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THT's Fantasy Archives
Wednesday, May 01, 2013
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice for tinkerers and daily fantasy players. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective, including notice of impending weather events, new injuries, and changes to platoon situations. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
The daily picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner.
Pitcher (to start): I'm using Dillon Gee today not because he's trustworthy, but because he faces the worst lineup I've seen in years—the Miami Marlins.
The Astros have a surprisingly decent offense. They remind me a bit of the patchwork unit used by the Athletics—just with substantially less talent. In any case, David Phelps faces them today and the Astros' greatest proficiency remains striking out.
Andrew Cashner is up to 32 percent owned. He was never available in any of my leagues, although a league mate is trying to trade him to me for Bryce Harper.
Wei-Yin Chen isn't the most stable choice, but he should have a hard time earning the loss given the Mariners' weak offense and Aaron Harang's early season struggles.
Trevor Bauer starts today, and while I don't even like the match-up against a weak to mid-tier offense like the Phillies, he probably won't be available for long.
Pitcher (bum): Harang is the guy to stack against today.
I'm not sure what's going on with Erik Bedard or if he's even allowed to pitch over five innings at this point.
Hitter (power): Jonny Gomes will have the platoon advantage against Mark Buehrle. Throw Daniel Nava in the mix as well.
Hitter (speed): Will Venable should start against Scott Feldman
Juan Pierre matches up well with the Mets' indifferent defense. They're also among the easiest teams in the league to steal a base against.
Pitcher (to start): Roberto Hernandez versus Ervin Santana offers two historically cringe-worthy choices. The case for Hernandez is based on his solid peripherals and gopheritis. If he can regress to a league average home run rate and maintain the other numbers, he'll be a solid pick. The story behind how Santana climbed from bum to top recommendation is laid out below.
Run to the wire for Kyle Kendrick versus the Marlins.
Justin Grimm looks like a solid pitcher worthy of ownership. He'll find a spot in "Good enough for me" once Santana isn't crowding the space.
Pitcher (bum): Joe Blanton is overcooked at the moment.
Rick Porcello is expected to face Jordan Lyles. Which sounds like a slugfest to me.
I'll continue betting against Dan Haren.
Hitter (power): Scott Hairston will see hittable lefty Eric Stults.
Gomes and Nava continue to be a solid play against J.A. Happ.
Big bat Juan Francisco is a must-play against Haren.
Hitter (speed): Chris Denorfia faces Travis Wood, whose early-season numbers appear to be mostly smoke and mirrors.
Stephen Strasburg is not expected to miss a start due to his forearm tightness.
There could be thunderstorms late for the Rays and Royals, but I'm not sure you need to avoid this game.
Good enough for me
Santana has seen incremental improvements across the board this season, jumping from my most reliable bum to a guy I'd like to own. Most notably, he's striking out more batters by generating more whiffs and he's walking hardly anybody. His K/BB ratio is 6.20, which is elite. I think he'll remain home run prone, and he's among the easiest pitchers to swipe a base against, but the overall numbers might worth a speculative add.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:45am
Does it not seem like just yesterday when the Rangers took the field against the Astros, christening what was a newly minted baseball season? Fast-forward 30 action-packed days to today, and one whole month is in the books. It's still early, of course, but a month is a month, as roster moves, rookie performances and debuts of super prospects become more commonplace.
Since we last checked in, Andrew Cashner pitched well enough against the Giants to help cement a role in the Padres rotation, Felix Doubront punched out eight en route to a win (though the walks remain an issue), while Lucas Harrell benefited from some heavy hitting Monday against the Yankees to earn a win.
But that was so April. Let's look ahead to May baseball.
