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The Trumbo Drop

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The Trumbo Drop

Posted on 21 March 2013 by Will Emerson

Ah, the story of Mark Trumbo and the wild ride that was his 2012 season.  For those who did manage to grab Trumbo, their apparent genius was rewarded handsomely… at first. Trumbo started heating up in May and carried that through July, looking like the fantasy steal of 2012. From May through July, Trumbo socked 24, count ‘em, 24 home runs! Trumbo added 61 RBIs and also hit .300 over that span, for those of you who are into that sort of thing and  his OPS’s for those months? 1.077, .899, and .864. Trumbo was well on his way to a tremendous season, when he didn’t see that wall and ran right into it.

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In August, Trumbo hit a meager three dingers, hitting .304, with an OPS of .550. Mr. Trumbo did not fare much better in September and October when he socked two home runs with a .214 average and an OPS of .554. Quite a turnaround for the big fella, wouldn’t ya say? Well, of course the question going into 2013 is, which, if either, is the true Mark Trumbo? The guy who was just mashing for three months or the one who could barely hit himself out of a wet paper bag for the last two months? Obviously the two are pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum here, so just what exactly are we to expect from Trumbo in 2013?

Well, let us take a look at Trumbo’s final numbers, first. Trumbo finished with 32 home runs and 95 RBIs and an OPS of .808. Of course 24 of those 32 home runs were in that three-month span of May through June. Which means Trumbo hit eight home runs in the other three months. Now we all know the power is there for Trumbo, but will the power be consistent or will Trumbo owners have to take the famine with the feast? The biggest difference in August through the end of the season was Trumbo’s home run to fly ball rate. About a quarter of Trumbo’s flyballs were leaving the yard in the first four months, but this rate dropped to 14.3% in August and then right on down to 7.4% in September. Obviously a big factor in the long ball drop off. Of course, it was not just the long balls that dropped off, it was Mark Trumbo’s entire offensive output that fell off a cliff. So what exactly happened?

Well, first off, it seems that either pitchers were starting to figure Trumbo out or he was just not being as patient. Perhaps even a combination of both. Look at Trumbo’s strikeout percentage by month ion 2012:

March/ April – 27.5%

May- 17.8%

June- 23.2%

July- 19.8%

August- 36.4%

September/ October- 33.7%

The K-rate took a huge jump in the last two months of the season, but Trumbo was also not getting on base as much down the stretch. In September Trumbo had a walk rate of 2.3%, helping him to a .233 OBP for the month. I shouldn’t have to tell you dem’s some outrageously bad numbers in both categories. Unfortunately I do not have info on Trumbo’s plate discipline numbers by month, but I think it is safe to say that he was probably pressing as he headed into September. Or was it something else? Trumbo experienced back spasms in July and it is possible that this lingered with him into the final two months and really sapped his power. If the back spasm issue was the primary cause this is good news for Trumbo going into 2013. So, if this is the case, should you expect more of May through July Trumbo? Well, I wouldn’t go quite go that far.

Look, those middle month were torrid and I don’t think there are many people out there who think the .300 average over that span is sustainable, so we’re gonna stay focused on the power. The home run/ power pace for that month was a bit more than expected and I am not quite sure those numbers are sustainable for Trumbo over a full season. If Trumbo had the same HR/AB rate in his lesser three months as he did in his binge months he would have had about 44 home runs for the season. I would say it is safe to project another 30 or so homers from Trumbo in 2013, at the very least, with the potential to sock 40. I am going to predict a number in the middle of those and say that Trumbo will out up 35 home runs in 2013 with 65-70 runs and 95-100 RBIs. Am I predicting a bit high? Well in the home run department, maybe a tad, but I don’t think 35 dongs is completely out of the question for Trumbo. With batting average you may see some hot weeks strung together, but I would not expect anything over .270. You can still expect an OPS over .800 for Trumbo, but this will be mostly driven by his slugging percentage as he has a very low walk rate. So in 5 x 5 leagues the average is a minor detractor, but nevertheless the 2012 late season slump could make Trumbo a mild sleeper in many drafts.

