Trevor Ray (@TRay0128) & Shane Connolly (@Sconnolly114) discuss the ins and outs of getting a deal done before its too late. They will also talk about some pitchers that have been struggling in the first half but breakdown if they think they will bounce back.
I’ve partnered with DraftDay.com to give all my wonderful followers, that’s you, the chance to play the game on a daily basis. I’ll be giving you some insight into the mind of The Oracle as I will give you some of my best plays for the day – even if I’m willing to admit that daily games are a bit of a crap shoot given the difficulty in predicting how a handful of at-bats will work out. With that, here are some of the better plays for Thursday.
To join a daily league remember to visit DraftDay.com by clicking on the link to their site.
One other source for those of you on Twitter. @MLBDailyLineups – lists all the lineups in one spot so you can make sure you don’t have someone in your lineup that is sitting on the bench that day.
Mauer is always a good play, period. When he sees John Lackey on the hill he becomes an elite play. Mauer is 10-for-23 (.435) with a couple of big flies against the righty.
Ruiz hasn’t exactly started out on fire since he returned from his PED suspension, and he faces Patrick Corbin who has been nails this season. Still, Ruiz has always had success against lefties (.801 career OPS) and he’s also shown a nice power stroke against lefties with 16 homers and 76 RBIs over 573 at-bats.
It’s time to give Loney some props for what has been a phenomenal start to his 2013 season. Not only is he batting .417 the past week but he’s hitting .385 on the season (who’s talking about that?). He’s only 2-for-9 against R.A. Dickey but the knuckleballer has allowed 14 runs over his last 19 innings while losing 3-straight games.
Belt has been in and out of the lineup, and he’s not exactly been impressive when on the field. So why suggest starting him Thursday? He faces Julio Teheran who has allowed batters to hit .333 off him this season pushing his career mark in 54.1 innings up to .301.
Murphy faces lefty Jeff Locke. Murphy likes to face lefties. He’s batting .327 against them this year, he hit .283 against them last year, and for his career he’s hit .281 with eight homers and 63 RBIs over the course of 427 at-bats.
Prado has been up and down this season (he’s hitting a mere .227 on the year though he does have 19 runs scored in 33 games). He hasn’t exactly hammered Cole Hamels but he has produced 15 hits while striking out only five times in 55 at-bats.
Two veterans square off when Tejada faces Freddy Garcia. In 58 previous at-bats Tejada has hit .310 with 13 RBIs. He’s also hit well this season with seven hits in 19 at-bats (.368).
Izturis has three hits in seven at-bats against Mr. Price of the Rays. Izturis has also hit well the past week with a .286 mark over his last 21 at-bats.
Drew is finally locked in at the dish, and it’s been a while since we could say that (he’s hit .381 with a homer and five RBIs the past week). He’s had some moderate success against Mr. Correia with a .250 average, one homer and six RBIs, but I just feel good about the matchup. Sue me.
Normally Kevin Correia gets beaten up by a lot of folks. He’s been impressive this season with a 2.83 ERA and 1.14 WHIP for the Twins but look for Victorino to have some success given that he’s 6-for-14, a .429 average, with a homer and six RBIs.
Bautista hasn’t looked “right” for a large portion of the 2013 season, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid him in what seems like a really tough matchup on paper. Bautista has hit .355 with four homers and seven RBIs in 31 at-bats against David Price who hasn’t looked like himself for much of 2013 either.
Guthrie faces his old team, the Orioles, and he’s dominated the players currently on the roster holding them to a .167 average and .460 OPS over 48 at-bats. With a 2.40 ERA and 1.11 WHIP this season he seems like the proverbial must-start.
Look past the 6.25 ERA and 1.48 WHIP of Price this season and you will note that there is still a lot going on there that is positive. Remove Mr. Bautista from current Jays players and you will find that Price has allowed just two homers in 152 at-bats to the rest of the club and that the rest of the unit is hitting just .230 against him as he has gone 12-2 with a 2.29 ERA against the Jays.
Vargas has held current Astros batters to two hits in 27 at-bats. He also tossed a nine inning shutout in his last outing and has dropped his ERA on the year down to 3.72.
