Justin Fensterman and Trevor Ray discuss some key players that have started off the season really hot, but tell you what you can really expect from them the rest of the season.
NBA: Streaming players for the fantasy playoffs?
Justin Fensterman and Trevor Ray discuss some key players that have started off the season really hot, but tell you what you can really expect from them the rest of the season.
NBA: Streaming players for the fantasy playoffs?
It’s Friday, and that means a couple of things. One, it’s about time to cut loose and have some fun. Two, I’ll be giving some plays for Friday and Saturday that would seem to be in prime position to succeed.
Today, I’ll give some advice on how you might choose to fill out your lineup for Friday or Saturday, and if you are interested in using that info to make a few bucks, DailyJoust can help you out.
HITTERS – FRIDAY
Carlos Beltran vs. Roy Halladay: Beltran is second in the NL with 27 homers. He’s also gone deep twice in four games and four times in 10 contests. The matchup might look like a tough one on paper, but Beltran has had a lot of success against the veteran Phillies’ ace going .326-2-10 in 43 at-bats.
Adam Jones vs. Luke Hochevar: Jones has hit .343 over his last 35 at-bats and he’s always enjoyed success against Hochevar with eight hits in 20 at-bats (.400-1-6).
Kendrys Morales vs. Felix Hernandez: Morales is hot. He’s hit .3555 with three homers in eight August games and he’s also hit .333 with a bomb and eight RBIs in 26 at-bats against the King.
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Clay Buchholz vs. Indians: CB has been on quite the role of late as he’s allowed a total of four earned runs in his last four outings. That run of success just might be enough for him to overcome the fact that he’s got a 5.06 ERA in eight starts on the road this year.
Kyle Lohse vs. Phillies: He has a tough matchup against Roy Halladay, but with the way Lohse is pitching does it even matter? Not only has he won his last six decisions but Kyle has also allowed two or fewer earned runs in eight of his last nine starts. He’s also posted a 3.38 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in 11 career starts against the Phils.
Paul Maholm vs. Mets: Once more into the breach… Maholm continues to be just about as hot as any pitcher in the game (even if few seem to be buying it. See Fleaflicker). The last seven times he has started he’s gone at least 6.2 innings each time. He’s also allowed one or zero runs six times with his only hiccup being the three runs he allowed last time out. When a guy is rolling like this you don’t ask questions you just say ‘thank you, may I have another?’
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Jerry Hairston Jr.: He is 0-for-12 the past week. Still, he’s hit .318 on the road this season and he’s always enjoyed success against Nolasco (8-for-16 with five doubles).
Reed Johnson vs. Johan Santana: Johan will be making his first start since hitting the DL with an ankle issue, and he was awful in his last three starts allowing 19 runs in his last 12.2 innings. Given that Johnson has hit .516 against Johan, that’s 16-for-31 folks, how do you not play Reed?
Carlos Lee vs. Joe Blanton: Lee is hitting .3109 since the All-Star break. He’s also rapping out hits at a .364 clip over his last 33 at-bats. When he faces Blanton he’s got nine hits in 18 at-bats, good for a cool .500 average.
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Dan Haren vs. Mariners: Do the Mariners even have a team anymore? Ichiro is gone, Smoak was demoted, Ackley can’t hit his weight. They are awful. Haren has predictably dominated the Mariners in his career with a 2.43 ERA and 1.12 WHIP over 20 starts and he’s also allowed just four runs in his last three starts as his back woes seem to have finally abated.
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Twins: For the season Hellickson has a 3.43 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. For his career those numbers are 3.17 and 1.20. In eight games on the road this year he has a 3.21 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. In three starts against the Twins in his career those numbers are 3.98 and 1.03. Can you spell consistency?
Francisco Liriano vs. Athletics: OK, so his leg is a bit sore. Still, that’s not enough to dissuade me from suggesting that Liriano makes a solid start Saturday. Liriano has faced current Athletics for 121 at-bats, and they have produced 22 hits leading to a .182/.233/.256 line. That’s a .489 OPS folks. Lock and load.
Daily Joust is obviously still running baseball leagues for those of you diehard fans (give yourself a pat on the back for hanging in there given the incessant pushing of the NFL). However, if you’re also looking to sink you teeth into the football season, while concurrently still making it happen in baseball, they’ve got you covered there too. To sign up for any game with DailyJoust simply click on the link just provided.
