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Tuesday, May 11, 2010
I'll kick this article off by telling you this article contains no pertinent information to help you win your fantasy league. [Pause] Alright, now that we got that out of the way, allow me to introduce the topic du jour.
Frustration has its part in fantasy baseball, one we must learn to deal with for the sake of the computer screens we might otherwise hurl objects toward. Below is a collection of some of the more hair-pulling situations every fantasy baseballer will eventually counter. For your enjoyment:
Strange situations can arise in fantasy baseball, and perhaps one of the strangest is when a hitter on your team is facing a pitcher on ... your team. No outcome from this encounter can be entirely good for you, only certain outcomes are more favorable than others. I liken it to playing golf with your boss—either way you lose.
Two weeks ago, on April 21, I found myself on one end of the spectrum when a pitcher I happily own, Phil Hughes, was set to face the A's of Oakland. At the time I owned two hitters in the A's lineup, namely Cliff Pennington and Daric Barton.
Hughes wound up throwing a gem. Over 7.1 innings he allowed one run, fanned 10 batters, and most importantly got the win.
For Hughes I was happy, but unfortunately he did not shelter Cliff and Daric from the domination he brought upon the A's lineup. Perhaps it was my fault for having started both of them, since the duo combined to go 0-for-7 and I knew there had to be a better way.
But I would not find out what that better way was two Fridays ago when Ricky Nolasco took the mound against the stealthy Nationals lineup, rejuvenated by the return of its and my slugger, Ryan Zimmerman. Nevertheless, fresh off two dominating performances, I thought Nolasco would Slap Chop his way through their batting order.
And he might have were it not for friendly fire in the form of two Ryan Zimmerman home runs. As a result, Nolasco was done after just four innings with five earned runs charged to his name and again I was angry at my team for not getting along. If there is such thing as fantasy baseball chemistry, my team had none of it.
I did not have to wait long, though, to see my teammates harmonize as the next day Yovani Gallardo faced off against the Padres. Gallardo was filthy, allowing one run over seven innings of work with 11 strikeouts. In the midst of that filth, however, one Padre—my Padre—Chase Headley emerged 3-for-4 with all his hits singles.
Finally despite the civil war raging among my team, I felt as if both sides had won on that night.
Credit here will be attributed where credit is due, which is to the folks over at Razzball—or rather a commenter there—for inventing this term. It means what the name implies, that upset feeling you get when seeing a player on your bench have a tremendous day. I was sonavabenched! Sunday when I sat both of my Phillies hitters, Shane Victorino and Placido Polanco, against Johna Santana in one league.
Santana would end up allowing 10 runs, including home runs to each of Victorino and Polanco. It's a roto league, so stuff like this stings all year.
The double whammy
The double whammy is a specialty of Head-to-Head leagues, when a hitter on the team opposing you for the week gets a home run or big hit off of one of your pitchers. In my one H2H league this year, this has yet to happen, so this paragraph will remain anecdotal-less.
Of course, few things are sweeter than a double whammy occurring in your favor.
The twilight run
This occurs when one of your starting pitchers has pitched tremendously through eight innings, with zero or one run allowed. You are already calculating the positive impact this effort will have on your ratios until in the ninth, your pitchers gives up another run or two to turn his gem into simply a quality outing. Justin Verlander accomplished this feat over the past weekend when he held the Angels scoreless through eight innings, only to give up a run after getting only one out in the ninth.
While I am not complaining with his performance, the timing of the run did irk me.
The trade landmine occurs when you trade for a player and as soon as he comes aboard your team, he forgets how to hit. In effect, the trade blows up in your face, especially if the player you traded away is now raking. I might have sent a landmine over to the Razzball fellows in the Yahoo F&F league when I gave them Polanco for Brett Gardner. Since the trade, Polanco's batting average has dropped 45 points!
Posted by Paul Singman at 5:10am (9) Comments
In hindsight, I looked like a genius. Mike Aviles had been up a week with the Kansas City Royals and had started twice, seven games apart. He was 27, too old for a prospect. He had been repeating his third stint at Triple-A when manager Trey Hillman called him up to bat ninth May 29, 2008. Aviles responded by going 0-for-3 with a strikeout. The next six games Aviles sat on the bench, watching as Tony F. Pena, Esteban German and Alberto Callaspo took turns at shortstop.
