Change is one constant in fantasy sports. Players get hot and cool down, get hurt and get well, and move in and out of roles. Fantasy owners are constantly reacting to these changes (or at least they should be). Let's take a look at the Buzz Index from the past few days to see which players are currently causing the most change in fantasy baseball, and take a deeper look at what the fuss is all about.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – adds
Ty Wigginton (Hou – 1B, 2B, 3B, OF) 49,967 adds
Wigginton has been scorching hot in August, including a 15-game hit streak that ended on Tuesday. He batted .491 (27 for 55) during the streak, with 14 runs, seven home runs, and 17 RBI, and is the 27th-ranked player in the Yahoo! game over the past month (.385, 17 R, 8 HR, 21 RBI).
Upshot: Wiggy started the season slow while battling a number of injuries, but his season average now stands at .303 and his home run rate (every 17.7 AB) is in the same neighborhood as Aubrey Huff, Lance Berkman, and Matt Holliday. He's a solid bet to keep it rolling – he's been locked into the lineup since Carlos Lee went down and, historically speaking, September has been his best month of the season by a fairly comfortable margin.
Dan Wheeler (TB – RP) 35,472 adds
Wheeler has stepped up in the wake of Troy Percival's injury, recording saves in each of his past three appearances. He now has seven saves on the season to go along with a 2.50 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and .175 BAA.
Upshot: Wheeler has been hit and miss in previous stints as a fill-in closer, but the Rays are producing a steady stream of save opportunities and you have to strike while the iron is hot. Percival doesn't anticipate being out long, but that's no sure thing.
Melvin Mora (Bal – 3B) 22,255 adds
The 36-year-old Mora simply refuses to stop producing. In six games since his appearance in last week's Buzz Index, he's batted .519 (14 for 27) with 10 runs, eight extra-base hits (4 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR) and 11 RBI.
Upshot: Let's check the numbers over his past 38 games: .395 (60 for 152), 29 R, 13 2B, 10 HR, and 51 RBI. His season line has gone from .227/.298/.380 to .283/.341/.485 during that time. The spin hasn't changed since last week, either – it's hard to imagine that he'll keep this up for the final six weeks, but clearly he belongs in fantasy lineups for as long as he does.
Alexei Ramirez (CWS – 2B, SS, OF) 22,203 adds
Ramirez continues to hit for average and power, although fantasy owners have been slow to catch on. In 81 games since May 16, he's hit .333 with 43 runs, 13 home runs, 49 RBI, and eight steals.
Upshot: He's the 12th-ranked player at both 2B and SS on the season, but those numbers are a bit deceiving when you consider that he hit just .143 in only 18 games through May 15. It's puzzling that his percent-owned number was just over 60 percent entering the week, but it seems that he's finally making believers across the board.
Kevin Slowey (Min – SP) 22,046 adds
Slowey has rebounded from a string of poor starts (3 GS, 15.0 IP, 15 ER from July 5-22) and is once again dealing. He's 4-1 in his past five starts, having compiled a 2.77 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 30 strikeouts in 39.0 innings.
Upshot: Slowey should be universally owned, yet he's actually owned in under half of leagues despite a season rank (116th) that has him in the top 30 SP. His 121.1 innings are five below the threshold for qualifiers (126.0), but his 1.06 WHIP on the season would tie him for fifth with Cole Hamels. He's also third in walk rate (1.3/9) among pitchers with at least 100 innings and fifth in K:BB (4.7:1).
Fernando Rodney (Det – RP) 20,740 adds
Rodney has reasserted himself as the Tigers' closer, recording saves in four of his past five appearances. He's also thrown nine consecutive scoreless innings, lowering his ERA from 6.38 to 4.28 in the process.
Upshot: Control was a big problem for Rodney in late July and early August – he walked nine batters in 5.1 innings between July 25 and August 3, also allowing five earned runs in the process. In his past six appearances, he's walked just one and struck out 13. It makes sense to proceed with caution, but by all means proceed.
Ian Stewart (Col – 2B, 3B) 17,269 adds
Stewart has been a run-producing machine since being recalled to the Rockies' lineup in mid-July. In 29 games since July 19, he's batted .337 (32 for 95) with 20 runs, 14 extra-base hits (8 2B, 6 HR) and 32 RBI.