Brian Dozier | Minnesota Twins | 2B / SS | 2 percent Yahoo ownership; 1.2 percent ESPN; 13 percent CBS
YTD: 79 PA / .243 / .295 / .314 with 0 HR and 1 SB
ZiPS updated: 607 PA / .246 / .297 / .339 with 6 HR and 12 steals
Remember Aaron Hicks? Sure, you do. He was, after all, tabbed to be fantasy sleeper material as the Twins' center fielder to start the year. But then, a funny thing happened: It turns out he can’t hit big league pitching, at least not yet. So the Twins, under the impression that they have something to play for in 2013, decided to make a lineup switch on April 23, moving second baseman Dozier—hitting a measly .152 at the time—to hit atop the team’s lineup. And whaddya know? Dozier has played much better, compiling a .718 OPS since then. And in deep fantasy leagues, when a guy flashes a hint of competency to go along with dual middle infield eligibility—he appeared in 83 games at shortstop last year—we stop and take a closer look.
Drafted by the Twins in 2009, Dozier, who turns 26 this month, compiled a .298 /.370 /.409 line in 365 minor league games, achieving a 9.5 percent walk rate and a delicious 87 percent contact rate. Obviously, that’s the makings of a guy who doesn’t flail away helplessly at the plate, though it’s fair to ask how much of a fantasy force he’ll be in 2013, when you consider just 16 home runs in the minors and not a ton of stolen bases (though he swiped as many as 24 bags two years ago while shuffling between A+ and Double-A).
There’s also the question of how long he’ll last as the Twins’ primary leadoff hitter, since there are still some of us who cling to hope that Hicks will rebound before a Triple-A demotion occurs. The Twins, of course, always have the option of batting Joe Mauer third, which would allow Dozier to remain at the top of the order.
Dozier doesn’t have a tremendous ceiling, but guys who make contact and can provide decent defense up the middle usually find work at the major league level. It might be too soon to tell whether Dozier can provide immediate help in fantasy, though he’s certainly an interesting player to keep an eye on.
Recommendation: I’ll pass for the moment in standard AL-only leagues, but another good week could change that quickly.
Justin Grimm | Texas Rangers | SP | 12 percent Yahoo ownership; 9.4 percent ESPN; 31 percent CBS
YTD: 17 IP / 2.70 FIP / 7.94 K/9 / 2.12 BB/9
ZiPS updated: 121 IP / 4.81 FIP / 5.73 K/9 / 3.35 BB/9
In the topsy-turvy world of pump-and-dump, pick-em-and-cut-em fantasy baseball dumpster diving, my predictions of lucrative—or poor—returns can sometimes turn out to be completely, utterly off. Isn’t that right, Chris Heisey? I know you agree, Garrett Richards. Oh, Collin Cowgill? Don’t bother responding—you’re dead to me.
But once in awhile,
First things first: Grimm looked to be just a seat warmer a couple of weeks ago when Matt Harrison went on the disabled list with a back injury, but then that injury led to surgery for a herniated disc, zapping Harrison’s presence until midseason. Assuming Grimm can keep it together, it’s fair to presume he’ll have a steady job for at least the next two months, and he’ll have a job well beyond Harrison’s return if he can continue pitching like he has in his first three starts.
Who is Grimm? Plucked by the Rangers in the fifth round of the 2010 draft, the 24-year-old put together a 7.5 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 over 281 minor league innings, and was able to keep the ball on the ground well enough to avoid a high HR/9 rate, which is obviously a factor given Arlington’s hitter-helpful surroundings. At the major league level, Grimm has been able to maintain those strikeout numbers armed with a low-90s fastball to go along with a curveball and change-up.
As the innings mount, Grimm’s surprising K/9 will fall back down to earth, as will his 1.59 ERA, which is inflated by favorable strand and HR/FB rates. And yes, there’s no question that he’d be valued differently if his fan mail were sent to, say, Petco Park instead of Rangers Ballpark. But with a rotation spot on a good team and a strikeout rate that could very well exceed 6 K/9, I’d say Grimm has modest, if limited, appeal.
Recommendation: Worth picking up in AL-only leagues.
Nolan Arenado | Colorado Rockies | 3B | 42 percent Yahoo ownership; 35 percent ESPN; 62 percent CBS
YTD: 10 PA / .333 / .400 / .667 with 1 HR and 0 SB
ZiPS updated: 116 PA / .280 / .324 / .439 with 14 HR and 1 SB
Forget any questions about his attitude. Forget any concerns about whether he’s too raw to produce steadily in the majors. Instead, just think about the fact that Arenado, ranked 52nd on Baseball America’s Top 100 list, calls Coors Field home and will be the Rockies’ starting third baseman going forward after the team designated Chris Nelson for assignment.
