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Joshin’ Around

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Joshin’ Around

Posted on 13 February 2013 by Will Emerson

Pitchers and catchers have reported which means it is time to delve into all, yes all,  sorts of fantasy baseball argle bargle! So what is the argle bargle du jour? Well, that would be the outfield position.

JoshWillingham

Otherwise known as, arguably the deepest position in fantasy baseball, not just because of the mere talent level of outfielders but also because, in the offensive category there are just plain more of them. It would be hard to argue that the easiest place to find some hidden offensive gem is in the outfield. Wouldn’t it? Plus many of the early round talents are outfielders. I mean the list of fantasy studs in the outfield is pretty darned good. Mike Trout, Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen, Matt Kemp, Josh Hamilton, Josh Willingham…..wha, wha, wha, what?! Josh Willingham?  Yes, do not adjust your screens, I said Josh Willingham. Josh is a fantasy diamond in the rough!

Okay, maybe J-Dubs is not your traditional fantasy stud, per se, but he is definitely a guy many of your opponents may overlook. In several places I have seen his current average draft position in the high 80s, mostly drafted behind about 20-25 some odd other outfielders, which could end up being a big steal for you come draft day. Willingham quietly put up a very solid 2012 with the Twinkies, probably because, well, not many people were paying much attention to the Twinkies as a whole. Mmmm, Twinkies…. Umm, well, in case you missed hit, here is what Willingham did last season:

35 HRs (4th among OFs)
110 RBIs (3rd among OFs)
.890 OPS (4th among OFs)
143 wRC+ (4th among OFs)
.366 OBP (12th among OFs)

Yes, I realize wRC+ is not used in fantasy baseball, but it is certainly not irrelevant stat for drafting a fantasy team. Take it for what you will, but here were the no name outfield leaders in wRC+ in 2012:

Mike Trout- 166
Ryan Braun- 162
Andrew McCutchen- 158
Josh Willingham- 143
Matt Holliday- 141
Josh Hamilton- 140
Allen Craig- 138
Ben Zobrist- 137
Yoenis Cespedes- 136
Austin Jackson- 135

Not bad company for Willingham, huh? Now, I know what you may be thinking, “but Will, that’s only one season, there’s no saying he can duplicate that in 2013!” Well, first off, I am not sure why you are yelling at me, but to your point  I would say, to be fair, that there is never a guarantee that a player can duplicate any season. Regardless of whether or not a player has a decent track record, anything can and will happen from one season to the next, but was this just one season for Willingham?  Let’s go and see, shall we? That’s rhetorical, folks, see, we shall, and see right now, we will! Wow, sorry for Yoda taking over this post for a hot second. Where were we? Oh yeah, Josh Willingham.

If Willingham gets over 400 ABs he will get you 20+ dingers. In 2011, he socked 29 dingers, so the 35 is not completely out of left field, where, as it happens, Willingham plays most of the time, so I guess they were out of left field in a way.  The 29 long balls in 2011 were only good for 11th amongst all outfielders, but that is still pretty good. Remember he is looking to be around the 25th (or so) outfielder coming off the ol’ board in 2013 fantasy baseball drafts. There is more to life and, to a lesser degree, fantasy baseball, than home runs. Okay, well, Willingham also drove in 98 runs in 2011, good for sixth amongst all outfielders. So you can at the very least get some cheap pop out of the big lug. Obviously the lack of steals and batting average do hurt his case a bit, but his .260 average from 2012 is not too debilitating and minus his ’08 and ’11 seasons he has hit .260 or higher every season, which is not atrocious by any means. If you are not old-fashioned sitting in a 5 x 5 league with batting average as a stat then sure his stock will drop some. If you are in a league that at  least has OPS and or OBP, then Willingham is absolutely, undoubtedly, positively the sleeper outfielder for you!

