Tag Archive | "Playing Time"

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Ben Zobrist: A Love Story!

Posted on 22 August 2012 by Will Emerson

It’s no secret amongst my baseball loving colleagues that I have had what you might call an advanced stat man crush on Ben Zobrist for several seasons now. And quite frankly can you blame me? Okay well, maybe don’t answer that question, I suppose. The point of the matter is Zobrist is an advanced stat stud and in my mind could be one of the most underrated fantasy, maybe even real life, baseball players around. Now sure, you could easily argue that his real life value is greater than his fantasy value and that is a valid argument. But that don’t sway the man crush. As you may know, Zobs has recently started getting playing time at shortstop for Joe Maddon, which only enhances his real life, and more importantly, fantasy value. Already eligible at the somewhat shallow second baseman position, the addition of shortstop eligibility makes him a world class fantasy asset allowing flexibility on whatever fantasy roster he may be on. But what many fantasy owners may not even realize is the added shortstop eligibility alone is not what should be making them take notice and commence salivating. Oh no, no. If any salivating should occur, it should be at how well he stacks up against the shortstop field this season. But first off, just for kicks, let’s take a look at his value at the cornerstone.

As a two-bagger, he is ranked in the top ten fantasy wise, which is decent . I mean, that’s better than two-thirds of second baseman out there. Among second basemen this season he is tied for 5th in runs scored, 10th in RBIs and tied for 4th in homers. Now as you may or may not know, I am not so down with the counting stats, but that’s not a bad showing for Zorilla. He certainly will drop a little in the ranks because of his average hovering in the .260s, which has actually been a ton better since his slow start to the season (.203 average through May) in that department. But here’s why I really love Zorilla; his advanced stat goodness. Amongst second baseman this year with at least 200 plate appearances he is second in OBP (.373), 3rd in SLG (.460) and OPS (.833). Oh and  his ISO of .199 is also third amongst those same second baseman and his .365 wOBA? That also ranks 3rd. The only second basemen with better numbers in these categories would be Robinson Cano and Aaron Hill. Well with the exception of OBP, where he only trails the immortal Skip Schumaker. So overall he’s already pretty valuable at a week fantasy position, but I know what you are all wondering, ” but Will, how does he stack up against other shortstops this season?” Why I thought you’d never ask!

You see with Troy Tulowitzki missing a good chunk of the season, shortstop has been a tad bit weak. A good spot for a fantasy team to pick up runs, steals maybe some batting average, with not a ton of pop or all-around help, for the most part. Enter the Mighty Zorilla! Zobs  very well has the potential to be the best fantasy shortstop down the stretch. At the very least he is probably the most underrated. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at these numbers stacked up against the other shortstops with at least 200 plate appearances this season:

RUNS:
Derek Jeter (NYY)- 74
Elvis Andrus (TEX)- 70
Jimmy Rollins (PHI)- 70
Ben Zobrist (TBR)- 67

HOME RUNS:
Ian Desmond (WAS)- 17
J.J. Hardy (BAL)- 16
Ben Zobrist (TBR)- 14
Danny Espinosa (WAS)-14
Jed Lowrie (HOU)- 14
Jimmy Rollins- 14

RBIs:
Starlin Castro (CHC)- 61
Ian Desmond (WAS)- 53
Mike Aviles (BOS)- 52
Alexei Ramirez (CWS)- 52
Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)- 51
Ben Zobrist (TBR)- 49
Elvis Andrus (TEX)- 49
Jhonny Peralta (DET)- 49
JJ Hardy (BAL)- 49

Okay not necessarily eye-popping numbers I suppose, and yes, again, this is wihout Troy Tulowitzki thrown in there, but you may notice the mighty Zorilla is the only one in the top six in all three of these categories, which is none too shabby. Of course it should also be noted that Hanley Ramirez is not included, but looks to be headed towards being shortstop eligible once again next season and would top Zobs in homers and RBIs. But if you’re in a league with some cooler, hipper, non-counting stats, and by gum you should be, than you may want a bit more here, right? I mean, quite honestly who could blame you? Go on, tell me? No one? That’s right! So let me throw you some numbers that will show you why Zobs is gonna be a fantasy shortstop gem and a half for the rest of this season and into next.

