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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 23 September 2012 by Will Emerson

Welcome to the season finale of Field of Streams! One final  in depth look at some viable, and some not so viable, fantasy streaming options for the upcoming fantasy week. The major league, and thus fantasy, baseball season is winding down so there will be no need to stream pitchers, unless you are in some fantasy baseball league for the major league playoffs, after this week. I know, I’m sad as well folks, but I promised myself I wouldn’t cry. And this is by no means good-bye! Oh no, I will continue to give you something to read on Sundays, so you’ll still have that! Now, as I get into this week’s pitching options, I just want to say this this was one of the most difficult weeks for this. Not a lot of great options jumped out at me and if you are streaming this week, you are most likely in your fantasy championships, so good streaming is important now, more than ever. That’s quite a bit of pressure! Nevertheless, I will press on and without further ado, on with the show! Here comes your look at your fantasy streaming options, owned in less than 50% in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, for the week of 9/24-9/30 (all stats and information are prior to Saturday’s games):

Jake Odorizzi (KC)- One of the many talents in the Royals system, Odorizzi is getting his call up and will make his first start Sunday. So as a streaming option next weekend he is a bit of a wild card. One, because I have no major league appearance to evaluate and two, because you never know exactly who the Tribe will have in their lineup as the season winds down and neither team has much to play for ‘cept maybe their pride. Odorizzi has torn up the minors, most recently at triple-A where he had a 2.93 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. Now while I would like to have a look at his first start before getting into what to expect from him against Cleveland, I do like him as a wild card starter. His K/9 went down about four when he made the jump from double to triple -A and his triple-A FIP is over four, so there will be a struggle or two in the majors. However I like him alright enough starting against Cleveland. I feel like he may benefit from not a lot of Indians batters having faced him. Now I cannot give him full fledged stream endorsement, based on the no stats at the major league level, but watch his Sunday start closely and see what you think. He could be the wild card that helps you close the door on that fantasy title. (.2% owned in ESPN and 1% in Yahoo!)

Alex Cobb (TB)- Okay, so Cobber has been up and  down lately, lasting only 4.2 innings against the Os, but then baffling the Red Sox batters over six innings in his next start. To be fair though, his xFIP in that Os start was below two and he did only allow two earned runs in each  of those starts. The fact that he is keeping the ball on the ground, with a rate above 60% in both starts, is good and bad. Good, because those worm burners do not often end up as home runs, but bad because it does put more pressure on your defense and seeing eye singles can hurt him at any time. But he has a good defense behind him, so generally he is in good shape and I am sticking with him this week against the White Sox. (14% owned in ESPN and 22% in Yahoo!)

Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris (HOU)- If you’ve had a heaping helping of Field of Streams in your diet, it should be not be new knowledge that both Budrick and Lucas  have been studs at home this season. Well, if it is new info, then, hey, welcome to the party! These two fellas have been greatastic at home. Yes, they have been so good at home, that I went ahead and created an adjective to describe this goodness. Well both pitchers start the week with a home start, so go ahead and pounce if they are available in your league. Now Norris is only scheduled for the one start, but young Lucas has a second start on the docket, on the road, at Milwaukee (which means land of the good). But what many have not noticed is Harrell is actually pitching fairly decently outside of the Juice Box as well. In his last three road starts he has thrown 18. 2 innings and allowed seven earned runs. Not too shabby, right? And two of those starts were at St.Louis and Cincy. Two good hitting teams. While I would say the second start against the Brew Crew is still not a huge lock, it will be the end of your week and season and with his 19 strikeouts over those 18.2 road innings, he may me nice stream option to finish off your season. (Norris is 24.4% owned in ESPN and 30% in Yahoo! Harrell is 2.8% in ESPN and 11% in Yahoo!)

Marco Estrada (MIL)- The ownership numbers for Ponch are rising, so I am not riding this bandwagon alone, but he is still widely available in ESPN and Yahoo! He did not end up with a two start week last week as expected, so he looks to have two starts on the docket this week. The first start on the road against the Nationals could be bit tougher than other starts, but it could all depend on when the Nats will start resting folks for their playoff run too. I still recommend him and his lovely K/9 over nine in this matchup and for his second start? Well that will be at home against the Disastros, who admittedly are winning at a very high pace (for them anyways) in September, but still…a good matchup for Ponch. (25.6% owned in ESPN and 30% in Yahoo!)

