December 9, 2013
And here's the full roster.
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Friday, June 14, 2013
Although the major league season is only the midst of its third month, it’s at the halfway point for many fantasy leagues. As Jack mentioned in Wednesday’s column, he’ll be conducting a review of the first half’s booms and busts, and at the risk of preempting him, I figured it’s about time I conduct a midterm exam of my own.
Of course, that could unearth some unpleasant memories, since I’ve profiled several dozen players thus far in 2013. And for every success story, there are probably at least two or three losers, so this could get messy. To keep things brief, I’m going to look at the waiver wire posts I’ve submitted this year through the end of May and pick one player to check in on. (I figure we might as well give the June guys some more time to play ball before rendering judgment on their post-waiver wire performances.) Let’s just hope that hindsight has been gentle to my acts of faith in some of these guys.
WEEK 1: March 29
Patrick Corbin | Arizona Diamondbacks | SP
YTD at time of writing: n/a
Since: 86.2 IP / 2.28 ERA / 6.96 K/9 / 2.28 BB/9 with 9 wins
I began the season with a pretty good pick in Corbin, who had yet to be tapped as the team’s fifth starter. But the guy had a spotless spring and pitched decently in his rookie season last year, so I figured he would surpass Oliver’s modest expectations for him (4.13 ERA, 1.367 WHIP). Boy, was I wrong: Corbin has blown away just about everyone’s wildest dreams, going 9-0 with a decent strikeout rate and very little in the way of walks. Of course, he’s done so with a very high 81.2 percent strand rate, which, while not completely unsustainable, would certainly bump his ERA back up toward 3 were it to fall back to earth, and a 4.8 percent HR/FB rate that’s a far cry from last year, when he fed his gopher 14 times in a little over 100 innings. Still, my faith in Corbin was rewarded (to say the very, very least), so this recommendation was one that’s stood the test of time.
Verdict: One for one so far on my test.
WEEK 1: April 5
Collin Cowgill | New York Mets | OF
YTD at time of writing: 12 PA / .167 / .167 / .500 with 1 HR and 0 SB
Since: 40 PA / .154 / .175 / .231 with 1 HR and 0 SB
So if Corbin was a home run pick, Cowgill was a strikeout. Or a ground ball double play. Or a seppuku ritual. That’s because Cowgill, who hit a grand slam on Opening Day, has done diddly squat since, losing playing time in center field to Jordany Valdespin before being sent down when the Mets picked up Rick Ankiel. Cowgill, whose on-base abilities and stolen base potential made him someone to watch in my eyes, is now back up in the majors, but is clearly not worth much in any league. Granted, I was a bit hesitant in my advocacy, but he was clearly not worth picking up in NL-only leagues, revealing just how foolhardy my recommendation was.
Verdict: Wrong answer.
WEEK 2: April 10
Trevor Rosenthal | St. Louis Cardinals | RP
YTD at time of writing: 6 IP / 3.00 ERA / 12 K/9 / 1.5 BB/9 with 0 saves
Since: 26 IP / 1.38 ERA / 13.2 K/9 / 1.7 BB/9
Some guys, no matter how talented, are just not cut out for the ninth inning (hey there, Armando Benitez). That’s not to say Rosenthal, a legit fireballer, won’t return to the closer’s role later in his career, but I wasn’t buying the converted starter’s bid to replace Mitchell Boggs and his terrible start. Since I wrote about Rosenthal, Jason Motte has been lost for the year, and while I give myself some credit for at least mentioning Edward Mujica’s name, hindsight suggests I should have trusted the established reliever more to be a long-term save artist than Rosenthal.
Verdict: I’ll call this a split decision; I was bearish on Rosenthal, which was the right call, though I underestimated Mujica’s potential to blossom into a No. 1 relief pitcher.
WEEK 2: April 12
Nick Tepesch | Texas Rangers | SP
YTD at time of writing: 7.1 IP / 1.23 ERA / 6.1 K/9 / 3.7 BB/9
Since: 59.2 IP / 4.68 ERA / 6.8 K/9 / 2.1 BB/9 with two wins
Ah, April. How quaint such sentences look just two months later:
“Must-add” labels shouldn’t be given out frivolously, and mixed league owners might benefit from waiting an extra start or two from the 24-year-old Tepesch before kicking someone off the island.
Well, if you waited, you probably did benefit, since Tepesch has been mediocre thus far in 2013. Although I correctly took note of his meh strikeout ability and stingy ways when it came to free passes, I thought a pitcher who could hold his own would benefit from a strong supporting cast in Texas. But despite a decent 1.28 WHIP, a 2-6 record and underwhelming ERA make Tepesch no more than pitching depth in AL-only leagues.
Verdict: I didn’t go overboard in recommending him, but Tepesch has certainly disappointed.
WEEK 3: April 15
Jake Westbrook | St. Louis Cardinals | SP
YTD at time of writing: 15.2 IP / 0.00 ERA / 2.3 K/9 / 5.7 BB/9 with 1 win
Since: 23.1 IP / 2.70 ERA / 5.8 K/9 / 3.1 BB/9 with 1 win
Here’s a fun sentence that serves as a reminder of why this is such an unforgiving business:
Westbrook, 35, has largely shed the injury history that gutted a good portion of his career, as he’s made at least 28 starts in each of the past three seasons.
Yep, that was before Westbrook landed on the DL with an elbow problem that’s explained why he’s been MIA since early May. Like Tepesch, I qualified my endorsement of Westbrook by playing down his long-term expectations, but as with the rookie right-hander, I overcompensated on his value by assuming the Cardinals would elevate his fantasy value (and, of course, I ignored his injury risk).
Verdict: No, I’m not a doctor nor a clairvoyant, but I should have assigned more risk to Westbrook.
WEEK 4: April 22
Jose Quintana | Chicago White Sox | SP
YTD at time of writing: 17.2 IP / 2.55 ERA / 8.7 K/9 / 2 BB/9 with 1 win
Since: 59.1 IP / 4.25 ERA / 5.8 K/9 / 2.7 BB/9 with two wins
Let’s cut right to the chase here: Quintana, who I somewhat strongly recommended as an across-the-board pickup in April, simply forgot how to strike out people, despite an increase in fastball velocity. The walk rate, which has been key to his success in the minors and in his solid debut last year, has remained steady, but he’s basically turned into a right-handed Tepesch: good WHIP, good walk rate, mediocre everything else. Right now, he’s a fringe mixed-league starter.
Verdict: I don’t regret recommending him, but the results have clearly not been there.
WEEK 4: April 26
Andrew Cashner | San Diego Padres | SP
YTD at time of writing: 13.1 IP / 4.05 ERA / 9.5 K/9 / 4.7 BB/9
Since: 58.1 IP / 3.39 ERA / 5.7 K/9 / 2 BB/9 with 5 wins
I strongly endorsed Cashner when it became clear that he’d move to the starting rotation in late April, and to be honest, I’d say he’s done pretty well, as he’s yet to allow more than four earned runs in a start since. The big question, of course, is where the strikeouts have gone: FanGraphs’ Chris Cwik (and others) have noticed a drop in velocity on his hard slider, which could be a byproduct of him being stretched out in the rotation. Regardless, he’s not the strikeout machine I’d hoped for, so while he’s mostly lived up to my expectations as a great upside guy, he’s yet to fully deliver on his strong potential.
Verdict: Cashner has justified my faith up to this point, but we will need to see those strikeouts return eventually.
