Tag Archive | "Paul Konerko"

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Adam Dunn

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Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Adam Dunn

Posted on 31 July 2012 by Chris Caylor

We have a couple of unexpected names in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot, Who’s Not. Let’s dive right in, shall we?

Hottest of the Hot: Adam Dunn, Chicago White Sox

Dunn vowed to rebound from his ghastly 2011 season, and boy, has he ever. The slugger who averaged 40 home runs a season between 2004-10, then plummeted to 11 last year, is on pace to hit a career-high 50 big flies in 2012. In the past week, the Big Donkey batted .375/.423/.833 with 3 homers, 8 RBI, and 9 runs scored. Dunn even stole a base. For the season, Dunn leads both leagues with 31 home runs (plus 73 RBI). The .215 batting average is still a killer for those in roto leagues, but his .356 OBP confirms that his selective batting eye is as sharp as ever. Combine Dunn’s season with the consistent excellence of Paul Konerko, and it’s easy to see who is keeping the White Sox in contention for the AL Central.

Who else is hot?

Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee Brewers – Gomez has had himself quite a week. You’ve probably already seen his “foul” home run trot, but don’t let that overshadow how productive he has been for the Brew Crew. The speedy centerfielder put together a battling line of .346/.379/.884 with four home runs, 10 RBI and three stolen bases. With Zack Greinke gone, watching Gomez may be one of the only interesting things about the Brewers left in 2012.

Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays – Hellickson has had an up-and-down season, but July has definitely been an extended “up” period for the young righty. Hellickson has hurled five consecutive quality starts this month, with a 2.67 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. Thanks to their horrendous hitting, though, the Rays only managed to win two of Hellickson’s starts. Thanks to Hellickson (and teammates David Price and Fernando Rodney), the Rays may have something to play for when Evan Longoria returns in August.

Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves/Chicago Cubs – Here’s a name you wouldn’t expect to see in this space. The lefty Maholm, however, is on a roll like no Cubs pitcher has experienced in decades: six straight starts of at least 6 IP and 1 or fewer ER allowed. Maholm, never considered a power pitcher, has struck out 37 batters and walked only 13 during his streak. As a reward for his outstanding pitching, Maholm was traded Monday night to the Braves, where he will attempt to help Atlanta reach the postseason.

Who’s Not

Omar Infante, Detroit Tigers – Since being traded back to the Tigers, the versatile Infante is just 3 for 21, with no home runs or extra-base hits. With Detroit counting on him to upgrade their dreadful second base production, Infante needs to snap out of his funk sooner rather than later.

Tyler Colvin, Colorado Rockies – After being one of the hottest players in baseball in June, Colvin has come crashing back to Earth like Skylab (raise your hand if you got that one). In his past 14 games, Colvin has gone 6 for 46 with 17 strikeouts, including an 0 for 15 stretch. With Todd Helton returning from the DL, Colvin’s playing time figures to decrease until he can stop his descent.

Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies – Here’s a name you would never expect to see in the “Not” section. In his past four starts, Halladay has only 16 strikeouts, allowed 19 hits, and thrown one quality start. In that same time frame, Ross Ohlendorf, Joe Kelly, and the aforementioned Maholm have outpitched Halladay. For the season, Doc has an ERA+ of 93, which would be his worst since 2000. It truly is shaping up to be a season to forget in Philadelphia.

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Stats through Sunday 7/29

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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.


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.


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.


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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3 Up 3 Down – June 7

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3 Up 3 Down – June 7

Posted on 07 June 2012 by Gary Marchese

3 Up and 3 Down

It is that time once again, my weekly three up and three down column.  I take a look weekly at players and teams who are up and then those who are down in my book.  If you have any questions please feel free to reach out at me.  I can be followed on twitter @gmarchesej, facebook and email at gmarchesej@aol.com.  You can also comment under the article on this site, thanks for your support now and in the future.

Use the buttons below to scroll through this week’s three up and three down.

