December 11, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
Or you can search by:
THT E-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
our CafePress store. We've got baseball caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs and even wall clocks with the classy THT logo prominently displayed. Also, check out the THT Bookstore. Please support your favorite baseball site by purchasing something today.
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
On Monday, I examined two ERA estimators, FIP and LIPS, and discussed the pitchers who have been most undervalued or overvalued by FIP so far this year. For my discussion on the shortcomings of FIP, be sure to check out that article. For an explanation of LIPS, check out David Gassko's primer from yesterday.
As a couple of readers pointed out, while almost all of the players on my list from Monday had abnormally high or low HR/FB rates (which is to be expected since FIP doesn't normalize HR/FB), there were a few pitchers who saw a big disparity between FIP and LIPS yet had completely normal HR/FB rates. How could this be?
The answer is that while the biggest difference between LIPS and FIP is the fact that LIPS normalizes HR/FB, LIPS also takes into account a few other things that FIP does not. So today, I'm going to look at a few of the starting pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched and at least a 0.50 LIPS/FIP difference and examine why this difference exists.
2009 - SP with largest differences between LIPS and FIP
+-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+------+----------+----------+-------+ | LAST | FIRST | G | GS | IP | ERA | FIP | LIPS ERA | LIPS-FIP | HR/FB | +-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+------+----------+----------+-------+ | Hammel | Jason A | 12 | 9 | 54.0 | 4.33 | 3.99 | 4.94 | 0.95 | 11 | | Cook | Aaron | 13 | 13 | 76.0 | 4.26 | 4.70 | 5.41 | 0.71 | 15 | | Halladay | Roy | 14 | 14 | 103.0 | 2.53 | 2.62 | 3.25 | 0.63 | 10 | | Beckett | Josh | 12 | 12 | 76.3 | 3.77 | 3.53 | 4.14 | 0.61 | 10 | | Buehrle | Mark | 12 | 12 | 80.7 | 3.24 | 4.15 | 4.76 | 0.61 | 11 | | Cabrera | Daniel A | 9 | 8 | 40.0 | 5.85 | 6.36 | 6.95 | 0.59 | 10 | | Hampton | Mike | 12 | 12 | 67.0 | 4.70 | 4.64 | 5.22 | 0.58 | 13 | | Floyd | Gavin C | 13 | 13 | 82.0 | 4.94 | 3.79 | 4.29 | 0.50 | 10 | +-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+------+----------+----------+-------+ | Slowey | Kevin | 13 | 13 | 78.7 | 4.23 | 4.09 | 3.57 | -0.52 | 11 | | Young | Chris | 13 | 13 | 73.7 | 4.76 | 5.13 | 4.16 | -0.97 | 11 | +-------------+------------+----+----+-------+------+------+----------+----------+-------+Note: For continuity's sake, these numbers haven't been update since Monday's article.
Jason Hammel - Worse than FIP indicates
Hammel has the largest negative difference between FIP and LIPS so far in 2009, and I can see two primary reasons for this.
1) Hammel pitches for the Rockies and, therefore, in Coors Field. As Coors inflates run scoring by 9.3 percent, this will have a large impact on Hammel's numbers that FIP simply ignores.
2) Hammel's infield fly ball rate (2.7 percent) is lower than league average (3.9 percent).
Aaron Cook - Worse than FIP indicates.
Cook is interesting in that his LIPS ERA is worse than his FIP, yet his FIP is being driven by an abnormal 15 percent HR/FB. If you were to normalize the HR/FB and apply the FIP formula, the difference would actually be even larger (his xFIP is 4.31, a 1.10 difference from LIPS).
Like Jason Hammel, being a Rockie has a lot to do with this. The run-scoring in Coors obviously has a big effect as these are the top two guys on the list. In addition, Cook's infield fly ball rate is a measly 0.4 percent compared to a league average of 3.9 percent. As he allows a ton of balls in play to begin with, the effect is amplified.
Roy Halladay - Worse than FIP indicates
Halladay's difference is being driven by the same two factors as Cook.
1) The Rogers Centre inflates run scoring by 3.1 percent.
2) His infield fly ball rate (2.7 percent) is lower than league average (3.9 percent).
Mark Buehrle and Gavin Floyd - Worse than FIP indicates
Both induce fewer infield flies than average and both call hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular home.
Chris Young - Better than FIP indicates
Chris Young has the most extreme LIPS/FIP difference of any pitcher in baseball this year, whether under or overvalued. Three factors are driving this:
1) PETCO reduces run scoring by 7.7 percent.
2) He induces more than twice as many infield flies (7.7 percent) than league average (3.9 percent).
3) He hits fewer batters (0.24 per 9) than league average (0.35 per 9)
Kevin Slowey - Better than FIP indicates
Slowey's difference is being driven primarily by two factors.
1) He induces a lot of infield flies (6.5 percent), and because his strikeout ability is merely average-ish, the raw number of infield flies is pretty high.
