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Wednesday, July 08, 2009
I thought we'd do something a little bit different today, pulling an interesting question out of the 'ole mailbag to answer:
I understand that pitchers are not in control of their LD%s. Are hitters, and to what extent? Should I use LD% when evaluating hitters? To take an example from this year that's bothering me, Brendan Ryan has a LD% of over 22%. Albert Pujols is under 16%. I find it difficult to believe, to say the least, that this is the product of skill-driven results. Furthermore, Pujols has a below-average BABIP (in the .275 range last I checked), while Ryan's is above-average (in the .350 range last I checked). Arguably the differential in BABIP could be explained by LD%. Or, should I be looking at it as a case where the LD%s will correct, and the BABIP with it?
I've expressed, in passing, my dislike for the assumption that line drive rate is a repeatable skill, but I haven't really delved too deeply into it for quite some time. Thanks very much to reader Todd for bringing this question up and questioning something that many analysts still believe to be true.
The short answer to your question is that, no, hitters don't have very much control over their line drive rates.
Why are line drives good?
Let's take a quick step back. In case you haven't seen these numbers yet, line drives are very good. They become hits roughly 70 percent of the time, while groundballs fall in for hits just 25 percent of the time and outfield flies 15 percent of the time. Line drives are hit in the air, on a lower plane than outfield flies so that they land sooner, and they are often struck harder than outfield flies.
Line drives have a higher correlation with a hitter's Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), a huge component of batting average, so line drive rate has gotten a lot of play over the last couple years. Unfortunately, many see the high correlation and assume that a high line drive rate now will equal a high BABIP in the future. Many will even refer to and arrive at conclusions based on the "LD%+.120" formula for "expected BABIP", which I have expressed my disdain for (as a forward-looking metric) in the past. I've even shown that this formula is worse at predicting BABIP than the hitter's actual BABIP from the previous season. But why? If line drive rate correlates so well with BABIP, why doesn't it do a good job of predicting it?
Line drive rate is not very stable
That's why. If I look at all hitters from 2004 through 2008 who amassed at least 300 at-bats in adjacent seasons (and played on the same team both years*), the year-to-year correlation is 0.28. That's a little worse than what we might call a medium correlation and essentially means that 8 percent of a hitter's line drive rate can be explained by his rate in the previous season.** This is certainly significant, but it's not too terribly high. To compare, roughly 60 percent of a player's ground ball rate can be explained by his previous season rate.
*It's been shown that balls in play are classified as line drives differently from park to park, so I limited myself to players who remained on the same team as a quick way of eliminating some of this bias.
**This isn't exactly true since I'm opening myself up to some bias by including some arbitrary cut-offs, but it serves our purposes well enough.
Check out this table, which shows the best and worst line drive hitters in 2007 and how their rates fared in 2008.
+--------------+----------+-------+-------+ | LAST | FIRST | 07LD% | 08LD% | +--------------+----------+-------+-------+ | Young | Michael | 27.20 | 22.51 | | Figgins | Chone | 26.45 | 23.76 | | Atkins | Garrett | 24.47 | 22.07 | | Howard | Ryan J | 24.33 | 22.30 | | Polanco | Placido | 23.92 | 18.73 | | Cust | Jack | 23.21 | 20.83 | | Wright | David A | 23.19 | 25.63 | | Hall | Bill | 23.10 | 20.92 | | Sanchez | Freddy | 22.47 | 24.31 | | Aurilia | Rich | 22.18 | 17.95 | +--------------+----------+-------+-------+ | Kendrick | Howie | 15.94 | 20.00 | | Guerrero | Vladimir | 15.64 | 17.09 | | Uggla | Dan C | 15.64 | 15.75 | | Snyder | Chris R | 15.33 | 18.22 | | Uribe | Juan | 15.10 | 20.46 | | Young | Chris B | 15.09 | 19.13 | | Punto | Nick | 14.56 | 20.51 | | Buck | John R | 13.41 | 16.19 | | Matthews Jr. | Gary | 12.89 | 14.46 | | Laird | Gerald | 12.15 | 21.53 | +--------------+----------+-------+-------+
Keep in mind that a league average line drive rate is roughly 19 percent. As you can see, almost all of the leaders and trailers regressed toward that 19 percent mark the following season, often quite heavily. In fact, just two of the 20 failed to move closer to league average in 2008.
