As we head into the final week and a half of the season, here is a look at some players who have seen their status change since the beginning of the year and what they will offer heading into 2013.
Chris Archer P, TB- Archer won his first career game on Wednesday night against the Red Sox allowing three runs in five innings of work. The rookie right-hander has a 3.62 ERA (2.89 FIP and 3.22 xFIP) in 27.1 innings pitched with a strong strikeout rate (11.25 K/9), and better than advertised control (3.62 BB/9). His success in limited work this year will probably allow the Rays to move a starter in order to pick up some offense. In other words, I would be surprised if Archer was not a fixture at the back end of the Rays rotation next season. His ground ball rate is slightly above average (45.7 percent), and his change-up has been a better than advertised pitch. If given a spot in the rotation next season, Archer is definitely a starter owners should keep an eye on heading into March in standard leagues even if his control heads back to the 4.00 BB/9 range next season. I am encouraged by his 61 percent first pitch strike percentage, but his 38 percent zone rate is a little worrisome.
A.J. Ellis C, LAD- In his first full season as a starter, Ellis has put together a nice season for the Dodgers hitting eleven home runs and driving 43 RBI while producing a solid .263/.366/.396 line while behind the plate. Considering his standing before the start of the season, Ellis heads into 2013 as a starter in deep leagues and NL-only leagues. His strong walk rate (13 percent) makes him a better option in OBP leagues, and his 24.1 percent line drive rate indicates that his .325 BABIP is not a byproduct of luck. Furthermore, I believe that Ellis can improve his batting average in 2013 considering his 21.3 percent strikeout rate is bloated considering his below average 6.1 percent swinging strike rate. In terms of the rest of the season, Ellis will probably start almost every day as the Dodgers push to make the playoffs.
Drew Storen P, WAS- Storen has not taken the closer's role back from fully from Clippard, but his performance down the stretch for the Nationals ensures that he will either be in the mix for the role next season in Washington or elsewhere if dealt. In 24.1 innings, Storen has been averaging 94.5 mph with a 2.59 ERA (2.41 FIP and 3.61 xFIP) and 8.14 K/9. His strikeout numbers might seem to be down, but his career best swinging strike percentage (14.1 percent) ensures that he will be more effective in the role than Clippard. His 49.2 percent ground ball rate represents a career best, and his numbers have continued with more innings under his belt. Whether he remains with the organization remains to be seen, considering he could be a nice trade chip at a position of strength. Either way, he might be considered an undervalued pick heading into next year's draft at the position.
Matt Carpenter IF/OF, STL- Carpenter has been one of the most pleasant surprises this season for the Cardinals hitting .300/.367/.480 with six home runs and 44 RBI in 313 plate appearances at first base, third base and the outfield this year. In addition, the Cardinals have also started to play him at second base. While he does not have a consisting starting job as of now with the Cardinals, it is possible that the organization could install him at the second base heading into the 2013 season. Skip Schumaker is not a strong defender at the position, and the organization will have all offseason to possibly have him learn the position. Carpenter is not a home run hitter (7.8 percent HR/FB ratio), but his 23.1 percent line drive rate has helped lead him to a .350 BABIP this year. That figure is sure to decline, but so is his strikeout rate (18.2 percent) when looking at his plate discipline numbers. He could produce a .290/.365/.460 line with 12-15 home runs as a full time player.
Jorge De La Rosa P, COL- De La Rosa made his first major league start since having Tommy John surgery last season on Thursday night against the Giants. He did not fare well, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits in 3.2 innings pitched, but he is not someone owners should ignore heading into next year. While not a option for the rest of this season, De La Rosa was able to record a swinging strike rate of 12.9 percent in the start despite only averaging 89.8 mph with his fastball and barely using his breaking ball. Because of his ability to record ground ball and strikeouts, De La Rosa was one of the few useable Colorado starters over the past few seasons. I would expect his velocity to be stronger at the beginning of next season with another year from removed from surgery.
Martin Perez P, TEX- Perez struggled in his start against the Mariners on Friday, after taking Scott Feldman's place in the rotation. He allowed four runs (three earned) on six hits and two walks, and now has a 3.78 ERA (4.37 FIP/4.78 xFIP) in 33.1 innings pitched for the Rangers. Perez's strikeout numbers dropped in Triple-A from 6.80 K/9 to 4.89 K/9, and he has been unable to record an average amount in his time this season with the Rangers (5.67 K/9). His 6.7 percent swinging strike rate is below average, and his control is not strong enough 3.97 BB/9 in triple-A to make up for the below average strikeout rate. As of now he is still scheduled to be the Rangers fifth starter for the rest of the season, but I would not count on him being a likely contributor to the rotation next season.
Yonder Alonso 1B, SD- Alonso's season first full season in the majors has been a fantasy failure with a .275/.351/.395 slash line and nine home runs in 582 plate appearances. One might believe that Petco Park has wreaked havoc on his numbers this year, but Alonso's power numbers have been just as weak on the road. While his HR/FB ratio is better, his .115 ISO, .720 OPS and 102 wRC+ are all lower away from San Diego. This does not make him a better option in daily leagues, and there is nothing in his batted ball data that suggests his slash line will improve next year. The real concern is whether his 6.8 percent HR/FB ratio will improve, but it is worth noting that Alonso never hit more than 12 home runs in 450 plate appearances in triple-A. His power surge during his brief tenure in 2011 looks to be an anomaly.
Matt Joyce OF, TB- Joyce has continued to struggle over the last three months of the year, as his slash line has dropped to .245/.347/.426 to go along with his fifteen home runs in 448 plate appearances. For those owners still counting on Joyce during the next week, it is time to let him go. Joyce has produced an OPS below .660 in three straight seasons, and he has hit only four home runs since the beginning of June. Joyce's batted ball data is almost identical to his 2011 numbers, but his BABIP has dropped from .317 to .289 this year. While he continues to struggle, Joyce still heads into 2013 as a decent option in deeper and daily leagues. He has 13 home runs and a .257/.361/.466 slash line against right-handed pitching.
Jordan Lyles P, HOU- Lyles had another tough start on Sunday afternoon, as the Pirates scored three runs on six hits and one walk in only four innings of work against the right-hander. Lyles now has a 5.44 ERA in 132.1 innings this season, but his DIPS (4.66 FIP and 4.09 xFIP) indicate that he could be more successful next year. His 60.5 percent strand rate is unlucky, but Lyles has been able to keep his home run rate despite producing a 54 percent ground ball rate. He has a career 14.3 percent HR/FB ratio, and he is not likely to improve his strikeout rate of 6.53 K/9 considering his below average swinging strike rate (7.1 percent). I do expect an improved season for Lyles in 2013, but a move to AL will most likely mean an ERA above 4.50.
Jose Quintana P, CHW- Quintana earned his fifth loss of the season on Saturday after allowing four runs (one earned) in five innings of work against the Angels. After a strong start to his rookie campaign, he has struggled over the last two months and has seen his ERA increase in every month along with his walk rate. Quintana now has a 3.62 ERA compared with a 4.06 FIP and 4.29 xFIP, and I do not think he will make much of a fantasy impact next season. His control is above average (2.67 BB/9), but his strikeout rate is below average (5.33 K/9) and his swinging strike rate of 8.2 percent does not indicate there will be much improvement next year. For players in standard leagues in 2013, he might be considered a backup SP.