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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Looking for a starting pitcher to help you reach your league's innings max? Jays SP Scott Richmond could be as good a choice as any available on your waiver wire (I'd strongly consider Scott Baker as well). His 4.09 ERA might have already created a believer in your league, but if not, his 4.10 LIPS ERA backs it up. While his extreme fly ball tendencies limit his ceiling a bit, he is striking out over 8 batters per 9 innings with above average control, and it's possible that could end up going even higher. That's because, what I hadn't noticed about him until today, is how many swinging strikes he's inducing (which has been shown to correlate well with strikeouts). USA Today's Steve Gardner displayed this table today of the league-leaders in swinging strike rate:
+---------------------------------+-----+ | PITCHER | SS% | +---------------------------------+-----+ | Rich Harden, Cubs | 25% | | Scott Richmond, Toronto | 20% | | Francisco Liriano, Minnesota | 20% | | Ryan Dempster, Cubs | 19% | | Jonathan Sanchez, San Francisco | 19% | | Javier Vazquez, Atlanta | 19% | +---------------------------------+-----+
That's some elite company. Richmond may not dazzle with ridiculous velocity, but his fastball does have ridiculous movement (nearly a foot of rise!) and he mixes it in with some solid secondary offerings. If you've been scouring the waiver wire for a pitcher to help down the stretch, you might not need to look much further.
Posted by Derek Carty at 4:45pm
The season is about to head into the final month. Anybody competing in a league that allows daily transactions should take a hard look at their roster for potential cuts.
In the final month, justifying a player's roster slot becomes more difficult. Even players who you may expect to perform better than what’s available on the waiver wire should be subject to close scrutiny. Is your team better off cutting a player for the opportunity to use that player’s roster spot for a stream of alternative available players with good daily matchups?
You might see Milton Bradley, for example, as offering better potential than anybody available on your waiver wire. But how much better will Bradley be than the pool of players who are not rostered in your league? If the answer is “just a little,” he probably deserves to be cut.
Over the course of a season, under a large sample size of games, you can feel confident that a player projected above the masses will indeed perform up to those expectations. (It won’t always happen, but it will more times than not.) But with fewer games to play, the rule of small sample sizes dictates that practically anything can happen, and player performance will not always match skill level. Accordingly, one should be less confident that a projection will bear out.
That’s the first reason.
Of course, a smaller degree of confidence doesn’t mean no confidence. If you see Player X as being better than Waiver Wire Players A, B, and C, there remains a reasonable probability that Player X will outperform many of those available players. But you still may wish to cut him.
In many leagues, teams find themselves below the maximum games allowed per position or find they have a number of innings to yet pitch. A team holding a player who barely outperforms the waiver wire pool may wish to analyze whether it would get more production from players who contribute every day. After all, major league baseball clubs have off days and on those days, unless your league allows for a very deep bench of reserves, you’re probably sacrificing an opportunity to have a player with a good matchup in your active lineup to hold onto a player who isn’t playing.
This becomes especially true for pitchers as they only play once or twice per week. It sometimes helps to work backward.
For example, last week, the San Diego Padres announced they would be shutting down young phenom Mat Latos after just two more starts. Both of those starts are away from the pitching haven, Petco Park. Anybody who heard the announcement last Thursday might have asked: Is holding Latos for 10 days and two away starts worth more than opening his roster position for the best 10 spot starts in that intervening time?
A question like this can only be answered by looking at the standings and your league’s positional allowances. A team under their innings pace and with breathing room in ERA and WHIP might wish to take quantity over quality. The same is true on the batting end—a team that feels points stability in batting average might look to amass as many games as possible from batters, and thus, more runs, RBIs, steals and home runs.
This advice only applies to daily transactional roto leagues, of course. And we’re brought back to our argument on the confidence factor. With just a month left of baseball, it’s hard to say that a player with a certain skill set is going to have production that matches those skills. What we can say with more confidence is that more games typically means more production.
For a player only barely better than the rest, you may wish to part ways for the above reasons.
Posted by Eriq Gardner at 2:47am
Hordes of players will be joining the major league ranks on Sept. 1 when rosters expand. I am going to run through some of the bigger names and tell you what type of impact they are likely to have.
In his third MLB season, Arizona outfielder Chris Young has taken a major step backwards. Instead of putting up good power and speed numbers with a poor average, he has produced average power and good speed numbers with a downright abysmal batting average this year.
+--------+---------+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+ | Season | Team | AB | R | HR | RBI | SB | AVG | +--------+---------+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+ | 2007 | D-backs | 569 | 85 | 32 | 68 | 27 | 0.237 | | 2008 | D-backs | 625 | 85 | 22 | 85 | 14 | 0.248 | | 2009 | D-backs | 315 | 35 | 7 | 28 | 11 | 0.194 | +--------+---------+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+
Even with a depleted outfield, on Aug. 10 the Diamondbacks decided to send down Young to the minors, where in 10 games he has strutted his stuff, batting .350 with a home run and two steals. Still alarming are his 10 strikeouts in 44 Triple-A plate appearances, so I am skeptical Young will continue to strut when back in the bigs.
Couple that with uncertain playing time—due to Justin Upton and Eric Brynes returning from the DL and Gerardo Parra and Trent Oeltjan staying in the mix—and you've got a situation that seems best to stay away from. Let someone else take a chance on him.
Another disappointment, Chris Davis, will surely be called up by the contending Rangers. In 44 Triple-A games, Davis has really gotten his act together, batting .333 with six home runs. That home run total is less than you would expect, but intuition tells me he was probably working most on being selective and making contact with pitches than trying to blast them into different area codes.
He was successful in shaving a few percentage points off his K rate to 23.5 percent and most notably doubled his walk rate to 13 percent. When called up, I expect Davis to play well, batting around .250-.260 and hitting as many home runs as his playing time will allow.
He will be battling with Hank Blalock and Andruw Jones for playing time—two hitters batting similar to how Davis will—so Davis should be added mostly in AL-only and deeper (14-plus teams) mixed leagues.
I'm excited for next year and hoping the Rangers send plenty of playing time his way in September; he deserves it.
Hyped Brewers prospect Mat Gamel is another youngster looking to have an impact in September. I am skeptical, however, that any impact he will have will be positive.
After a quick start to the season in Triple-A, people were expecting him to win the Brewers' third base job by midseason. However, after a poor major league showing, Gamel found himself back down in the minors after a two-month stint. And since returning to Triple-A, Gamel has looked far from the player who ran over Double-A last year and Triple-A in the beginning of this year. Take a look:
Note: 2009-a represents Gamel's numbers in the minors before getting called to the majors; 2009-b are his numbers after.
Those are worrisome numbers over his last 215 at-bats split between the majors and Triple-A, and Gamel's strikeout rate over that span—a whopping 40 percent in the majors and 36 percent in Triple-A since—show that perhaps this 24-year-old third baseman could use a bit more seasoning before he gets truly tasteful.
Other people seem to be more optimistic about Gamel's immediate future than me; let them worry about him.
That's all for now. On Thursday expect to see the breakdown on another 3-4 players. Thanks to Fangraphs for some of the numbers, and a great resource is Matthew Pouliot's breakdown of every team's September call-up situation, both American and National League.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:46am
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