Tag Archive | "Bryan Lahair"

Top And Bottom 5 BABIPs In The MLB

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Top And Bottom 5 BABIPs In The MLB

Posted on 05 August 2012 by John Unity

This is my first post as a contributor for Full Spectrum Baseball, so what better way to start off my weekly column than to write about my favorite topic, BABIP.  For those of you unfamiliar with BABIP, it is short for Batting Average on Balls In Play.  Simply put, BABIP equals a player’s batting average when the player makes contact with the ball minus home runs.  To a point, it is a measure of luck, since a player has no control of the ball once they make contact.  The league average floats around 0.300.  Players with a BABIP much higher that 0.300 tend to be considered lucky and the players with a much lower BABIP tend to be considered unlucky.  With that being said, there are a lot of factors that could affect the BABIP for the positive and negative.   Line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates, opponent’s defensive skills, hard/weak hit balls, etc.

BABIP greatly affects a player’s batting average.  A great example of a player who had incredible luck, but eventually came back down to Earth is Bryan LaHair.  In the first month of the season, LaHair had a batting average of 0.390 in 59 at-bats. However, he also had a BABIP of 0.600, twice the average of the MLB… meaning that LaHair got a hit 60% of the time that he connected with the ball.  So, how is LaHair doing now?  He now has batting average of 0.267 with a 0.370 BABIP.  His BABIP is still rather high, but that is mostly due to the fact that he had such an incredible April. As you can see, as his luck diminished, his batting average came down to a normal level for a player of his caliber.

In this article, I am going to take a look at both the top 5 highest and lowest BABIPs in the current season.  I will discuss if the BABIP is the real deal, if the layer is victim to good or bad luck, or if there are other factors playing a role.

Top 5 BABIPs in the MLB

#5 - Melky Cabrera – 0.386 BABIP

I will be the first to admit that I said that Melky will be a bust this year.  I will also admit that because of it, I believe he has waged a personal vendetta against me to prove me wrong.  Melky has been on an absolute tear this season, especially in the months of May and July where he hit for 0.429 and 0.355 averages, respectively.  This season Melky has had high line drive and ground ball rates, and a low fly ball rate.  Combine that with his low strikeout rate and this is what you get.  At 27 years old, Melky is showing everyone that he is the real deal and that last season was no fluke.  Melky won’t be able to keep up at this pace every season that follows, but don’t be surprised to see him fall somewhere between this season’s and last season’s numbers.

Verdict: Pure skill, with a pinch of luck

 - Austin Jackson – 0.396 BABIP


Austin Jackson is turning into something really special for the Detroit Tigers.  In fact, Jackson has a 4.5 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), higher than both Price Fielder (2.4) and Miguel Cabrera (4.3).  Last season, Jackson posted a 0.249 AVG with a BABIP of 0.340.  A few big changes have occurred between this season and last season.  This season, Jackson is walking more and striking out less.  Not only has he made changes to his swing, he has also become more patient at the plate and is swinging at better pitches.  This has led to a nice increase in his line drive rate and a slight decrease in both his ground ball and fly ball rates. At only 25 years old, this kid could get better in the years to come.  He could end up becoming one of the best leadoff hitters in the game.  In his three seasons, Jackson has a career BABIP of 0.375 and a batting average of 0.281.  He probably won’t be able to maintain the 0.375 BABIP, but with his skills he could end up somewhere in the 0.350 – 0.360 range.  However, don’t let the lower BABIP scare you… as he matures he should begin to lower his strikeout rate, which will raise his batting average.  He could easily become a career 0.300 – 0.310 hitter.

Verdict: Great skill, with a pinch of luck, and great potential to get better

Mike Trout – 0.397 BABIP


I love me some Trout, and who doesn’t?  Mike Trout is arguably the most exciting player in baseball.  Not only is he batting 0.342, but he also has 19 HRs and 33 stolen bases in 387 plate appearances.   At only 20 years old and only 522 plate appearances in his career, it is hard to get a truly accurate reading on him.  However, the one thing I can say about Trout is that this kid is a beast… and the scary thing is that he could end up getting better.