On June 6, I compiled my list of players I would bid on that day in our monthly free agent auction. With $100 to spend all year, I cast my net widely and cheaply. I targeted a couple of power arms in bullpens, Grant Balfour and Jose Arrendondo. I picked up prospects who had gone undrafted in auction day: Michael Saunders, Peter Bourjos, Ryan Perry and Trevor Cahill. I picked up South Carolina Gamecock Justin Smoak before the major league draft. And I picked up Aviles, a guy no one in my league had heard of, and just to be sure I got him, I bid $2.
The night of our free agent auction, Mike Aviles had started for the second time in a week, picking up two hits in three at-bats and scoring a run. It would be July before Hillman would declare him the starting shortstop for the remainder of the season. I'd love to say I saw that coming. But the truth is, while I thought he might hit if given the chance, that was not the primary reason I bid on Aviles. No, my primary motivation was something altogether different and something any Royals fan could relate to.
Tony F. Pena Jr. was my starting fantasy shortstop.
Pena was hitting .155 as of the end of the day June 6. It was an empty .155: He had six walks on the season, two of those intentional, and none since May 5; five extra-base hits and no home runs. In short, he was hitting like a pitcher, a condition that would prove prophetic.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, in the matter of how the heck I ended up with Pena in the first place, I plead temporary insanity. I had earlier that year inherited a fantasy club called the Brady Bunch that had never finished in the money and whose roster was devoid of any semblance of a well-valued hitter. Pena had hit .267 with 47 RBIs the previous year, his first full season in the majors, and with a salary of only $1, he seemed a capable third middle infielder so I made him a—shudder—keeper. And if you don't buy that excuse, please allow me to give each of you an envelope on which you will write your name and address. My assistant will be collecting the envelopes—she's the one with the fat checkbook. What's that, your honor, what am I doing? Creating reasonable doubt.
Back to June 6, 2008. I was desperate to replace Pena in my lineup. More importantly, I knew—no, I felt—how desperate Hillman was to replace Pena in his lineup. Back then, amazing as it seems, the Royals were seen as up-and-comers. In 2007, they had won 13 more games than they had in 2005. Alex Gordon was not yet a synonym for prospect bust. Gil Meche could still throw. Mediocrity was around the corner. And Pena was standing in the way.
That's why I picked up Aviles. I knew that even a 27-year-old non-prospect would get a chance to play. And even if he did not, a dead spot in my lineup would be a relief after two months of Pena.
That experience reinforced a lesson I try to follow: Get in the head of every manager and general manager in major league baseball. Trust me, in the case of Hillman and a number of others, there's lots of room.
So where should you be looking in 2010? Start with Seattle, where a slow 11-19 start and an abysmal offense led the Mariners hierarchy on Sunday to fire hitting coach Alan Cockrell. General Manager Jack Zduriencik expects to win this year. Milton Bradley has been relegated to playing board games and Eric Byrnes to playing softball in Menlo Park, Calif., for a team sponsored by a local bar, The Dutch Goose. Left field is there for the taking, so much so there's an audition for a prospect who opened to bad reviews last year and struggled this year at Triple-A, Michael Saunders.
There is much to like and dislike about Saunders. He's shown flashes of power and speed, is a superior athlete, has long been regarded a strong prospect and he grew up in a hockey town, which is just the sort of guy you want around to liven up the occasional baseball brawl. He also has never fully realized his power or speed potential and has struggled, at times, with plate discipline. In one way he is the anti-Aviles, who was all production, no potential.
Aviles was drafted the seventh round of the 2003 MLB draft and signed to a whopping $1,000 bonus—the Royals, to save money, drafted five college seniors that year in rounds five through nine and signed them to $1,000 bonuses. Scouts doubted he could stick at shortstop and he was too old and too short to be taken seriously. He hit well in all but one minor league season but was stuck at Triple-A and destined to be a utility infielder until fate and Pena intervened.
