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Wednesday, May 22, 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.
Yesterday, some commenters expressed an interest in increasing the ownership threshold to 70 percent for starting pitchers. Is there wider interest in seeing that change? Let's have an informal poll/discussion in today's comments.
Pitcher (to start): Francisco Liriano is the top option available today. He is opposed by the Cubs.
Paul Maholm would fit here if I increased the ownership threshold. He will face the Twins.
Jorge de la Rosa has put together some solid numbers this season, but a low strike out rate is mildly concerning.
Pitcher (bum): The Braves offense against Vance Worley should help out Maholm.
The Tigers will face Ubaldo Jimenez. He is coming off a couple of strong outings, but it's hard to weight a couple of good games over a couple of terrible seasons.
I said it yesterday and I'll say it again: Jason Hammel turned back into a pumpkin. Which puts him on the All-Style team since he now matches the Orioles colors.
Today's marquee match-up is Tyler Lyons versus Burch Smith, a.k.a. two guys whom very few people know anything about.
Hitter (power): Travis Hafner has cooled down, but Hammel could perk him back up.
Scott Hairston could run into a Liriano mistake. He's known to throw his share of mistakes.
Cody Ross will face de la Rosa.
Chris Denorfia gains the platoon advantage against Lyons.
Lorenzo Cain will see Jordan Lyles.
Pitcher (to start): Kevin Gausman will get his first major league start tomorrow against the Blue Jays. His ownership rate is already up to 14 percent, so act fast.
Owners are quitting on Edwin Jackson's poor ERA, but his FIP/xFIP are right around the expected 3.80 mark. The Pirates aren't a walk in the park these days, but he seems to be a pitcher worth owning in way more than 30 percent of leagues.
Zach McAllister has a tough match-up against the Red Sox. He's up to 31 percent owned.
Joe Blanton is getting smacked around like a ... I think I'll opt not to finish that joke.
I'm actively rooting against Rick Porcello because I want Drew Smyly to get an opportunity. Porcello's peripherals suggest he'll be his usual self going forward.
Hitter (power): Nate Schierholtz will face Jeanmar Gomez.
Travis Snider will see Jackson.
Oswaldo Arcia may enjoy Porcello.
Hang onto Cain.
Aaron Hicks is still struggling mightily, but he's a stretch option for tomorrow's thin slate.
I'm not sure why, but Jose Bautista received a rare and much-coveted lifetime pass. He and a guest can attend any MLB game free for life.
Mike Trout hit for the cycle yesterday.
Chris Perez quit Twitter. Surprisingly, people are dicks on the internet. And I'm just being generous by adding that "on the internet" qualifier.
The Midwest has some impending storms, which could affect the Pirates, Cubs, White Sox, Red Sox, Tigers, and Indians.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 6:37am
Before we get to today's regularly scheduled baseball chatter, I want to take a moment to offer my condolences and thoughts to those affected by the tornados in Oklahoma this week. Last month, after the Boston Marathon bombing, I wrote this, and I think it applies here as well:
The world is a big, beautiful place, but sometimes it is immeasurably bad. Boston's story is sadly not unique either, as you are undoubtedly aware. Tragedies unfold every hour of every day, in every nook and cranny of the world. It's part of the deal we make to live in it.In many ways, this week's tragedies in Oklahoma are more intimately connected with the baseball world, as so many players, coaches, fans, and media hail from the Sooner State. I was touched to see members of the baseball community reaching out to do their part to help, including Diamondbacks prospect Archie Bradley and Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp. If you're able to, I urge you donate to those who have lost so very much this week.
Enough real life. Let's get on to the fantasy stuff, shall we? We shall!
Mitch Moreland has seen his ownership rates skyrocket since he was featured here (a direct result of being featured here, no doubt). The Texas first baseman is now owned in 89 percent of CBS leagues, so I hope you heeded my advice and bought when I said that would be a good idea. The ultimate upside here still seems limited to me, but he's hitting right now and that should only get better as the weather heats up in Texas this summer. James Loney has also continued to produce, albeit less homer-ly than Moreland, and he's owned about 25 percent fewer on CBS.
Waiver Wire favorite Welington Castillo has tailed off considerably, his last five games notwithstanding. His power is now below average and he's due even more regression because of his still-high .395 BABIP. But hey, at least he drew a walk!
Matt Garza and Andrew Bailey returned from injuries. If either is unowned in your league as a result of their respective trips to the disabled list, you should remedy that immediately. John Danks also will return this Friday, but I would take a more measured approach with that one. It seems Dylan Axelrod will hold on to his spot in the White Sox rotation for the time being, and he's actually been surprisingly not that bad. I didn't listen to my own advice to avoid him earlier this year, and he hasn't hurt me yet.