Trout’s 0.397 BABIP, which recently dipped below 0.400, is extremely high.  In the past 75 years, only 4 players finished a season of a BABIP over 0.400 (with a minimum of 500 PAs):

Rod Carew (1977) – 0.408
Jose Hernandez (2002) – 0.404
Manny Ramirez (2000) – 0.403
Roberto Clemente (1967) – 0.403

It would be truly amazing if Trout could finish the season with a BABIP above 0.400, considering his age and the fact that he is a rookie.  I personally don’t see him doing it, but Mike Trout will be a force for years to come.  Trout could put up several seasons with a BABIP close to 0.400, but he should find himself hovering around 0.360 for most of his career, especially if he cuts down on the strikeouts (2012: 20%).

Verdict: He might be a T-800 – Cyborg with human flesh, AKA The Terminator

Joey Votto – 0.398 BABIP

Prior to getting injured, Joey Votto was on pace to rival his 2010 MVP season.  He had posted his highest BABIP (0.398) and batting average (0.342) of his career.  He had also posted the 2nd highest line drive, rate of 30.2%, in the MLB (also highest of his career).  There is little or no luck involved in his BABIP, Votto was just simply seeing the ball well and hitting it hard.  Will Votto do this every season?  No… but he could easily do this again and do it often.  It will be interesting to see how he does when he comes back from his knee surgery, but as for now we are calling him the real deal.

Verdict: Part human, part machine

Andrew McCutchen – 0.423 BABIP


With all the attention Mike Trout has received, Andrew McCutchen has been somewhat overlooked.  McCutchen has been having the most impressive hitting season since Larry Walker’s batting average of 0.379 in 1999.  McCutchen is hitting 0.373 this season, and there is no doubt luck has a lot to do with it.  The greatest BABIP in history was in 1923 when Babe Ruth had a 0.423 BABIP (same as McCutchen’s current BABIP).

This season Andrew McCutchen has a slightly high strikeout rate (18.5%) and a slightly low walk rate (9.5 %).  He does have nice line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates, but not good enough to explain his BABIP.  Not to slam McCutchen’s amazing season, but luck is playing a big part of it.  He will most likely see his BABIP and AVG drop a bit before the end of the season.  However, while Trout’s BABIP has been dropping over the last few weeks, McCutchen’s hasn’t and could easily find himself becoming the 5th player in the last 75 years to post a BABIP over 0.400.

Verdict: Pure talent with a ton of luck

Bottom 5 BABIPs in the MLB

#5Ike Davis – 0.230 BABIP

Throughout Ike’s career in both the majors and minors, he has never posted a BABIP under 0.318.  This season he has posted a BABIP of 0.230 and a batting average of 0.209. So what happened?  Last season ended very early for Ike due to injury and he hasn’t been the same man since he has come back.  Ike is walking less (8.6%) and striking out more (26.3%) than he has ever in his career.  However, Ike is hitting more line drives and ground balls, and less fly balls, which is all good.  You have to wonder if last season’s ankle injury is still causing problems for Ike, both physically and mentally.

Ike Davis is too good of a player for this season to define him.  He has shown flashes of improvement, like his 9 HRs in the month of July, but I don’t expect him to save this season.  I do, however, expect him to make a nice return, in 2013, to the man he really is.

Verdict:  Good player who is experiencing a bit of bad luck, mixed in with physical and mental struggles.

#3 (tied)
Brian McCann – 0.227 BABIP

Brian McCann is having an abnormal season based on his standards.  He is a career 0.282 hitter and is batting 0.242 this season.  He is floating around his career average in walk, strike out, line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates.  McCann seems like the perfect example of a player that is flat out having bad luck.  Expect to see him recover a bit and hopefully salvage this forgettable season.

