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.
I woke up this morning, looked outside, and the sun was shining. Hopped in the shower, even used soap, and I’m ready to take on the world. Randomness, my calling card, follows as I pick out a plethora of players who deserve some special attention as we near the conclusion of June.
Over the last 10 games before going 0-for-1 Wednesday night, Brandon Belt has performed markedly better than he had earlier in the season as his average has gone up .013 points (.264), his OBP is up .011 points (.333) and his SLG is up .021 points (.438). Those numbers still aren’t very good, and given that he’s on pace for 16 homers and six steals this season it’s safe to say his first half has been disappointing – yet again.
Yovani Gallardo allowed five runs, three earned, over four innings Wednesday causing more frustration for his owners. At the same time he’s only allowed three runs over his last four starts as his ERA has fallen from 5.25 to 4.20. He’s also struck out 58 batters in his last 62.2 innings.
Lots of folks seem to be very disappointed with Alex Gordon after a terrible month of June (.557 OPS). I’m not really getting it though. A year after hitting .294 with 14 homers, 72 RBIs and 93 runs scored Gordon is on pace to hit .293 with 14 homers, 80 RBIs and 85 runs scored. Isn’t that pretty much the same thing?
Luke Gregerson of the Padres had a 0.91 ERA on June 10th. Just over two weeks later than mark is now 2.67 as he’s allowed seven earned runs in four innings.
Looks like I was wrong about saying that Jason Kipnis wasn’t a fantasy star. He clearly is. Not only has he hit .405 with a 1.158 OPS over the 23 games of June, he’s up to 11 homers and 17 steals in just 68 games played this season. That’s a 20/30 pace and then some. He had 14 homers with 31 steals last season.
Shaun Marcum threw eight scoreless innings Wednesday to get his first “W” of the year. Marcum is 1-9 with a 5.08 ERA so I’m sure many of you look at him as if he was pocket lint. Still, the fact is that he has a 1.26 WHIP, 7.35 K/9 ratio and 3.24 K/BB ratio. For his career those numbers are 1.23, 7.33 and 2.68. Interesting huh? He’s only owned in 26 percent of leagues over at Fleaflicker.com.
Mark Melancon has been arguably the best setup man in baseball this season for the Pirates. Not only does he have a 0.94 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, but he’s also striking out better than a batter per inning this season and he’s walked a total of four batters over 38.1 innings. Dominating doesn’t begin to describe his efforts of MM who is also sporting an elite 3.00 GB/FB ratio. Don’t worry Jason Grilli owners, the plan was for Grilli to get a breather Wednesday so even though Melancon got the save he’s still in the setup role for the surging Pirates.
Luis Mendoza rarely goes deep into games, and on the year he has a 4.16 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, not to mention a 2-4 record. So why am I bringing up his name? Over his last 10 starts he’s allowed more than three earned runs just one time. In those 10 starts his ERA has down down 2.20 runs. He should be a decent arm in AL-only leagues just like I wrote in his Player Profile.
Salvador Perez is hitting .300 with three homers. And so the beat continues. Are you ready to admit, after my attempts to say it to you for four months now, that Perez just isn’t a 15-20 home run hitter at this point of his career?
James Russell, the new closer for the Cubs? It’s by no means a lock to happen, but it sure is starting to seem like the Cubs are planning on moving Kevin Gregg which will open up 9th inning duties. Russell has a better than 4:1 K/BB ratio, and he’s sporting a 2.15 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. Unfortunately the lefty does no own dominating stuff and he allows fly balls like I like pounding fruity drinks while on vacation. Oh, and there is the fact that in his career lefties are hitting .285 against him with a .345 OBP, not exactly closer worthy numbers. Carlos Villanueva is also lurking…
The Brewers called up Scooter Gennett to light a fire under Rickie Weeks. Looks like it worked. Weeks has clubbed the pelota with alacrity of late hitting a robust .435 with a 1.370 OPS over his last 16 games. He’s gone deep five times in those 16 games. As for Gennett, he’s been sent back to Triple-A after hitting .214 in 17 games.
By Ray Flowers
The dream is dead. No more time in the sun, no more Lava Flows, no more beaches and bikinis. Oh well, it’s not like I’m going to work in a coal mine or anything. Yes, even though I was on my first vacation in seven years that doesn’t meant that I neglected my duties on the free agent wire. Would you have expected anything less?
TOUT WARS (15 team mixed): Well, finally some good news for the all-injured club. Not only am I able to activate Pablo Sandoval from the DL, I suddenly have a potent trio at catcher (we start two so I’ll be looking to deal one). John Jaso has an elite .377 OBP (this is an OBP league), Wellington Castillo has an elite .463 OBP the past two weeks, and I added Yasmani Grandal ($15) this week. His OBP is .392 the past three weeks. Things are going so well for me in this league that, after holding on to him all year, I finally released Eric Young Jr. last week. Three days later he was dealt to the Mets and is now going to play every day. I know, my luck this season has been terrible. I added David Hernandez ($3) as well this week. Maybe I can finally get some luck and get a few saves as J.J. Putz is still trying to prove his health while Heath Bell is giving up homers at an alarming rate for the D’backs. Jordany Valdespin took a hike to open the roster spot.