By Ray Flowers
To get your daily fantasy baseball fix make sure you head over to DailyJoust.com to set your salary cap club.
GAINERS OF THE WEEK
Clay Buchholz (+112, $339,000 in Daily JoustSalary)
He’s got a 5.77 ERA and 1.58 WHIP, and the last time he was worth anything in the fantasy game was 2010. Still, the seeds of improvement are here. Over his last three starts he has allowed four runs and four of the last five times out he’s allowed two or fewer runs. A big key? He’s reigned in the walks with only four in his last three starts. Still, I’m not a huge fan. I just don’t like his overall game.
Jonny Gomes (+24, $79K)
The guy has power. He has five homers this year in 107 at-bats, and dating back to last season he has gone deep 19 times in 418 at-bats. At the same time he has hit .211 in that time – he’s hitting .215 this year – though he does have a rather impressive .333 OBP given his lowly average. He’s nothing more than a depth option in AL-only leagues since he’s really not a very good hitter against right-handed pitching.
Ian Kennedy (+97, $329K)
Kennedy has allowed a total of one run in his last two starts as he’s racked up 19 Ks in just 13.2 innings. Kennedy was never going to match his performance from last year (21-4 record). Wasn’t gonna happen. Still, his K/9 rate of 8.44 is up from last season (8.03) while his BB/9 rate is the same at 2.26. Honestly though, he’s pitched pretty similar to what he offered last year (xFIP was 3.50 last year, this year it’s 3.86).
Miguel Montero (+19, $84K)
Montero has two homers and seven RBI over his last five games signaling that perhaps he is finally on the cusp of returning to the hitter everyone thought they were drafting this year. A season after hitting .282 with 18 homers and 86 RBI, Montero’s power is way down (four HR) while his average is also lagging (.249). I still believe he could be the hitter he was last year the rest of the way. Time will tell.
Wei-Yin Chen (+89, $264K)
He’s pitched well in his first 11 big league starts with a 3.49 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Still, his K/BB is 2.32. His GB/FB is 0.90. His BABIP is .283. His HR/9 is 0.94. The end result? That’s a whole lot of league average numbers isn’t it?
LOSERS OF THE WEEK
Dexter Fowler (-25, $91K)
Hitting .281 with a .382 OBP, people are starting to get a wee bit nervous with Fowler after 9-games without a homer and nine Ks in his last four games. Perspective people. Has he been cold for a week? For sure. Was he insanely hot the week before? You know this. He’s on pace for a 20 homers, 75 RBI, 90 run, 15 SB season. Hold fast.
Mike Moustakas (-19, $75K)
Hitting .273 with a .336 OBP, Moose has been solid but not great. The nine homers and 28 RBI put him on pace to be a top level option at third base in the power department, but he’s also hit only one homer in 10 games, and in 54 at-bats against lefties he has a .583 OPS. Still has a ways to go, but a solid start.
Ivan Nova (-74, $219K)
He’s 8-2 and he has a rather amazing, for him, 69 Ks in 77.2 innings (his 8.00 K/9 mark is more than two an a half batters above his career rate entering the year). He’s also allowed just one run in 15 innings over his last two starts. At the same time he’s got a 4.64 ERA and 1.42 WHIP and he’s allowed five or more earned runs in five of his last nine starts and his ground ball rate is on the decline (52 percent his first two seasons down to 47 percent). Tread carefully.
Bud Norris (-49, $182K)
On May 25th Norris had a 3.14 ERA. Now? That number is 4.65 as he has been blown up for 16 runs over his last three starts (12.1 innings). Obviously he’s struggling to get batters out at the moment, but he’s also struck out 18 batters in that time so he’s still providing some value. He’s likely not a 3.14 ERA guy, but I also don’t think he’s a 4.65 guy either.
Buster Posey (-20, $75K)
Hitting .290 with a .810 OPS, Posey is just about back to the hitter he was in 2010 when he took the Bay Area by storm. Still, that’s if we look at his overall game because after hitting .353 in April he’s hit a mere .256. He’s a legit .290 hitter though, so don’t expect his average to fall much further.
Today you can sign up for the King Arthur’s $50 Free Roll on DailyJoust. No entry free is required to get a chance to play the game and earn your free chance to take home part of the $50 prize pool. All games that start at 7:05 PM EDT or later are open to add players to your daily fantasy baseball squad. So get over to DailyJoust, put together your one day lineup, and get ready to win some free $.