WEEK 5: May 1
Brian Dozier | Minnesota Twins | 2B / SS
YTD at time of writing: YTD: 79 PA / .243 / .295 / .314 with 0 HR and 1 SB
Since: 119 PA / .218 / .271 / .327 with 3 HR and 5 SB
A .308 average in June has helped resuscitate Dozier’s fantasy value to some degree, though he clearly hasn’t blossomed as a dependable middle infield option despite his contact-heavy ways. The five steals, however, is an encouraging sign, and as the season goes on, Dozier might be worth keeping an eye on.
Verdict: I didn’t have the highest hopes for Dozier, but his fantasy value has been zilch since I wrote about him.
WEEK 6: May 6
Scott Kazmir | Cleveland Indians | SP
YTD at time of writing: 14.1 IP / 6.28 ERA / 9.4 K/9 / 3.8 BB/9 with 1 win
Since: 38 IP / 4.97 ERA / 9 K/9 / 3 BB/9 with 2 wins
What can I say? I remember Kazmir’s days as an up-and-coming super prospect in the Mets organization, and wanted to believe that a return to his 2008 velocity would lead to strikeouts. It has, actually, and he’s been able to maintain his strikeout-per-inning rate while keeping the walks in check. Trouble is, he’s been wildly inconsistent in his appearances, and has allowed four earned runs or more in four of his seven appearances since he graced the waiver wire. That doesn’t mean we should write him off completely, but it’s hard to trust a guy who provides such volatile results week-to-week.
Verdict: I remain a fan of Kazmir’s, but he’s not really a mixed-league option right now.
WEEK 6: May 10
Kelly Johnson | Tampa Bay Rays | 2B
YTD at time of writing: 105 PA / .283 / .362 / .489 with 5 HR and 4 SB
Since: 103 PA / .234 / .282 / .457 with 5 HR and 2 SB
So far, we’ve mostly touched upon guys whose disappointment came in the way of my lofty expectations and their inability to fulfill them. Well, in the case of Johnson, I was waiting for him to come back to the pack a bit, thanks to what was a generous BABIP and HR/FB rate. The average certainly has—sorry, but a .300 hitter who’s not producing line drives at even a 15 percent clip are two things that don’t go together—but the power remains, making Johnson a great waiver wire pickup considering his low value. I’m not ready to sign off on him returning to his excellent 2010 level, but he’s clearly doing better than I gave him credit for a month ago—even if I wonder if many value him too highly.
Verdict: Although the average has dipped, the slugging percentage reminds us that Johnson has been solid this year.
WEEK 7: May 15
Jeff Locke | Pittsburgh Pirates | SP
YTD at the time of writing: 45.2 IP / 3.15 ERA / 5.5 K/9 / 3.9 BB/9 with 3 wins
Since: 29.2 IP / 1.21 ERA / 8.2 K/9 / 4.6 BB/9 with 2 wins
I poured cold water on Locke last month, dismissing his strand rate, balls in play average and bad FIP/ERA splits. Not much has changed—frankly, if anything, his peripherals have gotten worse—and since we’re talking about a guy who offers barely acceptable strikeouts and a pedestrian walk rate, I’m still staying away in mixed leagues, even if Locke, who’s now 5-1, continues to defy my nay-saying.
Verdict: Locke has yet to prove my doubts, but I’m not buying his production.
WEEK 8: May 20
David Phelps | New York Yankees | SP
YTD at time of writing: 42.1 IP / 3.83 ERA / 9.8 K/9 / 3.8 BB/9 with 2 wins
Since: 20 IP / 4.05 ERA / 7.7 K/9 / 4 BB/9 with 2 wins
This isn’t a hard one, since Phelps was solid dating back to last year and has impressed thus far in 2013. Michael Pineda still isn’t back from his shoulder injury, Ivan Nova is in Triple-A and Phelps has pitched well all season, though he got bombed by the Mets in a first-inning rout not too long after I sang his praises last month. Still, I felt Phelps could contribute in standard mixed leagues, a sentiment on which I’m standing pat.
Verdict: Not the most difficult of endorsements, but Phelps has continued to roll.
WEEK 8: May 24
Rick Porcello | Detroit Tigers | SP
YTD at time of writing: 43 IP / 6.28 ERA / 6 K/9 / 1.9 BB/9 with 2 wins
Since: 20 IP / 1.80 ERA / 11.3 K/9 / 1.8 BB/9 with 1 win
I’m happy to end this column with Porcello, one of the guys of whom I’m most proud this season. Since rediscovering his curveball and ditching his slider, Porcello, a former top prospect, has suddenly turned into a strikeout machine, posting solid strikeout numbers since the beginning of May. It will take some more time before he grows into a must-start hurler across the board, but my faith in Porcello has been rewarded, as he’s virtually stopped walking people altogether and kept his team in the game more often than not. I’m still on board with Porcello turning into one of the great success stories of 2013, and his recent appearances have only encouraged such optimism.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 2:53am (1) Comments
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice for tinkerers and daily fantasy players. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective, including notice of impending weather events, new injuries, and changes to platoon situations. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
The daily picks are a mixture of Daily League specific advice and information for the more typical fantasy owner.
I will be out for the next two weeks on honeymoon. I'm going to try to issue posts next week, but will be completely unavailable for the following week. Undoubtedly, some of you won't read this and will be wondering why I've left you over the next two weeks.
Pitcher (to start): You have some very good options sitting on the wire today. Top of the pile is Rick Porcello, who has upped his whiff and strikeout rates while maintaining the quality of his other peripherals. He faces the Twins.
Shaun Marcum is my number two pick for the day. He's displaying strong command and control in recent outings. He's opposed by Edwin Jackson, who is pick number three for me today. Expect lots of strikeouts, a few more walks than I'd like, and tons of ground balls.
Jake Westbrook is a good option to chase a win with the Cardinals taking on the Marlins. Just don't expect strikeouts.
Pitcher (bum): Every day has exploitable pitchers. Today, Mark Buerhle faces Justin Grimm at Arlington in what could end up being a bit of a laser light show. I really do like Grimm but I swear all of his match-ups are terrible.
Scott Diamond has a tough assignment against the Tigers.
Hitter (power): I'm calling today's class of sluggers retro chic for no reason at all. Try one or all of Garrett Jones, Lucas Duda, Dayan Viciedo or Cody Ross.
Hitter (speed): For speed, you have Drew Stubbs, Craig Gentry, and Will Venable all holding the platoon advantage.
Pitcher (to start): Owners have been understandably slow to jump on the John Lackey train. He's just 38 percent owned. His match-up with the Orioles is a bit of a challenge, but I consider him an every start guy at the moment.
I feel like I've been waiting to say Tyler Chatwood for weeks and now I'm uncertain. He had experienced slight peripheral improvements prior to his minor injury, but I'm worried those might go away.
A.J. Griffin is 52 percent owned and will face the Mariners. The drawback is that he'll face Felix Hernandez.
Pitcher (bum): The Pirates are expected to use Brandon Cumpton in place of A.J. Burnett, but that's not set in stone. I don't actually know a single thing about Cumpton besides that his FanGraphs page is unimpressive.
Chad Gaudin is pitching well out of the Giants rotation, but I have to believe it's all smoke and mirrors.
Josh Lindblom is not pitching well, while providing innings to the Rangers. Someone has to do the yeoman's work.
Clayton Richard has had a tough season and he's opposed by Wade Miley who has been little better.
Hitter (power): Hang onto Ross for the Richard match-up.
Give Chris Carter a spin against John Danks.
Scott Hairston will face Jon Niese.
Hitter (speed): Chris Denorfia will start against Miley.
