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Friday 23rd Feb 2018

Alas, with the Internet and information so accessible, there are really very few secrets in the world any longer. That especially holds true in the fantasy baseball universe, where, like the stock market, when I hear someone suggesting a hot tip/player, I figure by the time the name gets to me it is hardly a secret.

Since we can fill the pages with the likes of Jeremy Hellickson, I want to spend this time looking at players who are in the Show and are making a mark, thus potentially hitting the undervalued/hot list next year. Which also suggests the players could be worth picking up now, before they are too good/expensive.

So, as with Pat Burrell, the first on the list are certainly reclaimation projects. For, Burrell has dropped from favor fast, but the outfielder is just a few years removed from an eight year spread where he banged 234 homers and regularly logged an OBP in the .380 range. That all fell apart in Tampa, where Burrell's power (16 homers over 572 at-bats) and his on-bse skills (.304) tanked. Well, sometimes a change is a good thing, and Burrell is playing fairly regularly in San Francisco, back in the National League where he enjoyed his real success. The .287-5-12 totals with a .382 OBP over 110 at-bats are much closer to the career numbers, and the Giants are not only in the hunt, but will exploit players like Burrell and Aubrey Huff as they race towards a possible post-season appearance. Expect Burrell to keep it up.

While we are in San Francisco, the Giants now really have the deepest most promising rotation on the planet with Madison Bumgarner taking his place among the top five. I loved Bumgarner as a prospect, but feared whether he was overpowering enough to consistently get major league hitters out. Ture, his five SF starts this season are a small sample, and true, Bumgarner will have his share of bumps, but, there is no denying his 2-2, 2.57 totals so far, or the 21 whiffs over 28 innings with just five walks and 24 hits. He is a definite second half play.

I worked one of the Mets/Giants games over the weekend, and it is interesting Angel Pagan and Andres Torres, the respective lead off hitters for each team carries a pretty similar resume this season. Pagan, at .306-6-40 with 20 swipes and a .368 OBP bode pretty well for the future as he is just 28 years old. Torres is .276-8-32 with 17 swipes and a .371 OBP this season, though he logs in at age 32. Meaning both are good bets for some speed this season, with Pagan holding the torch for the coming years. 

A lot of folks were suggesting a break-out season for Padres third sacker Chase Headley, so to that end he may be disappointing with .276-7-33 totals. Headley had a nice April, hitting .322-1-8, with seven swipes, but tanked it somewhat in May and June hitting .250-2-12 and .225-1-7, but in July he has seriously picked up the pace, hitting .362-2-6 so far for the month. In his third full season, this all points to Headley stepping up his game.

An AL counterpart for Headley, though younger at 23 to Headley's 26, is Chicago's Gordon Beckham, who was pretty much written off after .216-3-22 totals for the first half. Even worse, Beckham banged just one homer over the first ten weeks of the season and hit .235-1-4 in April and .159-0-6 in May. Well, over the past month, Beckham has been hitting .305-3-9 over 62 at-bats. He is getting hot, and the worst of his season is likely over. Ideally this will be the worst slump of Beckham's career, but both these young men are good future targets for any keeper team.

I was looking through the top hitters in the majors for the first half of the season and was sort of surprised to see Florida's Gaby Sanchez among the leaders, with 96 hits (9 homers, 2 triples, 21 doubles) and the 26-year old has shown a good eye with 33 walks to 51 strikeouts (.362 OBP). Expect the power numbers to go up, at least to the 20 homer range, and potentially to 30 for a couple of good seasons. Again, Sanchez is just enough under the radar that you might just sneak him onto your roster as a good cheap power source: one whose on-base numbers will continue to improve.

 I have to admit, I saw a lot of Marco Scutaro in Oakland and did not think he had the durability to be a solid every day contributor. Wrong, was I as Scutaro did so well as a full timer in Toronto last year hitting career highs with .282-12-60 totals along with 35 doubles and 14 steals. This year, like Sanchez, Scutaro is among the leaders in hits with 103 (.278-4-28 with 28 doubles), but at 34 years of age, he is unlikely to get much better. Still, on the Sox for the next few years he is a good place holder. 

Looking at some hurles, I was skeptical that Colby Lewis would be able to translate his Japanese success into a winning career back in the USA. At 30, Lewis is a big guy (6'4", 230 pounds) who had 13-15, 6.12 totals before his exodus to Japan where apparently Lewis did indeed learn some control. At 9-5, 3.42 this season, with 112 strikeouts over 115.1 innings, Lewis is clearly on the right track, and he is also on a very good team.

Finally, Max Scherzer is back at it in Detroit (and Rick Porcello just might be, meaning the Tigers could be formidable over the second half) and though he is 6-7, 4.74 for the season, Scherzer is 2-1, 2.0 for the last month with 28 strikeouts over 25 innings, and with 95 strikeouts in in the top third of hurlers in strikeouts (with 95) despite almost a month's demotion in the minors.

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