Fantasy Baseball Final: May 1, 2015

If you read only one thing…..

Don’t look now, but the Houston Astros have won eight consecutive games and ten out of eleven to take a commanding lead in the AL West. This coming from a team that hasn’t won more than 70 games since 2010 and haven’t been above .500 since 2008. Of course, it’s still early, but there are more than a few fantasy surprises you should keep your eye on from that Astros squad.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Milwaukee Brewers are sliding in at an anemic 5-18. The rumor mill has them as the first team to sell everything off. According to the pundits, Jonathan Lucroy seems to be the only position player that’s off limits at the moment, so there is plenty of talent there that could be moving to a contender near you. Stay tuned…….

Just as we expected….

46 years ago, the New York Mets came out of nowhere to win the World Series over the powerful Baltimore Orioles. You can never assign the credit to one player, but Hall of Famer Tom Seaver won the Cy Young award and turned in an inspired performance. Fast-forward to 2015 and Matt Harvey might be that guy. In the world of great pitching, his 2.41 ERA isn’t that tremendous, but a 5-0 record brings back memories of Tom Terrific. The Mets are off to a 16-8 start behind the work of the ace.

Jon Lester hadn’t been off to a good start himself, but water usually finds its level. Lester turned in seven shutout innings in a hard fought win over the hapless Brewers. His ERA is a still an uncustomarily high 4.71 ERA, but with another strong start he could bring his ERA back to historic levels.

But we didn’t see this coming….

One of the aforementioned surprises out of Houston is center fielder Jake Marisnick. After Friday night, he is hitting .383 with three home runs and nine stolen bases. He hit a dinger and stole a base on Friday night. There is no way he will hit .383 on the year, but even if he hits .283 he will add enough power and speed to make him worth the while.

When Yasiel Puig went on the shelf, the Dodgers were sure happy they had kept Andre Ethier in dry dock. He added some more offense on Friday night as he’s hitting over .300 on the season and has added three home runs, scored ten runs, and driven in eight runs. This all before Friday night’s action was over.

The Rest of the Details

Save Chances

Lineup Moves

  • The Boston Red Sox have promoted stud prospect Blake Swihart to take the place of the injured Ryan Hanigan. It is not known how long Hanigan will be out, but his finger will require surgery, so it is likely it will be at least a month. Hanigan is not a fantasy factor, but Swihart certainly might be if he is given regular playing time.

Injuries

  • Ryan Hanigan was placed on the disabled list and Blake Swihart was called up.

Rumors and Transactions

It has been rumored that pitching might be for sale a little earlier this year than in seasons past. Cole Hamels is obviously the biggest name on the block. Still, there are a number of other arms that could become available even before Memorial Day. A number of arms might even be available from the lowly Brewers.

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Plate Discipline — Right Fielders

We’ve come to the end of our plate discipline series. Usually, when these things happen we want to pause for a moment and take a look at all the ground we’ve covered. So, to start we will look at each position as a whole to see if we notice any trends. From there, we are in a much better position to look at each player individually. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Plate Discipline — Center Field

Center field is the premier position in baseball history. There are a few notable exceptions, but when you look at the best of the best they are usually center fielders. Willie Mays, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Ty Cobb are obviously sure fire Hall of Famers. Unfortunately, today’s game doesn’t have the same star power in center. In fact, there are fewer players that qualified with the requisite three seasons or 1000 plate appearances than any other position. It just might be a changing of the guard at the position.

These things happen in the game. Certain positions go through periods of transition at one time or another. We are looking for the same things as we have been looking for the past few weeks. We are looking for players that slipped through the cracks that might be a good bet to fly under the radar. We are also looking to see which studs are mostly likely to take a step backwards.

As we have before, we look at the strikeout and walk numbers, but we focus more on the process data. That includes the percentage of swings on balls outside the zone, the contact rate, and the swinging strike rate. Most of the time, the process data matches the performance data, but occasionally we see some gaps. Those gaps are the key to staying ahead of your competition this year. [Read more…]

Fantasy Baseball Nightly: April 24th, 2015

If you read only one thing…..

