May 22, 2013
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Monday, May 07, 2012
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
Philip Humber is 25 percent owned and playable against the Indians. On the opposite side of that match-up is Zach McAllister, who's a sneaky pick-up for today. Yahoo isn't aware yet that he's starting so he's available in every league.
Carlos Zambrano's had a nice start to the season. He's 28 percent owned and will face the Astros, which sounds like a combination for a stream start.
I like Felix Doubront against the Royals as they're a lefty heavy club and Doubront can gather some strikeouts against same-handed opponents.
The Red Sox face a lefty, making Marlon Byrd and Darnell McDonald solid plays.
Craig Gentry will probably start against Brian Matusz.
The Indians and White Sox play a doubleheader so look for options from either team. Shelley Duncan will get the platoon advantage in the second game against Eric Stults.
My favorite bandwagon guy, Danny Duffy, is only 10 percent owned. Unfortunately, he faces the Red Sox, so I will once again advise that you pick him up but consider benching him for this game.
Daniel Bard's ownership is down to 35 percent. He faces the Duffy and the Royals.
Marco Estrada faces the Reds. He reliably produces strikeouts but the rest of the stat line is anyone's guess.
Duncan faces John Danks for round two. I picked out that match-up last week and Danks won by holding Duncan hitless.
Miguel Batista will start for the Mets, which means I'll be trying Juan Pierre and Laynce Nix.
Luke Scott is up to 43 percent owned. My work here is done. He faces Ivan Nova tomorrow if there are any remaining holdouts.
Jose Valverde blew a save on Saturday and then closed the door on Sunday. Joaquin Benoit waits in the wings, but Valverde will have to immolate first.
Speaking of immolation, Heath Bell blew another one. The guy needs to go on the disabled list or something. Steve Cishek is only 30 percent owned, as the fantasy nation apparently reacts to news slowly. Edward Mujica has picked up two saves even though Cishek is ahead on the depth chart, so keep an eye on that.
Santiago Casilla had an error-aided blown save. He should be safe for now.
Javy Guerra blew another one as well. Buy or trade for Kenley Jansen; he'll step into the role as a top five closer soon.
Chris Sale is being moved to the bullpen to take over the closer's role. He has some elbow soreness, so it could default to the previous tangle of Hector Santiago, Matt Thornton and Addison Reed.
I made a bunch of recommendations last Friday that I'm going to describe qualitatively.
Strong performers: James McDonald, Kyle Seager
Mediocre performers: Wade Miley, Eric Thames, Andruw Jones, Will Middlebrooks.
Bad performers: Kyle Drabek, Mike Carp, Scott, Duncan
Injured: Carlos Gomez
All in all, not my best day of picks.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:50am (6) Comments
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
As the Court has frequently discussed, there is a different analysis of trades made in a keeper league as opposed to a non-keeper league. In keeper leagues, trades that do not have equivalent present-day value can typically pass muster by demonstrating some other intangible or long-term benefit to the team unloading current talent.
However, the case below deals with an NL-only league where former MVP Joey Votto was traded for a package that could not be justified. The Court does not often reject trades because people should have the freedom to manage their teams accordingly. But when trades like this come up for review, the Court will reject them if there is no discernible benefit provided to both parties.
SUPREME COURT OF FANTASY JUDGMENT
Team Sabo vs. 4 Ponies
ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI FROM THE INCONTINENT LEAGUE
Decided May 1, 2012
Cite as 4 F.J. 50 (May 2012)
A rotisserie fantasy baseball league called The Incontinent League (hereinafter referred to as “roto league” or “IL” is an 11-team NL-only keeper league utilizing an auction-style draft and transaction platform. Teams are permitted to maintain up to ten (10) players during each off-season with individual players allowed to be kept for a maximum of three (3) consecutive years under contract. Each team is also permitted to keep two minor league players which are in addition to the ten players kept. This roto league also has a $26.00 draft salary cap, as well as a $36.00 in-season salary cap that is applicable for all teams.
As with many rotisserie leagues, the Incontinent League uses the standard 5×5 scoring categories to determine the standings and prize money. For offensive players, the five categories are: (1) batting average; (2) homeruns; (3) runs batted in; (4) runs scored; and (5) stolen bases. For pitchers, the five categories are: (1) wins; (2) earned run average; (3) WHIP (walks+hits/innings pitched); (4) strikeouts; and (5) saves. Statistics are cumulative throughout the course of the season and there are no head to head games contained within the Roto league.
The Incontinent League submitted a proposed trade between two league members and seeks an opinion on whether the trade should be approved.
Team Sabo made a trade with the 4 Ponies. Team Sabo traded Drew Stubbs (OF-CIN, $2.40 in the first year of his contract), Starling Marte (OF-PIT, $0.50 in the minor leagues), and Francisco Rodriguez (RP-MIL, $0.50 in the first year of his contract) to the 4 Ponies in exchange for Joey Votto (1B-CIN, $4.60 in the second year of his contract with one year remaining) and Tyler Clippard (RP-WAS, $0.50 in the first year of his contract).
(1) Should the trade between Team Sabo and the 4 Ponies be approved?
The Supreme Court of Fantasy Judgment typically favors individual fantasy sports participants and teams’ ability to make moves, transactions, and trades. People pay money to participate in fantasy leagues, and generally they should be afforded the freedom to manage their team accordingly. Whether success is bred from that individual’s decision-making is purely left to some skill, luck, dedication, and savviness. See 4 Ponies v. Carson City Cocks, 3 F.J. 13 (May 2011).
It is well documented that there is a different analysis of trades in a keeper league as opposed to a non-keeper league. A trade that may look facially uneven or lopsided could easily pass muster in a keeper league. Trades made between teams in a keeper league need to be analyzed by other factors besides merely comparing statistics. Grave Diggers vs. Chilidogs, 4 F.J. 5, 8 (January 2012).
These other factors include salary cap flexibility, contractual status of players, and long-term planning at the expense of the current season. Smittydogs vs. Moneyball, 1 F.J. 32, 33 (June 2010); Winners vs. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011) (holding that team owners in keeper leagues with no hope of contending in the current season must make critical roster management decisions of whether to trade established players to help build for the future).
The Court will evaluate the objective merits of a deal and ensure that the integrity of the league is maintained. See Victoria’s Secret vs. C-Train, 2 F.J. 32, 35 (October 2010). The Court will not undermine a fantasy owner’s ability to manage his/her team unless a deal is unfair or inequitable, ripe with collusion, or not in the best interests of the league. Whether a trade is objectively intelligent or popular will not be part of the analysis. 4 Ponies vs. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 27 (June 2011). The virtue of a trade is measured in both quantifiable criteria and subjective needs of the teams involved. Carson City Cocks vs. Stud Muffins, 3 F.J. 23, 24 (May 2011).
No evidence has been submitted indicating any alleged collusion or malfeasance. As such, the Court will operate on the presumption that there is no collusive conduct between the parties.
At first glance, the trade of Drew Stubbs, Starling Marte and Francisco Rodriguez in exchange for Joey Votto and Tyler Clippard does not look fair and equitable. In this deal, Votto is the only player regarded as elite. He is indisputably one of the best fantasy players in baseball, especially in an NL-Only league such as the Incontinent League. Any trade involving premier fantasy players is going to require additional scrutiny merely because of how valuable they are. See Steelers vs. Patriots, 3 F.J. 218, 220 (November 2011).