I may like the Oakland As Michael Taylor or the Tampa Bay Rays' Desmond Jennings more, but Saunders has one trait the other two lack for now: An organization desperate to find an outfielder who can hit his weight.
The pitching parallel right now can be found in Baltimore, where Orioles manager Dave Tremblay has seen Jim Johnson fall by the wayside. Alfredo Simon has gotten he early saves but a dark horse is Koji Uehara.
Posted by Jonathan Sher at 6:34am (3) Comments
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Josh writes: 16-team, keeper league (eight keepers announced at the end of the year) My team is currently middle of the pack due to the lack of offense, particularly from my outfield.
Active roster positions are C, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS, OF x3, UTIL – SP x2, RP x2, P x3 – BNx5 - 21 roster spots in total. Keepers marked with a (k).
My main question is, do I deal one of my dominant starters (Ubaldo or Wainwright) and either Jones or Quentin for an upgrade in the OF and a somewhat lesser arm?
C – A.J. Pierzynski
1B(k) – Kendry Morales
2B(k) – Ian Kinsler
3B(k) – David Wright
SS – Juan Uribe – replacing Yunel Escobar (DL)
OF(k) – Andruw Jones
OF(k) – Carlos Quentin
OF(k) – Jay Bruce
UTIL – Juan Rivera
BN – Delmon Young
SP(k) – Ubaldo Jimenez
SP(k) – Adam Wainwright
SP – John Danks
SP – Edwin Jackson
SP – Rick Porcello
RP – Rafael Soriano
RP – David Aardsma
RP – Grant Balfour
RP – Sergio Romo
RP – Tanner Scheppers
DL – Chris R. Young
DL – Edinson Volquez
Josh, I wouldn't trade either of those pitchers (particularly Wainwright) except for a top, top-tier outfielder. You don't have an acute need in the outfield yet. Bruce and particularly Quentin should start producing eventually. Quentin's BABIP is below .200 after all.
In general, I prefer not to make trades due to under-performance this early in the season. Trading for need due to injury or lost playing time is a different matter. But there's not much reason why a trading partner would put more value than you in waiting out Quentin's bad luck.
That said, you can try various offers to see if you can make a value trade (i.e. find some players that other owners might have given up on). But don't force yourself to trade a Jimenez just to get, among others, a small-value player. However, the deeper the league the more viable it is to trade (giving up) a star for two middle-rank players.
I would have an itchy trigger finger with respect to your DL, particularly Young. If another of your players gets injured, I wouldn't hesitate dropping first Young and then Volquez in order to DL roster the injured player (assuming he's not irreparably damaged). Young is going nowhere and question marks abound around Volquez, so I wouldn't lose an injured player at a thin position just in order to keep them.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 4:10am (0) Comments
Last week, I wrote about streaming players within the context of the core values of fantasy baseball. This week I’d like to talk about another controversial practice in a similar context – dumping. Some owners feel that fantasy baseball should be predominantly focused on best projecting what players are going to accomplish in the current season and that teams that dump both skew the balance of power within leagues and operate antithetically to game’s care values by privileging the yet to be realized talent above currently productive and valuable assets.
My take on this issue is fairly simple and boils down to two core points. One, as long as an owner is legitimately attempting to improve his team, in his mind, I find it difficult to oppose what he is doing on any sort of fundamental grounds. Two, once you introduce a keeper element to your league (this is when dumping occurs), you are introducing skills to be valued beyond projecting a player’s performance in the current season. Owners must accept that dumping will exist – must exist to some degree – in a healthy, well-functioning keeper league.
It is certainly frustrating to watch owners engage in fire sales that drastically swing the competitive balance of a league, especially extremely early in the season. But, perspective must be maintained. In order to guard against a league devolving into perennial first- and second-division teams, the opportunity to rebuild must remain fairly open. Further, as Jonathan Sher pointed out in his first column here at THT, it is in a potentially rebuilding owner’s best interest to decide quickly and definitely as to whether to play for this year or next. And, it so follows that the earlier he acts, the better the market will be for the assets he’s going to dump. Dumping, and dumping early, is a wholly rational behavior within the context of a multi-year league. After all, it happens in real baseball all the time, though perhaps less drastically.