That sexy .373 OBP Zobs is putting on the table? That is higher than every single shortstop with at least 200 plate appearances this season, and this is including Hanley Ramirez. Also, only Ian Desmond and Tulo have higher slugging percentages than Zorilla and only Tulo has a higher OPS. Oh and in case you were curious, Jed Lowrie and Ian Desmond are the only shortstops with a higher ISO and the only other shortstop with an ISO even over .175 is Tulo, who is tied with Zobs with an ISO of .199.

So while other shortstops can always pop out of the woodwork, I would say Zobs could very well end up being a top five fantasy shortstop for 2013. Now sure, wOBA, ISO, OBP and OPS do not always necessarily translate into fantasy awesomeness, but you have to like the potential, especially where you will probably be able to draft Zobs. Fact of the matter is, I’m guessing he still falls behind some of your more well known commodities when draft day rolls around, so you can probably still grab him a bit on the cheaper side. With the potential to be a top five fantasy shortstop next season, he could very well fall behind at least eight or nine shortstops, second baseman as well for that matter, come draft day. So jump on the Ben Zobrist man crush bandwagon while you can my friends!

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Finding Keepers:  New York Mets

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Finding Keepers: New York Mets

Posted on 11 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The New York Mets find themselves in a bit of a rebuilding year, after finishing 4th in the NL East in 2011. However, with low expectations comes lower perceived value, which means more opportunities for Finding Keepers.

Here is a look at some Mets players who could be undervalued in 2012 and end up keeper worthy.

After a strong rookie year, in which he hit .264/.351/.440 with 19 homers, 1B Ike Davis missed most of the 2011 campaign with an ankle injury. Add to that the speculation that he may have Valley Fever and many fantasy owners will steer clear of him. However, in 36 games last year, he did hit .302/.383/.543 and looked like he was well on his way to a breakout year before the injury. If he proves healthy this spring, snatch him up before someone else does.

2B Daniel Murphy is not a flashy guy, he will not get you a bunch of homeruns or stolen bases, but he did manage to hit a quiet .320/.362/.448 last year, while qualifying at 2B, 3B and 1B. His multi-positional eligibility might make him a bit more valuable to some, but moderate numbers in the counting stats might just keep his value low enough to be considered keeper material.

SS Ruben Tejada is another player who will not carry a team and will barely raise a blip on most owners radars. He offers no power and little speed, but his .284/.360/.335 line last year and multi-positional eligibility (2B/SS) make him valuable in deeper, NL only leagues. A couple bucks or a late round pick could net you a quality UT player.

OF Lucas Duda got some regular playing time last year and played well, earning the starting right field job for 2012. He has some power and with a .292/.370/.482 slash line in 2011, he showed that he can handle big league pitching. This might be the last chance to get him cheap, because I expect bigger and better things from him this year and into the future.

C Josh Thole is another under-the-radar kind of guy. He is not going to provide a lot of homeruns, but he will hit for a good average and will likely be undervalued in most leagues. He is your typical won’t hurt you second catcher and could be a good keeper in deeper leagues.

2B Reese Havens has been the second baseman of the future for the Mets ever since he was drafted in the first round of the 2008 draft. Problem is, he has not been able to stay healthy for a full season. He owns a career .269/.366/.463 line in 4 minor league seasons, but has hit .301/.379/.505 in AA. For those of you with reserve or minor league spots, you might want to consider taking a flier on Havens.

