Archive for April, 2012

Espinosa and Roberts: 2B Ownership Decliners

Today, I am going to do a quick look at the 2B that have been dropped the most in ESPN leagues. I will look at what is wrong with each player and if there is any hope for improvement.

(Values after name are ESPN ownership %, % point drop in ESPN ownership and Yahoo ownership %)

Ryan Raburn (22%, -38%, 8% ) – Raburn is the 2B being dropped the most in ESPN leagues. I am going to wimp out a bit and recommend another recent Rotographs article where David Wiers does a great job examining Raburn’s struggles.

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Mike Trout over Bryce Harper?

Mike Trout and Bryce Harper came up this weekend. Mike Trout went oh-for-the-weekend. Bryce Harper had two hits, one a double, with an RBI to boot. Trout is on a crowded team at a crowded position. Bryce Harper plays center field for a team desperate for a center fielder. In keeper leagues, many will tell you — we’ve got all the premier scout-types on record in our FG+ article on the subject — that Harper’s power upside will be the more valuable tool going forward.

But, in redraft leagues, for just this year, I’m taking Mike Trout.

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AL OF Stock Watch

Next Monday I will roll out the new AL OF tiers, but until then, the following are some of biggest climbers and decliners of the season to date:

Adam Jones – The simple truth here is that Jones just keeps making hard contact. Potential stringer issues aside, Jones currently sports his highest LD% of any qualified season. He currently has six home runs, five doubles and a triple to boot. His .338 BABIP is certainly high, but he has posted seasons of .328 and .329 in the recent past, so I’m not prepared to write off his BABIP and claim it as so called “luck.” His counting numbers for speed have been solid, but his four stolen bases don’t look quite as shiny when compared to his two caught stealing. I don’t expect him to slug .600+ for the season, but .500 certainly seems attainable. Jones has improved his strikeout rate, but his paltry walk rate drags him down a bit in OBP leagues. Eventually those lack of walks will hurt his SB and Runs chances, but that hasn’t happened yet. He’ll be up to tier 3 unless he falls off a cliff this week. Read the rest of this entry »

Scott Downs & Gerardo Parra: Waiver Wire

Let’s start the week off with two players who have recently been promoted to more high-profile roles, one due to ineffectiveness and the other due to injury…

Scott Downs | RP | Angels | Owned: 41% Yahoo! and 33.0% ESPN

One of my ten bold predictions before the season said that Downs would save at least ten games for the Halos. Jordan Walden is good but shaky, and I figured that any misstep early on could result in him losing his job, even just temporarily. Mike Scioscia pulled the plug on his struggling closer after he’d blown a save against the Rays last Thursday, inserting Downs into the ninth inning role. He closed out his first game on Saturday with a perfect inning against the Indians in a one-run game.

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Jake Peavy: Buy or Sell?

Jake Peavy is back. After scuffling for nearly three season with the Chicago White Sox, it looks like Peavy may have finally returned to form. His performance has been so impressive that Peavy currently leads all pitchers in WAR. Because of his recent struggles, Peavy was likely a late-round pick in most fantasy leagues this season. Now that he’s completely outperformed his draft slot, Peavy could be a popular trade block candidate in many leagues. While Peavy comes with some uncertainty, his early season performance has been encouraging.

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Starting Pitcher Ground Ball Rate Surgers

Batted ball distribution rates stabilizes more quickly than most of the other offensive and pitching statistics. We have found that ground ball percentage becomes reliable at about 200 plate appearances. Though no pitcher has quite reached that level yet, we are fairly close. It is therefore worth checking in on those pitchers whose ground ball rates have surged since last season and see if we can figure out if any are sustainable. All else equal, a high ground ball rate should result in fewer home runs, and ultimately a lower ERA.

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Roto Riteup: April 30th, 2012

I’m not going to compete with fellow contributor David Weirs when it comes to the number of bullet points. Tenure is a beautiful thing.

•  After early struggles, Angels’ closer Jordan Walden has lost his title, at least for the time being. Walden’s role will be handed over to left-hander Scott Downs while the 24-year-old flamethrower rights the ship. Walden’s issue has been his control, and he’s fallen behind to more batters than he’s gotten ahead of. Walden’s velocity has also been off a touch, but he’s still throwing 97 mph with his fastball, so it’s really nothing to worry about. Don’t drop Walden yet, as he can be far too dominant to give up on.

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Historical Monthly Velocity Trends

Over the last week, I took an early look at those pitchers whose fastball velocity has increased most since last season, and those whose velocity has declined. In the comments, several wondered how velocity trended during the season. Intuitively, we would expect that velocity would gradually rise into the summer months as pitchers build their arm strength throughout April and battle through the cooler months. If this is the case, then we would become more optimistic and less panicky about the early season velocity dippers. Let’s see if this happens.