Where things get really murky, just as in the streaming issue, is when we get into extremes. One case that is often brought up is that of a league with a fixed maximum number of keepers and a team proceeds to sell off all its usable parts in lopsided deals because anything other than the X best priced assets this team has is worthless going into the following season. This situation begs the question of whether the league should intervene or regulate against such behavior. I say, no – not directly.
This owner is acting in a rational manner within the context of the larger system, so the way I would address this would not be to punish or disallow a perfectly rational approach, but instead to tweak the system in a manner that such behavior becomes slightly less rational. It’s also important to remember that outright disallowing iconoclastic behavior is a recipe for stagnation. Boundaries must be pushed to advance any institution.
I often advocate building a non-negligible penalty into the league structure for the team who finishes in last place (maybe the bottom two finishers depending on the number of teams in the league). Most directly, I support this idea because it helps with the problem of deadbeating, but it can also function as a deterrent to excessive dumping as well. Yes, you may still go all out to rebuild your team, but there is a penalty to not even trying to be competitive. (By the way, if you limit dumping too heavy-handedly, you may wind up unintentionally facilitating deadbeating.)
Generally speaking, I think the best way to protect against exploiting a legitimate and rational tactic (streaming, dumping, etc.) is to disincentive-ze its use at its extreme as opposed to just outlawing it. Often times, if you are tempted to ban something that is rational by the rules of the system, it is the system itself that is flawed.
Above all, think very carefully when setting up the parameters for a league, especially a keeper league. Many of the seemingly innocuous choices you make along the way reflect underlying values or philosophies. In my main keeper league we sign a contract that outlines the terms of the league for a cycle (every fourth or fifth year, we erase all the rosters and redraft). The set-up is fairly simple, but the process is healthy. We meet before each season and anybody who wants to propose a rule change can do so and the group discusses and votes on it.
Well thought out league set-up and healthy governance is probably the most overlooked element of a positive fantasy experience. At the end of the day, we can all have different opinions on what we value in a league, but the reasons we complain usually stem from either joining the wrong league or not giving enough thought to the structure of the league you set up.
The time to address questionable strategies and practices is before a league begins; you can be proactive or you can be “a hater.” Outright bans on practices are cop out fixes, and often unnecessary, not to mention undemocratic. You are creating your league from scratch; it’s only flaws will be those you introduced.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:35am (7) Comments
Thursday, May 13, 2010
A massive update to my top-100 list is coming next week, and a breakdown of the 2010 amateur draft will arrive shortly after. For now, enjoy the latest thoughts on 10 more top prospects.
Scott Sizemore / 2B / Detroit
Sizemore hasn't burst onto the scene as I had hoped, but he is currently displaying some of the offensive skills necessary to be a productive everyday second baseman. However, we should all be cringing a bit at both his fielding percentage and the "0" currently posted under the stolen base column. I assure you, though, there is untapped upside.
Alcides Escobar / SS / Milwaukee
I came into the year pessimistic toward Escobar's 2010 stolen base prospects, but even I'm shocked by the goose egg he has put up thus far. Maybe it will take a more liberal manager running the show in Milwaukee, but, long term, the steals will come. What's more concerning is the uncharacteristically shaky defense and batting average approaching the Mendoza line. Should we chalk everything up to a slow start, or is there more to the story? It's hard to tell, but even his long-term stock is falling at this point.
Brett Lawrie / 2B/3B/OF / Milwaukee
Lawrie is struggling defensively, but he is treading water with his bat in the early going. Considering his age and his level, that's not a bad thing. He's a little lost in the shuffle right now, but I have full confidence that his defense will improve no matter which position he ends up playing, and his bat will carry him the rest of the way.
Jaff Decker / OF / San Diego
Decker has yet to play meaningful baseball this season, as he remains in extended spring training while he nurses a strained hamstring. He should be moved up shortly, however.
Lars Anderson / 1B / Boston
Anderson has quickly put his disappointing 2009 season behind him. He clobbered Eastern League pitching for the first few weeks of the season and earned his way up to Triple-A Pawtucket, where he continues to produce, albeit in a small sample size. I didn't give up, and I hope you didn't give up either. He's right on track to make an impact for Boston in 2011.
