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Top 5 Fantasy Disappointments in 2012 – Hitters and Pitchers

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Top 5 Fantasy Disappointments in 2012 – Hitters and Pitchers

Posted on 19 August 2012 by John Unity

I’m a fantasy baseball nut. During the preseason I spend more time studying than someone who is getting ready for the Bar Exam.  I eat, sleep, and breathe fantasy baseball, but no matter how much I study I will never be able to hit 100% on my predictions.  An educated analysis can only take you so far, and then real life takes over.  No one can foresee the unexpected: injuries, trades, weather, off-field issues, stress, etc.  There are a lot of great surprises during the season, like Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen.  However, there are a lot of disappointments that leave fantasy owners scrabbling to make adjustments and some that just make you want to rip your hair out.  Let’s take a look at the 5 biggest disappointments of both hitters and pitchers this season.  Side notes: to be fair, I didn’t include players affected by injuries, and the list is based on preseason and current fantasy rankings.

Hitters

#5 – Dan Uggla
Last season, Uggla had a lot of issues as he hit below a 0.200 average and only 12 homeruns in the first 3 months of the season.  However, he came back nicely and hit 0.290 and 24 homeruns in the 2nd half of the season.  This season, Uggla has been just as streaky, but with a lot less power.  He’s on pace to finish the season with 0.211 average and 20 homeruns, both career lows.  He’s also striking out 28% of the time, another career worst.  In fact, the worst average and homerun totals he has ever posted were a 0.233 average last season and 27 homeruns in 2006, his rookie season.  Hopefully he will be able to find a sudden power burst as he did in August 2011, where he exploded for 10 homeruns.  Fantasy owners will take anything at this point as they are making their runs towards the playoffs.

#4 – Eric Hosmer
Hosmer had a very impressive rookie season as he hit 19 homeruns, scored 66 runs, 78 RBI, stole 11 bases, and hit for a 0.293 batting average.  All this without playing in the first month of the season.  Fantasy owners couldn’t wait to see how the 22-year old would respond in his 2nd season.  Unfortunately, he hasn’t responded too well.  He’s on pace to hit just 13 homeruns with a 0.233 batting average.  Hosmer is suffering from a very bad BABIP of 0.258. In this situation, it seems he is suffering mostly from bad luck.  He may not be able to make a difference the rest of this season for fantasy owners, but could be a nice sleeper for next season.  He should bounce back nicely in 2013.

#3 – Michael Young
Young is having his worst season since 2002.  He’s a career 0.302 hitter, but is only hitting 0.270 in 2012.  His biggest disappointment this year has been the fact that he has only hit 3 homeruns, on pace for 4. Prior to this season, his lowest homerun total was 9 in both 2007 and 2002.  This season he has also posted a BABIP under .0308 for the first time since his rookie season in 2001. As he’s turning 36 in October, he may have lost a few steps in his game.  We may be seeing the end of Young having any value in fantasy baseball.

#2 – Mike Napoli
In 369 at-bats last season, Napoli blasted 30 homeruns and hit for a 0.320 average.  No one thought he would be able to repeat his numbers from last season, but in the Texas ballpark and lineup most fantasy owners believed he would still put up great numbers for a catcher.  Instead, Napoli has posted his career worst batting average of 0.223.  He’s also on pace for 23 homeruns, which is still below most fantasy predictions.  He’s currently on the DL and is expected back on August 28th.  The short trip to the DL might be the time he has needed to clear his head, but I wouldn’t count on it at this point.

#1 – Carlos Santana
Last season Santana hit 27 homeruns and had a 0.239 batting average.  However, he also posted a 0.263 BABIP, which a lot of fantasy projectors saw this as a sign of better things to come.  Unfortunately, his lower BABIP seems to be the real deal.  This season he has posted a 0.266 BABIP and in 2010 he posted a 0.277 BABIP.  His low BABIP is caused mainly by his 40% fly ball rate.   Santana is one of those players that you live or die on his long ball, but this season is on pace for only 17 homeruns.  In the first 3 months, he only hit 5 homeruns that left fantasy owners cursing at the computer.  He has been hot the last 4 weeks, so hopefully he can keep it up for the fantasy owners that are still in the postseason run.

