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THT's Fantasy Archives
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Welcome to THT Fantasy's Roster Doctor. If you'd like your team to be analyzed by one of our fantasy baseball experts, please send your full roster to this address. Also be sure to include your league's player pool (mixed, AL-only, NL-only), number of teams, scoring format (roto, head-to-head, points, etc.), categories, whether or not it's a keeper league, and any other pertinent information. If your roster is selected it will be analyzed in a future Roster Doctor column.
Time was a little short for me this week so I did not have time to finish part two of the strikeout debate article, so instead you are treated to an extra Roster Doctor today! I decided to go traditional...
Player Pool: Mixed
No. of Teams: 12
Categories: Traditional 5x5
Scoring Type: Head-to-Head
Other notes: Nine keepers per year
C - Mike Napoli
1B - Lance Berkman
2B - Chase Utley
3B - Alex Rodriguez
SS - Jose Reyes
OF - Alfonso Soriano
OF - Bobby Abreu
OF - Johnny Damon
Util - Joey Votto
BN - Kurt Suzuki
BN - Mark Reynolds
BN - Juan Pierre
BN - Daniel Murphy
BN - Andrew McCutcheon
SP - Zack Greinke
SP - Rich Harden
SP - James Shields
SP - Ervin Santana
RP - Heath Bell
RP - Huston Street
BN - Derek Lowe
BN - Ted Lilly
BN - Gil Meche
BN - Kris Medlen
BN - Fernando Rodney
As usual, I will start with the hitting; the impressive hitting, I should say. Your lineup is stacked from top to bottom and even has solid depth. Napoli and Suzuki are two good young catchers, one with obscene power and the other with good all-around skills. Your infielders sound like a list of MVP candidates and all are performing decently well as of late. Berkman, who was the lone concern, has really picked it up in the last week as he should have been expected to. No reason to panic there.
Although on the older side, all three of your outfielders are playing great so far this season. Damon in particular, is playing exceptionally well and I would look to sell him high right now. Looking from the perspective of a keeper league, his value might never be higher than it is now for the rest of his career. As someone living in the New York area who gets to see him everyday, it is only a matter of time until pitchers stop lobbing him that down and inside pitch he loves to turn on. See what you can get for him.
Votto is a monster of a hitter, but I am concerned about him right now. As an A's fan, I know a thing about fluky injuries, and the repeated dizziness he has been experiencing lately is hopefully the result of just a minor illness. Most likely that will be the case and he will be back in the lineup before we know it, but for the next couple of days bench him.
You mention your offense has struggled the past few weeks; I see little area for upgrade so I would stick with the guys you got for now. Any struggles are the result of random fluctuations due to the small sample size of one week.
Looking at your pitching, it appears to be fairly good, but I do not see it as being as dominant as you describe. For as many pitchers that have been good for you this year (Greinke, Lowe, Lilly, Broxton) I can name as many that have done poorly (Harden, Shields, Santana, Meche). Shields I find particularly concerning because of his uncharacteristically low K rate and high walk rate.
In my opinion, it is your pitching that you should be focusing on improving—more than your lineup—and I would look to acquire an ace type of pitcher. You have solid depth, your rotation goes more than five pitchers deep, but you lack a second sure thing besides Greinke. It would be beneficial to sacrifice a little of your depth in exchange for one more ace-type of pitcher. And if it is too hard to get an ace, you could always target a buy low like Lester or maybe even Verlander.
Medlen is a nice pickup, and although I might not start him right away, the stats he put up in Triple-A this year are too impressive to ignore. He could turn out to be an asset down the road.
Stay active like you have, rework your rotation a little, and I think your team should stay in contention for a championship this year.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:41am
During the early days of the 2009 season, many people involved in fantasy baseball were obsessed with Cliff Lee. Not the player himself. But rather the ideal.
The question, “Who is the next Cliff Lee?” was posed again and again, referring to a player hanging on the waiver wire expected to emerge, dominate, and stick to a fantasy roster for good.
For a while, it looked like Cliff Lee would become the new Chris Shelton, as in a player who serves as an object lesson to fantasy players everywhere. (In Shelton’s case, we mean a player who has a strong April and then fades into obscurity.)
But Cliff Lee may not be the most influential ballplayer for those in fantasy leagues. That honor now seems to belong to Joe Saunders.
Joe Saunders doesn’t give statheads much to like. He strikes out less than five batters every nine innings. He’s fairly meager in allowing walks—about 2.5 per 9 in the last three years—but not at a level where anybody would call it an elite skill. He gives up enough fly balls and home runs (about one every nine innings) to pose some concern.
If pitchers control three outcomes—a strikeout, a walk, and a home run—Saunders doesn’t do any of these things well enough to support great success in the major leagues. And yet, despite the naysayers, Saunders has emerged as one of the most valuable pitchers in fantasy leagues, with a 22-9 record and a sub-3.5 ERA since the beginning of 2008.
Now, anytime a pitcher flashes great results and so-so skills, the retort eventually becomes, “Well, what about Joe Saunders?”
Well, what about him? And what about Matt Palmer, Matt Harrison, Zach Duke, and any other pitcher who can’t prevent balls from being hit in play?
These guys may all be tempting to grab based on recent success. As Saunders shows, it’s certainly possible for a pitcher to overcome the absence of strong peripherals and pitch or luck into having value.
A couple years ago, another low-skill pitcher, Brian Bannister, gave an interview that briefly excited the statistical community by teasing that smarts could possibly cover shortcomings. Bannister struggled thereafter, but he’s back now, with a 3-1 record and a 1.8 ERA heading into tonight’s battle with Cliff Lee.
On the other hand, we have to point out Armando Galarraga, who may just as well been Joe Saunders’ twin last year. Last year, Galarraga had a 13-7 record and a 3.74 ERA despite having similarly iffy skills. This year, Galarraga teased us with a good start, but has since collapsed, allowing 21 runs in the last 17 innings he’s pitched.
That’s the danger with any pitcher who is allowing the ball to be hit into play, or can’t eradicate the dangers associated with walks and home runs. It’s a tightrope dance with the fates of luck.
Personally, we prefer perennial underachievers like Javier Vazquez to perpetual overachievers like Joe Saunders. With Vazquez, your downside is a good amount of strikeouts and a very good WHIP. Unfortunately, wins and ERA don’t always follow. But with overachievers, your upside is capped and your floor is wrecked ratios.
Being risk-adverse won’t always pay off. There’s no way of knowing who will equal Joe Saunders’ success this coming season. Frankly, we’re still not sure whether Joe Saunders himself can keep this up. And that’s the point. If there’s something you don’t know, sometimes it’s best to just leave it alone.