And finally for those looking at early games, Fister is 4-0 with a 2.48 ERA and 1.13 WHIP this season. He faces the Nationals on the road, and batters have hit just .234 against him on the road this season.
To join a daily league remember to visit DraftDay.com by clicking on the link to their site.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Buster Posey the runaway winner of the NL MVP Award.
(2) Why did Miguel Cabrera dominate Mike Trout in AL MVP voting?
(3) Why did R.A. Dickey dominate in NL Cy Young Voting?
(4) David Price defeated Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver for the AL Cy Young.
(5) Bryce Harper narrowly edged Wade Miley for NL ROY.
(6) Mike Trout the 8th unanimous winner for AL ROY.
(7) Oddities in voting. Who are some of these voters?
By Ray Flowers
The MLB playoffs are just about ready to get underway, so baseball is on the cusp of starting its “second season.” Before we get there, let’s take a look back at the just completed regular season. I’ve found a few numbers there that are certainly worth taking note of.
How many players in baseball have gone 40-100 the past two years? The answer is one. He’s also the only player who has, obviously, gone 40-100-100. He’s also the only option in the game, redundancy anyone?, who has gone 40-100-100-10 the past two years. The answer is Curtis Granderson. Sure his average dropped to .232, and his OBP fell to .319, and those numbers aren’t good in any world, but he’s as impressive a counting number performer as there has been in baseball the past two years. Granderson is a faster version of Adam Dunn, you’ll just have to learn how to work around his so-so batting average (Granderson has hit .247 the past four years, so you shouldn’t have been shocked to see his .262 batting average from last season fall).
How many pitchers in the AL won 15 games while striking out 200 batters? You’ve got your standard in Justin Verlander (17, 239), and if you thought of Verlander you most likely also also hit on Max Scherzer (16, 231) who also led baseball with a K/9 mark of 11.08 (that mark allowed Scherzer to post the 19th best single season mark in the history of baseball for a pitcher who tossed at least 162 innings). Given that he is starting the AL Wild Card today you probably also thought of Yu Darvish (16, 221) who had a very successful first season in the States even if he walked too many batters (89 in 191.1 innings). Hopefully you also remember the guy who appears to have a strong shot to win the AL Cy Young Award, the man who tied Jered Weaver for the league lead in wins (20), and that is David Price. The Rays’ lefty won 20 games, struck out 205, posted a 2.56 ERA and had a 1.10 WHIP. So here’s the question. Who is the lone pitcher in the AL to win 15 games and strike out 200 batters who I didn’t mention? The answer can be found below.
Brandon Moss had an amazing run for the A’s to close the year that included a .690 SLG over his last 26 games. When the season was over he had accrued only 265 at-bats, but boy did he use them to great effect. Moss was a tremendous weapon for the A’s as he hit .291 on the year with a .358 OBP and .596 SLG. Moss also drove in 52 runners while scoring 48 times as he had a great season for a guy who struck out nearly a third of the time. The most amazing part of his effort? Let’s look to the home run. Moss hit 21 of them in just 296 plate appearances. No player has ever hit more than 21 homers in under 300 palte appearances. The others who have hit that mark are Art Shamsky (1966), Johnny Blanchard (1961), Kevin Maas (1990) and David Ross (2006). How about that?
The most dangerous “pull” hitter in baseball in 2012 was Giancarlo Stanton, and when you read the numbers I’m about to list your eyeballs might fall out of your head. Stanton hit .507 in the 140 at-bats in which he pulled the ball. That’s 71 hits in 140 at-bats folks. His SLG mark was 1.164. His slugging was 1.164. His OPS? Get out the video game. That number was 1.671. Stanton also hit 24 homers in at-bats when he “pulled” the ball. That number didn’t lead baseball though. The leader in “pull” home runs was none other than Mr. Curtis Granderson who had 37 homers in 201 at-bats.
