Archive for June, 2011

Grady Sizemore’s Dave Kingman Impression

The Grady Sizemore that fantasy owners fell in love with — the swift, slugging center fielder with perennial 30-30 potential — is gone. Microfracture surgery on Sizemore’s left knee, as well as a right knee contusion that put him back on the DL in May, has robbed the 28-year-old of his once-plus speed. But Grady’s wheels aren’t the only thing that’s missing in 2011: his previously superb strike-zone judgment is gone, too. Sizemore is doing a convincing Dave Kingman impression, slugging the ball when he makes contact but chasing pitches and punching out plenty in the process.

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Emergency Closers: Antonio Bastardo and Javy Guerra

Unless your closer’s name is Mariano Rivera, there’s a possibility he’s going to get hurt at some point during the season. Pitchers are a fragile bunch. It happens. Two teams have been hit especially hard in that area this season.

If you had told the Phillies and Dodgers at the start of the season that their closers on June 30th would be Antonio Bastardo and Javy Guerra you’d have been laughed out of the building by Ruben Amaro and Ned Colletti. Yet, here we are. The two teams haven’t needed their star closers much; the Phillies would be in first with me at the back of their pen, and the Dodgers just aren’t good enough for an elite closer to matter. But, to the fantasy consumer, they mean plenty. Let’s take a look at the two new faces.

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Your lwts Fantasy All-Stars: National League

Continuing on last week’s theme, we turn our attention today to the National League fantasy All-Stars.  As a reminder, I’m basing this on the past calendar year’s performance under the FanGraphs Points scoring system.   The $ values shown are the player’s average cost on ottoneu FanGraphs Points leagues.

Catcher:  Brian McCann (894 pts, .377 wOBA, $30)
Alternates: Buster Posey (753 pts, .368 wOBA, $31) and Carlos Ruiz  (595 pts, .350 wOBA, $5)

Brian McCann is such a stud.  He’s been the best fantasy catcher in the National League for years, and yet somehow I think he still is a bit underrated.  Speaking of underrated, Carlos Ruiz has been a monster over the past year, even if he doesn’t play as often as some of the big guns.  I have him in a 20-team league and can’t find anyone who wants him!

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Lonnie Chisenhall: Mining the Minors

Another top-notch prospect made his long-awaited debut this week. No point in keeping you from getting better acquainted.

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Kicking Rocks: Cutting Bait

“Don’t take your love away from me
Don’t you leave my heart in misery
If you go then I’ll be blue
‘Cause breaking up his hard to do.”

It plays over and over in my head every time I look at a roster that includes the likes of Hanley Ramirez, Adam Dunn, Dan Uggla and Joe Mauer.  Aggravataing?  Yes.  Both the song and the lack of production.  But what’s really aggravating is that question that keeps popping into your head as well, “How long do I stick with this guy?Read the rest of this entry »

Moscoso and Worley: Pitchers to Avoid

All of us deep league managers have to do the dirty deed at some point and pick up a player that makes us feel dirty. I still have Juan Pierre on my 20-team roster, for example. Hey, 100 outfielders start in that league, who cares how ugly he is right now. And I don’t mean in the face. He’s handsome enough I guess.

But here are two pitchers that you should avoid in pretty much every league. They just don’t have the underlying skills to be much better than average, and with pitching in abundance these days, there’s someone better out there. Even in NL- and AL-only leagues.

Guillermo Moscoso (1% owned in Yahoo)
He struck out eight Marlins! He’s given up one run in his last 17 2/3 innings! He pitches in a home-run-suppressing park! Yes, but. There really isn’t a single specific skill that you can hang your hat on with Moscoso. He has a putrid 4.6 K/9 which is supported by a bad swinging strike rate (5.4%). He’s had good control in the minor leagues, but his 3.56 BB/9 right now is below-average (hey! not terrible!). He has yet to show his minor league walk rate (2.5 BB/9 in MiLB) in the major leagues (3.90 BB/9). Last, but not least, he’s an extreme fly ball pitcher. His ground-ball rate this year is is 24.6%, and even with his other 14 2/3 major league innings added in, it only ‘jumps’ to 26.5%. Other players have come up and been underwhelming in their first 50-odd major league innings, but there doesn’t seem to be much upside here either. His Triple-A strikeout rate was around eight per nine, and that’s just not enough for a fly ball guy unless he has elite control. Until you see a bunch of zero-walk games, he’s a miss. Even then…

Vance Worley (5% owned)
This one might be more controversial. He’s probably going to end up fairly valuable to his real-life team, filling in as a fifth-sixth starter. The Vanimal has a 2.57 ERA of course, and his 3.44 FIP isn’t terrible. In his case, though, it seems that his 4.14 xFIP has a little more to say about his true talent level. Worley features the same sort of underwhelming stuff as Moscoso. 50 innings into his major league career, he has a 5.5% swinging strike rate. It’s built on a 91 MPH fastball, a decent 85 MPH slider, a rarely-used curveball and (by linear weights values at least) a poor changeup. If the changeup is indeed poor, he will be susceptible to bouts of ineffectiveness versus left-handed hitters. He gets some groundballs (46% career), but that’s only a tick above average (44% most years). Once his home runs per fly ball normalize (4.2% right now), more balls will leave his comfy little home park, and his ERA will balloon. He could be a spot-starter in some deep leagues, but don’t rely on the Vanimal, cause he might bite you.

