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Triple Play: Matt Moore, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright

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Triple Play: Matt Moore, Carlos Gonzalez, Adam Wainwright

Posted on 29 April 2013 by Chris Caylor

MattMoore2

Who’s Hot?

Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays’ 23-year-old lefty is off to a sensational start in 2013, going 5-0 with a 1.12 ERA and a WHIP of 0.87. If you’re lucky enough to have him on your fantasy team, chances are it is off to a good start as well. He does need to limit his walks (4.2 per 9 inn.), but he is permitting a league-best 3.7 hits per 9 innings. Expecting Moore to sustain that (and his ERA and WHIP by extension) would be foolish; however, there is reason for hope that he will be able to keep them in the 3.30/1.20 range: his swinging strike rate is BELOW the league average. Moore was fifth in the AL with 175 strikeouts in 177 innings pitched in 2012, so he has the ability to whiff hitters. If his swinging strike rate goes up, then he could be even more dominating than he’s been. That should be a scary thought for major-league hitters (and a dream for fantasy owners).

Who’s Not?

Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies

CarGo is the poster child for the Rockies’ slump. Although Gonzalez has 4 HR, 12 RBI and 4 SB in the season’s first four weeks, Gonzalez is hitting a paltry .111 with three singles in his past six games. He has not hit a home run in his past 10 games. The slump is severe enough that Rockies manager Walt Weiss gave Gonzalez the day off Sunday. While it’s obviously too early to get too concerned about the kind of season CarGo will have, it may not be too early to wonder if the Rockies’ hold on first place in the NL West is already slippling away. With Gonzalez slumping, the timing of Troy Tulowitzki’s shoulder injury might be enough to push the Rockies out of first place in the division. And once they’re out of first, the chances of them getting back there aren’t good. If you own Gonzalez, you really have no choice other than to ride out this slump.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: .271/.326/.365, 1 HR, 10 RBI, 11 runs, 4 SB
Player B: .286/.307/.514, 4 HR, 17 RBI, 10 runs, 0 SB

Both of the players listed here batted cleanup for their teams on Saturday night. Player A is the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp. Player B is Yuniesky Betancourt. Yes, you read that correctly. Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke actually did this. I know Corey Hart and Aramis Ramirez are both on the disabled list. I know Rickie Weeks is slumping horribly. But, still, really? A guy with a career OPS+ of 83 hitting cleanup? Naturally, of course, Betancourt would go 2-for-5 with an RBI. This means it will likely happen again (although it didn’t repeat itself on Sunday). I can’t actually bring myself to suggest that a fantasy owner pick up Yuni, so I’ll just say this instead: all fantasy stats count, regardless of who accumulates them. He would be an easy drop once the inevitable regression back to his usual terrible self happens.

Player A: 0-0, 1.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 4 saves
Player B: 2-0, 0.81 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 6 saves

Player A is Edward Mujica, the Cardinals’ current closer. Player B is Jim Henderson, the closer for the Brewers after John Axford’s implosion. Mujica replaced Mitchell Boggs, who had replaced Jason Motte. A fellow owner in my NL-only league mentioned Mujica as soon as Motte’s elbow injury became public knowledge. He had the foresight to pick up him. I, on the other hand, figured that young flamethrower Trevor Rosenthal would become the closer. While that may still happen, Mujica has done an excellent job closing games. Henderson, meanwhile, may not give the job back at all. He is 6-for-6 in save chances and I would not put much stock in manager Ron Roenicke’s concern about Henderson throwing too many pitches as the closer. Axford may have had a few scoreless innings of late, but he has proven repeatedly that he cannot handle the ninth-inning pressure on a regular basis. Yanking Henderson from the job would be a terrible decision. Then again, Roenicke has shown a flair for terrible choices before (see Yuniesky Betancourt above).