By Ray Flowers
Pitching is the variable that we all struggle with from season to season. Predicting any players future performance based on the past is always filled with uncertainty, and only good detective work can get us close to predicting something that we really can’t predict with 100 percent accuracy. That quest for prediction perfection is even more difficult when it comes to pitchers than it is with hitters. That’s just the nature of the beast. Therefore, don’t be too hard on anyone who makes a mistake or two along the way – it’s just not that easy to do.
Back in March I posted my Top-100 Starting Pitchers article. In PART I I’ll discuss some of my “hits” while saving my “misses” for Part II.
NOTE: Please remember that while some of these “calls” seem obvious, they really weren’t back in March of 2011.
Clayton Kershaw (#7): The NL’s Triple Crown winner tied Ian Kennedy for the league lead with 21 victories, posted a major league best 2.28 ERA, and whiffed 248 batters, just two behind Justin Verlander for the major league lead. He was everything we all knew he could be, an at just 23 years old, it’s scary to think that Kershaw could repeat this effort for years to come.
James Shields (#24): I took a lot of heat for putting Shields in my top-25 after he went 13-15 with a 5.18 ERA for the Rays in 2010. Consider me vindicated. Shields pitched more innings (249.1) at greater effect than he had at any point in his career. Shields led baseball with 11 complete games (only Roy Halladay had more than six, he finished with eight), and his four shutouts tied Derek Holland for the AL lead. Shields also finished third in the AL in ERA (2.82) and strikeouts (225) and was fifth in WHIP (1.04). Spectacular.
Josh Beckett (#26): I wrote all about why Beckett would rebound in Is Josh Beckett Finished? Did you read the article and buy into what I was selling?
Clay Buchholz (#52): I warned everyone to be careful with Clay who was being over drafted because he was a Red Sox and because he posted a sterling 2.33 ERA in 2010. His ERA was still solid at 3.48 and his WHIP of 1.29 wasn’t bad at all, it just wasn’t good enough considering where he was drafted by some (not to mention that injuries limited him to just 82.2 innings).
Scott Baker (#53): He was everything I said he would be this year for the Twins. Baker had a career best 8.22 K/9 mark which led to a career best tying 3.88 K/BB ratio, and some sterling ratios (3.14 ERA and 1.17 WHIP). Unfortunately the injury bug struck once again as he was limited to just 23 appearances, 21 starts, leading to only 134.2 innings.
Jordan Zimmerman (#54): The skills were on full display this year with only the Nationals innings pitched limit, he was coming back from Tommy John surgery, to slow him down. Jordan had a 3.18 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and superb 4.00 K/BB ratio because he simply refused to issue a free pass. He’s good enough to have a whole bunch of efforts like this one.
Bud Norris (#72): He made 30 starts for the first time in his career (31 actually), and posted 176 Ks in the process. His WHIP also came down to 1.33 as he cut a full batter off his walk rate getting it down to nearly the league average at 3.39. I’m considering him a “hit” even though he won just six games because his ERA went down a run, his BB/9 down 1.12, his WHIP was down 0.15 and his innings went up 33.2 from 2010.
Justin Masterson (#76): This guy owns a nice combo of strikeout/ground ball stuff, the ideal makeup for a starting pitcher. He threw a career best 216 innings leading to a career-high 12 victories, and even though his K/9 fell to a career worst 6.58 causing some trepidation, he cut nearly a batter off his walk rate leading to his first K/BB ratio better than two at 2.43. He also keep the grounders coming, 55.1 percent of batted balls, and should be in line for a long and successful career.
Tim Stauffer (#78), Aaron Harang (#82): You can find my season ending review of both of these guys in Pitcher Profiles: 2011 Review.
By Ray Flowers
Earlier this week I released the 2011 Pitcher Capsules in a wonderful collaborative effort with PaulSporer.com. Unlike hitters where I broke down everything you need to know in my 2011 Hitter Capsules, I didn’t have any input in terms of pitchers in the above linked guide. Therefore, I thought I would share with you my personal rankings for starting pitchers.
Pitchers in bold are hurlers I would target. I’ll also give some general thoughts at the end of the rankings.