Ross Detwiler (WSH)- Detwiler continues to be more than solid for the Nationals down the stretch. In his last outing against the Dodgers, he tossed six innings and allowed only one measly run. He also struck out five, which is not spectacular, but for Ross Detwiler, he of the 5.68 K/9, this is a good number. In fact he has a rate of 7.5 K/9 over his last two starts, so that is promising, especially if you combine that with his ground ball rate over 50! Now I’m not saying he’s working his way towards a future strikeout crown or anything, but this definitely makes him more appealing as a fantasy option. He faces Tyler Cloyd and the Phils this week, which is not a great matchup, but Mr. Detwiler has been pitching well enough that I would not expect him to get knocked around too much and hurt your pitching numbers by any means. (37.1% owned in ESPN and 39% in Yahoo!)

So there you have it, another season of Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this season, children? 1) Lucas Harrell and Bud Norris have been must starts at home  B) Ks/9 are  the bomb diggity 4) “Ponch” Estrada is more solid than you know and plenty of spots on his bandwagon are still available and F) Alex Cobb and his sexy ground ball rate can be a good get for your fantasy squads. Good day and godspeed!

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

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Field Of Streams: Fantasy Baseball Pitching Options

Posted on 19 August 2012 by Will Emerson

Welcome back to another edition of Field of Streams, your in depth look at some viable, and some not so viable, fantasy streaming options for the upcoming fantasy week.

Now before we dig on in this week, I just want to mention that, thanks to my stellar praise (shameless plug here,) you will no longer find the Shark Jeff Samardzija on this list as he is now owned by more than, albeit barely, 50% of ESPN and Yahoo! owners. Huzzah! He is still only owned by about 51% in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues so you can still probably grab him, but the rise over 50% eliminates him from this list. So now on with the show, here comes your look at your fantasy streaming options, owned less than 50% in ESPN and Yahoo! leagues for the week of 8/20-8/26:

Mike Leake (CIN)- After a sluggish start, Leake turned it around with a solid June. In the month of June he posted a 2.55 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and a very solid 3.17 xFIP. Good numbers indeed! But then came July. In that month, he had a 5.46 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP, a pretty drastic turnaround, if you ask me, and while you didn’t ask me, I’m the one writing, so deal with it. The bright spot here is that his xFIP was still below four at 3.69, so maybe he was not quite as bad as he seemed. So far in his three August starts he has a 3.43 ERA, a .90 WHIP and a respectable 6.86 K/9 and his last start was plain brilliant. Against the Mets he pitched a complete game, allowing just one earned run on four hits, walking no one and striking out four. His xFIP and SIERA point to him sustaining an ERA around 3.70-4.00 and could provide a fantasy team with some quality starts down the stretch. He has two starts this week, but unfortunately he is locking horns with Roy Halladay at Citizen’s Bank Park in the first start and looks to be matched up with Adam Wainwright in Cincy in the other. Neither of these looks to be any sort of lock for a quality start or a “W”. So, I would keep an eye on Leake, but until he stays consistent, I would steer clear. (3.7% owned in ESPN and 10% in Yahoo!)

Miguel Gonzalez (BAL)- Some of you still may not have M-Gon, his unofficial terrible nickname, on your radar but the 28 year old has twirled a few good starts this year. Now the first red flag is this is the first many of us are hearing about Miggy and he is 28 years old. He was selected in the 2004 amateur draft and did not pitch in the minors at all in ’08 or ’09. At Triple-A Norfolk this year he had a 1.61 ERA with a .72 WHIP and a K/9 over 10, which as you know tends to grab my attention. Since being called up all he’s done is go 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and a 6.90 K/9. In his last outing he stymied the Red Sox over six innings and this week he has two starts, so he should be grabbed immediately, right? Well, maybe not. These starts come against the Rangers and Blue Jays, two heavy hitting teams and for a pitcher inducing ground balls only about a third of the time and an xFIP close to five I would think long and hard before streaming him. (7.9% owned in ESPN and 8% in Yahoo!)

