Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Anderson & Freeman

Freddie Freeman is beating the shift

A few seasons ago, all people could talk about is shifting and its effects. Even though shifting is not in the news as much, but players are still getting shifted. Here are the 2016 leaders for facing a traditional shift:

2016 Most Shifted Players
David Ortiz Red Sox 393 0.328 0.323 0.330
Anthony Rizzo Cubs 367 0.296 0.294 0.301
Curtis Granderson Mets 335 0.237 0.236 0.240
Kyle Seager Mariners 331 0.296 0.296 0.290
Carlos Gonzalez Rockies 327 0.358 0.358 0.353
Jay Bruce – – – 322 0.244 0.242 0.248
Freddie Freeman Braves 319 0.382 0.379 0.385
Adrian Gonzalez Dodgers 318 0.325 0.321 0.310
Brandon Belt Giants 303 0.337 0.337 0.350
Kole Calhoun Angels 295 0.321 0.319 0.319
Chris Davis Orioles 288 0.266 0.264 0.256
Mitch Moreland Rangers 286 0.262 0.262 0.253
Stephen Vogt Athletics 281 0.294 0.292 0.291
Victor Martinez Tigers 276 0.296 0.293 0.277
Carlos Beltran – – – 268 0.336 0.336 0.325
Brian McCann Yankees 266 0.252 0.252 0.235
Carlos Santana Indians 265 0.250 0.249 0.249
Albert Pujols Angels 255 0.228 0.227 0.208
Robinson Cano Mariners 252 0.328 0.325 0.312
Kendrys Morales Royals 245 0.241 0.241 0.226

One name and his stats strike out. Freddie Freeman is the player and he currently has a 29-game hitting streak. The shift is supposed to take away hits, but Freeman has decided to use the center of the field to beat the shift. He is not swinging inside out and trying to go the opposite way. Instead, he is putting the ball in the middle of the field. Here are his Center% and wRC+ by month.

Month: Center%, wRC+

  • Apr: 27%, 106
  • May: 27%, 94
  • June: 22%, 175
  • July: 34%, 136
  • Aug: 47%, 198
  • Sep: 40%, 222

He has been quite a bit better, once he began using the middle of the field for a hit. I tried to find him addressing the approach change to go to center field. Instead, I found a couple articles on his early season struggles, nothing later. he is going to be an interesting player to value next year. Do owners go with the second half changes as a valuation point or use full season stats.

Quick Looks: Tyler Anderson

I know this is my third Rockies pitcher I have looked at this week, but going through the pitchers on my to-do list, he intrigued me the most. I watched his home game on September 19 versus the Cardinals.

  • The left-handed pitcher releases from a low 3/4 slot with a jerky motion but lands straight to the plate.
  • Fastball: Was at 89-92 mph, average movement. It is tough to classify as it is a two-seamer with very little sink or a four-seamer with a ton of sink. Overall, it is a very bland fastball. He seems to have decent control of the pitch which makes it play up.
  • Cutter (labeled a slider also): Was at 86-88 mph with a small 10-5 break. He throws it quite a bit, but it is not a good pitch.
  • Changeup: It was 79-83 mph and straight like his fastball. It is good for swings-and-misses (20% SwStr%) if the hitter is looking fastball. It got crushed a couple of times when the hitter guessed it was coming. This season, he has given up 12 home runs and seven have been off the change.
  • There is not much difference in velocity and movement between his pitches. He is going to give up some batted balls, so he could see some good or bad BABIP luck.

After being written off by most prospect guru’s to start the season, he has put together enough good number to find a place in the Rockies’ rotation. I think he would make a nice #3 starter for most real life teams. In fantasy, all Colorado starters will take a bit because of the home starts. His true talent level is around 3.75 to 4.00 ERA. I would just come up with a projection you can live with and pick him around similarly valued players.


Robinson Cano has been able to play healthy this year compared to last season when he was dealing with a groin injury.

Cano says his healthy improvement from last year’s .287/.334/.446 line against the Astros is exactly why he’s been able to stay strong throughout this year — he’s healthy.

Asked what reaching a new high in homers meant to him this year, his first thought was the work he put in last winter after October surgery in Philadelphia to deal with the hernias.

“It means a lot because I had that surgery and didn’t have any rest [after last season],” he said. “You have to exercise every single day to get stronger and have in your mind how you’re going to do or feel the next year.

Cano had the signs of a player coming back from an injury with an increase contact rate (82.6% to 84.2%) and the drop is strikeouts (16% to 14%) which go with better contact. While he has a nice increase in home runs (21 to 35) and overall power (.159 ISO to .224 ISO), the change came from both an increase in HR/FB% (16% to 18%) and FB% (25% to 36%).

With players over thirty, an owner plays the health roulette with them. I usually don’t aim for the older players who were healthy the previous season. Instead, I target the ones hurt depending on the injury. Most owners will value them according to the previous injury-plagued season and I will bet on a little health related regression.

Steven Matz is having a bone spur removed.

Amidst concerns about his elbow, Matz began struggling in June, before the Mets revealed his diagnosis of a bone spur. They said at the time that Matz would pitch for as long as he could tolerate the pain, without fear of doing further damage.

To that end, Mets officials don’t believe Matz’s elbow and shoulder injuries are related, though it is impossible for them to know for certain. They have used Trackman data at Citi Field to determine that Matz’s bone spur did not significantly affect his mechanics.

An owner must remember that every pitcher has bone spurs because of the stress they put on their elbow. Surgery is only needed if one of the spurs becomes loose and therefore causes pain. The issue to note going forward is that without the bone spur, Matz’s elbow is less stable and more likely to get injured in the future.

Additionally, I believe the shoulder and elbow injuries are not related in any way. I think he had the spur removed since he was already not going to pitch because of his shoulder.

We hoped you liked reading Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Anderson & Freeman by Jeff Zimmerman!

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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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What a novel concept: using a middle of the field approach!