ANSWER: The fifth pitcher in the Junior Circuit to pull off the 15-200 trick in 2012 is a teammate of one of the other four. Still not able to narrow it down? A hint. He struck out 15 batters in his final start of the season. That man is none other than James Shields who won 15 games with 223 Ks. Shields also won 16 games with 225 Ks last season. Why not keep the good times rolling? How many hurlers in baseball have won 15 games with 220 Ks each of the past two years? The answer is two – Verlander and Shields.
By Ray Flowers
Today I’m just going to fly all over the place and randomly hit on some numbers that speak to me from the 2011 season. You know me, I’m random as all hell anyway, so this may not be any different than normal despite the intro warning you of the impending zaniness. Special thanks goes to the 2012 Bill James Handbook where a fair amount of the information you are about to read about comes from (I would highly recommend the book for those of you looking for a nice reference tool. Looking at my shelf I’ve got copies dating all the way back to 2001).
0 – The number of NL hurlers who received six runs of support per nine innings (the NL leader amongst qualifiers, 162 innings pitched, was Jaime Garcia at 5.92). Over in the Junior Circuit there were five guys who received at least six runs of support – Jon Lester (6.86), Ivan Nova (6.70), Max Scherzer (6.42), Rick Porcello (6.38) and Colby Lewis (6.15) . There was even one guy, Derek Holland, who was over seven runs of support per nine innings. My goodness, he was over seven and a half at 7.64 runs per nine innings, an ungodly number. Wins may not be so easy to come by for Holland in 2012, so keep that in mind on draft day.
.086 – The best batting average in baseball with Runners In Scoring Position (RISP) for a pitcher. Nationals’ reliever extraordinaire Tyler Clippard was the owner of that mark. No other reliever had a mark under .125.
.228 – The OBP of leadoff batters last season against Justin Verlander, the lowest in baseball amongst hurlers who tossed at least 150 innings. Two others allowed less than a quarter of leadoff hitters to reach base in Cole Hamels (.247) and Jordan Zimmerman (.249).
6.1 – The major league leading inherited runner strand rate of the Royals’ Greg Holland. Only one other pitcher in baseball was able to post a mark in the single digits and that was Al Alburquerque’s mark of 9.7 percent. The NL leader was George Sherrill at 10.8 percent.
8 – The number of “tough loses” – defined as a Game Score above 50 when a loss was picked up – by Hiroki Kuroda, David Price and James Shields (there will be more on Game Scores below). That was the highest mark in baseball. At the other end of the spectrum we have “cheap wins,” those outings with a Game Score under 50 while a win was picked up. The leader in that dubious category was Brad Penny with six, one more than the mark of five by John Lackey.
53.1 – The percentage of pitches that were in the strike zone from Cliff Lee, the highest mark in baseball. The only other pitcher who hit the mark more than 50 percent of the time was an unlikely source – knuckleballer R.A. Dickey of the Mets at 51.0 percent.
96 – The best pitched game in baseball last year was Chris Capuano’s effort on the 26th of August if you believe in Game Scores (an invention of Bill James that takes into account everything that a pitcher does on the hill). In that effort Capuano pitched nine shutout innings, allowed just two hits, didn’t walk a batter, and struck out 13 (for more on Capuano see his Player Profile). Ervin Santana’s no-hitter on July 27th gave him a score of 94 while Justin Verlander’s no-hitter from May 7th resulted in a score of 90.
98.0 – The average fastball speed last season of the major league leader (minimum 50 innings pitched). If I gave you 37 guesses I doubt you’d settle on the right name. The most obvious name is Aroldis Chapman, but he came in second at 97.9 mph. The leader was actually the Nationals’ Henry Rodriguez. Chapman did lead baseball with 158 pitches of at least 100 mph, 31 more than Rodriguez.
133 – The most pitches thrown in a game last season by Tim Lincecum. There were two other games over 130-pitches as team continue to monitor pitch counts very closely – Chris Carpenter (132), Roy Halladay (130).