Verdict:  Great offensive catcher with a truck load of bad luck

(tied) – Casey Kotchman – 0.227 BABIP

Casey Kotchman has never really been known for his offense.  In fact, his career BABIP is a low 0.275.  In his nine seasons in the MLB, Casey has posted a BABIP under 0.250 four times.  He has a career isolated power rating of 0.130, so he rarely hits the ball very hard.  He doesn’t walk much, but he doesn’t strikeout much either.  Almost 60% of his batted balls are ground balls.  When you hit a lot of soft ground balls, you’re going to find yourself getting out a lot.

Casey is a great defensive first baseman, although he’s had some issues this season.  He will never be the normal power hitting first basemen that most of us are so used to.

Verdict:  Let’s just say, he’s not in the MLB for his offense, and leave it at that 

Jose Bautista – 0.217 BABIP

Yes… the 2010 and 2011 homerun leader finds himself with the 2nd lowest BABIP in the league.  Why and how, you ask?  Simply put, he has fallen in love with the homerun ball. 50% of his batted balls are fly balls and only 14% of his batted balls are line drives.  He is literally trying to hit a homerun every time he comes up to bat.  The 0.217 BABIP doesn’t come as much as a surprise as you would think.  In 2010, when he hit 54 homeruns, he had a BABIP of 0.233.  In fact, last season’s BABIP of 0.309 and 0.302 average could be considered “lucky”.  Bautista will more than likely post a BABIP in the 0.220 – 0.240 range for the rest of his career.  And why not? “Chicks love the long ball”.

The interesting thing with Bautista is that his career could end up being cut short.  He is turning 32 years old in October.  If and when his strength starts to fade, he will see the homerun totals start to fall.  At that point he could be in trouble, because all he knows how to do is skyrocket a ball into the seats.  When his strength does diminish, we’ll probably see the pre-2010 Bautista that we all knew before.

Verdict:  No bad luck, just a man who loves his homeruns

#1 Justin Smoak – 0.211 BABIP

With a BABIP of 0.211 and a batting average of 0.189, it’s easy to understand why the Mariners sent Justin Smoak back down to AAA.  He has posted his lowest walk rate (7.7%) in his professional career, including in the minors.  He has also posted his 2nd highest strikeout rate (22.7%) and lowest isolated power (0.131).  He has a pathetically low line drive rate of 15% and a high fly ball rate of 43.8%.  Combine all this together and you can see that back luck has little to do with his struggles.  He is impatient at the plate, swings at bad pitches, and is not making good contact with the ball. In 2010, MLB listed Smoak as the #9 in their top prospects list.  He has yet to live up to his potential, so hopefully he will be able to figure things out with a little more conditioning in the minors.

Verdict: Not MLB material right now, but could be at some point

Check out my other writing at JoeBlowBaseball.com, too.

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The Hump Day Look See 5/30/12 – Panic in pitchertown!

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The Hump Day Look See 5/30/12 – Panic in pitchertown!

Posted on 30 May 2012 by J. Ellet Lambie

The Hump Day Look See is your weekly Wednesday foray into all things fantasy baseball. Sneaky stat lines, rapid risers, trends and tricks to help maximize your roster are all celebrated here. Equal parts analysis and common sense with a splash of humor, served fresh every Wednesday morning right here on Full Spectrum Baseball.


That is, if you happen to own Roy Halladay or Jered Weaver, who were both shelved this week with injuries. Halladay is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, there is not yet a timetable for Jered Weaver to resume his duties on the bump. Also hobbling to the sidelines in the past two weeks: Ted Lilly, John Danks, Danny Duffy and Marco Estrada. LIGHT THE LANTERNS AND HEAD FOR THE SHELTER!

Or….you could look elsewhere on the disabled list to names such as Brandon McCarthy, Jonathan Sanchez and Vance Worley – all three should return in the next week and change. Aces they are not, serviceable stop gaps that could become more? Sure, it’s possible.

And don’t forget to frantically check the free agent pool in all of your leagues for Roy Oswalt, now that he has agreed to join the Texas Rangers. I have to imagine we’re looking at a couple of weeks minimum of stretching him out before he toes a major league rubber, so don’t expect a miracle this week. Also of note, his career OPS against at Ameriquest (Arlington) is .878, with a 4.78 ERA and 9 HR allowed in 52.2 innings pitched. Caveat Emptor my friends.

