Matt Kemp, Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, Joahn Santana, James McDonald, Mike Stanton, Paul Goildschmidt, Hanley Ramirez, September call-ups.
Matt Kemp, Evan Longoria, Tim Lincecum, Joahn Santana, James McDonald, Mike Stanton, Paul Goildschmidt, Hanley Ramirez, September call-ups.
Each week I’ll be answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account in my never ending attempt to replace myself by explaining to everyone how I evaluate players thereby making myself obsolete.
Should I trade Matt Kemp for CC Sabathia and Aroldis Chapman?
Do you need offense or pitching? If the goal is to improve your pitching staff, I don’t see how you could pass on dealing Kemp. I know he’s hitting .350 since the All-Star break, but let’s keep things in perspective. Kemp has twice injured his leg this season and that’s obviously one of the main reasons he’s stopped running. You have realized that he has fewer steals this year than Mark Trumbo (four to three), right? Without the steals he’s no longer an elite fantasy performer, he’s merely a great one.
Sabathia is about as boring as it gets, and that’s a compliment. Everyone on the hill struggles an is injured, and though CC hit the DL for a bit this year, he’s been the same horse he’s been for a decade now racking up a 10-3 record, 3.57 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 123 Ks in 126 innings. Chapman had a rough two weeks to end June, but the guy has rebounded to the point that it could be argued, persuasively, that he is the best pitcher in baseball. Over his last 16 games he hasn’t allowed a run, not a one. His WHIP in that time is 0.61. His K/9 rate is 19.29 with 35 in 16.1 innings. My goodness, his K/BB ratio is 11.67 an about 99.5 percent of baseball would sell their in-laws to the devil for a K/9 rate that high, let alone a K/BB ratio like that. Still, the most amazing part might be that he has 15 saves in 17 appearances.
I’d trade Kemp to get that duo.
Drop Salvador Perez and pick up Carlos Santana? Is Carlos finding his stroke?
Last week I got a bunch of questions about Santana including one I tackled in the Mailbag. To reiterate my point from there; Santana can hit. No one should have given up on him, and he still owns the skills to be an elite hitter at the position, something I’ve steadfastly said for the entirety of the season even when he’s been struggling. The struggles are gone as he’s hitting .293 with five homers and 12 RBIs in 19 games since the All-Star break. He’s also getting on base at a .461 clip with a 1.116 OPS. He’s a top-5 catcher the rest of the way for me which means you have to choose him over Perez who has been great hitting .320 with five homers in 29 games, but here’s the issue. People’s expectations are totally, and I mean off the charts, out of control with Perez. He’s not a .327 hitter despite his career mark. He’s certainly not the type of hitting that’s going to hit 30 homers. Wipe that stuff out of your mind – it’s just not happening. At the same time, people seem to be moving on from Perez due to his recent struggles (.244, no homers, one RBI in 12 games) like they are fleeing the scene of a murder they committed behind a convenient store. As I always tell people – be realistic with your expectations. This isn’t fantasy football. You don’t want to bail on a guy, or add a guy off waivers, simply because they are hot/cold for 45 at-bats.
Is Ben Revere for Jonathan Papelbon a fair trade?
The obvious answer is not really. But that doesn’t mean the deal is a 100 percent turn down job if you own Papelbon either. In fact, it might be a good move.
We’re at the point of the season where you have to play the categories. It doesn’t matter if you win the steals category by two or 22, you still get the same amount of points in the roto game. Therefore, sometimes “lopsided” deals make sense, and this could be an example of that. If it’s draft day 2013, I can’t think there would be many people who would take Revere over Papelbon. Sure the Twins outfielder is hitting an impressive .319, and he has swiped 25 bags, but he has zero homers, has knocked in only 20 runs and he’s only scored 37 runs (a total you would assume would be much higher given all those thefts). He’s a huge boost in the average and steals category but he’s downright pathetic in homers and RBIs. Still, what if he were to hit .300 and steals 15 bases the rest of the way? Would that help boost your club in both of those categories to the point that you could gain multiple points in each category in the standings? It’s certainly possible.
Papelbon has hit a bit of a bump in the road the past couple of weeks, but overall he’s still sporting 23 saves, a 1.12 WHIP, 54 Ks in 43 innings an a 5.40 K/BB ratio. There is nothing wrong with that pitching line. After six straight years of at least 30-saves there’s no reason, none, to think he won’t get their for a seventh straight year and with all the craziness in bullpens this year how could anyone not want this guy on their staff.