I have this feeling that Alex Cobb is going to over-regress in his next few outings. No reason why. Do yourself a favor and don't play my pure hunches, but you can still use Lorenzo Cain.
The Dodgers and MLB have settled on what the Dodgers own from their new, massive TV contract. Over the 25-year life of the deal, the Dodgers will keep $6 billion and MLB will receive between $2-2.5 billion for revenue sharing. I'd appreciate it if just one percent of that rounding error was dropped in my bank account.
The Tigers and Twins may see storms building throughout the game and the Cubs and Mets need to dodge a 30 percent chance for "few showers." I don't quite know how to interpret that. Is there a one-third chance that it kind of, sort of rains?
Posted by Brad Johnson at 6:08am (6) Comments
Monday, June 17, 2013
One would expect, considering the nature of this column, that this space would be occupied by words of glowing praise for Wil Myers. Heck, even I thought I would write about Myers this week.
His upside is absolutely worth rostering in any league, and he's one of the top prospects in baseball, but I feel pretty confident that there's already plenty of Myers analysis out there for you to enjoy. Also, a conversation I had with THT Fantasy's own Jeffrey Gross on my podcast this week has been on my mind for days, and I feel the need to dig into it.
This week, a spry youngster by the name of Roy Oswalt is expected to be called up from Double-A Tulsa to join the Colorado rotation. While the 35-year-old is certainly a bit old for the level, he has been utterly fantastic, prompting the Rockies to make the call.
Oswalt, who was rated as the #13 overall prospect by Baseball America in 2001, may not have that shiny prospect status he used to, but he still could provide plenty of value for the Rockies and fantasy owners. In his last three starts for Tulsa, Oswalt has tossed 22.1 innings, allowing just four earned runs with a terrific 16:3 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His last start was especially good, as he pitched 8.1 scoreless innings, scattering five hits and one walk while striking out seven.
When Oswalt signed his minor-league contract with the Rockies last month, few expected him to make an impact this season after his rough stint with Texas last year that ended with a demotion to the bullpen. It sure didn’t help matters that Oswalt would be pitching half his games in hitters' haven Coors Field this season, if he even reached the majors at all. However, there are now plenty of reasons to be optimistic about his potential 2013 contributions.
Last year with the Rangers, Oswalt was pretty bad on the surface, with an ugly 5.80 ERA and a WHIP over 1.50 in 59 innings. However, even a cursory glance at the underlying numbers makes it obvious that he was getting tremendously unlucky. His FIP for the season was 4.23, and his xFIP was even better at 3.27. Also, he struck out a batter an inning and issued just 1.68 walks per nine innings. In fact, his 5.36 K/BB ratio was the best he’d posted since way back in 2001, his rookie season.
The reason Oswalt’s surface stats were so bad last year is a combination of three factors. His strand rate of 67 percent was the worst of his career, his .378 opponents’ BABIP was another career-worst, and the same can be said of his insane 18.6 percent home run-to-flyball ratio.
Please stop yourself before you get all smart and say, “Of course he gave up all those dingers! He was pitching in Arlington! That place is a bandbox! Why should we expect him to be better in Coors?!” Of the eleven homers Oswalt served up last year, just three of them came at home, further underscoring the notion that he was simply experiencing some terrible luck.
His velocity is reportedly up considerably, sitting around 92 and topping out at 95. Since July of 2010, Oswalt has thrown exactly one major league pitch that hit 95 on the radar gun. If his velocity is seriously back to the level it was at three years ago and not just the product of a juiced Double-A ballpark radar gun, this could be exciting.
Oswalt himself has said he feels much better about his chances this year than last year, saying that the Rangers “rushed me a little bit getting me up” last season, while the Rockies “have a better plan, and I feel like I’m a lot more ahead of the game than I was last year.” When you take into context that he didn’t even really pitch that badly last year, it’s an encouraging sign.
Will Oswalt return to his All-Star form from the mid-2000s? It’s incredibly unlikely, but it also wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he’s owned in the majority of fantasy leagues by season’s end. This is a guy with a 3.28 career ERA in 2,213 innings who, because of one “bad” 59-inning sample from last year in Texas, is suddenly an afterthought and a has-been. Kick the tires on Oswalt; you might find more air in them than you expect.
Posted by Scott Strandberg at 3:02am (0) Comments
Waiver wire faithful, you may not be aware of this, but my cohort Karl de Vries here is an avid fan of the New York Mets. I happen to like the Cubs. (Insert joke about how that's led to a natural interest in waiver dumpster diving.)
So it is with immense pleasure that I abuse the privilege of writing for The Hardball Times (which is just a great place, in spite of me) to point out that the Cubs won their series against the Mets this weekend and would have swept them were it not for a garbage walk-off home run by Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Better luck next time, Karl! Time to dive into the wire, but first let's look at some players who have appeared in this space recently.
Corey Kluber threw eight innings of one-run ball Sunday and remains a guy I like.
Luis Valbuena's triple slash is at .237/.354/.414, and although he's still splitting time with Cody Ransom, he's provided value where most saw none at third base in Chicago.
Logan Morrison has missed time recently with lower-back stiffness, although the team expects him back in the lineup Monday. The injuries are frustrating since he could have real value if he could stay on the field.
Brandon McCarthy has resumed throwing, and reportedly his shoulder feels good. He could be back sooner than many think and will be a nice pickup upon his return.
Tyler Chatwood returned from his triceps injury and will remain in the Rockies rotation for the time being.
Today let's look at three potential outfield pickups.
Wil Myers | Tampa Bay Rays | OF | ESPN: 56.2 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 38 percent; CBS: 81 percent
ZiPS projection: .253/.317/.444 in 558 plate appearances
The Rays made the long-awaited call to bring up Wil Myers over the weekend, and his ownership levels already have soared. After a slow start this season, Myers has picked it up lately, hitting .283/.354/.514 in Triple-A after posting a .304/.378/.554 triple slash last year at Triple-A and a sparkling .343/.414/.731 triple slash at Double-A in 2011.
His call to The Show has been a long time coming, as Hardball Times Prospect Guru Jeff Moore dug into a couple of weeks ago:
It's difficult to make the case that Myers is not ready for the majors. Despite his struggles this season, he's now had almost a full year of plate appearances at the highest level of the minors and has hit .286/.366/.505 while there. Most of that success came last season, but it's also understandable to see a 22-year-old kid play somewhat unmotivated baseball when he knows he's ready for the next level, so I'm not too worried about Myers' performance this season. He has enough of a track record.Recommendation: If you haven't missed the boat on Myers, act now. If you can trade with an owner who thinks he may be cashing in at the apex of Myers' value, you should pursue that.
Marlon Byrd | New York Mets | OF | ESPN: 3.1 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 3 percent; CBS: 6 percent
YTD: .253/.311/.494 in 181 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .256/.302/.372 in 372 plate appearances
Now we come to the part of today's column where I recommend adding Marlon Byrd, which is as strange for me to write as anything I've published here all season.
As mentioned earlier, I'm a Cubs fan, and way back in 2010 I really fancied Byrd. The team had signed him cheaply, he provided plus defense in center field, and his bat was respectable. In 2011, he got beaned in the face, his defense wasn't as strong, and his bat was far worse (from a .343 wOBA in 2010 to .317 in 2011).
Last season, he was about as bad at baseball as one could possibly be (for a major league ballplayer, that is), the Cubs dealt him to the Red Sox, and he then was slapped with a PED suspension that seemingly shattered any value he had left. The guy was done. Cooked. Gone.
Last offseason he signed with New York, though, put together a strong spring training, and won the Mets job in right field to open the season. To the astonishment of many, he hasn't relinquished it because he's simply been too good.