If you need further validation, you can check out this list of projected line drive rates (leaders and trailers), courtesy of David Gassko and Chris Costancio's THT Projection System:
+------------+----------+-------+ | FIRST | LAST | pLD% | +------------+----------+-------+ | Garrett | Atkins | 21.6% | | Todd | Helton | 21.3% | | Freddy | Sanchez | 21.3% | | David | Wright | 21.3% | | Michael | Young | 21.0% | | Bobby | Abreu | 20.9% | | Manny | Ramirez | 20.9% | | Ryan | Ludwick | 20.8% | | Miguel | Cabrera | 20.7% | | Mark | Loretta | 20.7% | +------------+----------+-------+ | John | Mayberry | 16.9% | | Emmanuel | Burriss | 16.9% | | Chad | Tracy | 16.9% | | Lou | Marson | 16.8% | | Robinzon | Diaz | 16.8% | | Nick | Evans | 16.8% | | Cameron | Maybin | 16.8% | | Luis | Castillo | 16.7% | | Laynce | Nix | 16.6% | | Alexi | Casilla | 16.1% | +------------+----------+-------+
As you can see, the top projected line drive hitter for 2009 was Garrett Atkins at 21.6 percent, only a couple percentage points above league average. If we look in the other direction, Alexi Casilla is the only player projected to be much under 17 percent. This is a pretty tight range and provides further evidence that we shouldn't put much weight into wide swings in a hitter's line drive rate — sophisticated projection systems obviously include a great deal of regression to the mean for hitters.
The moral of the story
The moral of the story is that, like BABIP, line drive rate is prone to swings in luck. While some players are better line drive hitters than others and can post above average rates more often than not (see: Michael Young), hitters in general don't have a ton of control over this stat — or, at least, it takes several seasons to get a really good read on their ability. If a player like Pujols has never posted a line drive rate this low before, we should expect it to rise going forward (and like Todd suggested, his BABIP will often go with it). The reverse goes for a guy like Brendan Ryan, who has already seen his line drive rate drop to 21.5 percent since this e-mail was received a week or so ago.
Any questions, as always, feel free to comment or e-mail me.
Posted by Derek Carty at 7:00am (7) Comments
Thursday, July 09, 2009
Q: Big fan and would love to hear any feedback on who has the higher upside in the future, Brett Wallace or Mat Gamel? Also, who will "stick" at third?
A: The Brett Wallace versus Mat Gamel battle is a hot topic in many prospect circles. If you would have asked me at the beginning of the season, I would have said Gamel hands down. But you're asking me today. I would still take Gamel, but there is cause for concern. At the plate Gamel has looked lost at times against good major league pitching. But Gamel's professional career has consisted of one tremendous building block after another. He has made huge adjustments at each level he has passed through and become a better hitter because of it. I think he will adjust once again to the best that the big leagues can throw at him. Gamel's bat has a chance to be truly dynamic in the majors. Wallace's bat, to me, doesn't hint toward great things, merely good things. Wallace is a tad overrated by many, as I don't see the big-time upside that others do.
At one point I had my doubts as to either one sticking at third base, but both are making strides and both project to be competent major league defenders at the hot corner.
Q: I know he may not have rookie status anymore, but do you foresee Joel Guzman ever returning to the majors? What would it take for him to get back there with the Nationals in the next year or two?
A: Guzman certainly has a chance to be an average major league third baseman, or at least a good utility man, in another year or two. He's only 24 years old and his plate discipline is coming along. If you can stash him in your farm system it's definitely worth the gamble.
Q: Who would you take and in what order: Ike Davis, Logan Forsythe or James Darnell? I’m looking at both proximity to the big leagues and ceiling.
A: All three players are approximately the same age, and all three players will be a part of the bubble watch list when I next update the Top 100 list. With Darnell's early struggles in the Cal League, and the fact that both Davis and Forsythe are looking solid at the Double-A level, I would put Darnell at the bottom of the list. If you prefer upside, Davis should be at the top. But if you need a third baseman and a safe bet, San Diego has high hopes for Forsythe's ability to become a solid big leaguer. If they both continue on their current path they will both make their initial marks in the majors sometime in 2010.