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Bryce Harper Up; Leave Him on Wire?

Bryce Harper’s debut is nigh. The Nationals will call him up Saturday and put Ryan Zimmerman on the DL. Though he wasn’t available in any of my 14 leagues, perhaps he’s available in yours. Should you pick him up?

Despite having all the pedigree in the world, the answer is unclear. He already has two things going against him before day one. He’s only 19 years old, for one. Here’s the list of 19 year olds that managed at least 200 PAs since 1980 and how they fared in their rookie seasons.

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Available Two Start Starters

Today we resume the series of two-start starters that are likely on waivers in your league. As a rule and a reminder, this means only two-start guys who are on the wire in more than half of leagues via ESPN or Yahoo! fantasy setups.

This is a particularly lean week for guys to recommend. Surely there are some strong options, but let’s dive into the middle of the pack to see who you should start.

Kyle Drabek (25.4 percent ESPN/30 percent Yahoo!) – v. Tex, @LAA

It’s only four trips through the rotation, but Drabek is looking more like the pitcher who was in a deal for Roy Halladay than one who carried a 6.00-plus ERA and walked more than he whiffed. To be fair, Drabek is still struggling a bit with the free pass, but he catches a Halos team allergic to them (6.6 percent BB rate tied for second-worst in MLB), and at the very least, he gets the bopping Texas Rangers — also rather walk-averse at 7.8 percent — lineup at home. Drabek has improved greatly on the ground ball side of things, and even though he’s stranding an abnormal amount of runners (94.5 percent!), he’s also well above his career marks in HR/FB. There’s plenty of wiggle in Drabek’s overall numbers — see: .226 BABIP — but for now, in a lean week, you can do a lot worse than the 24-year old righty.

Jeff Samardzija (16.1 percent ESPN/22 percent Yahoo!) – @PHI, v. LAD

The Shark has been downright dazzling as he heads into this week’s two-date dance. The 4.13 ERA isn’t as beautiful as one might like, but the 2.35 FIP tells a lot of the story: 9.4 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, .352 BABIP, and 64.4 percent strand rate. The future is looking up for the 27-year old righty, as long as he can keep the free passes down. The matchup with Philly would usually not be an accommodating one, but this year’s incarnation of the Phightins has a .290 wOBA, 5.3 percent walk rate, and an 18.8 percent whiff rate. I’d be absolutely salivating over that matchup. The Dodgers post a bit of a tougher match for the former wideout, but it’s at home, and outside of Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, only A.J. Ellis on the Fighting Mattinglys has a wOBA over .340. It’s pretty top-heavy.

Luke Hochevar (1.9 percent ESPN/9 percent Yahoo!) – @DET, v. NYY

I tossed-and-turned a bit with this one, but ultimately, there was really no other good option. Hammel is going to really get his mettle tested with the two Eastern powerhouses, Nicasio’s still a bit too unproven, and I don’t trust Happ further than I can throw him. This leaves me recommending Hochevar, who’s had a decent stretch to start the season, but hasn’t exactly been a world-beater. His BABIP is good, his FIP is low, and I love his infield defense — when Getz plays second, anyway — and the fact that he doesn’t have to go to New York. The Yankees offense has been really good, but they’re a little easier on the road (.362 wOBA overall, .350 on the road), and the Tigers offense has been quite a disappointment (.304 wOBA overall, .311 at home). Again, the Hochevar matchup isn’t one that’ll make a fantasy owner jump up and down, but I think at the very least, he can show a Pavanian level of usefulness.

At your own risk:
James McDonald – @ATL, CIN
J.A. Happ – v. NYM, v. STL
Juan Nicasio – v. LAD, v. ATL
Jason Hammel – @NYY, @BOS
Tommy Milone – @BOS, @TB

Bargain Bin Shopping: Adam Wilk (0 percent ownership overall) – v. KC, v. CWS or Joe Wieland (0 percent) – v. MIL, v. FLA

It’s not often that I’ll mention a couple of guys that are completely unowned, and to be fair, I’m not exactly pushing them down your throat. While Wilk is getting a couple clubs that are middle of the pack offensively, the White Sox are hitting .193/.279/.343 with a .270 wOBA against southpaws and the Royals .203/.262/.312 (.253 wOBA). He could sneak in a couple cheapies this week. Wieland, on the other hand, has started 0-3 but has been quite good in his past two starts, both at home. The Marlins are 23rd in team wOBA (.292), and much of the Brewers .329 wOBA stems from the power out of a team triple-slash of .237/.308/.447. That power should be neutralized at Petco, making Wieland a possibly decent play this week.

* Wilk was sent down in favor of Duane Below.