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…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Replacements for Adam Wainwright

Unless you’ve managed to spend the last few days away from Twitter, you probably already know that Adam Wainwright is likely out for the season. Before the injury, Steamer and ZiPS had him pegged for 175 and 186 innings, respectively, while racking up double digit wins. Waino has pitched at least 198 innings since the 2009 season and is a huge loss for any fantasy owner. This has forced many owners to panic as they struggle to find a replacement. Below are three pitchers that can likely be found sitting in your league’s free agent pool. In an ode to a site I wrote for last year, The Fantasy Report, this is a throwback to a series I did called the 25% and under league.  For all of the following players, their ownership rates will be shown in parenthesis, listing the Yahoo rate first, then ESPN. [Read more…]

2015 Fantasy Baseball Week 4 Waiver Wire: 3 to Catch, 3 to Cut, 3 to Keep

In the Week 3 edition of fantasy baseball 3×3, we’re celebrating the return of Joey Votto, cutting Danny Santana, and believing in Edinson Volquez.

There are plenty of waiver wire columns out there that provide an exhaustive list of the most added players in fantasy leagues. This isn’t one of them. Here, we’ll run down a few of the most interesting players for fantasy owners, with perspective on who deserves a your attention, who deserves your patience, and who deserves to go straight to bed without dessert.

Any questions, thoughts, long-promised podcast links?

GOT ONE!!!

For anything else, hit me in the comments or on Twitter.

3 TO CATCH

Players to be picked up; available in most standard leagues

Edinson Volquez | Kansas City Royals | SP

Aside from possibly San Diego, I don’t think there’s a safer place for pitchers than Kansas City. Not only do Kauffman Stadium’s broad expanses limit any home run problems, the Royals’ seemingly never-ending lineup of outstanding defenders turn just about everything that does stay in the yard into an out. Hell, they’ll do it for balls that leave the field of play, too.

With that kind of support behind him, it’s no wonder that Edinson Volquez might just be at the outset of the best season of his career. He’s always had the stuff, it’s apparently just taken until a few months shy of his 32nd birthday for him to learn how to harness it.

Volquez’ walk rate, which was over ten percent in each of the first eight seasons of his career, has sunk to 3.6% this season, which isn’t just the lowest of Volquez’ career, but also one of the best walk rates in baseball. It’s a small sample, yes, but it doesn’t look like a mirage. Whether it’s a new pitching coach, a connection with new catcher Salvador Perez, or just the confidence that comes from pitching in front of the best defense in baseball, Volquez is suddenly unafraid to throw strike one; his 69.1% F-Strike% ranked 15th in the league coming into Sunday’s start, per FanGraphs. A rate like that is typically a harbinger of an excellent walk rate. Last season’s leaders in F-Strike% were all among the best in baseball at limiting free passes.

The key for Volquez is maintaining that control without losing the explosive stuff that makes him such an exciting pitcher in the first place. So far this season, he’s done that and more. He’s getting more depth and movement on all of his pitches; his overall swinging strike rate is his best since 2011, when his strikeout rate was back up at 21%. His changeup, in particular, has been devastating, racking up whiffs on over a quarter of the swings against it.

It’s very early, but it looks like Volquez is able to find the zone without losing any sharpness in his pitches. It’d be an incredible improvement for a pitcher so late on in his career, but it’s not totally impossible. At the very least, he’s worth a pickup.

To pick him up, I’d drop: Jered Weaver, Shelby Miller, Rick Porcello

[Read more…]

Fantasy Baseball Final: April 25th

harvey

If You Only Read One Thing…

Matt Harvey, or should I say the Dark Knight, seems to be doing just fine. He had no limits when it came to his innings pitched against the Yankees on Saturday, and he delivered. He was one out short of a complete game, and he struck out seven. This season so far seems to be the year of the pitcher, and Harvey showed that was the case on Saturday.

Just As We Expected…

Howie Kendrick continues to be a pleasant surprise for the Dodgers this season, as he hit his third home run of the season on Saturday night, driving in his 11th and 12th RBI of the year. I say that it’s what we expected because Howie Kendrick has been a bright spot of the Dodgers lineup this season, along with Adrian Gonzalez, which was expected as well.

But We Didn’t See This Coming…

Justin Maxwell is filling in for Hunter Pence in the Giants outfield, and he continues to swing a hot bat. He hit his second home run in as many days on Saturday, although it was hit only hit of his six at bats. Maxwell could be a nice addition to fantasy rosters if he keeps hitting, as the Giants will have to find a place for him.

