On with the new guy.. Who do you keep in 2014?

It’s hard to move on sometimes. Whether it’s a car or a job, parting ways with something that you have coveted for so long can be an emotional experience.

Keepers in fantasy baseball are no exception.

The art of keeping a player is a skill in and of itself. Choose wisely and you can reap the benefits year after year. Choose wrong and you could be the proverbial “goat” of your league.

He is easily one of the best, if not the best pitcher in the MLB.

He is easily one of the best, if not the best pitcher in the MLB.

Every year new stars rise to the top and make the choice difficult for owners who are plentiful with talent. Most leagues only allow one which on a team of 24 to 25 players can be stressful. Combine that with the age old debate of “hitter vs pitcher” and you have a recipe for a long off-season.

This season has been a tough one for those who have kept guys like Milwaukee Brewers’ OF Ryan Braun, Los Angeles Angels’ 1B Albert Pujols, and Washington Nationals’ SP Stephen Strasburg to name a few. One is suspended, one is injured, and the other one has been less than stellar (along with his team).

Going with your gut and common sense is obviously part of the game. Detroit Tigers’ 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera will pay dividends for years to come and is obviously always going to be off the board come March. Pitching wise it’s plentiful with the likes of Los Angeles Dodgers’ SP Clayton Kershaw and Texas Rangers’ SP Yu Darvish; both are in the prime of what promises to be record setting careers.

I make this sound easier than it really is.

Trickiness comes into play when you deal with guys like Detroit Tigers’ SP Max Scherzer or Baltimore Orioles’ 1B/OF Chris Davis. Scherzer, who looks like a guarantee for the AL Cy Young, is having a monumental season and Davis is on pace to hit 58 HR this season. Scherzer is 19-1 which tops MLB and he is approaching 200 K (191) with a minuscule 0.91 WHIP. The guy has been more dominant than last year’s story (now) Toronto Blue Jays’ SP R.A. Dickey.

Good ole Dickey. A stark contrast of seasons.

Dickey blew the top off last season when he was with the New York Mets, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA (both career bests). He had 230 K to compliment 233.3 IP and was a keeper target for owners this season. Better bats behind him in Toronto after the team went on an off-season spending spree. What’s not to love?

This season has been a different story as Dickey has gone 9-12 with a 4.49 ERA and he has already given up more ER (88) and HR (28) than he did all of last season (71 and 24 respectfully). It’s a reminder that one good season doesn’t always guarantee fruitful results going forward.

With that being said, here are a few names to consider when deciding who the franchise will be on your team next season.

  • Max Scherzer, SP, Detroit Tigers: We know Scherzer is one of the best options going into the off-season but is he a guarantee? Over the last 3 seasons (minus 2013), he boasts a 3.89 ERA with opponents hitting .256 against him during that stretch. He is a K machine (averaging 196) which adds to his value along with the fact he has the most potent offense in the MLB behind him. He will get plenty of wins (43 over the last 3 seasons) and he could be worth a gamble depending on expectations. He’s good, but temper the projections if you keep him.
    He will get plenty of looks next season, with the 19 wins and 192 K he has already amassed.

    He will get plenty of looks next season, with the 19 wins and 192 K he has already amassed.

  • Albert Pujols, 1B, Los Angeles Angels: This past season has been unkind to “The King” and with that comes doubt from owners. Combine the injuries (arm and ankle) along with his career lows in production this season (.256 BA, 17 HR, 64 RBI, 55 K) and there is cause for concern. He could be someone that still goes high because of his potential (hit at least 30 HR and 99 RBI every season since rookie season) but with everything out there he is still a gamble as a keeper. But don’t be surprised if he has a bounce back in 2014.
  • Chris Davis, 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles: He is having a historic season in which like Scherzer, is bucking his trend. His HR (46) and RBI (118) are career highs and he has been benefiting from the “golden year” for players (age 27). The Orioles are young and talented which bodes well for Davis who will have guys like 3B Manny Machado (.296 BA) and OF Adam Jones (.299 BA) in front of him. His lifetime BA of .269 is something to consider but like Scherzer, he is a great option because of his team.
  • Ryan Braun, OF, Milwaukee Brewers: What a year it has been for Braun. His production this season (.298 BA, 9 HR, 38 RBI) was nothing special but he is always a lock to be in the Top 10 every March. The swirling winds of bad publicity have unquestionably affected him this season but now that he has served his time, will he return to form? A .312 BA lifetime will get him plenty of attention.
    Making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