Notable bids: Kevin Correia ($4), Mike Gonzalez ($4), Martin Perez ($2), the following for $1 each – Kyle Gibson, Roy Oswalt, Logan Forsythe, Lonnie Chisenhall, Pedro Ciriaco.
LABR (12 team, AL-only): I added Jake McGee ($4) to cover for a roster spot. In this league, if a player is called up from the minors you have two weeks to activate him. This was my one mistake while I was on vacation. Chris Archer, who I drafted for $4 wasn’t activated. Therefore he was automatically dropped from roster which blows major chunks (Archer was added for $18 off the wire). I therefore had an open roster spot to which McGee slots into.
Notable bids: Zoilo Almonte ($15), Ryan Flaherty ($5), J.B. Shuck ($4), Steve Delebar ($2), Chien-Ming Wang.
FSTA (13 team mixed): Good bye to Yan Gomes, Kevin Gausman and Carter Capps. Hello Jose Iglesias, Kevin Correia and David Hernandez. I just about Hernandez above and there is more on Correia below, but what about Iglesias? It certainly sounds like in the short-term that he could be seeing a ton of duty at third base with the Red Sox considering demoting the continuing to struggle Will Middlebrooks. No one legitimately thinks that Iglesias can keep this up, but the guy is hitting .426 in 108 at-bats this season and though slowing, he’s still hitting .382 the past two weeks.
Notable bids: Koji Uehara ($101), Eric Young ($76), Hector Santiago ($25), Jason Kubel ($23), Nathan Eovaldi ($17), Gregor Blanco ($17).
To see how others are evaluating players don’t forget to go to Fleaflicker.com where you can check out the owned percentages of all your favorite players.
SIRIUSXM EXPERTS (12 team mixed): Only one move for me this week (I’ve been trying to plug holes all year and I’m down to just $9 of $100 so it’s about to get really hard to make any adds off waivers). I let go Chris Denorfia so that I could add Brett Lawrie ($6). The move looks a bit rough right now, but there’s still half a season left and there isn’t a person out there that doesn’t love the skills Lawrie possesses.
Notable bids: Koji Uehara ($11), Oliver Perez ($5), Leonys Martin ($5), J.J. Putz ($3), Chris Young ($3), Mike Zunino ($2).
SIRIUSXM LISTENER LG (11 team mixed): This is the only league with an open waiver-wire. Eric Young was added to the club. The Mets wanted to give the speedster ample playing time before Lucas Duda was placed on the DL (I let go Joel Peralta who has continued to pitch better than Fernando Rodney even though the Rays keep using Rodney in the 9th inning). Rick Porcello was added at the cost of Michael Saunders. Porcello has looked sharp of late even though he was tagged in his last start. Especially interested in the increased K-rate that might lead to season long success.
K-BAD (12 team mixed): Yunel Escobar is hitting .281 the past three weeks, but he’s on pace to hit about .240 with 12 homers and 60 RBIs this year. Not excited about that. I let him go to add Eric Young Jr. who should play an awful lot for the Mets. I’m 11 steals out of gaining four points in the steals column, and he could certainly help me to make up that ground. I also dropped Will Middlebrooks, who if you remember when I added I noted I didn’t really like the move but was forced to do to injury, for two start hurler Kevin Correia (@MIA and KC). Over his last five starts he has a 3.82 ERA and 1.30 WHIP.
Notable bids: Koji Uehara ($132), Jordan Lyles ($33), Jose Iglesias ($25), Marcel Ozuna ($22), Junichi Tazawa ($10).
FANBALL (13 team mixed): This is a keeper league, we hold on to three guys and round value is important cause we use that as the basis of the hold. I took a shot on a guy who might end up being a 25th round value next year in Rickie Weeks ($7). If he returns to being the player that he is, that will be a tremendous value to consider for 2014. I also added two others in Corey Kluber ($3) and Drew Stubbs ($2). To add the trio I let go the DL’s Lucas Duda, the DL’d Brandon Morrow and the since demoted Jose Valverde. Don’t worry, I still have three hitters on the DL (Cameron Maybin, Ryan Braun and Asdrubal Cabrera) with another potentially ending up there in Jayson Werth.
Notable bids: Koji Uehara ($31), Peter Bourjos ($10), Eric Young Jr. ($8), Gregor Blanco ($4), Mark Buehrle ($3), Tyler Chatwood ($2).
By Ray Flowers
And the fantasy baseball drafts just keep on coming… Kay Adams and I hosted the Livin’ the Fantasy Draft for SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM87). The league consisted of myself, Kay, Kyle Elfrink, two producers (Drew Phelps and Phil Backert), and six listeners (one was unable to make it). That means we had a shallow 11 team, mixed league draft that we took part in. I had the #2 selection in the draft, and here is how my team turned out.
C: Carlos Santana (7th round), Victor Martinez (8)
1B: Kevin Youkilis (19), Kendrys Morales (24)
2B: Rickie Weeks (9), Martin Prado (6)
3B: Ryan Zimmerman (4), Manny Machado (21)
SS: Jose Reyes (2)
OF: Ryan Braun (1), B.J. Upton (3), Shin-Soo Choo (5), Dexter Fowler (13), Cameron Maybin (23), Drew Stubbs (25), Michael Brantley (28)
It’s a two catcher league, and with the two talents I saw sitting there in the 7th and 8th rounds I thought to myself what the heck, do something you normally don’t due and roster two potentially elite options at catcher.