Freddy Garcia (NYY)- Another two start pitcher for the upcoming week, Freddy could be a solid pickup for any fantasy squad. Don’t necessarily expect a ton of Ks, but if you need some quality starts Steady Freddy (new nickname pending) may just be your man. Only once in his last eight starts has he given up more than three earned runs and in that start he gave up four earned runs. As much as I am not a fan of the quality start stat, it is nice to know that five of those eight starts were quality starts. I like Steady Freddy a lot this week at the White Sox and at the Indians. This could very easily be a two win week for Garcia and he is a pitcher that is unlikely to hurt your stats this week unless you are, and really you should be, in a league with K/9. Although his season K/9 of 6.80, which is a bit lower than I’d necessarily care for, is certainly respectable enough.(1.3% owned in ESPN and 6% in Yahoo!)

Mark Rogers (MIL)- Obviously I absolutely love the K/9 of 9.13 Mr. Rogers is throwing out there, but that 4.94 ERA may steer some fantasy owners away. Well his xFIP is 3.14 thus far and the high ERA could have a lot to do with the last start in Colorado where he was roughed up a bit, but that can be expected a mile above sea level. Most prognosticators seem to feel his ERA will be somewhere in the fives, but the xFIP is promising, mostly because he is walking less than three batters per nine, which is much lower than his walk rates in the minors which tended to hover in the five or six range. His K/9 is also higher than his Triple-A numbers, which you don’t often see. Maybe he is gaining better control or maybe it is just major league hitters not having seen him and his stuff, previously. So while a regression could be coming, his starts this week are against the light hitting Cubs and the upstart Pirates. The Cubs and Pirates are currently 28th and 29th in the majors in walk rate, not exactly the most patient of hitters, so I say ride the trolley on in to Mr. Rogers neighborhood this week. (.2% owned in ESPN and 1% in Yahoo!)

Kevin Millwood (SEA)- Kevin Millwood is an innings eating dude and while that will not always translate into fantasy goodness, you have to like him in his first start this week. He is at home against the Tribe and Millwood has been cruising in his home starts of late. In his each of his last four home starts, against the Rays, Royals, Yankees and Rangers, he pitched into the 7th and allowed less than 3 earned runs. The peripherals have not been great, per se, but I really like his odds at home against the Tribe this week. His second start will be at the Cell against the White Sox and this is a bit more iffy. I say stream him against the Tribe and sit him against the ChiSox. (1.1% owned in ESPN and 4% in Yahoo!)

Marco Estrada (MIL)- I know I have made my fantasy crush on Marco “Ponch” Estrada readily known, but here he is still owned less than 10% in both ESPN and Yahoo! leagues! I mean, sure, who would want a pitcher with a 8.73 K/9, 1.91 BB/9, 1.21 WHIP and a 3.72 xFIP? Of course at home, his recent start against the Phillies not withstanding, he has been even more superb. At home his K/9 is 9.35, his BB/9 is 1.24, his WHIP is 1.06 and his xFIP is 3.46! But wait! That’s not all! Pick him up this week and we’ll throw in a start against the Cubs who have scored the fewest runs in the majors this season! So what are you waiting for?! Operators are standing by! (2.1% owned in ESPN and 6% Yahoo!)

Lucas Harrell (HOU)- Harrell has two starts this week and his recent numbers are highly decent, meaning a lot of fantasy owners are starting to take a notice and eyeing his progress. But these owners clearly did not read the inaugural Field of Streams, because his two starts this week are on the road, where Harrell has been less than good, to say the least. On the road young Lucas has an ERA over five a WHIP of 1.42, a sub six K/9 and an xFIP of 4.82. oh yeah, and his first start of the week is in St. Louis. The Cardinals are fourth in the majors in runs scored and have the 3rd best wOBA to boot. Avoid Harrell this week, but keep an eye on him for future starts. (5.3% owned in ESPN and 12% Yahoo!)

