Justin Fensterman and Trevor Ray reflect on the season that was and talk about what they got right and what they got wrong.
Justin Fensterman and Trevor Ray reflect on the season that was and talk about what they got right and what they got wrong.
Justin Fensterman and Trevor Ray compare Yasiel Puig to some other top fantasy outfielders (Adam Jones, Carlos Gonzalez). The guys will also breakdown hitters and pitchers that have had a good 1st half and decide if they will be a “Champ or Chump” the rest of the way: Jason Kipnis, Carlos Gomez, Jean Segura, Rickie Weeks.
A hypochondriac is someone who is obsessed by the idea that they have an illness of some kind when, most of the time, there is no actual condition to be concerned with. I bring that up because in the world of fantasy baseball it seems like there is an epidemic of hypochondria akin to the zombie apocalypse that is portrayed in the television show The Walking Dead. People are freaking out. I’m talking, losing their minds type of situations.
The world is ending.
Life is meaningless.
Resistance is futile.
In what follows are a sampling of the questions I’ve been receiving at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account. Am I being over dramatic with my lead in to this piece? You tell me after reading the following questions/thoughts I’ve received.
How long do I hold on to Edwin Encarnacion? He is killing my average.
Someone dropped Jason Kipnis in a first year keeper, keep 15.
I’m not kidding… that’s what you folks are sending me. Let’s go tweet by tweet, quickly though, since there is no reason to spend too much time dealing with this junk.
Lowrie has never played 100 games in a big league season. Mauer is a career .322 hitter who has made five All-Star teams, won four Silver Slugger awards and he is the 20th ranked player in baseball in career WAR among active players (according to BaseballReference).
Encarnacion has gone 2-for-27 leading to a sickly .074 average. Last season he went 1-for-22 from May 3rd to May 9th and he hit .280 on the season. He also hit 42 homers with 110 RBIs.
Gallardo has won 14 games each of the past three seasons, and he’s struck out 200 batters in 4-straight seasons. None of the other three names listed has ever struck out 200 in a season, and only one has even a single season of 14 wins. Oh, and two of them entered the year with less than 20 combined big league starts while the other has made 20 starts twice in the last five years.
Halladay looked bad in camp, and has been similarly poor in his first two starts, but really? There’s a reason that Zito, Santana, Chacin and Hughes weren’t drafted in mixed leagues until the rounds hit the legal drinking age on draft day (folks over at Fleaflicker are staying the course with Halladay as he’s still owned in 92 percent of leagues).
I really like Cobb and his potential, but Kuroda is coming off a season of 16 victories, a 3.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 167 Ks. Let me know when Cobb reaches a single one of those numbers over a full season.
EJax or Richards? Do I really need to even say anything?
Kipnis was dropped in a league with 15 keepers? Asinine.
Do you trade a flawed hitter on an immense run of success in Davis for an MVP caliber talent that has a season in which he was the greatest fantasy player in the land in Kemp?
Do you see why my blood pressure sometimes goes up, why I’m occasional obnoxious on Twitter, or why I’m frequently dressing down callers on my radio show?
Seriously folks. Let me harken back to an old catch phrase: take a chill pill. Let things marinate. Exercise patience. Life isn’t that bad. Trust your draft. Trust your instincts. Trust me. Stay the course. If you do, you’ll come out in a better place on the back end. Trust me.
By Ray Flowers
I hate to say I told you so, oh who are we kidding I love nothing more than to tell you I told you so, but Henderson Alvarez has stunk this year. As I wrote back on April 2nd in his Player Profile: “Henderson Alvarez had “no chance” of being a top-75 SP in 2012…He also doesn’t miss enough bats putting him at the mercy of his defense and some random forces.” Amazingly for a guy who throws 93 mph with a wicked high 57.3 ground ball rate, Alvarez has still been just as bad as I suggested he would be five months ago. He’s gone 9-12 with a 4.91 ERA and 1.46 WHIP with, wait for it, 62 Ks in 168.2 innings. That’s a 3.31 K/9 mark. You could TRIPLE that and he still wouldn’t be striking out 10 batters per nine innings. Given his stuff, that’s an unbelievably pathetic number.