SP Johan Santana is coming off shoulder surgery, an injury that has felled many a quality pitcher, such as Brandon Webb. That alone will scare many owners off. However, he pitched well in his Grapefruit League debut on Wednesday, topping out around 92 mph. If his changeup is still working, he could start back up where he left off in 2010. He should come cheap and, at age 32, he should still have a few good years left in him.

I am not sold on the rest of the Mets starting pitchers. Mike Pelfrey, Jonathan Niese and Dillon Gee have shown some flashes, but have not been consistent enough to be considered keepers. R.A. Dickey had a strong 2011 season, posting a 3.28 ERA, but at age 37 his better days are probably behind him.

Finally, OF David Wright is one guy who will likely be overvalued based on his name alone. His 2011 season was marred by back issues, which may keep his value down, but should also make you reconsider drafting him.

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Finding keepers: Milwaukee Brewers

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Finding keepers: Milwaukee Brewers

Posted on 06 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

The Milwaukee Brewers are expected to have a good team in 2012, which means that finding keepers on their team may be a bit more difficult, as players tend to be overvalued on winning teams.

That said, there are still some players who may be under-the-radar for the Brew Crew.

1B Mat Gamel finally gets his shot at a starting role with the departure of Prince Fielder. Gamel has spent parts of the last 4 years at AAA Nashville, with a slash line of .301/.374/.512. He should be able to hit for a good average while adding 15-20 homeruns.

SP Randy Wolf is often forgotten about, sitting behind the likes of Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Yovanni Gallardo in the Brewers rotation. However, he posted a lower ERA than Greinke in 2011 and matched Marcum with 13 wins (3rd best on the team).

RP Marco Estrada is definitely a player under most people’s radars. He posted a 4.08 ERA with 88 strikeouts in 92.2 innings last year, splitting time between the bullpen and starting. As a starter, he posted a 3.70 ERA and a 1.09 whip in 7 starts and could overtake Chris Narveson for the fifth starter spot.

SP Zack Greinke’s 3.83 ERA last year was good, but there are certain indicators that say it could have been a lot better. He suffered through a very unlucky first half of the season. His .349 BABIP during the first half led to an unsightly 5.45 ERA. Once his BABIP normalized in the second half (.304), he posted a 2.59 ERA. If he can carry that forward into 2012, he could put together a season reminiscent of his 2009 Cy Young year.

2B/3B Taylor Green put himself back in the Brewers plans after a breakout season at Nashville in 2011. He hit .336/.413/.583 with 22 homeruns and earned a cup of coffee with the big club down the stretch. Capable of playing both second and third, he will likely fill the utility role in 2012 and could see significant playing time if either Rickie Weeks or Aramis Ramirez go down with an injury.

With recent news that he will undergo arthroscopic knee surgery, OF Corey Hart‘s value will take a hit come draft day. That is the perfect opportunity for owners looking for keepers to pounce. Hart hit .285/.356/.510 with 26 homeruns in 2011 and should not miss a significant amount of time. However, make sure you track of his recovery for any setbacks.

C Jonathan Lucroy is not a sexy pick for your catcher’s spot, but you could do a lot worse. He hit a very quiet .265 with 12 homers last year and should be able to build on those results in 2012. While other owners are chasing the Buster Posey‘s of the world, try to sneak Lucroy through in the later stages of your draft.

All of the above players have keeper potential, at the right price. Here are some players on the Brewers who will likely not become keepers.

2B Rickie Weeks was once considered a 5 category second baseman, but injuries have long since sapped his speed and he has only one year where has has played over 130 games in his 7 years in the majors. Some owner will still look at Weeks as a 5 category guy and overdraft him. Don’t be that guy.

3B Aramis Ramirez put up some good numbers in 2011, his contract year. With third base being a surprisingly weak position, someone will likely overpay for Ramirez. Given that Ramirez has had recent injury problems and will turn 34 in June, its best to pass.

At age 35, SS Alex Gonzalez‘ is in the down slope of his career. He still has a little pop, but will not do much for your team average.

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