Two consecutive Friday nights bring Josh Hamilton news. Who knows what kind of a fantasy prospect Josh Hamilton is at this point, but as a human interest story it is most compelling. Hamilton chased the big bucks and bright lights of Los Angeles (and five years, 125 million dollars) and it can only be called a disaster. They said you could never go home again, but it looks like Hamilton will do exactly that.

The Angels are working on a deal that will send Hamilton (and all but 15 million dollars of his remaining salary) to Texas in exchange for, well, um, nothing. I suppose saving 15 million (and perhaps more if rumors of a deal on the side are true) is better than releasing him outright, but the Angels come out looking very petty and small in all of this. Hamilton thrived personally and professionally in Arlington, so maybe going back is what the doctor ordered. Still, any deal involving this much back room dealing can fall apart at any time. Stay tuned….

Just as we expected….

I’m not sure we could say we expected this, but it appears as if Brandon Moss has finally shown up in Cleveland. He hit two home runs tonight with seven RBI in a Cleveland rout of the Tigers. Danny Salazar also turned in a fine performance on the mound as the Indians appear to be flush with starting pitching if nothing else.

My twitter timeline (@sbarzilla) had an interesting question in it: should we get on the Mark Teixeira bandwagon? The once great first baseman hit two more home runs to give him seven home runs in the early going. The expert consensus appeared to be no, but it is good to see Teixeira performing like he did before a rash of injuries robbed much of the last two seasons from him.

But we didn’t see this coming….

When the Yankees and Mariners made a deal three seasons ago, both sides hoped that they had taken the next step. Michael Pineda went to the Yankees in exchange for Jesus Montero. Both players struggled in their first couple of seasons. Pineda couldn’t stay healthy and Montero couldn’t stay away from the buffet table. Pineda is now 3-0 on the young season with a 3.86. I suppose it’s better late than never.

Brock Holt is one of those guys you couldn’t help but like. He bumped around a bit until he appeared to find a home in Boston last season. He’s one of those guys that can play everywhere and yet there always seems to be someone better in front of him. He played shortstop and left field tonight against the Orioles and just turned in two hits and had three RBI. He’s hitting .424 on the young season even if he can’t find a consistent home on the diamond. He’s one of those guys that will find his way into the lineup somewhere.

The Rest of the Details

Save Chances

  • Koji Uehara (converted)
  • Matt Andriese (converted)
  • Steve Cishek (converted)
  • Trevor Rosenthal (converted)

Lineup Moves

  • N/A

Injuries

  • N/A

Rumors and Transactions

The aforementioned Josh Hamilton trade may not make waves at this point in his career, but it will be good for him in the long run. Hamilton had a good support system in Texas and neither he nor the Rangers have been right since he left. Additionally, the Rangers officially called up Wandy Rodriguez to join their rotation in time for his start tonight.

The Dodgers designated Xavier Cedeno for assignment immediately after acquiring him. Sergio Santos had a clause in his contract that stated that he had to be called up by May 1st or be released. So, the Dodgers sacrificed Cedeno to keep around the former White Sox closer. Cedeno will likely be looking for another team yet again.

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Plate Discipline – Left Fielders

As we continue with our plate discipline series we find ourselves moving to the outfield. Breaking down where everyone belongs is hard enough. Some players have traditionally played certain spots in the outfield and have changed positions recently. For outfielders, we will look at what position they are slotted to play most this season. For some, that means that they may be adding a position soon since it takes a certain number of games to trigger positional eligibility.
[Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Plate Discipline — Shortstops

One of the great ironies in baseball is that positions often carry very different meanings at the big league level than they do in amateur baseball. No matter which country you are talking about, the best athletes were always pitchers and shortstops (often both). When you get to the big league level, the athleticism may carry over, but in terms of hitting prowess you usually find that shortstops are often the worst hitters on the diamond.

There are always notable exceptions to these rules. This is why we compare players with the median at their position. Usually, the position as a whole will find its level, but as we saw last time with the third basemen, some positions lag behind the others. So, like last time, we will begin by looking at the positional data overall to see what is going on.
[Read more…]

Fantasy Baseball Final: April 17th, 2015

-Alex Rodriguez- by: njnetsfan

-Alex Rodriguez-
by: njnetsfan

 

If you read only one thing…..