2) His line drive rate (21 percent) is higher than league average (19.1 percent). Because he's letting up too many line drives, he isn't inducing as many groundballs, pop-ups, and fly balls as he should be, all of which do less damage than line drives.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:01am (12) Comments
So let's see: The four big-league teams playing Monday combined for 42 runs. Up for grabs were 13 home runs (split among 12 players) and even 5 steals. Of 40 batters, 32 got at least one hit, and 20 got at least one RBI.
In other words, it was a day on which it would be hard for a fantasy team to slip into the negatives... unless the only player whom you trotted out was one David Thomas Bush:
IP ER BB HB K Pts === == == == == ==== Bush 3.1 8 2 2 2 -5.7As winner Joshua Lapo notes, Bush's score would have been even lower if the Brewers hadn't spared him the "L."
For his effort, Josh wins a year's subscription to Heater Magazine. Josh is now also the current season leader in Worst Mondays; if he can hold that title until the end of the season, he will get a free copy of the 2010 Graphical Player, coming out in December.
Thanks to everyone who entered. Worse luck next week!
Posted by John Burnson at 10:00am (0) Comments
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Now's about the time of the year when, if you stand on your tippy-toes and squint into the distance, you may see a distant competitor running far ahead of you in saves (or home runs or wins). You're sitting in last place, or close to it, in a particular category, and you're thinking about dumping it (I'll keep referring to saves here, but feel free to replace with your chosen stat). Life would be so much easier if you only had to care about nine categories instead of 10. You could stop trolling the waiver wire for distant princes who are waiting to be promoted to kings of their bullpens after their betters lose their heads. You could trade Mike MacDougal and plug that gap in your outfield that has been leaving you with a itch at night because it mars what would otherwise be a flawless set of batters.
Should you dump that category and free your mind? There are several things to consider first. However, it bears writing right now: this isn't about playing for next year. This is about playing for this year, and I'm assuming that you didn't start the season using a strategy which neglected the stat. This also mostly concerns rotisserie leagues. Points leagues and head-to-head leagues involve different kinds of calculations (it doesn't really even make sense to talk about "dropping a category" in points leagues—points are points)
How far behind are you?
Obviously, the further behind you are in the stat, the harder it will be to catch up. I've left the question intentionally vague though: perhaps one or two competitors are not that far ahead of you, but the pack (the peloton if you're riding a bike) is further.
Why are you in last place?
Did you place your hopes on Kerry Wood and have been a victim of bad luck? Has the injury bug bitten you and your Joakim Soria? Are you stuck with some lemons like B.J. Ryan? Much as in running long distances, it is tempting to feel yourself slowly falling behind more and more (note that this is a statement about your velocity, the rate at which you acquiring saves, and not about how far back you are), and give up hope of ever catching up.
With way more than a half season left to play, though, there's a lot of time for luck to turn. Now, just because you've had bad luck, it doesn't mean you're due for good luck. So if you have some Wood-ies or Sorias on your team, you should just count on them returning to their expected rate, perhaps 1.5 saves per week or so (on the high end). Is this enough to bring you back into the pack or perhaps catch a few stragglers? The key here is to figure out whether you have the pieces on your team already. In other words, do you have Soria or do you have Ryan?
Are there other teams with spare parts or needs?
If you decide to dump saves but you have a reliever or two of some value, is there a team (or, much better, several teams) that needs saves? Does that team have a player that can help you in some other category that you think you could get in a trade? Clearly it would be better to sell your unwanted items on Ebay rather than simply put them in the trash for anyone to find for free.
On the other hand, while you are deciding whether to dump saves, you should also see if there's a team that would be willing to give you saves for one of your spare parts (or someone that you could afford to trade). Maybe another team just got Soria back from injury but already has enough closers or maybe another team is also thinking of dumping saves.
How are you doing in other categories?
Say, for example, you are leading in all the other categories but are last in saves. The only possible gain from dumping saves would then be to increase your lead in some of these other categories. But there are no rotisserie points to be had. Dumping saves in this instance isn't particularly helpful.
Obviously the flip side is if you're in the pack in, say, wins and a few extra could land you many points.
How will dumping saves affect your other categories? Will you be trading a reliever who helps (Jonathan Broxton) or hurts your ERA (Matt Capps)? The collateral damage from dropping home runs on your RBI and runs stats would probably be huge. But dumping wins, if done carefully, might help you with strikeouts, ERA and WHIP.
What category is it?
I haven't much differentiated between categories yet, but there is a difference when it comes to dumping (besides knock-on effects). If you're dumping saves and you get rid of all your relievers, you are not going to get any more saves for the rest of the season. So if you are in last place now, in last place you shall stay.
When it comes to dumping, say, batting average, things are slightly different: there's passive dumping and active dumping. Passive dumping means that you stop actively trying to catch up in the category. You're a bit or more behind in batting average but you decide not to trade for Kevin Youkilis in order to catch up. Active dumping means trading away a Kevin Youkilis in exchange for an Adam Dunn or Jay Bruce, explicitly eating the lower average in exchange for better power production.