Casey Kelly / SP / Boston
Kelly has made a seamless transition into Double-A ball, and his stock is on the rise. Right now he is having success based mainly on his fastball and overall command, but he has shown strong secondary stuff before. I expect to see that secondary stuff more and more as he advances.
Wade Davis / SP / Tampa Bay
Davis has been impressive in carrying over his successful 2009 major league stretch. He has been incredibly consistent for his age, and while his command continues to be somewhat worrisome, his ace-caliber arsenal is eye-popping.
Jordan Lyles / SP / Houston
For those who have been sleeping on Lyles, his early-season Texas League performance should be necessary proof that he is one of the best young pitchers around.
Jiovanni Mier / SS / Houston
On the surface Mier has flat out struggled, even defensively, but digging deeper we can see that Mier is drawing walks at a tremendous rate for his age and is finding ways to score and drive in runs any way he can.
Lonnie Chisenhall / 3B / Cleveland
Where are the extra-base hits? Chisenhall is finding Double-A pitching tough. It will be interesting to see if he adjusts the more he sees the same pitchers.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 6:20am (4) Comments
Friday, May 14, 2010
Jose Contreras | Philadelphia | SP/RP
YTD:11.57 K/9, 15.00 K/BB, 0.77 ERA
True Talent:6.60 K/9, 2.06 K/BB, 4.15 ERA
Jose Contreras is currently in line to close games for the Phillies thanks to Brad Lidge's elbow soreness (no structural damage according an MRI taken on Thursday), and Ryan Madson landing on the 60-day DL thanks to kicking a chair and breaking his toe. The job appears to be temporary, but given Lidge's recent history of injuries, and last year's ineffectiveness, it wouldn't be shocking to see temporary last longer than expected. Beyond just save opportunities, there is a lot to like about Contreras this season. In shifting from starter to reliever, Contreras has seen a significant uptick in radar gun readings. Contreras' average fastball is registering 94.7 mph this season as opposed to a 91.7 mph career mark. In addition to his fastball seeing an increase in velocity, his slider and splitter have also taken a bump up as his slider's average velocity has gone up from a career mark of 84.6 mph to 88.5 mph and his splitter from 78.0 mph to 81.5 mph. As expected, Contreras' improved stuff has resulted in a higher strikeouts per nine innings, 11.57 K/9, than his career mark of 6.80 K/9. In addition to Contreras posting an eye-popping strikeout rate, he's also limited free passes (0.77 BB/9) and induced a ton of ground balls (54.2 percent GB). The total package that Contreras has displayed thus far (admittedly in a small sample) is that of an elite reliever. Working in your favor to own him is that many remember his mediocre/bad results in recent years as a starter, and are simply writing off his hot start as a fluke. While I am not suggesting that his numbers will remain at this elite a level, I do believe his improved stuff supports the boost in strikeouts, he's always posted decent walk rates and induced a bunch of ground balls, so he should continue to succeed. In leagues he hasn't been gobbled up by owners looking for vulture saves, the window to add him will likely close quickly with news quickly spreading about Contreras being the interim closer, so nab him now.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team mixed leagues or larger, and all NL-only leagues.
Johnny Cueto | Cincinnati | SP
YTD:7.07 K/9, 2.75 K/BB, 4.07 ERA
True Talent:7.30 K/9, 2.23 K/BB, 4.92 ERA
Johnny Cueto has been a maddening player to own since bursting onto the fantasy landscape with a seven-inning, one-hit, 10-strikeout debut. Cueto took some steps forward last season, seeing an improvement in his groundball rate and his walk rate, but it came at the expense of his strikeout rate. While the season is young, he appears to be taking further steps forward. Some of Cueto's stats should be taken with a grain of salt given his dominance in his last start against the Pirates; however, his GB rate remains acceptable at just above 40 percent (though still a tad lower than one would like), and his walk rate has taken a further step forward as he has a 2.57 BB/9. The most promising stat on the season is Cueto's slightly improved K/9 which sits at 7.07, and is even better than that in his two most recent starts. Given his home ballpark, his manager, and his age, Cueto is more of a matchup play at this point, but one with more upside than your average starter largely available in fantasy leagues (current Yahoo! ownership is 38 percent).
