Paul’s in today for Brad!
- Age Bias
- Daily DFS
- Tomorrow’s Targets
- Factor Grid
Are we ageist as a fantasy community? Of course we are.
1. Age Bias
What if a 25-year old put up an incredible 157 wRC+ with solid supporting skills, seven homers and six stolen bases in 322 PA? His .404 BABIP suggests the .341 AVG is probably too good to be true, but that’s about the only hole to be poked in the breakthrough effort. This theoretical 25-year old would be the toast of fantasy baseball. Even with a .280 AVG, there is a lot to like for this burgeoning superstar third baseman who also logged double-digit games at shortstop and second base each of the previous three seasons heading into 2015, so he’s likely to add some eligibility in-season.
Even the skeptics of the performance would still note that he’s just 25 and so showing a sustained period of a 157 wRC+ is still very impressive. Now what if I told you he was actually 29 years old?
You’re mad, aren’t you?
Now, here’s where this breaks down a bit regardless of his age because this guy, who you may have guessed is Justin Turner, didn’t have anything close to guaranteed playing time coming into the season with the ultra-crowded Dodgers so it’s hard to really crush anyone for not drafting him based on that impressive, albeit small, sample of work from 2014.
But why did it take so long for the community get on board when he started dominating again in 2015? Turner was on the outside looking in during April with just 16 games played, six of which were starts, for a total of 34 PA. May was a much different story. Turner played 25 games that month with 18 starts and absolutely raked: .318/.430/.561 with 4 HRs, 15 RBIs, and 12 runs with 13% K and BB rates (10 of each) in 79 PA.
There was only one number you’d hear mentioned with Turner even as he dominated May: 30. As in, 30 years old.
Look, I get it. A 30-year old utility infielder isn’t the most appealing asset, but why are we so picky in fantasy baseball? The sample size of 79 PA is the only impeachable number in the line. His .327 BABIP wasn’t outlandish. His .243 ISO was elite. A 1.0 K:BB ratio is also elite and bodes well for future performance. I’m in this, too, by the way. This isn’t just me preaching at the rest of you. I constantly left him available in my leagues, too.
He followed up his May with an excellent June: .330/.385/.614 with 6 HRs, 17 RBIs and 16 runs scored. The walk rate fell to 6%, but with a 14% strikeout rate, that’s OK. Plus, he was absolutely raking, why would I want him taking pitches? So now we’re talking about 175 PA of a .997 OPS with 10 HRs, 32 RBIs, and 28 runs scored (which pace to 32-100-88 in a full season) and yet he still couldn’t get picked everywhere.
I made a move on Turner in a deeper league in late-May, but inexplicably didn’t do the same in a 13-team mixer where he had the SS eligibility (Yahoo!). Thankfully for me he just continued to go unclaimed and I was able to snap him up on June 28th. Mind you, this is a solidly-competitive league which even includes some folks who are in the industry. And it all comes back to that one number: 30.
I can understand not being overly excited about him as some keeper at 30 years old, but why was the fantasy community so slow to move after two huge months this season plus the 322 PA from 2014? We seemed entirely too focused on those who could take his job if he faltered (Alex Guerrero, anyone?). Even if you subscribe heavily to the “draft skills, not roles” adage, Turner was displaying high-quality skill dating back to 2014 in addition to having the role yet I, and many others, continued to pump Guerrero over Turner using that very adage.
Guerrero had a 170 wRC+ through May thanks to nine homers in 99 PA, but he had a 30% HR/FB, 24% K rate, and 4% BB rate… oh, and nowhere to play regularly. With another huge month here in July, Turner is finally drawing the attention he deserves. Better late than never, but I think we need to be better about these cases going forward. Age matters, it definitely does, but at some point, the performance has to matter more. Dating back to the start of 2014, Turner has baseball’s third-best wRC+ among batters with at least 550 PA.
Cases like Turners are rare so looking for the next one is probably a fool’s errand, but don’t be so quick to dismiss guys solely on age. The closest I could see to a similar case for 2016 might be Chris Colabello. Everyone is completely dismissive of what he’s doing because of he’s 31 and has a .409 BABIP, but there is a lot of wiggle room between his current 142 wRC+ and fantasy usefulness, especially when it’s power-based.
We take so many chances on young guys who haven’t shown skills at the big league level “just in case”, but why aren’t we, as a fantasy community, more willing to take these “just in case” shots with guys who already showing prominent skills, but in the mid- or late-20s? This doesn’t mean you should snap up every Johnny Come Lately, but if you take the age out, there was a lot going right for Turner that suggested he could continue to be at least a positive fantasy asset, if not the star-level talent he’s been for 597 PA since the start of 2014.
2. Daily DFS – Martinez, Ramirez, Stacks Aplenty
Chances to roster Martinez in DFS the rest of the way could be limited as the 23-year old standout has already matched his 2014 inning total (if you include his Winter League work and why wouldn’t you?) so let’s pounce while we can, especially against an inferior team. The Braves had a solid April against righties, finishing 11th in wOBA, but they sit just 23rd since May 1st. Martinez was looking at a two-start week before the marathon game on Sunday against the Mets forced him into relief duty for four innings and cost him Tuesday’s start.