For saves, passive dumping doesn't make much sense. If you're way behind and it isn't due to bad luck, then you aren't likely to catch up by playing your same, poor relievers. However, with the average stats, passive dumping and active dumping may each have their own logic. If you're sitting at .265 on the season, passive dumping probably means staying about there, whereas active dumping might mean going down to .250. If you're at .265, other teams might pass you on their way down, but that's a lot less likely if you've already fallen to .250. Unlike saves (sort of), standing still can sometimes mean moving up.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 2:58am (0) Comments
Looking for more prospect info? Find out where every prospect fits into the The Hardball Times ongoing Top 100 Prospects List.
New Player Breakdowns
Michael Saunders / OF / Seattle / Triple-A / 11/19/86 / ETA: 2010 / High: #26 / Low: #49 / This Week: +7
Saunders has come back masterfully from a shoulder injury that had sidelined him for the first month of the season. Look for a call up sometime this summer.
Average Year Projection:
.271 / .336 / 18 HR / 33 2B / 6 3B / 86 RBI / 86 R / 61 BB / 112 SO / 13 SB / 5 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.282 / .362 / 22 HR / 34 2B / 7 3B / 95 RBI / 93 R / 71 BB / 102 SO / 16 SB / 6 CS
6/13/09 - Saunders is one of the few true potential 30/30 players in the high minors. He has the potential to hit .300 too. But I need to see more development before I believe any of it. I love his ability to recover from injuries, but his injury history is of concern heading forward. I don't think he'll reach his ultimate potential, but he has a bright future ahead of him.
Jhoulys Chacin / SP / Colorado / Double-A / 1/7/88 / ETA: 2010 / High: #33 / Low: #35 / This Week: +1
Don't expect Colorado to be too aggressive with Chacin. They haven't been so far, and it has paid off. He may get a taste of Triple-A, but the Rockies certainly want to see even more success before he gets a glimpse of the majors.
Average Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
Prime Year Projection:
Too early to tell.
6/13/09 - Chacin's utterly dominant Advanced-A performance from last year hasn't exactly translated, but he is experiencing another strong season. He is still very young, and with another all-around uptick in his development he will join the absolute elite pitching prospects in the game.
Jeremy Hellickson / SP / Tampa Bay / Double-A / 4/8/87 / ETA: 2011 / High: #34 / Low: #35 / This Week: +1
I anticipate that Tampa will keep Hellickson in the high minors for the rest of the year so they can play it easy with his sprained shoulder. Tampa has that luxury due to their outstanding organizational rotation depth.
Average Year Projection:
190 IP / 3.79 ERA / 1.29 WHIP / 13 W / 11 L / 180 SO / 180 H / 65 BB
Prime Year Projection:
199 IP / 3.33 ERA / 1.21 WHIP / 16 W / 9 L / 204 SO / 181 H / 59 BB
6/13/09 - Hellickson is well on his way to returning to the mound after sustaining a shoulder sprain in early May. He is not in David Price's class, but he sports three strong pitches - a low-90s fastball along with a changeup and curveball that have the potential to be plus pitches. Everything could eventually add up to Hellickson dealing like an ace. His great minor league career seems to indicate as much.
New Prospect Notes
Tommy Hanson / SP / Atlanta
6/13/09 - The Braves couldn't hold back any longer. Hanson has made two major league starts, neither one all that impressive; although, in his latest outing he was able to overcome five walks on his way to allowing only two runs over five and two-thirds innings. The strikeouts are there and, long-term, I have zero worries about two tough outings to start his career.
Matt LaPorta / OF/1B / Cleveland
6/13/09 - LaPorta is back in Triple-A doing his thing. Expect him to be back with the Indians sometime this summer.
Madison Bumgarner / SP / San Francisco
6/13/09 - His Double-A stint has been every bit as dominating as I expected. Keep it up, Mad Man.
David Price/ SP / Tampa Bay
6/13/09 - His four-game big league stint has been a mixed bag. He has shown tremendous competitiveness and tenacity, resulting in only five earned runs in nineteen innings of work. But his control issues are still there, and, frankly, they scare me. Stay tuned.
Travis Snider / OF / Toronto
6/13/09 - Snider was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas in late May. He put up some lackluster stats over the period of a week before heading to the DL due to a bad back. Right now, it's hard to get a gauge on the extent of the injury. Here's to hoping that some news is on its way.
Jarrod Parker / SP / Arizona
6/13/09 - A recent bout of walks brought some of his stats back to human level. Hopefully his most recent outing, where he didn't issue a walk and K'd nine batters over six innings, is a sign that the roadblock is behind him.
Jesus Montero / C/1B / NY Yankees
6/13/09 - Montero was promoted to Double-A recently, to mixed results. Essentially, he has been catching then DHing off and on all year. It will be interesting to see whether that trend continues or if he will slowly get more playing time behind the plate. It's the hope that he will stay at catcher that has him riding this high on my board.
Mike Moustakas / 3B / Kansas City
6/13/09 - Moustakas' game has stagnated a bit over the last few weeks. Most importantly, his plate discipline hasn't progressed the way I was expecting. Last year's breakout came during the second half of the year, though. We'll see what happens this summer.