By Ray Flowers
Did you know… that Hiroki Kuroda has a 2.88 ERA, better than Matt Cain (3.00), Ian Kennedy (3.12) and Tim Hudson (3.18) to name a few? So why does Kuroda get no respect? His record. He’s only 8-14 on the year, the 14 loses are tied for the NL lead with J.A. Happ. Still, amongst pitchers who have thrown at least 300 innings since the start of last season Kuroda’s 3.17 ERA is 14th best in baseball ahead of a slew of big arms like David Price (3.18), Jon Lester (3.28), Tommy Hanson (3.44) and Dan Haren (3.49). Maybe you should give Kuroda a look if you need a boost off the wire if your league mates are down on him cause of that win-loss record.
Did you know… that if we remove the week of death when Brandon League lost four games and had three blown saves, that his ERA would be 2.03? Or how about that his WHIP would drop to 0.79. It’s not like his season long numbers are bad (2.85 and 0.99), but think about how amazing they would look if he hadn’t forgotten how to pitch for a week. As it is he has racked up 29 saves leaving him one from becoming just the third man in the AL to hit that total (Mariano Rivera has 30 while Jose Valverde has 35 in 35 chances).
Did you know… that Justin Morneau is back on the field? I’m sure you did, but before you get all pumped up because he had a nice run over a week in the minors, realize that the guy is hitting .222 with a .611 OPS. Those are roughly the numbers of Lyle Overbay who is hitting .227 with a .648 OPS. Think about that. Lyle Overbay who was cut loose by the Pirates of all teams (he’s now with the D’backs), has a better average and OPS than Justin Morneau.
Did you know… that despite struggles and injuries, that Albert Pujols is still on pace for 39 bombs, 101 RBI and 108 runs scored? As a result of a rescent surger, Pujols has 29 homers, the most amongst all first basemen in the National League (the only first sacker with more is Mark Teixeira of the Yankees – he has 32). Pujols has also upped his average to .288 giving him a legit shot to finish the year with a .300-30-100 line for the 11th straight season. He already holds the all-time record with 10-straight such seasons.
Did you know… over the last three weeks the best starting pitcher in baseball has been Ervin Santana. He has gone 4-0 with a 0.76 ERA and 0.79 WHIP? He’s also posted a 5.00 K/BB ratio for the Angels during that time. This has been key. He just isn’t walking anyone with a total of 11 walks over his last eight trips to the hill. Moreover, he’s emerged with a “W” in each of his last five outings and in four of his last five trips to the hill he has gone at least 8.1 innings. He’s also allowed one or zero earned runs in each of his last five outings and six of his last eight trips to the mound. He’s as locked in as a pitcher can get.
Did you know… over his last 796 big league at-bats that Grady Sizemore is hitting .239? He was never a big average type of guy, but his career mark is still .270, well ahead of his pace from the past three years (moreover, Sizemore hit .279 from 2004-2008 before his recent work dragged down his career numbers). A four time 20 steal man, he swiped a career best 38 bases in 2008, Sizemore has stolen 17 bases over his last 200 games. Over his last 200 games he’s also gone deep only 28 times. From 2006-08 he averaged 28 homers a season. Face it, his body may just not be capable of handling the pounding of playing baseball on a daily basis.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Jacoby Ellsbury has a 14-game hitting streak.
(2) Roy Halladay and David Price dominating.
(3) Roy Oswalt back acting up. Could he be DL bound?
(4) Jonathan Broxton to the DL.
(5) Joe Mauer still a few weeks away.
(6) Josh Hamilton could be back at end of May.
(7) Eric Hosmer called up by Royals. Who is Eric Hosmer?
By Ray Flowers
I’ve got it all for you today.
First, a mailbag question.
Second, a brief discussion off my fantasy top-25.
Third, a reason to throw up on yourself.
Who wouldn’t want to read about all of that?
I posted my top-25 fantasy players for 2011 just about a month ago. I still like the list, though I might move a couple of guys up and down a few spots. Two main notes at this point after checking out the fantasy landscape. First, I’m shocked at the wide variance with Ryan Braun this draft season. I listed him at #3 overall, but I’ve seen him go as low as #8, the spot I took him in the K-BAD fantasy league over at KFFL. Obviously I was overjoyed to get him that late. Second, I still don’t think Adrian Gonzalez, who I had at #20 on my initial list, should be going in the top-10 overall, but his current ADP is 9th, and in the K-BAD league he went 6th. He’s going to have a hard time justifying that selection since he brings no speed on the base paths.