Check out the standings. If it makes sense for to add the average and steals, deal for Revere. If it makes sense for you to hold on to Papelbon so that you don’t fall too far in the saves category, then hold on the righty reliever from Philly.
Ryan Ludwick or Josh Rutledge for my UTIL spot?
Ludwick is hitting like it’s 2008 when he blasted 37 homers with 113 RBIs for the Cards. He’s never been able to recapture that form in the intervening years, but right now he’s killing it for the Reds with 19 homers and 56 RBIs in just 80 games played. Even better, he’s murdering pitches with eight homers, 23 RBIs an a .354 batting average over his last 23 contests. In fact, the last four weeks he leads the NL in RBIs an is just one off the NL lead in homers (Brian McCann and Ike Davis each have nine). You can’t expect him to keep up this pace of course, but overall not much really stands out in his batting line as his season long numbers are nearly identical to his career averages in AVG/OBP, BB/K, BABIP, GB/FB etc. He has elevated his HR/F rate at 22 percent, well above his 13 percent career mark, but the rest is pretty standard Ludwick stuff.
Rutledge has killed it since Troy Tulowitzki went down, and he figures to slide over to second base when Tulo is back in action (oddly, only eight percent of players over at Fleaflicker have added him to their rosters). Hitting .382 with four homers in 68 at-bats, the question isn’t whether Josh will slow, it’s how much will be slow. A guy with a 50 percent ground ball rate shouldn’t also have a 24 percent HR/F mark, especially when that same player only hit 22 homers in 211 minor league games. Give his approach at the plate, chiefly never talking a walk, his BB/K mark is awful at 0.20. There are but a few players in baseball who can approach that number and hit .300. Even fewer can sustain the .400 BABIP he’s currently rocking (truthfully, no one sustains that pace).
Both players will slow but I’d take Ludwick who has produced at these levels before and figures to be a better bet to keep the power stroke flowing. Since we are talking about a utility player I’m not concerned with the obvious advantage that Rutledge brings because of the position he plays.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 PM EDT, Monday through Friday.
It’s Friday, and that means a couple of things. One, it’s about time to cut loose and have some fun (and don’t think I’m not going to this weekend given that I will be in The Vegas. That’s right, The Oracle in Vegas… only good things can happen given that setup, right?). Two, I’ll be giving some plays for Friday and Saturday that would seem to be in prime position to succeed.
At BaseballGuys.com we have partnered with DailyJoust.com to give our users an opportunity to compete in Daily Fantasy games this baseball season and they have a $250 MLB Baseball Freeroll Tournament Friday July 27th starting at 7pm EST which is FREE. That’s right it costs nothing, to enter. Here are the details:
- Create your team with a $1 million dollar salary cap: C, 1B/DH, 2B, 3B, SS, OF, OF, OF, SP.
Follow these 2 steps to play now:
1. CLICK HERE to register at DailyJoust and make your selections for the contest
2. Watch the live scoring on DailyJoust to see how your team stacks up against the competition.
Remember, it’s FREE to enter and there are $250 in prizes up for grabs. Oh, I almost forgot to mention you can get a 40% deposit bonus up to $400,refer a friend and both get $20.
**Must have less than 1 MLB win on DailyJoust to compete in contest.
HITTERS – FRIDAY
Andre Ethier vs. Matt Cain: Hey, it may not make one iota of sense, but Ethier absolutely obliterates pitches from Cain. In 51 career matchups Ethier has produced 22 hits and four walks. The result is a .468 batting average and .491 OBP against the Giants’ ace. James Loney is also 14-for-41 against Cain (.341).
Martin Prado vs. Cole Hamels: Brian McCann has 12 RBIs in 51 at-bats again Hamels but the real star of this show is Prado who has produced 15 hits in 45 career ABs (.333) against the newly minted gazillionare of the Phillies.
B.J. Upton vs. Dan Haren: Eleven Ks in 26 at-bats for Upon in this matchup. So why on Earth am I mentioning Upton as a solid play? In the other 15 at-bats Upton has ripped nine hits including four homers. Add it all up and B.J. has hit .346 with four homers an a 1.192 OPS against Haren.
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Lance Lynn vs. Cubs: Lynn has allowed the Cubs to hit .222 with a .617 OPS against him in his young career as he’s gone 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA and 0.98 WHIP over 21.1 innings pitched. Given that he’s allowed just one earned runs in his last three starts overall, this would seem like a pretty fair matchup.