First base is an area of weakness relative to the rest of my team. Still, I’m confident that my duo of Youkilis and Morales will be able to hold their own at the spot, even if I’m just treading water there.
Weeks fell in my eyes, so I was more than willing to dive into the pool in the 9th round. Injuries are always an issue, but per 162 games for his career here is Weeks line – .251-23-67-107-20. Yeah, I know right? Prado qualifies at OF, 3B, 2B and SS in this league. I know he shouldn’t, but you have to play to your leagues rules. He offers excellent cover up the middle, at the corner, and in the outfield. I love him as my middle infielder right now. Speaking of up the middle, Reyes is a strong contender to lead shortstops in fantasy value in 2013.
Zimmerman’s shoulder keeps passing all the tests this spring, and he seems well on his way to another traditionally impressive effort at the hot corner. Machado in the 21st was a shocking fall actually. Kyle Elfrink, my co-host on The Drive (5 PM EDT, Monday-Friday) pointed out something very interesting. Rookies like Wil Myers and Jurickson Profar are on everyone’s must draft list. A youngster like Machado, who is just as talented, simply isn’t because he played last year and only did so-so. The perception is that Myers/Profar are worth the risk this season but Machado is only blah. Folks, Machado is a dynamic talent who has a starting job with the Orioles. That should mean more than it does to some.
Braun is still my #1 guy, PED junk be damned. Upton is a great #2 outfielder. Choo is a great #3 outfielder. Fowler is a great #4 outfielder. Maybin/Stubbs/Brantley equals a great #5 outfielder.
On the hill I waited on starters, shocking I know, and yet again proved you can do well following that strategy. Gallardo and Latos are top-20 arms in my eyes, and Morrow is right on the edge of that as well. My 4th starter is Wilson, and I have a lot of faith in him rebounding this season (see his Player Profile). My fifth is Haren, and I have a lot of faith that he will rebound this season (see his Player Profile). My sixth starter is Tim Hudson, you know the guy who has averaged 16 victories with a 3.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP the past three seasons. My seventh starting arm is Volquez who has a 200 K season in his back pocket, has filthy stuff, and pitches half his games in Petco Park.
In the pen, some strong arms as well. Nathan and Hanrahan are top-10 closer types, and Cishek is a strong 3rd closer. I also added Jansen, that guys arm is as good as any in baseball, and Pestano who is one hell of a hurler himself (he’s also potentially going to get some 9th inning work if Chris Perez isn’t 100 percent by opening day).
It’s an 11 team league, having one less team in the mix certainly opens up the player pool for sure, and who knows about injuries, but looking at this squad I really don’t think I have an obvious weakness.
Oh, and here are the results of an NL-only draft that we held on The Drive which you can hear Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT on Sirius 210. XM87.
By Ray Flowers
Now that the 2012 season is over, it’s time to review how my predictions went for each position in fantasy baseball. To that end, I will review my top-10 at each position and give a brief rundown on how each of the ten performed. I’ll also list which player was a “Hit” (someone who lived up to expectations) as well as a “Miss” (the player who simply failed to impress).
Note: All of these rankings are taken from the 2012 BASEBALLGUYS DRAFT GUIDE
For more on the Draft Guide you can click on the link.
For an update on what you missed in the Draft Guide, click on the link.
2012 SECOND BASE Top-10
1 Robinson Cano
2 Dustin Pedroia
3 Ian Kinsler
4 Brandon Phillips
5 Ben Zobrist
6 Dan Uggla
7 Howie Kendrick
8 Rickie Weeks
9 Dustin Ackley
10 Danny Espinosa
Cano is headed to the Hall of Fame – despite what happened to him in the playoffs. You read it here first (OK, maybe not). Cano hit .313 with a career best 33 homers while he knocked in 94 runs and scored 105 times. Stupendous yet again.
Pedroia hit .290 with 15 homers, 65 RBIs, 81 runs and 20 steals, a fantastic season for a mere mortal. For Pedroia though it was his worst full season effort. Give him credit for playing through injuries even if he didn’t live up to expectations.
Kinsler was one homer from going 20/20 with 100 runs scored, but for the third time in four years he hit in the .250′s. That low average seems to be a small price to pay for a guy who averages 25 homers, 81 RBIs, 115 runs ans 27 steals per 162 games in his career.
Phillips came into the year being overlooked by a few, but in the end he was what he always is – a superb play at second base. Phillips hit .281 with 18 homers, 77 RBIs, 86 runs scored and 15 steals. Ho hum, another impressive effort for the Reds’ second sacker.
Zobrist will qualify at second, outfield and shortstop next year meaning he will be one of the most sought after players in the fantasy game. For the second straight season he hit 20 homers with 70 RBIs and 85 runs scored, and for the 4th straight year he swiped at least 14 bases.
Uggla had more homers than any NL second baseman other than Aaron Hill (26) and Rickie Weeks (21) with 19, and his total of 78 RBIs was second only to Hill’s 85 in the Senior Circuit. Still, it was a down season as both numbers were career worsts. He still scored 86 runs though that .220 batting average made his overall effort lackluster given his stature in the game.