Although his career batting average is .261, he has been able to get on base at a .362 clip, proving he has a bit of patience at the plate. Plus he has not had an OPS under .810 in the majors since he became an everyday player in 2006. On that front only twice in those seasons did he post an OPS under .834. Okay, not a much bigger number, but nevertheless, a good one. Statistically there are no signs that 2012 was a giant fluke for Willingham, although the home runs may drop off a bit into the mid-to late twenties (I’m calling 27 right now!), the rest of the numbers are pretty legit, even the runs! Willingham scored 85 runs. On the Twins. The 22nd in the majors in runs, Minnesota Twins, for crying out loud! Okay, okay, maybe I am getting a tad bit carried away here. Alright, alright, so the 85 runs may dip a bit as well. In fact, well, the RBIs may fall off a smidge too. So, 2012 may not quite be duplicated by Josh, but I think he is an outfield sleeper come draft day, regardless, mark my words!

Look, I am not saying that Josh Willingham is a top ten fantasy player. Heck, I am not even saying he is a top ten fantasy outfielder. Although that could depend in large part to what stats you use in your league. In any event people, what I am saying is that you could still be getting a steal (but not steals) in the middle rounds with Josh Willingham. Here is what I am projecting for J-Will in 2013:  .258/.363/.480, 27 HRs, 90 RBIs and 78 runs. Now, I am certainly not the greatest prognosticator in the world. Far from it, I would wager. Be that as it may, I like to think I am in the ballpark with Willingham’s numbers and if I am (and 63% of the time I am right every time) then those are darned decent numbers to grab in the early 8th round in a 12 team league.  So you are welcome for starting you on the path to a fantasy baseball championship!

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Who’s Hot: Trade deadline edition

Posted on 29 August 2012 by Chris Caylor

For this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not, we journey back in time…about a month. The Dodgers-Red Sox mega-deal got me thinking: first, about that whole “let’s move the trade deadline back” media movement I addressed a few weeks ago. The blockbuster trade proves that the trade deadlines are just fine where they are, just like I wrote. Second, I was reminded about the deals made before the July 31st deadline. Which players have given their new teams a boost? Which players have fallen flat? There are some of each. Before we dive in, let’s just acknowledge that any stats from July 31 to now constitute a small sample size and should be regarded as such. At the same time, though, this time of year, those SSS (small sample size) numbers may make the difference between October baseball and October tee times.

Who’s Hot

Hanley Ramirez, Los Angeles Dodgers – There must be something about guys named Ramirez being traded to LA. This year, it’s the enigmatic HanRam, a frequent loafer while with the Marlins. Since joining the Dodgers, Ramirez has been worth 0.7 WAR in just 32 games (thru Tuesday), whereas he was worth 0.5 WAR in 93 games with Miami. Fantasy owners may never again see the days where Ramirez hits over .300 or steals 20+ bases, but they have to be much happier with his stats in LA than the end of his tenure in South Florida. With Adrian Gonzalez, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier batting around him and the allure of a pennant race, Ramirez should be a top performer for the Dodgers and fantasy owners.

Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves – There are low-profile acquisitions every season, whether by trade, free agency or minor league recall, that give teams an unexpectedly pleasant shot in the arm. Maholm has been guy for the Braves. In his 8th season, finally in a pennant race, he is enjoying his finest season. Since being traded to Atlanta, Maholm has responded by averaging over 7 innings per start and spinning a 0.98 WHIP. His H/9 and K/9 ratios are career bests as well. Atlanta has struggled with injuries to its rotation all season, but Maholm and Kris Medlen are helping to steady the ship.

Marco Scutaro, San Francisco Giants – Here is another example of an under-the-radar trade that has paid big dividends for the buyers. Scutaro was scuffling through a hum-drum season in Colorado before Christmas came early in the form of a trade to San Francisco. After putting together a .271/.324/.361 line for the Rockies, a revitalized Scutaro has posted a much more respectable .331/.359/.430 line. As a Scutaro owner, I had been considering dropping him altogether, even though he was playing half his games at Coors Field. Now that he is playing every day for the Giants (and hitting well), he is a decent middle-infield option for NL-only leagues and deep mixed leagues.