Up - A.J. Pierzynski

Picture 1 of 6

A.J. Pierzynski is leading a surprising first place Chicago White Sox squad.  He is batting 303 with ten homeruns and 37 RBI.  He has an on base percentage of 352.  He is a career 285 hitter.

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DOs and DONTs: Chicago White Sox

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DOs and DONTs: Chicago White Sox

Posted on 05 March 2012 by Jared Thatcher

At first glance there weren’t really that many players I would draft from the White Sox this year. But upon further investigation, they may have some very valuable middle to late round picks that could add depth and production to your team.

DO find solace in the many young arms in the bullpen this year. Addison Reed, Matt Thornton, and Jesse Crain should all be lock down out of the bullpen no matter what order you put them in. They probably won’t have a ton of save opportunities, but should provide innings and strikeouts.

DONT even think about drafting most of their starting rotation this year. Gavin Floyd is injury prone and doesn’t put up great numbers. Jake Peavy is an absolute mystery, even to himself. He has lost velocity and doctors say his arm is as good as it’s going to get.

DO consider drafting John Danks as your number 3-5 starting pitcher. He has had a rough couple of years but I’m confident he can pitch 200 innings this year with an ERA under 4.00. The 150 strikeouts from him will be nice also toward the back of your rotation.

DO not overlook a couple of the other young arms on the team, Philip Humber and Nestor Molina. Molina came over in a trade from the Blue Jays and is a decent prospect. Humber provided over 200 innings of 4.00 ERA ball last year while striking out 150 batters. He should once again be a workhorse in 2012.

DONT take the chance on any of their outfielders unless you are absolutely desperate. Alex Rios had a terrible year in 2011 and there is no reason why he should be any better this year. Alejandro De Aza had a nice line over 54 games in 2011 but he is unproven. Dayan Viciedo was a good prospect in his day and still has some potential, but I would stay away until he proves himself.

DO DO DO pick up Paul Konerko as at least your DH this year. He is an RBI machine and has a great batting average to go along with it. He should be the same productive player he has always been, even considering his age.

DONT draft young infielders Brent Morel or Gordon Beckham. They were touted as future superstars and have shined at times, but the shine tarnished quickly and they were revealed to be below-average players. Don’t take the chance on these two guys until they can prove they can be productive week in and week out.

DO not expect Adam Dunn to hit under .200 again. Although the batting average is never very high for Dunn (he strikes out a ton), he should regain his swing and once again hit at least 30 home runs. Let Dunn slide as far as you can in the draft but don’t be afraid to take him as your DH in 2012.

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The Roster Report – February 4, 2012

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The Roster Report – February 4, 2012

Posted on 04 February 2012 by Bryan Grosnick

Welcome back, hardball fans. This edition of The Roster Report features a few minor moves made by non-contenders hoping to move into respectability. With most (but not all) of the big names in this year’s free agent class already under contract, the most recent roster moves are those when teams are trying to fill holes or add depth. Of course, Edwin Jackson is an exception, but we’ll get to him in a moment.

Casey Kotchman

The Cleveland Indians sign 1B Casey Kotchman to a one-year, $3MM contract.

Fresh off the heels of bringing in one former Rays first baseman in Russ Canzler, the Cleveland Indians are doubling down by signing Casey Kotchman to a one-year deal. Kotchman exceeded expectations in 2011, posting his first season since 2007 as an above-average hitter. In addition to posting a wOBA of .351 and 10 HR, the left-handed-hitting Kotchman provided strong defense at first. At a position dominated by elite power bats and gaudy HR totals, Kotchman is an outlier; he provides solid contact, fielding and OBP skills, but little pop even during his good offensive seasons. But aside from 2005, 2007, and 2011, he hasn’t had many good offensive seasons over his career.