I had a couple of inquiries following the first HDLS post last week, wondering why I listed the top 10 added and dropped hitters, but not pitchers. A fair question. With a decent percentage of players in ESPN standard 5 x 5 rotisserie leagues streaming pitchers each week, I’ve found it skews the numbers, and paints a confusing picture. So to balance the coverage, I’ll make an effort to highlight pitching options in other ways each week – see above. You can also check out the AL and NL weekly Pitching Planning posts right here at Full Spectrum Baseball.

Top 10 Added Hitters in ESPN Standard Leagues – Last 14 Days:

Player % Add/Drop %
Dayan Viciedo CWS – OF +52.8 83.2 #4 last week, added +20% since. 22/55 with 7 HR, 20 RBI in last 15 games.
Jeff Francoeur KC – OF +40.1 81.2 Frenchy is too good to have been that bad for that long, .375 with 4 bombs in last 15, hope you bought low.
Jonathan Lucroy MIL – C +34.4 78.4 News of his broken hand will put out this fire, but keep him on your watch list for mid/late July.
Justin Morneau MIN – 1B +33.1 91.3 5 HR and 16 steaks since his return from the DL. If he stays on the field he should stay in your lineup.
Mitch Moreland TEX – 1B/OF +33 87.1 On the fringe last week. Multi-position eligible, power stroke like the weather, getting warmer.
Chris Davis BAL 3B/1B +25 74.4 6th most dropped last week, streaky hitter that will inspire the Yo-Yo effect.
A.J. Pierzynski CWS – C +22.3 85.6 Top 5 among ALL catchers in Hits, Runs, HR, RBI – How is he still available in 15% of leagues?
Jed Lowrie HOU – 3B/SS +17.1 94.6 Health and a change of scenery have done wonders – 1/2 of his HR (4 of 8) in last 15 games.
A.J. Ellis LAD – C +16.5 28.2 Almost June and still hitting .315, smells like a regression candidate to me (.282 career), but he’s extra scrappy.
Michael Brantley CLE – OF +15.8 37.5 Hit safely in 8 straight games, 7 RBI and 6 SB in that stretch.

And the Yang of failure, also known as the 10 most dropped:

Player %
Cody Ross BOS – OF (DL) -37.3 27.3 Victim of nervous injury drops, might be back in a couple of weeks.
Chipper Jones ATL – 3B (DL) -37.2 47.3 Hopes to return soon, surgery to drain fluid from his leg not an encouraging sign.
Lance Berkman STL – 1B/OF -22.4 49.8 Residual dropping from 6-10 week prognosis of last week.
Miguel Montero ARI – C -21.7 67.9 Missed 5 games with a groin injury, signed a massive new deal, still hitting .248 with only 2 HR’s, but OBP .342 – excellent buy low candidate.
Torii Hunter LAA – OF -13.6 61.4 Hangover droppage from time away for family issues. Returns Tuesday night.
Bryan LaHair CHC – 1B/OF -12.9 87.1 Returned to earth with a miserable week. 3 for 4 Monday, but likely to sit against lefties (3-22 this season).
Emilio Bonifacio MIA – 2B/SS/3B (DL) -11.2 86.7 Oh sweet Emilio, curse your balky thumb. Out for a while but speed doesn’t slump, keep your eyes on him close to his return.
Jon Jay STL – OF (DL) -8.8 29.4 Could be back in 10-14 days, should resume a starting role then. 9 Hits and 8 Runs in final 10 games before injury.
Jemile Weeks OAK – 2B -8.2 51.5 .235 with 3 Runs, 1 SB, 0 HR, 0 RBI in last 15 games. Perhaps track is his forte.
Robert Andino BAL – 2B/SS/3B -7.8 31.4 Ladies and gentlemen, this is what regression to the mean looks like while wearing an orange hat.