Byrd's offensive numbers are back where they were in 2010 with a wOBA of .342. His ISO is the highest it's ever been, at .241. Much of that has to do with an unsustainable home run rate of 20 percent, and it is worrisome that he's hitting only 13.8 percent line drives, but there is clear offensive value here.
Recommendation: Byrd is still just 35 years old, has power and patience in his offensive profile, and will play good enough defense to keep his name on the lineup card for the time being. I cannot believe I'm doing this as I type it, but Byrd is worth owning again. Can't predict baseball, I guess.
Mike Carp | Boston Red Sox | OF | ESPN: 36.8 percent ownership; Yahoo!: 19 percent; CBS: 33 percent
YTD: .320/.372/.680 in 113 plate appearances
ZiPS projection: .287/.345/.541 in 366 plate appearances
Every week when I look for subjects to write about, I look as much for players to caution against as I do for players to add. So when I saw Mike Carp's ownership go through the roof this week on CBS, I knew I'd probably end up writing about him.
Carp's ownership rate jumped from four percent to 30 percent over the past week, in part because of an injury to first baseman Mike Napoli, and in part because the journeyman's power production has been otherworldly thus far in 2013.
I'm not buying here, for two reasons.
First and foremost, the Red Sox say they are "pretty confident" Napoli did not receive a concussion from the ball that hit him in the face (despite having the symptoms of one). Teams have been wrong about these things before, but if Napoli doesn't have a concussion, he surely will be back soon, relegating Carp back to the bench in the process.
Even if Napoli does have a concussion, there's a real chance he could be back soon anyway. In short, I'm not buying an extended absence for Napoli as of yet, and without one, Carp's value is pretty minimal. This is especially true because ...
Beyond that, I'm not buying the power, at least to this extent. Carp's current ISO of .359 is downright Ruthian, and while Carp does have better-than-average power, there's virtually no chance that he's turned into the best power hitter in the history of the game overnight.
Carp's highest ISO at any stop of his professional career before this season was .307, which he posted as a 25-year-old in the Pacific Coast League. His next highest was a .259 mark the season before, also in the PCL. His major league ISO, in 721 plate appearances spread across five partial seasons, is .190—good, but not great.
His .359 mark this year likely benefits from a HR/FB rate that's far above his career average (26.7 percent vs. 15.9 percent). It does bear mentioning, however, that of his eight home runs this season, Hit Tracker Online has five of them listed as "Plenty," along with one "No Doubt" and two "Just Enough." Carp's triple slash also benefits from a BABIP of .391, which very likely will drop, and in turn will lower his numbers across the board.
Recommendation: Carp's value to date has been based too much on factors out of his control (health of other players and luck), and I just don't see enough upside here unless you're very desperate for a short-term fill-in.
Posted by Jack Weiland at 3:06am (13) Comments
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
If you are the commissioner of a fantasy baseball league, then you know what a thankless job it can be at times. Your hard work, time, and commitment rarely gets noticed or appreciated. But you don't do it for the glory or accolades. You likely do the job because you want to. Being commissioner requires more than just creating the league's settings, organizing the draft, and handling various administrative tasks during the season. You must also set an example by enforcing the rules you have created. On top of all that, you still have to manage your own team while balancing the interests of the league overall.
But along with the power and authority of being commissioner comes the risk of that person potentially abusing such power and authority. As commissioner, you have access to various league tools that no one else does. You have the ability to circumvent certain restrictions that other league members do not have. Unfortunately, some commissioners unfairly take advantage of this authority.
Recently, the Court was presented with a case involving such nefarious actions by a league commissioner. This 12-team mixed roto league used an auction bidding process to determine free agent and waiver wire claims. The league’s auction was set to run every Monday and Thursday at 2:59 a.m. Only the commissioner had the ability to enter transactions or change the waiver results after the bidding process was completed.
On June 3, league members were able to view the list of all of the transactions made during the previous night’s auction. Team Bundy, one of the teams in the league, noticed that there was a transaction made at 10:04 a.m. that day: The commissioner’s team added Ike Davis and dropped Dustin Ackley. Team Bundy brought this to the league’s attention on the message board and criticized the commissioner for abusing his power by entering transactions after the auction was completed. The commissioner responded by saying that his actions had no detrimental effect on the league since no other team claimed Davis and he simply forgot to put a bid in for him the previous night.
Team Bundy submitted this case seeking revocation of the commissioner’s transaction and a reprimand.
The Court took this issue seriously because any alleged abuse of discretion by a commissioner jeopardizes the integrity of the entire league. Not only must commissioners enforce the league's rules, but they must abide by them as well. Here, the commissioner was also a member of the league so he is subject to the same rules and procedures as everyone else.
Whether there are written rules or not, there is a generally accepted code of conduct within fantasy sports premised on good faith and fair dealings within leagues and among league members. That code of conduct includes commissioners as well. In most instances, the Court will uphold a commissioner’s decision or actions so long as it is in the best interests of the league and absent any self-serving motivation. Unfortunately, this case was wrought with self-serving motivation and went against the best interests of the league.
Generally, rules and guidelines should be enforced consistently unless there is valid justification to create an exception. Any exception made to an existing rule should be corroborated by a thorough explanation by the commissioner. This is especially true if the exception being made is for the benefit of the commissioner himself.
In this case, the commissioner was either oblivious or deliberately indifferent to the possible reaction by his fellow league members toward his actions. This is disturbing because commissioners are understandably under more scrutiny than the other members of the league simply because of the power and authority that they possess. As such, commissioners should be cognizant of how their actions will be perceived by others. Because the league commissioner dismissed Team Bundy’s dissent and did not consider any ramifications for his own actions, the Court easily concluded that he did not consider what was best for the league overall. Rather, he put his own interests ahead of the rest of the league.
When a commissioner takes advantage of his authority by accessing certain tools that no one else has, he creates an environment within the league that is ripe with bitterness, resentment, mistrust, and anger. The free agent auction bidding process is automated by the league’s host provider. It is set to run on the days that are scheduled—in this case on Monday and Thursday. Once the transactions are awarded, a log is generated showing each team’s moves. Lineup and roster transactions are also kept and time-stamped, available for anyone to access. The commissioner should have known that his actions would be discoverable after he added Ike Davis seven hours after the auction ran.
The Court had precedent to enforce the strict applicability of the FAAB settings. In Green Eggs & Hamels vs. Megan Fox is Hot, the Court upheld the league commissioner’s denial of an appeal by a league member who claimed that he should have been awarded a free agent because he placed a bid prior to another team that was ranked higher on the waiver priority order. The Court held that the rules and settings for the FAAB process were clearly explained and implemented. That is exactly what we have in the present case. The only difference in this case is that it was the commissioner circumventing the rules.
The Verdict: The commissioner's post-auction transaction should be nullified and Ike Davis should return to the free agent pool. In addition, the commissioner should apologize to his fellow league members and ensure that this never happens again. (It should be noted that I suggested to the appellant that if he and his fellow owners want to remain in this league, a new commissioner be put in place next season and the current commissioner be removed from the league).
Posted by Michael Stein at 4:47am (0) Comments
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
With all fantasy readers constantly being reminded to maintain an even keel and resist the temptation to be impetuous or reactionary, they sometimes need to be reminded when it’s time to abandon frugality and SPEND THAT MONEY! For those of you in leagues (like one of mine) in which Wil Myers is still not eligible to come off waivers until he makes his actual debut, here is your friendly reminder to not be shy about blowing most of your free agent budget on the top prospect.