Lukewarm

Francisco Liriano, Chicago White Sox – With the exception of one clunker of a start against Oakland on August 11, the former Twin has pitched pretty well for the Pale Hosers. While with Minnesota, Liriano compiled a 77 ERA+ in 22 games. Since being dealt to Chicago, he has pitched to an ERA+ of 102, or just a tad above average. Accordingly, his ownership percentage in roto leagues has increased since the trade. He was forced to leave last Monday’s start against the Orioles due to leg cramps, so he should be fine for his next start.

Shane Victorino, Los Angeles Dodgers – The Flyin’ Hawaiian was already having a down season with the Phillies, and he hasn’t taken off since arriving in L.A. His batting average and OPS numbers would be the worst of his career if the season ended today, while his WAR numbers would be the worst since becoming an everyday player for Philadelphia in 2006. He is capable of a hot streak in the season’s final month, and he continues to be an excellent source of steals. With Ramirez, Kemp, Gonzalez and Either to drive him in, all Victorino needs to do is get back to career-average numbers and he will return to elite status.

Wandy Rodriguez/Travis Snider/Gaby Sanchez, Pittsburgh Pirates – After the Derrek Lee/Ryan Ludwick trades failed to boost the Pirates to the postseason in 2011, Pirates GM Neal Huntington went in the opposite direction this year, trading for players whom the Pirates will control beyond 2012. The three players acquired in July all fall into the lukewarm category:

 Snider – The most intriguing player of the three, Snider has taken the opportunity and run with it. His improved plate discipline (lower strikeout rate, higher walk rate) has led to better pitches to hit, especially with men on base (1.117 OPS). Clearly, he is enjoying batting ahead of Andrew McCutchen in the Buccos’ lineup. The power isn’t showing up yet, but he is still just 24. Count me as a Snider fan. He is most definitely worth a roster spot in NL-only roto leagues and even as a matchup play against lefties.
 Rodriguez – I list Wandy here in the lukewarm category after watching him deal six shutout innings in a critical game Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals. That had to be more like what Pittsburgh had in mind when they dealt three prospects for the former Astros southpaw. Prior to that start, Rodriguez hurled career-worst numbers in H/9, BB/9 and K/9. I wouldn’t blame you if you’ve already dropped him from your fantasy team (if you even had him in the first place). Keep an eye on him for the next start or two, though, and see if he can build on his gem against the Cards.
 Sanchez – He fell out of favor very quickly in Miami, despite hitting 19 home runs each of the past two seasons. Sanchez has been a part-time player in Pittsburgh. While he hasn’t exactly proven the Marlins wrong yet, he has improved, raising his batting line from an embarrassing .202/.250/.306 to merely a below average .250/.291/.365, which is no worse than the Pirates were getting from the now-departed Casey McGehee. Either way, Sanchez has no business being on your fantasy roster unless you’re in the deepest of fantasy leagues.

Who’s Not

Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Angels – Greinke might be the biggest bust of the entire trade season. The Angels were expecting the ace worthy of a 2.4 WAR with the Brewers; instead, Greinke has depreciated in every critical pitching category. A -0.1 WAR was definitely not what the Angels had in mind. He isn’t just on a run of bad luck; his pitches are getting hammered for major damage. The worst thing for fantasy players is that benching or cutting Greinke is not really an option. He is capable of an 8-inning, 1 ER, 10K gem at any point. Like the Angels, you’re stuck waiting for it to happen.

Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants – Someone show Pence the way to San Francisco. The always-entertaining outfielder energized the Phillies lineup in 2011 with an OPS+ of 157 after being acquired from Houston, but it hasn’t happened for the Giants. Pence is slugging a puny .324 and whiffed in nearly one-third of his at-bats since the trade. To me, Pence has always been a bit overrated by most fantasy owners (similar to Nick Markakis in the American League); as such, he probably cost a either a mid-to-high draft pick or auction price tag. If you own Pence, you probably can’t just dump Pence unless you’re in a ridiculously shallow league. If that’s the case, you need to find a more challenging league.