Tim Alderson / SP / San Francisco
6/13/09 - Alderson has been downright dominant over the last month. He gets a boost accordingly. All he is missing is the premium strikeout numbers. They may not be far away.
Angel Villalona / 1B / San Francisco
6/13/09 - Where is your plate discipline, Angel? He was showing signs of a dramatically improved approach at the plate in April, but things have dropped off since then. He needs to get his focus back on track.
Jordan Zimmermann / SP / Washington
6/13/09 - Zimmermann's big league performance has fallen off, but not off the cliff. His strikeouts and strikeout to walk ratio have been impressive. Look for his ERA to catch up.
Gordon Beckham / SS/3B / Chicago White Sox
6/13/09 - Beckham has pushed himself all the way to the big leagues in a short period of time. Unfortunately, his 28 at-bats have only resulted in two hits. Even more concerning, it looks like the White Sox might be serious about keeping him at third base.
Michael Stanton / OF / Florida
6/13/09 - It's time to start really paying attention. Stanton is getting his shot at Double-A pitching. So far his bat has been quiet, but for how long? It's exciting seeing his huge power potential on display against good secondary stuff.
Logan Morrison / 1B / Florida
6/13/09 - Morrison is back, and it looks like he hasn't missed a beat. Watch his Double-A development closely.
Neftali Feliz / SP/RP / Texas
6/13/09 - His walk rate is starting to slow, but so is his strikeout rate. Feliz is always unpredictable. Combine that fact with his electric stuff and you have one of the more exciting pitchers in minor league baseball. In Feliz's case that's not a good thing. Pennant-chasing Texas wants consistency before they hand him a slot in their rotation.
Brian Matusz / SP / Baltimore
6/13/09 - He has been the most dominant Advanced-A pitcher in recent weeks. When is the promotion coming? I'm salivating.
Hector Rondon / SP / Cleveland
6/13/09 - Rondon's bullpen assignment didn't last long, but his last two starts have been lackluster. Is it a bump in the road or a true trend?
New Players Added to the Bubble
Posted by Matt Hagen at 9:42pm (3) Comments
Friday, June 19, 2009
Colby Rasmus | St. Louis | OF
True Talent: .254/.329/.430
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 4 Runs, 3 RBI, .255 BA, 0.6 SB
Patient keeper league owners may still own Rasmus, but plenty of others bailed after he put up a .662 and .703 OPS in April and May. Now that he's hitting .396/.396/.708 in June, those patient owners are reaping the rewards. The 22-year-old Rasmus has been the Cardinals' top prospect since they drafted him, and he should continue to improve. Always a slow starter, he displays blossoming power (.485 minor league SLG, with 64 HRs and 95 2Bs) and moderate speed (74 SB). He's still working on his plate selectivity (0.57 BB/K in minors, 0.32 in 2009), and True Talent doesn't think he's going to consolidate those gains this year. But that HR-SB potential makes him worth a pickup in NL leagues deeper than 10 teams, and mixed leagues deeper than 13 teams, along with any size keeper leagues.
Kevin Kouzmanoff | San Diego | 3B
True Talent: .259/.307/.427
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 3 Runs, 4 RBI, .260 BA, 0.1 SB
The time when Kouzmanoff was highly touted has come and gone—a 0.24 BB/K will do that, especially matched with a SLG that cracked .450 just once. But Kouz has occasional surges, like the 35-game streak last season when he collected a hit in 29 games, putting up a .326/.342/.558 line. In that time, he also notched 31 Ks against just 3 BBs, so he didn't change his hack-and-slash ways. It's tough to succeed with that approach while hitting in PETCO behind Adrian Gonzalez, who often clears the bases for him. Kouz looks like he's heating up now, and True Talent shows that he'll improve, so ride him while you can, but watch for that dropoff. Nobody outside of 14-team NL leagues and mixed leagues deeper than 18 teams should think of him as a permanent addition.
Tony Gwynn, Jr. | San Diego | OF
True Talent: .270/.338/.363
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 3 Runs, 1 RBI, .272 BA, 0.7 SB
A trade to the Padres gave the son of San Diego's all-time best hitter a chance to be a starter. What Junior lacks in hitting ability, he makes up for with speed, but it's not enough to make him as valuable as Dear Old Dad. True Talent shows you his BA is hollow, with a bit of patience (0.70 BB/K in the minors) and plenty of SB potential (152 in six minor-league seasons). Hitting atop a weak Padres lineup depresses his run totals, and he's got to reach base more often than True Talent predicts to be an effective leadoff hitter. He represents a good source of steals for leagues of all size, and he won't kill your BA, but he will sap your power ratios, and he won't keep hitting like this.
Ryan Church | New York | OF
True Talent: .267/.344/.424
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 4 Runs, 4 RBI, .265 BA, 0.3 SB
Which Church is for real? The one who put up an OPS in the high 800s for Washington and New York, or the one who hit .224 in May? Likely, it's neither, but the guy in the middle isn't too shabby, either. True Talent is pessimistic, but Jerry Manuel isn't, making Church his starting RF. Church has responded with a .281/.378/.500 June, and he's shown the ability to maintain those streaks despite a career BB/K of 0.42. Don't be surprised to see him sit against LHP now and then—his career OPS is 122 points lower against them, a split that's widened to a whopping 307 in 2009—but he's worth a flier in 12-team NL leagues and mixed leagues deeper than 16 to see if those 800+ OPS numbers are for real.