And for the value shopper, this week’s 5 Under 50 – five players owned in less than 50% of ESPN standard leagues that can help your roster right now. Last week I recommended Anthony Bass of the Padres, who then proceeded to have his worst outing of the year, arguably. Consider this proof I am not in fact omnipotent. With that being said, stick with the kid, he’s been far more good than bad this season. I also pointed a finger at Joe Blanton, insert joke here. On the upside, Alcides Escobar, J.P. Arencibia and Daniel Nava did not burst into fantasy flames (Arencibia did hit .136, but had 2 HR), so I suppose there is hope after all.

Paul Goldschmidt ARI – 1B 35.4%: He hit a 471 foot HR the other day. Not kidding. 471 feet. The former prized prospect has hit in 7 straight games through Monday, with 4 doubles and 7 runs scored over that span. He’s at least worth a stash if you’re thin at 1B short term.

Michael Brantley CLE – OF 37.5%: As mentioned above in the most added section (#10), he’s been hitting and running and doing all sorts of fun fantasy things. If he keeps it up he’ll be ineligible for this category in no time.

Gregor Blanco SFG – OF 19.6%: 21 runs scored with a .397 OBP in 95 at-bats from the leadoff spot this year. Sustainable long term? Eh, perhaps not, but even with a bit of a slide he’ll remain above average. 6 steals on the year to boot.

Casey Janssen TOR – RP 46.6%: He’s picked up 4 saves since taking over closer duties in Toronto, and boasts a respectable 2.89 ERA and an impressive 0.91 WHIP in that time. Most closers suffer a hiccup here and there, and he won’t be immune, but he should bolster your bottom line more than he hurts it.

Homer Bailey CIN – SP 12.5%: As I type this Bailey just nailed down complete game win, allowing 1 run on 4 hits against the Pirates. That’s 3 straight wins and 4 consecutive starts with 3 or fewer earned runs allowed. He’s walked 5 in those starts while striking out 21.

Your questions and thoughts are welcomed, and encouraged, both here in the comments and on twitter @lembeck451. All stats accurate as of 10 PM EDT 5/29/12. 


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Best Kept Secrets in MLB Until Now

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Best Kept Secrets in MLB Until Now

Posted on 30 April 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Kirk Niewenhuis Prior to Awkward Yet Intimate Manhug Celebration

No matter how much you scour the leader boards, stat sheets, box scores, and the interwebz, there are always a few players than somehow stay under the radar longer than they should.  In order to try and identify some of these hidden gems, I have taken an approach that involves searching for players that are just shy of meeting certain qualifying metrics for being listed among the league leaders in different categories.  Then I looked at all the players within a certain window below the qualifying level and sorted them by games played to try and differentiate between part-time players getting more at-bats than usual and regular starters that simply haven’t played enough games to qualify.  To basically provide a point of reference, I’ve also included a few lesser known players who deserve an “atta-boy” or something.  The numbers are surprising for some.

  • Jon Jay (Cardinals CF) – At this moment, Josh Thole is 10th in the National League in batting with a .322 average, and Matt Kemp is leading the league at .425.  Jay started the day just shy of qualifying, and his 1 for 3 performance actually dropped his average approximately 4 points.  He now stands at exactly .400 which would be good for 2nd place.  With a full batting line of .400/.441/.545/.986, he will not remain a secret for much longer.  (Owned in 37.4% of all ESPN fantasy baseball leagues)
  • Kirk Nieuwenhuis (Mets CF) – Perhaps Nieuwenhuis has gotten lost in the feelgood story that is the Mets so far this year, but he deserves some serious credit for bringing it in a big way this season.  He is one of 5 Mets players in the top 20 in the NL in batting.  For his part, Nieuwenhuis is sporting a .316/.381/.474/.811 line which is good enough to help his popularity soar to that point that he is on 12.3% of all ESPN fantasy baseball leagues right now.
  • Bryan LaHair (Cubs OF/1B) – After seeing him play a few games in person, I’m even more impressed than I was just based on his numbers.  He does not qualify for the batting average leader board, but he is hitting .382/.470/.727/1.197 in 55 at-bats.  Even more importantly for the Cubbies, LaHair only costs them $482,500 in salary this season.  The crazy part?  LaHair was the 1180th player taken in the 2002 draft.  That’s the 39th round, folks.  If MLB ran the draft like the NFL does, that pick would have taken place about a month or so after the first pick was selected.  (Owned in 59.5% of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues)
  • Ted Lilly (Dodgers P) – Lilly has only pitched 20.0 innings in 3 games, so he does not qualify for the ERA leader board, but watch out when/if he does.  He is currently sporting a 0.90 ERA which equals the 0.90 that league leader Joe Saunders has posted.  His ownership percentage in ESPN leagues has just risen to a season high 94.1% due in at least part to a jump of 3% in the last week.
  • Ryan Dempster (Cubs P) – Dempster also has the misfortune of having only 3 starts under his belt this season, and his 20 1/3 innings pitched are not enough to qualify him for the ERA title quite yet.  If he can maintain anything close to his current ERA of 1.33, he won’t be flying low for much longer.  (Owned in 80.1% of all ESPN fantasy baseball leagues)

