July is just around the corned and while baseball fans are gearing up for the all-star game, fantasy owners are looking at who to buy and who to sell for the season's second half. Using Yahoo!'s rankings based on the last month worth of numbers, let's look at June's hottest hitters and figure out who is for real.
1. Josh Hamilton (Slight sell) - It was an insanely hot month for Hamilton, who hit .449 with nine home runs and 31 RBI. This was by far the best month of his career and it will probably be his best month of the 2010 season. As long as he can stay healthy, he'll be productive, but don't forget about nagging injuries that have been an issue over his whole career. He even missed some time in April of this season. I'm selling only if I can get a huge return. Would someone trade Pujols for Hamilton straight up?
2. David Wright (Buy) - Fantasy owners were extremely worried about Wright early this season. Sure, his power had come back a bit, but his strikeout numbers went surging and his AVG went down the drain. Then, after a .248/.308/.448 May, Wright took off and has hit .385/.436/.681 so far in June. He is now hitting .300/.386/.542 and has a chance to have a 30/30 season. His strikeout rate in June was his lowest in any month so far.
3. Jose Reyes (Buy) - It's about time! Reyes is too good of a player not to come around and he did this month hitting .323/.371/.552 with five homers and seven stolen bases. He has been healthy all season and now the bat should stick along with his top-notch fantasy value.
4. Corey Hart (Sell)- It's been a couple of years since Hart had held much fantasy value and now he is one of the top offensive values around. However, there is risk in his forecast. Hart has turned himself into a slugger. He doesn't hit many line drives (15 percent line drive rate) and his contact rate is below average. That will likely mean a continued low AVG going forward. As for his power, it is somewhat legit, but he hit 10 home runs in May, a feat not likely to be repeated the rest of the season. More likely, Hart will hit 12-15 more home runs this season, pushing him toward the 30 home run plateau. That means good numbers in the end, but it also means you may have already had the best part of his season. Oh yeah, and Ken Macha hates stealing bases, so Hart's four steals to this point may not increase much in the second half.
5. Paul Konerko (Slight sell)- Sure enough Konerko's hot April slowed by May, but in June he picked the pace back up again to the tune of .378/.453/.634 with six long balls. Konerko is just a darn good veteran hitter, but the problem is that this month's numbers are very unlikely to be repeated again this season. As a matter of fact, Konerko has not had a month this good (AVG wise) since June of 2006, when he hit .366 with four home runs. Chances are Konerko won't hit .300 this season, but the power numbers should stay steady enough to where he can approach 35-plus homers. Sell if you get a sweet deal, but hold if he fits your teams need for power.
6. Adrian Gonzalez (Buy)- Before the season, all the talk was about not if, but when A-Gonz was going to be traded to the Red Sox. Turns out the Padre's young pitching and elite bullpen has been enough to keep them in contention. Now the talk is about the possibility of adding a power bat to protect A-Gonz for a pennant run. If that happens, it certainly would help Gonzalez's value. But regardless of a move, A-Gonz is one of the few hitters in the game with the potential for a big second half power sure.
7. Dustin Pedroia (DL)- Pedroia was well on his way to having a season even better than his MVP year. Now a foot fracture has shelved him for six weeks according to Baseball Prospectus' injury expert Will Carroll. There is nothing you can do at this point but stash him on your DL and hope he picks up where he left off upon his return to the lineup.
8. Brennan Boesch (Sell)- I added Boesch in one league back when he first got off to a hot start with the Tigers. I did not expect, almost two months later, that the best production was yet to come. Boesch is now hitting .338 on the year with 12 home runs in 198 at-bats and averaging one home run every 16.5 at-bats. Prorated over 550 at-bats, Boesch would hit 33 home runs. It's not the power that is surprising, however, it's the high AVG. In four minor league seasons prior to 2010, Boesch had never hit .300 or better. His best AVG came in 2006 when he hit .291 as a 21-year-old in low-A ball. That track record is one thing, but the fact that Boesch has a .374 BABIP and a low 17 percent line drive rate is the big red flag. A big drop in AVG is possible and it could happen fast. When that happens, the home run pace should slow as well. This might be the best time to sell at the height of his value.
9. Robinson Cano (Buy) - Last night's ballgameagainst the Dodgers was example number one of why Cano is having a career year. In the top of the 10th inning, against the left-handed George Sherrill (off of whom he was previously 0-for-11), Cano took a low and away slider over the left-center field wall to give the Yankees the lead. On the season, Cano is now hitting .301 against left-handed pitching (.297 BABIP) with nine of his 15 home runs. The AVG may not stay above .350 all season, but there is no doubt that Cano will continue to be the best fantasy second baseman in 2010.
10. Colby Rasmus (Slight sell) - After struggling big-time in May, Rasmus got hot again hitting .311/.363/.716 with nine home runs this month. The problem here is sustainability. This was the best power month of Rasmus' young career and hitting nine home runs in one month is not something most hitters repeat in a season. Aside from the power, there is concern over where Rasmus' AVG will end up. He is currently hitting .283, which is good, but not great. The problem is that to this point the .283 has come way of a high .348 BABIP and a low 16.6 percent line drive rate. Rasmus also holds a low 75 percent contact rate, which is part of the reason he has struck out in over 32 percent of his at-bats. The strikeouts, combined with a BABIP that could regress, means now is a good time to sell high in non-keeper formats.