 

Pitchers

#5 – Cliff Lee
Lee’s disappointment doesn’t really come from his doing, but mostly his team’s offense.  He didn’t receive his first win until July 4th.  He has only won 2 games this season with a 2-7 record.  In Lee’s defense, Lee has been a workhorse and in 15 of his 21 games he has gone at least 7 innings.  In fact, on April 18th, he went 10 innings without giving up an earned run, and still ended up with a no decision.  His ERA (3.83) is the highest it’s been since 2007, but you can’t really blame the guy; frustration has to play a major role. The Phillies are not a team that will simply accept failure.  You can expect them to make the necessary adjustments in the offseason, which will give Lee a nice bounce back year in 2013.

#4 – Roy Halladay
Halladay’s ERA isn’t terrible, but it’s a huge disappointment for his standards.  He has posted a highest ERA (3.80) since 2004.  Like Lee, his wins have taken a hit due to run support as well.  In the majority of fantasy leagues, Halladay was taken in the first round, however he currently finds himself ranked around #65 in pitchers.  Prior to the season starting, I heard a lot about the possibility that Halladay could find himself on the decline, due to his age.  I’m not completely against this idea.  There’s one thing that really worries me about Halladay this season, and that is his 0.273 BABIP paired with the 3.80 ERA.  The 0.273 BABIP is the lowest of his career.  I hate to say it, but he may be lucky that he doesn’t have a 4.00+ ERA at this point. Like Lee, the Phillies should make the necessary moves this offseason to give Halladay a decent bounce back year.  However, we may never again see the Halladay that we all got used to.

#3 – Jon Lester
With about 4 weeks left in the regular fantasy baseball season, Lester finds himself with his worst loss total of his career.  In the four seasons prior, Lester never lost more than 9 games, however he currently finds himself with a 6-10 record.  He has a career worst 5.20 ERA and finds himself sporting an elevated BABIP of 0.323.  Batters are hitting 0.272 against him, also a career worst.  You have to wonder if there is an injury or other problem that is affecting him.  He is a completely different pitcher than we’ve seen over the prior 4 seasons.  One thing that we need to make a point about, Lester struggled in the final month of last season, posting a 5.40 ERA.  Keep a close eye on him for the remainder of the season, and consider what you see before drafting him too high in 2013.

#2 – Dan Haren
Fantasy owners expected a lot of Haren after he posted a 3.17 ERA last season, and the fact the Angels acquired Albert Pujols.  Many people predicted the Angels would make it to the World Series.  Some fantasy owners were hoping that Haren could post 20 wins this year, but at this point Haren would be lucky to get more than 10 wins this season.  He’s posted his worst ERA since his rookie season in 2003, sitting at 4.90.  He has been a complete disaster the last 3 months, with ERAs of 7.16, 4.96, and 7.62, respectively.  He didn’t make it out of the 3rd inning in his last two starts, which has a lot of people wondering if he’s having more back issues.  The Angels are much better than their records show, and should do much better next season.  Haren could end up performing a lot better than where he will be drafted next season.

#1 – Tim Lincecum
Lincecum has been a complete disaster.  This year he has posted a 5.45 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 0.326 BABIP, 42% ground ball rate, 12% HR/FB rate, 25.7% line drive rate, and a 6-13 record… all career worst’s.  He is still striking out hitters at a high rate of 9.43 per 9 innings.  MLB’s Official Fantasy Magazine had Lincecum listed as the #6 starting pitcher; he currently finds himself ranked around #105 in starting pitchers this season.  Lincecum, like Haren, could find himself outperforming his draft position in 2013.  The Freak will write this season off and find himself again as one of the MLB’s elite pitchers next season.

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

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kcroyals1

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Finding Keepers: Kansas City Royals

Posted on 06 April 2012 by Daniel Aubain

The Kansas City Royals probably aren’t going to factor into any playoff scenarios this season but many of their young players will help you build a solid fantasy baseball team to make a run at your league’s championship title.

In the latest installment of Finding Keepers, I’ll take a look at the Kansas City Royals players on their 40-man roster you should be considering as “keepers” heading into the 2012 fantasy baseball season.

1B Eric Hosmer is primed to make a run at the upper echelon of fantasy baseball first basemen in 2012. In 128 games in 2011, he hit .293 with 19 home runs with 11 stolen bases. If his Spring Training numbers (.398 BA, 33 hits and 29 RBI in 28 games) are any indicator of things to come, fantasy owners who locked him up as their starting first baseman have nothing to worry about this season (and beyond).  His ADP is currently 52.06 and ranks: ESPN #45; Yahoo! #58; CBS #106.