Dan Straily (OAK)- On the surface Straily’s looked pretty good since his call up with a 1-0 record, an ERA of 3.18 and a 1.18 WHIP. But below the surface he has not been so dazzling, as evidenced by his 4.56 SIERA, 4.82 xFIP and a .240 BABIP. He is also striking out less than 7 per nine innings which does not combine well with the fact he is only inducing ground balls 28.3% of the time. Now sure he could be solid in the future, but he will go through some growing pains very soon. Luckily a cavernous home park can somewhat compensate for the low ground ball numbers and normally I would still recommend giving him a whirl at home, but he has the Twins, who have been surprisingly decent offensively of late. So I’d avoid Straily for the near future, unless you are in a dynasty league preparing for the future. (8.7% owned in ESPN and 15% Yahoo!)

Zach McAllister (CLE)- Zach Attack has a 3.64 ERA and 1.24 WHIP to go along with a K/9 just over eight. Now his xFIP is close to four, but his SIERA is 3.73, so his ERA is about where it is expected to be. Ks may drop a bit, but Zach Attack seems like he could be a good pickup for the stretch run. But, if you’re not sold on him as a keeper through the end of the season, you should at least believe in him this week when he faces the lowly Mariners in Safeco. What do we say? Stream against the Ms when you can, especially at Safeco. (5.5% owned in ESPN and 10% Yahoo!)

Kris Medlen (ATL)- Medlen has been an asset pretty much wherever the Braves have needed him. The Ks have been a bit lower than expected at 6.53 per nine innings, but everything else has been the bee’s knees! A 2.03 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP are nothing to scoff at, so scoff elsewhere! His 3.30 SIERA and 3.43 xFIP mean that, yes, an ERA and WHIP regression are on the way, but personally, I can live with an an ERA in the 3.30-3.45 range. But all of these numbers are based on mostly bullpen numbers. In his four starts, including his last one which was a complete game shutout, he’s thrown 25.2 innings and allowed three, yes THREE, earned runs, 19 hits and four walks. That’s a 1.05 ERA and a WHIP of .89. He also had a K/9 of 7.71 in those starts. So, I’d recommend getting as many starts out of Medlen as possible while he is still in the rotation. Now he is actually owned by more than 50% in ESPN, but still more widely available in Yahoo!leagues, so he is on the list on a slight technicality. (57.9% owned in ESPN and 37% Yahoo!)

Patrick Corbin (ARI)- With a 3.41 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP, Patrick Corbin has worked out quite well for the Diamondbacks as a starter. His K/9 of 7.60, FIP of 3.34 and an xFIP of 3.74, seem to back up that his numbers thus far have been legit. This week he heads into Miami to face the Marlins and you have to like his chances in that park! If you have not already, it’s time to take a flyer on Corbin! (28.8% owned in ESPN and 17% Yahoo!)

So there you have it, another edition of Field Of Streams in the books! So what did we learn this week, children? 1) As always, stream against the Astros and the Mariners when possible, B) Ks/9 are your BFFs, 4) Hop on the Kris Medlen train while you can and F) Marco, is still the coolest Estrada since Erik! Good day and godspeed!

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verlander

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Line of the Day: Justin Verlander

Posted on 06 April 2012 by Daniel Aubain

Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers held the Boston Red Sox to two hits and no runs over eight innings, striking out seven and walking just one. The bullpen blew the save and Verlander’s win but the Tigers held on to a 3-2 victory.

Line: 8 IP | 2 H | 0 ER | 1 BB | 7 K; ND | QS

My fantasy perspective: Verlander seems to have picked up right where he left off from his 2011 Cy Young and MVP season. Over the last two weeks, he’s being drafted with an ADP of 9.68 on Mock Draft Central and and his ranking reflect that: ESPN #17; Yahoo! #20; CBS #10. Fantasy owners who invested early in him are sure to see a fantastic return on investment.

Agree? Disagree? Check out ESPN’s formula for determining the best daily performances and nominate your own Line of the Day player using the comments section below and/or hitting me up on Twitter @DJAubain.