Welcome to the Fantasy Baseball Nightly recap. It’s the second Friday night of the season and we had further reminder that patience is the order of the day. Most position players have between 600 and 700 plate appearances in a full season if they are healthy. Starting pitchers will have between 32 and 34 starts. So, reacting to one or two starts or a couple of weeks worth of plate appearances doesn’t make much sense. Friday night saw some stars begin to find their level.

Just as we expected….

He might be the most hated man in the game and even though 99 percent of the baseball world is probably secretly rooting against, Alex Rodriguez simply won’t go away. He hit two home runs on Friday night and drove in four runs on three hits. ARod now has 11 RBI on the season and is hitting a robust .344. He likely won’t continue on this torrid pace, but he will obviously be a factor as the season goes on.

The Royals bullpen picked up right where it left off last season. It remains to be seen if many of their hitters will continue to hit, but the threesome of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland combined for three scoreless innings with one hit, two walks, and two strikeouts. Wade Davis is now 2-0 and Greg Holland had his fourth save. All three pitchers still have 0.00 ERAs at this point in the season.

But we didn’t see this coming….

This was supposed to be a season of rebuilding for the Atlanta Braves. They dealt away their entire starting outfield from a year ago and dealt their closer right before opening day. Jason Grilli has discovered the fountain of early thirties after adding his fifth save on Friday night. Nick Markakis added four hits and Freddie Freeman hit his third home run on the season. The Braves are 7-3. Who knows how long it will continue, but they might be the surprise of the National League in the early going.

If the Braves aren’t the early surprise then the Mets are. The two teams that most thought would be at the bottom of the standings find themselves on top. The ageless Bartolo Colon went to 3-0 on the early season with a 2.25 ERA. It’s hard to believe he made his ML debut in 1997. He now has 206 career wins and shows no signs of slowing down. Jeurys Familia is making the most of his opportunity to close as he now has five saves.

The Rest of the Details

Save Chances

Lineup Moves

  • Alcides Escobar was injured in the seventh inning on a hard slide by Brett Lawrie. His prognosis is not yet known at press time.
  • Ubaldo Jimenez was ejected in the fourth inning of his start against the Red Sox. Ironically, he still has not surrendered an earned run on the season.

Injuries

  • X rays revealed that Jose Reyes has a small crack/fracture in his rib. It might require a trip to the disabled list. We should know more tomorrow.

Rumors and Transactions

Another hot Cuban prospect is prepared to hit the ML scene sometime this year. Andy Ibanez headlined a group of four Cuban prospects showcasing their skills at the University of Miami. He looks to be a solid across the board contributor at second base according to MLBTR. He is subject to the international signing pool limits, so he won’t break the bank like his former countrymen.

Kris Byrant had his ML debut on Friday. Unfortunately, he went hitless and the Cubs lost the game, but he had several games at third base. Of course, most people noticed that he now has to play an extra season under Cubs control. It just so happens that the deadline for that to happen was yesterday. Go figure. Let’s all hope that the MLBPA and owners find a way around this silliness for the next collective bargaining agreement.

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Plate Discipline — Third Basemen

We move forward with another edition of the plate discipline series. As we gain some steam we begin to see some patterns across positions. Obviously, we are concerned about individual players, but sometimes it makes sense to look at the aggregate. In this case, it might help us understand what is happening at each position and how we can improve our overall draft strategy.

For those just joining us, we are looking at not only strikeouts and walks, but also what we would call process data. That includes looking at how often hitters swing at balls outside the strike zone (Oswing), how often they make contact (Contact), and how often they swing and miss (SwStr). Often, when we see good process data it leads to a solid strikeout to walk ratio. The opposite is true as well. Before we dive into the third basemen, let’s take a look at how the position stacks up with the rest. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Plate Discipline –Second Basemen

As we continue our plate discipline series we will pause for a station break so that those that are just joining us can catch up. I do this series once a year because it helps identify some sleepers you can add on the waiver wire. It also helps identify which of the studs might be headed off a cliff. In our look at plate discipline, we will look at what I like to call “results data” and “process data.”