Kendrick had a great season for a second sacker in 2011 with a fantasy line of .285-18-63-86-14. He failed to match that effort in ’12 with a fantasy line of .287-8-67-57-14. He finished two homers short of a 10-10 season for a 4th straight campaign but at least he hit .287 so he didn’t kill you.
Weeks was the worst regular in baseball in the first half as he hit .199. Things improved greatly in the second half when Weeks finally remembered that he is one of the most talented second basemen in the game. Over his last 76 contests Weeks hit .261 with 13 homers, 34 RBIs, 51 runs and 10 steals. The 21 homers, 63 RBIs, 85 runs and 16 steals were solid, but there is that .230 batting average hanging over his head to diminish his value.
Ackley was the #2 selection in the 2009 Draft and the thought was that he would be able to contribute immediately with his advanced approach at the plate. Well, it didn’t happen in 2012 as he hit a sickly .226. His others numbers were passable for a middle infield option – 12 HRs, 50 RBIs, 84 runs, 13 steals – but the average was a killer. Had surgery in the offseason for an ankle issue. He’ll be fine well in advance of the start of next season.
Espinosa was a liability with his .247 average, but he was a noticeably better than Ackley in the counting categories with 17 HRs, 56 RBIs, 82 runs scored and 20 steals. Unfortunately he also struck out a vomit inducing 189 times. He’s been virtually the exact same performer in each of his two full seasons (.236-21-66-72-17).
Hit: Daniel Murphy (#14)
I was made fun of for spending too heavily on Murphy in NL LABR, but he certainly justified my support. While he didn’t do anything that really stood out (.291-6-65-62-10), his overall body of work was pretty darn solid for an NL-only play considering that he qualified at first, second and third base.
Miss: Dustin Ackley
By Ray Flowers
.241: The league leading BABIP of Jered Weaver which is one point better than his teammate, Ervin Santana. While it’s not logical to think either man will replicate that number in 2013, it should be noted that Weaver has always been a pretty darn impressive in his ability to hold the hits at bay. Weaver has posted a BABIP under .280 each of the past three years, and last season that mark was a mere .250. Santana is no slouch in his own right with marks of .288 and .272 the past two years.
.323: Dan Uggla’s batting average over his last 10 games. Uggla is batting a mere .214 on the year, but he is just the #2 away from a lot of statistical milestones. Uggla has 18 homers, 68 RBIs and 78 runs scored for the Braves.
1: The number of homers that Yadier Molina needs to record his first 20 homer effort. He’s also two runs scored from his first 60 run effort and three RBIs short of his first 70 RBI campaign. He’s not Buster Posey (.333-22-93-73), but Molina is darn close as he’s also rocking an impressive .320 batting average that is fourth in the NL.
1.014: The OPS of Rickie Weeks in the month of September. Weeks has been flat out killing it the last two plus weeks. In the 15 games in the month of September he has gone deep seven times, stolen four bases, knocked in 14 runners and scored 14 times. That is the definition of elite level production folks. The .231 hitter on the season has also hit .280 over his last 69 games putting behind in the dreadful start he had to the campaign.
2: The number of homers and steals that Andrew McCutchen needs to have his first 30/20 season. Andrew’s 28 homers are already a career best, he’s one off his career best of 89 RBIs, and he just reached 100 runs scored for the first time. He’s also those two steals from a 4th straight 20 theft season and he will also set career bests in AVG (.343), OBP (.412) and SLG (.569) as his previous career bests are .286/.365/.471. However, he’s now three points behind Melky Cabrera for the NL batting title lead as he he hit .252 in August. He’s rebounded to hit .327 in September so we will see if he can catch the admitted cheater.
2.5: According to Dave Smith, founder of Retrosheet.org, teams may be paying too much attention to who they have working the 9th inning. According to his research, teams leading by one run after eight innings have won nearly 86 percent of the time. Moreover, since Mariano Rivera became the Yankees closer in 1997 the Yankees have won 97.2 percent of the games that they were leading heading into the 9th inning. The lowly Pirates, to compare, have won 94.7 percent of those games which may lead to the following contention – teams are patently overpaying their 9th inning arms because, statistically speaking, there isn’t as much difference between an elite closer and a group of solid arms working the 9th inning.
3/5: The number of homers and steals that Mike Trout needs to complete his remarkable run to 30 homers and 50 steals (he obviously has 27 HRs and 45 SBs). There have only been two such seasons in the history of baseball. Eric Davis had 37 homers and 50 steals in 1987 (he went 27/80 in 1986) while Barry Bonds, then of the Pirates before his muscles outsized his brain, had 33 homers and 52 thefts in 1990. One other note. Since I’m obnoxious and wont let things go… Trout is hitting a robust .329 on the year, including .317 in the second half, but that average has dipped to .280 over his last 43 games.
16/19: The homer and steals total of Danny Espinosa this year. He’s undergoing an MRI on his left shoulder today so it remains to be seen how much he will be able to build on those numbers. He won’t get to 20/20, but 15/15 as a second baseman ain’t all that bad now is it?