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Auction league hidden gems

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Auction league hidden gems

Posted on 15 March 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Hidden Gem

If you have spent much time playing auction draft fantasy baseball leagues, then you understand the value of finding an inexpensive hidden gem.  If you can stock your team with a few players on the cheap, then you can afford to overpay for a few guys at the top end of the pay scale.  The problem with finding that gem is that nearly everyone else in your league is looking for the same thing at the same time you are.  How do you start looking for value?

Well, I usually start by going through the various online draft kits and draft results to look for some players to keep in mind.  However, you probably will not get too far without some kind of process in mind to evaluate player costs in an unbiased manner.  To that end, here are some guidelines I use to assist me…

  • I rank players at each position, and then I choose a personal top 5 list at each position.  I then select 3 or 4 positions that I am willing to overpay to fill with a player or players from the aforementioned lists.
  • An “overpay” is defined as exceeding 120% of the player’s projected value.
  • If any of the players on the lists comes available at a price less than 120% of the projected value, then that player becomes an automatic target.  At anything less than 110% of projected value, that player definitely makes the “short list” of priorities.
  • Watch to see if any team affiliations are artificially pushes prices substantially higher than projected value.  An example here might be any San Francisco Giants pitcher expected to benefit from the return of Buster Posy or anybody on the Detroit Tigers who may spend significant time in a lineup projected to score a lot of runs.
  • Look for an obvious falling off point at which prices at a particular position drop substantially between tiers of players.
  • Keep a Word document or Post-It not handy to write down names of players that are going for close to projected value or even below it.

 Real Examples from the Yahoo Auction Leagues:

  1. Consider that the shortstop position has only 8 players projected to have double digit value.  Troy Tulowitzki is going for an average of $46.2 versus a projected value of $40.  While I do consider him the top guy at the position, I like Hanley Ramirez at an average of $34 ($29 projected) much more.  If you are looking for a value pick instead, then maybe $8.7 ($11 projected) for Dee Gordon is a better deal for you.  If you have faith that JJ Hardy can duplicate his 2011 season, then $6.5 ($7 projected) is quite appealing as well.  Hidden Gem:  Ian Desmond going for an average of $1.7 versus a projected value of $5.
  2. It should not surprise anyone that Miguel Cabrera and Albert Pujols are both hovering around the $50 mark on average.  What about Joey Votto at $44.1 ($39 projected)?  He seems like a pretty good deal compared to Prince Fielder who is averaging $37.2 with a projected value of $29.  Then again, the projected value seems a bit low, so he may be a good deal at around $12 cheaper than Miggy or Albert.  With all the depth at the position, you still may have to go down the list a ways to find the likes of Billy Butler at $7.9 ($9 projected) or Freddie Freeman at $6.5 ($8 projected).  Hidden Gem:  Mitch Moreland at $1.3 ($3 projected) as a backup 1B or utility guy.
  3. Due to injuries and variance in the number of plate appearances, catchers are often difficult to evaluate in the context of your roster dollars.  Getting a catcher that consistently hits is worth a bit of a premium, and that premium increases for catchers who also qualify at 1B.  Carlos Santana, Mike Napoli, and Joe Mauer are probably worth every penny for their respective offensive output combined with the dual threat factor.  That does not mean it is a good idea to sleep on guys like JP Arencibia at $3.4 ($5 projected), although I would probably stay away from Geovany Soto, even if he is going for well below the anticipated market rate of $6.  Hidden Gem:  Nick Hundley at $1.3 or Russell Martin at $1.6.

It is one thing to know who is good at each position.  It is even better to know what other people think each player is worth at those positions.

If you enjoy the “Hidden Gems” work, then please check out the rest of the gems here at FullSpectrumBaseball!!!

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bmccann_braves

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Finding Keepers: Atlanta Braves

Posted on 14 March 2012 by Daniel Aubain

Most generic fantasy baseball leagues utilizing the ” keepers” feature are going to allow each team to keep “x” number of players from the previous year’s roster. I’ve seen most leagues keep five players per team and most of those leagues had 12 teams. So doing the math, we’re talking about 60 players for a league of that size. Following this logic deeper, players being targeted as keepers should probably be ranked somewhere within the top 75 players (top 100 if you keep a player based on position scarcity).