Recommendation: Should be owned in some 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team mixed leagues or larger, and all NL-only leagues.
Mat Latos | San Diego | SP
YTD:6.64 K/9, 3.56 K/BB, 3.32 ERA
True Talent:7.2 K/9, 2.59 K/BB, 3.49 ERA
Mat Latos has pitched lights out since a disastrous start on April 26 in which he allowed seven earned runs in just 2.2 innings pitched. In his last two starts, Latos has tossed a combined 17 innings of three-hit, 15-strikeout, zero-earned-run baseball, including a shutout against the Giants on Thursday. There is a ton to like about Latos, such as things in his control like his walk rate and groundball rate, things out of his control like his favorable home ballpark, and finally his electric stuff. The one major drawback on Latos, at least in 2010, is that his innings are going to be closely monitored by the Padres and he will undoubtedly be shut down early. That said, the good far outweighs the bad and Latos is a player that should be of interest in all leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team mixed leagues, all 14-team mixed leagues or larger, and all NL-only leagues.
Carlos Ruiz | Philadelphia | C
Unfortunately for those competing in most two-catcher leagues, and all two-catcher leagues of any kind of depth, Carlos Ruiz has been owned since draft day. However, for those in single-catcher formats, it is surprising and alarming to see Ruiz unowned in so many leagues (currently only owned in 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues). Dating back to August 2009, Ruiz has been on a tear, posting a walk rate well over 12 percent (which bodes well for scoring runs in the juggernaut Philadelphia lineup), a batting average over .300 and even chipped in some home runs for good measure. While he'll be stuck at the bottom of the Phillies lineup, that doesn't necessarily hurt his value as much as it would to be stuck in the bottom of most other lineups. By posting an obscene OBP (.472), Ruiz sets himself up to be driven in when the lineup turns over. On top of being driven in, even hitting at the bottom of such a vaunted lineup allows Ruiz opportunities to drive in runs. While Ruiz won't be a premium HR threat, the fact he'll likely chip in 10-15 HRs is useful, especially when taken with the rest of his statistics. It appears Ruiz has a legitimate shot to finish in the top eight to 10 catcher range, making him ownable in even relatively shallow single-catcher leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all 12-team mixed single-catcher leagues as well as all 2-catcher mixed leagues, and all NL-only leagues
Troy Glaus | Atlanta | 1B
It appears Troy Glaus has awoken from an early season power slumber. For the month of April (72 at-bats) Glaus slugged a minuscule .292, but he has redeemed himself in the month of May by boosting that slugging percentage to .568 (42 at-bats). Equally impressive to his slugging in May has been his walk-to-strikeout, which stands at five-to-seven for the month as well. In the past Glaus has been a low average slugger with 30-plus home run pop. While 30 home runs may be tough for Glaus to reach given his age, recent injury history, and the likelihood he'll miss time or see days off to rest as the season progresses, 25-plus home runs seems attainable. If he's able to maintain a strikeout rate close to the one he's posting in May for the remainder of the season, Glaus won't necessarily be quite the batting average liability he has been in previous seasons. A batting average in the .260-.265 range coupled with 25 HRs is certainly of interest in some leagues, and with his current lineup spot (fourth some nights, fifth most) he should be able to post a useful RBI total as well.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team mixed leagues using a CI, all 14-team mixed leagues or larger using a CI, and all NL-only leagues.