In this case, Votto, the 2010 National League MVP, is by far the best first baseman in the IL. Drew Stubbs is the best player included in the package for Votto. Stubbs is a starting outfielder for the Reds who has a respectable mix of power and speed, but he is prone to striking out and does not hit for a high average. Francisco Rodriguez and Tyler Clippard effectively cancel each other out as viable set-up relievers on their respective teams. Starling Marte is an outfield prospect for the Pirates who will likely not make an impact for at least another year. Overall, the trade is heavily weighted in favor of Team Sabo who is acquiring Votto for inequitable value.
When analyzing the fairness and equity of a trade, the Court will consider each team’s individual needs to assess whether the trade subjectively made sense from each team’s perspective. See Cajon Crawdads vs. Carson City Cocks, 1 F.J. 41, 42 (June 2010) (upholding a trade for Jason Bay because of the Carson City Cocks’ desperate need for a starting outfielder due to the demotion of Cameron Maybin). This trade involves a first baseman in exchange for a starting outfielder and an outfield prospect, as well as a swap of relief pitchers. Presumably positional needs were a factor in the parties’ rationale for making the deal.
Team Sabo clearly obtains an upgrade at first base as Votto will supplant his current starter, Todd Helton. However, as stated previously, Votto is the best first baseman in an NL-Only league and is a considerable upgrade over anyone else. On the other hand, the 4 Ponies are now left with Anthony Rizzo, Matt Carpenter, and Aubrey Huff as the only players on his roster eligible at first base.
Currently, Rizzo is in the minor league for the foreseeable future as the Cubs will want to be patient with one of their top prospects. Huff is on the disabled list with personal and emotional issues. He has not produced consistently since 2010 and it is questionable how much playing time he will receive when he does come back because Brandon Belt appears to have been given an opportunity to establish himself as the Giants first baseman. Finally, Carpenter is playing now because of the injury to Lance Berkman. When Berkman does return, Carpenter will likely be relegated to a reserve role. Under no circumstances can the Court comprehend how the 4 Ponies benefit from this drastic downgrade at first base.
An argument in support of the trade on behalf of the 4 Ponies could be their desire to improve in stolen bases given Stubbs speed. Stubbs has stolen 70 bases combined over the past two seasons and already has four this year. However, the 4 Ponies also have Hanley Ramirez, Angel Pagan and Andres Torres on his roster as viable stolen base candidates. The increase in stolen bases that the 4 Ponies could potentially obtain pales in comparison to the decrease in home runs, runs batted in, and batting average that can be expected with this trade.
In terms of the contractual and financial ramifications of the trade, it makes sense on both sides. Team Sabo is adding $1.70 to their salary cap in the deal, but Votto only has one more season under contract after this year. Currently in 4th place, Team Sabo is clearly operating under a “win now” mentality. On the other hand, the 4 Ponies, currently in 10th place, do save $1.70 which they can use during the season, and they can keep Stubbs for another two years if so desired.
By trading Votto, it appears that the 4 Ponies are conceding this season and trying to build for the future. See Winners v. Seven Shades of Shite, 3 F.J. 97, 102 (July 2011) (holding that when a team in a keeper league no longer has any hope for contending in the current season, he/she must make a critical roster management decision of whether to trade off established players in exchange for unknown entities in building for the future).
While this is normally a justifiable reason to make a trade that doesn’t have present-day equivalent value, it does not apply in this scenario. First of all, the season is only in its 5th week. It is far too early to make any concessions based on the standings as of May 1. Second, the Court fails to see how this trade remotely benefits 4 Ponies now or in the future. The increase in stolen bases, the money saved, and Starling Marte’s potential are not sufficient enough to justify trading the preeminent first baseman in this NL-Only league.
The Court has no issues with the idea of trading superstar players so long as the package in return is equitable and makes sense given the needs of both teams. 4 Ponies v. Beaver Hunters, 3 F.J. 26, 29 (June 2011). Based on the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby decides that the subject trade is not equitable and should be rejected. The parties should have an opportunity to amend the deal to comport with the best interests of the league.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
Posted by Michael Stein at 3:57am (4) Comments
Last month I debuted my inaugural Tout Wars team here to the painfully honest THT crowd, whose feedback consisted of more constructive criticisms than compliments. Admittedly the criticism was well deserved as during the draft I essentially made every rookie mistake in the book. I left money on the table, overspent on closers, and drafted two hitters on the DL and another that would be sent down the minors not long thereafter. My lineup had more holes to fill than a Mark Reynolds swing.
One month into the season, lo and behold, my team has outperformed the other fourteen and I'm currently perched fairly comfortably atop the standings. Sometimes it is better to be lucky good.
Setting luck aside, I've done some nifty patchwork to my roster along the way that has contributed to my current standing. Specifically my past purchases have been:
Week 1: Josh Reddick ($1), Brian Bogusevic ($2)
Week 2: Ryan Sweeney ($1)
Week 3: Andy Dirks ($1), Tony Campana ($2)
Week 4: Michael Saunders ($7), Anthony Bass ($10*)
Bogusevic was dropped following the first week, but Reddick has been a productive fixture in my lineup ever since. I have similar hopes for Dirks who, with a healthy hamstring and Brad Eldridge sent packing. can become an everyday player. Based on his .313/.327/.583 slash line he deserves the chance. The Campana campaign might have already peaked but his burst of seven steals in two weeks was fun.
Last week I splurged a little on Saunders, who I thought would be a popular bid given his 20 homer power potential—a rarity amongst waiver players. Apparently I was the only one since I could have bid just a single dollar and still have gotten him. Oh well, I have a large FAAB budget remaining compared to other teams since I've avoided the insane closer bidding (read: $26 for Hector Santiago).
Speaking of closers, unfortunately I gained one this week in Chris Sale. Before this news I was already short a starter (which is part of the reason I was willing to pay up to $25 for Bass, but only paid $10 because of the Vickrey system) and now I'm short once again relative to other teams. I would prefer to trade a closer for a starter immediately but if no good offer pops up, I am willing to roll closer-heavy for a few weeks and build upon my lead in saves.
This week's bids
I took a long look at all the starters I could add and decided against Philip Humber, Brian Matusz, and Jerome Williams. However I did throw a $1 bid at Jeanmar Gomez and, as of midnight, I see that I got him.
Gomez doesn't strike many batters out, but he limits walks and generates ground balls at over a 50 percent rate, so he has that Trevor Cahill-type profile of someone who can post low ratios without gaudy strikeout numbers. His match-up against the White Sox and Jake Peavy is just alright this week, but next week he draws the Twins and Marlins, two match-ups I'll look forward to.
After that, who knows what'll become of Jeanmar and I.
As for hitters, I decided to stick with my current squad, though I'm not sure yet who I plan to start. I've got five spots for Reddick, Campana, Dirks, Saunders, Jon Jay, and Jhonny Peralta. I should probably bench one of Saunders or Campana but looking at match-ups, I have a hunch Reddick might be in for a rough week. I still haven't decided, and suggestions are always welcome.