    Making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

  • Stephen Strasburg, SP, Washington Nationals: Another player who has fallen short of expectations was kept by owners in hopes of a Cy Young performance. Strasburg has a less than stellar record (6-9) but has maintained the par for him in ERA (3.00) along with K (162). His record doesn’t accurately tell the story due to a lackluster offense but when you look at his organics, he has had a pretty solid season. He may not get the nod when keepers are announced but dive in deep before shutting the door on him.
  • Matt Harvey, SP, New York Mets: Like Dickey, Harvey had another solid season in the Mets’ uniform and did it in identical form. His ERA (2.27) and WHIP (0.93) have been spectacular but the wins (9) where no where near as bountiful as Dickey’s last season. Another wrinkle is that today he was announced with having a partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, which is a precursor for Tommy John Surgery. You have to keep an eye on it but if he can avoid surgery he would be a fine keeper. But if he goes under the knife, you have to play your cards in 2015.

Whether you end up rich or broke, just know the odds always favor the bold.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

The Two Front War: Fantasy Baseball and Football

It’s that time of the year again.

No, I’m not talking about Fall (although that is vastly approaching) or wedding season (I didn’t get invited to one this year). I’m talking about the month-long extravaganza known as Fantasy Football Pre-Season.

Mock drafts, player kits, and Buffalo Wild Wings reservations are all the rage in August as owners switch gears from the diamond to the gridiron in hopes of earning some cold hard cash. It’s the most popular fantasy sport and with good reason; everyone from a seasoned veteran to the little old lady can play. It’s the one game where you can know nothing about it and almost have a better chance of winning.

Touche.

Touche.

Attention is going to shift for many owners who play both sports which is a prime opportunity for the savvy baseball veterans who may be looking to cash in. Football, which is less time and focus than baseball, can still be a decent amount of prep work depending on what league you are in. I am not saying to completely abandon your football team (I even have a few teams myself) but don’t keep your eye off the baseball for a second. If you are in the thick of things and have a chance to land a playoff spot, now is the time that you can pick up some undervalued treasurers that most people would miss on because they are breaking down 4th string wide receives in their NFL Draft Kit.

For example, those who have not been paying attention the past couple of weeks may not know about Atlanta Braves’ SP Alex Wood. Wood, who is hoovering around 65% ownership, has been lights out for the Braves in his last 4 starts. He has gone 6+ in all 4 of his starts and he has only given up 5 earned in all of those combined starts. His 2.63 ERA and 1.02 WHIP are better than average and he has a red-hot, division leading offense to back him up. He has been one of the more hidden gems over the last couple of weeks.

Another guy that people will overlook (which is surprising to hear me say this) is New York Yankees’ 3B Alex Rodriguez. Everyone’s favorite “sound byte” has been red-hot over his last 7 days; he is batting .357 and has collected at least 1 hit in 6 of his last 7 games. His K are down (10 on the season) and his OBP (4.07) is close to 60 points higher than his 3 year average. I get tired of seeing his name pop up on ESPN Sports Center every minute but you can’t deny that he has been producing (surprisingly) in August.

Being able to pay attention to the signs is the key to survival in fantasy baseball. But for all of you fantasy football owners out there, I will go ahead and break tradition and leave a little something for you.

Rodriguez is lighting up the scoreboards, hitting .357 over his last 7 days.