By Ray Flowers
On Monday each week I take a look at the fantasy baseball game breaking down players who have produced noteworthy performances of late – not just positive outings mind you, but I’ll also delve into some of the players that have been sucking wind of late. Can you use this information to your benefit over at DailyJoust?
GAINERS OF THE WEEK
Pedro Alvarez (+13, $108,000 in DailyJoust Salary)
Who leads NL third basemen in homers? Pedro Alvarez with 27. He’s also knocked in 74 runners, scored 56 times and, somewhat surprisingly, has posted a .250 batting average to this point of the season. That’s not a number to throw a party for, but after hitting .191 last year in a lost season of 235 at-bats, its a pretty impressive mark (he’s actually hitting .280 with a .888 OPS over his last 45 games). Alvarez is currently on one of his patented hot streaks as he’s racked up 14 hits in his last eight games while going deep four times with eight RBIs over his last five contests.
Derek Holland (+41, $341K)
Winner of his last three starts, Holland has allowed a total of eight runs over those 20 innings (3.60 ERA). Holland has also done a very good job limiting the free passes the past six times he has taken the bump walking a total of eight batters. Moreover, only once in 10 outings has he waked more than two batters. His WHIP is a solid 1.21, reflecting the lack of walks, but his ERA is still mighty elevated at 4.79. The main reason is the long ball. After being taken deep 22 times last year in 32 starts he’s allowed 25 homers in just 23 outings this season including 13 in his last nine starts. Once he starts keeping the ball in the yard his performance could take off.
Ricky Nolasco (+130, $285K)
I have an unhealthy connection with Nolasco, just like you did with that significant other in college who was all wrong for you even though kept going back because the “special time” (wink, wink) you spent together was enough to cover over the crazy (I kinda miss those days actually. Wait, did I just type that? Bad Ray.). I want to turn away from Nolasco, one of the more frustrating pitchers in the game to own, because his skills always say he should be better than the results. Just look at his last four starts: 2 ER, 5 ER, 5 ER, 0 ER (the last effort a nine inning shutout of the Nationals). Still, I have to put my bias aside and offer this note of caution – yes he looked spectacular last time out, but he’s also allowed four earned runs or more in seven of his last nine outings. How close to that fire can you get before your eyebrows are singed off?
Rickie Weeks (+17, $89K)
About frickin’ time Rickie. The older Weeks’ brother has 10 hits in his last four games as he’s also scored an amazing nine times. Over his last 30 contests he’s swiped five bags, scored 26 times and hit .295. That’s about as hot as most players ever get. Weeks certainly has more talent than about 90 percent of the players in the game, but maddening inconsistency is the phrase of the day when it comes to describing his production. Through 472 at-bats this season he’s hit .227 but he’s somehow still on the cusp of a 15/15 season (14/12) with 85 runs a definite possibility (he’s scored 68 times).
LOSERS OF THE WEEK
Carlos Gonzalez (-29, $86K)
I’ve received a handful of queries from people wondering what they should do with CarGo. My advice, the same as always is – you play him. I know he hit .222 with one homer and two steals in 23 games in August, but you still play him everyday. Come on folks, the guys is hitting .309 with a .903 OPS on the year. He’s just four steals from a 20/20 effort for a third straight season. A strong finish could also net him 100 RBIs and 100 runs (83 and 82 right now). Yes it’s been uneven, but overall Carlos has been the superstar he has been the past two years.
James McDonald (-113, $195K)
I’ve finally had it myself with McDonald. Look, if you had told me five months ago that James would have 12 wins, a 3.90 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 147 Ks in 161.2 innings this year I would have sign ‘sign me up for that.’ Overall he’s been a fantastic waiver-wire add in mixed leagues. At the same time, he’s been abysmal of late. In two of his last four outings he didn’t allow a single earned run, but in seven of the other eight outings in his last 10 appearances he’s allowed at least four earned runs and five or more runs five times. The result is a second half ERA of 7.14 an a WHIP of 1.70 over 10 starts. That seems an awful lot more than just a minor hiccup, doesn’t it?
Anthony Rizzo (-31, $70K)
Rizzo has done a fine job adapting to big league pitching this season after last year’s disaster (.141 in 128 at-bats). Rizzo is hitting a solid .287 with 10 homers, 31 RBIs and 27 runs scored over 60 games (that’s a 150 game pace for 25 homers, 78 RBIs). However, he’s hit .169 with a .526 OPS against left handed pitching, he batted only .252 in August with a sickly .642 OPS, and he’s gone deep just two times in his last 32 games. He’s young and will certainly figure it out, but he’s struggling right now.
Jason Vargas (-42, $340K)
Just like with McDonald, five months ago a 13 win, 3.90 ERA, 1.18 WHIP effort would have been a strong season for Vargas (career 4.38 ERA, 1.31 WHIP with 10 victories being a season-high). However his last two outings have been disastrous as he’s allowed five homers, 11 earned runs (12 total) and last just 8.2 innings. A pathetic couple of outings or the start of an awful finish to the season? Given his career performance, and his skill set, some further regression is still quite possible.