1 Roy Halladay
2 Felix Hernandez
3 Tim Lincecum
4 CC Sabathia
5 Cliff Lee
6 Jon Lester
7 Clayton Kershaw
8 Josh Johnson
9 Justin Verlander
10 Dan Haren
11 Cole Hamels
12 Jered Weaver
13 Roy Oswalt
14 Tommy Hanson
15 Mat Latos
16 Ubaldo Jimenez
17 Yovani Gallardo
18 Chad Billingsley
19 Max Scherzer
20 David Price
21 Wandy Rodriguez
22 Zack Greinke
23 Francisco Liriano
24 James Shields
25 Ryan Dempster
26 Josh Beckett
27 Matt Cain
28 Chris Carpenter
29 Ricky Nolasco
30 Brett Anderson
31 Jonathan Sanchez
32 Ricky Romero
33 Brandon Morrow
34 Ted Lilly
35 Shaun Marcum
36 Matt Garza
37 C.J. Wilson
38 Colby Lewis
39 John Danks
40 Hiroki Kuroda
41 Tim Hudson
42 John Lackey
43 Johnny Cueto
44 Phil Hughes
45 Daniel Hudson
46 Madison Bumgarner
47 Gavin Floyd
48 Edinson Volquez
49 Brett Myers
50 Trevor Cahill
51 Jaime Garcia
52 Clay Buchholz
53 Scott Baker
54 Jordan Zimmerman
55 Ian Kennedy
56 Jake Peavy
57 Brian Matusz
58 Jonathan Niese
59 James McDonald
60 Ervin Santana
61 Gio Gonzalez
62 Carlos Zambrano
63 Jhouyls Chacin
64 Jeremy Hellickson
65 Clayton Richard
66 Jorge De La Rosa
67 Jair Jurrjens
68 Carl Pavano
69 A.J. Burnett
70 Edwin Jackson
71 Javier Vazquez
72 Bud Norris
73 Brett Cecil
74 Mike Pelfrey
75 Fausto Carmona
76 Justin Masterson
77 Anibal Sanchez
78 Tim Stauffer
79 Jake Westbrook
80 Travis Wood
81 Bronson Arroyo
82 Aaron Harang
83 Jeff Neimann
84 J.A. Happ
85 Wade Davis
86 Dallas Braden
87 Mark Buehrle
88 Randy Wolf
89 Randy Wells
90 Homer Bailey
91 Joe Blanton
92 Barry Zito
93 Kyle Drabek
94 Rick Porcello
95 Michael Peneda
96 Daisuke Matsuzaka
97 Carl Pavano
98 R.A. Dickey
99 Mike Minor
100 Derek Lowe
* I see a lot of talent in the 25 to 40 range on this list which leads me to think that you don’t have to reach for starting pitching this year. Wait, I say that all the time. Trust me, if you go into a standard mixed league with a staff of Beckett, Nolasco, Anderson and Lilly – your going to have a darn solid pitching staff.
* I have Clay Buchholz at #52, and I know many will disagree with that. I see a guy who had an ERA of 2.33 last year though he likely should have had a mark at least a run higher. He gets grounders at a nice clip, but he doesn’t strike many out, walks batters at the big league average, and was exceedingly lucky with both his LOB% (79.0) and his HR/9 mark (0.47). When those numbers normalize, and they will, I’d be be shocked if his ERA was below 3.70.
* Gio Gonzalez at #61? Though successful last season his K/9, while still strong at 7.67, was a about batter below his career rate. He also walked more than four batters per nine, and that was a three year best. Like Buchholz, he also has little chance of keeping his ERA within a run of his mark from last season (3.23) given his LOB% (78.1) and HR/9 mark (0.67).
* The 60′s are the land of the young (Jhouyls Chacin, Jeremy Hellickson) and the old (Carl Pavano, A.J. Burnett).
* I’d take a shot on the potential upside dominance of Bud Norris (72) over the steady but boring Bronson Arroyo (77), Derek Lowe (78) and Jake Westbrook (79).
* Tim Stauffer (78) – All you need to know about this righty can be found in 2011 Player Profile: Tim Stauffer.
* The 80′s are populated with veterans you know but might overlook. Mark Buehrle (81) has issues striking out batters, but he throws 200 innings, wins in the double-digits, and rarely kills your ratios. Aaron Harang (82) was actually a lot better than you think the past three years despite outwardly looking lost (7.40 K/9, 2.88 K/BB). If healthy, Petco could be a huge boost for him.