Rodriguez is lighting up the scoreboards, hitting .357 over his last 7 days.

There are the dedicated few (like myself) who would trade 10 fantasy football titles for 1 fantasy baseball title. Football, in my eyes, is the “poker” of the sporting world and baseball is the “7-card stud”. Anyone can play poker but very few want to tangle with 7 card high-low.

With that being said, fantasy football and poker have a common theme. They are easy to play but take a lifetime to master.

Football is typically won in your draft; there are very few times that you can win it on the waiver wire (trust me, I know). There are the known quantities but there are a handful of guys that you can pick up later that will have substantial value if you play the cards right. Last year Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ RB Doug Martin was second amongst running backs behind Minnesota Vikings’ RB Adrian Peterson and was drafted as the 10th-15th best running back available. His 1,454 rushing yards and 11 rushing TD to go with 472 receiving yards and 1 Rec TD were amongst the best in the NFL last season and he compiled at least 10 fantasy points in 12 games last season. Needless to say, someone got great value drafting him.

This year looks to be no different as several players are being talked about for a break out campaign. One of them just happens to play with Martin in Tampa Bay. QB Josh Freeman (4,065 passing yards, 27 TD, 17 INT) is in the final year of a 5 year, $32.14 million contract and playing for a lot this season. He has shown glimpses of brilliance but has had issues in terms of turnovers (17 INT and 10 fumbles last season). With another year with standout WR Vincent Jackson (1,384 receiving yards and 8 TD) and newly acquired WR Kevin Ogletree (4 TD last season), Freeman could be a heck of steal late in drafts.

Another guy who could see tons of value is New England Patriots’ RB Stevan Ridley (1,263 rushing yards, 12 TD). Ridley had a career campaign last year in yardage and TD and established himself as the guy in the Patriots backfield. With the litany of issues in the receiving core, Ridley will shoulder more of the load this season and could see 1,500 yards in a more diverse Patriots’ offense.

#selfie

#selfie

It’s hard to know which way the cards will fall but one thing is for sure, playing two games at the same time can be a lot of fun or it can crushing. Hopefully you don’t get blitzkrieg on both fronts.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

 

How the Mighty Have Fallen

No one stays at the top forever. Not even Charlie Sheen or Ricky Martin can be on their A-game for eternity.

Maybe I exaggerated with those examples.

Regardless if it’s television, music, or baseball, stars rise and fade with no shortage of examples. We have seen this play out in fantasy baseball time and time with reminders every season of how the baseball gods can be brutal when you make them mad.

King Albert has been dethroned but for how long?

King Albert has been dethroned but for how long?

The news about Los Angeles Angels’ 1B Albert Pujols (.258, 17 HR, 64 RBI) and his $16 million contract have been the talk this week and with good reason; he was the one guy that we thought could never “sink”. But with a foot injury and wrist injury, “King Albert” has become a boat anchor for the owners who drafted him this season. And with his average draft ranking around 8.36, owners lost out big time (along with the Angels).

To give Pujols some benfit of the doubt, he has been hobbled this season with an ailing foot/ankle injury that you can tell has affected him. Where the critics will counter point is that if you look at his impact since he was traded to the Angels in 2012, he has shown serious signs of regression. His .285 BA and 76 K last season along with just a meager 30 HR were far short of what we expect out of one of the best hitters in MLB.

Ironically enough, Pujols is not the only guy you can put on display. There are plenty of others to serve up.

We know already about the soap opera that is the New York Yankees and their highly publicized (yet ineffective) 3B Alex Rodriguez.  His ongoing negotiations with MLB around his alleged HGH use has become more annoying than the Brett Favre “dog and pony show” that takes place every season (seemingly). Rodriguez was once the darling of those who had the #1 overall pick but has now fallen faster than Paula Dean with no signs of coming close to what he once was. You factor that in with the $32 million annual salary and you have recipe for disaster.

I’m just happy I’m not on the hook for the money.