OF Alex Gordon put together the season fantasy baseball owners have been hoping for since he burst on the scene in 2007. His 5×5 line of .303/101/23/87/17, along with his .376 OBP, .502 SLG and OPS+ of 140 have fantasy owners drafting him with an ADP of 62.37. Check out his rankings: ESPN #50; Yahoo! #40; CBS #87.

DH Billy Butler is starting to show fantasy owners what to expect from him each season rather than drafting him based on potential or perceived expectations. He’s probably only DH-eligible in your league now (lucky you if he still has 1B eligibility), so there’s that drawback but you can bank on a 5×5 line around .300/75/20/90/1. Rankings: ESPN #98; Yahoo! #127; CBS #111.

 Best of the rest but not a keeper

3B Mike Moustakas has 20-home run potential but only hit five in 365 plate appearances in his rookie season. He plays a premium fantasy baseball position and could easily become a keeper with a much-improved sophomore season.

OF Lorenzo Cain will be given every chance to show what he’s got this season and what he’s got is a .300 average and 30 stolen base potential. He will be fun to own but not yet a keeper.

C Salvador Perez had many fantasy owners targeting him as a sleeper for 2012 after a .331/20/3/21/0 in just 39 games in 2011. Unfortunately a Spring Training knee injury has virtually wiped out his entire season.

The Kansas City Royals farm system is currently ranked 5th overall by Baseball Prospectus and should continue to produce and promote quality players. Now if only they could have success growing some major league-ready pitchers. PS, Danny Duffy…not a keeper…yet.

So there you have it. How did you feel about the Royals’ roster heading into your fantasy baseball drafts and now into the 2012 season? Please use the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter @DJAubain to continue the discussion.

 

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The 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team

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The 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Daniel Aubain

There’s nothing more useless than putting too much emphasis on the statistics players are putting up in Spring Training. Just ask Jake Fox. He hit 10 Spring Training home runs in 2011 and accumulated just 15 HITS in the regular season and found his way onto many a fantasy baseball squad for his catcher eligibility. How’d that work out for those managers?

Some Spring Training statistics are worth paying attention to, like a hitters walk rate (positively) or strikeout rate (negatively). Stolen bases are also a nice statistic to keep an eye on, especially for players fighting for a roster spot. A pitcher’s K%, K/9 and K/BB ratios are nice to keep an eye on. They’ll let you know if they are in the zone or struggling with their command. So just keep Spring Training numbers in perspective when scrolling through the box scores or stat web sites.

That all being said, let’s celebrate the 2012 Spring Training All-Star Team, by position:

Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy leads all catchers with 20 hits and sports a gaudy .513 batting average. Of those 20 hits, seven have gone for extra bases (five doubles and two home runs). He’s also only struck out two times in 39 at bats but hasn’t walked. I also like to see that he stole a base in three attempts. He’s virtually gone undrafted in ESPN leagues (ADP 260+) and only owned in 7.4% of their leagues. Now might be a good time to reassess your catching depth chart.

Kansas City Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer leads the majors with 25 hits and 23 RBI  in just 22 games played this Spring and looks primed for a monster sophomore season. He’s also stolen three bases, so the 11 he swiped in 2011 don’t seem like a fluke.

Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler has 20 hits, a .408 batting average and has scored 14 runs in 15 Spring Training games. His four doubles and four home runs prove he’s ready for the season to get underway.

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie is proving to be the real deal. He’s gone 17-for-30 (.567 BA) in just 12 games this Spring with seven doubles and two triples. Oh, and he’s stolen five bases, too. If you own him in your fantasy baseball league, the season can’t start soon enough.

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon is showing us all his speed is the real deal. He’s stolen 10 bases in 12 attempts in 17 games to go along with 20 hits for a .417 batting average. His two triples and six walks are also great signs of things to come.

Detroit Tigers left fielder Delmon Young has 10 extra base hits (five doubles and five home runs) and 19 RBI in 18 games this Spring and will be a steady fixture in the middle of the Tigers lineup for 2012. Somehow he’s only owned in 91.4% of ESPN leagues. Check your waivers.