In my keeper league I can hold on to four players. I’ve settled on Ryan Braun, Jason Heyward and Ubaldo Jimenez. For my fourth spot I’m having trouble. Would you keep David Price, Adrian Beltre or Jayson Werth?
- Todd, Downey, California
I love the young talent in Braun and Heyward, and while I’m not sold on Jimenez duplicating his work from last season, he has to be considered one of the top-15 starters in 2011 so I’m fine with protection him as well. As for the other three that you have to choose from for the last spot, some thoughts follow.
Price: Previously I gave my sentiments on Price in Hot Stove: Still Simmering. You can read the article for the details, but I’ll boil my thoughts on the young lefty down to this – he was slightly fortunate last season, and despite some undeniable growth, I’d be surprised if he repeated his overall pitching line from last season.
Beltre: One of my favorite whipping boys, I’ve written about the new Rangers’ third sacker many times this offseason. In Insanity Reigns Supreme, I broke down how amazing it was that Scott Boras was able to coax so much dough out of the Rangers. I also broke down Beltre on the field and believe, for the 17th time, that the data says he is a good, but not great, option at third base. Don’t get me wrong, I have no issue at all with him being my third basemen in standard leagues, but I certainly would not draft him expecting a repeat of last years .321-28-102-84 effort.
Werth: Everyone loved Werth as a Phillie, but now everyone seems rather down on him as a National (I discussed the signing in Around the Horn: Hot Stove, Dec.6, 2010). While h is current ADP is 52 according to MockDraftCentral, I’ve seen him fall below that in some drafts that I have participated in. Werth is leaving a good home yard, as well as a stacked lineup in Philly, so his counting numbers could suffer in Washington. Still, the past three seasons he has been pretty darn good with an average 5×5 line of .279-29-84-92-18. There’s little wrong with that.
So who would I keep? I don’t think there is any reason to keep two pitchers out of the four guys, so I automatically removed Price (plus I’m not high on him anyway). As much as I like Werth, I also don’t think it makes sense to keep three outfielders out of four players. That leaves me with suggesting you roster Beltre given your setup, even if I would prefer to roster Werth if it was an either/or decision.
Do you need another reason to hate Alex Rodriguez? In case you missed it because you spent all of last Sunday making out with your significant other and didn’t watch the Super Bowl, we were served up yet another reason to despise A-Rod. In his best “I’m a Roman Centurion home from battle’ moment, the cameras caught girlfriend Cameron Diaz feeding him popcorn. I threw up in my mouth a little bit. A-Rod found out that the cameras captured it and went “ballistic” demanding that no more shots of him were to be run on television. He got his way, but for this scribe, it didn’t come nearly in time as the vision of Diaz feeding A-Rod popcorn has been seared into my brain, and if you haven’t picked up on it yet, it’s a painful image that will haunt me for many moons. For more on the story you can click the link to A-Rod Furious at Super Bowl Candid Shot (it even has a picture so that you can make yourself nauseous as well).
By Ray Flowers
I don’t normally completely steal someone’s idea when putting together an article, but in this case I’m going to do just that. Of course I will give full accredidation, so don’t go reporting me to the principle for stealing someone’s work.
Tom Verducci is a well known writer for Sports Illustrated, and a few years back he had a discussion with pitching guru Rick Peterson that led Mr. Verducci to the position about the innings pitched increase youngsters often face from one year to the next. Ultimately what he started espousing was that youngsters who realized a significant increase in innings pitched from one season to another were at an increased risk of breaking down or seeing their productivity decrease in the following season. Ultimately the research that was undertaken led to the Verducci Effect which states the following:
Pitchers who are 25 years old or younger, who see an innings increase from one year to the next of 30 frames or more, are at a greater risk of injury or ineffectiveness in the following campaign.
