Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Let's check in on which players have been driving fantasy owners' success and which ones have been driving us mad recently in this week's edition of "Who's Hot, Who's Not."
(All stats as of Wednesday, July 31)
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays - Encarnacion hit two home runs in the same inning on June 26 and has hit .500 with three home runs over his last seven games. The first baseman is third in baseball with 29 homers this season and has a strong chance to top 40 for the second straight year.
Chris Johnson, 3B, Atlanta Braves - Johnson, who continues to defy logic, leads the NL with a .342 average after going 13-for-24 (.542) over his last six games. Johnson's 28.8 percent line-drive rate is fourth best in baseball, but even with a line-drive rate that high his .426 BABIP, which leads the majors by 28 points, isn't sustainable.
Torii Hunter, RF, Detroit Tigers - After hitting four homers in the first three months of the season, Hunter blasted seven in July and hit .419 with four longballs and eight RBI in his last seven games of the month. The veteran has trimmed his strikeout rate from 22.8 percent last season, when he hit a career- high .313, to 17.2 percent in 2013.
Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves - Freeman went 6-for-8 with two homers, six RBI, two walks and five runs in his final two games of July. Freeman has recorded an identical strikeout rate and a nearly identical walk rate to last season but has experienced a 50-point increase in batting average due to a 78- point jump in BABIP. However, Freeman likely won't regress much -- he has a 28.9 percent line-drive rate and has displayed a much more consistent power stroke this season, hitting .337 with a 27.1 percent extra-base hit rate on flyballs this year; last season he batted .243 with a 21.3 percent extra- base hit rate on flies.
Daniel Murphy, 2B, New York Mets - Murphy raised his average 12 points, from .270 to .282, in his last nine games by hitting .405 (15-for-37) with three doubles, two homers and 11 RBI. Murphy has hit two more home runs than he did last season in 152 fewer plate appearances.
Other: Mike Trout (11-for-25, one HR, five RBI, seven BB last seven games); Wil Myers (26-for-57, four HR, 14 RBI, seven BB last 15 games); Bryce Harper (10- for-26, two HR, six RBI last seven games)
Mark Buehrle, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays - Buehrle followed up his ninth career shutout with seven scoreless innings Tuesday at Oakland. He has lowered his ERA from 4.83 to 4.27 with those last two efforts. The 34-year-old has had a similar season to last year -- he's 7-7 with a 4.11 FIP after going 13-13 with a 4.18 FIP in 2012 -- but his ERA is up 0.53 due to a 22-point rise in BABIP.
Hiroki Kuroda, RHP, New York Yankees - Kuroda, who went 3-0 with a 0.55 ERA in five July starts, has had his best season at age 38 with a 2.38 ERA. The right-hander has a 3.38 FIP, which isn't far from his 3.59 career FIP, but he has received some unbelievable luck with RISP -- his BABIP in those situation is .151. Kuroda also has helped himself by giving up just three of his 12 homers this season with men on base.
Mike Minor, LHP, Atlanta Braves - Minor's lone rough patch this entire season was a four-start stretch from June 15 to July 3 in which he went 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA. Since then he's 3-1 with a 1.53, including 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a 0.43 WHIP in his last two outings. The 25-year-old is 11-5 with a 2.75 ERA, a 1.75 BB/9 and a 3.14 FIP. Minor's HR/9 is 8.6 percent and his infield flyball rate is 10.9 percent, which are big for a pitcher with a 44 percent flyball rate.
Other: Chris Archer (4-0, 0.29 ERA, 0.61 WHIP last four starts); Doug Fister (3-0, 1.35 ERA last three starts); Clayton Kershaw (4-1, 1.34 ERA, 0.60 WHIP in July)
Allen Craig, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals - You can just about throw the entire Cardinals' lineup on this list -- the team has lost seven straight and scored a total of 10 runs in that span -- but Craig has been particularly dreadful. His 1-for-5 Wednesday night made him 1-for-27 (.037) over his last eight games. Yes, that means he was 0-for-22 prior to Wednesday's game. Craig should be fine, however. Even with the slump he's still batting .316 this season, and he has a 27.1 percent line-drive rate, a 3.2 percent infield flyball rate and a 17.4 percent strikeout rate.
Matt Carpenter, 2B, St. Louis Cardinals - The Cardinals leadoff man has been leaving the table bare for the team's big hitters. He went 1-for-20 (.050) in his last five games.
Desmond Jennings, CF, Tampa Bay Rays - After batting .365 (23-for-63) with six strikeouts and 10 walks over the first 15 games this month, Jennings struck out 16 times, walked four times and batted .143 (6-for-42) in the last 10.
Adam LaRoche, 1B, Washington Nationals - LaRoche went 1-for-23 (.043) over his last six games to wrap up a month of July in which he batted .159 with two homers and 19 strikeouts. Isn't LaRoche was supposed to be a second-half hitter?
Manny Machado, 3B, Baltimore Orioles - The phenom has homered twice in his last eight games but had one other hit besides that in his last 34 at-bats (.088). His batting average is down 17 points in that span. At one point, Machado was on pace to break the single-season doubles record, but he doubled one time in July.
Other: Matt Wieters (0-16 last five games); Coco Crisp (0-16 last four games); Raul Ibanez (6-39, zero HR, 15 K last 10 games)
Gio Gonzalez, LHP, Washington Nationals - Gonzalez is probably happy he's in the National League now and doesn't have to deal with teams like the Detroit Tigers often anymore after Detroit tagged him for 11 hits and 10 earned runs in 3 1/3 innings Wednesday. Gonzalez has allowed 24 baserunners and three homers in his last nine innings.
CC Sabathia, LHP, New York Yankees - Sabathia's season went from bad -- he had a 4.07 ERA at the half -- to worse when he gave up nine hits and seven earned runs over five innings in each of his last two starts, one against Boston and one against Tampa Bay, two of the teams the Yankees are chasing in the AL East.
Phil Hughes, RHP, New York Yankees - The trade deadline passed with Hughes still in pinstripes which means he'll still have to pitch at Yankee Stadium, where he is 1-7 with a 6.02 ERA, a 1.46 WHIP and a 2.16 HR/9 this season. Hughes is 3-2 with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and a 1.01 HR/9 on the road and would have benefited from a change of scenery.
Other: Brandon Beachy (3 2/3, eight H, seven ER in 2013 season debut); Miguel Gonzalez (0-2, 10.80 ERA, 2.40 WHIP last two starts); Josh Johnson (0-3, 12.51 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 3.95 HR/9 last three starts)