Q: When you say “Hanson is the best pitching prospect in baseball,” are you suggesting he is better than Price, or is he not eligible?
-- Posted by EDUB in the comments section on 05/29 at 11:55 AM.
A: To hear my thoughts on both Hanson and Price check out THT's Top 100 Prospect List. Basically, the fact that Price plays in the AL East combined with his infuriating control issues has me a bit leery of his future.
Q: It may be early to jump on Strasburg, but many of us fantasy players may be able to do just that and want to know how to compare him to others in this list. We are looking for help in valuing Strasburg now (in my keeper league he was available in reserve) and certainly feel he already belongs in top 100 (feel free to asterix him).
-- Posted by Corey in the comments section on 05/28 at 11:02 PM.
A: I have decided to add this year's draft class to the the Top 100 Prospect List as they sign. As you can see I have added players like Eric Arnett and Tony Sanchez to the watch list already. Go with your gut on Strasburg, fellas. If I had to add him to the list today he would be in the top 10.
Q:It looks like Boston is moving Casey Kelly back to shortstop. Any thoughts?
A: That is the way it looks. Apparently Kelly has his heart set on shortstop. Unfortunately, his bat isn't doing him any favors. I don't foresee the move working for Kelly. His future is as a pitcher. Moving him off the mound for the remainder of the season doesn't hurt his long-term prospects. It's a decent way for Boston to limit his innings while keeping the young man happy and working hard.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 3:00am (0) Comments
The Yankees' bullpen (and the Mets', for that matter) typically gets bashed by the media for performing poorly, but lately the Yankees bullpen has been so flawless the media has had to direct their attention elsewhere. Instead of overpaying for free agent relievers like Kyle Farnsworth, the Yankees have amassed a group of relative unknowns that have proved to be surprisingly effective.
For fantasy owners, Yankees relievers are particularly appealing not because the closer in front of them is likely to get hurt or lose his job, but because they have a higher chance of getting wins and holds (for leagues that count them). Most of these Yankees relief arms have remained under the radar and so this is meant to be a primer of those guys who are currently are doing an effective job of keeping those Yankee leads.
Alfredo Aceves (and Joba)
Alfredo Aceves is the most versatile Yankees reliever, pitching well against both lefties and righties. He has the ability to go multiple innings, having served primarily as a starter in the Mexican League and in the minors. He has great control and a decent ability to strike batters out, most notably with his change-up. Even in shallow leagues like 12-team mixed, Aceves makes a good add since I think it likely he joins the rotation and does well. And even during his time in the bullpen, he can provide value as a ratio helper and occasional win-getter in his role as the long reliever.
Aceves is actually going to start today for the Yankees, though according to manager Joe Girardi this is merely a spot start, not a full transition into the rotation. Despite the Girardi's words, taking a glance at the current Yankee rotation shows that besides Sabathia, Burnett, and Pettitte no one else is a lock to stay in the rotation. Chien-Ming Wang is oft-injured and particularly ineffective, Phil Hughes is apparently going to remain banished to the bullpen for the time being, and Joba Chamberlain, well, let's take a closer look at him.
+--------+-------------+-------+---+------+-------+------+------+ | Season | Player | IP | W | ERA | K/9 | BB/9 | xFIP | +--------+-------------+-------+---+------+-------+------+------+ | 2008 | Chamberlain | 100.1 | 4 | 2.60 | 10.58 | 3.50 | 3.21 | | 2008-S | Chamberlain | 65.1 | 3 | 2.76 | 10.19 | 3.44 | --- | | 2008-R | Chamberlain | 35.0 | 1 | 2.31 | 11.31 | 3.60 | --- | | 2009 | Chamberlain | 84.2 | 4 | 4.04 | 7.87 | 4.36 | 4.47 | +--------+-------------+-------+---+------+-------+------+------+
Note: 2008-S are Chamberlain's numbers as a starter, 2008-R are as a reliever
Joba, you could say, has been effective so far this season. His ERA sits at a decent 4.04 and for most of the season it was around 20 points below that mark, at about 3.80. In contrast are his peripheral stats, which include a dramatically decreased strikeout rate and an increased walk rate this season. Even the rates taken only from games in which he started last year are noticeably better than this year's lackluster ones.