Josh Tomlin vs. Twins: Looking for a sneaky play for Friday? Though current Twins batters have hit a healthy .288 off Tomlin in 73 at-bats, they’ve also managed a mere .297 OBP and .653 OBP as they’ve only taken him deep once.
Carlos Villanueva vs. Tigers: Over his last 10 outings (only four starts), Carlos has 38 Ks and just 15 walks in 34.2 innings leading to a 1.82 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He’s also had success against the Tigers in his career with a 2.60 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 5.00 K/BB ratio over 17 innings.
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Carl Crawford vs. CC Sabathia: These two have faced off 69 times with Crawford emerging with 22 hits leading to a .319 average. After a tremendous start in his return to action Crawford has slowed though producing only one hit in 18 at-bats before game action Friday.
Buster Posey vs. Chad Billingsley: The Dodgers’ righty was impressive in his first game back from the DL (1 ER in 6 IP vs. STL), but this is one matchup he has a ton of trouble with. Posey has 11 hits in 23 at-bats leading to a .478 average (Nate Schierholtz has hit .450 in 20 ABs against Chad). Posey, in case you’ve missed it, is hitting .465 over his last 11 games for the Giants as well.
Matt Kemp vs. Barry Zito: Just seeing this matchup has to make you think that Kemp is going to go off. When you look at the numbers you should be comforted by the fact that your initial thought is exactly right. In 49 career at bats Kemp has ripped off 22 hits (.449) and he’s also taken Zito deep twice with eight walks leading to a .526 OBP.
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Bruce Chen vs. Mariners: This one is a shot in the dark since he’s pitched so poorly of late including a four runs, two homer effort against the Mariners back in July 18th. Chen has a .200/.209/.323 line in the 65 at-bats against the current Mariners. He’s also always had success against the club from the Pacific Northwest with a 4-0 record, 3.10 ERA and1.16 WHIP in 12 career matchups.
Bartolo Colon vs. Orioles: Current Orioles hitters are batting .243 with two homers and five RBIs in 144 career at-bats off Colon. The hefty righty of the A’s has allowed eight runs in his last two starts, but for the month of July he’s still sporting a 3.18 ERA and 1.09 WHIP so he’s been very steady overall.
CC Sabathia vs. Red Sox: In 315 career at-bats the Red Sox batters have hit .248 against Sabathia. You’ll remember I mentioned Crawford killing it against CC above. Remove Crawford’s work against Sabathia and the rest of the Sox have hit .228 against the massive lefty.
By Ray Flowers
Back in late January the BaseballGuys 2012 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide was offered to facilitate your quest to dominate the fantasy competition. A lot has changed since then though, an awful lot.
Carlos Santana has been a massive disappointment behind the dish.
Albert Pujols struggled mightily out of the gate.
Evan Longoria had multiple setbacks with a lower body injury.
Dustin Pedroia has been largely ineffective due to injury.
Troy Tulowitzki is on the shelf yet again.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford and Matt Kemp suffered significant injuries.
Roy Halladay was hurt.
Two-thirds of the bullpens in baseball have switched closers.
Obviously, a lot has changed since the 2012 season began.
Given those facts, I thought now would be a great time update my Player Rankings. Here’s what I’ve done.
I’ve ranked the top-40 players at the following positions: C, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B.
I’ve ranked the top-100 outfielders.
I’ve ranked the top-150 starting pitchers.
I’ve ranked the top-75 relievers.
That’s 525 players ranked for the second half of the 2012 baseball season.
How do you get your copy of the5x5, mixed league rankings?
On the right hand side of the BaseballGuys page, near the top, is a YELLOW DONATE tab. Simply click on the tab, donate $1.00 through Paypal, and The Mid-Season Rankings will be on their way to you within hours.
$1 folks – that’s it. That’s like going to iTunes and downloading a song.
It’s just that simple.
Donate to the BaseballGuys.com cause and I’ll send you an email with the PDF file containing the rankings.
There’s still time to win your fantasy baseball league this season, so let BaseballGuys.com help to guide you to that championship.
By Ray Flowers
(1) Matt Kemp to DL.
(2) Christian Friedrich dominating.
(3) Troy Tulowitzki hurt.
(4) Nationals, Yankees, Mets having 9th inning issues.
(5) Dan Haren – buy low candidate?