That's all I'll say for now. I know reading about someone else's league can have the same entertainment value as sitting in a doctor's office, but I'm hoping the combination of some player analysis and me being in first can make this interesting enough.
Bottom line, if you'd be interested in hearing next Monday about the bids I and others place and how my team did, let me know. If not, let me know too.
Posted by Paul Singman at 4:02am (4) Comments
If you’ve played fantasy baseball for any considerable length of time, you’ve almost certainly experienced the following situation: a trade occurs in your league that clearly benefits one team more than the other, but it is not grossly unfair to the point that it can be overturned in good conscience. Were this to happen with any frequency in your league, you’d most likely and understandably be a bit testy about it. But, what can be done about it?
Earlier this week, I exchanged emails with a reader who was frustrated because this kind of transaction happened a few times in his league, benefiting the same team repeatedly. This reader was not alleging collusion had taken place, but he was upset that this owner was building his team into a prohibitive favorite, assembling a roster one would never be able to legitimately obtain if the league were to redraft/auction today. He was curious as to whether I saw any recourse for him and the other owners who had not been fleeced but were finding the competitive advantage tilting further toward an alleged dream team.
I don’t think any sort of intervention would be justifiable in this case and I told him the best advice I could give him is to get his own ski mask and try to raid the trade market as effectively as his competitor. But, there are some general themes worth discussing in regard to this issue.
The path to fantasy sports dominance is almost always a stepwise process whereby a successful owner gets the marginally to moderately better side of several decisions over the course of the year. Great rosters simply don’t fall from the sky. With this in mind, it is important to keep an eye on others’ rosters throughout your league. When it comes time to make a trade, you don’t want to inadvertently give a competitor the lane to a title in the process of improving your own team.
While improving your team is goal unto itself, it is not the ultimate goal. As an owner, you should be defining realistic mid- and long-term goals and moving toward them. Right now, in most leagues, winning it all should still be a conceivable goal for virtually all owners. In pursuing your larger goal, you need to understand how your decisions impact the other teams in your league.
In my reply to this reader I noted that I’ve been in situations before where I chose not to make a mutually beneficial trade with an owner with an established lead in the standings because I didn’t want to further strengthen that particular team. My immediate goal of improving my team was at odds with my long term goals of winning the league and/or assembling one of the strongest keeper cores in the league.
As the season plays out, you may have to adjust your goals if you perceive the biggest bounties to no longer be realistically obtainable. As that happens, you may find yourself on the opposite side of the “don’t hand another team the title” issue. If you are able to identify this tipping point early and accurately, you can often sell your soul for your flesh in a manner that will net you earthly profit even if not spiritual bliss.
A front-running team often has no shortage of resources and if you match needs correctly, you should actually be able to get $1.10 or $1.20 on the dollar for the specific assets that team needs to put it over the top. Other teams in the league might dislike you helping somebody else win in exchange for that team helping you place or show, but as long as there are actual ends in sight, nobody can rightfully criticize you for making a calculated concession.
To some readers, this may conjure up the endless debate about whether cellar-dwelling teams should be trading with front runners in the second half of the season. For my thoughts on that issue, I’d refer you to this piece. What I’m talking about here though is slightly different; here I’m concerned with keeping short and long term goals in sight and in balance, and acting assertively and shrewdly to make sure you see the writing on the wall early on and do something about it if and when you do.
This is why the “[owner x] is giving [owner y] the championship,” is an insufficient argument for protesting a trade. Such an argument lacks context. The primary criterion on which a trade should be judged is always whether both owners are acting (or at least intending to act) in their best interest at the time. Sometimes, it is in your best interest to not make a trade that benefits your team if that trade makes a favorite even stronger. At other times, it may be in your interest to “give [owner y] the championship” to secure your own standing.
With all that said, it is absolutely critical to iterate the obvious, which is that nobody can predict the future with certainty. To be sure, in early May, nobody in any league can say with any credibility that any trade that goes down ensures anybody will win or lose anything. Even later in the season, such a contention just means that the odds have been adjusted in one teams favor in the most objective consensus sense. The paradox, of course, here is that we all make our fortunes on knowing better than the next guy and the objective consensus. Commissioners out there must protect the rights of owners to make their bets and profit from them. The challenge is drawing the line between counterintuitive and reckless behavior.
Finishing up on a cautionary note, consider the following two points as food for thought for those who get tempted to cast a veto vote on the perceived of an “unfair” trade resulting in perceived prohibitive dominance by another team.
One, some of these bizarre trades actually work out in favor of the team that appears to be getting fleeced at the time of the transaction. This is one of the absolute worst scenarios in which a commissioner can find him/herself and it produces an owner completely justified in being irate. Commissioners should heed the Hippocratic Oath and make all attempts to avoid doing harm. One behavior a good commissioner displays is protecting him/herself from falling into the stickiest of situations.
Anecdote time. This past football season, a good friend of mine was involved in a trade in his fantasy league that got overturned because the league’s consensus was he didn’t give up enough in a combo deal that netted him Adrian Peterson. So, the league and commissioner forced him to take Victor Cruz out of the trade and replace him with Stevie Johnson so the other owner could get more… Needless to say, this turned into a mess as the other owner would have actually won the initial trade but actually lost when the league stepped in to try to make the deal more even.
Virtually everybody was upset. The owner who didn’t get Cruz was irate and threatened to withhold his league dues because his foresight was rendered impotent. Other teams in the league that now had to contend with a team boasting both Peterson and dominant Cruz were upset because my friend wound up with both studs. In attempt to preclude the assembly of a perceived dream team, the league facilitated the assembly of an actual dream team.
Two, you can’t judge one piece of straw more harshly than the previous simply because it was the one that, in your subjective view, broke the camel’s back. Decisions about transactions must be made individually without regard to the cumulative effect of previous transactions. If it wouldn’t be overturn-able if I did it, it’s not overturn-able when you do it.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:48am (3) Comments
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every-morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
Danny Duffy is still widely available. As a commenter yesterday noted, he held the Yankees offense in check and they're more potent against left-hand pitching than the Red Sox. I will be starting him in the three leagues I own him in, but if you have room to be careful, you might want to wait until he's facing easier inter-division foes.
On the opposite side of that match-up is Daniel Bard. He's probably not available given his 36 percent ownership rate, but it's a good start for him.
The Brewers swapped Marco Estrada and Yovani Gallardo at the last minute. Estrada actually started last night. He had a rough outing so you didn't miss anything.
Shelley Duncan faces John Danks in what's rounding into a classic TDG match-up.
Miguel Batista will start for the Mets today, which means that Juan Pierre and Laynce Nix should be owned.
I was shocked to learn that Kirk Nieuwenhuis is only eight percent owned. He has a well-rounded fantasy skill set that lends itself toward plugging roster holes. He faces Joe Blanton today, so add away.
Christian Friedrich has a prospecty glow and strong numbers in five PCL starts this season. More importantly, he faces the Padres at Petco for his major league debut. That's a match-up made in heaven.
Anthony Bass faces Friedrich. Bass has been sneaky good this season but he's leaned heavily on a good moving fastball in the outings I've observed.