Yes, Arenado’s Double-A numbers last year (.285 /.337 /.428, 12 home runs) were less dazzling than in his sparkling 2011 season, in which he crushed 20 home runs and 122 RBIs and won most valuable player honors in the Arizona Fall League. But that’s not to say 2012 was a total loss, as the 22-year-old matured, and, in some ways, put together a better season. And the fact that Troy Tulowitzki has taken the neophyte under his wing sure doesn’t sound like a bad thing.
Let’s cut to the chase. Mike Moustakas has been fantasy kryptonite so far in 2013. Will Middlebrooks was hitting .202 entering Tuesday’s action. And Pedro Alvarez is, well, Pedro Alvarez. We’ll need a few more weeks to find out how well Arenado acclimates himself to the majors, but with his upside and his position’s scarcity, a spare roster spot—if not an outright starting gig—sure sounds like a cheap asking price.
Recommendation: If he’s still available in anything but the shallowest of mixed leagues, grab him.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 3:15am
One way I offer perspective to those who overreact to their fantasy teams’ hot or cold starts is to note that teams are made up of players, and the level of significance of the standings is likely also reflected in the player rankings. Sure, things are beginning to settle in, but there are also some quite foreign names among the players whose 2013 production has ranked as elite.
That said, each year, a number of players come out of nowhere and stick as top-25 or top-50 players. Today, I’ll look the offensive players currently in the top 25, but who were projected outside the top-100 and choose which I think has the best chance of retaining elite value for the full season.
My current choices are Chris Davis, Coco Crisp, Nate McLouth, Dexter Fowler, John Buck, and Wilin Rosario.
McLouth does have some potential and Buck does have legit power, but they will likely be borderline roster-able in 12-team mixed leagues by year’s end. I’d sell high on either without question.
Some expected big things from Rosario, but there are still a few things that worry me, mainly his plate discipline. I wouldn’t be in a rush to trade him, but I’d entertain offers. He should finish as a top five catcher, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. Even as an elite catching option, it’s difficult for catchers to break into the very top of the season rankings among all players.
When it comes to Chris Davis, the most impressive thing I’ve seen from him this year has been improved plate discipline. We need to see if this continues for the season—I’m not yet convinced. As of now, I still expect basically the same thing I did coming into the season. But, if the walk rate holds for a few more weeks, I may have to reassess Davis and his sublime power
Coco Crisp is a good player who has been beset by injuries and had his production capped by hitting atop some weak offenses. There’s no reason why a healthy Crisp can’t flirt with being a top-75 player and provide 40 or more steals. But, retaining top-25 value is a reach. He’s unlikely to hit above .280 and is below average in homers and RBI.
This leaves us with my choice among this group—Dexter Fowler. I was incredibly high on Fowler coming into this season and have reaped the rewards in the leagues in which I nabbed him. There’s a lot to like about Fowler. He’s displayed very good on-base skills both in the minors and in the bigs and has consistently upped his ISO each year as a pro. Is this the year that a significant number of his doubles and triples become homers? It’s certainly within the realm of possibility. Though, I don’t expect him to continue to hit homers at this clip, 17-22 dingers is quite possible, as he enters his prime (age 27) and shows continued development. Also promising is that five of eight early season long balls have come away from Coors.
The other area that would really boost his game would be an improvement as a base stealer. Fowler certainly has the speed to be a very good one, but he has never seemed to get the technique down pat. He’s stolen as many as 43 bases in the minors, but never at a very good success rate. In the majors, he’s ran less often each year, as his inability to turn his speed into highly successful stealing revealed itself. Still, he’s three for four early in 2013 and could still put a total in the mid-teens.
As long as Fowler continues to get on at a high rate, he’ll have plenty of chances to both swipe a few bags and score a bunch of runs. An end season line of something like .300/90/20/70/15 does not seem unrealistic at all, and that’s just outside top-25 production—maybe top 40 or so. I would not move Fowler for anything but an established stud.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 3:01am
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