(6) Jeff Neimann out with a broken leg.
By Ray Flowers
“I believe in myself to the most,” said Matt Kemp. “I have confidence I can achieve it. I try to set my expectations as high as I can. I think I’m capable of doing it.” What is Kemp claiming he is capable of doing? No it’s nothing as grand as solving the mysteries of Stonehenge, nor is he talking about getting back together with his famous ex Rihanna. No, Matt Kemp was saying that he thinks he could go 50/50 this year – 50 homers and 50 steals.
“It speaks to his confidence and his self-awareness,” GM Ned Colletti said. “Even if he doesn’t make it, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It tells me about how he feels about his game. It tells me what he thinks about who he is.” (For the full report see Tim Brown’s article on Yahoo. By the way, if you want to play fantasy baseball this year, Yahoo Sports is a great place to sign up to play). I don’t know if I share Colletti’s vision here, but here are the facts as I see them.
1- Kemp is a supremely talented player who was one homer away from going 40/40 last year.
2- Kemp has nearly gone 20/20 each of the past four years (he missed out by two homers in 2008 and by one steal in 2010). The last four years he has averaged 28 homers and 32 steals. That’s nearly 30/30 for four years folks. Impressive.
3- Kemp has been as healthy as they come. Each of the past four years he has appeared in at least 155 games with between 602 and 606 at-bats in each season.
All of that information points to Kemp being an elite performer (duh). However, history is against Kemp and the potential run to 50/50. No one has ever done it. Ever. Only four men have ever gone 40/40: Jose Canseco in 1988, Barry Bonds in 1996, Alex Rodriguez in 1998 and Alfonso Soriano in 2006. Remember, Kemp was just a homer short of joining the club last season so he was close. Does that mean he could go 50/50? What would it take for Kemp to get to those numbers besides health and an unwavering need to concentrate for virtually every moment he was on the field in 2012?
Kemp hit 39 homers last year in 161 games. That equates to one homer every 4.13 games. If he appeared in 161 games again in 2012 he would need to hit a homer every 3.22 games. That’s a significant increase an one that he wouldn’t likely to be able to maintain over the course of a season no matter how much faith he has in his abilities (his 40.5 percent fly ball rate last year was a career best but his 37.4 percent career mark is just big league average).
Kemp stole 40 bases last year in 161 games. That equates to a steal every 4.03 games. If he appeared in 161 games in 2012 he would need to steal a base every 3.22 games. That’s a rather significant increase an one that would be almost impossible to maintain. Let’s not forget that every time that Kemp goes deep that’s one more time that he doesn’t have the chance to steal a base. An increase of 10 homers might lead you to say ‘but Ray, we’re only talking about 10 plate appearances,’ an if you said that you would be right. At the same time, he’s going to need every last plate appearance if he is going to squeeze out 50 steals.
Is Kemp going to thumb his nose at history and do something that no one else in the history of the game has every done? An elite athlete with immense talent, Kemp is in the prime of his career and never misses games. On the flip side he hits in a ball yard that favors pitchers and has little protection in the Dodgers batting order. Kemp also has only one season of 30 homers in his career and he has just one effort of more than 35 steals. Clearly Kemp has full confidence in himself, but it would be foolish to think that he could reach the lofty numbers that he says he is capable of producing in 2012.
For thoughts on how Kemp is being viewed by Fleaflicker click on the link.
By Ray Flowers
This is the official release from Major League Baseball in regards to the 50-game suspension that was given to Ryan Braun which has been overturned – i.e. Braun will not serve a single game of the 50 game suspension that was originally handed down.
Milwaukee Brewers OF and NL MVP Ryan Braun has won his appeal and won’t be suspended.
MLB issued this statement disagreeing with the decision made by the arbitrator:
MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL STATEMENT
Major League Baseball Executive Vice President for Labor Relations Rob Manfred issued the following statement today:
“Major League Baseball considers the obligations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program essential to the integrity of our game, our Clubs and all of the players who take the field. It has always been Major League Baseball’s position that no matter who tests positive, we will exhaust all avenues in pursuit of the appropriate discipline. We have been true to that position in every instance, because baseball fans deserve nothing less.
“As a part of our drug testing program, the Commissioner’s Office and the Players Association agreed to a neutral third party review for instances that are under dispute. While we have always respected that process, Major League Baseball vehemently disagrees with the decision rendered today by arbitrator Shyam Das.”
Here is a link to a report about the whole situation at ESPN.