* The 90′s have tons of unproven talent.
Homer Bailey (93) – See Which Pitchers Should I Target?
Kyle Drabek (94) – Likely to open the year in the Blue Jays rotation. He has an advanced understanding of pitching.
Michael Pineda (95) – I’d be surprised if he was up before June, but he will be a strikeout force when the Mariners finally turn to him.
Mike Minor (99) – Battling Brandon Beachy for the 5th spot in the Braves’ rotation. Minor wore down at the end of last season, but he has the stuff to be a top of the rotation arm.
By Ray Flowers
Prior to the completion of the 2010 regular season, I gave a quick run down of the main candidates for the major baseball awards in Early Award Returns. Never one to rest with a cursory look into any topic, I thought it would be a worthwhile venture to explore each of the major awards in a more in-depth manner. With that, here are my thoughts on the 2010 AL MVP.
To see the previous articles in the series click on the following link:
AL Cy Young Discussion
Clay Buchholz: He battled for the AL lead in ERA all year before finishing second with a 2.33 mark. He was consistent all year long with a 2.45 ERA an a 1.25 WHIP in the first half an a 2.20 ERA an a 1.15 WHIP in the second. However, his candidacy will be hurt by the fact that he made only 28 starts covering 173.2 innings, and by the fact that he had only 120 strikeouts on the year. He was also the second best pitcher on his own team (more on that in a bit).
Trevor Cahill: The young A’s righty led baseball in BABIP this year. That obviously helped him to produce an out of nowhere season that defies traditional analysis. Cahill had just 118 Ks in 196.2 innings leading to a 1.87 K/BB ratio which is worse than the big league average. He somehow still managed to go 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP because, at least in part, that he was so hard to produce a hit off of (.220 BAA).
Felix Hernandez: Can he win the award with a record of 13-12 (no pitcher has won the award in a full season with less than 15 victories – and I’m not counting closers so you can save the angry emails)? King Felix led baseball with a 2.27 ERA. He led the AL with 249.2 IP. He was the hardest pitcher in the Junior Circuit to hit (.212 BAA). No pitcher could match his 30 quality starts. He was second in the AL with 232 Ks an a 1.06 WHIP. So how was he 13-12? Blame on offense that gave him the worst runs support in the AL at 3.75 runs per nine innings (teammate Jason Vargas was second with a 4.48 mark).
Cliff Lee: He split his season between the Mariners and the Rangers. He was phenomenal with and 8-3 record, 2.34 ERA and 0.95 WHIP in 13 starts with the Rangers. Oh yeah, he walked six batters in that time. He wasn’t anywhere near as effective with the Rangers as he battled through injury (4-6, 3.98 ERA, 1.06 WHIP), but his overall numbers were still tremendous including a 3.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and an almost unbelievable total of 18 walks in 28 starts. He has little chance to win the award given his record (12-9) and the fact that he was better in the first half (voters often have short memories).
Jon Lester: Finished just short of 20 victories with 19 including eight wins in his last 10 appearances, but Lester firmly established himself as one of the elite left-handed starters in the game. He posted a season (3.25 ERA, 225 K, 1.20 WHIP in 208 IP) that was damn near identical to his 2009 effort (3.41 ERA, 225 Ks, 1.23 WHIP in 203.1 IP). He was great, and could be helped by the fact that he pitches for the Red Sox.
David Price: The league’s third best in ERA at 2.72, Price had a solid 1.19 WHIP in his first full season in the big leagues (208.2 IP). Price fell just short of 20 with 19 wins, and he racked up an impressive total of 188 Ks. Unlike Lester, Price will be hurt by the fact that he plays for the Rays since no one on a national scene pays much attention to games played in the Sunshine State.
CC Sabathia: All he does is take the ball and produce wins year after year. CC was second in the league with 237.2 IP as he produced a major league best 21 victories. Sabathia also matched Price with a 1.19 WHIP while he snuck slightly ahead with 197 Ks. Of course, his WHIP was slightly higher at 3.18. Sabathia has been in the bigs for 10 years, and every one of those seasons he has lasted at least 180.1 IP while winning at least 11 games. The monstrous lefty is as consistently dominating as any starter in baseball.