Kansas City Royals center fielder Lorenzo Cain has 14 extra base hits and a 1.345 OPS in 54 Spring at bats. He’ll be a fixture at the top of what seems to be an explosive offense for 2012, so pay attention. With an ADP of 224.7 in ESPN leagues and a mind-numbingly low ownership percentage of 28.7%, now is the time to check to see if he’s sitting out there on your league’s waiver wire and POUNCE!

Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Andre Ethier is showing he’s healthy by clubbing 13 extra base hits (eight doubles, three triples, two home runs) in 15 games for a 1.412 OPS. He’s also scored 11 runs while driving in 12. It will be interesting to see where contract extension talks go if he gets off to a hot start now that the Dodgers’ ownership situation is heading towards a resolution.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Kendrys Morales seems to be back in form his 22-month layoff from injury. As of today (Thursday, March 29th, 2012), he’s gone 10-for-16 (.625 BA) with two home runs with 16 total bases. He’s up to 87.7% owned in ESPN leagues, so your window of opportunity to grab him off waivers has probably closed. Those owners who drafted him with an ADP of 201.1 should see an extremely high return on investment.

Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke has pitched 19.1 innings this Spring and struck out 28 batters while walking only two. That’s right, TWO. That’s a 14:1 K:BB ratio with a 13.03 K/9. He had a 0.93ERA with a 0.83 WHIP and batters hit just .197 against him. These are the kinds of statistics that matter in Spring Training and should translate into a very dominant season for Greinke in 2012.

This team doesn’t have a closer because no one is truly closing out games yet as relievers are simply trying to get their work in to be prepared to go once the games start to count on April 4th.

Which players would you like nominate to this year’s Spring Training All-Star Team and why? Are you basing your decisions in support of your favorite team and players or from a fantasy baseball perspective (or both)? Use the comments section below to nominate your players and be sure to engage me in a conversation on Twitter @DJAubain.

NOTE: All Spring Training statistics quoted are from MLB.com and are through games played as of March 28, 2012, unless otherwise noted.

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Contract Bets: Salvador Perez

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Contract Bets: Salvador Perez

Posted on 01 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

The Kansas City Royals have signed catcher Sal Perez to a long term deal that promises to keep him in the fold through 2016 but could last as long as 2019.  As a general rule, teams tend to do pretty well on long term deals that include more than 1 option year.  Why?  Well, those option years tend to come at the end of a contract when the annual salary tends to increase almost exponentially.   However, the general rule is usually applied to players who have a few years of established performance to aid teams in projecting performance.  The Perez deal may break the mold, so it seems like a great candidate for “Contract Bets” where we collectively pass judgment on a contract or trade and return to this same topic at a later date to continue a debate that we will table at some point here.

The Details:  The Royals have signed rookie catcher, Salvador Perez to a 5 yr / $7M with 3 option years that total around $20M.

Good Bet:  As long as Perez turns into at least a decent everyday catcher at the major league level, the bet should be good.  The Royals have protected themselves from the cost uncertainty of arbitration.  Even if Perez turns into a hybrid beast combination of Buster Posey and Brian McCann in a few years, the team won’t be on the hook from some potential 8-figure years.  If the likely worst case scenario is that he will just a solid backstop, the Royals still might realize some cost savings.  Consider a quick guess of $1.5M for the pre-arbitration years and another $5.5M for the first 2 years of arbitration.  Perez should be able to easily earn that $5.5M over 2 years.  If he turns into a top 20 catcher after 5 years, then the option years should be no-brainers for the Royals.

Bad Bet:  Maybe the Royals jumped the gun on this one just a bit.  As a standalone deal, this is possibly a push from a worst-case perspective.  However, this may very well impact the way guys like Eric Hosmer and Alex Gordon assess their relative values within the organization.  The contract by itself looks like a real win for the Royals, unless Perez absolutely falls flat or happens to be abducted by aliens.  If it does indeed lead to some unintended consequences, then that certainly does reflect somewhat poorly on this organizational decision, but that seems like a chance worth taking.  Still, it sure seems like this contract could have been done a few months from now or even after the end of the season.

My Call:  I feel almost obligated to call this a “good bet” solely on the cost certainty component.  Hopefully, this contract also sends the right message to both the team and the fan base about the Royals being serious about building for the long term.