The biggest problem with Joba this year, in my opinion, is that in his 16 starts he has thrown only 84.2 innings. That is an unexceptional average of about 5.1 innings per start and leaves the bullpen to finish the other 3.2 innings. The sacrifice in effectiveness the Yankees are making by putting Joba in the rotation does not make up for whatever advantage they gain from having him pitch a few more innings every five days. Again that is just my opinion and there is no saying Chamberlain would regain all of his effectiveness of 2008 if he moved to the bullpen anyway.
Why this matters is because the Yankees may soon get tired of Joba in the rotation, furthering Aceves' chances of securing his spot. While a possible move of Joba to the bullpen would not probably happen before August, it could come at the perfect time to keep Aceves in the rotation if Wang or even Hughes earns a spot.
Speaking of Phil Hughes, the touted prospect struggled (again) in the rotation in the beginning of the year, owning a 5.45 ERA after seven starts. Hughes then reinvented himself as a reliever with a 1.23 ERA in his 10 relief appearances since.
If unowned in your league, I would definitely take a hard look at the players on your roster and consider adding Hughes because of his current effectiveness as a reliever, his hold on the win-laden 8th inning set-up role, and the possibility of him returning to starting later in the year. Perhaps when he becomes starter again—if he does—he will maintain the success and confidence he found as a reliever.
Phil Coke is the LOOGY in the Yankees bullpen and has done a great job of late of getting those lefties out. In fact in his last 18 appearances over which he has thrown 16 innings, he has allowed a mere two runs.
I should note that Coke has also had success against righties this year as they are hitting just .167 against him (lefties are hitting .176). However Coke has walked an unusually high number of right-handed batters (10) compared to just three left-handers. In the minors that split was not there so it is probably more a fluke than an actual problem.
Coke should only be looked at in leagues where holds are a category, since I envision plenty of holds in his future and not much else.
David Robertson, a 17th round pick in the 2006 draft, is the hidden gem in the Yankees bullpen. Although his value might not be fully realized this season as a sixth and seventh inning guy, the 24-year-old should remain on your radar for future seasons. He is an absolute strikeout machine with a K/9 of 12.8 in 20 innings in the majors this year (that's 29 strikeouts) and a career minor league rate not far off.
At times Robertson has struggled with his control but he has never encountered the major control problems that sometimes plague young pitchers. With a little maturity he should develop into a dominant reliever and possibly even Mo's replacement. Let's not get ahead of ourselves though.
Robertson's style of pitching reminds me a lot of another young reliever-now-closer who has enjoyed much success this year: Andrew Bailey. Both have good fastballs they like to throw for strikes early in the count, and then a tight curve that leads to many strikeouts.
In the meantime, all we can do is wait and see if he develops into the pitcher I think he can be.
For what it's worth, now hopefully you know all there is about the relievers in the Yankees pen and found a pitcher who may help your fantasy team. As a darkhorse pitcher for those in really deep leagues, Sergio Mitre—yes, that Sergio Mitre who was mildly effective for the Marlins in 2007—is pitching well down for the Yankees Triple-A affiliate and could see some action in the bullpen or rotation later in the year.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:08am (5) Comments
Friday, July 10, 2009
For those who have been hanging around these parts since this past off-season, you'll surely be familiar with Chris Dutton and Peter Bendix's work on creating an expected Batting Average on Balls in Play metric (xBABIP). This was terrific work, which I later examined a little closer to find that xBABIP was indeed a very strong predictor of future performance.
Today, I'd like to announce that I'll be working with Chris Dutton to develop an even more advanced version of xBABIP. This is something that I've been thinking about for quite some time, and when I heard that Peter Bendix had taken a job with the Rays, I thought it made perfect sense to team up with Chris myself. We don't currently have an estimate for when the new xBABIP will be ready, but hopefully the payoff will be a good one.