Ryan Dempster/Geovany Soto, Texas Rangers – The Rangers swooped in at the last minute and poached Dempster from the Los Angeles Dodgers, but you have to wonder if they would like a do-over. Dempster has not adjusted well to the junior circuit (83 ERA+, 1.47 WHIP). His struggles are less surprising considering that he had crafted a career-best ERA+ and WHIP at age 35, but the Rangers had to be expecting better. He’s not undroppable like Greinke, but he should be a matchup play in head-to-head leagues. Keep him active if you’re desperate for wins in a roto league, but only if you can stand the hit in the other pitching categories. Soto replaced Mike Napoli, but has not done much better than Yorvit Torrealba, who was cut loose to make room for Soto. He looks like a shell of the player who won the 2006 NL Rookie of the Year award.

As we jump back to the present, this is what we see: Ramirez has worked out well for the Dodgers, but the other high-profile acquisitions have not made the desired impact for their new teams. It’s the lower-profile deals that have worked out best: Maholm, Scutaro, even Edward Mujica has been a demonstrable upgrade to the Cardinals bullpen. Meanwhile, the Angels have lost ground in the playoff hunt since Greinke joined the team (not that it’s solely his fault by any stretch; he’s had plenty of help). The Giants are in first place, but Scutaro has been a bigger contributor to their recent success than Pence. Nate Schierholtz has been as productive (read: not very) as Pence, and the Giants wouldn’t have had to surrender any talent. Dempster was 98% on his way to Atlanta; how different would the Braves rotation look if Dempster ended up there and pitched the same way he has in Texas? What would the Rangers have done to upgrade their rotation?

This isn’t to say that making deals at the trade deadline doesn’t work. Just last year, the St. Louis Cardinals made a huge trade – sacrificing a talented young center fielder – which fortified the starting rotation and bullpen and led to an exhilarating World Series championship. In 2010, the San Francisco Giants picked up Cody Ross as a spare part and he helped lead them to their first title in 56 years. Making a trade – especially a blockbuster – is a calculated roll of the dice. We won’t know the true impact of the trades until after the season at the earliest. These are just first impressions of the deals made a month ago. The storylines are still being written.

Hit me with any feedback (well, unless you’re a Red Sox fan). Follow me on Twitter @chriscaylor.

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Mike Trout: Poetry In Motion — Or Fish Tale?

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Mike Trout: Poetry In Motion — Or Fish Tale?

Posted on 24 August 2012 by Gary Perilloux

Somewhere along the meteoric path charted by Mike Trout this season, I became smitten with this whole fish tale. A National League sympathizer by habit, I’d only caught portions of the Trout tale. But when ESPN devoted a lengthy segment solely to the analytic physics of one catch made by the Los Angeles Angels outfielder, I knew that all of us in the audience were being sucked into a date with destiny.

No ordinary fish tale here. Mike Trout had burst onto the scene as the second coming of Willie Howard Mays himself. Willie Mays circa 1954, Game 1 of the World Series, with the Say Hey Kid churning his swift legs toward the center field fence and hauling in — his back to the plate, his head skyward — an over-the-shoulder, extra-bases-saving snare from a 460-foot black hole of the Polo Grounds: Vic Wertz and the Indians denied.

After that catch, Leo Durocher would growl, “Willie makes (expletive) catches like that every day.”

Amazing grace

I think “The Lip” would do little more justice to Trout’s exploits. So with deepest apologies to the late, great Elizabeth Barrett Browning, I submit the poetry of Mike Trout in motion.

mag_next02_trout_mike_600

Sonnet from Disneyland

How do I love thee, O Millville Meteor? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when balls sail out of sight
Toward fences scaled by thy gloved grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
ESPN gasp: The Catch! and bases swiped.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Ruth.
I love thee purely, as women shed their Bonds.
I love thee with a passion put to use
in Fantasy drafts, and with my Sabermetric faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my fallen Astros, — I love thee with the Pujols,
Braun, Harper, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better in the World Series.