Rotochamp has Trumbo ranked 123 overall, which would mean he would be going around the 12-13th round in 12 team leagues. With an outside shot at 40 homers and 100 RBIs, that would be a nice pickup that late, sure. The problem is Trumbo’s average draft position in Yahoo! leagues is 99.8 and in ESPN leagues it is 84.8, so no one is really buying a ranking of around 123. Realistically, I would say go ahead and grab Trumbo around the 85th pick or so and bet on him not having a repeat of 2012′s dismal finish. It’s okay, you can thank me when you are polishing your fantasy league trophy come October.

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Has Prince Fielder Been A Disappointment?

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Has Prince Fielder Been A Disappointment?

Posted on 11 June 2012 by Bryan Geary

Prince Fielder has been a perennial 30 home run hitter since his first full season in 2006, averaging 34 per season during that span. Consequently, we just expect the numbers to be there at the end of the year. Perhaps that is why you do not hear more people talking about his drop in power so far this season. The other day I was driving when I heard his name mentioned as a buy low candidate on ESPN Radio. I thought to myself that he did not seem to fit that mold, but that was before I took a look at the numbers. So let us investigate this.

Currently with 10 home runs, Fielder is on pace for 27 home runs this season, a number that would easily be a career low. Maybe people believe the numbers will be there at the end, or maybe the spotlight is not as bright because Detroit is playing poorly, but for some reason not many people have noticed. There is always an adjustment moving from league to league, but Fielder’s .316 average suggests that, on the surface, he is making the adjustment well. However, when you go inside those numbers you see a hitter that has some definite differences from the one we are used to seeing.

We will start with his average, since that might be the most surprising thing of all. Fielder is a career .284 hitter and has never once finished a season over .300 (though he did hit .299 twice). A big explanation for the sudden jump in average is .332 BABIP that is 28 points higher than his career average. When you look inside that number, you see that his line drive and ground ball percentages are both above the career marks, which helps BABIP. Along that note, those two numbers have increased ever year since 2009. It is possible that we are seeing an evolution of Fielder as a hitter. But of course the power was there last year when he smashed 38 home runs, so where is it this year?

Two numbers that are noticeably down this year are numbers that are of great interest to Fielder owners: home run per fly ball ratio and fly ball percentage. During his career, he has hit fly balls 40.1% of the time but this season that number is only 32.5%. Similarly, his career HR/FB ratio is 20.1% while this year that number is 15.9%. Fielder is giving himself fewer chances to hit home runs and is driving fewer of those fly balls out of the ball park. Could this have something to do with the switch from Milwaukee to Detroit? Per the home run maps that you can generate here — the one I created charts Fielder’s home runs at Miller Park in 2011 onto the field dimensions of Comerica — 12 of his home runs were hit to what I would consider center field. Take a look at where this site projects those balls would have landed at Comerica — not many would have gone out.

Take that chart for what its worth, but it’s possible that Fielder’s switch to Comerica Park is having a very real effect on his home run totals. Not enough data is available to do a similar plot for this year’s home runs, but one would have to think that he has already lost a few home runs in the power alleys at Comerica. I think the verdict here is that Fielder may just be different this year. Maybe in his new, more spacious home park, more hits are going to fall for him and the batting average can stay up around .300. As far as Fielder being a buy low candidate, I do not think you are going to get many people who want to sell him low. He still ranks 6th on ESPN’s Player Rater for first basemen, which means he is a valuable commodity to owners. But if you can get someone to give him to you at a reduced price pull the trigger. I am willing to be that his batted ball stats will regress much closer to the mean, which means you might get that 30 home run, 100 RBI guy with a higher average — a win all around.

Rising Fast

Paul Goldschmidt saw his ownership rise 44.4% over the past week and he is now taken in 82.7% of leagues. I am telling you if you need help at first base and he is still out there in your league, grab him and grab him yesterday. This is a guy who showed 30 home run power in the minor leagues with an average that is not going to kill you (he is hitting .292 this year, 7th among qualified first basemen).  Another big reason to own Goldschmidt is his home park Chase Field, which is yielding 1.755 home runs per game, second only to The Great American Ballpark. He is young, playing in a great park, and seeing the majority of his at bats in the 5 or 6 hole, which means plenty of RBI chances. Grab him while you still can or see if you can get him cheap from an owner who might not see him as a household name.