Jered Weaver: All he did was lead baseball in strikeouts with 233, a career best. Weaver, like King Felix, was snubbed by his team as Jered went only 13-12 despite a 3.01 ERA (5th in the AL) and a 1.07 WHIP (3rd). Weaver also walked only 54 batters on the year leading to a 4.31 K/BB mark which just so happened to be second in the AL to Mr. Lee and third in all of baseball.
It will never happen, voters just won’t be able to look past the low win total, but the best pitcher in the AL this season was King Felix.
8- Clay Buchholz
7- Trevor Cahill
6- David Price
5- Cliff Lee
4- Jon Lester
3- Jered Weaver
2- CC Sabathia
1- Felix Hernandez
By Ray Flowers
I’ll certainly go into much greater depth on all of the major baseball awards between now and the time that the season is completed, but I just wanted to give a few thoughts on the races at this point as the season marches, inexorably, toward the conclusion of the regular season (go Giants).
Main Candidates: Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Josh Hamilton, Paul Konerko
Hamilton will lead baseball in batting average (.361), and he is hopeful of a return to action from his rib issue on Friday. Still, the guy has appeared in only two games in September and just 130 on the season. Is that really an MVP worthy campaign? There has only been one MVP who appeared in fewer than 15 September games in a non-strike season, and that was Dick Groat of the Pirates in 1960. I know it would make a great story, but I can’t give a thumbs up to a guy who didn’t do a damn thing in the seasons most important month.
Main Candidates: Carlos Gonzalez, Albert Pujols, Troy Tulowitzki, Joey Votto
CarGo and Tulo will likely cancel each other out. The anti-Hamilton, look at their numbers in September: Gonzalez (.412-5-26-24 with a 1.131 OPS), Tulowitzki (.299-15-40 with a 1.148 OPS). If that means the decision is left to Pujols and Votto you have to think the fact that Votto’s Reds are playoff bound will tip the scales in his favor in the eyes of most voters since Votto and Pujols have had nearly identical numbers this season: Votto (.325-37-111-104-16 with a 1.029 OPS), Pujols (.313-42-117-113-13 with a 1.015 OPS). Will Pujols’ history win out over Votto’s winning record?
AL Cy Young
Main Candidates: Clay Buchholz, Trevor Cahill, Felix Hernandez, Cliff Lee, Jon Lester, David Price, CC Sabathia
The best pitcher in the AL has been Felix Hernandez, though he is a mere 13-12 because of brutal run support (the Mariners scored seven runs while he was in the game in his 12 loses). Hernandez leads the league in ERA (2.27), strikeouts (232), innings pitched (249.2), quality starts (30) and he is second in WHIP at 1.06 (Cliff Lee has a 1.02 mark). Still, no starting pitcher, in a non-strike season, has ever won the award with fewer than the 15 victories that Tim Lincecum posted last season.
NL Cy Young
Main Candidates: Roy Halladay, Tim Hudson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright
Hudson ha lost four of five decisions as his ERA has gone from 2.24 to 2.76. Jimenez was 15-1 at the All-Star break but only 4-7 since. Johnson leads the NL with a 2.30 ERA but he pitched only 183.2 innings and won just 11 games. That leaves Halladay and Wainwright to finish 1-2, with Halladay likely to win the award despite nearly identical totals: Halladay (21-10, 2.44 ERA, 219 Ks, 1.04 WHIP), Wainwright (20-11, 2.42 ERA, 213 Ks, 1.05 WHIP).
AL Rookie of the Year
Main Candidates: Neftali Feliz, Austin Jackson
Feliz was left in the bullpen when the club realized it had a hole there (he was slated to spend at least some time in the rotation), and all Feliz has done is have the best closing season by a rookie in league history with a record 38 saves in just 41 chances. He’s also posted a 0.90 WHIP over 66.1 innings.
Jackson has played strong defense in center field while at the same time scoring a ton of runs (102). He’s also hit nearly .300 at .299, while adding 26 steals. Do you favor pitching or hitting?
