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Fantasy

Men To Love: Fantasy Outlook On A.J. Pollock, Nelson Cruz And More


aj pollockHe provides some power and some stolen bases and has been hitting very well recently, yet Diamondbacks outfielder A.J. Pollock is still available in too many leagues. Pollock is still available in 61 percent of Yahoo! Leagues.

Pollock was one of my late-round targets prior to the season and I drafted him in Tout Wars. He began the season as the everyday centerfielder and batted in the leadoff slot. Pollock was batting .258 with no stolen bases at the end of April, and he started losing some at-bats when Cody Ross returned from injury. Then Mark Trumbo got injured, opening the door for playing time again.

Pollock missed a few games in early May due to injury and was likely dropped in many leagues. It didn’t help that he was also moved down in the order, often batting seventh or eighth, which certainly didn’t enamor his owners.

In May, Pollock is batting .351 with 13 runs, three home runs, 10 RBI, six stolen bases and a 1.002 OPS. Overall, Pollock is batting .301 with 24 runs, six home runs, 15 RBI and six stolen bases. The best part is that he’s back in the leadoff spot, and he started four straight games going into Thursday. Pollock has the ability to go 15-15 and he should be owned in most leagues.

Oswaldo Arcia Will Provide Power

Four games into the 2014 season, Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia landed on the disabled list with a wrist injury. If Fantasy managers held on to him, they almost certainly dropped him when he was sent to Triple-A after he got healthy. He spent 22 games at Triple-A and batted .312 with a .597 slugging percentage and hit five home runs.

Some might not be too high on Arcia since he didn’t light it up last season with just a .251 average and a .430 slugging percentage. But he got better as the season went on, hitting 14 home runs in 351 at-bats. In his second game back on Tuesday, Arcia homered. He’s sitting on a lot of waiver wires. If you need power, add him.

Nelson Cruz Continues To Crush

Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz presents owners with an interesting decision. Many will say to sell high on Cruz since his value is extremely high after a torrid start. One of the biggest issues for Cruz has been health. Here are the games played for Cruz since 2009: 128, 108, 124, 159 and 109 last season, although, he lost 50 games due to the PED suspension.

Cruz turns 34 in July, and as players age their health doesn’t usually improve. Cruz hasn’t missed significant time due to injury since 2011. As a Cruz owner, I am not looking to sell. I always say you should shop everyone, especially someone that is sizzling like Cruz, because you never know the return. Many people will overpay.

When it comes to Cruz, I am going to enjoy the run. Even with a start that has Cruz batting .306 with 38 runs, 19 home runs, 48 RBI and a 1.039 OPS, his owners could be looking to sell. Keep in mind that Cruz is also used as a designated hitter and that could help keep him healthy. Cruz has been the DH in 20 of the 50 games he has played.

Cruz has always hit for good power with 33, 22, 29, 24 and 27 home runs since 2009. Some people forget he was on a great pace last season before the suspension. In 109 games, Cruz batted .266 with 49 runs, 27 home runs and 76 RBI. Baltimore is a great park to hit in and Cruz will continue to hit. If you find an owner that is willing to trade based on the injury history, see what they want.

Brandon McCarthy Should Get Better

I mentioned Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon McCarthy in this column a few weeks ago, and will do so again since he wasn’t great in his last start; he allowed nine hits, five runs, two home runs and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings. The 1-6 record and 4.87 ERA will scare many away, but the peripherals indicate that he will turn things around. McCarthy’s fastball velocity is up to 93 mph, an increase of more than two miles per hour. His swinging strike rate of 8.1 percent is his best since 2006.

McCarthy’s strikeout percentage of 20.6 percent and walk percentage of 4.2 are both terrific, and his 54.6 percent groundball rate is a career best. Despite a low fly ball rate of 24.4 percent, he has a 21.2 percent home run/fly ball rate that is very unlucky. Once that declines, things will be better for McCarthy.

Collin McHugh Opening Eyes

It’s easy to dismiss Astros right-hander Collin McHugh as a fluke. He couldn’t even make the Opening Day Roster after he allowed nine runs and 12 hits in 5 2/3 innings this spring. In 15 career games, including nine starts with the Mets and Rockies before this season, McHugh was 0-8 with an 8.94 ERA.

McHugh made his debut for the Astros on April 22 against the Mariners and pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings; he allowed three hits, zero walks and struck out 12. He followed that up against a very good A’s offense by going 8 2/3 innings, allowing two hits, three walks, one run and striking out seven. When the Mariners saw him for a second time in his third start, McHugh struggled and allowed five earned runs on eight hits in four innings. That is the only team that has faced him twice so far and it will be interesting to see how teams adjust.

Overall, McHugh has been very impressive. His fastball looks faster than it is, likely because of his good off-speed arsenal, including a wicked curve. McHugh is also throwing harder than he did in his first two years in the majors.

In 45 innings, he is 3-3 with a 2.80 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 28.1 percent strikeout rate, 6.7 percent walk rate and a 12.1 swinging strike percentage. All the peripherals indicate he’s for real, and while other teams might make adjustments the second time around, he’s worth owning.

All stats entering Thursday May 29

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