Perhaps the best way to justify pushing an ungodly amount of chips in on Myers is to explore what the potential consolation prizes still to come may be. The Shelby Millers and Matt Harveys of the world were available on draft day. The Jurickson Profar, Gerrit Cole, Zack Wheeler and Tyler Skaggs ships have sailed. The Travis D’Arnaud, Billy Hamilton and Dylan Bundy ships don’t appear to be likely to depart until rosters expand. It’s possible that Oscar Taveras and/or Taijuan Walker come up a bit earlier, but they are unknowns just like Myers and will have less time to contribute, even if they beat some of the other well-known names to the bigs. So, other than Myers, what reason remains to drop serious FAAB coin?
Once we’ve exhausted staring into the cloudy crystal ball of the elite prospects, the other equally hazy view to take in is the future trade landscape. If you in an AL-only league, a marquee player coming over from the senior circuit offers one of the few situations in which one could conceivably get a better return than a Myers add. Maybe somebody pries Giancarlo Stanton loose, or possibly Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez or Jonathan Papelbon exit the National League. It’s entirely conceivable that one of those players, playing fewer games than Myers, outproduces him. …But, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.
The other scenario in which moves involving large FAAB bids may reveal themselves as warranted is a spin of the closer carousel due to trade or injury. If an elite closer gets the opportunity to become a closer for an indefinite time period, that’s another reason to spend big money. History tells us this will happen, and perhaps we can even speculate on where the best odds may reside. But I don’t think going after Myers should preclude an owner from playing the closer watch game. In this game, on time is often too late. So, if saves is a major need for your team, I suggest you should be aggressively speculating in advance of these moves and trying to land the likely beneficiaries of a job opening for a buck or two in advance, so that when the call comes you don’t even have to worry about competing.
We all know that jumping through the roof for a player who turns out to be more hype than substance is embarrassing and can have some ramifications. But, the FAAB game is similar to the auction itself—the biggest sin is to leave a pile of cash sitting in front of you at the end of the day.
If you reach the point where you can’t make moves because you are out of cash, well, at least you made moves (and likely big ones) that helped get you in that position in the first place. That’s the lesser evil than being all dressed up with nowhere to go.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 3:04am (0) Comments
Here we are, already in the middle of Week 12 of what was, not too long ago, a new fantasy baseball season. Where does the time go? Better yet, where did Tyler Skaggs go? I figured Arizona would give him some more time before sending down that phenom, but alas, I can’t win them all. Neither can Dillon Gee, who gave up a soul-crushing two-run blast to Freddie Freeman the other night in yet another outstanding start from him. Just goes to show that it’s hard to predict the future in this topsy-turvy world of fantasy bargain hunting.
But we indulge ourselves and recognize that the quest is its own reward, right? (Well, that and a name on the fantasy trophy.) In the spirit of adventure, let’s continue our trek to unearth some undervalued fantasy talent.
Lonnie Chisenhall | Cleveland Indians | 3B | 3 percent Yahoo ownership; .5 percent ESPN; 15 percent CBS
YTD: 99 PA / .231 / .253 / .351 with 3 HR and 0 SB
ZiPS updated: 336 PA / .238 / .285 / .380 with 9 HR and 1 SB
Oh Lonnie, you big tease, you. All these years we’ve been told about your first-round pedigree and career .282 /.351 /.470 minor league line, only to watch you struggle at the big league level to the tune of a .692 OPS in parts of three seasons. This year, however, you really had us going, as you went bananas in spring training, smacking the ball around at a .400 average and crushing four home runs in 60 at-bats. But when the season began, your fantasy productivity disappeared faster than people could say, “Hey, does anyone notice how much of a political anachronism Chief Wahoo has become?”
But here’s the thing: I believe you’re a talented baseball player, and know for a fact that we can always use a few good men at third base. That’s why I’m glad to hear that, down on the farm, you’ve been putting together a .390 average with six homers and 26 RBIs, which has accelerated into a .467 clip since May 29. In Triple-A, you didn’t work on mechanics, but confidence, relaxing while rediscovering the qualities that made you such an attractive prospect not that long ago. And whaddya know? Cleveland, needing offense after losing Asdrubal Cabrera and Nick Swisher to injuries, decided to call you up yesterday.
Perhaps none of this would really matter if the Indians had already given up on you, their Opening Day third baseman, but as it happens, manager Terry Francona has said he wants you to play every day, and the team is moving Mark Reynolds over to first base to make sure that happens. That sounds like a vote of confidence to me, Lonnie, and although you don’t have the ceiling of a, say, Nolan Arenado, you’re still someone who could reasonably finish the season with 15 to 18 home runs at a decent (think .270) batting average.
For my money, that’s a guy who has a place on a great deal of fantasy teams, and when I peek over at your ownership levels, I think to myself, here’s a guy who’s going to start being gobbled up very quickly. So Lonnie, on behalf of a watchful fantasy nation, good luck out there. Stay healthy. And don’t let us down.
Recommendation: His upside makes him a solid add in mixed leagues.
Jordan Lyles | Houston Astros | SP | 7 percent Yahoo ownership; 12.5 percent ESPN; 39 percent CBS
YTD: 51.2 IP / 3.48 ERA / 7.1 K/9 / 2.8 BB/9 with 3 wins
ZiPS updated: 137 IP / 4.40 ERA / 6.8 K/9 / 2.7 BB/9 with 6 wins
Let’s cut to the chase: Lyles is not going to win a whole lot of ballgames pitching for the 2013 Astros. You know who does win a lot of games? Max Scherzer. Adam Wainwright. Clayton Kershaw. Unfortunately, those guys aren’t around on the waiver wire. And if you read this column, chances are decent that even guys a few tiers below that group aren’t on the waiver wire, either.
No, we talk about the trash heap around these parts; in a different setting, perhaps, we’d be sitting around a gin mill out west around the time of the gold rush, swapping stories and putting down stiff drinks amid our days of hope and sifting. If the gold diggers couldn’t depend on sleeping in the finest linen every night, then surely we shouldn’t be so fussy about who we get to choose from, either.
Of course, that doesn’t mean we have to stomach whatever hardtack they send our way. In the case of the 22-year-old Lyles, however, we’re presented with another former first round pick, a guy who was named Baseball America’s 42nd best prospect heading into the 2011 campaign. Last week, the young right-hander pulverized the Mariners with 10 strikeouts en route to a crisp, seven-inning 6-1 victory. That was just the latest highlight in what’s been a decent year so far for the young lad, whose ERA is backed up by a 3.77 xFIP and .296 BABIP. Best of all is a heavy 51.3 percent ground ball rate, the only salvation for a young man who doesn’t earn a great deal of strikeouts pitching in Minute Maid Park.
As for the Astros, they’re not going to make wins easy for Lyles, as the team’s offense (its 87 wRC+ was good for 24th entering yesterday), defense (-8.3 UZR/150 third worst) and home ballpark (home plate is a virtual Grand Central Station for baserunners) conspire to put the hurt on a lot of guys (right, Lucas Harrell?). On that last point, not surprisingly, Lyles has a pretty stark home/away split, with his ERA and WHIP (1.82 and 1.01, respectively) being far better on the road than at home (5.00, 1.59), making him a bit of a fantasy platoon option for the moment to offset the effects of inexperience against a hitting-friendly ballpark.
Such is fantasy life on the Astros. On the other hand, perhaps a better team wouldn’t allow a young starter like Lyles to learn on the job like he’s doing right now, staying with him through the highs and the lows of a full baseball season. We’re not talking about high-end production here, only upside, but then again, whoever said there was anything wrong with that?