To wet your whistles while you wait, Chris has put together a very nice Excel tool for calculating a simplified version of xBABIP. This is almost identical to the version that I tested in my article that I linked to above, which turned out to be quite predictive itself. The tool also does a number of other cool things, so Chris took the liberty of putting together a quick explanation/tutorial for everyone.
Simple xBABIP tool download
Here is the link to download Chris's simple xBABIP tool (the password to use it is "tuftsbat"), and here is a screenshot of what you'll see (click for a larger version):
Now for the explanation provided by Chris.
Simple xBABIP tool explanation by Chris Dutton
Begin by choosing any player/year combination from the database (note: cut-off is 300 PA in any given season)
For each player, key performance stats are displayed for the given year, as well as the MLB average, the percent above/below average for that particular player (green = significantly better, yellow = comparable, red = significantly worse), and the maximum/minimum values for that particular year. The key stats shown here are the "Luck Factor", which is the difference between a player's BABIP and xBABIP, and the predicted batting line, which is an estimation of AVG, OBP, and SLG based on the predicted (rather than true) batting average on balls in play. In other words, this is the performance that we might expect to see in a luck-neutral environment.
Trended Performance Graph
This graph allows you to select one or two metrics and trend them either alone or against each other over time. The list includes 28 different metrics, ranging from runs and stolen bases to xBABIP, line drive percentage, and pitches per plate appearance, to name a few. This can be especially useful as a forecasting tool, as it allows you to clearly observe trends across a variety of core statistics.
Player Comparison Graph
This graph provides the same selection of metrics, and allows you to compare the performance of one player against another. In the screenshot above Manny Ramirez and Aramis Ramirez are trending against one another on the basis of RBI.
xBABIP Quick Calculator
Perhaps the most useful section of the dashboard, the xBABIP quick calculator uses a slightly simplified predictive model using more readily available statistics. By simply plugging in values for each variable, you can calculate the expected BABIP on the spot and see who is out-performing or under-performing to this point in the season. If you're wondering whether to sell high on Jermaine Dye or buy low on Magglio Ordonez, this tool can certainly help to guide your fantasy decisions.
2009 data hasn't been incorporated into the tool since it is constantly changing, but you should still be able to input the simple xBABIP variables and compare to the BABIP listed on our player pages. Hopefully this ends up being a useful tool for everyone as we enter the second half of the season, and hopefully we'll have the brand new xBABIP ready to debut shortly.
If you guys have any questions for me or Chris, feel free to send either of us an e-mail or comment below.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:00am (10) Comments
Brett Anderson | Oakland | SP
YTD: 6.6 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 4.86 ERA
True Talent: 6.3 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 5.11 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.1 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 5.29 ERA
What would “AL Waiver Wire” be without an A's pitcher? Does throwing a 9-K, 2-hitter at Boston herald a new level for Brett Anderson? We're tempted to be more impressed than the TT projection is. He only had 31 IP above A-ball prior to 2009, and his xFIP is an adequate 4.37 anyway. For fantasy purposes, the Oakland park and defense should help him outperform his FIP. Just don't expect run support.
Elvis Andrus | Texas | SS
True Talent: .249/.300/.332
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 1 Runs, 1 RBI, .250 BA, 0.6 SB
Obviously gone in deeper leagues, is a regression to be expected this season, as TT predicts? Like Gardner last week, Andrus has most of his offensive impact on ground balls. He will get to play for his glove, with RZR/OOZ showing him as the second-best SS in the AL despite the errors. We think it's likely his BABIP will climb from .295 (now), as he posted .350s in the minors the past two years, and he'll thus avoid any slippage. The Rangers don't attempt many steals, else he'd be a threat for 50.
Aaron Bates | Boston | 1B
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
A “quick-to-majors” pick in the early 3rd round of the 2006 draft, Bates and his funky leg kick got caught in a quaqmire at AA starting in '07. He's retooled his swing, and appears to have vanquished AA this year, but is now old for a prospect and hasn't mastered AAA yet (.182/.273/.295 in 99 PA). Chris Carter and McAnulty were more deserving of some more MLB time, but Boston wanted a righty bat to platoon with Kotsay, replacing an injured Bailey. All that's to say that Bates will be well and truly buried again once people start recovering from injuries.
