Fantasy baseball batter stock watch

Fantasy baseball batter stock watch

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com

Buy

Trevor Plouffe, Utility, Twins: He found his stroke at the end of May and it's gotten ridiculous in June (seven homers, .955 slugging). Plouffe is a risk to bat .240 over the full season, but the power has always been real with him and he qualifies at four positions in Yahoo! leagues. We're also talking about a former first-round pick, so there's a pedigree to feel good about. Target Field isn't bothering Plouffe at all, as his slugging percentage is 74 points higher in home games. It's a good point to keep in mind: lefties have trouble in Target Field, but righties have a reasonable chance to reach the seats.
Alex Presley, OF, Pirates: We understand why no one wants to invest in the Pirates offense - it's far and away the worst in the majors - but we have to take note of how Presley mashed during his Triple-A tuneup (.277.385.631, five homers, four steals over 18 games). He's continued to produce in Pittsburgh, albeit at a much smaller clip: one homer and three steals over nine games, tied to the leadoff spot. Hey, it's a start. Category juice always gets our attention.

Ben Revere, OF, Twins: There is no power at all with Revere - he's yet to club a homer over 593 big-league at-bats - but if you're in the market for a table-setter, he can help you. He's slashing his way to a .339 average over 29 games, and running freely (10 steals in 12 attempts). The runs scored have been fine as well (19 plate touches) as Minnesota's lineup has woken up a bit. Lefties have never bothered Revere (.287 for his career, and .452 this season), so Ron Gardenhire doesn't have to play the platoon card.
Hold

Carlos Ruiz, C, Phillies: The power surge is out of nowhere, so we have to expect that to tone down soon enough. But Ruiz's batting-average jump is supported by a healthy line-drive rate and an increasing contact rate, and heck, the guy hit .283 last year and .302 in 2010 - there's ability here. The counting stats are also receiving a well-earned spike, as the Phillies use Ruiz as a middle-order man this year, not someone resigned to bat seventh or eighth on a daily basis. So long as you don't chase the homer outlier, this is a safe place to park your money.

Ike Davis, 1B, Mets: He's swung the bat very well on the current road trip, finding an 8-for-14 spike with five walks and three extra-base hits. This is obviously someone seeing the ball well, swinging with confidence. Now we'd like to see Davis start doing this at Citi Field, which has been his personal house of horrors in 2012. But the guy didn't forget how to play baseball overnight. Perhaps Davis is finally getting out of his own way and ready to let the story develop. The Mets, to their credit, have been very patient with him.

Sell

Brandon Moss, 1B, Athletics: The big slugger ran into some mistakes in Colorado and had himself a week, ripping four homers and knocking in eight runs. That would be wonderful news if he were wearing a Rockies uniform, but now he has to go back to sea level. Ross is a 28-year-old non-prospect who's on his fourth organization, and he's collected 177 strikeouts as a big leaguer over 704 random at-bats. There's no breakout here, the story will quickly disappear again - especially in Oakland's roomy park.
Ty Wigginton, Utility, Phillies: He's on a pace to hit 17 homers and drive in 72 runs, which doesn't sound so bad, but Wigginton is a minus defender at any position and he's being overmatched by right-handed pitchers (.256.308.372). When the Phillies get some of their name hitters back, they would be wise to downshift Wiggy to a platoon role. He's a handy bench player these days, but his weaknesses are exposed when he's forced to play every day.

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

Bears numbers don't indicate 3-13, yet still lie

In doing some post-season wrapping up of my Nerdy NFL Notebook as we begin turning the page to the 2017 season, part of it involves compiling where each team finished in big-picture team offensive and defensive categories: overall ranking (total yards), as well as team rushing and passing ranks on both sides of the ball.

So if the Bears wound up ranked 15th overall in total yards gained and allowed, they should've finished…oh, 8-8, right? It adds to the deception of some of the deeper issues that focus on a lack of playmakers, which tied into their inability to make plays when it matters most. In John Fox's 9-23 start, 18 of those games have been decided by six points or less. They've won just six of those games. 

Offensively, the Bears ranked higher in total offense than five playoff teams: Kansas City (20), Detroit (21), Miami (24), New York Giants (25) and Houston (29). They wound up 17th in rushing offense, better than four teams who advanced: Seattle (25), Green Bay (26), New York Giants (29) and Detroit (30). And their 14th-ranked passing offense ranked better than the Giants (17), Kansas City (19), Dallas (23), Miami (26), Houston (29).

On the other side of the ball, they'd be even better off before allowing 109 points over the final three losses. Their total defense ranked better than Detroit (18), Green Bay (22), Kansas City (24), Atlanta (25), Oakland (26) and Miami (29). After being gashed for 558 rushing yards the last three games, they fell to 27th in the NFL against the run (better than only 30th-ranked Miami). But the seventh-ranked pass defense, despite collecting a measly eight interceptions (among only 11 turnovers), was better than nine playoff teams: Miami (15), Pittsburgh (16), Kansas City (18), Detroit (19), the Giants (23), Oakland (24), Dallas (26), Atlanta (28) and Green Bay (31).

[SHOP: Gear up Bears fans!]

What do all the hollow numbers indicate? A lack of complementary, opportunistic football, playmakers on both sides of the ball, a minus-20 turnover ratio, and a lack of quality and continuity at the quarterback position — to name a few. All of those playoff teams have more impact players (or kept more of their impact players healthy) than the Bears in 2016.

While some of the numbers aren't that bad to look at, and some even raise an eyebrow, there's still a deep climb from the most significant numbers: 3-13.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Fremd's Grace Tworek

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Fremd's Grace Tworek

This week's Wintrust Athlete of the Week is Fremd senior Grace Tworek. 

Tworek has led the Vikings on and off the court this season. Last week, the Harvard commit put up a career-high 29 points in a win over Wheeling. 

Learn more about Tworek's success in the video above.