Drew Smyly has done well this season thanks in part to improved strikeout and whiff rates. He gets the always juicy Mariners match-up tomorrow.
It's somehow slipped notice that Jeff Keppinger is nearly a full time starter now. He faces David Phelps tomorrow.
Craig Gentry will probably start against Wei-Yin Chen.
Bruce Chen is set to face the Red Sox, which means Marlon Byrd and Darnell McDonald might be useful.
Kenley Jansen appears to have officially taken over as the Dodgers closer. He immediately becomes a top three reliever in baseball. There might still be a few opportunities to buy low, but that window is probably closed.
Octavio Dotel blew a spot save. Jose Valverde had gone three consecutive days. Joaquin Benoit is the better handcuff if you're worried about Valverde.
Jonathan Papelbon took the loss and allowed three runs yesterday. The game was tied 2-2, so no blown save.
Philip Humber exploded in the worst possible way: 2.1 IP, 1 K, 30.86 ERA, 4.71 WHIP. I thought I had identified a Don Cooper-aided change in him, but his last few outings have been painful.
Carlos Zambrano helped to mitigate the pain with a three-hit shutout win: 9 IP, 9 K, 0.00, 0.44 WHIP
Felix Doubront got one of those wins where you kind of just shake your head: 6.1 IP, 2 K, 5.68 ERA, 1.48 WHIP
An empty 2-for-5 for Byrd. He's below the Mendoza line with his batting average, but he seems to be hitting lefties well.
McDonald was 1-for-4 with a walk.
Gentry also posted an empty 2-for-5 line.
Duncan played in only one game of the double header. He went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:51am (2) Comments
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Yesterday I was perusing a few fantasy baseball articles, and this one with AL OF rankings by RotoGraph's David Wiers caught my attention.
Looking through the tiers I realized that Austin Jackson was nowhere to be found. You know, the Tigers outfielder with the insane BABIP. Scrolling down, I saw the commenters were quick to point this out, and he was quickly added to tier three. Crisis averted.
I started perusing again. I was looking in particular for where another Tigers outfielder, Andy Dirks was located. Tier five? Nope. Six? Nada. Surely he would be in tier seven I thought, but once again, negative. Rajai Davis and his non-existent production was in tier seven so my concern grew.
I arrived at the last and final stop, tier eight. Here's what I saw:
I spy two injured stars, another injured player who was never very good, a washed-up White Sock, and then three other Tigers hitters. No Andy Dirks.
I quickly checked the comments and not even one person was puzzled by Dirks' lack of inclusion. This was intentional. For comedy's sake, here are the slash lines of those Tigers hitters:
Raburn: .127/.192/.169 in 79 PA
Young: .221/.291/.299 in 86 PA with a derogatory slur thrown in
Boesch: .209/.229/.330 in 118 PA and a recent demotion from the second to eighth spot in the lineup
And who was promoted to that coveted second spot in the Tigers lineup in front of Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera over the weekend? You guessed it, Andy Dirks.
In comparison, here's Dirks' current slash line: .333/.358/.608 in 53 PA. Refreshing, isn't it?
I don't expect Dirks to keep up that gaudy pace, but let's take a look at his past numbers to get a sense of what to expect from him going forward.
The first thing that jumps out is the low strikeout percentage Dirks has maintained throughout his professional career. This should allow him to hit for at least a .280 average as long as he continues to make solid contact and post BABIPs around .300 or above. A .300 average isn't out of the question either.
Dirks has never displayed great power or speed, but you can see he provides a bit of both. A final line with 15 homers and 15 steals seems reasonable based on what he's produced in the past.
Finally, what puts it all together are the run and RBI opportunities Dirks will receive batting second for the Tigers on a everyday basis. Runs and RBIs are neglected stats in fantasy baseball because they can be tough to predict and batting lineups are fickle. Still, we shouldn't ignore the increased run producing opportunities Dirks will receive over similarly skilled players who might be batting eighth or in less potent lineups.
Putting it all together I see Dirks as a sneakily valuable player, similar to what Melky Cabrera was on the Royals last year. He most likely won't put up as bountiful a line as Melky did, but when he currently isn't even listed as a top 40 outfielder in the AL, I see a player that is clearly undervalued.
Even in 12-team mixed leagues, Dirks is someone I would add as a fourth or fifth outfielder.
Posted by Paul Singman at 2:17am (4) Comments
Welcome to Trader's Corner, your one-stop shop for bargains and busts. I've partnered with our good friend Oliver to look at the recent performances of a few players and why they could present a major profit opportunity for you. This won't just be your typical buy high/sell low column, though. As much opportunity as those situations may present, we'll also try to identify the hot streaks that figure to last and the cold spells that could spell doom.
Every two weeks, I'll look at a pair of players in each of four categories: Buy High, Buy Low, Sell High, and Sell Low. The first player will be my own selection, and the second is based strictly on the Oliver projections.
I'll keep a tally of all my recommendations, the date I made them, and the players' performances from that point forward. From time to time, I'll share the results in an attempt to evaluate how I'm faring and if there are trends to be found.
Each entry will include the player's numbers so far along with their rest-of-season Oliver projection in the standard rotisserie categories (AVG-R-RBI-HR-SB for hitters, and W/SV-ERA-WHIP-K for pitchers). Also provided will be the accompanying projected dollar values according to THT Forecasts' Custom Price Guide for both the standard Yahoo! and ESPN formats.
Dollar values are based on a $260 draft budget with $2 allocated to each bench spot and a 70/30 hitter/pitcher split.
Buying high is one of the most difficult and frequently overlooked strategies at a fantasy manager's disposal. We all love to discuss player trends that look promising in the offseason, but somehow, once the season begins, every sample size becomes too small and every unexpected performance a matter of mere luck. The consensus bias shifts from heavily weighting recent performance and "upside" to nigh unshakable temperance and prudence. For the savvy, risk-seeking owner, this can present a great deal of profit opportunity.
Today we'll check in on the preseason man-crushes of a couple THT Fantasy authors who paying big time dividends.
My Pick: Matt Wieters
So Far: .299-16-18-7-0
Oliver RoS: .266-49-57-14-0
Oliver Yahoo Value: $4
Oliver ESPN Value: $3
Wieters is a former once-in-a-generation prospect who has thus far failed to live up to the hype, at least offensively. Still just 25, though, I spent much of the offseason ranting about how he still has time yet to do so and the promising signs from the second half of last year.
Wieters' power numbers from 2011 were solid with 22 home runs and a .188 ISO. Even more, much of that damage was done in the season's final two months, when he hit 12 of those bombs. In fact, since last August, Wieters has a whopping .394 wOBA, .283 ISO, and a rotisserie line of .284-46-49-19-0 over just 301 plate appearances.
He's done all of that with strong strikeout and walk rates, neutral groundball and flyball tendencies, and just a .280 BABIP against a career .301 mark. The sample size isn't huge, but these gains are looking nicely sustainable. His home run-per-fly ball rate may dip, but even with that, 15-20 more homers is well within reason.
So now the question is why Oliver isn't sold on Wieters' gains. There are three areas where the projection isn't quite buying where I am.
The first is in the power stroke. Oliver sees Wieters hitting just 14 more homers over 433 plate appearances.