Scott Kazmir got slapped around by the Mariners, and I'm sticking by my advice that he doesn't offer a whole lot of value for fantasy owners.
Today, let's look at three starting pitching options for those in deep leagues.
Jerome Williams | Los Angeles Angels | SP | ESPN: 7.5 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 10 percent; CBS: 40 percent
YTD: 2-1, 3.05 ERA, in 38.1 innings pitched
ZiPS Projection: 6-7, 4.14 ERA in 133 innings pitched
The Junkyard Dog!
In my continual scan of CBS' "Most Added Players" list, I was somewhat shocked to see Jerome Williams (yes that Jerome Williams) as one of the most added pitchers last week, jumping from six percent to 40. I should not have been. The Angels' rotation has been terrible (fifth worst ERA in the majors) and Williams has been very solid in posting a 3.05 ERA, 3.71 FIP and 4.50 xFIP.
His strikeout rate of 14.7 percent is nothing to write home about, but his walk rate of 6.4 percent is encouraging, and he's getting a fair number of ground balls (41 percent). He's posted quality starts in two of his three trips to the bump, both against the anemic White Sox offense, and he's likely to keep his spot in the rotation until Jered Weaver returns.
There's a lot to like the further you dig into his PITCHfx data, as well. His velocity, at 92.7 miles per hour, is as high as it's ever been. He's generating a healthy number of swings outside of the strike zone (34 percent), he's throwing tons of first pitch strikes (63.1 percent) and his swinging strike rate (10.6 percent) is similarly strong.
Recommendation: Worth owning while Weaver is sidelined. He may lose his job after that, but let's cross that bridge when we come to it.
Jair Jurrjens | Baltimore Orioles| SP | ESPN: 1.1 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 0 percent; CBS: 10 percent
YTD: Four earned runs, five strikeouts, one walk, five innings pitched in his one start this year
ZiPS Projection: 3-8, 6.14 ERA, 82 innings pitched
Jurrjens made his season debut for the Orioles Saturday in place of Wei-Yin Chen, who is sidelined with an oblique strain. He's never had a ton of swing and miss in his game, and it's very clear now that his absurdly good 2009 (in which he had the fifth best ERA in the majors) was a complete outlier. It's just one start, but Jurrjens was not bad in that one start, and he's been decent at Triple-A this season.
In his eight starts there, he has a strikeout rate of 17.1 and a walk rate of 7.1 percent. His velocity does not appear to be back where it once was, but it's very possible Jurrjens is not awful. Or, at least it's possible that he's not as awful as he was last year when he vomited up a 6.89 ERA for the Braves before they realized he was not helping them very much.
The Orioles sent him back to Triple-A to make room for Miguel Gonzalez, but it's entirely possible (perhaps even likely) that they will bring him up again to make his next start later this week.
Recommendation: Break glass in case of emergency.
Roy Oswalt | Colorado Rockies| SP | ESPN: 0.0 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 1 percent; CBS: 5 percent
ZiPS Projection: 8-6, 4.45 ERA in 111.2 innings pitched
Oswalt signed with the Rockies earlier this year, which caused many owners (who had been speculating on him signing in a more pitcher-friendly situation) to jump ship. He's gotten good press this week, though, and is about to set off to Double-A, where, at 35, he will make a handful of starts before joining the big club.
Oddly enough, Jeff Zimmerman covered both Jurrjens and Oswalt over at Fangraphs last year, and came to this conclusion about Oswalt (then with the Rangers).
Oswalt looks to be a bit of an intriguing pitcher. Currently, his talent level is not exactly known. He looks to get plenty of wins by being on the Rangers. His WHIP and ERA may suffer a bit when throwing at home. Right now, I would look at spot starting him against weaker teams at home or when the Rangers are on the road.Temper the wins thing, change the Rangers to Rockies, and the statement still holds very true. He's still just 35 years old, and while his 5.80 ERA last year with the Rangers was certainly ugly, there was a fair amount of bad luck involved there as well.
Recommendation: Worth a shot in deep leagues. Wait and see in mixed leagues. Oswalt is the kind of veteran pitcher fantasy league owners love to undervalue.
Posted by Jack Weiland at 3:15am
The hardest thing to do in fantasy baseball is to sell high on a known stud. Well, perhaps that’s actually misstated; it would be incredibly easy to sell Miguel Cabrera right now—owners would line up around the block. But, the action that requires the most self-discipline is to sell high on a known stud. But, objectively, it’s the proper move.
