Look, Dee Gordon. It's not the worst thing in the world to be a sell-high candidate. Considering the season you've had so far, you should probably be a little flattered.
It means you're currently doing something right, your stock is on the rise and somebody out there would probably be more than cool with putting you on their fantasy team. It doesn't mean you're bad at playing professional baseball. And it doesn't mean you're on the verge of falling off the planet. It doesn't even mean you couldn't still end up one of the more useful shortstops in the league.
All it means is that your value is at a particular high point and that fantasy owners could get more in return for you now than they recently could have.
What's that? Then why aren't Matt Cain and Carlos Beltran on this list? Well, they're much better than you. But don't be bummed. I've assembled a list of nine other guys in the exact same spot you are.
No, you didn't accidentally click on a story from 2003.
Whether you realize it or not, Jim Thome was a top 10 hitter last week. After a few months of sporadic appearances and relatively inefficiency, Thome exploded during interleague play with three home runs, 12 RBI and a .364 average.
Although he's still widely available across most fantasy leagues, Thome has been a surprisingly movable commodity. But the good times won't roll much longer. Phillies manager Charlie Manuel has said that Thome will go back to pinch hitting once the Phils go back to facing NL teams—mostly because Thome's back is one awkward angle away from shelving him indefinitely (via Delaware County Daily Times).
Funny what a game against the Pirates can do to an opposing pitcher's stats. Well, not funny if you're a Pirates fan.
Justin Masterson, the heralded future ace of the Indians, has been underwhelming for much of the season, but that changed last week. First he held the Cardinals to just one run on five hits, then he threw seven shutout innings against the Bucs. Combined on the week, he ended up with 15 Ks to three walks and a 0.64 ERA. Finally, showing a flash of the promise he demonstrated last year.
So what's the problem? Masterson has a mild tendency to fade as the season progresses—and, more importantly, he's prone to streakiness. The fact that he's hot now should be an indicator that he'll be cool again soon.
You don't need to be an expert in logistics to put this one together. Brandon Moss—a journeyman role-player since 2007—now has six home runs on the season. But five of those came during a four-game stretch last week.
An optimist might see that as the beginning of a trend. A realist will see it as a little bit of luck.
Still, this is a guy who came up in the Red Sox organization and struggled to find consistent playing time with the Pirates and spent almost all last season in the minors for the Phillies. There's a chance an owner in your league believes Moss just needed a shot, and the A's don't have a ton of options not to give him one. But that doesn't mean he'll be all that helpful to your team—unless you think he'll keep up his 100 home run pace.
All I'm saying is that if you aren't completely sold on him, now is the time to act. After all, he's second in the majors in stolen bases, and to the right owner, that makes him nearly as attractive as Emma Stone.
There's never been any question about Gordon's proficiency on the basepaths. But getting there has been a problem. Compared against the other nine guys leading the league in steals, Gordon is the only one with an on-base percentage under .300, and he's among the top in strikeouts.
Sure, Gordon could wind up with 60 steals, but he'll hurt you in at least three other categories. If you've got speed to burn, I'd see if I could use Gordon's name to upgrade to a broader, more consistent contributor.
Trevor Cahill was pretty solid when he was with the Athletics, and a Cy Young candidate after going 18-8 in 2010.
He stammered through the start of this season with the Diamondbacks, going just 2-5 with an ERA around 4.0. But Cahill has been a new version of his old self in June, undefeated in three starts against the Padres, A's and Angels with 20 Ks against eight walks.
But Cahill is one of those pitchers who can be great in real life, but just kind of good in fantasy. He's never been a strikeout artist and his current K/9 of 6.6 is a full K above his average. The Angels actually helped him out a ton on Saturday by striking out eight times even though Cahill only threw 58 strikes out of 104 pitches.
He's a nice guy to have on your team, but certainly not as electric as he seems right now.
You might be able to expect more production from Trevor Plouffe, but probably not like this.
After taking over the hot corner for the Twins, Plouffe has been the top batter in baseball. He's batting .388 in June with nine homers and 16 RBI, and his point output has only been on the rise.
A first-round draft pick in 2004, the potential has always been there, but not necessarily the power. Take a look at his numbers this year before going on the tear: He hit .121 in April and March and then .185 in May. And the home runs are an unexpected development as Plouffe never hit more than 15 during any season in the minors, and his lifetime average there was just .258.
A regression has got to set in soon, so I'd shop him now while people are still looking up how to pronounce his name.
If Gold Glove awards counted towards fantasy stats, Torii Hunter would be a first-round pick.
But as it is, he's a mostly reliable middle-round pick with a bigger name than his usual numbers. Although he's good for about a .275 average, Hunter hasn't hit more than 23 home runs since 2007—the only year he topped 100 RBI during his 15-year career.
But every now and then, Hunter explodes into that form for a month or so—and June has been a lot like that. He's hitting .327 with four homers and 10 RBI already, which has certainly helped him raise his overall average to .275 and almost doubled his power output.
Don't get me wrong: Hunter is a useful guy to own. But he's a third-tier hitter who could bring you a second-tier one.
Hughes apparently found the flaw, fixed it and has since won three straight games. During that stretch, he's only allowed four runs and recorded 23 strikeouts while walking just seven. This year, he's enjoying his best K/9 rate (8.8) and BB/9 rate (2.4) since he became a full-time starter in 2009.
Is it possible he's finally turned the corner? Definitely. Is it possible he's just going through a hot stretch and that he's bound to return to his sketchy ways? Definitely. He's allowed 15 homers in 13 games, and that's his worst rate ever. However, he does wear pinstripes, and that makes him a much more valuable bargaining chip than most other starters who are 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA.
Is it just me or does it seem increasingly crazy that Jimmy Rollins ever won the NL MVP? I mean, obviously his 30-40 in 2007 was impressive, but the guy has barely sniffed those kind of numbers since.
Much like the name branding Miguel Tejada enjoyed for years, Rollins is almost always considered among the premier shortstops in the game. Even though he's been lukewarm this season (he hit .235 in April and May and then .241 in May), there are plenty who believe Rollins is just a hot streak away from regaining that MVP form.
So when Rollins hits one of those streaks, like he's been in this month (.319 with two home runs and eight RBI), it makes him much more marketable than usual. Just don't bring up the fact that he's still only on pace for a 10-25 season.
Good luck finding many pitchers not named Dickey who are hotter than Ryan Dempster right now.
In his last three starts, Dempster hasn't allowed a run while striking out 12 and walking only three Red Sox, Brewers and Twins. There's no disputing that he's consistently one of the most overlooked pitchers in the game, and he's definitely capable of quietly keeping himself within the top 25.
But his current numbers are deceiving. He tallied a ridiculous 60 points in Week 11, preceded by weeks where he brought you only seven, 14 and negative-one. Before his current run, he hadn't won in 18 consecutive starts. On top of that, there are few starters with more of an uncertain immediate future.
With Theo Epstein and the Cubs looking to liquidate expensive assets, Dempster is all but assured to be playing somewhere else by the end of the season. That could prove to be a good or bad thing, but you don't have to wait around to find out.