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With 16 home runs since the start of May, Albert Pujols is on pace to surpass 40 home runs for the first time since '10. With just shy of 100 games left in the season, can Pujols at least reach 37 home runs, his tally in his final season in St. Louis ('11) - O/U 17.5 rest-of-season home runs?
Brandon – OVER. I'll say he gets to 37 exactly. The odds are probably slightly in favor of him finishing under given his age, recent health history and the fact that he hasn't really come close to this number in the three-plus seasons he's been in Anaheim. But he's reached this mark nine times in his career, and he's locked in pretty solid right now (6 BB and just 3 K in his past 71 at bats). Pujols is reminding us that when all is right with him, he's at least in the discussion of the best hitters in baseball.
Scott – UNDER, a shade under anyway. I wish I could see something that stands in line with the power trend. The plate discipline stats are the same, the hard-hit rate hasn't budged, Pujols is actually pulling the ball less often.
Dalton – OVER. Maybe his recent decline had more to do with health than most of us realized, because he sure looks back to being an elite hitter. I'm buying the resurgence.
Speaking of home runs, Texas rookie slugger Joey Gallo has four home runs in his first 13 games in Texas. Gallo averaged 41 home runs in his past two minor league seasons. Can he push half that total in his MLB debut - O/U 15.5 ROS home runs?
Brandon – OVER. He's going to K about a third of the time he comes to the plate but, as a three outcomes hitter, he's very likiely to walk or go yard the other two-thirds of the time. Adam Dunn made a living for 13-plus seasons hitting in the .230s with 35-45 home runs. I think Gallo is likely to be similar. Tons of Ks, low BA, but plenty of home runs. I think he'll have no problem reaching the mid-20s in that department.
Scott – UNDER for me. The strikeout rate, as expected, is immense, and I expect that whiff percentage to nudge forward as the league gets a book on him.
Dalton – OVER. It may very well come with a .220 batting average, but Gallo's power is legit, so he should be able to beat this mark.
Considered one of baseball's very top prospects, Byron Buxton punched his MLB ticket this week when the Twins finally called him up. Considered an eventual five-tool fantasy star, speed is his biggest calling card at the moment - 20 steals in 59 at Double-A before his promotion. Project Buxton's ROS impact in the Steals category as well as his Runs and Batting Average.
Brandon – .249, 47 Runs, 16 Steals
Dalton – .245, 35 Runs, 15 Steals
Scott –Ah, Buxton, where the buried treasure is waiting for you. Call it .246, 41 runs, 14 steals.
Cleveland called up top prospect SS Francisco Lindor this past week. Rank Lindor's expected ROS roto production among these widely available shorstops (SS-eligible) - Addison Russell, Erick Aybar, Chris Owings, Adeiny Hechavarria, Jung Ho Kang
Brandon – Here's my ranking: 1) Russell 2) Kang 3) Lindor 4) Aybar 5) Owings 6) Hechavarria
Scott – Lindor's Triple-A numbers were rather tame, but it's encouraging to see him bat second in his second game. I'd take him over Owings and Hechy, but not over the other three.
Dalton – I'd gamble on Lindor over all of these shortstops except Kang.
Billy Hamilton is the only MLB regular with more steals (31) than Runs (30). Gives us your season-ending projected total for Hamilton in each of those categories, and will his final batting average climb to at least his career MLB mark - O/U .245 final BA line?
Brandon – UNDER a .245 final BA line - at his current projected pace, he'd have to hit .262 in about 332 at bats the rest of the way to pull his average up and over the .245 mark, and he's had just one month since the beginning of last season in which he's actually hit higher than .260. As for the SB and Runs, I'll go 69 steals and 78 Runs.
Scott – Hamilton might be able to sneak OVER .245, as his BABIP looks unlucky admist the other peripherals here. He'll steal 79 bases and score 82 runs.
Dalton – I'll say he finishes with 65 steals, 70 runs and a batting average UNDER .245.
Justin Verlander, who made his '15 debut this past week, finished '14 with an ERA above 3.70 and a K/9 rate below 7.0 for the second time in his career. Can he avoid a third time in '15 for each of those categories - O/U final '15 line of 3.70 ERA and 7.0 K/9?
Brandon – OVER on both. I have little faith in Verlander. You throw April of '14 out of the mix and he finished the final five months of '14 with an ERA right at 5.00. With the amount of mileage he's accrued (and a declining fastball), I don't expect him to make sharp turn in a positive direction.
Scott – All I remember from Verlander's opening start is a bunch of line drives. Power fade in progress. ERA is an OVER, though there's probably too much back class not to slide OVER the strikeout number.
Dalton – It was nice to see Verlander back and even working with some added velocity compared to last year, but I'm betting on him finishing with an ERA OVER 3.70 and a K/9 rate UNDER 7.0. He didn't produce many swings and misses during his first start back, so there's plenty of reason to remain pessimistic.
King Felix Hernandez is coming off the worst outing of his career, and has allowed at least seven earned runs in two of his past three outings. He posted a career low 2.14 ERA in '14. Can he recover from his last stumbles to finish '15 with another sub-3 ERA season - O/U final ERA of 3.00?
Brandon – I'll say he goes slightly OVER. I think Felix is going to be just fine, and and one of the top fantasy starters the rest of the way. But he has some work ahead of him now to get his ERA down under 3.00 and, prior to last season, his ERA was over 3.00 in three consecutive seasons.
Scott – They're not big movements, but everything is moving in the wrong direction here: strikeouts down, walks up, velocity down 1 mph, homers way up. It’s not that I expect a collapse from Hernandez (Houston had to be a fluke), but I can’t ignore everything here. OVER is the only way I can play it.
Dalton – UNDER. It's pretty remarkable he still has an ERA under 3.40 after allowing 16 runs over his last three starts in just 12.0 innings. King Felix is combining a 2.70 GB/FB ratio with an 11.0 SwStr%. He'll be just fine.