With Pujols and Rodriguez making news for all the wrong reasons (along with Riley Cooper), it got me thinking as to some of the biggest declines we have seen in the fantasy baseball world. Guys get old and the laws of averages kick in, but there have been several guys this season who have had their stars flame out.

  • Ryan Howard, 1B, Philadelphia Phillies: We always knew he would strike out a lot (averaging 143 over last 3 seasons) but when the power goes away (averaging 26 HR over same span), makes it a real liability. He was the definition of “glass half empty, half full” but he has become bone dry (.265 BA, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 95 K). Shame too because the Phillies pay him roughly $20 million annually.

    A rise in K and a decline in power make for a long season for fantasy owners.

    A rise in K and a decline in power make for a long season for fantasy owners.

  • Ian Kinsler, 2B, Texas Rangers: At one time, you could argue he was the best 2B in baseball. His power and speed with a respectable average made him high on draft boards. The last couple of seasons have been short by standards and this season may take the cake (.275 BA, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 7 SB). Kinsler has had injury problems but the decline in production (BA dropped 30 points since 2010; SB dropped 8, CS up each season) has made him a mid-tier 2B at best.
  • Jimmy Rollins, SS, Philadelphia Phillies: It’s no surprise that he made it on the list after having one of the better seasons in 2007 (30 HR and 41 SB). Rollins has never been one to help your average (.263 career BA) but the regression in power (averaging 16 HR last 3 seasons) and speed (averaging 26 SB over the last 3 seasons) make him as big of a liability as Howard.
  • Evan Longoria, 3B, Tampa Bay Rays: Before the sudden surge of great 3B, you could live with the K’s (averaging 93 last 3 years) and potential for production. But Longoria (after having last year cut short by injury) has been on the down slide. He has 21 HR but is well short of his 3 year average in RBI (86 over 3 years, 58 now) and is on pace for 168 K. He has value, but not nearly what he once had.
  • Josh Hamilton, OF, Los Angeles Angels: He is the other half of the Angels’ nightmare this season. After signing him to a 5 year, $125 million contract Hamilton has been a bust with career lows in BA (.226) and OBP (.283). His power usually can offset his K (averaging 117 over the last 3 years) but he has had an outage of sorts this season (16 HR, on pace for 24). Hamilton has hurt those who drafted him and has an unknown future ahead.
  • Roy Halladay, SP, Philadelphia Phillies: The 3rd Phillies player to make the list but his decline is a shock to many. At one point, he was a guaranteed ace (averaging 17 wins over last 3 years) but the last 2 seasons have been unkind to his ERA (4.49 and 8.65) and he has been hurt for over a collective season of baseball. We knew their were signs coming into this season, but no one could have predicted a decline like this.

    At one point, they were the best. Now, both guys are in scramble mode to revive their careers.

    At one point, they were the best. Now, both guys are in scramble mode to revive their careers.

  • Tim Lincecum, SP, San Francisco Giants: He is another former ace who has seen better days (and not due to injury). He did pitch a no-hitter which was a nice thing to see, but you can’t deny his problems over the last 3 seasons. His ERA last year (5.17) and WHIP (1.46) were career highs and clearly not a myth this season (4.60 ERA and 1.34 WHIP). He still has signs of brilliance but no where near the Cy Young caliber.
  • Heath Bell, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks: It’s bad enough being replaced but twice in one season? Bell is far removed from being one of the best closers in MLB (43 saves in 2011) but when he went to Miami last season, a big part of his game stayed there. His 19 saves last year and 15 this year are well short of his potential and you combine that with a 5.12 and 3.82 ERA, and you have a problem.

Doors never 100 percent close but sometimes there is enough writing on the wall to make you think twice before opening. Hopefully this group can get it together before they have things shut on them permanently.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

Send em Packing.. MLB Trade Deadline Deals that could impact your Roster!

For those of us that are tired of the soap opera known as Biogenesis, luckily the trade deadline is approaching.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a New York Yankees fan. Sad and crushing for all of you, I know. The dark side is heavy with this one.