With the removal of the specter of suspension, Braun leaps up draftboards. After his effort last season, and the last few years for that matter, I don’t see how anyone can look at Braun and not think he deserves to be a top-5 overall option. I believe he’s a top-2 option along with Matt Kemp, and I’m in favor of Braun going first off the board.
By Ray Flowers
Yesterday I tackled the 2011 performance of pitchers, an if you know me you know that I’m all about symmetry. Today, I’ll break down some of the numbers that stood out for me when I looked at the hitters for 2011. Special thanks 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).
For my review of some of the fascinating pitching numbers see A Look Back at 2011 – Pitching.
Asdrubal Cabrera hit .636 with 13 RBI last year in 11 at-bats with the bases loaded.
Miguel Cabrera led baseball with a 1.047 OPS against right handed pitching. That mark was .001 better than two other first basemen – Adrian Gonzalez and Prince Fielder.
If you were an NL pitcher in 2011 and you were looking to get strike one under your belt then you wanted to see Jamey Carroll come to the dish. Carroll swung at only 6.9 percent of first pitches. The only other NL batter in single digits was Martin Prado (9.8). As for those that did let her rip on the first pitch three names topped 40 percent: Yadier Molina (40.7), Aramis Ramirez (40.6) and Freddie Freeman (40.1).
If you were a curveball specialist you didn’t want to see the Diamondbacks on your schedule as Chris Young and Justin Upton were 1-2 in the NL in OPS against the curveball (1.149 and 1.148). If you relied on the slider, you certainly didn’t want to see the Reds or the Phillies in the other dugout as the Phillies had three guys in the top-5 in the NL in OPS (Shane Victorino 1.111, John Mayberry 1.060 and Jimmy Rollins 1.060) while the Reds had three in the top nine (Ryan Hanigan 1.036, Jay Bruce 1.036 and Chris Heisey 1.014).
Jacoby Ellsbury led the American League, and baseball, with 364 total bases. Teammate Adrian Gonzalez was second in the AL with 345 while Matt Kemp led the NL at 353.
Prince Fielder hit the longest home run in the NL at 486 feet. That’s hardly a surprise. However, the only other NL player with a homer over 480 feet was Juan Francisco of the Reds who hit on 482 feet on September 12th. No AL batter put one into the seats at a distance of at least 480 feet.
Derek Jeter failed to hit .300 as he finished at .297 for the Yankees. Blame his work against righties (.277) as he killed lefties to the tune of a .347 mark. For his career he’s hit .336 against lefties and .305 against the righties.
Matt Kemp loved seeing a lefty on the hill in 2011. His OPS of 1.142 was the best in the National League against southpaws. That mark was just behind the 1.156 OPS of Jose Bautista against port siders, the AL leading total.
Victor Martinez led baseball with a .394 batting average with runners in scoring position. He also posted a .990 OPS in those 155 at-bats. He didn’t slump much either when the situation was a runner in scoring position with two outs. In that scenario he hit .375 with a .930 OPS (72 at-bats).
Dustin Pedroia saw 3,077 pitches, the most in baseball. Only one other batter was over 2,900 and that was Curtis Granderson at 3,069.
There was only one leadoff hitter in baseball, who had a minimum of 150 plate appearances in that spot, who posted an on base percentage of .400. It was Brandon Phillips of the Reds at .417. Surprisingly the AL leader wasn’t Jacoby Ellsbury who was second at .381. The fella in the Junior Circuit with the best mark was the Royals… Alex Gordon at .383.
There wasn’t a single batter in the NL who was under the age of 26 that posted an OPS of .900. The leader was Justin Upton at .898 followed closely by Mike Stanton (.893) and Carlos Gonzalez (.889).
By Ray Flowers
You remember back to March when I gave away all my position player rankings for free, right? For those of you who want to revisit my greatest hits, here’s where you would go to get all my rankings for hitters – 2011: BBGuys Hitter Capsules.
I’ll review my top-10 predictions at each position as well as point out my biggest “hit” outside of the top-10 and my biggest “bust.”
2011 OUTFIELD Top-20
1 Ryan Braun
2 Carl Crawford
3 Matt Holliday
4 Carlos Gonzalez
5 Nelson Cruz
6 Josh Hamilton
7 Matt Kemp
8 Andrew McCutchen
9 Shin-Soo Choo
10 Jason Heyward
11 Alex Rios
12 Justin Upton
13 Andre Ethier
14 Hunter Pence
15 B.J. Upton
16 Ichiro Suzuki
17 Jayson Werth
18 Jay Bruce
19 Shane Victorino
20 Chris Young
Braun was amazing in 2011. You can read all about that in Braun: Best of the Bunch.