Polanco, Johnson, Roberts, Espinosa: 2B Showdown

Recently, I did a little work looking at the owned % and the likely hood that a player would be starting on a fantasy depending on the league size. Using Yahoo ownership rates, 90% ownership is probably the starting level for 10 team leagues, 85% for 12 team leagues and 10% for 20 team leagues. Originally, I figured I could just go down the ownerships of each position and get the players on the edge, but multiple positions eligibilities caused some confusion, especially for IF positions like 2B, SS and 3B. The following is the 2B who rank around the cutoff value for 12 team leagues, 85% and below.

The 4 players I will be looking at today are Placido Polanco, Kelly Johnson, Ryan Roberts and Danny Espinosa. Here are their ownership rates and stats so far this year:

Player % Owned H/AB* R HR RBI SB AVG
Plácido Polanco(Phi – 2B,3B) 83% 86/298 32 4 39 3 0.289
Kelly Johnson(Ari – 2B) 76% 61/286 43 13 34 8 0.213
Ryan Roberts(Ari – 2B,3B,OF) 73% 62/244 43 10 33 11 0.254
Danny Espinosa(Was – 2B) 70% 68/284 40 15 48 9 0.239

After looking at the these 4, here is the order I would prefer to own/play them:

1. Danny Espinosa: He has the combination of speed (9 SB) and power (15 HR) that the others don’t have. His average is not ideal, but it is expected considering his BABIP (0.264) and K% (25%). It would be nice to see him make some more contact, but his combination of speed and power from 2B is tough to find.

2. Ryan Roberts: The 30 year old is having a career season and I would ride to the end of it. He is already at career highs in SB and HR only half way through the season. His triple line slash of 0.254/0.341/.439 isn’t far this season are that his preseason ZIPS projection of 0.251/0.3290.400. Ryan was finally given the opportunity to play every day and he is taking full advantage of it.

3. Kelly Johnson: He is performing like Danny Espinosa lite. Power and speed, but can’t hit for average at all. His BABIP has risen from 0.227 at the end of March to 0.267, which has helped his AVG some. The main reason for the low AVG is that every third at bat he is striking out. If/once he begins to make contact on a more regular basis, he will instantly become more valuable.

4. Placido Polanco: He has hit for good AVG, but that is about it. He is showing little speed (5 SB) and less power (3 HR). This is a case where the abilities he has, doesn’t translate to fantasy baseball. If you need help with AVG and have plenty of speed and power, he may be worth acquiring.

As a whole, each of these 2B can make decent contributions to a fantasy team. Out of these 4 though, I will take Espinosa, which currently has the lowest ownership rate.

Brandon Beachy: Stud Muffin

During draft season this year, Brandon Beachy was a late-round flier in mixed leagues due to his spring training battle with Mike Minor. After Beachy beat out Minor, owners were still skeptical thanks to underwhelming scouting reports and fear of somewhat of an unsecure role in the Braves rotation. Next season, Beachy certainly won’t be considered a flier if he keeps up his torrid start to the 2011 season.

If I used the word “stud” to describe Beachy, odds are most owners would be surprised and argumentative. A stud they may have never heard of? Ridiculous. If you don’t want to believe that Beachy has been ever so studly, you should look at where he ranks amongst NL starters in key pitching categories. Better yet, let me look at those numbers for you, the busy reader, and break them down in an easily digestible fashion.

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Monitoring Closers’ Workloads

We’re getting close to the halfway point of the season for most teams (Game 81, not the All-Star break), so now is a good time to step back and look at some closer workloads. A lot of times a manager will run his top reliever out there game after game early in the season only to have it come back to haunt them down the stretch. They might have to ease off them a bit or deal with a prolonged slump. Happens all the time. Let’s list the number of appearances each closer had made so far, as well as extrapolate that out into a full season workload. Forgive me, but the following table does not include last night’s games…

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Derrek Lee and Scott Rolen: Veteran Corner Infield Waiver Wire Help

Obviously it depends on the roster size and depth of your league, but it never ceases to amaze me when you see veterans who have produced in the past, yet started off the season slowly, begin to heat up and still get left out on the waiver wire.  Maybe the rosters are far too loaded up or maybe owners are just not paying close enough attention.  Either way, if you’ve got a corner infield spot that’s lagging or just need to balance your team via the utility spot, here are a pair of vets you might want to look up. Read the rest of this entry »