Baseball is being talked about virtually every day but in my opinion, it’s for the wrong reasons. There is more to this game than who is doping and who is covering up but because we are people who enjoy this kind of thing, we focus more on the negatives than the positives. There are a lot of great things going on right now but if you watch the media over the last couple of days, you would have no idea which is kinda sad.

Now that it’s out of my system, it’s safe to say the Yankees, Milwaukee Brewers, and others are going to be active for obvious reasons.

Garza has already made an impact for the Rangers going 7+ strong for a win on Wednesday.

Garza has already made an impact for the Rangers going 7+ strong for a win on Wednesday.

Whether is suspensions or the need to get out from behind some lofty contracts, the rumors have been like brush fire over the last couple of days with the Chicago Cubs selling off one of the prized pieces in SP Matt Garza. Gazra (7-1, 2.87 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 67 K) is unquestionably a game changer for the Texas Rangers and based on Wednesday’s results (W, 7.1 IP, 5 K, 5 H, 0 ER) should be a great lift for fantasy owners who have stuck with him through his litany of injuries. The big key in the statement though is “injuries”; Garza has been on the DL each of his last 3 seasons and missed the first 6 weeks of this season due to a strained side muscle.

With the dealing of Gazra, Cubs nation did not go empty handed and in my opinion, could benefit tremendously from the potential pieces they were able to acquire. 3B Mike Olt (.217 BA, 12 HR, 34 RBI, .316 OBP) was the highest rated prospect left in the Rangers system and in spite of some challenges this season (98 K), he is a guy with a ton of potential and could serve as a great long term 3B which is desperately needed for the Cubs (see Luis Valbuena). Combine that with the addition of 3 other prospects and SP Justin Grimm, the Cubs got more than fair value and fantasy owners have more players that can impact their team.

Ironically enough, another player from the Cubs may improve his stock soon as OF Alfonso Soriano (.254 BA, 17 HR, 51 RBI) has been dealt today to the Yankees. This news has to be a relief to the 88 percent of fantasy owners who have stock in him as Soriano netted 18, 39, and 38 HR seasons for the Yankees between 2001-2003. A hitter friendly park along with some protection in the form of 2B Robinson Cano and Soriano could be a lift for owners over the rest of the season.

With this amount of deals closing, who else is left for the taking?

Luckily, there are several teams still in the market for help. Not to say that a guy getting traded is always going to help his value but sometimes a change of scenery turns a flower into a rose. And for some owners, it can turn that prospect you have been holding onto into a solid contributor as the playoffs are lingering in the future.

Here are some names to keep an eye who could impact your fantasy roster.

  • Jake Peavy, SP, Chicago White Sox: Pitching is always a valued commodity at the deadline and Peavy will be heavily sought after. He has shined in his last 2 starts (2 W, 13 IP, 10 K, 11 H) since coming off of the DL and has posted a respectable 8-4 record this season. Injury is always a concern with him as well but if he lands on a team like St. Louis, Boston, or Cincinnati, his value could soar.

    Peavy has been linked to 8 different teams who are looking to bolster their rotation.

    Peavy has been linked to 8 different teams who are looking to bolster their rotation.

