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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.

THE END IS NIGH! RUN FOR THE HILLS!

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 %
owned
Notes
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 %
Add/Drop
%
owned
Notes
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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andydirks

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The Waiver Wire: Andy Dirks

Posted on 16 May 2012 by Daniel Aubain

Detroit Tigers outfielder Andy Dirks has been on fire since being inserted into the lineup as a regular on April 26th and time may be running out to pick him up in any quality fantasy baseball league worth participating in this season.

Over the span of 15 games (13 games started), Dirks has gone 19-for-49 (.388 BA) with four doubles, a triple, three home runs, nine RBI and 10 runs scored. Toss in a .455 OBP and a .694 SLG and you got the makings of a player who deserves to be owned in more than just 56.9% of ESPN leagues, 28% of Yahoo! leagues and 41% of CBS leagues. He’s settling in quite nicely to the number two hole in the batting order of a high-powered offense, so don’t hesitate. Check your league’s waiver wire and make the necessary adjustments to get him into your lineup. But hurry.  Over the last seven days, Dirks has been the most added player in ESPN leagues, going from a minuscule 0.3% owned to his current 56.9% (+56.6% change).

Here are some other fantasy baseball players worth a look who may still be available on your league’s waiver wire:

3B Kyle Seager, Seattle Mariners: Seager is now the Mariners’ third baseman and not disappointing. He’s racked up a 5×5 fantasy line of .284/13/4/21/3 in 31 games and needs to be owned in more than 54% of ESPN leagues and 50% of Yahoo! leagues.

RP Dale Thayer, San Diego Padres: Need saves (don’t we all?)? Thayer seems to be the closer du jour in San Diego. He’s gone 3-for-3 with four strikeouts in three innings of work and looks to be a safe “add” at this point. His ownership numbers are rising quickly, so don’t wait much longer if your team’s relievers are dropping like flies. He’s owned in just 36.6% of ESPN leagues, 31% of Yahoo! leagues and 29% of CBS leagues.

SP Carlos Zambrano, Miami Marlins: I can’t believe I am about to recommend picking up Zambrano off waivers. I’ve sworn to myself so many times not to own players I can’t stand watching on TV but his numbers are hard to ignore. Other than wins (just a 1-2 record), he’s giving fantasy owners what they need. In 48 innings, he’s struck out 39 (7.31 K/9) with a 1.88 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. In seven starts, he’s compiled six quality starts. Owned in just 54.9% of ESPN leagues and 52% of Yahoo! leagues, it’s time to take a serious look at adding Zambrano to your fantasy pitching stuff.

C Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers: What’s not to love about a catcher putting up a 5×5 fantasy line of .323/8/2/16/0? ESPN’s Player Rater Tool ranks him as the 13th-best catcher this season. He’d make a great backup in single-catcher leagues to fill in on days your primary catcher is rested to not miss out on statistic scoring opportunities. He’s only owned in just 17.7% of ESPN leagues, 31% of Yahoo! leagues and 56% of CBS leagues, take a look at him if you’re struggling at the catcher position.

RP Casey Janssen, Toronto Blue Jays: If you are still looking for saves, Janssen deserves a look on a short-term basis. He’s 2-for-2 in save opportunities but, overall, he’s only walked one batter (0.89 WHIP) while striking out 13 in 12.1 innings pitched (9,49 K/9). Act now since he’s currently only owned in 29.9% of ESPN leagues, 30% of Yahoo! leagues and 34% of CBS leagues.

Shallow league players probably have many more options than those of us playing in deeper leagues. Imagine the scarcity of playing in a league-only league. Wow. I’d love to hear what your league’s waiver wire is looking like this far into the season and how you are surviving all the injuries and closer changes taking place. Feel free to use the comments section below or contact me on Twitter @DJAubain.

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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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Drafting for Need

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Drafting for Need

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

 

So close, but so far away...