Prior to that relief appearance, Martinez had posted a 1.37 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 78 Ks in 72.3 IP over 11 starts. The Braves don’t strike out much – in fact, that might understate it, they’re tied for third-lowest at 18% – but the strikeout studs still get them: Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw each got 10 while Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, and Zack Greinke each have a start of nine against them, too. I’m not worried about Martinez and think he should get at least one per inning for six or seven innings.
Despite some fantastic work since joining the rotation, Ramirez is a tough sell as your solo pitcher at Fanduel, but I can definitely get behind him as an SP #2 at DraftKings especially since his inning deficiency is more than built into the price at $6,100. Ramirez’s 2.09 ERA and 0.96 WHIP are both ninth among starters since May 14th when he joined the rotation, but his 64.7 IP slot him 90th and his 5.3 IP/start slot him 96th among 102 qualified arms.
Stack Targets: There’s a game in Coors so that will obviously be targeted, though Johnny Cueto is going for the Reds so that could tamp down the desire to roster a ton of Rockies. Of course, we know that no pitcher is immune from Coors. Lefty Chris Rusin goes for Colorado. Steven Wright and Alfredo Simon could make Fenway look like Coors tonight. Danny Duffy, Scott Feldman, Chris Bassitt, CC Sabathia, and Tommy Milone are the other prominent stack options.
Yovani Gallardo has a sub-3.00 ERA and I like a lot of what he’s doing this year, but he has a 0.67 K:BB ratio in his last four starts with 15 walks against just 10 strikeouts (somehow only a 3.80 ERA) and the Angels are on fire (4th-highest wOBA v. righties in the last calendar month).
You might also consider a mini-stack of the Brewers lefties against Rubby de la Rosa (his .967 OPS v. southpaws is baseball’s worst) with Adam Lind, Gerardo Parra, and Scooter Gennett. Or you could go all out with some righties, too, as the Brewers have been baseball’s offense against right-handed pitching in the last month. Their .381 wOBA easily paces the field with the Miggy-less Tigers holding the 2-spot at .367 wOBA.
3. Tomorrow’s Targets – Heaney, Buehrle, N.Martinez
Two lefties on the opposite end of the age spectrum look like strong stream options for Sunday. Both draw offenses struggling to do anything against lefties of late – both bottom five in last month – with Heaney hosting the Rangers and Buehrle out in Seattle. Heaney is out of his mind with a 1.57 ERA in five starts so far this year.
That will head upward, perhaps even in this game, but the skills say he still pitching very well, maybe just not quite at this Greinkeian level. His 60% ownership at Yahoo! is a little higher than we normally like in this section, but it means he’s still out there in a good number of mixed leagues.
I’m probably too obsessed with strikeouts which leaves me out on guys like Buehrle, but at some point the talent plays. Buehrle had a rough start to his season with a 6.00 ERA through his first six starts, but he’s run off a 2.27 ERA in 95.3 innings over his last 13 starts and he’s been particularly excellent in his last nine: 1.52 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and a 5.7 K:BB ratio, though it’s built on the six walks. His 12% K-BB% rate is league average.
If you’ve got your strikeouts taken care of and you’re trolling for some quality innings and a W, Buehrle has a nice setup. Hell, I could pull a win with that offense supporting me. After all, I am built like Chris Sale which means I probably pitch like him, too. Probably.
Also consider: Jeremy Hellickson (13% SwStr rate since start of June; only 4.60 ERA because of two duds, but 25% K & 5% BB offer encouragement; opponent isn’t easy, though), Joe Ross,
Pitchers to Exploit: Nick Martinez
How many times did your stack against Martinez come up short? I know we’re talking season-long in this particular section, but he had DFSers raging through May. He managed a 2.03 ERA through his first 10 starts despite a disgusting 6% K-BB% and just 35 Ks in 62 IP. The White Sox blasted him for 7 ER in his 11th start, but he bounced back with three more gems despite an even worse 2% K-BB%. Then the dream trio of road starts took care of all the regression we knew was coming as he journey to Toronto, Baltimore, and Colorado in consecutive starts. It didn’t go well.
Martinez posted a 9.72 ERA the three starts while maintaining that hilariously awful 2% K-BB% mark from his previous three starts. A trip to Anaheim isn’t terrifying from a park standpoint, but that O is finally clicking and even if they weren’t, they still have Trout & Pujols which would be enough for me to predict a Martinez meltdown.
5. The Factor Grid
The table below indicates which stadiums have the best conditions for hitters today. The color coding is a classic stoplight where green equals go for hitters. The weather conditions are from SI Weather’s home run app. A 10/10 means great atmospheric conditions for home runs. A 1/10 means lousy atmospheric conditions.
KC & StL are the only early weather concerns and it’s minimal concern (maybe a delay, PPD unlikely)