Now there is some debate about whether or not you should blindly accept this postulate as an accurate depiction of what occurs on the field – Michael Weddell did a study for BaseballHQ in which he determined there really was no increased risk of a burnout or injury in the following campaign – but logic obviously leads to the position that a major increase in inning pitched from one year to the next isn’t likely to be a good thing for a developing arm. I do think that too much is made of innings pitched in some circles, to me a more effective way to look at pitcher’s workload is to track pitches per start, and perhaps even more importantly pitches per inning (those high stress, big pitch count innings can be really detrimental). However, the Verducci Effect speaks to innings pitched, so let’s work with that.
Am I overly concerned when a young arm goes from 125 to 155 innings? Not really. I would be more concerned if that 30 inning jump shot a guy from 180 to 210 innings pitched. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not concerned when that innings pitched mark begins to substantially increase. Here are some of the men highlighted by Verducci as risks in 2011.
Madison Bumgarner (21 yrs old, 214.1 IP, +73 IP): This is a scary increase total in my mind, both because of the innings pitched number, and because of the age of Madison. He is a big kid, listed at 6’4″ and 215 lbs, and his performance in the playoffs was dominating suggesting that the innings weren’t an issue (he was 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 20.2 innings). Still, his IP increase is more than double the baseline for concern with the Verducci Effect, and even if Mr. Verducci is only 50 percent right, the doubling of his suggested baseline makes me 100 percent concerned with Bumgarner.
Alex Sanabia (22 yrs old, 170.2 IP, +66.1 IP): The youngster made 12 starts late in the year with the Marlins, but only three times did he reach triple digit in pitches (with a high of 109). He did have some soreness in his arm late in the year, though there is no way to tell if that was related to the substantial innings pitched increase.
Mat Latos (23 yrs old, 184.2 IP, +61.2 IP): Here’s the big worry with Latos – he has been on this list two years in a row. Moreover, his innings pitched increase has been massive from 56 to 123 to 184.1. That’s right, his innings pitched mark has gone up more than 60-innings in each of the past two years. I don’t need the Verducci Effect to tell me those are scary numbers. You think this massive innings increase is at least party to blame for Latos’ struggles down the stretch last year (1-5, 5.66 ERA, 1.51 WHIP over his last seven starts)?
David Price (25 yrs old, 221.1 IP, +58.2 IP): The Rays are as careful as any organization in the game with how they treat their pitchers. Given that, and the fact that Price is a bit older than the others on this list, I’m not as concerned as a might be if some other hurler boosted his innings total by nearly 60 frames.
Brandon Beachy (24 yrs old, 133 IP, +57 IP): Beachy pitched only 15 innings for the Braves but he did well with a 3.00 ERA an a 9.00 K/9 mark. He did struggle to throw strikes with a 4.20 BB/9 mark, a total that was double the rate he posted in the minors (2.10 per nine). Was that because of wear and tear on his arm or because of the level of the competition? We need more data to be sure.
In the end, common sense might be the best direction to take here. Would I take Jon Garland over Mat Latos because of the youngsters massive innings increase the past two years? Of course not. However, if I was debating between Latos and Dan Haren, well, then it’s a different story.
The pull of Christmas continues to strengthen with each passing day as it becomes harder and harder to actually focus on your tasks at work (don’t tell me you don’t feel it’s pull). That doesn’t mean that the world of baseball is off for the holidays. In fact, it’s just the opposite as there are quite a few pertinent news stories making the rounds on this day.
Adrian Beltre: Backed by the evil Scott Boras, Beltre is apparently turning his nose up slightly at the 5-year, $70 million deal the Angels have extended the third baseman. Why? Because he’d like a sixth year of course. Beltre is a consistent run producer who also plays fine defense, but he isn’t a .300 hitting 30 homer guy, so he should be plenty happy with what the Angels are offering, especially since there doesn’t appear to be another team willing to offer that much money. Beltre would also be wise to realize that he will 37 years old at the end of a five year deal, so I don’t know how many organizations are going to be clamoring to give him a sixth season when he will be 38 years old. The Angels are pretty desperate to add him after losing Hideki Matsui to free agency and losing out on guys like Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, but let’s hope they do the smart thing and hold fast on their current offer which is, in my opinion, too high already.