NL Rookie of the Year
Main Candidates: Starlin Castro, Ike Davis, Jamie Garcia, Jason Heyward, Buster Posey, Gaby Sanchez
One of the strongest rookie classes in recent memory. As much as people seem to want to hand the award to Heyward, there are a couple of salient points that Heyward apologists have to deal with. (1) Sanchez has one more homer with 19, while he has knocked in 12 more runs (83) then Heyward. Heck, Sanchez is only batting .003 points lower at .276. How many people think Sanchez should win the award? That’s exactly why Heyward’s candidacy isn’t as strong as some profess. (2) Buster Posey has only two fewer homers and seven less RBI than Heyward despite appearing in 35 fewer games. Posey also has a .020 point lead in OPS, and he is a catcher. I’m admittedly biased as a Giants fan, but I just don’t get all this Heyward talk.
By Ray Flowers
Did you know that I’m tall (6’3″)? Did you know that I wear size 13 shoes? Did you know that I have a rule that I don’t get up before the sun? I know that isn’t the type of did you know that you were planning to read, so before I lull you into a semi-comatose state with more mundane “Ray facts” let’s get to the meat of this piece.
Mike Napoli leads all catchers with 20 homers. Only 12 of those bombs have come as a catcher, eight have come as a first basemen, but you get the point. Moreover, the 20 homers from a catcher eligible player are more than the combined total of Buster Posey (nine) and Joe Mauer (eight) who are hitting a combined .335.
Albert Pujols is pushing for the NL Triple Crown with a .319 average (third – Joey Votto leads the league at .323), 33 homers (first) and 92 RBI (first). He’s also second in the league in OPS at 1.013 (two percentage points behind Votto). But did you know… Albert Pujols also leads all first basemen in the game with 12 steals. And he’s having a down season?
There isn’t a single second basemen, who qualifies for the batting title, who has an OBP of .400 as Robinson Cano has a .390 mark. Can also leads the position with a .326 batting average, a .568 SLG, a .958 OPS, 35 doubles and 87 RBI. Yeah, Cano has been pretty good, which is kinda like saying that Adrianna Lima is hot.
Casey McGehee has been insanely good given his draft day cost. McGehee has hit 20 homers this season which just so happens to be one less than Alex Rodriguez. Moreover, McGehee has more homers than a litany of fantasy stars at the hot corner; Michael Young (19), Kevin Youkilis (19), David Wright (19), Aramis Ramirez (19) and Evan Longoria (18). Casey’s total of 82 RBI is also more than Wright (81), Mark Reynolds (71), Young (70), Ryan Zimmerman (70).
Yunieksy Betancourt has more RBI (61) than any shortstop in the American League. Read that again to make sure you’ve got it. For that matter, any idea who leads NL shortstops in RBI? In another minor miracle, it’s Juan Uribe (66). Let’s keep building on the craziness. I haven’t even mentioned the man who leads all shortstops in RBI – Alex Gonzalez who has 70. He had 50 as a member of the Blue Jays and 20 as a member of the Braves.
Brennan Boesch hit .342 with 12 homers and a .990 OPS in 65 games before the All-Star break. Since that point he has played 37 games and he his hit a sickly .145 with two homers and a .429 OPS. Think about that. He has literally been less than half the player he was in the first half.
Juan Pierre has 49 steals leaving him one short of a fifth season of at least 50 thefts. Since he began his career in 2000, there are only two men that can rival that level of production. Jose Reyes has four 50-steal seasons in that time whereas Carl Crawford has five 50-steal efforts. Mr. Crawford needs nine more steals this season to push his career mark to six 50-steal seasons.
The Giants’ Andres Torres is having a special season. Amongst players who qualify as a right fielder, Torres is sixth in OPS (.866), sixth in OBP (.370) and seventh in SLG (.499). Torres also has scored 71 runs – one more than Justin Upton – and his total of 23 steals makes him one of only five qualifiers at the position with at least 20 (Ichiro Suzuki, Angel Pagan, Will Venable and Ben Zobrist).
Everyone has been talking about Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright, Ubaldo Jimenez and Josh Johnson, but has anyone noticed who is leading the AL in ERA this season with a 2.26 mark? The answer is none other than Clay Buchholz of the Red Sox. Clay hasn’t given up an earned run in his last three starts, and five times in his last nine trips to the hill he has emerged unscathed. Not bad for a guy who entered the year with a grand total of 36 games under his belt.
Not many have taken notice, but Neftali Feliz is about to make history. After tossing a total of 31 innings last season, Neftali still qualifies for the AL Rookie of the Year award. If that isn’t cool enough, how about the fact that he is a mere seven saves from setting an all-time rookie record. The current mark is 37 held by Kaz Sasaki. Of course, Sasaki was 32 years old when he came to the States after a career of success in Japan, so that number really shouldn’t count – at least in this scribes book.