Upshot: Look no further than his minor league numbers for proof that the plus-offense is for real. He's made some adjustments since his early-season struggles, and they are clearly paying off. The only thing tempering Stewart's potential impact over the season's final six weeks is a possible Todd Helton return (he's still on an indefinite timetable).
Hideki Matsui (NYY – OF) 12,682 adds
Matsui was activated from the DL on Tuesday after missing almost two months because of issues with his left knee – he started at DH and went 0-for-3 while batting seventh.
Upshot: While Joe Girardi's plan is to play him every day, it remains to be seen how his knee reacts. You have to admire his determination to get back onto the field, however, and he should be back on fantasy rosters in all but the absolute shallowest of leagues.
Buzz Index (Baseball) – drops
Grant Balfour (TB – RP) 20,044 drops
Balfour looked like he was going to be in line for some save opportunities after Troy Percival hit the DL, but Dan Wheeler has gotten the nod in recent games.
Lowdown: He's still among the best fantasy options among middle relievers (1.38 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 57 K in 39.0 IP), but Wheeler is the current add for save chasers. Balfour could be in line for a rogue save or two moving forward, however, especially if Percival needs more than a few weeks to get back from the DL.
Jonathan Sanchez (SF – SP, RP) 19,556 drops
Sanchez hit waivers in a number of leagues after the Giants placed him on the DL on Sunday with a strained left shoulder.
Lowdown: He was really scuffling before hitting the DL (0-5, 6.82 ERA, 1.64 WHIP in his past 6 GS), so this drop makes sense. While the injury isn't considered serious, the Giants will have little motivation to push the young lefty down the stretch and he's already almost doubled his innings-pitched tally from last season (from 75.2 to 135.0).
Zach Miner (Det – SP, RP) 13,543 drops
Miner developed something of a fantasy fan-base after a string of strong starts – he went 3-1 with a 2.16 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in five starts between July 21 and August 12. Alas, all but the diehards bailed after his most recent start (1.1 IP, 6 H, 4 BB, 5 ER on Sunday).
Lowdown: Miner was actually a starting pitching prospect of above-average regard a few years back, but he's been relegated to bullpen duty for most of his recent big-league career. He's not particularly hard to hit (career .270 BAA), walks more than average (3.6/9), and strikes out less than average (5.4/9), so it's hard to envision much fantasy potential here.
Justin Duchscherer (Oak – SP, RP) 13,247 drops
Speaking of losing some fan-base, Duchscherer lost a few more off the bandwagon after leaving his Tuesday start after three innings with a right hip injury.
Lowdown: You may recall that it's the same hip that ended his 2007 season in mid-May, so there certainly is some cause for concern here. Couple that with his 5.54 ERA and 1.46 WHIP since July 26 (5 GS, 26.0 IP), and it's not surprising that he's listed here. We'll have a clearer picture of his availability moving forward very soon – he's set for an MRI sometime on Wednesday.
Jorge Campillo (Atl – SP, RP) 12,736 drops
Campillo's sparkling numbers have taken a Duchscherer-like hit over his past three starts (18.0 IP) – he's given up five earned runs in each, raising his season ERA from 2.58 to 3.29 in the short stretch.
Lowdown: His 3.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP as a starter (97.2 IP) still play, however. I'm not ready to write him off yet, but another poor turn would make it hard to stay on board.
Todd Jones (Det – RP) 11,801 drops
Jones seemed somewhat worthy of a DL spot in fantasy during his first go around on the real-life DL – this time, not so much.
Lowdown: There's a decent chance that his career has ended at age 40. As it stands now, Jones is 14th all-time with 319 saves.
Chris Carpenter (StL – SP) 11,628 drops
Carp has been coming off rosters in a steady trickle since he went back on the DL after his most recent start (August 10).
Lowdown: For what it's worth, he's still on schedule to return from the DL next Tuesday. Clearly he's not going to make a deep impact this season, but his track record means you need to at least be tracking his progress.
Mike Aviles (KC – 2B, SS) 11,359 drops
Aviles continues to hit, but being near the top of the Royals' lineup has been doing him no favors of late. He's driven in just seven runs over the past 26 games, despite a .321 average and 11 extra-base hits (7 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR).
Lowdown: Things have been even worse for David DeJesus, who has a total of seven runs and three RBI over the past 18 games. I'll assume that many of you that dropped Aviles did so to pick up and plug in Wigginton or Ramirez, and that was a good idea. Aviles' current paces project over 550 at bats to 85 runs, 14 home runs, and 66 RBI.