Now I’ve seen dynasty leagues with minor league systems in place or auction leagues that assign a value to each player you keep. I’ve even seen intricate formulas used based on what round or price you paid in the previous year to calculate the cost of keeping a player on your roster for another season. This kind of keeper article can’t possible address all the factors needed to call a particular player a keeper over another. So we’ll go with the “inside the top 100″ strategy because a player ranked much lower than that can probably be targeted during the redrafting rounds if you really want them on your roster for another season.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s take a look at which players on the 2012 Atlanta Braves should be considered “keeper-worthy”.

OF Michael Bourn consistently brings your team Stolen Bases (50+) and Runs (90+) with a Batting Average (.270+) you can easily live with on your roster. I was surprised to see how differently he was ranked on the big three fantasy baseball sites: ESPN #35; Yahoo! #50; CBS #74. In any format, Bourn is a no-brainer keeper.

C Brian McCann is easily a top 5 fantasy baseball catcher, netting you 25 HR and 99 RBI per 162 games played over his seven year career. You can expect another .270+/20+ HR/80+ RBI season and should definitely consider locking him up as a keeper for 2012. Here are his rankings on the big three fantasy sites: ESPN #69; Yahoo! #86; CBS #41.

2B Dan Uggla frustrated his fantasy owners in the first half of 2011 with a measly .185 BA but rewarded the ones who stuck around for the .296/21/48 second half. It’s hard to stay away from a top 5 second baseman with 30+ HR/90+ RBI/90+ Runs potential, even at the cost of a sub-.260 Batting Average. His fantasy rankings are as follows: ESPN #42; Yahoo! #103; CBS #103. I’d target Uggla as a keeper for his power numbers as a second baseman but would be pairing him up with a high average/stolen base guy to fill the holes in his game.

RP Craig Kimbrel is definitely the first closer coming off the board in drafts with an ADP of 57.73 and with good reason. His 14.8 K/9 and 3.97 K/BB ratios, 127 Strikeouts in 77 Innings Pitched and 46 Saves are enough to justify him as a keeper, for sure. So if you’re thinking of keeping a closer and own Kimbrel, do it. He’s ranked: ESPN #62; Yahoo! #114; CBS #39.

Best of the rest but not a keeper

3B/OF Martin Prado should chip in a dozen Home Runs and a .290 Batting Average but with an ADP of 190.22, you can easily target him late in the drafts if you must own him.

3B Chipper Jones has fantasy value but only in deeper or very shallow NL-Only types. You can hope for 125 games played and around 15 Home Runs. Hope. With an ADP of 234.88, there’s no reason to target him as anything more waiver help.

OF Jason Heyward let fantasy owners down in 2011 but look for him to turn things around in 2012. Look for a return to the 20 HR and 12 SB range for him. Unfortunately there is risk involved, so you wouldn’t want to use a keeper on him. His ADP of 109.90 means he should be on your radar by the 8th or 9th rounds and you’ll probably have a few owners steering clear out of fear.

NL Rookie of the Year runner-up 1B Freddie Freeman posted great numbers in 2011 and should be in line for more of the same (.280/80/25/80/5) but most sites have him ranked somewhere around the 15th-best option at first base. That’s not keeper-worthy but definitely a fine option at first base to target around the 10th round according to his ADP of 121.97.

SP Brandon Beachy burst onto the scene in 2011 with a 7-3 record, 3.68 ERA, 1.21 WHIP with a 10.7 K/9 and 3.67 K/BB ratios. With an ADP of 114.51, he should be a target to occupy a spot on your pitching staff, just not as a keeper.

SP Tommy Hanson missed the final eight weeks of 2011 with a rotator cuff injury and is coming into 2012 working on a revamped delivery. Nothing about this seems like positive news. Not only is he not a keeper, I’d be weary of drafting him at all this season.

Does your league use a unique keeper system that makes these or any other Braves’ players keeper-worthy heading into your 2012 drafts? If so, I’d love to hear all about it. Leave a comment so we can all appreciate the complexity some leagues use.

Please take a moment to follow me on Twitter @DJAubain and Full Spectrum Baseball @FullSpectrumBB.

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