DAILY JOUST CONTESTS
I’ve spent this article talking about baseball, which obviously isn’t at all odd given that this is BaseballGuys.com, but I’ve got a way that you can, in addition to playing fantasy baseball, also play some fantasy football. How can you do that? You can head over to DailyJoust and sign up for any of the myriad of games they have to offer. For those of you who are hardcore baseball fans like me they are still running daily fantasy games for you, well, daily. For those of you who are read to take on the gridiron, there are three pretty exciting games they have to offer. You can find a report on each at the following links (scroll down to the bottom of the articles for the explanations).
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By Ray Flowers
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.
For those of you unaware of just what DailyJoust is and what the offer, click on the link. The bottom line is DJ allows you the chance to play daily fantasy baseball, choose a team today an another one tomorrow if you want, all the while giving you the chance to make some real money. Today, I’ll give some advice on how you might choose to fill out your lineup for Friday or Saturday.
HITTERS – FRIDAY
Elvis Andrus vs. Jered Weaver: A tough matchup on paper given Weaver’s dominance and fly ball ways, Andrus has had no issue whatsoever getting on base against Jered as he’s posted 21 hits in 49 at-bats (.429).
Joe Mauer vs. Luke Hochevar: Mr. Mauer has one homer against Mr. Hochevar and six walks, but it’s the 11 hits in 23 at-bats (.478) that grab ones attention. Oh yeah, that .586 OBP ain’t too bad either.
Rickie Weeks vs. Homer Bailey: Hitting .197 on the year and .182 the past week, Weeks just can’t get anything going. You’ll know it’s a lost season of he doesn’t get a couple of knocks in this matchup given that he’s hit .524 with two homers and seven RBIs against Bailey in 21 at-bats.
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Trevor Cahill vs. Astros: Call this one a hunch. Cahill hasn’t pitched well at home with a 3-4 record, 4.78 Era and 1.45 WHIP. He’s also never faced the Astros, and he’s lost three of his last four starts this season. So why suggest starting him? After the Astros made that huge move to add seven players I’d figure the clubhouse is in a bit of shock.
Kevin Correia vs. Marlins: The last time he faced the Fish it was a disaster as he allowed six runs in 3.2 innings back on May 15th, but he has won his last four decisions. He’s also had a lot of success this year at home with a 3.50 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in seven starts though you shouldn’t be expecting many punchouts (he has just 17 in 43.2 innings at home).
Luke Hochevar vs. Twins: His career numbers against the club from Minnesota stink (4-4, 5.14 ERA, 1.43 WHIP), but he’s been pitching pretty well of late. He’s 3-1 in his last four decisions, isn’t beating himself (12 walks in seven games), and he’s lowered his ERA from 6.63 to 5.16 over his last seven trips to the bump.
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Bobby Abreu vs. Miguel Bautista: This matchup goes back years and Abreu has come out the victor an awful lot with a .387 batting average and 1.072 OPS in 31 at-bats (he has gone deep once with nine RBIs as well).
Matt Diaz vs. Jon Lannan: The Nationals lefty will get his chance to shin in a return to the big leagues, but he’s going to want to make sure he avoids Diaz if possible as the Braves outfielder has hit .424 with a 1.032 OPS against John in 33 at-bats.
Ian Kinsler vs. Ervin Santana: Kinsler only has one homer and five RBIs in the matchup but he also has 18 hits in 47 at-bats, good for a .383 average and 1.038 OPS. Michael Young also bears watching as he’s hit .351 with 13 RBIs in 74 ABs against Santana. Oddly Young has 16 Ks in 74 at-bats.
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Bronson Arroyo vs. Brewers: Talk about some success. Arroyo has held the Brew Crew to a .213/.274/.360 line in 272 at-bats. Remove the four homers of Ryan Braun and the other Brewers have taken the homer prone hurler deep just five times in 229 at-bats.
Scott Diamond vs. Royals: Diamond is sporting an 8-3 record with a 2.96 ERA on the year, but he’s coming off a poor start that saw him allow five runs and nine hits in six innings. Still he’s been successful this year and current Royals batters are hitting .207 off Diamond with a .499 OPS in 29 at-bats.
Edwin Jackson vs. Braves: This is a risky call. On the one hand Jackson has been bombed over his last three starts allowing 16 runs over his last 13.2 innings. On the other hand he’s had a lot of success against current Braves batters holding them to a .206 average, .559 OPS and no homers in 68 at-bats.
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By Ray Flowers
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.
Would you trade Rickie Weeks for Francisco Liriano and Stephen Drew? I need pitching depth after many injuries.
Weeks has been awful this year hitting .199 with a .658 OPS. Still, he’s immensely talented, has stayed healthy (always an issue for him), and he simply can’t remain this awful for an entire season. He just can’t (don’t forget that he is coming off back-to-back seasons of 20 homers, 75 runs and an exactly similar .269 batting average each campaign). Looks like the turnaround has already started too as he’s hitting .297 with two homers, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored the past two weeks.
Liriano has literally brought his ERA down three full runs over his last seven outings. During those seven trips to the hill he has a 2.74 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 52 Ks in 49.1 innings. Walks are still a concern, his 4.38 BB/9 mark is about a batter above where we’d like to see it, but the point is pretty obvious – he’s locked in right now and in five of those eight outings he has allowed zero or one run. He’s not the Liriano we all remember dominating hitters in 2006, but he clearly looks like he is back to being the 2010 version of himself and not the dreadful hurler we saw in 2011 and for the first two months this season.