Recommendation: AL-only league material right now, but a guy whose upcoming starts should be of interest to deeper mixed-leaguers.
Edwin Jackson | Chicago Cubs | SP | 26 percent Yahoo ownership; 19.3 percent ESPN; 29 percent CBS
YTD: 71.2 IP / 5.40 ERA / 8.9 K/9 / 3.6 BB/9 with 3 wins
ZiPS updated: 179 IP / 4.49 ERA / 8.3 K/9 / 3.3 BB/9 with 9 wins
Jackson, seemingly, has done the impossible (Okay, the very, very not-impossible): He’s been so bad this year that he’s apparently made owners forget about the fact that he’s a strikeout machine. What’s bad, you say? Well, the 3-8 record, to start. Then there’s the 1.55 WHIP. The ERA? Shield your children’s eyes.
But let’s get back to those strikeouts for a second. The guy is punching out hitters at a nearly strikeout-per-inning rate in 2013, which would be his best career mark were it to continue through the end of the season. That comes after a 2012 in which his 7.97 K/9 established a new high for him. The walks, meanwhile, haven’t really been culpable for that ugly WHIP, since his walk rate is both tolerable and, despite an uptick over recent years, on pace with his career average. The swinging strike rate and first-strike rates are down, but I’ll choose to be optimistic and suggest that a few good starts could level out those numbers.
No, what’s killed Jackson this year has been a ridiculously unfortunate 59.8 percent strand rate and a .348 BABIP that, while suggesting that hitters are tattooing him, isn’t really manifested in his 21.3 percent line drive rate. These factors help explain why his FIP (3.32) and xFIP (3.63) are much, much better than what he’s been credited with.
I should also take this moment to say that Jackson has pitched well in his past two starts (2-0, 1.38 ERA, 15:4 K/BB), and while the Pirates and Mets are no one’s idea of quality offensive threats, for a guy whose peripherals are due for a sharp market correction, those two outings provide hope that perhaps we’re seeing the ship right its course before our eyes.
As someone who’s bounced around the majors for so long (and played for eight teams), it’s hard to believe Jackson is still just 29 years old, so presumably, he’s still in the prime of his career and can be counted upon to take the ball every fifth day. Jackson is hardly anyone’s idea of a fantasy ace, but the strikeouts are still there, and as his other numbers stabilize, he’s a guy who should be owned significantly more across the board.
Recommendation: Not the sexiest SP option out there, but he can be used in mixed leagues.
Posted by Karl de Vries at 3:36am (2) Comments
Thursday, June 20, 2013
One of the bigger challenges for fantasy players—especially those who play in several leagues with different scoring rules—is allowing the scoring of a specific league to change your opinion on the value of a player. There is so much information and advice out there that it is easy to strip down all the things we hear into Player X is underrated. In general, that is not a mindset that will kill you, but some players see a dramatic difference in fantasy value with specific scoring rules.
Now that I can rank players from 2012 in roto scoring based on their total Z-scores, I wanted to see which players had the biggest discrepancies in their rankings in that format compared to a typical total points league. For the latter, I awarded hitters one point per total base, one point per run, RBI, walk, and stolen base, and I subtracted one point per caught stealing. For pitchers, I awarded three points per inning pitched, one point per strikeout, five points per win, and I subtracted one point per walk or hit allowed and two points per earned run allowed.
Since I built my Z-scores on per-game totals, I also added a qualifier that hitters must have played in 130 games and pitchers must have pitched in 27 games. I did so to avoid returning a list of players like Troy Tulowitzki and Evan Longoria who are elite when healthy but missed significant time last season. Because of that, these player rankings are only of the qualified players.
First, here are the players who benefited most from roto scoring in 2012:
It is not a huge to surprise to see a top-10 half full of closers. After all, roto leagues give one-fifth of total weight to saves, a category that means much less in a league designed to attempt to mirror actual production and value.
For me, the other names are more interesting. There really are two archetypes of pitchers. There is the Stephen Strasburg, Jeff Samardzija, and Felix Doubront variety. They are all elite strikeout pitchers that suffered from some other limitation. For Strasburg, it was his innings cap. For Samadzija, it was his inability to record wins on a poor team. For Doubront, it was his elevated walk rate.
The other archetype is the Tim Hudson, Ivan Nova, and Gavin Floyd variety. They all won a high rate of their total games played. There will be a handful of pitchers each season that manage that feat, but they are far less predictable than strikeout-heavy guys.
Overall, pitchers are far more valuable relative to hitters in roto scoring compared to points leagues. Carlos Gomez is the lone hitter in the top-10, and you have to continue several more rounds to reach the next one (Ian Desmond). Gomez is more of an anomaly than anything. He managed to contribute heavily in home runs and stolen bases—19 and 37, respectively—but was held to 137 games played because of a DL-stint. He also sported a .260 average, which is higher than the power-speed guys that see the bigger boost in points leagues. If he provides any instruction, it’s look for guys with power and speed but reduced runs and RBI because of missed time, as those numbers will be there with an increase in playing time.
Next, here are the players who benefited most from total points scoring in 2012:
In contrast to the roto list, the top-10 of the total points list is all hitters. Because these players are all in the 70-150 range—which, remember, is only of hitters who played 130 or more games, so their actual rankings would be lower—none are stand-out players.
For the most part, they all follow the same formula, which is to produce a lot of runs and RBI relative to their power and speed. And, really, it seems to me that it is more about batting order than player quality. Players like Alonso, Pena, Lee, and Ackley all hit in the middle of their lineups, which they could do because of the lack of elite options on those teams. Meanwhile, players like Jhonny Peralta, Michael Young, and Daniel Murphy all benefitted from their presence in elite lineups.
Posted by Scott Spratt at 3:54am (1) Comments
Friday, June 21, 2013
There are two ways to approach writing this column, where Karl and I attempt to unearth hidden gems from among those the baseball spotlight hasn't touched, or has left behind. One involves throwing as many darts as we possibly can. The other involves throwing as many darts as we possibly can while also caring where those darts land. Today's column is an attempt at the latter of those approaches. Our articles are only as good as we are credible, and our credibility is only as good as our picks. So today I'm going to take a spin through the first nine weeks of the 2013 season, and tally up where my advice was strong, and where it lacked.
WEEK 1: March 29
Brandon Maurer | Seattle Mariners | SP
YTD at time of writing: N/A
Now: 2-7, 6.93 ERA, 5.61 FIP, 4.79 xFIP
An inauspicious debut for me. Maurer was (is) a prospect I was (am) quite keen on, mostly due to positive reports about his stuff, the fact that injuries had been the main roadblock on his career path, and the fact that Baseball America tossed a "frontline potential" label on him in its prospect annual. Here's what I said in my piece March 29:
The bottom line is the guy can pitch. He has talent, including a mid-90s fastball and as many as three other major league caliber pitches of varying quality. He's healthy, and he's coming off a very impressive spring, where he beat out strong competition for a job pitching in what has been a pitcher's park (although with the fences moving in, to what extent that will continue is open for debate).I still believe these things, and still like Maurer long-term, but it's also clear the jump to the major leagues is exceedingly difficult. I should have included a caveat about how hard it is to predict when a prospect will be ready to perform at the game's highest level.
We'll count this as a significant whiff. If you rolled out Brandon Maurer after reading my advice here, I owe you one dollar.
Other Subjects: J.A. Happ, Dylan Axelrod
Update: Happ had a good thing going until May, when one very bad start, and one frightening line drive to the head derailed his season. He hasn't pitched since. His strikeout rate was above 20 percent and walk rate was below 10 percent in April, so if he returns soon (and he is throwing again) he could again be a waiver find. Axelrod is basically what I said he would be: worth a roll of the dice based on matchup in deep leagues, with high potential to get slapped around.