Kevin Correia | San Diego | SP
YTD: 6.6 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 4.52 ERA
True Talent: 6.4 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.76 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 4.95 ERA
The Padres have won just four of their last 15, but Correia has two of those wins, so he has to be doing something right. He gave up just five ER in his last three starts, with 13 Ks and one BB, and his only loss came when King Felix pitched a CG shutout. PETCO hasn't helped him as much as you expect—his longball rate at home (1.2 HR/9) is slightly worse than on the road (1.0), but all of those PETCO homers were solo jobs. Whether that's by accident or design, it shows the fine line he walks between dominance and disaster; his True Talent numbers are all just on the sunny side of average. Expect that from Correia: decent but unspectacular numbers, with occasional blowups that may hurt you. Play with fire if you want in leagues deeper than 16-team mixed or 14-team NL, but remember that he's pitching for the punchless Pads.
Aaron Cook | Colorado | SP
YTD: 4.6 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 4.23 ERA
True Talent: 4.3 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.41 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 12.1 IP, 0.7 Wins, 6 K, 4.34 ERA
Cook was an All-Star last year, so how can he be hanging out on the waiver wire in 2009? He started the year with a 1-4 record and a 7.11 ERA, and so far he's doubled his home run rate to 1.2 HR/9 and increased his walk rate by 50% to 3.0 BB/9. He's turned that around, going 3-1 in his last three starts, with a 3.00 ERA and a 4.0 K/BB, but don't let the Ks fool you. Cook's a groundballer (57.8 GB% in 2009), not a strikeout artist, and his control is about as good as it's going to get. If you believe the Rockies are for real, Cook's going to collect more Ws going forward, so he's worth a pickup on that basis for 12-team NL leagues and mixed leagues of 14 teams or deeper. Just expect low K totals and an ERA around 4 to come with him.
Andrew Miller | Florida | SP
YTD: 7.5 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.56 ERA
True Talent: 7.7 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.44 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 Wins, 10 K, 4.69 ERA
Another young lefty from Florida, Miller's got a great fastball and a nice slider—and not much else. That's why he's got those sweet K numbers without a great ERA, and his control numbers show he's having trouble even with just those two pitches. True Talent tells you he's going to get better, but he won't get much better. There's always the chance that someone with a mid-90s heater will really bust out, and he's trying to develop a changeup and increase his GB% (down to 45.9 in 2008 after 49.3 in 2007), both of which will help him develop another dimension. For now, though, those Ks come at too heavy a price to consider Miller in mixed leagues shallower than 15 teams, or NL leagues shallower than 12 teams.
Jason Hammel | Colorado | SP
YTD: 6.4 K/9, 2.8 K/BB, 4.10 ERA
True Talent: 6.2 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.64 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 4 K, 4.54 ERA
You might think that Hammel is just a product of Colorado's recent hot streak. Think again—he's won four of his last five with a K/BB ratio of 3.67 and a very nice 0.64 HR/9. That's key for a Rockies' pitcher, of course, and it's no coincidence that three of those four wins came on the road. At home, he's offering up gopher balls at a rate of 1.9 HR/9, compared to just 0.3 on the road. For his career, he surrenders them at a 1.3 rate, and those numbers came with Tampa Bay, also a tough home park for pitchers. So his relatively strong peripherals come with that huge asterisk. He remains a safe start on the road, but needs to ride your pine at home. If you can use him that way, he's worth a pickup in any mixed league deeper than 12 teams or 8-team NL leagues.
Jeremy Affeldt | San Francisco | RP
YTD: 7.9 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 1.71 ERA
True Talent: 7.7 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 3.16 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 3.15 ERA
If your league counts holds, you already know about Affeldt, who leads MLB in that category. But even if your league doesn't, Affeldt still holds some value. While his ERA exceeds True Talent predictions, his peripherals are more comparable, and Affeldt's always had strong career peripherals (6.9 K/BB, 1.71 K/BB, 0.8 HR/9). He's also first in line if Brian Wilson falters or gets hurt. Wilson's solid and is in no danger of losing his job, but Affeldt is an excellent insurance policy for Wilson owners, and is a very good addition to keep your K numbers strong, especially if those control numbers improve. He won't hurt any roster but is best suited to fill out pitching staffs in 10+ team NL leagues or mixed leagues deeper than 14 teams.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Michael Street at 2:00am (0) Comments
Ronny Cedeno | Seattle | SS/2B
True Talent: .252/.301/.375
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .251 BA, 0.3 SB
Looking as if he might be the next coming of Rich Aurilia—who struggled for years before emerging as an All-Star—Ronny Cedeno was given a full-time job by Dusty Baker in 2006, sinking 572 PA into an offensive black hole just as he'd done with Aurilia in SF. That he's now 26, has a career batting line of .244/.282/.343, and has been awful in 2009 would all be more damning if he hadn't clobbered AAA pitching when demoted in 2007. He has a chance to earn more PT in this awful middle infield if he hits while Lopez is on bereavement leave.