All ESPN fantasy baseball league information provided courtesy of ESPN which is wholly owned and operated by ESPN and is a division of ABC/ESPN and its conglomerate of 411 cable channels and 47 geostationary satellites.

By the way, you can follow me on the Twitteh -> gr33nazn (Eco-friendly + Asian)

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Finding Keepers: Chicago Cubs

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Finding Keepers: Chicago Cubs

Posted on 03 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The Chicago Cubs have a lot of new faces this year and a lot of low expectations to go with them.  This is the perfect storm for finding keepers.  Let’s take a look at some players who might be flying under the radar for the Cubs this year.

1B Bryan LaHair put up some gaudy numbers at AAA last year, with a slash line of .331/.405/.664, including 38 homeruns in just 456 at bats.  However, at age 29 and with Anthony Rizzo breathing down his neck, not many are giving LaHair much of a chance to hold onto the first base job for long.  But, if he gets out of the gate quickly, he should stick with the big club and could move to the outfield once Rizzo is ready.

SP Ryan Dempster was the victim of some bad luck last year, as his hit rate was above his norm, while his strand rate was below normal.  This resulted in an ERA of 4.80, the highest he has posted since returning to the starting role in 2008.  Giving normal regression to the mean, he should return to his sub-4.00 level.  Getting some wins, however, is another question.

3B Ian Stewart was another victim of bad luck.  His Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) was just .224 in 2011 compared to a career average of .302.  Giving his low contact rate, he is unlikely to hit much more than .250 in any given season, but he certainly is capable of bouncing back from his .156/.243/.221 line in 2011. With top third base prospect, Josh Vitters still at least a year away, Stewart will be giving every opportunity to prove that 2011 was a fluke.

OF Marlon Byrd flies under a lot of radars as he doesn’t dominate any one category.  However, he is capable of providing double digit homers and a .280-.290 average.  Plus, depending on where he hits in the Cubs order, he could add either 75 rbi’s or 75 runs.  He has lost 40 pounds this offseason and is in his contract year, so he is playing for what could be his last big payday.  However, with Brett Jackson waiting in the wings, Byrd will also be the subject of numerous trade rumors this year, so those of you in NL only leagues that don’t carry over stats should be wary.

SP Paul Maholm quietly put together a fine season last year with a 3.68 ERA and 1.29 whip.  He will not provide a lot of strikeouts, with just 97 in 162.1 innings last year, nor will he rack up a lot of wins for the Cubs.  But is worth targeting in the late rounds.

RP Carlos Marmol has run hot and cold every other year with the Cubs.  So, after a down year in 2011, we can expect a good year, right?  Well, if he can keep his control in check, Marmol is downright unhittable.  He struck out 138 batters in just 77.2 innings in 2010 and is certainly capable of putting up those numbers again.  Watch him closely this spring.

SP Matt Garza posted the lowest ERA and highest strikeout totals of his career in 2011, so its hard to think of him as being undervalued or a potential keeper.  However, Garza seemed to get stronger as the season wore on, posting a 2.45 ERA in the second half compared to a 4.26 ERA in the first half.  If he can carry that over to 2012, he could become a fantasy ace.

