Welcome back to the latest Hot/Cold column, with your friendly resident Brit pinch-hitting for The Artful Dodger once more. Since this column regularly seems to begin with a bit of soccer chat (notice how I resisted the temptation to say “football”), I feel duty-bound to point out that my team, Newcastle United, are on a bit of a hot streak themselves. Granted, it’s no longer in the top-flight of English football (oops – that one just slipped out!), but still …
Enough of that — it’s time to look at those guys who have been particularly hot in the month of September. This week, for the “hot” selection, I will focus on the guys who don’t have the kudos of the bigger names, but, on current form, are going to be a lot more help over the final two weeks than some of the “superstars”. Conversely, the “cold” list will include some of those big names who have firmly hit the wall. Let’s get to it!
(Stats as of 09/18/09)
Rajai Davis – September stats: 25/63, 14 R, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 9 SB, .397 AVG
Now that he has made the lead-off spot his own, Davis is stealing like there is no tomorrow, with a massive 28 SBs since the All-Star Break. Nine of those have come this month, whilst hitting almost .400 with the bat. Obviously, with hits and stolen bases coming at this pace, the runs are also mounting up, and he’s even throwing in a contribution in RBIs! This is a guy who is owned in only half of Yahoo leagues but could make a significant contribution in helping you pick up a point or two in the stolen base category in your league.
Chris B. Young – September stats: 16/53, 8 R, 6 HR, 10 RBI, 0 SB, .302 AVG
Young is one of those guys who has, so far, failed to build on an excellent rookie season. He’s been pretty miserable for the whole of 2009 — with the exception of the last couple of weeks, where he has suddenly re-discovered the power that produced 32 HRs in 2007. Just as encouraging is the fact that his AVG is sitting at .300 over the same period, although he is still striking out a little too much. But if you need a little pop from your OF, forget about the lack of production for most of the year, and enjoy Young’s resurgent September.
Cody Ross – September stats: 20/63, 6 R, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 1 SB, .317 AVG
Over the last two weeks, only one batter has more RBIs than Cody Ross: Albert Pujols. As the Marlins fight to cling on to their hopes of a Wild Card, Ross is doing all he can, by getting the hits when it matters — with runners on base. Batting mostly at #6 in the order will continue to give him plenty of RBI opportunities over the stretch, and he’s proving that he will take those opportunities when they arise.
Hideki Matsui – September stats: 18/45, 7 R, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 0 SB, .400 AVG
Godzilla is ending his season with a flourish, batting .400 through September, which, considering the lineup he plays in, is resulting in lots of RBIs and a fair helping of runs. He will lose OF eligibility next year, becoming DH-only, which will arguably end any real value he has in fantasy (think Gary Sheffield this year), so make the most of it now! Be aware, though, that he will miss the odd game here and there, even as the Yankees’ DH.
Ryan Rowland-Smith – September stats: 3 starts, 2-1, 23.0 IP, 7 ER, 11 Ks, 2.74 ERA, 1.13 WHIP
There are several pitchers who have better stats than Rowland-Smith in September, but there’s not much point talking about the universally-owned Zack Greinke here! So instead, here’s a guy who has had five straight quality starts, pitching 8 innings in three of the last four. The one loss mentioned above happened when he failed to get any run support, going down 3-0 to the Angels. He has three more scheduled starts (@ Tampa Bay, @ Toronto and home to Texas), none of which are particularly scary. If he continues to work deep into games as he has been doing, all three are eminently winnable.
Shane Victorino – September stats: 15/65, 5 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB, .231 AVG
Victorino has been stuttering so far this month, a continuation of a disappointing September. The stats tell the story — it’s a bunch of mediocrity to date (compare his September stats to those of Rajai Davis for a stark contrast!) I don’t think there’s too much to worry about long-term, but short-term, I would be starting someone like Davis over him, particularly as there may be more days off to come as the Phillies get ever-closer to clinching the division.
Mike Napoli – September stats: 3/27, 2 R, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB, .111 AVG
Napoli is still getting the lion’s share of the starts behind the plate for the Angels, but only just, and if his September performance is anything to go by, that situation could change at any moment. His AVG has dropped by a massive 32 points since mid-August, and as that drops, so has his fantasy contribution, and so has his playing time. Bottom line: pretty much any starting catcher on another team will give you better production than Napoli in the next couple of weeks, so it’s time to say goodbye to him.
Ryan Franklin – September stats: 5 games, 0-2, 4.1 IP, 2 SV, 2 BS, 6 ER, 4 K, 6 BB, 12.46 ERA, 3.23 WHIP
After an outstanding season in which Franklin had blown only two saves through the end of August, he’s matched that total in what has been a shocking September so far. He’s given up 6 ERs in five appearances, blowing two saves and almost throwing another one away as well. The 6 walks issued have been part of the story, as has been the .400 BAA. He’s still avoiding giving up any HRs, so chalk this up to a bad couple of weeks, and don’t worry too much; I don’t see him in any danger of losing the closer role.
Brian Fuentes – September stats: 9 games, 0-2, 6.1 IP, 5 SV, 2 BS, 5 ER, 4 K, 7 BB, 7.11 ERA, 3.00 WHIP
Unlike Franklin, reports are that Fuentes’ job is in danger, or at least that he will share the role over the remainder of the season. It’s understandable, as, whilst Franklin’s September is an aberration in his season, Fuentes has been up and down all year. In fact, although he had only blown 5 saves before September began, he also has only had two months all year where his ERA has been below 5.00. Perhaps his luck has run out — he is being hit exceptionally hard this month (.400 BAA), and it is also the first time this year where he has issued more walks than strikeouts. Proceed with caution from here on out.
All done for another week — not long to go now before those championships are decided! Best of luck to all who still have a shout of winning their leagues, and especially to all teams about to enter the two-week H2H Playoff finals. Ray will be back again next week, so until then, be champions!
Chris Routledge is one of a growing number of Brits infiltrating the Cafe, and is the double reigning champion of the H2H World Series, much to the chagrin of token Cafe Padres fan, wrveres. Catch up with him in the Cafe under the username chris8.
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