Save Chances

All of the usual suspects got the save on Saturday, with one exception coming from the St. Louis Cardinals. Seth Maness got the save for the Cardinals pitching 1.1 innings and gave up one hit, but didn’t record a strikeout. He’s not someone to add by any means, as Trevor \Rosenthal has the position as the teams closer locked down.

Injuries…

Adam Wainwright was the big story on Saturday as far as the injury bug is concerned. It’s feared that Waino will miss time with a ruptured Achilles tendon, but nothing is certain at this point.   He will have an MRI on Monday to determine what the full issue is for the Cardinals ace.

Also, for the Dodgers this time, Bradon McCarthy is dealing with elbow issues after his start on Saturday. He’s hoping that it is just elbow tendonitis, and that he will not miss significant time. He will also receive an MRI on Monday to get further information.

Corey Dickerson left Saturday’s game with a quad injury after taking a foul ball off of his leg.   He will likely remain day to day with this injury, but it could be alarming to his fantasy owners because he was dealing with an injury just the other day.

Max Scherzer is dealing with a swollen thumb, and his start Tuesday will now be questionable. He will not go on Tuesday if this issue does not go away

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, Week 3 Tools of the Trade: Kris Bryant’s Current Value

TheFantasyFix.com’s “Tools of the Trade” is a unique guide for owners to use while attempting to make an even trade with their league-mates in a standard 12-team mixed, 5×5 head-to-head or rotisserie redraft league.

The values present in this guide are simply the basis for a trade. A full-blown analysis of each team’s strengths and weaknesses are essential prior to proposing or accepting a trade offer.

How to use the guide: Ideally, owners will agree to a trade that will aid both sides and stay within $2-3 of each other in a one-for-one and $4-5 in a multi-player deal, according to our chart. Players not noted should be considered $1 players.

Here’s the chart:
[Read more…]

Fantasy Baseball Final April 22, 2015

Welcome to the TheFantasyFix.com’s nightly fantasy baseball recap, where you’ll find updates on bullpen usage, lineup construction, injuries, and transactions. No matter the format, we have everything you need to know to help you win your league.

We had one early game today between the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, with the White Sox shutting out the Indians at home 6-0. Jose Abreu hit his fifth home run of the season in the first inning for the White Sox, thus giving Jeff Samardzija enough run support to take home his first win in a White Sox uniform. Reigning AL CY Young award winner Corey Kluber was on the hill for the Indians, though he was shelled for 13 hits over six innings, giving up six earned runs and striking out six. Kluber has yet to pick up his first win of the season despite being solid in his previous outings; his next start comes against Kansas City on Tuesday at home.

IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING…

David Price went into tonight’s game with a 4.06 lifetime ERA against the New York Yankees and well; it got a little worse after tonight in the 13-4 loss at home. Price gave up eight runs in just two and third innings of work, walking three and striking out two. Before tonight’s start, Price had given up just one run in 22 1/3 innings of work, with 20 strikeouts against five walks. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-4 for the Yankees, with an RBI and a run scored. Catcher Brian McCann also collected two hits in five at bats, with an RBI and two runs scored. As for the Tiger’s offense, Miguel Cabrera went 1-3 with a walk, and Yoenis Cespedes went 2-3 with an RBI. The two teams will finish off their four game set tomorrow, with Masahiro Tanaka looking to complete the sweep against Anibal Sanchez at 1pm EST.

JUST AS WE EXPECTED…

Colorado Rockies’ Corey Dickerson and Nolan Arenado returned to the lineup tonight, and they both helped propel the Rockies’ to their 5-4 home win against the San Diego Padres. Dickerson went deep in the first and eighth inning in his return to the lineup, driving in two runs and also crossing the plate twice. For Arenado, he went 2-4 in his return to action, driving in a run while also scoring once. For the Padres, Matt Kemp and Justin Upton both went 0-4 in the loss, offering no fantasy value in the game, though outfielder Wil Myers hit his second home run of the season, a solo shot in the sixth inning. James Shields got the start for the Padres, going six innings, letting up three runs and striking out five in the no decision.

We expected a good game between the St. Louis Cardinals and Washington Nationals, though I didn’t expect a 7-5 finish in favor of the Cardinals in this game. When you have both Doug Fister and John Lackey on the mound, you’re not exactly expecting a 13 run rout, though the Cardinals were able to capture this one to tie the series a 1-1. Jason Heyward continued to struggle despite the win, going 1-5 with two strikeouts to bring his season average down to .193. The game was tied going into the eighth inning, though second baseman Kolten Wong was able to break that up with his RBI double. Matt Carpenter hit his third home run of the season in the win (1-3), driving in his 11th run of the season.