Drew is never going to live up to expectations, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective fantasy weapon at shortstop. Remember, from 2007-2010 Drew was a top-10 shortstop even if none of his numbers really jump off the page. Even last year his 162 games would have produced a season of roughly 10 homers, 85 RBI, 80 runs and eight steals – solid numbers to be sure. However, he only appeared in 86 games due to that catastrophic injury to his ankle, and he’s just back out on the field with the big league club having appeared in nine games with poor results (.179 with a .440 OPS). Obviously he will improve, but until he reaches the point where he starts to produce, consider me to be a bit wary (users at Fleaflicker also appear to be in a wait and see approach).
You can do this deal if you need pitching depth as you said, and if the plan includes Drew serving as a backup middle infielder. However, if Drew has to start right now, it’s hard to suggest making this move because even though Weeks has struggled this year, he appears to be heating up and he is clearly the healthier, more ready player to attack the start of the second half. This would be a deal you make solely based on need.
Would you want Cody Ross or Todd Frazier in 14 team h2h dynasty league?
Remember when you had a crush on that gal in high school? You know, that cute gal who thought you were great because you were so funny and smart – yet she always ended up dating some loser who treated her terribly? That gal keeps trying to “date” Cody Ross, I keep telling telling her it’s a bad idea, and she keeps doing it anyway. Newsflash people – Jacoby Ellsbury should be back Friday. Obviously he’s going to play everyday. Carl Crawford should be back in about 2-3 weeks. If healthy, he’s playing everyday. Since David Ortiz is locked in at DH, that means the Red Sox will have the following players vying for time in right field: Ryan Sweeney (rumors suggest the Red Sox are trying to trade him), Daniel Nava, Ryan Kalish, Scott Podsednik and Ross. Yeah, it’s gonna get crowded. I would be remiss if I also didn’t note that Ross is hitting just .264. He’s striking out at a career worst level. He’s batting .238 with a .750 OPS against right handed pitching. Sure he has 20 homer, 75 RBI upside, but really this is a pretty boring skill set that could potentially be in for a playing time squeeze soon.
Frazier has his own problem, chiefly the presence of Scott Rolen. A potential HOF candidate, Rolen was at one point the best all-around third basemen in baseball. That was 2004 though. A broken down shell of his former self, Rolen simply cannot hit any longer as his body has worn down, and through 42 games he is batting .178 with a .302 SLG. Why the Reds continue to play him semi-regularly makes no sense, not with Frazier hitting so well. A third baseman, the Reds have used Frazier a bit in the outfield to get his bat in the lineup, something they should do on a daily basis considering that he’s hitting .278 with nine homers, 29 RBIs an a .901 OPS through 180 at-bats this season.
To me, this is an easy decision. In a keeper league you have to go with Frazier who actually profiles as a very similar hitter to Ross. Two main facts tip the balance to Frazier. First, he plays third base. Second, he’s six years younger.
Do you still think Matt “Harrison is just blah”?
I recently answered a question on Twitter about Harrison saying he was “blah.” Of course, it’s hard to give an accurate answer in 140 characters, you get even less space when you are responding to a question, but my point was this (even if my less than eloquent initial response didn’t directly say it). Harrison may have a 3.10 ERA, but that mark really should be a run higher. If it was, his xFIP is 3.95 and his left on base percentage is elevated at 78 percent, we’d be talking about a pitcher with a league average ERA. A solid ground ball arm (51 percent of batted balls are grounders), Harrison is pretty awful in the K column with an average of 5.56 Ks per nine innings, a batter an a half below the league average. So if he’s a league average ERA arm, and below average in K/9, then he’s totally dependent on his record and WHIP leading him to fantasy prominence. He’s 11-4 this year and 25-13 since the start of last season, so he’s looking pretty good in the win column, though we all know that wins-loses don’t always follow based upon a pitchers performance (just ask Cliff Lee who is 1-5 despite a 3.98 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 9.06 K/9 and 4.90 K/BB mark). Harrison does have a solid WHIP at 1.24, but given his skill set it would seem at least a 50/50 bet that the mark will creep into the 1.30′s in the second half which is once again league average.
Harrison is a wonderful real world arm, but he’s just not that exciting from a fantasy perspective if we’re talking about a standard 5×5 setup.
Eric O’Flaherty – regressing or bad luck? I’m in a points league with Solds.
Boy expectations can be rough.
O’Flaherty was dynamic last year with a 0.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 67 Ks in 73.2 innings. There’s simply no way that anyone keeps up that pace year to year. This season he’s working on a 2.87 ERA. His career mark is 3.11. His WHIP is 1.34. His career mark is 1.29. His K/9 is 7.47. His career mark is 7.00. His K/BB ratio is 2.17. His career mark is 2.16. Moreover, his 64 percent ground ball rate is not only massive, its 11 percentage points better than his career mark. The only real downer for him at this point is a more than doubling of his HR/F mark (from 6.00 in his career to 16 percent this year). When that number normalizes, and it should, we’re likely to see his ratios improve a bit. O’Flaherty has been fine based on his career numbers, and solid regardless of his “regression.” Last season was simply one of those for the ages type of efforts and he was never going to repeat that success this season.