Crawford was a disaster in 2011. You can read all about that in Carl Crawford: Total Failure.
Holliday had all kinds of issue this year (appendicitis, a quad, a finger, a bug in his ear), and in the end it hindered his performance. Holliday still was productive hitting .296 with a .912 OPS, and his pace over 550 at-bats would have equated to 27 homers, 92 RBI and 102 runs scored. Too bad he appeared in just 124 games.
Gonzalez was injured multiple times, but don’t let that fool you, he still had a fine fantasy season (.295-26-92-92-20 in 481 ABs) even if it failed to live up to his unrepeatable 2010 effort (.336-34-117-11-26 in 587 ABs). There are few better five category options in the game.
Cruz has been killing it in the playoffs, a sure sign that if he could ever stay healthy he’d produce a truly special season. Cruz had 29 homers and 87 RBI during the year, but with 475 at-bats he failed yet again to stay healthy long enough to post his first 500 at-bat season.
Hamilton was injured, again (what a shock), as he appeared in just 121 games. However, whenever he was on the field he was darn productive as he hit .298 with 25 homers, 94 RBI, 80 runs scored and eight steals.
Kemp was the best player in fantasy baseball in 2011. Kemp finished one homer short of going 40/40 as he hit .324 with 126 RBI and 115 runs scored. Kemp led the NL in homers and RBI, and finished just .013 points behind Jose Reyes to fall just short of the Triple Crown.
McCutchen was everything that was advertised for the Pirates going 20/20 (23 homers, 23 steals), scoring 87 runs and knocking in a career best 89. His average dipped from the .280s to just .259, but that number figures to rise in 2012.
Choo was injured multiple times resulting in a season of just 85 games. After hitting .300 the last two years, his .259 average was a major disappointment, and his .344 OBP was a career worst as well. He’s still got the skills to be a top-20 outfielder, but he’ll need health to prove it.
Heyward fell so far this season (.227-14-42-50-9), that even people in keeper leagues are worried about his long term value. Immensely talented, no so quiet whispers pen him as “soft.” After an impressive rookie season and a second year flop, there may be no one in the game with more to prove.
Rios was an abject failure hitting .227 with 13 homers, 44 RBI, 64 runs scored and 11 steals. How bad were things? His .265 OBP was .010 points below his career batting average. Too talented to do this again, his BABIP (.237 versus a career .306 mark) should rebound next season, so don’t overlook him on draft day 2012.
Upton had another outstanding season for the D’backs. He posted his second 20/20 season with a career best 31 homers and 21 steals, and he also scored a career-high 105 runs. Throw in that .289 average and .898 OPS and we have an excellent all-around performer who just might be able to take his game up another notch.
Ethier hit .292 with a .368 OBP, right on his career averages (.291 and .364). Unfortunately, he hit a meager 11 homers, knocked in only 62 runs and scored just 67 times. There’s no way of sugarcoating what was a poor season made even worse by how well it started out (he hit .380 over his first 28 games).
Pence ended the year with the Phillies after getting out of the exile that was playing for the Astros. All told he had yet another, well, Pence like season resulting in 22 homers, 97 RBI, 84 runs, eight steals an a .314 average. The average an RBI marks were career bests for the ultra consistent performer.
Upton had another up and down effort for the Rays as he hit a mere .243 with a third straight season of 150+ Ks. However, he also was one homer and one RBI off his career bests (he hit 23 bombs with 81 RBIs), scored 82 runs and swiped 36 bases. He was one of the more productive outfielders in baseball if you could look past the batting average.
Suzuki finally lost it, and by “it” I don’t mean his virginity, I mean his streak of hitting .300 with 200 hits as he batted .272 with 184 hits to end his 10-year run. He still offered production with 80 runs and 40 steals, but given the cost it took to acquire him on draft day he was a substantial disappointment.
Werth was always going to lose some of his production moving from a great park with a great lineup in Philly, but he really stunk it up in certain respects in 2011. It’s fair to say he had some value, he was only one steal short of a 20/20 effort, but he hit .232, posted a 7-year low in OBP (.330) and only drove in 58 runs after averaging 92 the previous two seasons.