By now, you may have surmised that I’m of the tongue-in-cheek school that questions Trout’s long-term greatness. Read that again: “long-term greatness.”

I don’t doubt Trout’s present-day greatness. Besides the catch, his skills as a leadoff hitter with power (.344/24/70) and speed (39-for-43 SBs) and table-setting results (97 runs, an MVP-worthy WAR of 8.6) are easily documented.

Leap of faith

What set me on edge, beyond the unctuous ESPN catch analysis, was an ESPN.com piece in which David Schoenfield opined: “Ranking the center fielders: Trout No. 1.”

To say that a few of us bristled at the premature crown placed on Trout’s head would not be a fish tale. At last glance, Schoenfield’s ranking (with Andrew McCutcheon No. 2 and Matt Kemp No. 3) had elicited 832 comments. A few of them were mine, and after pointing out the superiority of Joe Dimaggio’s rookie year to this great Trout season, I was roundly booed, hissed upon and scolded by Angels Nation for mixing dissimilar baseball eras.

Point taken. It was only later, upon weighing the base-stealing exploits and that other great catch, that I landed upon Willie Mays as an interesting touchstone for Trout. Yes, it’s a different era again, but there aren’t any current-day center fielders with the track record to establish head-and-shoulders superiority at the position.

Here’s an example of what Trout would need to do to establish himself as the premier player of his time at any position, as some are prematurely calling him. Willie Mays won Rookie of the Year honors in 1951 at age 20, posting more modest numbers than Trout: (.274/20/68/59, with 7 SBs in 464 ABs). What’s less known about Mays than some other greats is that he would miss most of his second and third seasons to military service during the Korean Conflict.

But upon his return, oh, upon his return, the heavens burst open: his season of .345/41/110/119 at age 23 would launch 12 straight years with more than 100 runs scored and 13 consecutive seasons with more than 300 total bases. During that stretch, Mays would lead the league in triples three times, home runs four times, stolen bases four times, slugging percentage five times and OPS five times. Nine times he would meet or exceed Trout’s current WAR (soaring past a 10 rating a half-dozen times) and 10 consecutive years he would win Golden Gloves, with an eventual 12 top fielding awards.

Those are the standards Trout and his admirers need to examine before crowning him with anything beyond one-year awards. I’m of the school (a minority one now) that Bryce Harper eventually will enjoy the superior career of the two, once he assimilates the defensive skills and pitch-timing required to thrive in the Major Leagues.

The debate will continue, and two great young outfielders can’t be anything but good for baseball. But let’s enjoy watching what MAY be the Mays and Mantle of our generation without a rush to judgment.

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Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Aroldis Chapman

Posted on 14 August 2012 by Chris Caylor

Welcome to this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not. This week we appropriately feature a flamethrower and a repeat performer from last week (in a different category) plus a few others. Away we go…

Hottest of the Hot

Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati Reds – Unhittable. That’s what Chapman has been virtually all season. Over the past two weeks, he has racked up 7 saves and 12 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings with no walks. So far this season, Chapman has punched out 106 batters in 57 innings versus a mere 14 walks. In 2012, he has decreased his BB/9 from 7.4 in 2011 to 2.2, while his K/BB ratio has improved from 1.73 in 2011 to an eye-popping 7.57. To give you a basis for comparison, Mariano Rivera pitched to a 7.50 K/BB ratio during his sterling 2011 campaign. That’s how good Chapman has been this year.

Who Else is Hot?

Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants – Posey has picked up where he left off in 2010, when he won NL Rookie of the Year. In the past week, he clubbed 6 home runs, drove in 16, and put together a.465/.586/.930 batting line. The catcher position is no longer the shallow fantasy baseball wasteland it used to be (unless you’re in a two-catcher league), but Posey is a Top 5 catcher, and his first base eligibility is handy too.

Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers – I think Kemp likes having Shane Victorino and Hanley Ramirez around him in the lineup. He has hit safely in 14 of his past 15 games, batting .443 in that stretch. Kemp sports a 1.067 OPS for the season and has approved proportionally in each category over last season. The Dodgers and fantasy owners are happy to have Kemp back and productive.

Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox – Look who’s finally heating up. After getting off to a miserable start, Gonzalez is punishing the ball the way we have become accustomed. In the past week, A-Gon has hit a pair of homers, driven in 14 runs and slugged .857. Although the home run numbers remain down, Gonzalez is on pace to drive in over 100 runs for a fourth season.

David Price, Tampa Bay Rays – Price’s stats this year are remarkable. Putting aside the 15 wins (on pace for 20), Price hasn’t lost a decision since June 13. Given how feeble the Rays lineup has been without Evan Longoria, I find that noteworthy. Price also is on pace for over 200 strikeouts, with a K/BB ratio of 3 to 1. Similar to Justin Verlander, Price is consistently able to throw in the mid to upper 90s late in ballgames. With the Rays’ exceptional pitching and the return of Longoria, the Rays will be a fascinating team to watch the rest of the season.

Who’s Not?

Albert Pujols, Los Angeles Angels. Last week, Pujols was leading the Who’s Hot list. This week, not so much. The big slugger has gone 1 for 23 the past week, good for a batting line of .043/.120/.043. Last week, I mentioned that the Angels were a scary team because of all the big names on the roster and how good they could be if they put it all together. However, they are 3-7 in their past 10 games and have fallen to third place, behind the amazing Oakland Athletics. Pujols’ up-and-down weeks illustrate the Angels’ enigmatic season perfectly.

John Axford, Milwaukee Brewers – Last year, he was the Ax Man, a long-haired, flame-throwing closer who led the NL in saves. This year, he has become the Wax Man, because opposing lineups are mopping the floor with him. Although his K/9 ratio has gone up this year, it is completely offset by drop-offs in his H/9, HR/9 and SO/BB ratios. In 2011, Axford was worth 2.4 WAR; this season, it’s -1.5. Yikes.

Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals – As sensational as 2011 was for the Big Puma, 2012 has been the polar opposite. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Sunday that Berkman suffered cartilage damage in his left knee, most likely due to overcompensating for his surgically-repaired right knee. He insists he will return in 2012, but you have to wonder how effective he would be. If he does return in 2013, Berkman may be better off doing so as a DH in the American League. I hope he is able to return. Baseball is a better game with guys like Berkman in uniform.

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Opposite Field: Melky Cabrera Like A Boss

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Opposite Field: Melky Cabrera Like A Boss

Posted on 03 August 2012 by Brian M. Jones

Who amongst us has a boss who seemed undeserving of the praise and a chance to punch the coin box.

Many of you may feel your boss seemed to achieve his position based on some reasoning other than actual performance. Perhaps he took credit for others performances. Maybe it was due to the fact that every time he did do something right the right people were looking. Maybe his mistakes weren’t noticed at all. Maybe the people doing the evaluating weren’t all that qualified to start with.

The positive results of all these scenarios amount to luck.

Sound like someone you know?

No deductive reasoning can tell us why this person is in charge of your daily grind.

Melky Cabrera is this man.

If you own Melky Cabrera in a fantasy league, sell now. The market has never been higher and it never will be.

Melky’s insane performance over the last 18 months has been a by product of a huge amount of luck and I’m about to show you how.

Look at the following chart.