It looks like the Cards will roll out there Chris Carpenter next week. Can’t have set up a better return for him either as it looks like he will be on the hill to face the Astros (more on them below). Carpenter will still have to make it through a 90 pitch simulated game, so he’s still no lock to return from his neck/shoulder woes, but the clubs is encouraged.
Felix Hernandez seems to think that he is Dice-K all of a sudden. King Felix allowed seven runs Thursday night and now has a 9.00 ERA and 2.13 WHIP over his last three starts. What do I always say? Sample size people. He’s been unabashedly awful his last three starts but over his last 12 outings he still owns a 2.63 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. It’s not what anyone really wants to hear, but the truth is that things are just returning to “normal” with his performance.
Torii Hunter is hitting .300 this year, .309 to be precise. If you try to check the old memory banks for the last time that Hunter hit .300 you’ll be searching for a while since he has never hit .300 before as a big leaguer (he was one hit short in 2009 as he finished the season at .299). It’s not often that a guy sets a career best in his 16th season, but it certainly seems possible for Hunter given that he’s hitting an out of this world .351 over his last 56 games. Overlooked every year on draft day, Hunter just goes out and produces year after year (he’s batting .309 with 15 homers, 76 RBIs, 72 runs scored and nine steals).
The Houston Astros are 46-98 and have been outscored by their opponent by a major league worst 206 runs. No other NL team has been outscored by more than 117 runs (the Cubs). That is all.
Phil Hughes tossed 7.1 shutout innings against the listless Red Sox Thursday to up his season long record to 15-12. I know he’s a Yankee so everyone gets all excited about him, but consider these points. (1) His 3.96 ERA is only slightly below the league average of 4.09. (2) His 7.61 K/9 is only slightly better than the league average of 7.39. (3) His 1.25 WHIP is only slightly ahead of the league average as well (1.31). He’s solid, but you can put the ticker tape parade on hold.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde meet Jason Kipnis. Everyone’s fantasy darling at second base hit the All-Star break with a .277-11-49-53-20 line. In the 52 games since he has hit .216 with three homers, 18 RBIs, 21 runs scored and just seven steals in 13 attempts. He’s gone from being Ian Kinsler to Ronny Cedeno.
Lance Lynn stepped into the rotation for an injured Jake Westbrook an allowed one run over six innings Thursday (Westbook could still miss a couple more weeks of action so Lynn may see a start or two more down the stretch). With the effort he lowered his ERA to 3.95 on the season while picking up his 15th win. He’s been a remarkable waiver-wire add this year even if he has a 4.97 ERA and 1.58 WHIP over his last 54.1 innings.
Joe Nathan blew it on Friday night as he allowed three runs without getting an out for the Rangers. He only has a 2.83 ERA, 10.99 K/9 and 30 saves in 32 chances. Loser.
I saw Raiders of the Lost Ark last night in IMAX. Pretty amazing I must say. It’s the first time I’ve seen it in the theaters – I was an HBO junkie as a kid. The film holds up really well with the passage of some 30 years.
It’s way too little, way too late, but Michael Young has finally started to hit a bit. In 12 games in September he has posted three homers and 10 RBIs. Too little too late as I stated, but maybe he can give ya something down the stretch.
HITTERS – FRIDAY
Carlos Lee vs. Bronson Arroyo: .321-3-11 in 53 at-bats
Evan Longoria vs. CC Sabathia: .378-5-9 in 37 at-bats
Vernon Wells vs. Brice Chen: .333-3-7 in 21 at-bats
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Robinson Cano vs. James Shields: .417-4-12 in 72 at-bats
Casey Kotchman vs. Anibal Sanchez: .471-1-3 in 17 at-bats
Michael Young vs. Jason Vargas: .400-1-6 in 30 at-bats
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Aaron Laffey vs Red Sox: .230/.302/.287 in 87 at-bats
Chris Sale vs. Twins: .183/.231/.283 in 60 at-bats
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Edwin Jackson vs. Braves: .207/.292/.319 in 116 at-bats
Shaun Marcum vs. Nets: .196/.281/.301 in 56 at-bats
By Ray Flowers
(1) Roy Halladay looks good in return from DL.
