Thursday, August 29, 2013
Bits: Brandon Moss showing power stroke
By Eric Karabell
I suppose it's understandable that many readers thought I had lost my mind when I admitted it wasn't outrageous for Oakland Athletics first baseman Brandon Moss to hit 30 home runs this season. Back in spring training, I had asked Moss whether he was capable of this feat. Of course he was going to say yes -- what would he say? -- and I didn't look at the possibility as ridiculous. After all, Moss hit 21 home runs in roughly half a season of at-bats last season, and playing time seemed more guaranteed in 2013.
Well, after bashing a pair of home runs among his four hits and knocking in six runs Wednesday, it appears that Moss is more than capable of reaching 30 home runs. He's at 24 now with a month left, and while he wasn't a coveted fantasy commodity back in March for standard formats -- and perhaps in any format -- he deserves to be owned in more than his current 66 percent of ESPN leagues for his recent performance alone. Moss is hitting .315 over the past 30 days, with seven home runs and 17 RBIs. Of the 10 players with more home runs in this time period, only Miguel Cabrera and Will Venable -- of course those guys belong in the same sentence -- have hit for a better batting average.
With only a few days left in August, it's well past the time for fantasy owners to disregard season numbers and look at recent trends. Yes, Moss is a career .252 hitter in more than 1,300 at-bats, and he's hitting .252 this season. Forget what you know about a player's past to a large degree, because Moss' journeyman history and low batting averages tell us nothing today. He's hitting now. That's what fantasy owners should be tempted by. Moss homered off Justin Verlander on Tuesday, and the lefty hitter took a pair of lefty pitchers deep Wednesday (Juan Alvarez, Drew Smyly), so he seems pretty locked in. Surely a contending fantasy owner can find room on a roster for someone like this.
[+]Enlarge AP Photo/Mark J. TerrillRicky Nolasco ranks second among all pitchers on the ESPN Player Rater over the past 30 days.
Box score bits (NL):Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Ricky Nolasco fanned 11 Chicago Cubs over eight shutout innings Wednesday, lowering his ERA with his new team to 2.20 over 10 outings. That's outstanding. So why is this guy still available in 20 percent of ESPN standard leagues? Speaking of the Dodgers, they signed former San Diego Padres walks-heavy pitcher Edinson Volquez, and he figures to replace lefty Chris Capuano in the rotation soon. Unlike Nolasco, who is thriving since being acquired, you don't want Volquez. His ERA this season is 6.01, and it was 5.72 at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton homered Wednesday, giving him four blasts in August and 17 for the season. Disappointment? Well, he's not likely to hit 30 home runs, but if healthy in 2014, he surely will. His improvement in walk rate is a good thing. Colorado Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin took a no-hitter into the seventh inning at Coors Field on Wednesday, the longest by a Rockies pitcher at home ever (in 1,516 starts). He ultimately allowed one hit and an unearned run. There has been only one no-hitter at Coors (thrown by Hideo Nomo). Chacin has had a solid season, with a 3.08 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, and while he has been considerably better in road starts (2.19 ERA), he remains usable at Coors Field (8-3, 3.71 ERA). Atlanta Braves second baseman Dan Uggla returned from his DL stint Wednesday and singled in three at-bats. Uggla underwent corrective eye surgery, and with his power track record, he should be owned in most leagues. It's tough to ignore how good Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton has been in August, compiling a 2.68 ERA over six outings, three of them wins. Morton didn't allow an earned run against the Milwaukee Brewers on Wednesday. Three of his next four scheduled starts seem attractive (Brewers, Cubs, Padres).
Box score bits (AL):Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland hit his 20th home run of the season Wednesday, and while he might never be a batting average force, anyone capable of hitting 30 in a season is worth owning. He's capable. Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson possesses little power, but he stole another base Wednesday, his seventh in nine games and 26th on the season in 62 games. That's impressive. If the Royals ever give Dyson 500 at-bats, wow. Royals catcher Salvador Perez bashed a pair of home runs Wednesday, giving him four in four days, and 16 RBIs in 10 games. His 11 total bases Wednesday are the most in a game by a Royals catcher ever. Rotating the hot catcher in your lineup in standard leagues is always wise, and this is now a hot catcher. More Royals! Lefty Danny Duffy replaced Wade Davis in the rotation and tossed 6 2/3 shutout innings at Minnesota, striking out seven without any walks. Duffy, an intriguing prospect returning from Tommy John surgery, isn't safe to own this week if you're a contender in a redraft format, but he's certainly a player to watch in 2014. Athletics lefty Brett Anderson is always a player to watch, but he's rarely on the mound. On Wednesday, he returned from a two-month absence from a foot injury and saved the game with three rather unimpressive innings. Anderson is slated to remain buried in the bullpen, but his future should lie as a starter. You don't need to add him in a standard league in 2013. New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano (hand) is hoping to start Friday, but in the meantime, Mark Reynolds made his first start at the position since the minor leagues in 2007, and it went without incident. Starter Hiroki Kuroda was pounded for seven runs (five earned), but Reynolds, who had three of the five Yankees hits, was fine defensively. He might be heating up at the plate, and honestly, how much damage can one guy do to your season batting average at this point? Spot start alert: The Seattle Mariners will call up right-hander Taijuan Walker to face the Houston Astros on Friday. Walker is one of the top pitching prospects in the game, and that's not exactly a juggernaut offense he'll face.