By Ray Flowers
Another day, another top fantasy option has come down with an injury. In fact, you were almost as likely to take a player who has spent time on the DL or on the bench this year with your first round pick as you were likely to draft a healthy player. Just look at how many of the top-15 options heading into the year have dealt with injury.
Miguel Cabrera tweaked a hamstring on Thursday and will be held out of the lineup on Friday though word is that he might be able to pinch-hit if needed. No Cabrera owner can be too upset since their man has hit .354 with 10 home runs, 38 RBI and 34 runs scored so far this season – provided this doesn’t become a DL-type thing.
Hanley Ramirez: He has battled through a variety of injuries all year, and though he is hitting a robust .342, he has only eight home runs and eight steals on the year.
Jose Reyes: The latest news says that his injured calf is now an injured right hamstring tendon. Whether or not that is the same injury and the Mets have kept it under wraps is unknown, but the bottom line is that he is on the DL and the New York Post is reporting that he could miss up to six weeks with the injury. He was hitting only .279 with 11 steals in just 36 games, woeful production for a top-5 pick.
Ryan Braun: Like Hanley, Braun continues to play through a variety of bumps and bruises. Still, he has produced hitting .316 with 10 home runs and 34 RBI, though that pace leaves him barely on pace to produce his third straight 30-100 season. He has only gone deep twice in 19 games which leads me to think he physically ain’t right.
Grady Sizemore: Dude has been lost all year, and now we know why – his elbow is jacked up. Grady hasn’t had surgery on his elbow yet, but it looks like it might be required despite the fact that an MRI didn’t show any structural damage. Sizemore has gone 20/20 in 4-straight year and he could still reach that level since he has nine home runs and seven steals so far provided he doesn’t go under the knife, but his .223 average and .726 OPS show just how awful he has been.
Alex Rodriguez: Had hip surgery and as a result didn’t take the field until May 8th. He is only hitting .250 and doesn’t have a single steal, but he has gone deep seven times with 22 RBI in 26 games.
Josh Hamilton: Like Sizemore, Hamilton may need surgery to fix what ails him. Hamilton is currently on the DL with a strained abdominal muscle. He could be back in two weeks, or he could miss up to two months if he needs surgery. He was hitting only .240 with a .746 OPS though he had drive in 24 runs in 35 games.
Here are some further notes of interest on Friday…
David Ortiz is having his eyes checked since he reported having dry eyes of late. You would think that someone would have checked out his vision a long while ago given his putrid work at the dish this year which includes a .187 average and one home run through 187 ABs. Perhaps some new spectacles will help?
J.J. Putz will be on the shelf for an estimated two months, possibly more, as he will have his elbow operated on to clean some things up. If he comes back as expected, and the team is able to get Billy Wagner back as well, no one will want to face the Mets in September if they can go Putz-Wagner-Francisco Rodriguez in the 7-8-9 innings. I know I wouldn’t.
Brad Penny apparently is on the Braves radar as they look to add some pitching depth. First off, the Red Sox would likely entertain the idea of moving Penny since John Smoltz appears on the cusp or a return to the rotation. The Sox also have Justin Masterson who can start if needed, and don’t forget about Clay Buchholz who continues to toil away in Triple-A simply dominating hitters with his filthy stuff to the tune of a 4-0 record with a 1.74 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and a 4.75 K/BB mark. If you ask me, Penny is the worst option out of those four, so why not move him? If the Braves wanted to add a veteran arm, why didn’t they just hold on to Tom Glavine? For his part, Penny is a very deceiving 5-1 this season thanks to a ton of run support as he has posted a 5.63 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 5.63 K/9 and a 2.00 K/BB. My disdain for Penny is well chronicled going back a couple of seasons, and nothing I have seen from him this season has changed my mind one bit.
Oh, and one last note. Kyle Elfrink, my co-host on the Fantasy Buffet, our Monday through Friday podcast at Fanball.com, recently did a 1-on-1 interview with the Jets’ running back Leon Washington. Listen for that interview on Monday during the 11AM-12PM time slot that we do the show. You can access the interview at the link posted above on Monday.
By Ray Flowers