BUT WE DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING…

Well, I didn’t see the Kansas City Royals shut out at home by the Minnesota Twins, especially when Mike Pelfrey was one of the starting pitchers. Pelfrey went seven shutout innings for the Twins, striking out four while giving up just five hits. The Royals just took their fourth loss of the season, with their main offensive contributor being Alcides Escobar going 2-4. For the Twins, first baseman Joe Mauer brought his season average up to .291 with a solid 2-3 performance. One of my fantasy picks this season, outfielder Aswaldo Arcia, brought his average down to .184 and is more than likely worth the drop by now in your yearly league.

Let me start off by saying this isn’t fantasy relevant, but Kris Bryant wasn’t inserted into center field during Wednesday’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. This isn’t exactly something that we could have predicated, though Bryant did collect one hit along with two runs in four at bats in the Cubs’ 4-3 loss Wednesday. Gregory Polanco hit his first home run of the season Wednesday, driving in his fourth run of the season.

THE REST OF THE DETAILS

SAVE CHANCES

Miguel Castro (3)

Trevor Rosenthal (5)

Tony Watson (1)

Jeurys Familia (7)

Steven Geltz (1)

Glen Perkins (3)

Aroldis Chapman (4)

LINEUP MOVES

Ben Zobrist (knee) was held out of the lineup. Possibly of arthroscopic surgery if the knee does not respond well to physical activity.

Jose Bautista (shoulder) held out of the lineup, could end up the DL.

INJURIES

Jose Bautista (shoulder) day-to-day

Ben Zobrist (knee) day-to-day

RUMORS & TRANSACTIONS

The Seattle Mariners and Carlos Quentin agreed to terms on a minor league contract, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Quentin will be sent to Triple-A initially, and could possibly serve as a platoon option with fellow first baseman Logan Morrison. Quentin was acquired by the Braves in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel to the San Diego Padres, but was designated for assignment less than a week later thanks to his large salary. Last season, Quentin batted a measly .177 in 155 plate appearances with San Diego.

Prospect Watch: April 22nd

The Chicago Cubs have been active in the past week, recalling two of their top prospects – Kris Bryant and Addison Russell.  We all knew Bryant was going to get the call on April 17th, once the Cubs had the extra year of control on his contract, but Russell was a bit of a surprise.  Russell came over to the Cubs organization last summer when the A’s traded him to Chicago for pitcher Jeff Samardzija.  Russell, a Shortstop by trade, was recently moved over to second base in AAA Iowa to see how he can handle the position.  With Starlin Castro securing the shortstop position, the Cubs wanted to find space for the young prospect.  After just five games at second base in Iowa, the Cubs apparently saw enough to feel good about promoting him to Chicago.  Speaking of Chicago, over on the south side, the White Sox have promoted Carlos Rodon to their big league club.  Archie Bradley, Joc Pederson, and Daniel Norris have all made their respective teams already, so the youth movement is in full swing.

With two of the top prospects in not only the Cubs organization, but in the entire league, getting called up in the past week, we’ll take a look around at the top prospects that are in the minors right now and which ones might get the call next.

My top 5:

1.  Byron Buxton – Minnesota Twins OF
[Read more…]

Fantasy Baseball Final: April 21, 2015

Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Photo Credit: Mike McGinnis/Getty Images

Welcome to the TheFantasyFix.com’s nightly fantasy baseball recap, where you’ll find updates on bullpen usage, lineup construction, injuries, and transactions. No matter the format, we have everything you need to know to help you win your league.

The big headline today was the big league debut of the Chicago Cubs’ 21-year-old top prospect, shortstop Addison Russell (#4 ranked prospect by ESPN’s Keith Law). Prior to the trade deadline last summer, the Cubs’ acquired Russell in the trade that sent starting pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland Athletics. Due to the presence of current shortstop Starlin Castro, the idea is for Russell to play second base, for now, until the infield logjam figures itself out. Unfortunately for Russell, his debut was similar to fellow rookie teammate Kris Bryant‘s, going 0-5 with three strikeouts. Before being called up, Russell was hitting .318 with 9 RBI in 44 at-bats.