The Tribe now has four players of questionable quality at first going into the season. Carlos Santana got a lot of time at first last season, but one could expect that he’ll be moved into a heavier load at catcher, where his bat makes him an elite talent. Russ Canzler and Matt LaPorta, both right-handed hitters, are Triple-A proven, but not exactly sure things. Canzler has never been a premium hitting prospect, and though he’s the reigning International League MVP, he may not have the upside of Matt LaPorta. LaPorta, best known as the prime return in the C.C. Sabathia trade, has but up unreal numbers in the minors, but has yet to get going as a hitter at the major league level. In parts of three seasons with the Indians, LaPorta has never put together an above average hitting season (90 wRC+ for his career), and has been a below-replacement value at  -0.9 fWAR in 2010, and -0.8 fWAR in 2011. Yet he still has potential to be a solid power-hitter, so one could expect the Indians to go with a Kotchman-LaPorta platoon at first to start the season.

Infield defense is sure to be a priority with the Tribe’s collection of worm-burners on the hill, so Kotchman could match up against righties or when Derek Lowe and Justin Masterson take the mound. LaPorta would fit in on days when the Indians face a lefty, or when Ubaldo Jimenez pitches. And since LaPorta also can play the outfield (just not very well), this platoon would still provide the team with some roster flexibility in case of injury or long games. Chances are, the Indians will hold open auditions at first during Spring Training, and if one player shows exceptional skill, then they’ll see the lion’s share of time at first to start the season.

From a fantasy standpoint, Kotchman has a little value in AL-only leagues and as a replacement, but only if he’s a regular at first. Kotchman’s value is almost entirely tied to his batting average (.306 last year, but .268 over his career), and if that slips, he’s useless no matter the park, the lineup slot, or the opponent. Obviously, Canzler or LaPorta could have some fantasy value if they strike on a full-time job and break out, but Kotchman’s presence and the competition he brings causes both of their values to drop in fantasy as well. None of these three players are good fantasy buys.

Edwin Jackson

The Washington Nationals sign SP Edwin Jackson to a one-year contract, worth $11MM.

The next-to-last big-time free agent has finally found a home, as the Nationals were the last team standing in the Edwin Jackson sweepstakes. Though before the season many expected E-Jax to lock in a long-term deal, the pitching market proved saturated and the Scott Boras client took a short-term deal. He’ll re-enter free agency in the offseason. Not only did Jackson put up his best statistical season in 2011 (3.55 FIP, 3.73 xFIP, 4.01 SIERA), but he also helped the St. Louis Cardinals win the World Series as a late-season acquisition. Jackson joins young aces Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg, as well as newcomer Gio Gonzalez in an intriguing Nationals rotation. John Lannan appears to be the odd man out, and he’ll find himself on another team or toiling in long relief as a result. Jackson can probably expect to put up numbers close to, or better than his 2011 numbers, due to the Nats playing in a pitcher’s park in the weaker league. This will make Scott Boras very happy when free agency rolls around again next year.

I see this move as a savvy acquisition by the Nationals, who obviously think that they’re ready to compete in 2012. While they may be a year or two (or an offensive piece or two) from really competing in the NL East, this is still a good deal. If everything breaks right, the Nats can ride the foursome of Strasburg-Zimmermann-Jackson-Gonzalez to the playoffs and there, anything goes. But here’s where I blow your mind.

Edwin Jackson will NOT finish 2012 as a National. He’ll head to his eighth major league team, most likely the Boston Red Sox or New York Yankees.

If the Nationals are out of contention near the trade deadline, or close, they have a perfectly good trade asset in Jackson and his expiring contract. Any contender can look at Jackson’s solid peripherals, or the fact that he helped the Cardinals lock up a World Series ring last year, and swap a couple of C+ or B- prospects for Jackson at the deadline. A team like the Red Sox would get the benefit of Jackson at the end of the season, without having to pay the full sticker price that the Nats paid this week. It’s a move that will work for every team involved, provided Jackson stays both healthy and productive.

From a fantasy standpoint, Jackson is a solid fantasy starter, good to slot in the middle of your rotation. He doesn’t muster the big-time strikeouts that someone with his stuff should be stacking, but he’s a lock to put up 180 innings, and his FIP has improved every season since 2007. While his WHIP may hurt you a little, he’s above-average and reliable, and in the pitching market, that’s a tough combination to find. Buy, but don’t think he’ll suddenly put up Justin Verlander numbers.

Dan Johnson

The Chicago White Sox sign 1B Dan Johnson to a minor league contract.