The research on which the Oliver projections are based suggests that a majority of hitters reach their peak in power during their age 23-25 season before very slowly declining through the remainder of their 20s. Since Wieters is 25 now, it looks at what level of power he's hit for thus far in his career and essentially translates that into a projection.
With most players, looking at macroscopic research rather than a 300-plate appearance trend will tend to yield better results, but Wieters is a case where I'm willing to go against the grain.
For one, he's a big-bodied catcher who has been trained into a defense-first approach to the game at the. Because of his size, it was unclear if he'd be able to handle the rigors of catching major league games on a daily basis, let alone do so well.
So far, he's not only exceeded these expectations, he's smashed them. He's gone from a slightly above-average defensive catcher in his rookie year to one of the very best in the game while playing in 130 and 139 games the last two seasons.
Then consider his minor league pedigree. Wieters was famously tabbed on of the best hitters in all of baseball by Baseball Prospectus's PECOTA projection system before ever playing a game in the majors. He had absolutely annihilated minor league baseball to the tune of a .343/.438/.576 batting line over 693 plate appearances. He hit 32 home runs over that span while drawing nearly as many walks (102) as strikeouts (106).
Looking at these factors together, we start to get the picture of a very talented athlete who emphasized the defensive aspect of his game early, mastered it, and is now cashing in on a stellar offensive pedigree as he enters the prime of his career. The power potential may have always been there but was held back by his early emphasis on attaining defensive prowess.
The second aspect of Wieters' production that Oliver isn't buying is the batting average. The reason for the projection and my objection to it is similar, albeit a bit more simplified. The projection looks at his 22.3 percent strikeout rate from his rookie season and seems to be over-emphasizing it against a trend of improvement. It expects him to strike out 76 more times in 433 plate appearances, for a rate of 19.4 percent.
Since putting up that mark in 2009, Wieters' strikeout rate dropped to a nominal 18.7 percent in 2010 and a very strong 15.2 percent in 2011. This positive trend is masked by a reverse trend in BABIP, which hit a career-worst .276 in 2011.
I'm more inclined to look at Wieters' career 18.3 percent strikeout rate and .301 BABIP and call the projection a bit bearish. His BABIP has normalized to .310 so far this year, and he's striking out 17.4 percent of the time. Those are both within the range of where I expect him to finish the year, and so, depending on how much his power continues to blossom, an average in the .275-to-.295 range is well within reason.
Finally, Oliver and I disagree on the classic projection issue—playing time. The Oliver projection only accounts for 433 more plate appearances, which would be well short of his current pace.
Wieters' .413 wOBA thus far is tops among the surprising Orioles offense. He's started 23 of the team's 29 games behind the plate, and if the team wants any chance to continue their hot start, they'll need his bat in the lineup as much as possible.
Sooner or later, that will mean some games at DH. Although Wilson Betemit is off to a hot start, this is a team without a true DH. Wieters should occupy that spot 15-20 times during the year, and more frequently as the year wears on and they want to give him breaks from squatting behind the dish without losing his offense.
Wieters easily could top 500 more plate appearances this year, and the longer the team is competitive, the larger that projection likely becomes.
Wieters looks like the perfect storm of rate production and volume at the catcher position. There may not be a better "set-it-and-forget-it" option behind the dish this year. Don't let his increasing price tag drive you away from acquiring him while you still can.
Oliver's Pick: Bryan LaHair
So far: .388-14-17-8-0
Oliver RoS: .284-74-95-31-1
Oliver Yahoo Value: $37
Oliver ESPN Value: $33
A popular seller's item to many, it was tempting to follow suit and tab LaHair a sell high, as well. Instead, I decided to go along with Oliver's projection and take a look at the reasons it might be wise to buy on Jeffrey Gross's heartthrob.
The reasons one might be inclined to view LaHair as a sell candidate are obvious.
His career thus far has been that of a Quad-A slugger,and he was expected to be simply keeping a seat warm for the gem of the Cubs' offseason, prospect Anthony Rizzo. And even though he's crushing the ball early in 2012, there are still some troubling signs for LaHair, specifically the 31.3 percent strikeout rate and .535 BABIP.
Make no mistake, LaHair is due a batting average correction. It's not likely he keeps hitting even within .100 points of what he's done so far in 2012. But its also important not to fall into the trap of the gambler's fallacy and assume that just because he's been lucky so far, that he's going to be the opposite moving forward.
The first thing that jumps out is that Oliver expects LaHair's strikeout rate to come down and BABIP to stay fairly high. According to the projection, we can expect roughly a 25 percent strikeout rate, which,though still high, is much more reasonable than the current mark. Oliver also projects a .325 BABIP that, combined with his power pace, still yields a positive batting average.
And that brings us to the big question—the power pace. Oliver isn't the least bit surprised by LaHair's seven early homers. In fact, that's almost exactly the pace Oliver expects him to hit homers for the duration of the year. It's completely buying into the 68 home runs he hit over the last two years in Triple-A.
Much of LaHair's minor league production has been written off due to a combination of age and belief that it was inflated by the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. However, the team he played for, the Iowa Cubs, play in one of the PCL's American divisions, which features primarily neutral or slightly pitcher-friendly parks.
The stigma surrounding the hitter friendliness of the PCL is derived from the Northern Divisions, where you'll find extreme hitter's parks such as Security Service Field (Colorado Springs Sky Sox), Chukchansi Park (Fresno Grizzles), Aces Ballpark (Reno Aces), and Spring Mobile Ballpark (Salt Lake City Bees).
In fact, according to Statcorner, Principal Park—the home of the Iowa Cubs—actually depressed left-handed home runs by 15 percent in both 2010 and 2011. So rather than diminishing his accomplishments in the minors the last couple of years, LaHair's hitting environments actually enhance them.
It's obviously foolish to pay $30 in value to acquire LaHair, even though Oliver sees him exceeding that value. The thing is, it's very unlikely you'll have to. If you were so inclined, you can probably acquire him for no more than half of that. He won't be the elite four-category force he's been so far, but he should continue to provide elite power totals without turning into a Carlos Pena-like pumpkin in batting average either.
Everyone loves a buy low candidate. The problem is, the owner who owns the buy low candidate usually loves him, too, so you may not be able to buy as low as you wish you could. Still, it's always helpful to identify guys who could see their performance improve in the not-too-distant future.
This week's buy low features a pitcher returning from injury who has been much better than he's seemed and a rookie first baseman struggling to find his groove.
My Pick: Adam Wainwright
So Far: 2-5.61-1.28-34
Oliver RoS: 11-3.15-1.14-145
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $21
Oliver ESPN Value: $21
After falling victim to Tommy John surgery during 2011's spring training, many of us were eager to see if Wainwright could regain his ace form of years prior. While the early returns in the roto categories have been a mixed bag at best, it's mostly a superficially inflated ERA that's holding him back, and all the signs of a pitcher getting ready to go on a dominant run are there.
This buy low is all about the narrative. For pitchers, ERA is by far the easiest statistic to anchor on, even for the savviest of owners. And anyone who drafted Wainwright must have been at least slightly concerned that he wouldn't be the same pitcher he'd been in years past.