Week 1 record: 2-1
WEEK 2: April 5, 8
Jim Henderson | Milwaukee Brewers| RP
YTD at time of writing: 2 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.79 FIP, 3.09 xFIP
Now: 23.2 IP, 1.52 ERA, 1.95 FIP, 2.65 xFIP
Based on some early seasons struggles from incumbent closer John Axford, and impressive strikeout and walk rates from 2012, I correctly called this change for the Brewers. Henderson was cruising in that role until a strained right hamstring landed him on the disabled list, and turned the ninth inning duties over to Francisco Rodriguez. Henderson will regain his closer status in time, and has made an excellent find for the Waiver Wire chronicles.
Other Subjects: Stephen Drew, Yunel Escobar, Gordon Beckham, Eric Sogard, Seth Smith, Jose Fernandez
Update: I viewed Drew and Escobar as upside plays at a thin position, and neither has panned out—although I was careful to state we don't really know what kind of physical state Drew is in these days. I advised against Beckham, who has continued his run of stunning awfulness, and didn't expect Sogard to keep his name in the lineup enough to have value. My thoughts on Seth Smith have not changed; against right-handed pitching he's a valuable hitter, and that remains the case. His OPS in games started by righties this year is .874, so he's not a full-time player, but if you manage his use he certainly can provide value. My take on Fernandez was to ride the wave while it lasts and that remains the case. Huge improvement from Week 1 here.
Week 2 record: 5-2
WEEK 3: April 17, 19
Juan Francisco | Milwaukee Brewers | 3B/1B
YTD at time of writing: .333/.366/.564
The hombre with two first nombres. You'll notice when I write that now, I no longer include the exclamation point, which is mostly the result of THWTFN being designated for assignment by the Braves. It's bad when the guys you suggest people pick up get DFA'd. Really bad.
The thing is ... I still see value here, especially since he landed in a situation that has him seeing more regular playing time. He's been playing third and first for the Brewers since arriving in Milwaukee, and will continue to do so until Corey Hart returns from his knee injury.
Other Subjects: Welington Castillo, Francisco Cervelli, John Jaso, Derek Norris, Chris Johnson
Update: Boy, there's a mess of bad catching in that list, most of whom I touted here. Castillo crushed until the luck dragon reared it's ugly head and returned his numbers to Earth (and then considerably farther below on what appears now to be a journey to the center of the Earth. (Yes, that was mostly an excuse to make that link-related joke.)) Jaso shows flashes of usefulness, however Norris certainly does not, I was wrong on Johnson, and right on Cervelli mostly because he was injured shortly after my piece was published. The roller coaster continues.
Week 3 record: 2-4
WEEK 4: April 24
Rafael Betancourt | Colorado Rockies| RP
YTD at time of writing: 7 saves, 1.93 ERA, 9.1 IP
Now: 11 saves, 3.20 ERA in 19.2 IP
A number of factors caused me to caution against a potential dropoff for Rafael Betancourt, all of which remain a concern today. His strikeouts are down and walks are up. His velocity is down. His O-Swing% and swinging strike rates are both down, although not as much as they were in April. One more factor can now be added to the list, though: the groin injury that landed the veteran on the DL. In total there are still so many warning signs that I am still selling here all day. The results on the field haven't taken a nosedive like I said they might, but I still see that as a distinct possibility.
Other Subjects: Rex Brothers, Allen Webster
Update: If I learned anything from Brandon Maurer in Week 1, it sure didn't show here. I stumped fairly hard for Webster to provide tons of value at some point this season, and his stint in the majors mostly resembled a car fire. Rex Brothers was my pick to replace Betancourt if he lost his job, and that is indeed what happened when Betancourt landed on the DL. He's been very good in that role, and he's still my pick in the Rockies' bullpen going forward.
Week 4 record: 2-1
WEEK 5: April 29, May 3
Luis Valbuena | Chicago Cubs| 3B
YTD at time of writing: .237/.338/.475 in 68 PA
Now: .247/.360/.416 in 198 PA
Curiosity compelled me to examine the Cubs third basemen, and my finding was that Luis Valbuena could actually have value to fantasy league owners. He has power and patience, and I saw no immediate threat to his playing time, especially from the empty husk that once made up Ian Stewart's body. A month and a half later, this still looks like one of my better finds.
Other Subjects: Ian Stewart, John Lackey, Kevin Slowey, Roberto Hernandez, Eric Stults, Scott Feldman
Update: This was one of my better weeks. Lackey, Slowey, Stults, and Feldman have all been varying levels of good. Hernandez' ERA is still rough, but I'm inclined to believe he's still suffering from some bad luck that will soon even out. I'm counting this as a sweep.
Week 5 record: 6-1
WEEK 6: May 8
Matt Joyce | Tampa Bay Rays| OF
YTD at time of writing: .212/.237/.435 in 94 PA
I should probably mail Joyce a thank you note for making me look like a boss. Because he did that. Matt Joyce made me look like a boss. This is what I wrote last month:
Assuming Joyce can bring his line drive rate up from his absurdly low 9.5 percent, his BABIP of .203 should also rise, and with it his batting average. This will make his triple slash line look much more attractive. He'll never challenge for the Triple Crown, but he can provide power and plenty of walks.He's done just that, raising his line drive rate to 16.9 percent, and his OPS by 186 percentage points. As a result, his ownership rate is close to 90 percent on CBS right now, nearly triple what it was when he first appeared here. Good call by me.
Other Subjects: David DeJesus, Marcell Ozuna
Update: DeJesus was due for an obvious drop in production, although I expected him to retain more value going forward than he has. He'll also miss the next month with a shoulder strain. Ozuna had a blazing fast start to his time in Miami, but has slowed up considerably since. Jeff Moore aced that test for me, but I'm counting it towards my record because I need all the help I can get.
Week 6 record: 2-1
WEEK 7: May 13, 17
Scott Kazmir | Cleveland Indians| SP
YTD at time of writing: 2-2, 5.33 ERA, 5.58 FIP, 3.87 xFIP
Now: 3-4, 5.89 ERA, 5.25 FIP, 4.12 xFIP
Kazmir was a flavor of the day in May after two impressive starts. I warned against jumping on that bandwagon, and a month later that advice looks as strong as ever.
He's one of the hot topics this week, and his strikeout totals might be pretty at times, but my hunch is his ERA, walks, and lack of innings will make him much less useful to fantasy owners than he will be in real life to the Indians. There are better options available in your league right now. Pass.Other Subjects: Matt Garza, John Danks, Mitch Moreland, James Loney, Eric Chavez, Munenori Kawasaki
Update: Garza returned to the Cubs, although his on field results have left much to be desired. Heeding my advice on staying away from Danks has worked out so far, as well. Moreland, Loney, and Chavez provided incredible returns, while Kawasaki has continued his impressive walk rate, but otherwise hasn't done anything to help fantasy teams.
Week 7 record: 5-2
WEEK 8: May 22
Jerome Williams| Los Angeles Angels| Pitcher
YTD at time of writing: : 2-1, 3.05 ERA
Now: 5-2, 3.14 ERA, 3.81 FIP, 4.06 xFIP
The Junkyard Dog!