The following players are likely not keeper material:

SS Starlin Castro will likely be overvalued after a strong sophomore campaign.  He is a player on the rise, just don’t overpay for him.

C Geovany Soto had a down year after what seemed like a comeback year in 2010.  He still has some power, but he struggles against righthanders, which will limit his batting average.

2B Darwin Barney got out of the gate fast last year before wearing down in the second half.  The Cubs appear to think of him as more of a utility infielder type and he may have to hold off Adrian Cardenas to keep his job.

The Cubs cannot give away aging veteran OF Alfonso Soriano.  So, they will keep plugging him into the lineup for now, but his defense screams DH and he is not getting any younger.

Finally, OF David DeJesus blames his poor 2011 season on his surgically-repaired right hand.  There could still be some upside there, but let someone else take that chance.

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DOs And DONTs: Chicago Cubs

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DOs And DONTs: Chicago Cubs

Posted on 11 February 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The Chicago Cubs are in the midst of rebuilding their roster this year, but that does not mean you should overlook them when it comes to building your fantasy team.

Here is a look at the Do’s and Don’ts regarding the Cubs roster and their fantasy impact:

DO draft Starlin Castro.  He is the Cubs star and a fantasy star in the making.  He is still young and has yet to reach his full potential, so I wouldn’t go overboard and take him in the first round. But those of you in keeper leagues need to jump on his bandwagon before his price skyrockets.

DON’T expect a lot of wins from the Cubs pitchers.  Let’s face it, this team is not going to be very good.   They finished 71-91 last year with Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster leading the team with 10 wins apiece.  Do not expect more than 10 wins from any of the Cubs starters.

DO take a chance on Bryan LaHair in the end game or late rounds.  He hit .331/.405/.664 with 38 homeruns in just 456 at bats at AAA Iowa in 2011.  Yes, at 28, he is old, but there have been other late bloomers, such as Casey McGehee and Ryan Ludwick.  After holding his own in 59 at bats with the Cubs late last season, he will be given a chance to prove he belongs.  But, at the same time…

DON’T forget about Anthony Rizzo.  He is the Cubs future at first base and could get a mid-season callup if LaHair does not hit the ground running.  Rizzo struggled in 128 at bats with the Padres last season, hitting only .141/.281/.242.  But he is a career .296/.366/.514 hitter in the minors.

DO look at Tony Campana as a source of cheap speed.  He stole 24 bases in 143 at bats last year and will be used as a 4th or 5th outfielder for the Cubs.  He also showed the ability to hit for average in the minors, posting a career line of .303/.359/.353 .  Just do not expect any power from him.

DON’T be fooled by Darwin Barney.  After hitting .306/.334/.374 in the first half last year, he struggled in the second half, hitting only .238/.286/.328.  There are rumors that the Cubs consider him a utility player and recent addition, Adrian Cardenas, could compete with Barney for the starting second base job this spring.

DO draft Brett Jackson for your reserve or bench.  The Cubs top prospect has 20/20 potential and although he will start at AAA this year, he could get the call should Marlon Byrd or Alfonso Soriano be traded.  His strikeout totals are somewhat concerning, but his ability to draw walks helps to make up for it.

DON’T rely on Carlos Marmol as your main source of saves.  He struggled last year with a 4.01 ERA and has been the subject of trade rumors this offseason.  He could end up as trade bait come July, which means…

DO hedge your bets.  If you draft Marmol, make sure you look at Kerry Wood and/or Jeff Samardzija as a backup plan.  If Marmol is ineffective or traded, one of those two could take his place, with rookie Chris Carpenter as a possible dark horse.

Finally, I DON’T know what to make of Ian Stewart.  Is he the capable of bouncing back after a truly awful 2011 campaign or is he washed up?  The Cubs are hoping that a change of scenery will help him return to form and he might be worth a late round flier.  Just don’t expect much from him and you could be pleasantly surprised.

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