2013 Fantasy Baseball, Peaks and Valleys: Defense over Offense
In the world of fantasy baseball, defense is more of a footnote. Most leagues do not use defensive statistics as categories in head-to-head or roto. Usually the only stat directly affected by defense is pitching ERA. Boring, right?
Even worse, H2H makes ERA diminutive because the long-term cumulative ERA in roto is a testament good ownership. The guy in your public league who has not checked his team since the draft could win the pitching categories against you one week and finish the worst in the league at the end of the season. Those few category wins can mean playoffs of relegation.
That is why I appreciate watching a baseball game dominated by pitching and defense. The occasional no-hitter and perfect game are tops on the list, but viewing Clayton Kershaw and Matt Cain usually yields pitching excellence. Rookie Matt Harvey versus a league of proven hitters? Just as fun, especially because we all get to see one of the next crop of potentially great hurlers. “Insert name here” spot starting with a gem? Yes, please.
Pitching can only be as good as the defense behind them most days. The offenses defenders are trying to stop perform more unique actions than the guys wielding lumber. You have seen a home run, right? Most tend to leave the park the same. The grounder in the hole that the shortstop is trying to get can yield more outcomes unique to a game. You have seen most, but some are new to your viewing.
Remember Mark Buerhle helping his own cause with the between-the-leg flip to first opening day 2010? You cannot say you see a pitcher do that that often. While that would never affect your fantasy team, getting credit for a defensive putout from your pitcher would.
Call it a plea for change in fantasy baseball, or call it another random thought in ‘Peaks and Valleys.’ I think adding defensive categories to standard leagues would be a refreshing change to a game that should never stand pat.
St. Louis Rookie Pitchers: Very few pitching staffs have experienced as many injuries as the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff. Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, Jason Motte, Fernando Salas, and recently recalled John Gast are on the disabled list. Motte and Garcia have been lost for the season, and Carpenter is trying to make an improbable come back after stating he would not pitch this season, or again.
Gast, Shelby Miller, Michael Blazek, Tyler Lyons, and Carlos Martinez have stepped in to soften the blow of losing so many arms. The word this past Sunday is AAA stud Michael Wacha was scratched from his start with a chance to pitch for the Cards later this week. With St. Louis hitting so well and sporting the best record in baseball, adding any of these young guns cannot hurt.
Didi Gregorius, Shortstop, Arizona Diamondbacks: The youngster is producing, plain and simple. Gregorius had six hits in as many games this past week, and is hitting in front of Paul Goldschmidt and a scorching hot Eric Chavez. Goldy is coming into his own offensively and has been everything a fantasy owner wants. Chavez will cool off, but as long as Didi is getting on base, he offers your team value with the D-Backs hitting.
Brandon McCarthy, Starting Pitcher, Arizona Diamondbacks: I told you! Bad luck happens to good pitchers, and McCarthy was at the top of the bad luck list. He now has four consecutive starts of at least six innings pitched while surrendering three runs or less. Even though he faced some of the lesser offenses in the National League, it is tough to imagine McCarthy being the pitcher giving up frozen ropes and long balls with his ground ball pitching style.
Scott Feldman had his worst start since his season opener, but gets a swing-and-miss White Sox team Wednesday. David DeJesus has been sneaky good if you are looking for runs, OBP, and a solid average in your outfield. I just realized I spoke positively about two Chicago Cubs players for fantasy purposes. Rare treat for you.
In the Valley
Mark Teixeira, First Base, New York Yankees: He is scheduled to return this weekend after some rehab starts and no setbacks. Even with him being the starting one-sacker returning to a top team in baseball, this is “avoid at all costs” situation. Teixeira has turned into a very slow starter, and if he continues that trend, he could very well be a fantasy dud into August. Let him be someone else’s problem.
Jurickson Profar, Second Base, Texas Rangers: This is not a Profar bashing bit, but a cautionary one. Texas has been easing him in to games as a platoon with Leury Garcia. He will lose some at-bats that your established middle infielders would normally get. If you have to drop someone like Alexei Ramirez to get him, I would advise against it. Once Ian Kinsler comes off the DL, Profar will more than likely head back to the minors. Take the proven over the prospect this time,
Jason Marquis, Starting Pitcher, San Diego Padres: “BP” Marquis loves giving free passes to hitters. Up until is last start Sunday, he has been able to strand those free passes. He currently has three starts with one walk or less. The rest include four or more. Marquis is playing above his career averages and is due for a spat with a teammate or coach soon. He is a sell high candidate if owned.
Julio Teheran is looking great over the last month, but he has no track record of being reliable. At a certain point that will not matter, but caution should be taken with him. Add him knowing he could fall apart.