(2) CC Sabathia looks good in return from DL.
(3) Roy Oswalt rounding into form for Rangers.
(4) Mike Trout AL MVP? On fire in July.
(5) Andrew McCutchen NL MVP? On fire in July.
(6) Francisco Rodriguez now closing for Brewers. At this point, he needs to be owned in all leagues (see Fleaflicker).
(7) Jed Lowrie hurt again.
(8) Tony Campana not stealing bases. Does he have any value?
(9) Trevor Bauer really struggling with control.
(10) Juan Carlos Oviedo done for the year?
By Ray Flowers
FIRST HALF SURPRISES
(1) Mike Trout most valuable players since call up.
(2) R.A. Dickey #1 pitcher in fantasy baseball.
(3) Edwin Encarnacion living up to expectations.
(4) Melky Cabrera excelling for Giants.
(5) Jason Kipnis 20/30 threat.
(6) Ian Desmond the top SS in fantasy.
(7) Jake Peavy and Johan Santana putting injury woes behind them?
(8) Lance Lynn has been great, but bullpen in future?
(9) Fernando Rodney best RP in game?
By Ray Flowers
Anyone can make selections in rounds 1-15 in a fantasy baseball draft (pull up a top-200 player list and you can field a decent team, barring major injury or “Carl Crawford-like” campaigns). But when all the Pujols’, Jeter’s, Upton’s, and Hamels’ fly off the board, many drafters go into an indifferent, almost passive mindset. Maybe it’s the sense of unfamiliarity with the remaining names on the board, or the lack eye-popping numbers that players left in the draft tend to have. Whatever the reason may be, rounds 15 and on (or what I like to call “Garbage Time”) can be what differentiates a championship team from the Chicago Cubs….I mean… uh… an underachieving team.
Cobb comes into 2012 an unheralded prospect partly because of a bizarre season-ending rib injury, and partly because of the highly proficient Rays farm system. A prime example would be the emergence of super-prospect Matt Moore overshadowing what Cobb did during the 2011 regular season. Cobb’s 2011 cameo appearance drew many parallels to what Jeremy Hellickson and David Price did in their first respective tours for the Rays. Cobb posted a 3.42 ERA in nine starts in 2011. If you remove his last start against Oakland in which he was hampered by that rib injury (five earned runs in 4.1 innings), he would have finished with just a 2.79 ERA. Only giving up three homers through 52.2 innings of work isn’t too shabby either, which aligns pretty accurately with his HR/9 in the minors (0.7).
Go grab yourself a Bud – Bud Norris. A Houston product that goes under the radar because of his team, Norris has shown signs of greatness over his short career. With a K/9 rate of 8.85 over his past two seasons, Norris finds himself among an elite group of starters in the punch-out department. The Houston offense and a less than great WHIP (1.33) will likely keep fantasy managers at bay until much later in the draft, putting a smart manager in a position grab some late round value. Normally caution is warranted with a Minute Maid pitcher but, with the number of strikeouts he gets, taking a shot seems warranted.
Kipnis made quite a bit of noise when he smashed six home runs in ten games a week after he was called up from Triple-A Columbus (three of them coming against the Red Sox). He hit a bit of a snag after a hamstring injury sidelined him for nearly the whole month of August. Although it appeared as if he was never able to fully revive his power numbers (one home run in 18 games upon his return from injury), he was still able to consistently reach base (four multi-hit games and a near .900 OPS), establishing himself as a staple atop the Indians lineup. Kipnis also has the ability to swipe a handful of bags, making him a solid source of runs and stolen bases as well. With everyone getting on the Brett Lawrie and Dustin Ackley bandwagons, waiting to take Kipnis at a much later part of the draft could result in better value for your club.