Congratulations!  You have reached that point in your draft where you have a full set of position players, several starting pitchers, and a couple of relievers.  That is great for you.  However, as the picture above suggests, you have not yet finished what you started.  You need to create some depth on your team.  So does pretty much everybody else in your league, though.  The last 6 or 7 rounds of a draft may consist of 10 different people each grabbing the guy ranked the highest by the experts at Full Spectrum Baseball (that is a shameless self-promotion right there, yep).  Of course, it is quite possible that more than a few of those team owners are simply ready to get out of the basement and outside into the sunlight thing that so many people are raving about these days.

Do not be that owner.  Stop for a moment and think.  Are you drafting the best player available just because he may or may not be the best player available?  More importantly, should you be drafting to fill needs in your team?  Maybe the needs are not immediately apparent, but it is your job to anticipate some of those needs anyway.  Good luck.

If you play in a league that allows you to keep bench players, then you pretty much ALWAYS need a second catcher.  If you pay close attention to when your primary catcher will be sitting out, then you can hopefully substitute that backup catcher for a game or two.  It would be an absolute shame to reach the end of the season with only 120 games played by your catcher.  Give serious thought to who you want backing up the top guy.

  • Jonathan Lucroy, John Buck, and Geovany Soto should all make the short list of 2nd catchers available in a 10 team draft.  All 3 topped the 50 rbi mark and have the potential to hit 15 hr or more a season.

What about anticipating need at first base?  Sure, a lot of those guys are like Prince Fielder and rarely take a day off.  That does not mean you should ignore first base as a position of need.  Personally, I usually opt to stack my “utility” positions with at least 1 guy who qualifies at first base.  Even the 2nd and 3rd tier at 1B can provide you with .775+ OPS and some run production.

  • Do not sleep on guys like Carlos Lee, Nick Swisher, and Howie Kendrick.  After Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Joey Votto, and Prince Fielder, there is still a substantial list of hot names to select from, and they will go fast.  Freddie Freeman, Eric Hosmer, Gaby Sanchez, Adrian Gonzalez, and Mark Teixeira will go quickly as well.  All is not necessarily lost, though.  Lee, Swisher, and Kendrick won’t necessarily last forever, but they aren’t the first names that come to mind, either.
  • If you have a really early pick in your draft, the “Miggy Switch Strategy” might be worth considering.  To employ the strategy, you draft Miguel Cabrera as a first basemen, knowing all along that he will be eligible at 3rd base very early on.  You then use a subsequent draft pick on a full time guy at first base.  Cabrera can cover when your guy at first is injured, or you may build some depth at the corner infield spots that allows you the luxury of making a big trade at some point during the season.

If your league makes use of a middle infield (MI) position, then there your draft could force you to look for guys outside the top 15 at both the SS and 2B positions.

A quick glance at the players available at third base should tell you that there is some reasonably good depth at the position.  Even so, team owners should keep in mind the reasons why so many players are ranked close together at the position.

  • Danny Valencia provides a bit of power, but he does so without providing much in the way of steals or OPS.
  • Chipper Jones was a top 15 guy at 3B last season, but his most recent injury puts him in the “do not draft this guy”  bucket.
  • Remember Chase Headley, because his numbers were a little low last year due to the fact he only played 113 games.  He still managed a respectable number of runs scored, rbi, steals, and OPS.  Headley can definitely fill the stat sheet, and he can play multiple positions.  If he qualifies at positions other than third base, then that is a potential bonus factor.

In need of a real bargain or steal for your 4th outfielder or “UTIL” position?  Cameron Maybin stole 40 bases last year.  Nick Markakis had a bit of an off year in which his production was well below his career average.  He managed only 73 rbi, but he has topped that mark 3 times in 5 years leading up to 2011.  Austin Jackson crossed the plate 90 times last season, even though he only hit .249 with a .317 OBP.  Both numbers are well below what he posted in his rookie season (2010), so he could also be a nice addition as a 4th outfielder.