Bruce hit an impressive 32 homers, fell just three RBI short of his first 100 RBI campaign, and scored a career best 84 runs. Still, he was wildly inconsistent driving his owners mad (.342-12-33 in May, .241-11-40 over his last 69 games).
Victorino just goes out and gets it done year after year. He hit .279, spot on his career mark, and for the fourth straight year scored at least 84 runs (he had 95) while he hit 17 homers (one off his career best), and stole 19 bags (though that was a 5-year low).
Young hit an awful .236 including a stupefyingly low .193 in the second half, but the guy still did his best Mike Cameron impersonation with 20 homers, 71 RBI, 89 runs scored and 22 steals.
Busts: Carl Crawford #2, Shin-Soo Choo #9, Jason Heyward #10, Alex Rios #11, Andre Ethier #13, Ichiro Suzuki #16, Jayson Werth #17
There were so many busts in the outfield, I’m not even gonna list any “hits.”
By Ray Flowers
On March 16th, I know most of you can’t remember as far back as September 16th, but trust me on March 16th I wrote a piece that I titled Who is #3? At the time there was a pretty general consensus that Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez were the top-2 options in the fantasy game. Proving yet again that this is far from an exact science, Pujols had a solid but unspectacular season for him (.299-37-99-105-9), whereas Ramirez struggled mightily before finally succumbing to shoulder surgery (.243-10-45-55-20 in 92 games).
Since there was no consensus as to who should have been drafted #3 overall I went through a bunch of names up for consideration at that spot in the above linked piece before I settled on Ryan Braun. Before I get to Braun and what was obviously a spectacular call by me (I’m so modest), let me list the reasons why I was concerned with the other options, and then give the figures to back up what I thought.
“Some think it should be Miguel Cabrera. He worries me because of his off the field issues.”
Looks like the boozing just isn’t an issue after all. He hit a robust .344, and though he hit 30 homers with 105 RBI the homer total was a five year low while his RBI total was the worst he’s ever had in eight full seasons.
Troy Tulowitzki: “…I’m troubled by the fact that he has played less than 125 games in two of the past three years .“
He played more games than I thought he might, 143, but injuries limited him to three year lows in runs scored (81), steals (nine), OBP (.372) and SLG (.544). He still had a great year though.
Carlos Gonzalez: “…hit .289 with eight homers on the road last year and he’s only had one season of significance in the big leagues.”
He was even worse in 2011 on the road hitting .252 with a .757 OPS. He still had a great year considering he played in 127 games (.295-26-92-92-20), but everything predictably regressed.
Evan Longoria: “ I think he’s the top third baseman this year, but I don’t think third base is as shallow as some think.”
50/50 here. Third base was even more shallow than we thought as everyone was injured at one point or another. With a late season power surge he finished the year with 31 homers and 99 RBI to place himself amongst the best at the position, but he also hit a career worst .244 and stole a career low three bags.
“What about Joey Votto or Robinson Cano? Nope.”
Both players had great efforts, no if’s, and’s or but’s about it, but neither rose to the level of being the #3 selection.
Votto: .309-29-103-101-8 with a .947 OPS
Cano: .302-28-118-104-8 with a .882 OPS
“Roy Halladay? Don’t get crazy on me. “
Halladay was typically grand, but he may not have even been the best pitcher on his own team (Cliff Lee posted virtually identical numbers).
All of that leads to Ryan Braun. Here are the points I made with Braun (you can get more detail from the initial piece).
(1) Consistency/Across the board production.
For the 5th straight year he hit better than .285 with more than 25 homers, 97 RBI, 91 runs and 14 steals. He produced a 5×5 line of .332-33-111-109-33 in what was his best season of a stupendous career.
The previous three seasons Braun had appeared in 151 or more games. He missed out in 2011, but I’ll take the 150 total he played in every year.
I mentioned in the previous piece that if you took the career bests for Braun in the main five fantasy categories you’d end up with a season of .324-37-114-113-20. How did he do in 2011? He bettered the average at .332. He fell just short in the homer, RBI and runs scored categories with 33, 111 and 109. Still, that’s pretty damn close ain’t it? The kicker is that he went for 33 steals, just one less than he posted in 2009 and 2010.
Braun wasn’t just the best choice as the #3 selection this year, he actually ended the year as the second best fantasy performer behind only Matt Kemp (.324-39-126-115-40). And you wanted to drafted Troy Tulowitzki…
By Ray Flowers