Ike Davis | New York (NL) | 1B
The Mike Jacobs 1B platoon era for the Mets appears to be over thanks to Ike Davis. Davis has done a fantastic job of taking over the 1B duties on a full-time basis since being promoted from Triple-A. Because Davis strikes out out a lot (27.5 percent) and has limited major league exposure, it's likely he'll have some rough spots going forward. Working in his favor, however, is his solid walk rate (16.7 percent) and his early display of power (.478 slugging including three home runs). Davis has raked against lefties .478/.526/.882, albeit in only 17 at-bats, so he may have bought himself a bit of a leash in the event he shows some struggles against his same-handed pitching counterparts. Those in need of a player to contribute 15-20 HRs or so from a CI or UTIL spot while not hurting their team batting average should have their man in Davis in 2010.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team mixed leagues using a CI, all 14-team mixed leagues or larger using a CI, and all NL-only leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 5:37am (2) Comments
Saturday, May 15, 2010
Note: Sorry for the absence of AL Waiver Wire's the past couple weeks. Tommy Rancel has had some personal matters come up and has needed to step down from his posts at THT Fantasy and Beyond the Box Score. I'll be taking over the AL Waiver Wire until we can find a replacement that meets the standards of THTF. Best of luck to you, Tommy!
Travis Snider | Toronto | OF
True Talent: .241/.316/.424
ESPN Ownership: 10.4%
After an ice-cold April, Snider is starting to heat up with four homers over the past two weeks. That brings him up to six on the year, and he's hitting them a long way. He'll never be a batting average stud, but his strikeout rate is at a career best and completely manageable 25 percent this year. It wouldn't be surprising to see Snider moved into the 3, 4, or 5 spot in the lineup if he continues to hit the way he's capable of. If that happens, he immediately becomes mixed league-worthy. The one other concern is Edwin Encarnacion's imminent return, but it's looking like it might be Fred Lewis hitting the bench most games at that point.
Recommendation: Should be carefully watched in 12-team mixed leagues, owned in 14-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
John Buck | Toronto | C
True Talent: .240/.302/.445
ESPN Ownership: 36%
Buck has quietly been one of the most productive catchers in baseball this year, and it's far from a fluke. I own him in the CardRunners league, and having finally secured regular playing time, Buck stands to be among the catching leaders in home runs all year. He won't maintain this 22 percent HR/FB rate or the .271 average, but a .250 average with 20 homers the rest of the way should be easily attainable for Buck.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all two-catcher mixed leagues. Should be owned in 12-team, single-catcher mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Jose Bautista | Toronto | OF/3B
True Talent: .235/.325/.425
ESPN Ownership: 34.9%
Yup, another Blue Jay. These guys are the Pirates of the American League — not a very good team, but filled with plenty of valuable fantasy assets as a result. Bautista is a huge batting average liability, but he's got tons of power and can steal a few bases. Also, if Lewis is the one to go to the bench when Encarnacion returns, we could see Bautista return to the leadoff spot.
Recommendation: Should owned only in the deepest of mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
David Ortiz | Boston | DH
True Talent: .254/.350/.507
ESPN Ownership: 38.4%
Ortiz is getting hot, and you need to grab him now before it's too late. He's another guy I own in both Tout and CardRunners, and you shouldn't let his slow start worry you too much. The strikeout rate is a bit disconcerting, but he's hitting the ball with authority and the power is still there. Sure, he's aging and overweight, but that's part of what makes him undervalued.
Recommendation: Should be considered in 10-team and owned in 12-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Colby Lewis | Texas | SP
YTD: 9.7 K/9, 2.9 K/BB, 3.15 ERA
True Talent: 8.7 K/9, 5.0 K/BB, 3.03 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 94.3%
I know that Lewis has been mentioned many times before here at THTF, but I love him. I have him in both Tout Wars and CardRunners, and while his ownership percentage has skyrocketed from 10 percent just a couple weeks ago, he is still available in some leagues. He could easily finish 2010 as a top 12 or 15 pitcher, so buy now before the window closes completely. Trade for him, if necessary, if his owner is skeptical.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.
Derek Holland | Rangers | SP
YTD: 10.5 K/9, 7.0 K/BB, 0.00 ERA
True Talent: 7.2 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 4.37 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 8.8%
Holland may be a year away from truly breaking out, but he's certainly worth a flier having been called up by the Rangers this week. His 4.38 xFIP last year was unremarkable, but he dominated Triple-A to start the year and had a terrific start against Oakland on Wednesday. A high variability pickup, but there is enormous potential here.