Let’s think through a rational approach to trading Miguel Cabrera.
I think it’s agreed that if Cabrera finishes this season at 110/40/130/.330, he’d have justified a first overall pick—even if somebody else winds up as the top overall producer.
Cabrera, as great as he is, is essentially a known quantity and when it comes to known quantities, we can think of potential production lines in terms of probability. An “average” Cabrera season represents the most probable outcome, and as you travel away from that mark—in either direction—the probability of such a season decreases. I’d consider the hypothetical season line I proposed above as slightly toward the good side of average for Miggy— maybe half a standard deviation to the plus, if I had to estimate. Now, here’s the question: Does his start to this season change those expectations?
Essentially, it does not. Miguel Cabrera is still a known quantity. There’s was a non-negligible probability for him to produce a .350/45/150 season before the season started, and that probability still exists. But, the fact that he had this torrid first quarter that has him on pace for a season out of the 1930s doesn’t necessarily make the +2 standard deviation more likely than the average season, or more likely than such a season was on draft night.
So, while it is exciting and very tempting to think that Cabrera is in the midst of re-calibrating his ceiling, at the age of 30 it’s more likely that he’s produced 35 pdercent of his full output in 25 percent of the elapsed time frame. That’s the essence of selling high.
Further, if Cabrera does wind up posting a significantly better-than-average season, all he’d have to do to achieve that would be to be his “normal self” for the rest of the season. To have a fantastic season, by his own standards, all he really needs to do is be 100 percent of himself for three quarters of the season after having been more like 120 percent of himself for another quarter.
So, the takeaway here is that the two most likely outcomes for Cabrera throughout the rest of 2013 are that he is either his average self, or less than that. If you are selling him, you are most likely selling a quantity worse than what you acquired on draft day, or most cautiously, the same quantity you acquired.
However, one would have to assume that his value on the market is higher than ever now. And, this is why, as hard as it may be, the right thing to do today is to sell. Solicit offers at the very least!
Part of the reason Cabrera owners are reticent to trade him is centered on the potential failure of the players for whom they trade more than a relatively irrational expectation of future super-Miggy production. Cabrera is probably the most consistent producer in the game and a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I’m sympathetic to this line of thought. Reliability is an important facet of a player from a fantasy perspective, but it is a hand that shouldn’t be overplayed.
Generally speaking, I would not suggest swinging for the fences when trying to trade Cabrera. You want to increase production while not substantially increasing volatility. Therefore, I would not simply look for the pre-ranked top-25 player who is just having the worst season and blindly try to add him. If you are going to try for the biggest elite player turnaround possible, I’d suggest qualifying that strategy by looking for the player who best fits this archetype: the most historically consistent player still in the neighborhood of physical prime whose early season swoon has the weakest external explanation.
Some of the highest pre-ranked players off to bad starts don’t necessarily fit that mold well. Albert Pujols comes close, but it seems he’s less than 100 percent physically more often nowadays. Either a DL stint or playing through lingering pain are harbingers of disappointment.
Josh Hamilton fits the bill somewhat too, but I don’t think he’s been very consistent. His two best seasons have been somewhat anomalous. Last year, he posted career high home run and RBI numbers, and in his MVP season he put up an uncharacteristically high batting average. Plus, he’s been injured fairly regularly. He usually finds a way to be elite, but it’s hard to determine what to expect in terms of how he’s going to get there, which is a problem from a team-building standpoint.
Matt Kemp kind of fits the bill, but is coming off an injury. And so on, and so forth.
If you are comfortable with the rebound potential of any of those players, they make fine targets, but I wouldn’t stay away from a trade simply because you can’t easily identify a perfect target who has been a major disappointment. Another strategy would be to ask for a pretty reliable high-level player who is chugging along only a bit below expectation and then try to add on top of that.
Owners of Joey Votto or Andrew McCutchen or Adrian Beltre are probably not dancing in the streets right now, but these players have been fine thus far. Perhaps there’s some “value” to be gained in adding those players, and you can add an additional highly useful player into the deal. That’s a second way to win. If you were to ask for one of those players plus that team’s best closer or second best (or in some cases, best) starter, you could probably get it.
At the very least, Cabrera is so hot right now that there’s almost no offer you could propose to another owner that he’d consider offensively bad. Announce on the message board that you are entertaining offers. Create a bidding war. You can always say no.
Do something! Create action. Derive information.
There are likely owners in your league willing to overpay for Cabrera, but the burden of drawing them out is on his owner’s shoulders.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 3:12am
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