If there’s one person in Houston who thoroughly enjoyed the dive-bomb season Houston had it would be Martinez. After the Astros jumped ship by unloading Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, Martinez catapulted to the bigs after posting a .342/.407/.551 line with 43 homers over 298 minor league games. If there is one thing that we can say for sure about Martinez, it’s that he has performed at every level, even though he doesn’t have a single at-bat in Triple-A. In just 208 at-bats at the major league level, he clubbed six homers and drove in an impressive 35 runs. Don’t be too bashful on the young Astros talent simply because he’ll be in the middle of the depressing Astros’ order. Look for Martinez to deliver some much needed pop to one of the worst lineups in baseball next season, giving Houston fans a small ray of hope (or is it shooting star?) for the future.
The emergence of Cozart means Cincinnati fans can kiss the Paul Janish era goodbye. Run production should be rampant in Cincinnati with the likes of Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips batting behind him (Cozart hit second in 10 of the 11 games he played with the Reds). In his 2010 Triple-A campaign, Cozart belted 17 home runs to go along with 67 RBI and 30 steals. While his .255 BA wasn’t anything to write home about, his combination of speed and power cannot be ignored. Consider his season ending elbow injury a fantasy blessing, as he will slide under the radar in most drafts because of his lack of exposure last year. At the ripe age of 26 and virtually no roadblocks in his way, expect Cozart to make an impact during the 2012 season.
By Matt Bonini
Over at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account I get questions every day with people asking me to give my sage advice. Here are my answers to some of those queries.
I’m losing ground in saves. I have Brett Lawrie and Martin Prado for my last Util. spot. Would you trade either for Kevin Gregg?
One word – no.
Brett Lawrie is killing it. The uber prospect has hit .343 with three homers, eight RBI and a 1.121 OPS. Given the hype that he entered the league with after similarly crushing Triple-A pitchers (.353-18-61-64-13 in 69 games), his value has to be sky-high right now. He won’t keep up the average, that .375 BABIP is pretty darn high, and he’s hitting too many fly balls (50 percent) while converting to large a percentage of them for homers (23.1 percent). Still, this amazing start hints at the talent that Lawrie does possess and explains why everyone was falling all over themselves look to add him to their squad this year.
Martin Prado qualifies at third base in outfield in all leagues, and though he hasn’t played second this season, he appeared in 98 games there last year so he should be good to go there as well. As we get deeper into the season injuries are always an issue, as is potential playing time loss for some veterans to youngsters. That gives a guy like Prado, who qualifies at three spots, even more value because he can fill in all over the field. A career .300 hitter, Prado is at .274. I would expect that number to rise a bit. The reason is three fold. First, his BB.K rate of 0.70 is better than his career 0.58 rate thanks to a career low K-rate. Second, though his GB/FB ratio is 1.48, right on his 1.38 career mark, he’s managed a line drive rate of 14.7 percent. A career 19.3 producer in that category, he’s posted at least an 18.9 percent mark the last four years. Third, his BABIP is just .278. Now that isn’t surprising given his line drive rate, but again it is out of the norm for a guy who owns a .322 mark in his career. Like I said, I wouldn’t be shocked if he hit .300 from here on out because those numbers will eventually normalize (hopefully it will happen before the season ends).
Let’s break down the save. A 30 save performer averages five saves a month (the season is six months long). Therefore, it should be relatively easy to determine your chances of moving up, or moving down by using that as a baseline. Gregg has 17 saves likely meaning he will fall short of that 30 level. Not just that, he might be the worst full time closer in the American League. That’s not hyperbole either. Amongst AL hurlers with at least 15 saves he is last in WHIP (1.57) and second to the bottom in ERA at 4.11 (Matt Capps is last at 4.38). Gregg also leads the group with 30 walks leading to a simply putrid K/BB ratio of 1.30. That’s just pathetic. He’s also pitching poorly of late with a 6.17 ERA, 1.80 WHIP and 1.22 K/BB ratio over his last 13 outings. I want nothing to do with him.