Jason Frasor | Toronto | RP
YTD: 7.2 K/9, 6.3 K/BB, 1.90 ERA
True Talent: 8.0 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 3.39 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 1.5 Saves, 3.52 ERA
Listed at 5-9, Jason Frasor has probably earned significantly less money in his career than if the same 95+ heater and nasty slider came in a larger package. But hitters know about him (8+ career K/9), and his righty presence in the mostly-gauche Blue Jays pen is perfect in a complementary role. But Cito rewards good play, not size of pitcher or size of contract so Frasor should get the biggest share of the saves “pie,” at least until Downs' toe is healed. And we'd call him 1-in-3 to keep getting the most saves even after that.
Matt Harrison | Texas | SP
YTD: 4.8 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 5.43 ERA
True Talent: 6.0 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 6.04 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 10.1 IP, 0.5 Wins, 7 K, 5.76 ERA
“Pass.” We could save 74 words and leave it at that. But it's come to our attention that people are adding Matt Harrison in various formats. The promise of youth is great and all, but this guy pitches half his games in Texas, and two of the weakest-hitting teams in the AL both hit LHP pretty hard, so even road starts at KC and Seattle aren't gimme's. Grab a reliever instead for ratio help.
Luke Hochevar (reprise) | Kansas City | SP
YTD: 3.0 K/9, 0.9 K/BB, 5.60 ERA
True Talent: 5.2 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.96 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 4.60 ERA
Omaha (AAA) 2009 was the first time No. 1 overall pick Luke Hochvar really showed any of the promise people had seen before the draft. There, he was 5-1, 1.50, with a 36:12 K:BB ratio in 48 IP. If that helped Royals fans forget the 129 mediocre-to-bad innings in 2008, his first start (8 ER in 2.0 IP) against Oakland reminded them. The bad .753 RZR with just 81 OOZ plays by the KC infield makes it really hard on a guy with a 53% career GB% and very low K totals. So, outings like his most recent CG victory (1 ER) over the Reds will be uncommon. But there's enough here for an AL-only pickup; just don't go crazy.
David Huff | Cleveland | SP
YTD: 5.7 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 7.09 ERA
True Talent: 6.6 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 4.97 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.2 IP, 0.7 Wins, 9 K, 4.73 ERA
2006 first-round pick David Huff didn't enter the Indians rotation with the fanfare of some other top prospects this year, largely because his fastball tops out around 92. And while we disapprove of throwing out data, his ERA is 4.44 if you write off his first two starts as “debut jitters.” He's not ready to make anyone forget CC Sabathia, but if he's spotted intelligently, he should be good for some across-the-board help in AL-only leagues.
Jed Lowrie | Boston | SS/3B
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Jed Lowrie has some obstacles ahead before he becomes a viable fantasy alternative in any format, but his hand appears to be on the mend, and he'll soon be playing AAA ball again. He's not a better defender than Lugo, nor is he likely to out-hit the fluky stats Green has put up. But he's a switch-hitter, though he's only hit .210/.292/.323 vs. righties in his career. And his approach at the plate is more in line with the Red Sox organizational philosophy. He still appears to be the SS of the future in Boston, and now would be a good time to get him in a keeper league.
David Murphy | Texas | OF
True Talent: .266/.330/.418
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .266 BA, 0.3 SB
For his career, David Murphy is a .280 hitter with a .460 slugging. By reputation, he's a good fielder, and most advanced fielding stats indicate he's right around average in the side fields, though he did post an exceptional .978 RZR in 2008, with +11 plays being made, per the BIS +/- system. Still, he's played in a couple great hitter's parks, and his “True Talent” is that of a 4th OF. Expect him to hit like TT projects, and to get extra AB without Hamilton around, but the team has too many OF options for him to get much more PT.
Tomo Ohka | Cleveland | SP
YTD: 2.6 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 4/24 ERA
True Talent: 4.3 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 5.24 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 4.99 ERA
Tomo Ohka has a career ERA of 4.14 and a FIP of 4.48 in over 1000 IP. He's just 33 this season, though it seems he's been around forever. Without any announced injuries, his velocity had dipped after the 2004 season, but it's back almost all the way to where it was (88.1 average FB, compared to just over 89 from 2002-2004). Modeling systems don't like him because he doesn't whiff batters or induce grounders, but he's death on the running game (35-33 career against him, outstanding for anyone, much less a RHP). It doesn't take much to be a top-five SP on the Indians, and the potential is here to get cheap help for an AL-only rotation.