It's very easy to look at the ugly ERA and feel those concerns have been validated, at least to an extent. But beneath the hood, Wainwright's actually been as good as ever, if not better.
Thus far, Wainwright has struck out 24.3 percent of the batter's he's faced, walked only five percent, and is generating grounders on 55.8 percent of the balls being put in play against him. Strikeouts, walks, and ground balls are the sabermetric trifecta of pitching acumen, and for Wainwright, all three of these marks would represent career bests.
Of course, it's not all roses. Wainwright's swinging strike and first-pitch strike rates are more in line with his career marks than you'd guess by the plate appearance outcomes. That's far from a bad thing, but it does mean the peripherals may be a bit higher than we should expect going forward.
Wainwright's velocity is also down a touch, though as Mike Podhozer recently pointed out at FanGraphs, no more than you should expect from a pitcher under normal circumstances through the end of April.
The main culprit behind Wainwright's early struggles is the fact that 28 percent of the fly balls he's allowed have left the ballpark. The chances of a major league pitcher throwing a full season with a mark even half that high are small. Sooner than later it will drop, and when it does his ERA will follow suit.
Even with the poor ERA, Wainwright's strikeouts and WHIP have been relatively strong. And on the offensive support side, the Cardinals have sported a .360 wOBA as a team thus far, by far the best mark in baseball.
It's easy to be discouraged by Wainwright's early ERA struggles, but past that he looks like the ace he was before the surgery. Now is the time to buy, and if you do, there's every chance you'll find yourself with a pitcher who gives you excellent production in all four categories.
Oliver's Pick: Paul Goldschmidt
So far: .232-1-9-13-2
Oliver RoS: .273-82-70-25-4
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $25
Oliver ESPN Value: $23
While Oliver sees Goldschmidt as something of a LaHair-light, his start to the year has been nearly as bad as LaHair's has been good. Still, the projection system remains steadfast that the slow start is nothing more than sample size noise though.
While Goldschmidt has limited major league experience, Oliver absolutely loves his strong minor league numbers, specifically the ISO that hovered around .300 and the strikeout rate that improved as he moved up the chain.
His MLE's are what tell the story. Goldschmidt's combined major league and Double-A production from 2011 translates to an impressive .277/.376/.569 batting line. Oliver also sees his home run power as more than legitimate, translating his homer total since 2010 into a whopping 68 bombs over 1083 plate appearances.
As with LaHair, the system also sees Goldschmidt striking out around a quarter of the time but posting a .325 BABIP and hitting enough home runs to sustain a respectable batting average. And while he doesn't quite have LaHair's elite power potential, he does have a dash of speed, which can have sneaky value from a first baseman.
Godschmidt's ownership rate has plummeted to 60 percent in Yahoo and under 50 percent in ESPN. Owners are getting frustrated, but the season is young yet, and there's still a great chance Goldschmidt can turn it around and finish the year as a top-10 first baseman. Don't hesitate to try to acquire him on the cheap.
There may be nothing more satisfying in fantasy baseball than selling a player at his peak value only to watch him crash and burn for another owner while you reap the benefits of said owner's former studs. It happens every year, whether it was Michael Pineda's second-half swoon in 2011 or that time that closer saved 20 games in the first half only to blow four in a row and lose his job. You remember that guy, right?
Today's sell high features a five-category outfielder who may not be as good in any category as he's seemed so far and a preseason sleeper who looks to be living up to the hype more than he really is.
My Pick: Adam Jones
So far: .297-23-17-8-5
Oliver RoS: .284-61-67-18-9
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $14
Oliver ESPN Value: $13
Jones is one of those guys who gets tabbed as a potential value pick every year but never quite lives up to the hype. He's a tremendous athlete with all the tools to succeed, but his approach at the plate has held him back from becoming one of the elite players in the game, and despite a hot start this year, it will likely continue to do so.
At first glance, Jones appears to be a hitter in his prime who's cut down on the strikeouts, added power, and is running as much as ever. That sounds like a recipe for a breakout, but unfortunately, the statistics that tend to stabilize quickly indicate there's little change beneath the surface.
The first problem is that Jones swings and misses way too much. He's been among the league leaders in swinging strike rate since entering the league, and at 12.6 percent so far in 2012, the mark hasn't budged at all.
It's tempting to look at Jones' 13.5 percent strikeout rate and call it an improvement, but he's much more likely to be closer to his career 19.4 percent rate moving forward.
The second is speed. Although he's already stolen five bases, he's also been caught three times, and his career 68 percent success rate suggests this is not fluke. He's never stolen more than 12 bases in a single season, and if he keeps getting caught, he's going to start seeing red lights when he reaches first base.
The third issue, and perhaps the most difficult to interpret, is power. This is one area where it does appear Jones has made some gains. He hit 25 home runs last year, and his home run-per-fly ball rate jumped to 16 percent. There's still a limiting factor here, though, and that is Jones' tendency to hit the ball on the ground.
For his career, Jones has a 48.6 percent groundball rate. It's very difficult to consistently post high home run totals when you hit so many balls on the ground.
In the first few weeks of the year, it was tempting to wonder if Jones was on his way to correcting this issue, as he had his groundball rate below 40 percent. But batted ball outcomes are very volatile in small samples, and Jones' groundball tendencies are quickly returning. His rate is up to 44.6 percent and climbing steadily the last few weeks.
Unless he can hit the ball in the air more, 25 homers is much closer to a ceiling than a reasonable expectation.
Jones is a nice player and should continue to be a fantasy asset. However, now is the perfect time to shop him around and see what kind of value you can extract. His numbers are great, and he has tantalizing potential, but the improvement is more superficial than actual. It's very possible some of your leaguemates will be tempted to pay upwards of $20 to acquire him, well more than he figures to be worth.
Oliver's Pick: Mike Moustakas
So far: .313-13-15-4-1
Oliver RoS: .267-58-67-15-2
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $7
Oliver ESPN Value: $6
The narrative of Moustakas is that he's always been a strong hitter who has initially struggled at each new level before quickly figuring it out and earning a promotion. The first part of the story fit in with Moustakas's struggles upon his initial call-up last year, and the second part appears to be coming true now, as well. Oliver, though, is not convinced.
There's really only one number that Moustakas has so far in 2012 that Oliver isn't buying: his .351 BABIP. While BABIP is notoriously volatile, a deeper look suggests Oliver's skepticism is not only warranted, but probably right on the mark.
Moustakas has never shown a tendency towards high BABIPs in the minor leagues. Thanks to inferior defense and field conditions, you'll often see high BABIPs in the minors, but not in Moustakas's case. His career minor league BABIP is just .295, which is about where Oliver expects him to be going forward.
That leaves Moustakas a third baseman with little speed, decent power, and a neutral batting average. A player like that has value in mixed leagues, but not nearly as much as is warranted by his hot start and top-prospect hype.
If selling high is one of the most enjoyable acts of a fantasy baseball season, selling low is one of the most painful. Admitting sunk cost is difficult, but there is opportunity in these situations when the admission is managed. Many times, other owners will pay above a player's projected value out of a misguided instinct to buy low or on name value alone. Even if the return price is below the price you paid, it may still be well more than the price you'd earn in keeping a broken player on your roster.