The exodus of former Rays 1B continues, as Dan Johnson moves to the South Side on a minor league deal. Best known for two of the most important home runs in Rays franchise history, Johnson has done precious little else to establish himself as a big-league regular. Nearly all of his 91 plate appearances for the Rays in 2011 were terrible, and despite a positive baserunning and fielding adjustment, he was worth -0.8 Wins Above Replacement according to FanGraphs. To do that, Johnson had to rack up a ridiculous .119/.187/.202 slash line, and a wOBA of .181.

Dan’s an elite Triple-A player, but rarely gets plate appearances these days at the major-league level. The underlying reason for this is based on his sub-par hitting for the position, even in years when he’s better than he was in 2011. While Dan has flashed a potent combination of pop and plate discipline in the minors, he doesn’t make great contact on balls that stay in the park. The Quad-A label is frustrating, but in Johnson’s case, it’s probably accurate. Keep in mind that this is a guy with over 1500 major league plate appearances. More than likely we’re seeing Dan’s true talent level in his stats, and that makes him just another guy who is replacement-level at first base.

In Chicago, he’s an injury-replacement player in case Paul Konerko or Adam Dunn gets hurt, and he probably doesn’t break Spring Training with the big club. The Sox are already have enough bad-glove / risky-bat guys in Adam Dunn and Dayan Viciedo, so unless one of those guys gets moved or badly injured, Johnson will be the regular first baseman in Triple-A for the Sox. There’s very little way he’d be relevant in any fantasy league, unless something goes very wrong for the Pale Hose.

Then again, if the White Sox need a clutch home run near the end of the season, they know who to call up.

Quick Hits

  • Todd Coffey just inked a one-year, $1.3MM with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Dodger bullpen is already headlined by Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra, but Coffey will add depth and experience.  Over the last four seasons, Coffey has alternated between being very average on even years, and very effective on odd years. In 2011 he managed a 3.62 ERA and 3.41 FIP, both of which were better than league average. He should be a consistent cog in the Dodger bullpen, and comes at a fair price, but he won’t emerge as a serious holds or saves option in fantasy.
  • The Mariners signed UT Carlos Guillen to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. Guillen has seen his plate appearances diminish greatly over the past four seasons, and he’s nearing the end of the line for his career. If healthy, Guillen provides pop and good plate discipline, as well as some positional versatility, having played 1B, 2B, 3B, and LF in the past few seasons. But Guillen isn’t healthy very often, and his performance has been in decline with his health. Going back to his original team is a nice story, but don’t expect him to stick on the 25-man roster to start the season. And unless he has a monster Spring Training, he has no fantasy value either.
  • The Houston Astros locked in a pitcher capable of giving them 200 innings in 2012 when they signed SP Livan Hernandez to a minor league contract. By signing Livan to a minor league contract, Jeff Luhnow and the Astros have limited their risk, but Hernandez is no longer anything other than average, at best. Last season, Livan managed a 3.96 FIP over 175.1 innings for the Nationals, and that put his FIP just slightly worse than the league average. I imagine that he’ll be the fifth starter to open the season. Hernandez is a great guy to run out there every fifth day, so long as you don’t care whether or not you actually win the game. In that sense, this is a perfect fit for the Astros. (Also, he has little to no fantasy value, as he can’t strike anyone out and may spontaneously combust.)
  • Micah Owings, a rare double-threat as both a pitcher and hitter, has found himself in a place that should help his pitching, but hurt his hitting. The San Diego Padres inked Owings to a one-year deal, worth about $1MM. Owings has been both a starter and, more recently, a reliever with both the Diamondbacks and the Reds in his career. In addition, he puts out a career .286/.317/.507 slash line, which makes him look more like an average corner outfielder than a pitcher at the dish. Moving to PetCo park will limit his worst feature as a pitcher, his propensity to give up home runs. At the same time, it will limit his ability to hit the ball out of the park…which given how infrequently he hits, won’t be a big deal. Owings is a curiosity, and a fun player to watch, but he probably has no fantasy relevance.

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