank you!

    • June 14, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Thanks Matthew. I think Bret’s placement of Moss at number 82 is wise. If these were single-season rankings Moss would rank higher because he is a near-elite quality hitter right now. But for dynasty league rankings it is reasonable to rank him behind players who are several years younger or who play hard to fill positions like shortstop.

      To a team that is contending for a championship this season I think Moss has more value than Hosmer or Cespedes. To a rebuilding team however their values would flip flop.

  5. New to keeper
    June 14, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    5×5 Roto 6 keeper (price = pick)

    Jumped ship on Gyorko, and just traded Rendon. Am in need of a MI.As I don’t know if Wong is that guy yet.

    Am in 1st and contending

    C – Lucroy/Rosario
    1B – C.Davis
    2B – Prado
    3B – Encarnacion
    SS – Andrus
    CI – Freeman
    MI – Wong
    OF – JUp/Rios/Pence/Martin/Aoki
    UTIL – Seager
    BN – Kemp
    DL – Victorino

    P – Felix/Hamels/Samardzija
    P – Melancon/Allen/Qualls
    P – Chamberlain/Kennedy/Cashner
    BN – Hudson/Kluber/Wilson
    DL – Hunter

    Limited in what i can trade as

    OF – have just acquired JUp and could arguably use help not take away here
    SP – most of my core has been gotten on the WW, which tells you their trade value.

    I am looking at trading Seager. but I don’t know what I can get for him in MI. Maybe a Zobrist or a Brett Lawrie? Any thoughts?

    • June 15, 2014 at 3:05 am

      I would use Kemp in the starting lineup over either Aoki or Martin. Your starting pitching looks very solid to me. If you are looking to make a deal then Justin Upton is the guy I would shop around because his strikeout rate is scary and portends tough days ahead.

  6. Mike13
    June 14, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    How should I deal with Billy Butler?

    • June 15, 2014 at 3:01 am

      I would hold onto Butler. He won’t be great but he has turned the corner I think. He has returned to form and is likely to hit at his career rates for the remainder of the season. His final totals will be down due to the putrid first two months of the season though. Moving forward, his fantasy value will exceed his trade value. That means you are better off keeping him than trading him. Be sure to start him against all left handed pitchers and bench him against tough right handed pitchers.

  7. Tron
    June 16, 2014 at 6:52 am

    On the flip side, is this a good time to buy Starling Marte? If I can sell Alex Gordon high and a pitching prospect for him, I am wondering if that isnt a good deal.

    • June 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      I think that is a fair trade. Marte is 5 years younger than Alex Gordon, which is a big deal in dynasty leagues. Performance wise the two players have similar overall value. Both are quality supporting players on a fantasy team and are not star-caliber players and won’t become star players either. Marte’s fantasy value comes almost exclusively from his stolen bases, whereas Gordon is a more well-rounded stat accumulator. Marte is much more valuable in roto leagues than in points leagues. Gordon’s value is the same in both types of leagues. If your team needs steals I would go for Marte. If your team needs home runs or RBI you should go for Gordon. If you play in a points league I would keep Gordon over Marte.

  8. Will
    June 17, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Thanks for your earlier replies re: Hosmer and Craig. I’m holding them both since I don’t think I can get anything real for them right now anyway…what do you think about Charlie Blackmon? You a buyer for the long term yet? Can the power keep up? Would you trade Craig straight up for him?

    • June 18, 2014 at 3:37 am

      Hi Will. I am not a buyer on Blackmon. His hot streak is over. He had a great April but a sub-par May and June. He is fantastic at Coors Field and he sucks everywhere else. I am guessing it would take more to acquire him than he is worth. I think trading Craig for Blackmon is a fair deal, especially if you will have the luxury of using Blackmon only when he is playing at home. Is Craig in your starting lineup most days or on your bench? If he is a bench player for you then yes I would trade him for Blackmon. On a good note, Hosmer has played a little better lately.

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