Ryan Freel | Kansas City | UTIL
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Back when the Reds had stationary objects in their outfield, and Freel was playing all over the place getting on base 37% of the time, the idea of installing him as a full-time outfielder (pushing Griffey to the side, and Dunn to 1B) made sense. In 2009, he's 33 and gets injured about as often as he gets on base. Still, the Royals have Bloomquist to play multiple positions, so perhaps the stability of one position will help Freel stay healthy and regain some of his 30+ SB potential. Worth a look in AL leagues if you need speed.
Scott Hairston | Oakland | OF
True Talent: .263/.332/.477
Next Week Forecast: 0.6 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .267 BA, 0.2 SB
Welcome to the AL, Mr. Hairston! If Scott's performance drops off like the man he's supposedly replacing in Oakland (Holliday), Beane may never trade for another “proven” NL hitter again! And flopping is certainly an option, as his career OBP is just .312. Still, he's slugged almost .500 the past two years combined with Petco as his home, and his career line against LHP is .291/.344/.548. Expect the Jered Weavers of the world to give him fits but for him to be a top-2 offensive contributor (on the A's).
Maicer Izturis | Los Angeles | INF
True Talent: .283/.346/.390
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 HR, 2 Runs 1 RBI, .281 BA, 0.3 SB
Warning: personal bias here, as Maicer has long been a fave of this writer. It's not like he's going to hit 20 HR, but Izturis' career stats have been suppressed by constantly playing injured. Scioscia loves him too, and he should play almost every game if healthy, leading to almost double the “next week forecast” stats, with a AVG around .300 ... making him a great backup even in shallow mixed leagues, at least until he gets hurt again.
Dustin Nippert | Texas | SP
YTD: 4.9 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 7.36 ERA
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
MSNBC (rotoworld.com) suggests putting this guy on a “watch list in AL-only leagues.” That's good advice to subtly bring to the attention of your league-mates, if any of them are gullible. With the Rangers' organizational philosophy of “leave him in,” Nippert's lack of ability, recent arm woes, and the Rangers' ballpark, only die-hardest Rangers fans should have him on a “watch list.”
Tony Pena | Chicago | RP
YTD: 6.9 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 4.24 ERA
True Talent: 6.7 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 4.00 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 3.96 ERA
Tony Pena gets a remarkable amount of support from both scouting types and stats types, for such a mid-level reliever. This is undoubtedly due to his upper-90s fastball and good control (2.7 BB/9, career). Still, he's a huge upgrade over Gobble—expect TT levels, with a WHIP in the upper 1.3's, as the AL transition takes away some of the gains from a lower BABIP (currently .352).
Marc Rzepcynski (zep-chin-ski) | Toronto | SP
YTD: 10.5 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 1.50 ERA
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Like Brandon Webb, Rzepcynski was passed over for several draft rounds (fifth round 2007), and scouts called him a “back-end starter, at best”. His advocates think he could be better than Webb as he throws harder, and actually gets more GBs (60%+ GB% in minors, just five HR in 254.2 IP). We won't get that carried away, as Webb is fantastic, but while Marc's control isn't great yet, the Jays' attention to defense make his upside enormous. Don't expect miracles in 2009, but look out in 2011!
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Rob McQuown at 2:00am (0) Comments
Josh Willingham | Washington | OF
True Talent: .268/.367/.473
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .257 BA, 0.1 SB
With his 2009 YTD line, it's surprising that more owners haven't rostered Willingham, as he remains available in many leagues. He's been red-hot lately, with a hit in 13 of his last 14 games, hitting .400/.474/.580. Since he plays for the Nats, his counting stats will remain depressed, but his back problems seem to be behind him (so to speak), and this could be the year he finally reaches his potential. His batting eye has improved this year (0.70 BB/K, against a career 0.53), and his 11% career walk rate is strong, so he should beat that BA projection if he can stay healthy. If you need a corner outfielder with good power and a decent BA, look no further than Willingham, who's worth a spot in all NL-only leagues, and mixed leagues 10 teams or deeper.