LATE ADDITION: Seems like the Angels came to the same conclusion that I did. With the ink barely dry on this article, a report surfaced in the Los Angeles Times that the Angels have withdrawn their offer to Beltre (Angels Pull Offer). Seems like they called Scott Boras’ bluff and have flat out dared him to find another team willing to give his client $70 million. Who will blink first?
David Freese: A total wild card this season since he is coming off surgeries to both ankles. Freese is said to be progressing well, but he still hasn’t even been cleared to run yet. He has hit .299 in 271 big league at-bats, but at this point he should be restricted to merely being a late round flier in NL-only leagues.
Brett Gardner: The fleet of foot outfielder had offseason surgery on his wrist, and like Freese, everything is heading in the right direction with his recovery and Gardner expects to be 100 percent by Spring Training. (Brett said he was only a couple of weeks behind his “normal” offseason workout schedule). While somewhat overlooked because of the juggernaut around him, Gardner had a hell of a fantasy season last year which included being one of just three players in baseball who stole 45 bases, knocked in 45 runs, and scored at least 95 times (the others were Juan Pierre and Carl Crawford). Depending on what region of the country you live in, Gardner might be a relative bargain on draft day, especially if he was able to secure a spot at the top of the Yankees’ lineup.
Scott Podsednik: The Angels missed out on their top offseason target when Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox. So their reaction is to try and sign Scott Podsednik? Pods can still motor, he had 35 steals last season while hitting .297, but come on now. He’s 35 years old and he shouldn’t be anything more than a fourth outfield option on an upper division club. He’s really nothing more than a replacement level player at this point of his career, even with the gaudy steal total. That doesn’t mean he has no fantasy value, the guy does have 65 thefts the past two years while hitting .300, and he could score a bunch of runs if he was signed by the Angels and inserted at the top of their run and gun batting order. All I’m saying is that he really isn’t that valuable a real world player.
David Price: I had a debate at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account this week about why I wouldn’t have David Price ranked in my top-10 starting pitchers this season. To me the answer is simple – he doesn’t belong there. I know he was second in the AL in wins (19) and third in ERA (2.72), but his peripheral numbers simply don’t support that level of performance. (1) His walk rate of 3.41 per nine was worse than the big league average (3.28). He did offset that fact a bit with his solid 8.11 K/9 mark, but his resulting 2.38 K/BB ratio is only barely better than the 2010 big league average of 2.17. (2) Price posted a 1.10 GB/FB ratio which was, again, big league average. It also wasn’t any different from his 1.05 mark of 2009 when he posted a 4.42 ERA. (3) Price had a left on base percentage of 78.5 percent in ’10. Given that the big league average is 70 percent, that’s a pretty darn high total (to compare Price with another great lefty, Cliff Lee’s mark was 67.9 percent). It’s almost impossible to posit another run at 80 percent from Price. (4) His ERA was lucky. There, I said it. Price’s FIP mark was 3.42, well above his raw ERA mark of 2.72. In addition, his DIPS ERA was 3.55 while his Component ERA was 2.92. You don’t have to know how those numbers are computed to understand that all three of those measures point to his actual ERA of 2.72 being far too low based on his overall level of performance. Price will not fail, he is too talented for that, and his one batter improvement in his K/9 rate last season is exciting, but I would be pretty shocked if he was able to once again keep his ERA under 3.00 this season, and few pitchers win 19 games in back-to-back seasons (Adam Wainwright and CC Sabathia are the only two hurlers that have done it the past two years).
Brandon Webb: The injured righty continues to receive lots of love from teams around the league that are hoping to strike it rich with the former ace. Teams that appears to be heavily in on Webb include the Cubs, Nationals and Rangers, though at one point or another he has been linked to about half the teams in baseball. I know he was a star from 2005-08, but the guy had major shoulder surgery, looked terrible late in the year according to some scouting reports, and he has thrown all of four innings the past two seasons. Hopefully everyone learned from the Ben Sheets debacle of last season (1-year, $10 million for 20 starts) that Webb’s contract should be something like 90 percent incentive driven.
By Ray Flowers