Random Thoughts

  • Any questions about whether Adam Wainwright is “all the way back” from Tommy John surgery? Through five starts, the man they call “Waino” is averaging more than 7 innings per start, with a 37/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. One walk in five starts. Lots of pitchers can’t get through five innings without issuing a free pass.
  • Conversely, the Cardinals’ bullpen is a hot mess right now. While it’s so frustrating to watch the bullpen ruin two decent starts over the weekend from Jake Westbrook and Shelby Miller, it is still April. Here’s hoping that general manager John Mozeliak stays true to his history and does not make a knee-jerk trade in response. It would be easy to deal a useful player like Matt Carpenter for a fungible setup man or middle reliever.
  • Doug Fister has hit eight batters already in 2013. Good thing he didn’t plunk Carlos Quentin that night or it might be him on the DL.
  • Shin-Soo Choo has already been hit by pitches 10 times this season.
  • Nelson Cruz is on another one of his carry-the-team-on-his-back hot streaks: 3 HR, 13 RBI, 6 runs scored, along with a hitting line of .440/.533/.840 over the past week.
  • Hilarious on-pace stat of the year so far: Mike Napoli is on pace to drive in 190 runs for the Red Sox.
  • Seriously, though, I don’t think Boston misses Adrian Gonzalez so far this year.
  • In the same at-bat versus Albert Pujols last week, Yu Darvish threw a 97 mph heater and a 64 mph curveball. Proving that he is human, Pujols struck out.
  • Going into Sunday’s games, Justin Upton and Allen Craig had each driven in 18 runs for their teams. The difference? Upton has 12 home runs and Craig has none.
  • Most of the hype among the game’s youngest players goes to Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but don’t overlook 20-year-old Manny Machado in Baltimore. Machado is on a seven-game hitting streak, during which time he has compiled a .433 average, 5 RBI, 5 runs scored and two steals.
  •  Which one of these statements is true? Edinson Volquez pitched seven consecutive innings without walking a batter last week. Petco Park was sold out.
  • Believe it or not, it’s Volquez. Someone call Ripley.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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2012 Fantasy All-Stars: American League Edition

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2012 Fantasy All-Stars: American League Edition

Posted on 04 July 2012 by Bryan Geary

Mike Trout

The real life All-Star rosters were announced over the weekend, which means it is a great time for us to look at the 2012 Fantasy All-Stars to date. Some things that will be taken into account include: the ESPN Player Rater, Fangraphs leaderboards, average draft position, and my own personal expert (just kidding) analysis. So, without further ado, I present to you the 2012 mid-season fantasy baseball All-Stars for the American League.

Catcher

Real-life pick: Mike Napoli 

Player Rater pick: A.J. Pierzynski

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Joe Mauer

My pick: A.J. Pierzynski

For me, this was a pretty easy decision. While Mauer has certainly had a bounce back year and Matt Wieters has been solid aside from a putrid May, if you are looking at production across the board, Pierzynski has seperated himself from the pack. The 35-year-old catcher has become a power hitter in 2012, with his 14 dingers to date only 4 shy of the career high 18 home runs he hit in 2005. His power spike is evidenced by a ridiculous increase in both his ISO and his HR/FB numbers. In 2012 his ISO of .231 not only ranks 12th in the American League, but it is nearly 100 points higher than his career mark of .142. His HR/FB ratio of 20.3% is more than double his career mark of 8.9%. I have no idea if the power spike is sustainable, but Pierzynski deserves recognition for the awesome first half he has had.

First Base

Real-life pick: Prince Fielder

Player Rater pick: Edwin Encarnacion

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Edwin Encarnacion

My pick: Edwin Encarnacion

This was a very tough decision for me because Paul Konerko has been so good and Encarnacion has only played 31 games at first base this year. But the Blue Jays slugger had to be on my list somewhere, and he did so at the expense of Konerko’s excellent first half. Sorry White Sox fans. Basically, Encarnacion is in the midst of a career year in every sense of the word: he has already set a career high in home runs and is on pace to set career highs in plate appearances, hits, RBI, steals, and walks. His wOBA (weighted on base average) of .397 is 8th in American League. He is also in the top 10 in home runs, RBI, ISO, SLG, and wRC+ (weighted runs created plus). In a word, Encarnacion has been incredible.

Second Base

Real-life pick: Robinson Cano

Player Rater pick: Jason Kipnis

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Robinson Cano

My pick: Jason Kipnis

Another tough decision here, but what may have swayed me is the average draft position: while Cano’s ADP was 7.6, Kipnis’ was 183.3. Cano’s power numbers are undoubtedly more impressive and he would be a deserving selection, but with the value Kipnis owners are getting based on expectations, I had to give him the nod. Another thing that separates Kipnis has been speed. His 19 steals are good for second in the American League behind only Mike Trout. When you pair that type of speed with possible 20-25 home run power, you get a player that is incredibly valuable for fantasy purposes. His overall line of .275/.335/.426 is nothing to scoff at either. It looks like Kipnis has crashed the elite second basemen party, at least for the first half of 2012, and he deserves to be recognized.