IF YOU ONLY READ ONE THING…

The Chicago Cubs edged the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-8 on the road thanks to big nights from Starlin Castro (3-5 2R 1HR 4RBI) and rookie Kris Bryant (2-4 2R 2RBI). Francisco Liriano was on the hill for the Pirates, lasting five innings, striking out nine and giving up three runs. Starling Marte continued his recent hot streak , hitting his fifth home run of the year and driving in two runs. Josh Harrison also went deep for the Pirates, though the solo shot was his lone hit of the game. Pirates’ closer Mark Melancon blew the save in the ninth, giving up three earned runs and and eventually taking the loss for the game. Hector Rondon shut the door in the ninth inning for the Cubbies, notching his third save of the year. As I mentioned prior, Addison Russell was held hitless in his MLB debut with three strikeouts.

JUST AS WE EXPECTED…

The Toronto Blue Jays beat up on the Baltimore Orioles tonight, beating them 13-6 at home. Edwin Encarnacion (otherwise known as E5, my favorite nickname in baseball) hit two home runs in the win, both solo shots. Josh Donaldson had another big game, going 3-4 with an RBI and a run scored. Jose Bautista added a two run home run for the Jays to help starter Mark Buerhle pick up his third win of the season. For the O’s, starter Bud Norris lasted just two and a third innings, giving up nine earned runs. Adam Jones collected two hits (2-4), while Chris Davis went 1-4.

The Kansas City Royals were able to outlast the Minnesota Twins 6-5 at home, largely in part to Mike Moustakas‘ three hit (including a home run) three RBI performance. Alex Gordon also went deep in the win, though that was his stray hit on the night. Starter Jason Vargas gave up all five runs in his five and two thirds innings of work, though the bullpen was lights after Vargas exited the game, ending it all with Wade Davis‘ third save of the year, as he continues to be dominant in Greg Holland‘s absence.

The San Diego Padres took home the win on the road against the Colorado Rockies, with the Rockies missing two big names, Nolan Arenado and Corey Dickerson, from the lineup. Wil Myers had a great night for the Padres, collecting three hits and two RBI. Catcher Derek Norris also drove in two runs while going 2-5 on the night. Matt Kemp went 1-4 with an RBI, and Justin Upton went just 1-5. Troy Tukowitzki went 1-3 with an RBI, while outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was held without a hit. Nick Hundley hit a ninth inning home run off closer Craig Kimbrel to cut the Padres lead to 7-6, but Kimbrel was able to hold on to earn his fifth save of the season.

BUT WE DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING…

The Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers combined for 26 runs Tuesday, and to be honest I couldn’t have said I saw this happening, but I guess anything is possible when Jason Marquis is on the mound, though he did get the win! Todd Frazier had a great game, collecting two hits, one of which being a grand slam. Zack Coast had three hits, two of them being home runs, to help lead the scoring for the Reds. Just like his teammate, Jay Bruce had a grand slam as well in this game, while also scoring twice. Mike Fiers was responsible for four earned runs (eight total) over four innings of work in the loss. Ryan Braun had a relatively quiet day despite the team’s large run output, going 2-5 and driving in a run.

In his first start since being stuck by a line drive in the face, Cleveland Indians’ starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco was dominant in his five innings of working, letting up one run and striking out eight. This was a positive sign for the Indians following the scary sight last week, as it seems Carrasco is back to be his old self. The one mistake Carrasco made was in the first inning to Jose Abreu, which is understandable, but didn’t he slip up again beyond that. Carlos Santana opened up the scoring in the second inning with his solo home run, followed by a David Murphy home run in the fourth and an eventual Michael Brantley RBI single.

THE REST OF THE DETAILS

SAVE CHANCES

Koji Uehara (2)

Hector Rondon (3)

Andrew Miller (5)

Mark Melancon (blown save)

Wade Davis (3)

Craig Kimbrel (5)

LINEUP MOVES

Both Colorado Rockies’ Corey Dickerson (foot) and Nolan Arenado (wrist) were held out of the lineup.

INJURIES

Christian Yelich (back) might need a DL stint

Jonathan Lucroy out 4-6 (toe)

Ryan Brett (shoulder) is day-to-day

Corey Dickerson (foot) day-to-day

Nolan Arenado (foot) day-to-day

RUMORS & TRANSACTIONS

The Los Angeles Angels have a plan in place for outfielder Josh Hamilton‘s return to the field, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reported. The plan is to send Hamilton to extended spring training for 2-3 weeks, which would be followed by a minor league rehab assignment and then joining the major league club, potentially as early as June. It’s still unknown how the Angels are going to handle the situation, given the fact that they’ve stated they might look to enforce clauses in his contract in regards to his recent relapse. Hamilton batted .263 last season with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 89 games.

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…]