You don’t see the process data on any fantasy website normally and it doesn’t factor directly into fantasy numbers, but it does help us figure out who is underachieving and who is overachieving. In that vein, we will pay attention to the percentage of swings that come on balls outside the zone (Oswing), a player’s contact rate, and the percentage of strikes that come on swings and misses (Swstr).

Instead of looking at the best and worst plate discipline players, we will be looking at them in the groups where they were normally drafted. We will compare each player with the median regular. In order to be considered, each player must have either been up in the big leagues for three seasons or had at least 1000 plate appearances. That eliminated a number of guys as it did in previous posts about catchers and first basemen. [Read more…]

Fantasy Baseball Final: April 10th, 2015

If you read only one thing…..

Welcome to the Fantasy Baseball Nightly recap. On Friday, the stars came out to play. One of my favorite lines from literature sums up the night. On a long enough timeline, the survival rate drops to zero. Similarly, if you wait around long enough the cream will always rise to the top. The story from the first three games of the season was that pitching was dominating. It started with a record six shutouts on Opening day. It continued to the point where most teams were hitting under .230 in the first three games.

A hallmark of early fantasy seasons is the overwhelming urge to hit the panic button when someone gets off to a slow start or a starter has a bad game. The key thing to remember that 0 for 10s and 1 for 15s are common in the course of a baseball season. There shouldn’t be added significance attached if it happens out of the gate. Some of the stars reminded us on Friday that patience is the order of the day.

Just as we expected….

Arguably the biggest star of the night was Joey Votto. He hit his second and third home runs of the season to go along with 4 RBI and two runs. Yet, Adam Jones and Jose Bautista owners can take heart that their stars finally showed up. Bautista had three hits, four runs, and two RBI. Jones hit his first dinger of the season and added three more hits on the evening. Billy Hamilton added his seventh steal of the season in his contest with the Cardinals.

Meanwhile, Giancarlo Stanton notched his first three RBI of the season in a thrilling victory against the cross-state Rays. Pedro Alvarez added his second home run to lead his owners to hope that last season was simply a down season. Troy Tulowitzki also proved why many owners picked him as the best shortstop. He is hitting a robust .444 with four RBI in the early going.

But we didn’t see this coming….

The biggest star in the early season might be Anthony Gose of the Tigers. Most owners avoided him until late in the draft because his position was shaky. He may not be as hot as Adrian Gonzalez, but his .471 average and 4 RBI in the early going has been a huge part of the Tigers offensive attack. He added two more hits on Friday night.

Meanwhile, Chris Johnson seems to specialize in coming out of nowhere every odd number year. It’s easy, but his .556 early average (including another three hit night) could lead to him become another heavy waiver claim. On the mound, Collin McHugh won his eighth consecutive decision going back to last season. He pitched six strong innings against the Rangers.

The Rest of the Details

Save Chances

Lineup Moves

  • The Rangers Shin-Soo Choo and Ryan Rua left the game early with back spasms and a sprain ankled. It is not yet known if the injuries are serious.

Injuries

  • Derek Holland was pulled after one inning. He suffered from a sub-scapular strain. He will miss four to six weeks.
  • Ian Kennedy is headed to the 15 day DL, but is not expected to miss more than minmum number of days.

Rumors and Transactions

The Padres are still rumored to be after a shortstop upgrade. Keep a look out to see if the engineer another trade to upgrade their lineup. MLBTR is reporting that they could be looking at shortstops like Starlin Castro, Jean Segura, and Elvis Andrus. Currently, Clint Barmes and Alexi Amarista serve as the Padres current options at shortstop.

The Rangers signed Wandy Rodriguez to a minor league contract this week and he appears to be the number one choice to take Derek Holland’s place in the Rangers rotation. If you don’t recall, Rodriguez began Spring Training with the Braves, but was a late cut when they added Trevor Cahill in a trade. He hasn’t been a significant fantasy option since 2012.

Angels ownership made some waves when they reportedly sought to seek their own discipline of embattled outfielder Josh Hamilton. According to reports, there is no clause in his contract to cover drug relapse, so it just looks like another black eye for Arte Moreno. The MLBPA is coming to Hamilton’s, so this story is likely to get ugly before there is some sort of resolution.