Third Base

Real-life pick: Adrian Beltre

Player Rater pick: Edwin Encarnacion

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Brett Lawrie

My pick: Miguel Cabrera

This was an incredibly tough choice. If fantasy leagues had a way to quantify and score defensive contributions, the easy answer would be Beltre. But the reality is that defense does not count here, which means I am giving the nod to Cabrera. One big question coming into the season was whether Cabrera would stay healthy playing a more demanding position. He did nothing to ease the minds of fantasy owners after he took a ball off of the face in Spring Training, but he has been out there every day for the Tigers, doing what he always does. According to his standards, this has actually been a bit of a down year, especially when it comes to getting on base. His walk rate of 8.4% is way down from his 15.7% mark last year, likely due to the addition of Prince Fielder in the Tigers lineup. But when .315/.376/.541 with 16 HR and 62 RBI is a down year, you are looking a potential Hall of Famer.

Shortstop

Real-life pick: Derek Jeter

Player Rater pick: Elvis Andrus

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Elvis Andrus

My pick: Elvis Andrus

I understand why the fans picked Jeter — he has had an excellent year and he is Derek Jeter — but for fantasy purposes he does little for owners outside of average. With Andrus, we are seeing the maturation of young hitter, particularly with his ability to get on base. The key for base stealers, of course, is maintaining a high OBP. Andrus has improved in this area every year of his career and this year he is getting on base at a .381 clip. Though he will never be a source of power, that high OBP means increased chances to steal and to score runs in that high-octane Ranger offense. To me, Andrus is clearly the best shortstop in the American League at this point and not too long from now everyone will start to see that.

Outfield

Real-life picks: Josh Hamilton, Curtis Granderson, Jose Bautista

Player Rater picks: Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Adam Jones

Fangraphs Leaderboard: Mike Trout, Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones

My picks: Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Jose Bautista

With all due respect to Granderson, Jones, and surprise contenders Mark Trumbo and Josh Reddick, they come up just short for me. The great thing about the three players that I selected is that they have all had a month in which they went absolutely bonkers. Trout’s big month is fresh in our memories, as the 20-year-old hit .372/.419/.531 with 14 steals in June. Bautista also had an insane month of June, going for a .271/.408/.750 mark with 14 home runs. For Hamilton, his big month came in May (though you could argue March/April) when he hit .344/.405/.781 with 12 home runs. All three guys have carried fantasy rosters for an extended period of time, which is not something that you can say about too many players. They are also your respective AL leaders in home runs (Bautista – 26), RBI (Hamilton –  73), and steals (Trout – 22). A pretty impressive group to say the least.

Designated Hitter

Real-life pick: David Ortiz

My pick: David Ortiz

The Player Rater does not have a category for DH-only players and the Fangraphs Leaderboard includes guys like Joe Mauer, so I skipped them here. Besides, this is a pretty easy choice anyway. As much as I love the seasons that Adam Dunn and Billy Butler are having, Ortiz is the clear choice here. He seems to have slimmed down noticeably and as a result he is having perhaps his best season since 2007. He ranks 2nd in the AL in runs (57), 4th in OBP (.397), 6th in home runs (21), 7th in RBI (53), and 12th in average (.305). Ortiz has been a stud across the board this year and ranks 14th overall on the Player Rater, which is a great value consider his ADP was 74.9. What a year it has been for the 36-year-old.

 

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Will The Rangers Go Ham?

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Will The Rangers Go Ham?

Posted on 10 May 2012 by Dennis Lawson

 

Going HAM

Reportedly, the Rangers declare great interest in signing Josh Hamilton to a contract extension.  Naturally, expressing such interest comes straight from the “GM for Dummies” handbook.  If the club fails to appear genuine with this interest, then Team Hamilton (represented by agent Michael Moye) has every reason to use the “disrespected and unloved” approach to shun any and all overtures from the Rangers.  If the club legitimately has such interest or at least creates such a perception, then Team Hamilton loses potential leverage that might prove useful in forcing the club’s hand on an extension.