While I will not argue the merits of having top tier players in as many positions as possible, I will also go on record stating that the extra production from unexpected sources is what makes fantasy baseball really interesting.  You do not earn credibility for drafting the obvious perennial Silver Slugger winner the same way you do by getting an extra 20 hr from a utility guy or 80 rbi from your backup middle infielder.

 

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Undervalued Catchers

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Undervalued Catchers

Posted on 13 February 2012 by William Tasker

There is some wonderful work around the Web these days concerning catchers and how to value them. Until now, all we’ve had to go by when evaluating catchers were how well they hit and some generalized defensive metrics. We also had numbers on how well catchers throw out base runners trying to steal. If you watch a lot of baseball, then you know that there is much more that goes into being a catcher than our current statistics show. Included in those non-counting abilities are how well a catcher blocks pitches in the dirt, how good a game a catcher calls and how a catcher catches pitches. The exciting news is that we are getting there.

Mike Fast has been one of the best baseball analysts out there and unfortunately for us, his writing days are over since he has been hired by the Houston Astros. Thankfully, before his new job, he left us one fantastic legacy with a study he published over at Baseball Prospectus. Fast’s work shows us clearly that catchers have a huge impact on how many strikes pitchers can get from umpires based on how the catcher catches the ball. The research also shows us that the difference in this ability by catchers are worth real runs and changes how we look at a catcher’s worth.

Bojan Kopravica has also added to our knowledge by calculating a catcher’s ability to block balls in the dirt in a study he published over at The Hardball Times. Kopravica did us all a great service at the end of his article by combining his work with Mike Fast’s and coming up with new WAR values for catchers based on both of their studies. These terrific bodies of work take some of the fuzzy off of how good/bad catchers really are.

If you are a fantasy baseball enthusiast, it is hard to say how long it will be until this kind of stuff changes how you choose to play and draft catchers. For the rest of us, we might want to rethink how we select our All Star catchers when we get to vote for such things.

After downloading Kopravica’s spreadsheet data (very kind of him), and using a sort feature, a good picture emerges of some truly undervalued catchers. Here is a list of some of the most obvious benefactors of the new research:

  • Russell Martin – Martin is one of the best in baseball in framing pitches and is slightly above average at blocking pitches in the dirt. His actual fWAR in 2011 was 3.1. With the new adjustments, his 2011 season was 4.6.
  • Wilson Ramos – Ramos is also excellent in the framing department and better than Martin at blocking errant pitches. Ramos also rises from a 3.1 fWAR to an adjusted 4.6
  • Jonathan Lucroy – Lucroy was a big part of the resurgence of the Milwaukee Brewers last season. His defense is rated very poor which knocked his fWAR all the way down to 1.9. According to Fast, he was the best catcher in baseball in getting strikes for his pitchers. He is less than average at blocking balls in the dirt. His adjusted WAR then becomes 3.4.
  • Matt Wieters – Wieters is becoming the stud catcher we all envisioned him to be. Despite some whispers of complaints by his pitchers, he actually is above average in obtaining his pitchers strikes and his overall great defensive score is enhanced by one of the best scores of blocking pitches. His adjusted WAR rises from 4.3 to 5.2 making him the third most valuable catcher last season behind Alex Avila and Yadier Molina.
  • Miguel Montero – Montero is one of the best overall catchers in the game. He’s great on offense and on defense and according to the two studies mentioned above, is great at blocking pitches and above average in framing pitches. That means Montero has no weaknesses as a catcher.
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia – Salty’s pitch blocking had to suffer from catching Tim Wakefield, so we’ll have to see how he rates if Wakefield does not pitch for the Red Sox this season. But the Red Sox catcher is very good at obtaining strikes and is strong defensively. His actual fWAR rises from 2.5 to an adjusted 3.3 despite the low blocking pitches score.

These new statistics are terrific and really give us a better picture of who the good catchers are. Of course, the flip side is that we also learn that Carlos Santana and John Buck are pretty awful catchers too. But that’s the way it goes.

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