Wrapping up this week, we'll take a look at one of the year's most hyped young players who is yet to break through and a breakout performer from 2011 who is yet to repeat his success.
My pick: Brett Lawrie
So far: .277-14-15-3-3
Oliver RoS: .266-71-65-16-13
Oliver Yahoo! Value: $19
Oliver ESPN Value: $17
After a breakout year in Triple-A and a strong quarter-season in the majors in 2011, the fantasy community was eager to anoint Lawrie the second coming of [insert Hall of Fame third baseman]. Although he hasn't been awful this year, he hasn't yet lived up to these lofty expectations.
The key with Lawrie is that before 2011, he was considered a very good prospect but not an elite one. He hit just 21 home runs over his first 1,029 plate appearances. Likewise, his batting averages were more respectable than dominant, and while he stole bases, his success rate was poor.
Then he hit the Pacific Coast League—the American division of the Pacific Coast League. Unlike the situation with LaHair, this is the part of the PCL notorious for making David Ecksteins look like Babe Ruths. And make Lawrie look like Ruth, it did.
Lawrie hit .353/.415/.661 over a half-season in the PCL. After following that up with a .293/.373/.580 line over 171 major league plate appearances, most of us were convinced he was ready to become an elite major league third baseman, sample size be damned.
Now he's started 2012 looking much more like the player he was before 2011 than the one he was in 2011. And that's likely closer to the player he'll be for the balance of this year.
After slanting as an extreme flyball hitter in the majors in 2011, Lawrie has reversed track so far this year and hit 58.2 percent of his batted balls on the ground. Overall, that leaves him at a heavy 46.9 groundball rate through his young career. His power will likely be above average, but the evidence that he figured to sit in the 25-30 homer range was never really there.
He's also pretty consistently both walked and struck out at slightly below average rates. The evidence that batting average was going to be a consistent strength was never really there, either, and while he won't be an average drain, he won't be a significant boon, either.
Finally, the biggest concern may be Lawrie's speed. He's always been an aggressive baserunner despite speed that scouts considered merely good, not great. Like the rest of his game, Lawrie's basestealing prowess spiked in the PCL, as he stole 13 bases in 15 tries.
Prior to 2011, though, Lawrie had only been successful in 67 percent of his steal attempts, and so far this year he's only succeeded three out of six times. No matter where he hits in the potent Blue Jays lineup, you can bet he won't be allowed to run wild if he's getting thrown out so frequently.
And speaking of his position in the lineup, thus far he's regularly hitting sixth or seventh. You can shave at least 10 runs off his Oliver projection unless he can hit himself into a more favorable position.
Lawrie is a nice player, but the valued attached to his name got way ahead of his projection before he even played in his 50th major league game. He still possesses tremendous upside, but his projection doesn't justify the hype, at least not yet.
It's possible Lawrie will be a nice value in next year's drafts, but for this year, if someone is still willing to buy that name value, this may be one of your last chances to sell.
Oliver's Pick: Logan Morrison
So far: .274-6-9-2-0
Oliver RoS: .267-56-55-13-2
Oliver Yahoo! Value: N/A
Oliver ESPN Value: $2
Morrison made a name for himself last year with his bat and his twitter account, hitting 23 homers and drawing and army of internet followers. But like Lawrie, the production was a bit out-of-the blue. Oliver isn't buying the production spike, and he's yet to do anything this year to temper the projection's skepticism.
After hitting 24 homers in A-ball back in 2007, Morrison only showed mid-teens power between 2008 and 2010. His development became more about strong walk rates and solid contact rates. With little speed, he looked like he was become the type of player much more valuable in real life than fantasy.
Then Morrison suddenly started hitting for power again in his first full year in the majors in 2011. His batting average took a bit of a dive, and though the strikeouts spiked a touch, it was mostly due to a low BABIP.
So far this year, Morrison looks to have reverted to his old form. He's not showing great power, but he's walking more than he's striking out. This is more the kind of player Oliver sees based on the minor league track record, and probably more the kind of player Morrison is destined to be.
Even after last year's output, 20 home runs is about Morrison's ceiling. If anyone thinks they're buying low on a power hitter, feel free to sell away. Without the power, he won't carry much value in standard rotisserie formats.
If you're curious about the projections and dollar values provided, make sure to check out the THT Forecasts section. For $14.95, you get full access to the Oliver projections for thousands of major and minor leaguers, including six-year Major League Equivalency forecasts on every player card. And best of all for us fantasy junkies, you get full access to THT's Custom Fantasy Price Guides, which allows you to create your own price guide based on your league settings and play-style preferences using the Oliver projections, with projections and dollar values updated throughout the season.
Posted by Mark Himmelstein at 5:04am (16) Comments
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every-morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
Christian Friedrich makes his debut against the Padres in lovely Petco Park. I'll be starting him in three quarters of my daily roster leagues.
Anthony Bass is on the other side of that match-up. He's turned into a fairly reliable guy in the early going, but I'm still using him pnly for home starts.
Drew Smyly draws the coveted Mariners match-up. When you watch the Mariners play, there's always a chance for a no-hitter.
Craig Gentry should get the start against Wei-Yin Chen.
Chens come in pairs. Bruce Chen faces the Red Sox today which means Marlon Byrd and Darnell McDonald look like nice picks.
There are only six games tomorrow. My suggestion is to take a pass on the day. Henderson Alvarez will face the Twins, but he never strikes anybody out, so take that into consideration.
Andruw Jones will get to face a lefty. Except that lefty is David Price, so this isn't a match-up made in heaven.
Ryan Sweeney will face veteran ground ball maven Derek Lowe.
Eric Thames sees Jason Marquis. Circle me Bert.
Max Scherzer has been a bit of a mess early on, so I'll throw Seth Smith and Josh Reddick on the list.
Francisco Cordero appears to have a fork in him. He blew the save last night and took the loss. I don't have a strong handle on who is next in line for the Blue Jays—probably a platoon of Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor—but it's painfully clear that Cordero needs to be moved to a never-relief role.
Henry Rodriguez blew the save for the Nationals. He's going to remain volatile but still has a shot of keeping the role until Drew Storen returns to action.
Did you know that Chris Perez has the most saves to date? Baseball is a weird game.
My starters imploded all over my teams yesterday. Danny Duffy's mess was avoidable through foresight: 4.1 IP, 1 K, 6.23 ERA, 2.77 WHIP. Daniel Bard's middling outing caught me off-guard: 7 IP, 1 K, 6.43 ERA, 1.43 WHIP.
A good match-up for a hitter will be won roughly one-third of the time. Shelley Duncan lost round two against John Danks with an 0-for-3 night. He did walk once.
Juan Pierre did his thing: 2-for-5 with one run and one stolen base.
Laynce Nix did not play. I was unaware he has been battling a sore calf for the last few days.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis had a nice night going 2-for-3 with one walk, two runs, and two RBI.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:49am (2) Comments
Thursday, May 10, 2012
It’s times like these where I wish I posted more than once a week so that my articles can be a bit more timely. Alas, it is not the case—and to the readers, I apologize for the analysis being a bit late. However, I couldn’t help but weigh in on the new closer situations across the major leagues.