Todd Wellemeyer | St. Louis | SP
YTD: 5.8 K/9, 1.4 K/BB, 5.58 ERA
True Talent: 6.2 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.58 ERA
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Wellemeyer's 18 starts are the best in baseball, but he's only managed a 7-7 record, making it a puzzle as to why he's garnered any attention at all. He's only had one scoreless appearance this season, and he's given up 3+ ER in 11 of his outings. The durability to make all those starts is admirable, but it's not all that valuable unless he's pitching better. True Talent sees him reaching some more marginal ratios, and pitching for Pujols and the Cards will give him more wins than that skill set deserves. A further good sign is the .351 BABIP against him, but all these add up to only marginal improvement. Wellemeyer's got some value in NL-only leagues deeper than 10 teams and in the deepest of mixed leagues, but don't look for any drastic changes in his numbers.
Travis Ishikawa | San Francisco | 1B
True Talent: .253/.323/.432
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 HR, 1 Runs, 1 RBI, .257 BA, 0.1 SB
Ishikawa's the Giants' first baseman because they don't have too many other options. Think of him as the latest incarnation of J.T. Snow, with a great glove, a decent bat, but not a ton of power; he's got a hit in 11 of his last 12 games, but his line is just .289/.319/.444 in that time. He could ultimately surpass Snow's punchlessness, since he's young and showed some pop in the second half of 2008 (.578 SLG in the minors). He'll need to do that sooner rather than later, since Pablo Sandoval won't play 3B forever, and minor league prospect Angel Villalona is a season or two away. That kind of pressure could push him to new heights, and his rising flyball and line drive percentage (increasing 13.4% and 1.9%, respectively, since 2008) are signs he's hitting the ball hard and with some loft. Until that develops, he's only worth a spot in the deepest of NL leagues, but all owners should keep an eye on him to see if he can break out in the second half of 2009 the way he did in 2008.
Luis Castillo | New York | 2B
True Talent: .272/.355/.333
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 HR, 2 Runs, 1 RBI, .270 BA, 0.5 SB
Fantasy owners remember Castillo for his basestealing and strong OBP numbers. Even if he's not the stolen-base machine he once was, that excellent 2009 OBP shows he still owns a good batting eye. In fact, his 2.2 BB/K ratio is stronger than it's been since 2005, and his BA is equally solid. True Talent shows you he's pretty much on target across the board, and if the Mets can get healthy and start scoring, he could add some runs to that equation, at least until Jose Reyes returns to the top of the order. He's still good for a few steals and shouldn't hurt your BA, though his power's as limp as it's always been. Don't expect him to keep looking like the Luis Castillo of 2005, but if you need some precious steals and already have good HR or SLG numbers, then Castillo's certainly worth a spot in NL-only leagues deeper than 10 teams or very deep mixed leagues.
Ryan Sadowski | San Francisco | SP
YTD: 5.0 K/9, 1.3 K/BB, 1.00 ERA
True Talent: 7.5 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.13 ERA
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Two straight clean slates is a good way to make a major-league entrance, as the Astros and Brewers fell victim to Sadowski's 13 scoreless-inning debut. Even the Marlins could only muster 3 ER in 5 innings against him, making that 1.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP very enticing. As weak as his peripherals are, True Talent sees him improving to near-acceptable levels in control and very good K rates. He's shown similar stats in the minors, with a 7.9 K/9 and 2.02 K/BB in six seasons, and he'll stick in the rotation for now. Obviously an ERA correction is coming—no Giants pitcher has begun his career with that many scoreless innings since 1953—but Sadowski should be a decent back-of-the-rotation option for NL owners in leagues deeper than 10 teams, and mixed leagues deeper than 15 teams.