Therein lies the problem for both the Ranger and Hamilton.  If the club lacks 100% commitment to getting this extension done, then at some point down the road one or both sides could find themselves in baseball’s equivalent of an arranged marriage.  The Rangers may have the guy they want, but they may be taking on a lot greater risk than they would like.  Hamilton could finish his career with Texas, but he may do so with the sense that he is not truly wanted there.

Why would the Rangers NOT want a legitimate MVP-caliber player?  Well, the reasons are varied.  Some may be easily dismissed, but others may have some staying power.  All are worth examination.

  1. The immensely talented Hamilton costs the team $13.75M this season, and has 1 more year of arbitration eligibility.  A bump into the $16-17.5M range would not be a stretch.  Beyond that year, he could consume somewhere in the neighborhood of $15-20M a season for 6 or 7 years (or more).  With guys like Mike Napoli and Colby Lewis set to become free agents after this season and $80.6M already committed to next season, the two sides would either have to agree to a back-loaded deal, or the Rangers would ostensibly have to push payroll in the direction of $125-130M for 2013.
  2. If anybody might be considered stricken with bad injury luck, it might be Hamilton.  He has only played 150 games or more in a season once, and that happend way back in 2008.  Since then, he has played 89, 133, and 121 in the seasons leading up to 2012.  For a guy who CAN carry a team, the concern is whether or not he can stay healthy enough to carry a team.
  3. Despite his great start (.406/.458/.840/1.298 with 14 HR and 36 RBI), the reality remains that Hamilton’s 162 game average projects to .313/.370/.556/.926 with 35 HR and 121 RBI.  Even if he plays 130-140 games a year with those same numbers, we are talking about somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 HR and just under 100 RBI.  Is that work $15M+ for a potential best-case scenario?

In all fairness, Hamilton falls into the category of true “difference makers”, but will retaining him mean Nelson won’t stay beyond 2013?  Keep in mind that the Rangers already have $55.4M committed to 5 players for 2014 (Ian Kinsler, Adrian Beltre, Yu Darvish, Derek Holland, and Elvis Andrus).  With guys like Neftali Felix, Alexi Ogado, and Mitch Moreland under cost-controlled circumstances for a few more years, the Rangers have the flexibility and the money to keep Hamilton.  The question is whether or not they should.

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nolan-reimold

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The Waiver Wire: Nolan Reimold

Posted on 23 April 2012 by Daniel Aubain

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Nolan Reimold may be one of those early-season waiver finds savvy fantasy baseball owners salivate over grabbing in deeper mixed league formats. Virtually undrafted in most standard formats in ESPN, Yahoo! and CBS leagues, the window of opportunity to grab him off waivers is closing quickly.

Reimold has put up a robust standard 5×5 line of .370/9/5/10/1 in 11 games and is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak since opening the season 0-for-4. He’s missed the last two games with a neck injury but is still worth picking up off waivers if your outfield is in need of a spark. Just be sure not to overreact on which player to drop when deciding whether to pick him up or not. You surely don’t want to bail this early on a highly-ranked player simply off to a slow start.

ESPN’s Player Rater tool currently ranks him 18th overall while Yahoo! ranks him 22nd. His ownership numbers are rising to the tune of 69.7% in ESPN league, 69% in Yahoo! leagues and 80% in CBS leagues. Again, you may have missed your opportunity to pick him up in any quality fantasy baseball league worth participating in but double-check for sure.

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

OF Jordan Schafer, Houston Astros: Schafer has produced a .263/13/2/7/6 5×5 line and is worth owning for the stolen base potential alone if your team is lacking in this category already. As long as he stay healthy (big IF), there’s no reason to believe he won’t continue to be the Astros starting center fielder in 2012. His ownership numbers are on the rise to the tune of 54.5% in ESPN leagues, 51% in Yahoo! leagues and 59% in CBS leagues.

C A.J. Pierzynski, Chicago White Sox: Pierzynski has a history of being a decent enough offensive catcher to be owned in most fantasy baseball leagues (career .285 BA with 14 HR per 162 games played), so I was surprised to see how widely available he is this season especially since he’s off to a hot .348/6/4/14/0 start. With all the talk about Yadier Molina and Matt Wieters hot starts, A.J. is actually the 2nd-ranked catcher behind Mike Napoli on ESPN’s Player Rater tool.

