At the end of every Fantasy week, I'll take a look at some of the most interesting names on the most-added players list, with an eye on their future.
It's not 2011 anymore
It is a testament to how desperate for saves Fantasy in category-based formats are for saves that Kyle Farnsworth is the most added player in CBSports.com leagues over the last week. Farnsowrth was named the team's closer earlier in the week and subsequently saved two games in a three-game span, justifying the decision of Fantasy owners to add him for at least 72 hours.
Of course, Farnsworth's second save saw him allow a run on three hits before closing out the inning, so even the good times haven't been so good. Farnsworth posted a 4.70 ERA a year ago, the followup to an equally subpar 4.05-ERA campaign the year before. He is the best of a bunch of bad options in New York, and still might not last more than a few weeks pitching out of the ninth inning. Especially with how much manager Terry Collins has been talking up the possibility of using other pitchers to close.
Pick Farnsworth up as a streaming option, and be ready to drop him as soon as a better option presents itself. That might have happened Friday, with Mark Melancon (38-percent owned) likely to see time as the Pirates closer. He's a far better option to contribute consistently.
Could be a nice fill-in
Ernesto Frieri puts Fantasy owners in a tough position every year; he is too potentially dominating not to be owned, but he'll cause nightmares when times are bad. He lost his job in Friday, with Smith being tabbed to step up in his place, at least until Frieri figures his issues out. For what it's worth, manager Mike Scioscia seems to have faith in Frieri figuring it out; a 2.79 ERA over four seasons will do that.
For now, Smith should be a fine option, and certainly a better one than the 38-year-old Farnsworth up there. He might not spend more than a few weeks in the role, but he should see more chances to save, and has a better recent track record than Farnsworth. Smith's ERA is over 3.00 for the first time since 2010, so consider him a fine streaming option.
A resurgence that could last
After some frustrating, subpar seasons, we're getting a vintage Justin Morneau performance to open the season. Even if it's Coors Field-inflated, Morneau looks rejuvenated so far, posting a .349/.371/.602 OPS though Friday's games; that .973 OPS represents his highest for a month since May, 2010.
Morneau is being boosted by a .353 BABIP that helps explain his inflated batting average, but doesn't do much to mitigate his solid performance overall. He is hitting the ball with authority so far while avoiding strikeouts, and he still gets to play half of his games in a terrific environment for hitters. Morneau might be someone you watch the splits for and keep active only when the Rockies are at home, but there's enough value to make him worth hanging on to.
A young player taking steps forward
Something interesting has happened in the first 90-plus games of Ozuna's major-league career; he has almost completely changed what made him successful in the minors. Coming up in the Marlins' system, Ozuna was an all-or-nothing hitter, striking out in at least 21.3 percent of his plate appearances in each minor-league season, often eclipsing that mark with room to spare. He made up for his high strikeout numbers by posting a .213 ISO in six seasons, with 20-plus home runs in each of his final three full seasons.
After 384 plate appearances in the majors, that number has settled at 19.5 percent; according to research done by BaseballProspectus.com, strikeout rate tends to stabilize after around 130 plate appearances. Whether we have coaching or Ozuna's own maturation as a hitter to credit, it appears this is a real improvement. He has sacrificed a bit of power as a result, but still has a respectable .153 ISO this season, with one home run every 28 at-bats.
Even with these improvements, Ozuna probably isn't a .300 hitter. As Chris Cwik noted in his post on strikeout rate, it's pretty difficult to strikeout in every fifth plate appearance and still post much more than an average batting average. Still, Ozuna probably has 20-homer power, as well as more speed than he has shown this season, so double-digit steals aren't out of the question. If he can hit .280, Ozuna's got a chance to be a very helpful Fantasy option.
Not a breakout
Simon has yet to allow more than two runs in a start, opening the season with four quality outings in a row en route to a 3-1 record and 1.30 ERA. He's having almost as good a start to the season as Jesse Chavez, another converted reliever I emphatically suggested snagging a week ago. I am much less bullish in Simon's chances of sustaining his performance than Chavez, however, for a number of reasons.
Though both Chavez and Simon are older than your average breakout candidate, Chavez has at least made real changes to the way he approaches hitters. Simon, on the other hand, hasn't seen much of a change in pitch selection or effectiveness. He has seen a not-insignificant jump in groundball rate, but that is hardly enough to explain away his fast start. His strikeout and walk numbers are pretty much identical to a year ago, when he was working as a reliever.
Nobody can take the three wins and 1.30 ERA Simon has already posted; he's banked those. For Fantasy owners looking for help moving forward, however, he doesn't seem likely to be much help moving forward.