Jamie Moyer | Philadelphia | SP
YTD: 5.1 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 5.72 ERA
True Talent: 5.3 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.94 ERA
Next Week Forecast: N/A
The Aged One defied the odds all last year, shaving over a run off 2007's ERA in spite of extremely similar ratios. He gets by with pinpoint control, but he's no Greg Maddux, mostly because he lacks the Professor's variety of breaking pitches, and thus won't collect as many strikeouts. If the umpire's friendly behind the plate, he can succeed, but if the strikezone is tight, he gets hammered—his 1.9 HR/9 show what happens when he's forced to put the ball over the plate. His wins have come mostly in the four starts when he gave up a single ER, but those are far outweighed by the nine games where he's given up four ER or more. He's a nice guy, and Phillies fans love him the way you love your grandpa—but you don't want Gramps pitching for your fantasy team, and you don't want Moyer either.
Garrett Jones | Pittsburgh | OF
True Talent: .245/.303/.421
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 1 Runs, 1 RBI, .236 BA, 0.1 SB
The Pirates' outfield has been a mix-and-match affair this year, and Garrett Jones has been the recent beneficiary of the chaos, starting every game since the Pirates brought him to the bigs on July 1. He'd been ripping up the minors before his callup, with a tidy .307/.348/.502 line in 277 ABs—in his fifth year at that level. He was once a prospect for the power he showed, but that was tempered by his prodigious strikeout rate (0.33 BB/K) and an OPS 120 points lower against fellow southpaws. He's shown steady improvement while in AAA, and the wide-open Pirate OF will give him a chance to show he's finally arrived. His window is a short one, as Lastings Milledge is rehabbing from a broken finger and should return by the end of the month, and True Talent is pessimistic he'll hold much value. But if you believe in late bloomers, Jones is worth a short-term flyer in NL-only leagues, and all owners should watch to see if his hot start continues.
Micah Owings | Cincinnati | SP
YTD: 5.6 K/9, 1.3 K/BB, 4.48 ERA
True Talent: 6.6 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.69 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.2 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 4.84 ERA
Although everyone knows Owings as the only pitcher worth watching during BP, he's actually got some skills on the rubber, too. His numbers over the past two seasons show very good control (2.12 K/BB) and nice strikeout numbers (6.8 K/9); the home run rate is his downfall, however, just as it is his offensive calling card. It doesn't help that he went from hitter-friendly Chase Field to the even more homer-riffic Great American Ballpark last season. He surrenders 1.6 HR/9 at home in Cincy, and 1.2 everywhere else, but neither are very strong ratios. He's shown improvement lately, with a 3.53 ERA and three wins in six starts in June and July; much of the damage in that span came in a 5.2 IP, six ER outing where he surrendered three HR against Toronto. He's struggled with his control lately, but history and True Talent tells you he should improve in that regard, as well as in his strikeout rate. This makes him roster-worthy in 10-team NL-only leagues, along with 18-team mixed leagues.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Michael Street at 2:00am (2) Comments
Monday, July 13, 2009
If you need some help on your team, this is a good time to look for players who struggled in the first half, and could come cheap and help in the second half. We'll take a look at each position and what to expect as well as what level of talent to give up.
Catcher: Chris Iannetta
|After hoisting the hardware at last year's HR Derby, Justin Morneau underperformed in the second half. Is he the exception or the rule? (Icon/SMI)|
+---------+---------------+----------+ | Year | Marcels AB/HR | 2H AB/HR | +---------+---------------+----------+ | 2008 | 20.7 | 25.5 | | 2007 | 18.9 | 17.2 | | 2006 | 19.7 | 15.2 | | 2005 | 19.9 | 17.7 | | 2004 | 15.4 | 16.0 | | 2003 | 18.8 | 16.7 | | 2002 | 15.2 | 15.6 | | 2001 | 15.7 | 11.0 | +---------+---------------+----------+ | Overall | 17.7 | 16.3 | +---------+---------------+----------+
+---------+--------+---------------+----------+ | Round | Sample | Marcels AB/HR | 2H AB/HR | +---------+--------+---------------+----------+ | 1st Rnd | 63 | 17.7 | 16.3 | | Semis | 32 | 17.3 | 16.3 | | Finals | 16 | 18.8 | 17.6 | | Champ | 8 | 20.1 | 17.6 | | 20+ HR | 14 | 19.2 | 17.7 | +---------+--------+---------------+----------+
|Seth Smith is a player you should start seeing more and more of at the plate. (Icon/SMI)|