Rekindling the Prospect Shine

Justin Smoak was a disappointment last year, hitting .234/.323/.396 with only 15 home runs. He had a nagging thumb injury and he also dealt with the death of his father, leaving some people, including Keith Law, to think that he may break out this year with a fresh start. It did not happen right away, but Smoak may be coming around of late. Over his last 15 games he is hitting .255 with 4 of his 10 home runs on the season. It is not great, but it is progress. A career .283 hitter in the minors, I am not sure where the average went, but it may never be there. However, if he can turn himself into a 25 home run guy and keep the average around .250, he would be a valuable fantasy asset for those in AL-only leagues or deeper leagues. He is still available in more than half of ESPN leagues, so think about giving him a roster spot if you need help at first.

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Finding Keepers: Minnesota Twins

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Finding Keepers: Minnesota Twins

Posted on 07 March 2012 by Gary Marchese

The Minnesota Twins have been the darlings of small budget baseball for so long.  They may be the best example of money ball as they have consistently been able to win with a low payroll.  The Twins do have talent on their team though, they have built a lot of it through their farm system though.  Here is a look at their team and who I would say are keepers for fantasy baseball.

C Joe Mauer is looking to stay healthy and have a bounce back year.  If Mauer is healthy there is no doubt you want to keep this guy on your team.  Mauer is a career 323 hitter.  He does have some power although maybe not as much as he should.  His best year he hit 28 homeruns and drove in 96.  13 and 84 were his best besides that so there is a big difference.  I would want to keep this guy around though, he is still young.

1B Justin Morneau is another guy if he is healthy.  His last two years he has not been healthy though, it is a big risk to keep him around.  In the last two seasons he hit a combined 22 homeruns.  In the previous four seasons he hit 34, 31, 23 and 30.  He had 130, 111, 129 and 100 RBI.  In the last two years he has had 86 RBI combined in the two seasons.  He has only played in a 150 combined games the last two years.  He is a guy that needs to stay healthy, I would hold on to him for now, if he doesn’t bounce back this year it will be time to dump him.

SP Francisco Liriano is a keeper to me.  There is too much talent to just dump this guy.  Liriano needs to be focused and he will go out there and pitch well.  He had a pretty bad year last year but the year before he was better.  He is still a young pitcher and he is worth keeping around to me.  He had three of four good years before last year.  Liriano is 47-42 in his career with a 4.19 ERA.  He has a 1.33 career WHIP and a 248 batting average against.  14 wins was his best year in 2010, he can do better then that though.

CF Denard Span may be a guy that you want to keep around.  He isn’t a bad player especially off the bench.  He is a career 285 career hitter.  He has a career on base percentage of 361.  He is not a power guy but will steal you some bases, he can steal 20-25.  He only played in 70 games last year and is looking for a big bounce back year this year.  I would keep him around for my team.

There are some border line players that I would say are possible keepers.  They don’t have any more sure things in my mind though.  Here are some borderline players.

SP Scott Baker is a decent starting pitcher.  In his career he is 63-48.  He is a winning pitcher, his career ERA is 4.15 which isn’t great but it isn’t that bad either.  He has had some elbow issues though and in the last two years his innings have gone down.  He is a guy to look at and keep an eye on though.

RP Matt Capps is a closer.  He has always been a reliever and became a closer in 2007.  He had his best year in 2010 when he saved 42 games.  Last year he saved 15 and blew nine saves.  He had an ERA of 4.25, he definitely isn’t the greatest closer but he is established and isn’t the worst you can do.  I personally would choose other guys first but he is a border line keeper.

LF Josh Willingham is a potential keeper as a reserve outfielder or maybe a bench player.  He is a veteran player who has a career average of 262.  I definitely wouldn’t want him as a starter on my team but he wouldn’t be the worst backup you could have.  He did hit 29 homeruns last year with 98 RBI.  He will provide some power and drive in some runs but won’t hit for a great average.  He does have a good on base percentage as well.  I would look at keeping him as a reserve player.

 

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