Miguel Olivo | Kansas City | C
True Talent: ..248/.279/.425
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 2 Runs, 3 RBI, .254 BA, 0.3 SB
That Olivo has gotten 2373 PA in his career while carrying an OBP of .275 speaks volumes about the other parts of his game. He's not as fast as the seven SB in 317 PA in 2008 suggest, but otherwise, his stats have been remarkably consistent. And his defense is superb, so expect him to get about 2/3 of the playing time—unless Buck goes on a hot streak upon his return. Should be good for 10 more HR this year.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Rob McQuown at 2:00am (14) Comments
Monday, June 22, 2009
Clone Wars is my new weekly article here at THT and will be used to address players who look very similar on the surface and discuss what makes them the same or not. If they are different we will discuss which one is worth owning if any and why. This week we have two pitchers with ERAs around three and good win totals so far. One has shown success before and the other is a sophomore breakout so far.
YTD: 3.18 ERA, 7 W, 47 K
Starting pitcher Zach Duke showed flashes in 2005, winning eight games with an ERA of 1.81 and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.51 in 84.7 innings . Sure he had some luck in homerun-per-flyball percentage (5.8%) and left on base percentage (84.2%), but still his xFIP was 3.66. Even if you went into 2006 expecting that type of skill you were disappointed as his ERA has been at or above 4.40 every season since. His K/BB has never been the same as it fell below 2 for every season since.
His problem has been strikeouts since 2005. His strikeouts per nine innings in 2004 was 6.17, but has been close to four while his walks per nine innings has been similar. Looking at his minor league numbers you can see that 6.17 K/9 was not his norm. In 105.3 IP in Triple-A in 2005 before his callup he had a K/9 of 5.49. It's possible he could have kept the 6.17, but not likely.
There is also reason to be concerned about his pitching as his groundball percentage has dropped three years in a row. It has gone from 51.1 percent in 2006 and is down to 45.3 percent this year. This change will be seen in his home runs allowed total this year if it continues.
Has he changed anything in 2009 to maintain his current numbers though? Nope. His numbers look very similar to the past three years and his luck indicators are calling for a regression. His BABIP and LOB% are combining to strengthen his ERA so far at .268 and 78.5 percent, respectively. His HR/FB is fairly normal for him, but looking at his FIP of 4.29 and his xFIP of 4.57 you can see he is going to have a rough second half.
YTD: 3.09 ERA, 6 W, 39 K
Starting pitcher Nick Blackburn has yet to have previous success in the major leagues, so his success so far is a nice surprise. He has always had his best success by controlling his walks and in 2007 at Triple-A he only allowed 0.89 BB/9, which led to a great season with seven wins and an ERA of 2.11. The concern was a low strikeout rate even though his K/BB was 4.00.
In his first full season his walk rate did come back up to 1.82 and his strikeout rate did not improve. He was able to maintain a K/BB of 2.46 though and although his xFIP was 4.40 there were signs he could be a usable pitcher if his walk rate improved.
So far this season he has struggled with strikeouts and walks and his K/BB now stands at 1.56 in 93.1 innings. He is much like Duke with a low BABIP and high LOB%, but he is also showing a very low HR/FB. Since his HR/FB is so low I would expect his xFIP to be more accurate and it stands at 4.95.
Some notes on his PITCHf/x are the drop in his fastball average speed from 91.3 to 90.6, but his slider is down two mph as well. There is also an increase of two mph in his change-up making the split between the fastball and change-up three mph slower than before. I don't think this is necessarily any injury, but just making his stuff less effective. I don't follow the Verducci effect, but it is note worthy he threw 33 more innings in 2008 than 2007 across all levels.
These pitchers faced off on Thursday with Blackburn throwing a complete game for the win, but these two pitchers are soon to be head in the same direction. Expect both to have ERAs in the mid 4s by the end of the season and if you can't trade them you should at least move them to the bench.
If they happened to hold their ERA numbers with continued luck, their low strikeout rates give them very low value. Obviously Blackburn would be the better bet for wins, but Duke should have the better ERA as his team defense has been much better this year.
Posted by Troy Patterson at 12:07am (1) Comments
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Head-to-head fantasy league with R, HR, RBI, SB, OPS, W, SV, K, ERA, WHIP:
C - Russell Martin
1B - Kevin Youkilis
2B - Ben Zobrist
3B - Mark DeRosa
SS - Jason Bartlett
OF - Justin Upton
OF - Torii Hunter
OF - Matt Kemp
Util - Manny Ramirez (when he comes back from suspension)
BN - Juan Pierre
BN - James Loney
BN - Casey Blake
SP - Hiroki Kuroda
SP - Clayton Kershaw
SP - Roy Oswalt
SP - James Shields
SP - Vince Mazzaro
SP - Rick Porcello
SP - Luke Hochevar
RP - Jonathan Broxton
RP - Jonathan Papelbon
RP - David Aardsma
Available hitters: Rafael Furcal, Felipe Lopez, Freddy Sanchez, Mark Teahen, Jerry Hairston Jr., Miguel Olivo, John Baker, Yadier Molina, Rod Barajas, Kurt Suzuki and Ronny Paulino.
Available pitchers: Brandon Morrow, Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Frasor, Alfredo Aceves, Dan Meyer, Sean West, Scott Richmond, Dallas Braden, Matt Maloney, Antonio Bastardo, LaTroy Hawkins, C.J. Wilson, Rafael Soriano, Brad Ziegler and Andrew Bailey.