Name

BB%

K%

ISO

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

wOBA

wRC+

WAR

Austin Jackson

8.7 %

25.2 %

.132

.375

.281

.347

.413

.337

109

11.2

Rogers Hornsby

11.7 %

6.8 %

.236

.373

.370

.448

.606

.475

177

114.0

David Freese

7.9 %

21.4 %

.151

.371

.305

.365

.456

.359

127

7.7

Ty Cobb

10.3 %

3.1 %

.146

.366

.360

.431

.506

.432

144

50.7

Harry Heilmann

9.8 %

5.7 %

.194

.365

.358

.425

.551

.443

151

69.1

Joe Jackson

9.3 %

1.9 %

.182

.364

.367

.434

.550

.453

162

15.6

Rod Carew

9.6 %

9.7 %

.101

.359

.328

.393

.429

.370

132

80.4

Joey Votto

13.6 %

18.3 %

.240

.357

.316

.412

.556

.412

155

27.6

Derek Jeter

8.8 %

14.7 %

.135

.354

.313

.382

.447

.368

123

75.6

Matt Kemp

8.1 %

23.2 %

.209

.354

.297

.354

.506

.369

130

22.1

Mike Darr

10.9 %

22.1 %

.098

.354

.273

.353

.371

.326

98

3.6

Shin-Soo Choo

11.4 %

21.2 %

.183

.354

.291

.383

.474

.374

132

18.9

Carlos Gonzalez

7.5 %

21.5 %

.228

.353

.303

.357

.532

.382

130

17.0

This chart illustrates the top 13 players of ALL-TIME in BABIP between 1919-today with at least 600 plate appearance.  In case you’re unfamiliar with BABIP just follow this link.

Why 13 and what does BABIP have to do with Melky?  Last one first, we know that BABIP contains a large quantity of luck.  There’s that word again.  Some hitters with very good bat control, an ability to hit to all fields, or who cover large areas of the plate can sustain higher BABIPs than normal.  These hitters thusly are able to influence BABIP in a way that is to be viewed as a skill.

I’m betting that Melky is not one these hitters.

The reason I have 13 names on this list is to reference #13 player on the list and put to Melky into the perspective of history.

Carlos Gonzalez has a career .353 BABIP.  That is the same as what Melky has done since the start of 2011.

Take a minute to soak in some of the names on the above list. Do you still think Melky is for real?

Lets explore deeper. From the start of his career in 2005 through 2010 just prior to his breakout season Cabrera put up a .288 BABIP. In 2011 that number jumped to .332 and to .386 through about 100 games in 2012.

If you still think Cabrera has graduated to elite status I offer you the following. If you can suggest that .332 in 2011 his new standard then that would put Melky in a 3 way tie with Lou Gehrig and Larry Walker, both players who carried a .332 BABIP.

So what can we learn by comparision? Gehrig had a 15.6% walk rate and Walker 11.4% Prior to his 2011 break out Melky had a walk rate of 8.0%. This has fallen to 5.0 and 6.7 in 11 and 12. Another area of regression we say from Melky has been an increase, albeit a small one, in his K%. His BA in 2011 jumped 50 points from 2010 and is up almost another 50 in 2012.

I think I have made a fairly good point with the numbers and based on the evidence I see what would I attribute this luck to? My opinion is that from 2010 to 2011 the Melkman saw an increase of nearly 200 plate appearances. Given his drop in BB and K rates combined with a lofty near historic BABIP I would point to the suggestion that Melky is just swinging away. He has sacrificed walks for extra swings and given the massive uptick in BABIP we can deduce those swings are leading to hits.

Finally if you’re going to point to Melkys HR rate or ISO, don’t. Because remembering how BABIP is calculated we know that the HR were already subtracted from the equation. And, if you read my article last week on FIP we know that there are only three true outcomes, homeruns, walks, and strikeouts. A quick look at his plate discipline will enhance the theory I have suggested here.

They support the luck factor by illustrating over the past three years Melky has seen his swing rate jump from just under 25% to 35.5%, he is swinging at more pitches. His first strike swing rate is up 6% and his contact rate up 7%.

Finally lets get back to the fantasy angle.

While there is certainly a chance Melky has improved, I don’t think it is to the degree that we have seen the last year and half. So this comes back to my suggestion to sell Melky. If his drop in BABIP returns back to even a league average of about .300 you can count on big losses of production. Remember fantasy is like playing with living, breathing stocks. Sometimes they get hurt, go to jail or post funny zingers on twitter, but the similarity remains the same. Buy low sell high. Unless Cabrera reaches for truly historic figures you can rest assured selling him now would be selling at his highest.

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