Here’s my rankings of the new guys who have stepped into the role.
1) Kenley Jansen, LAD
Earlier in the season I mentioned that I thought Kenley Jansen would outperform half the league’s closers, even if he never claimed the full-time job.
Now that he has the job, I think its fair to say he’s the No. 2 closer in fantasy from here on out. Craig Kimbrel is the only guy in the league who can challenge him, and it's mostly a toss-up between the two.
Don’t let the walks scare you, Jansen is a special pitcher. He racks up the Ks like few others, he will post elite ERAs, and now he has the closer’s spot. The sky is the limit.
I’ve got him at a 2.248 ERA, 1.108 WHIP, 102.99 K (14.26 K/9), and 37 saves over 65 inningbs. At 3.05 points above average, he and Kimbrel are in a league of their own.
Closer comparable: Craig Kimbrel, ATL—3.329 points above average
2) David Robertson, NYY
Robertson took over the closer’s role last Thursday after Mariano Rivera tore his ACL fielding fly balls at Kaufman Stadium. Even for me, a lifelong Red Sox fan, this injury was difficult to take. Few in the game have been so good for so long, and carry themselves in such respectable fashion. Baseball would lose something if one of its all-time greats went out like this. Whatever happens, it has been a privilege to watch him pitch all these years.
On to Robertson.
If you were a Rivera owner and managed to snatch up Robertson, congratulations! Your team may have just gotten better! Robertson has the upside to challenge Kimbrel and Jansen as the two most valuable closers. Robertson is one of the best strikeout pitchers in baseball and closers can contribute a huge amount of value with those extra Ks. And with extra Ks comes a better ERA and WHIP, not to mention a better save conversion rate.
I feel confident penciling him in for a 2.664 ERA, 1.109 WHIP, 84.124 K (11.648 K/9), and 37 saves over 65 innings. Pencil in 3.5 wins and all of a sudden he’s a 2.01 point reliever in 12-team leagues. That’s elite!
This guy is a bona fide top five closer. I’ve got him as No. 3 in fantasy the rest of the way—an elite reliever who falls just a bit below the super-elite of Kimbrel and Jansen. I’d give up quite a lot to get him and would feel comfortable offering an established, top-15 closer in a trade if I thought it could net me Robertson. He and Jansen are the perfect players to target in trades. They have immediate value, owners might not know what they have, and there are plenty of ways to get creative and work them into multi-player deals.
Closer comparable: Jonathan Papelbon—1.987 points above average
3) Chris Sale, CHW
Another stud who has claimed the role in the last week, Sale is a game-changer for those owners lucky enough to have him.
That said, there is still debate as to whether the job is actually his. Though the White Sox publicly stated he will return to closing, he pitched in the eighth inning Tuesday night and is scheduled for an MRI today (Thursday).
Assuming that he does, in fact, have the role—and if that elbow is healthy—he’s a top 10 closer with upside in the top five. I’ll forecast a 2.637 ERA, 1.142 WHIP, 76.701 K (10.303 K/9), 35 saves and 1.363 points over 65 IP.
Closer comparable: Jonathan Papelbon—1.985 points above average
4) Steve Cishek, MIA
The Marlins want Heath Bell to reclaim the role, so you have to assume he’ll get another opportunity and that Cishek is a temp and nothing more. This could also be a committee, with Edward Mujica and Ryan Webb in the mix, but Cishek seems to be the leader. He was loosening in the ninth on Monday with a four-run lead and Webb threw in the eighth of a tie game on Tuesday, so indications are he's first in line.
Assuming he does get the job, he has the makings of a solid-above average closer. He gets a nice amount of Ks, has a great ground ball rates, and has better command than his walk numbers suggest.
If he were to hold onto the role over a full season, I’d see him posting a 2.848 ERA, 1.158 WHIP, 63.028 K (8.727 K/9), and 0.695 points above average.
He’s a good player, but long-term, the organization will likely push him out of the role. Every save counts, though, and a minimal investment in the short term can do some good for your saves totals. Don't shoot for him thinking he's anything more than a short-term option and enjoy it while it lasts.
Closer comparable: J.J. Putz—0.698 points above average
5) Rafael Dolis, CHC
Now that Carlos Marmol’s reign of terror has ended, management has called upon Dolis to finish games for the Cubbies.
Though owners should always be in pursuit of saves, don’t feel obligated to rush to the wire to grab Dolis. He’ll be valuable because of the saves, but all in all, there isn’t much of a pitcher here. He doesn’t tally enough Ks, he doesn’t hit the zone with regularity and, all-in-all, he’s thoroughly mediocre—to the point where I don’t think he’ll last long in the role.
I don’t see much here: 3.688 ERA, 1.369 WHIP, 32 SV, 52.839 K (7.316 K/9), and —1.420 points below average.
Closer comparable: Chris Perez, —1.348 points below average
Posted by Mike Silver at 5:19am (3) Comments
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
There is a better than even chance that I will be taking tomorrow off. I'll send a weekend update if that happens. A reminder, I like being paid in Follows.
If you don't care that you won't get any strike outs, Henderson Alvarez is the pitcher for today.
The Rangers have a double header in which they'll see a righty and a lefty. That means both Craig Gentry and David Murphy will get starts with favorable match-ups.
Andruw Jones gets the pleasure of facing David Price. So he'll play but not necessarily well.
Ryan Sweeney squares off against Derek Lowe.
Eric Thames has the match-up of the day against Jason Marquis. I expect the Blue Jays to explode.
Seth Smith and Josh Reddick might be able to take advantage of Max Scherzer's early season struggles.
James McDonald is starting to get popular. He's 14 percent owned and set to face the Astros.
Kyle Drabek draws the Little League Twins. The Twins are shaping up to be historically terrible this year.
I'm taking any Blue Jay that starts against Nick Blackburn. That means Thames again.
Reed Johnson will likely draw the start for the Cubs against Randy Wolf.
I'd take Reddick against Rick Porcello any day.
As I discussed yesterday Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor are the best relievers out of the Blue Jays pen at the moment. Janssen has been officially named the interim closer. Somewhere in Canada, there is a cult of Blue Jay worshipers praying that Sergio Santos comes back at full strength.
Dave Robertson blew the save for the Yankees last night. He also blew the save on Wednesday night. He has stiff competition from Rafael Soriano so he's probably already used up his freebies.
The Marlins bullpen nightmare continues. Steve Cishek blew the save last night. At this point, Edward Mujica appears to be the only guy who can close the door reliably despite being thoroughly mediocre. Cishek is still the best guy to own for now.
The Phillies bullpen outside of Jonathan Papelbon has performed terribly. Five blown saves in 10 days. Kyle Kendrick fumbled yesterday's game, although it wasn't in the ninth.
Great outing from Christian Friedrich. He earned the win: 6 IP, 7 K, 1.50 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
Anthony Bass did alright but allowed a handful of unearned runs: 5.2 IP, 4 K, 1.59 ERA, 1.76 WHIP
Drew Smyly pitched excellent but received a no decision: 6 IP, 5 K, 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP
The Rangers were rained out, hence Gentry did not play.
Marlon Byrd went 1-for-2 with a run.
Darnell McDonald did not play.