If you’re dealing either of your two hitters you should be aiming much higher than the bespectacled one from Baltimore.
Jason Kipnis, Mike Carp, or Delmon Young for power ROTW?
Kipnis has certainly started off his career with the proverbial bang. He’s gone deep six times in 68 at-bats, a pace that would net him 44 homers over 500 at-bats. Considering that he hit all of 32 homers over his first 1,050 professional at-bats… do I need to even finish that sentence? It’s early so it’s tough to draw any conclusions, but Kipnis is going to have to cut his 29 percent K-rate quickly or that average (.279) could head south. With little hope of being a base stealing asset, Kipnis is likely to settle in as a moderate mixed play option the rest of the way at second base unless he can somehow sustain his unsustainable homer pace (look no further than his 38 percent HR/F ratio for a reason that he has no chance to keep this up).
Carp is totally out of control, an I mean totally. A .200 hitter his first 15 games in the majors this season, Carp has morphed into Adrian Gonzalez since the All-Star break. In 24 games he is batting .371, has six homers, has knocked in 26 runners and has posted a 1.041 OPS. The question is, how long will it be before he realizes that he isn’t Adrian Gonzalez? His 19 percent HR/F ratio is a bit elevated, and with less than 34 percent of his batted balls ending up in the air, it would be a stretch to expect the power to continue at this rate, especially given his home park (still, he has flashed 30 homer power in the minors, so there is a reasonable expectation that the power will continue). More concerning is the 30 percent line drive rate and .411 BABIP mark. Ty Cobb couldn’t match that.
All of a sudden everyone wants to know about Young with his surprising deal to the Tigers. He should see plenty of pitches to hit batting in front of Miguel Cabrera, and the move out of Minnesota should help as well since that’s a tough park to hit in. Still, he’s been a huge disappointment this season. Oddly though, he’s exactly matched his .312 BABIP from last season though he’s lost .029 points in batting average (.269), and his 0.32 BB/K mark is only 0.03 off of last year. Also, his 18.4 percent line drive rate is two tenths off his career norm, and his 1.31 GB/FB ratio is pretty close to his 1.44 career mark. What I’m saying is that he would appear to have a decent shot to improve his batting average the rest of the way.
So who to add? Young is the most accomplished hitter, but he’s no power threat – at all. Kipnis has been the best power bat of the trio of late, but there is simply no way he can sustain his pace. Therefore, if your goal is to add power to your lineup, I’d suggest adding Carp. Heaven help us.
Drop Anibal Sanchez for Ivan Nova for rest of season?
Sanchez has had a fine season and produced a great return on your investment. However, he’s performed poorly of late allowing at least four earned runs in four of five games. He’s also gone 0-4 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over his last six starts. Is he simply wearing down? It’s tough to be too hard on the guy as he has still exceeded his career K/9 rate by two batters (9.41) while dropping a full batter off his walk rate (2.58). He deserves better than his 6-6 record, and his ERA according to xFIP should be closer to three (3.05) than his actual ERA of 4.00.
Nova may or may not remain in the rotation for the Yankees. The good news fore Nova is that A.J. Burnett has a 6.17 ERA and 1.83 over his last six starts, Freddy Garcia doesn’t know how to use a kitchen knife (he cut his finger and had to miss a start) and Phil Hughes is all over the map looking good one outing then getting bombed (it looks like Hughes will likely be sent to the bullpen leaving Nova in the rotation). Nova has a win in seven of his last eight outings, and five times in that stretch he’s allowed two or fewer earned runs. Though he’s pitching better than Sanchez right now he’s giving away four strikeouts per nine (5.37) and is walking more batters (3.28 per nine). He makes up for it with an impressive 55 percent ground ball rate, and pitching for the Yanks obviously affords him a better chance to pick up a “W”.
If your goal is to target wins, something that is always a risk, then go with Nova. If you’re trying to move up, or maintain, your spot in the strikeout column, then Sanchez is the choice. How is that for an answer?
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87.