SP Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics: Colon is off to a hot start with a 3-1 record, 2.63 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and three quality starts. His 6.26 K/9 ratio isn’t much to get excited about unless you look at his 19/2 K/BB ratio. At one point in his last start against the Los Angeles Angels, he threw 38 consecutive strikes. If you’re looking for a pitcher to fill an early-season void on your staff, give Colon a serious look. He’s only owned in 38.8% of ESPN leagues, 55% of Yahoo! leagues and surprisingly, 85% of CBS leagues. Oh, and be ready to bail if things go south quickly.

RP Henry Rodriguez, Washington Nationals: Rodriguez is currently sharing save opportunities with Brad Lidge (yes, THAT Lidge) but it’s hard to imagine that last much longer if Lidge continues to have shaky outings. HROD is now 4-for-4 is save opportunities and hasn’t allowed an earned run in 7.1 innings. Oh, by the way, he’s only allowed one hit and batters are hitting just .o43 against him with 9 strikeouts for a 11.05 K/9 ratio. Negatively, he’s issued six walks in just those 7.1 innings but the overall results are hard to ignore. Grab him now if you are in need of saves and maybe even holds, if your league uses this stat as a scoring category. He’s only owned in 32.7% of ESPN leagues, 55% of Yahoo! leagues and 51% of CBS leagues.

That’s all I have for you now. Be sure to stay aware and active on your leagues waiver wire as this is the time of year owners make foolish decisions on which players to drop when making a move. I was able to grab B.J. Upton in one league just days before he was to be activated from the DL and promptly scooped him up and clipped him in a trade.

Be sure to leave a comment below and follow me on Twitter @DJAubain to continue the conversation.

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Finding Keepers:Texas Rangers

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Finding Keepers:Texas Rangers

Posted on 28 March 2012 by Gary Marchese

The Texas Rangers have been to two straight World Series.  They came within one strike of winning it last year.  They have never won a World Series and are getting closer.  They right now are the class of the American League and they have another strong team to make a run this season.  Here is a look at some of their team to see who you could keep as a finding keeper.

C Mike Napoli has seemed to find a home in Texas.  He hit 320 last year with 30 homeruns and 75 RBI.  He has always had the power but he put the average with it last year.  It was by far his best season and I wouldn’t expect a repeat but maybe something close to it.

SS Elvis Andrus is one of the better young players in the league.  He has a tremendous upside and it looks like he will be a very good major league player.  He is a guy who doesn’t have power but has the speed and can hit 275 or so with a 340 on base percentage.  I expect him to get even better and I would keep a young player like this around for a long time.

3B Adrian Beltre is a top defender in the league.  He also has a lot of power and after it looked like he was declining has played very well with the Texas Rangers.  He hit 296 with 32 homeruns and 105 RBI last year.  He has always had the power and after a couple of down years the last two years have been very good.  He has been around for a while but I would still keep him around on my team.

RF Nelson Cruz is a legitimate power hitter.  He has also shown he can hit for average.  In the last two years he has hit 51 homeruns with 165 RBI.  He is a 270 career hitter and has been inconsistent with his on base percentage.  He is a guy though that I would want to keep around.

LF Josh Hamilton, the talent is there but the question of his makeup will always come.  He is a great talent maybe the best since Mickey Mantle.  Hamilton is a fantastic player but he needs to remain healthy and he needs to stay focused and on course.  He has battled his demons over the years and that is always threatening to derail him.  I still at this point would wan to keep him and not give up on him.  He is just too talented for me to discard.  He hit 298 with 25 homeruns and 94 RBI last season.  In 2010 he hit 359 with 32 homeruns and 100 RBI.  He is an amazing talent and I would kick myself if I gave him away and he kept putting up the numbers.

They have a couple of pitchers I would think about but I can’t put them on this list.  Yu Darvish has potential but until he does it he is another Japanese pitcher who could be a bust.  Joe Nathan used to be one of the best closers but is getting older and we just don’t know how he will recover from injury.  Neftali Feliz is very promising but is going from being the closer to in the starting rotation.  It isn’t an easy adjustment and I want to see him do it first before I decide what I think of him as a starting pitcher.

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