As for Solds, that is the category that I keep pushing for relievers. With all the turnover in the 9th inning, literally two-thirds of all closers from opening day have changed this year, isn’t it time we move on from the antiquated recording of points for relievers that relies so heavily on the save? Why not just use Solds (saves + holds) as a better representation of relievers value? You wouldn’t have to roster a guy like Heath Bell with his 6.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP for his save total, you could instead roster a guy like O’Flaherty who has pitched much better even if he doesn’t have the saves total to prove it (O’Flaherty has a Solds make of 15, just six behind the 21 mark of Bell).
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Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday.
It’s Friday, and that means a couple of things. First, the weekend is nearly upon us (thank goodness). Second, it’s time to get your wild party on. Third, it’s time to get ready for your weekend of fantasy baseball with DailyJoust.com.
DailyJoust allows you the chance to play daily fantasy baseball, choose a team today an another one tomorrow if you want, all the while giving you the chance to make some real money. Today, I’ll give some advice on how you might choose to fill out your lineup for Friday or Saturday.
HITTERS – FRIDAY
Adam Dunn vs. Wandy Rodriguez: Dunn has seen his average dip from .240 to .214 over his past nine games though he has gone deep three times in that time. However, he has racked up 17 Ks (wow). So why mention him for today when he’s facing a lefty, his career long Kryptonite? For whatever reason he kills Wandy hitting .435 with two homers in 23 at-bats.
Raul Ibanez vs. Johan Santana: Ibanez has slumped down to .255 from .270 a little over a week ago, but Mr. Santana, you know Mr. No-Hitter, might be the tonic he needs to turn things around. Ibanez has racked up 16 hits and 10 RBI in 36 at-bats against Johan leading to a .348 batting average. By the way, Derek Jeter also lights Johan up with a .455 average in 33 at-bats.
Rickie Weeks vs. Edinson Volquez: Weeks has been in the discussion for the worst every day player in the NL hitting .160 with a .582 OPS. He’s also gone hitless, 0-for-12, in his last three games. So pull the trigger on starting him Friday? Why not. Against Volquez has has gone 6-for-12 with two homers.
*** Avoid Michael Young who has hit just .232 with a .601 OPS against Barry Zito in 82 at-bats.
PITCHERS – FRIDAY
Felix Doubront vs. Phillies: In 27 innings at home this year he has 33 Ks, and over his last five starts he has allowed two or fewer runs each time for a total of eight runs allowed. The Nationals are near the bottom of the league with a .241 batting average an are also in the bottom five in baseball in runs scored (209).
Jeremy Hellickson vs. Marlins: I can’t always explain how he gets it done, but the bottom line is that he does. In 50 career starts he has a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while holding batter to a .218 average. Over his last nine outings this season he’s allowed two or one earned runs seven times with the other two outings resulting in just three runners crossing the plate.
Shaun Marcum vs. Padres: It might seem obvious to start any pitcher against the Padres, but there are also plenty o’ numbers to suggest it’s the right move with Marcum. Career vs. Padres: 2-0, 3.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 4.00 K/BB in three starts. Last two starts this year against the Dodgers and Pirates: 2-0, 1.29 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 8.5 K/BB ratio over 14 innings.
HITTERS – SATURDAY
Johnny Damon vs. Kyle Lohse: When he isn’t busy making babies with his hot wife, Damon is lashing out hits against the righty from St. Louis. Damon has six hits in 16 at-bats against Lohse leading to a .375 average. Yes, that’s also a picture of Damon’s wife. I wouldn’t care if I got a hit either.
Prince Fielder vs. Bronson Arroyo: On paper this doesn’t look anything like a matchup that favors the Tigers’ slugger. Prince has hit just .238 in 42 at-bats against the righty from Cincy, but there is one obvious reason to play Fielder – power. Fielder has gone deep four times against Arroyo, and since the start of last season Bronson has given up a rather insane total of 54 long balls in 43 starts.
Kevin Youkilis vs. Gio Gonzalez: It’s only 11 at-bats of a matchup, but Youkilis has six hits, including a homer, leading to a .545 AVG an a 1.402 OPS. He’s also hit .303 with a .909 OPS at home in his career, and that’s over 482 games.
PITCHERS – SATURDAY
Matt Moore vs. Marlins: As a club the Fish are batting .233 with a .307 OBP and .401 SLG against left handed pitching, numbers that all lag behind the average big league hitter this season (.252/.318/.402). Moore has also seemingly started to find his groove as he’s allowed a total of five runs in his last three starts and he has 20 Ks over the 17.2 innings.
Chris Sale vs. Astros: It’s almost like taking candy from a baby, isn’t it? Sale has allowed a total of four runs over his last four starts as he has punched out 36 batters while issuing only seven walks in 4-straight victories. If things go according to plan, the Astros don’t stand a chance.
Jason Vargas vs. Dodgers: It’s a brutal matchup on paper as Vargas has to face the best left-handed pitcher in baseball in Clayton Kershaw. Owner of a 3.64 ERA and 1.10 WHIP on the year, Vargas has flat out dominated at home this year with a 1.91 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in four starts and in 49 career games at Safeco he is 18-16 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.
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By Ray Flowers