Williams stepped into the Los Angeles rotation when Jered Weaver hit he disabled list, and although he didn't set the world on fire, he has been very strong for the Angels. His strikeout rate (16 percent) and walk rate (6.1) are solid, and although his BABIP of .259 will almost certainly rise closer to his career level of .276, there's value here for fantasy league owners. The problem remains his lack of a rotation spot. Or, viewing it through a different lens, Williams has been too valuable bouncing between the bullpen and rotation for them to lock him into the starting five on a permanent basis. He remains a player to watch, and one I really like, but that is almost entirely contingent upon being in the rotation long-term.
Other Subjects: Roy Oswalt, Jair Jurrjens
Update: Oswalt made his season debut Thursday night after this was written. So that pick may be smart or may be dumb, we will all find out tomorrow together. Jurrjens hasn't done squat.
Week 8 record: 1-2
WEEK 9: May 28, 31
Corey Kluber | Cleveland Indians | SP
YTD at time of writing: 3-3, 4.57 ERA, 3.21 FIP, and a 2.91 xFIP
Now: 5-4, 3.58 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 2.93 xFIP
Saving the best for last. This is what I said about Kluber a month ago:
It's important to note that we're still dealing with a small sample of Kluber's major league work, and the scouting reports from his days in the minor leagues do suggest that his success there was less about filthy stuff and more about a deceptive delivery, so the sustainability of the rates above is dubious. But, man, that's a good profile. If you did not know anything about Corey Kluber and then looked up his stats, you would probably think he's a player fantasy owners drool over. Instead, he's Corey Kluber.Since then, Kluber's numbers look even better, and his ownership rate (49 percent on CBS) seems still low for someone doing what he's doing. I know he's Corey Kluber, but ignore that for a minute and pick him up. You'll thank me on your wedding night.
Other Subjects: Yan Gomes, Jason Castro, Yasmani Grandal, Tyler Chatwood
Update: Gomes is not walking at all, but he is still hitting for power. Castro has been a revelation in Houston, and Grandal has yet to do much in San Diego. Chatwood has dealt with injuries but is carrying a sub-3 ERA and is still well worth adding.
Week 9 record: 3-2
Total Record: 28-16
I'm essentially the prognosticating equivalent of the 2013 St. Louis Cardinals. Not bad, but now might be a good time to remind you that past returns are not indicative of future performance.
Posted by Jack Weiland at 2:14am (4) Comments
Welcome back to the Roster Doctor's office, where the reading material is so objectionable it would make Tim Whatley scoff.
This week, Eric implores us to take a look a look at his club's power deficiency. He writes:
I find myself in the most competitive fantasy baseball league I've ever played in. I'm 10.5 games out of first place (standard ESPN 12-team 5x5 H2H). I have one of the best run-scoring teams, but am in the 5th-10th spots in the rest of the hitting cats. My pitching staff has been strong, centered around Lee and Kershaw, streaming the rest of my games (5 transactions and 10 starts per week max). I've held on to Teheran for a couple of weeks, recently picked up Cingrani again, and just today grabbed CJ Wilson off of waivers.
This an extremely well-constructed baseball team. You have a wealth of young talent; tons of on-base ability; speed at the top of your lineup; Joey Votto in the middle; an unimpeachable 1-2 punch in your rotation; and a formidable bullpen. If I was to assemble a big-league roster, I would most assuredly use this as a template. Unfortunately, this isn't real baseball. Your standard 5x5 league hearkens back to simpler times when productivity was measured solely in primitive metrics like batting average, RBIs, and wins. As such, despite the undeniable merit of your ballclub as, well, a real ballclub, as a fantasy squad, there are some deficiencies that need to be rectified.
It's practically fait accompli that you won't get much power out of your middle infield. Entering Thursday night, shortstops have produced a collective .113 isolated power, a figure that hardly pales in comparison to the .118 mark achieved by second basemen. Your middle infield contingent has dutifully contributed to these modest averages, as Martin Prado, Ben Zobrist, Neil Walker, Jose Altuve, and Daniel Murphy have averaged 4.4 long balls apiece this season.
And that's okay; you're not really supposed to get power there. You are, however, supposed to get power from your outfielders. This is a principle that seems to have eluded you thus far into the 2013 season —only one of your outfielders, Shin-Soo Choo, has eclipsed seven home runs— and it would behoove you to move some of your high-average, premier run-scorers for some pop.
Provided this is not a keeper league (and this is a very important caveat) and you can afford to sacrifice the stolen bases, I'd consider moving Starling Marte, who' starting to pay the price for his indiscriminate approach at the plate. After grabbing the league's attention with a monstrous April (.327/.395/.477), the 24-year-old has slowed considerably of late. He's left the yard just once over his last 21 contests, while his 0.19 BB/K ratio ties him for fifth-worst among qualified hitters.
Considering his unwavering refusal to take a walk, Marte's on-base success will wane as his BABIP regresses (his batting average has fallen 40 points since May 1, for the record) and the contingency stats like runs and stolen bases will start to suffer. As exciting as he is—did you see that catch on Monday? Mercy!—he's an inexperienced hitter with an unrefined approach who's going to struggle before he makes some adjustments. As such, I'd move him (presumably to a manager desperate for steals) for a bopping corner outfielder of the Mark Trumbo, Yoenis Cespedes, or Matt Holliday variety—players with reliable power who won't hurt you in other categories.
As you mentioned, your pitching has been an area of strength, anchored beautifully by Clayton Kershaw and Cliff Lee, and so I'd recommend moving one of your other reliable starer for someone who can help you in the offensive categories. With a 2.16 ERA and 40 strikeouts over his last six starts (a stretch encompassing 41.2 innings), Julio Teheran has finally started to realize the potential so many scouts and analysts raved about, and has whittled his ERA on the season down to a tidy 3.36. That said, four of those outings have come against the Twins, Mets, Padres, and Harper-less Nationals, respectively.
Additionally, Teheran's lofty 81.5% left-on-base percentage is a little perplexing given his ground-ball rate—11 of the 16 qualified hurlers with a LOB rate above 80 percent induce ground-balls more frequently than Teheran. Should his batted-ball profile proceed as it has, not only are more of those runners going to score, but his home run rate, currently at 1.08 per nine innings, will continue to pose a problem. Like Marte, he's a talented young player with a bright future ahead of him, but (and again, I'm operating under the presumption yours isn't a keeper league), he should be worth shopping for someone who can help you on offense. If parting with Teheran is simply too unpalatable (and I really wouldn't fault you if it is) try shopping C.J. Wilson in his stead and perhaps lowering your asking price a tad. Consider augmenting deals with one of your closers, another area where you boast impressive depth.
I'd also advise employing a middle-infield-by-committee with the quintet mentioned above, plugging in Walker or Murphy for the tremendously disappointing Prado whenever a favourable matchup presents itself and reserving your utility spot for a home run specialist that you can pick up immediately. Some names that come to mind are Josh Willingham (available in roughly 31 percent of ESPN leagues), the resurgent Raul Ibanez (90 percent availability) or even the struggling Evan Gattis (56 percent availability).
As far as your catching situation goes, anointing J.P. Arencibia your everyday backstop would help assuage some of your offensive woes, as he's doing everything better than A.J. Pierzynski besides hitting for average. Arencibia currently leads all catchers with 15 home runs, and has compiled a respectable 35 RBIs and 28 runs. Though exasperatingly streaky, Arencibia still represents a better option* at this point than Pierzysnki. If you're so inclined, you could employ a timeshare whereby you start Arencibia in home games only—he's fashioned a .392 wOBA at Rogers Centre, and a .199 mark everywhere else.
*This is merely a fantasy recommendation and should not be construed as an endorsement of Arencibia as a real-life player. I'm a Jays fan and he keeps me up at night.