In virtually all scoring systems, Dozier has been a top-10 hitter so far this season. The 27-year-old is getting on base more often than he has in the past, but the extra trips to first are not coming from an unusually high batting average or BABIP. Instead, they are coming from a patient approach that has allowed Dozier to draw more walks. More walks means more chances to swipe bases. In fact, Dozier's current BABIP is lower than his mark in 2013. His power numbers are a little inflated right now, and as they come down, his rate of collecting RBIs and runs scored should also decrease.
The best advice for Dozier owners is to explore trade options. It is a good idea to trade him for an established, elite hitter. But any return short of that standard is not enough to take a chance on missing out on a special season.
Is Prince Fielder a buy-low candidate? Or is the jump in ground-ball percentage saying something?
Fielder has been a pain in the neck for fantasy owners, and now we know why. A herniated disk in his neck has been lingering in recent weeks, and Fielder feels that it could be sapping some of his power at the plate. The higher rate of ground balls is definitely a concern, but the neck injury could have been affecting his swing.
For now, Fielder owners will need to hang onto him and hope that the nerve-root injection he received over the weekend starts to solve his problems. Trading Fielder right now would mean selling very low. He was a second-round pick in most leagues, and it would be hard to get more than fifth-round value in a trade. The flip side is that trading for Fielder could represent a smart buy-low opportunity if he bounces back. Owners who are near the top of their league standings do not need to take this chance. Those owners should continue to use their successful roster and make small changes along the way to a championship run. But owners who are languishing in the middle or bottom of the standings should try to trade for Fielder at a discount. If he heats back up this summer, he could help teams ascend in the standings. There is no prize for finishing in seventh place.
Justin Masterson: Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Or is it just the oncoming train?
Masterson ranks as one of the most frustrating fantasy starters. At times in 2013, we saw how dominating Masterson can be when he is on his game. This season, he has allowed zero runs in two starts, but he has also been tagged for five or more runs on five occasions.
The question on Masterson leads to valuable advice on how to manage a fantasy pitching staff: When in doubt, avoid the disasters. Wins are fickle, and strikeouts will be there at the end of the season for owners who stay active and maximize their allotted starts/innings. Successfully managing a fantasy pitching staff is all about trying to avoid the disastrous starts that blow up a team's ERA and WHIP in one bad night. Masterson is the poster boy for pitchers to stay away from. Even if he logs a couple quality starts, the next seven-run disaster could be just around the corner. To win a league, it is more important to avoid the bust pitchers than to find the breakouts. Masterson owners should kick him to waivers and look for a replacement with a more consistent portfolio.
Does Robbie Ray stay up for good? Or will he be demoted soon?
Ray was having an excellent season in Triple-A when the Tigers came calling for a temporary replacement for Anibal Sanchez. Now that Sanchez is back, Ray's stay in the Majors should hinge on the status of Rick Porcello's oblique. Porcello's next start has been pushed back a couple days, which will give Ray another spot start.
For his long-term development, the Tigers will want Ray starting every five days at some level, so when Porcello returns, they are unlikely to put Ray in the bullpen this early in the season. And for the good of the team, Ray will need to stay stretched out so that he can be ready if needed again this season. If another Tigers starter requires a DL stint, Ray will certainly have mixed-league value. But the best guess at the moment is that he will soon end up back in Triple-A and on waivers in mixed leagues.
I proposed Chase Utley and Charlie Blackmon for Nelson Cruz and Brandon Moss. Good deal? I need a second baseman in a 14-team league; I currently have tons of first basemen/outfielders.
In terms of pure value, it is a fair deal. In terms of roster need, it seems like a good deal, since you are deep with first base/outfield options, and Utley fills a hole in the lineup.
The side getting Moss and Cruz is getting more certainty, as both players have established themselves as reliable power options. Utley has a lengthy injury history, and at age 35, it is hard to imagine that he will not require at least one brief DL stint at some point this season. Blackmon has been the best player in this trade so far this season, but he is also the biggest regression candidate, as he has the shortest track record of success.
Taking risks is part of fantasy baseball, and this is a trade worth making. In the end, the health of Utley and the regression level of Blackmon will decide the success of this deal.