Alec sent me a bunch of questions about upgrading various positions and gave me a list of free agents in his league. I would replace Hochevar with Ubaldo Jimenez. That'd be about it. I would also treat Mazzaro with a light hand, starting him when match-ups are in his favor. If Alec wanted to find a middle reliever that'll help with strikeouts, WHIP and ERA and perhaps vulture a save in place of Mazzaro, I wouldn't poo-poo it. I would not get rid of Martin in favor of any of the waiver wire catchers.
Instead, I think Alec may be able to find some help from his fellow competitors. Alec didn't mention how many teams are in his league—based on his roster, I'd guess about twelve. Alec has a great middle infield, but he has too many middle infielders (assuming typical eligibility rules). He has a ton of players with position flexibility: Youkilis qualifies at first and third, DeRosa at everywhere but shortstop, and Zobrist at both middle infield positions as well as some others.
I would trade one of the middle infielders (DeRosa, Zobrist or Bartlett) for a better corner infielder. Alec should get the infield player with the best numbers irrespective of his position (which would likely be a first baseman, but depends on the needs of other competitors) and then move his roster around accordingly. Or, he can put Loney at first, Youkilis at third and trade one of the aforementioned for a pitcher. Seek out teams with injuries—perhaps the team with Jose Reyes has gotten by with a replacement level substitute but it now getting itchy. If I could get equal value for each, I would trade, in order, Bartlett first, then DeRosa.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 1:49am (0) Comments
Most strategies in fantasy baseball are almost universally known, making most strategy articles nothing more than boring reminders to the people reading them. Having said that, the strategy—or tactic, it might be better called—that I am writing about today is one that I think most people do not know about and hopefully after reading the title you were utterly and positively confused.
Here's how you can trade players you don't even own:
Everyone who has ever tried to negotiate a trade in fantasy baseball has gotten to the point where there is a sticking point in the deal. Often it is a player who is disagreed upon; the guy you are trading with demands a player be included in the deal, and you want no part of that player. We will say the player you do not want is Casey Blake because even though he is having a resurgence of a season, you are wary of his .333 BABIP and 14 percent HR/FB rate.
Now, you do not want Casey Blake, but perhaps someone else will. So what you can do is while the first deal is offered—let's say it is Kevin Youkilis and Brian Roberts for Casey Blake and Chase Utley—you can start shopping around Blake as if you own him.
Technically you do not own Blake, but as long as that deal is offered from the other team you can pretend that you do in other trade negotiations. Say you find someone who really likes Blake and you negotiate a good deal, giving Blake and a decent pitcher like Carlos Zambrano for David Wright. Perhaps that second trade is a little unrealistic but the point is that if you come to a stopping point in a deal, while it is offered you can try to trade that stopping point for another player you like better, making the original deal now "accept-able".
When evaluating the trades you can simply pretend Casey Blake never existed, so:
Kevin Youkilis, Bryan Roberts, Carlos Zambrano, and
Becomes more simply:
Youkilis, Roberts, and Zambrano for Utley and Wright.
Implementing the trade-player-you-don't-yet-own tactic can help you complete trades that otherwise might have been left uncompleted but should not be used unless you know the warnings.
As you probably can imagine, this tactic is ripe for creating disputes and controversy, so every step should be made crystal clear to both parties involved.
Make sure that the first deal is offered and the other owner is fine with you accepting it at anytime. Having his* written consent is preferable in case he tries to say afterward that he never agreed to letting you accept. Otherwise the argument can compound where the person with whom you negotiated the second deal demands you do his deal, but you do not have the players to do the second deal because the first guy rescinded the first deal.
*I know "hers" and "shes" play fantasy baseball as well, but I put only the masculine pronouns to keep those sentences grammatically correct (singular) and readable.
The other main problem that could arise occurs when you complete the first deal, but then the person involved with the second deal decides to back out for whatever reason. Then you are stuck with a deal you probably would have not accepted without the second deal already negotiated beforehand. Make sure the owner of the second deal understands exactly what deal he will be accepting and that he will, indeed, accept it.
So that is how you trade players that are not even on your team. The next time you are in trade negotiations that stall, try to shop around pieces of the deal and see if what you can get makes it worthy of acceptance. Just make sure everything is communicated clearly because I do not want to be the cause of controversy and maybe even broken friendships.
Posted by Paul Singman at 2:11am (9) Comments
Once again, we're looking for the online fantasy leaguer with the most aggravating Monday. Only one of the eight teams that played Monday scored more than six runs, so this could be the first Worst Monday where a positive score wins the title. Still, four starting pitchers took the Loss—maybe you own one (or two, or more) of them?
Entering's a snap:
2. Put Worst Monday in the subject line along with your Monday point total.
3. Attach a screen shot of your roster and their points scored for Monday. (You can paste the screen shot in a Word document and attach that.) We need the screen shot—don't spell out the tallies in the email.
4. Add brief biographical material.
We'll sift through the entries and announce the winner on Wednesday. Each weekly winner gets a year of Heater Magazine. The winner with the lowest score for the season gets a free copy of the 2010 Graphical Player, coming out in December.