Posted: Thursday July 19, 2012 4:15PM ; Updated: Thursday July 19, 2012 4:15PM

MLB fantasy mailbag: Hamilton remains a rare talent despite slide

Story Highlights

Josh Hamilton has hit only .207 from June on, but history suggests a rebound

C.J. Wilson has had 54 starts with a 2.90 ERA and 1.19 WHIP since start of 2011

Sergio Romo's stats show him to be one of the five best relievers in baseball

By Ray Flowers, BaseballGuys.com, Special to SI.com

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Despite hitting .200 since the start of June, Josh Hamilton still leads the majors in home runs and RBI this season.
Despite hitting .200 since the start of June, Josh Hamilton still leads the majors in home runs and RBI this season.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

I'm Ray Flowers, co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio. Each week I'll be answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account in my never ending attempt to replace myself by explaining to everyone how I evaluate players thereby making myself obsolete.

Who would you rather have for second half of season... Josh Hamilton or Mark Trumbo? Hamilton is slumping badly.
-- @mysports1

I got this question and thought it was a joke. It wasn't. There followed a couple of tweets that pointed out that since June 1 that Trumbo had outproduced Hamilton. OK, well, let's play that parsing game and see what we come up with.

April-May

Hamilton: .368-21-57-39 with a 1.184 OPS
Trumbo: .348-10-26-22 with a 1.029 OPS

June-Current

Hamilton: .207-7-21-17 with a .725 OPS
Trumbo: .269-16-39-25 with a .954 OPS

Hamilton dominated the first two months. Trumbo has dominated the last month an a half. But...

Overall

Hamilton: .300-28-78-56-6 with a .991 OPS
Trumbo: .309-26-65-47-4 with a .991 OPS

Overall, Hamilton is still the better performer, though it is obviously a lot closer than most of us would have thought before looking at the numbers. Still, there is no comparison between the two when it comes to talent. Hamilton is dynamic. Trumbo full credit for what he has done; it has surpassed everyone's expectations, and he does qualify at first base and the outfield in all leagues (and maybe even at third in some leagues). Still, I don't know a single "expert" who would say they prefer Trumbo in this matchup. Not a one. If you don't buy the talent argument then how about this one -- Hamilton has shown himself to be this quality of hitter for a while now. Trumbo? It's pretty hard to think he can maintain a 26.3 HR/F ratio -- a massive total that would have been the best in baseball last year, in 2010, in 2009... you get the point. It's also pretty hard to take Trumbo at face value. The guy was a .275 hitter in six minor league seasons. He hit .254 last year. That .309 average isn't supported by his history or by his 15 percent line drive rate this season.

Trumbo's been great, and he's performing better the past six weeks, but the odds are still heavily tilted toward Hamilton being the better performer the rest of the season.

Drop Chris Davis for Wil Myers in a keeper league? I can only keep five guys, but in the round drafted (24th for Myers).
-- @JeffSchaffer13

Davis has had a productive season for the Orioles, hitting .260 with 14 homers and 41 RBIs in 77 games, putting him pace to be a .260-28-80 type of hitter. That doesn't make him a keeper in any league that protects only five players. His production also isn't to the level that he's keeping your team afloat this year either (at least I hope not). Bottom line is that you could move on from him with an eye to the future if it made sense (i.e. your team could handle the loss right now).

Myers has a luminous future, a fact I pointed out last November in AFL -- 2011 Review when I was able to interview Myers at the AFL Rising Stars Game. Myers has killed it all year long, at Double an Triple-A, hitting .319 with 28 homers, 76 RBIs an a 1.057 OPS in a mere 90 games. The only thing holding him back from roaming the Royals outfield right now is that they don't have a spot for him with Lorenzo Cain being healthy (he's joined by Alex Gordon and Jeff Francoeur). Perhaps the Royals will move Frenchie at the trade deadline to open up a spot for Myers. At least that would be a logical move. Regardless of what happens at the deadline, it would be a shock if Myers wasn't in the starting lineup on Opening Day 2013. Does that make Myers a keeper in a five keeper league given his 24th round value?

A brief history lesson. Here are some of the names of some recent elite level prospects that were looked at as can't miss options who missed in their first season.

Brandon Wood
Cameron Maybin
Travis Snider
Justin Smoak
Pedro Alvarez
Domonic Brown
Brandon Belt

I could go on, but I think you get the point. We've all been spoiled by the success of Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. The game just isn't that easy.

I've got no idea who your other keeper options are, but in a league that protects only five guys I'm not inclined to keep Myers for 2013, even at a 24th round value.

Need ERA/WHIP. Send Paul Konerko for C.J. Wilson? I can slide Michael Morse or Kevin Youkilis in at 1B.
-- @chiloubrown

Konerko has had an excellent season with a .322/.402/.511 slash line (the average and OBP would be career bests). Still, over his last 35 games he's gone deep just three times with 11 RBI with a pathetic slash line of .244/.331/.336. What's going on? First off I'd posit some normal regression is in play. Second, he had that minor wrist procedure that knocked him out of action for a few days, and he's been pretty awful since then. Is the wrist still bothering him? Third, let's not forget that he's 36-years old. I know we have been spoiled with a lot of players being good into their late 30s, but traditionally 36-year olds slow down. I'm not saying Konerko should be viewed as a drag on any fantasy team moving forward but I'm also not exactly in love with what I'm seeing either.

Wilson had his worst effort of the year Wednesday, allowing seven runs in six innings, but he still owns a 2.82 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP on the year. Moreover, that's 54 starts with a 2.90 ERA and 1.19 WHIP since the start of last season. Wilson continues to be one of the most effective hurlers in baseball, and there is no reason to think that he's likely to see a major regression any time soon.

If your goal is to improve your ratios, Wilson is a fine target. Since you've got Morse/Youkilis to also fill in at first base, go ahead and send Konerko packing.

Do you think Santiago Casilla is permanently out as closer or needs a breather? Seems SF will give Casilla every opportunity as they want Sergio Romo left as setup guy.
-- @cwhittemore33

All I can say about this situation is that I've been extremely frustrated all year. As I have said consistently since January, Romo is the best reliever the Giants have. Period. Nothing, not a single thing, that he has done this year has changed my opinion at all. In fact, Romo is one of the five best relievers in baseball. Period. Think I'm crazy? Look at the numbers.

0.66 ERA
0.73 WHIP
11.20 K/9
4.25 K/BB
.128 BAA

You hear all the time about how he can't handle lefties. What are those people talking about?

In 2012 lefties have hit .143 with a .374 OPS against Romo.

For his career lefties have hit .189 against Romo with a .483 OPS.

It's a completely fallacious argument.

The only valid argument for keeping Romo out of the ninth is that the club doesn't think he can work a full inning every other day because of an often tender elbow.

Given the totality of the data, Romo should have been closing the moment that Brian Wilson went down with injury. Period. Instead, the Giants went with an inferior pitcher in Casilla. For the majority of the first half Casilla was admittedly impressive; he converted 19 of his first 20 save chances, but he's turned into a disaster of epic proportions of late, blowing five of eight save chances as his ERA has gone up two full runs over his last 10 outings. Hopefully, the Giants will finally do the right thing and use Romo to close, but even if they move on from Casilla, as they should, don't be surprised is Jeremy Affeldt sees some ninth inning work.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.

 
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