DISCLAIMER:  I refer to contracts as good or bad bets, because we really are talking about calculating or estimating odds on something that essentially is a moving target.  Unless you can predict the future, you simply cannot know whether or not the deal will work out better for the club or the player.  Maybe this subtle semantic differentiation is not worth mentioning, but there is a notable difference between knowing about a past event or series of events and believing that you know about events yet to pass.

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Fantasy Sleeper Picks For Each Position

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Fantasy Sleeper Picks For Each Position

Posted on 09 February 2012 by Jared Thatcher

Fantasy baseball drafts are upon us and most of the time you don’t get everyone you want. The tough part is finding guys who will perform once the few elite players at each position are taken. In this article I will give you one player for each position that will probably NOT get drafted in the top 10 for his individual position, but that WILL probably end the year as one of the top 10 most productive for his position.

C – Jesus Montero – Mariners

I realize he is more of a prospect right now and might end up as a DH, but he should break camp with the Mariners and get at bats right away. It will take a little time for him to qualify at the catcher position but once he does, he might be the most productive in the game of fantasy baseball.

1B – Eric Hosmer – Royals

Hosmer had a great year in 2011 hitting .293 with 19 HR and 73 RBIs over 128 games. He probably won’t be one of the top 10 drafted first basemen so grab him if you miss out on the Vottos, Fielders, and Gonzalez. A little known fact about Hosmer is that possesses some speed also. He had 11 stolen bases and 3 triples last year which will be an added bonus to his fantasy points.

2B – Aaron Hill – Diamondbacks

Hill had an abysmal 2011 inTorontobut showed flashes of his ability when he arrived inArizona. Grab Hill after the Kinslers, Canos, and Pedroias because this year he should return to his 20+ HR and 70+ RBIs. He will never bring you a high batting average but last year he swiped 21 bags and that should help make up for it in fantasy points.

SS – J.J. Hardy – Orioles

This is probably the riskiest pick you can find. I believe in Hardy and if he can stay healthy he will bring power to a light hitting position. In 2011 he quietly hit 30 HR on a terrible Orioles offense which probably wont be any better this year but don’t forget, your drafting him because you missed out on Tulo, Andrus, and Reyes.

3B – Ryan Roberts – Diamondbacks

Someone may take Roberts in the first 10 third basemen but the chances are slim. He ranked in the top five third basemen last year in some fantasy leagues and if he comes to spring training this year with the same attitude, owners might get an even better product. Last year he struggled with the high fastball and this year he vowed to lay off it, which should improve his average and walk rate. Tatman steals bases and may be eligible at other positions so draft him after Bautista, Longoria, and Wright type players are gone.

LF – Nolan Reimold – Orioles

He only played 87 games last year but he showed he could really hold it down in LF. He is only 28 years old and hitting his prime so watch out for a breakout year in 2012. Picking up Reimold is risky but it could payoff big if you are in a squeeze.

CF – Colby Rasmus – Blue Jays

2011 was a lost year for Rasmus and he knows that. His batting average was terrible and he didn’t have the power he showed the past two seasons. Let’s remember, he is only 25 in 2012 and the change of scenery has probably done him well. Hopefully Rasmus catches the home run fever inTorontobut also look for him to exploit his speed this year. Should be a breakout year for the kid.

RF – Matt Joyce – Rays

Given the chance to play full-time in 2011 he really showed what he could do. He hit 19 HR and 75 RBIs while stealing 13 bases last season and this year he should improve on those numbers. The Rays offense is powerful and he should provide pop and batting average this year for his fantasy owners.

SP – Trevor Cahill – Diamondbacks

At only 24 years old, Cahill should become the Ace of the Dbacks in 2012. His ERA and win totals weren’t great inOaklandlast year but he was backed by a pretty terrible defense and the AL West is not as forgiving as you might think. A move to the light-hitting NL West were he will pitch to a pitcher in the 9-hole instead of a DH somewhere in the lineup should help his numbers. The Diamondbacks can also score runs so he should have more than 10 wins this year. Pick him up in the middle rounds and be prepared to be amazed as he turns into a star.

RP – Joey Devine – Athletics

Relief pitchers are hard to figure out because closers can be changed very regularly. Devine is in the mix to close for the Athletics this year and I think he is the most qualified of the mix. Add him to your roster very late in the draft or off the waiver wire and wait to see how the closer situation inOaklandshakes out. Downside you have a very good reliever, upside you have a 30+ saves candidate.

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