Recommendation: Should owned in 15-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Max Scherzer | Detroit | SP
YTD: 5.6 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 7.29 ERA
True Talent: 9.0 K/9, 2.7 K/BB, 4.06 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 50.2%
Scherzer is being dropped in bunches in fantasy leagues, and it's hard to argue with these owners given how he's pitched so far this year. His peripherals are awful — much worse than we'd expect from his move from the NL — and his xFIP currently sits at 5.03. Still, if we examine his stuff, we'll notice that the only difference is that his fastball is slower. Admittedly, it's much slower (a full 2 MPH), but his pitches are moving the same as they were last year, and the 2 MPH fastball drop-off doesn't explain a 4 K/9 drop-off. Expect some sort of bounceback here, especially since we're still dealing with relatively small samples.
Recommendation: Should owned (and benched) in 15-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues. Should be started in 10-team AL-only leagues.
Koji Uehara | Baltimore | RP
YTD: 7.7 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 3.86 ERA
True Talent: 6.3 K/9, 2.8 K/BB, 4.15 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 0.2%
Uehara isn't the closer right now, but he's likely next in line in Baltimore. Mike Gonzalez will be back closing at some point, but that might not be until the middle of June. In the interim, Alredo Simon is doing his best 2009 Mike MacDougal impression, and this success won't last much longer. An implosion is coming, and Uehara stands to be the beneficiary of it. Stash him now.
Recommendation: Should be owned in 15-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Matt Thornton | Chicago | RP
YTD: 14.3 K/9, 8.7 K/BB, 2.20 ERA
True Talent: 9.7 K/9, 3.5 K/BB, 3.15 ERA
ESPN Ownership: 15.5%
With the Sox losing faith in Bobby Jenks, Thornton figures to be next in line should a change need to be made. Jenks has actually been quite good with a 3.14 xFIP, but at this point all it will take is a little more bad luck to force him out of the job, at least temporarily. Thornton is an elite reliever anyway, but with the potential for saves he becomes ownable in most leagues.
Recommendation: Should be watched in all mixed leagues. Should be owned in 15-team mixed leagues. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Posted by Derek Carty at 7:00pm (5) Comments
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
The concept of buying low and selling high is, without a doubt, easier said than done. After all, no league is played in a vacuum and most owners are simply impressed by fast starts or panicked by slow ones. Rather, there's a balancing act when acquiring a player.
One must consider a player's draft status, what kind of personality traits the opposing owner possesses and other various issues that aren't as easy as measuring performance.
Every player has a price, or at least they should. Figuring out which ones are worth paying for is always key.
When putting together this list of pitchers, I tried to take into consideration not just whether a given player will outperform or underperform their current pace, but also weight the relevance of that information. For instance, saying that Brad Penny is a sell-high candidate is fine in theory, but I have yet to meet someone who would be willing to pay for him as if he was the 28th-best pitcher in baseball (as his current pace suggests). For that matter, I'm willing to bet that he's one of those rare players who is almost impossible to trade because he's playing too well.
Hopefully, you get the idea.
As usual, whenever I reference where a player ranks, it's based on the Tom Tango formula.
Buyer beware (but don't tell them that)Mat Latos: If you've been reading this column, you may find the fact that the San Diego Padres pitcher appears in this category surprising. This is where the unscientific portion of my goal comes, in, though. While it is true that Latos was essentially a draft-day afterthought in many leagues (ADP in ESPN: 212), he was hardly an unknown commodity. Coming off his near perfect game (the only baserunner was an infield single), the hype surrounding this guy has never been higher. I own him in two leagues and have already fielded several offers. So far, he's been the 35th-best pitcher in baseball. Oliver projects him to finish out as the 66th (3.49 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 83 strikeouts). Obviously, if you took him with one of the final picks in your draft, if he performs to even that modest level of success, you should consider him a solid investment. Still, if someone makes you an offer that you like, say someone like the underperforming Wandy Rodriguez or suddenly stable Jonathan Sanchez (I'll have more on them later), you should feel free to pull the trigger.
|The real Rios stands awaiting the pitch in Chicago. (Icon/SMI)|
|Nope, I never thought a man named Ubaldo would ever lead my fantasy team either. (Icon/SMI)|