  • Ervin Santana, SP, Kansas City Royals: He has quietly put together a solid campaign this season with the Royals (6-6, 3.05 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 107 K) which makes this surprising. Losing former top prospect OF Wil Myers in the the “James Shields trade” has to still be lingering with the Royals. Santana is a great option for a lot of teams and could get a boost, especially in head-to-head leagues where IP get you points (138 this season).
  • Yovani Gallardo, SP, Milwaukee Brewers: He couldn’t have picked a worse time than yesterday to hurt his value (L, 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 K). Gallardo has been one of the more inconsistent pitchers this season for the 90 percent of owners who have him (including myself). He is a bit of a liability due to the high ERA (4.88) but Milwaukee has never been a pitcher’s paradise.
  • Andre Either, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers: With the plethora of talent they have in the outfield, the Dodgers have been trying to cut loose the albatross that is his contract. Either (.271 BA, 7 HR, 36 RBI) has seen some sharp decline in the power department which makes his trade prospects iffy. If he can land with a hitter friendly park, he could be good in head-to-head or roto due to the high OBP (.350).
  • Alex Rios, OF, Chicago White Sox: The rumor mill is strong with Rios who is linked to the Rangers. Rios (.276 BA, 12 HR, 49 RBI) has not been putting up insane numbers but if you recall from last year, he has a knack for turning it on (.289, 13 HR, 42 RBI) after the All-Star Break. He would a heck of an addition to a team that has a solid lineup.
  • Justin Morneau, 1B, Minnesota Twins: It’s sometimes crazy to see how the mighty have fallen, but Morneau has been long overdue for a change of scenery. He hasn’t clearly been the MVP caliber player he once was (.269 BA, 7 HR, 52 RBI this season) but he is someone the Twins are serious about moving. Keep an eye on him but he could be quality depth for fantasy owners.

    He is far removed from the glory days but still has something to offer if you can get him at the right price.

    He is far removed from the glory days but still has something to offer if you can get him at the right price.

It’s tough trying to bet the market but then again, you can’t win big if you don’t gamble big. Hopefully you catch some lightning in a bottle and we look forward to seeing you every Friday night on The Fantasy Focus! Tune in tonight at 8:45pm on 93.1 KTIK “The Ticket”.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

The 2nd Half Steal.. Who can Impact your Fantasy Roster?

I was going to make this a blog about MVP’s and who’s been a bust, breakout. Then it occurred to me; just about everyone knows who those guys are.

It’s no secret that Detroit Tigers’ 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera (.365 BA, 30 HR, 95 RBI, .458 OBP) is becoming a dead lock for the AL MVP or that Baltimore Orioles 1B/OF Chris Davis (.315 BA, 37 HR, 93 RBI, .392 OBP) is easily a shoe in for the AL Breakout Player of the Year. These guys, along with others, have been smashing since April and there is no reason not to believe that they won’t continue the same trend into October.

Could another Triple Crown be in sight for MLB's best hitter?

Could another Triple Crown be in sight for MLB’s best hitter?

Then I begin to wonder what else could be relevant about the 2nd half of the season? Is this like Fantasy Football where if you don’t get off to a hot start you are pretty much toast come playoff time?

One of the beauties of Fantasy Baseball is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. There are still 8 weeks left in this season before the playoffs which means there are plenty of chances to make an impact or get yourself close to a potential playoff position. And even though you may not have guys like Cabrera, Davis, or even Los Angeles Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig (.391 BA, 8 HR, 19 RBI, .422 OBP) it doesn’t mean that it’s time to pack up and start looking at Top 20 QB’s for the upcoming season. There is still plenty of money to be made on the waiver wire and some guys are even starring you in the face. You just don’t know it.

With the All-Star Break finally in the books, teams are obviously going to be evaluating whether or not they have a legitimate chance to make the Fall Classic. The good news for fantasy owners is that with these moves, plenty of doors will open up and it’ll be a good ole “Texas Land Grab”. Top prospects will get the call up to “The Show” and guys who were in sub par situations will have some value added to their stock. Happens every year.

As is the theme with this season, you have to know when to buy and sell. The Trade Deadline can always throw a kink into the plan but every once in a while, the chips can fall your way. And honestly, some guys are just prone to heating up in the 2nd Half. Before he went on the season-ending DL, New York Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira was a great candidate to find his swing and get things turned around for patient fantasy owners.

Getting a steal is all about timing. Kind of like a SB; you have to be patient but once you get the sign, it’s all or nothing. Here are several guys who have the potential to pay off big for you if you can get them while they’re there.

  • Chris Archer, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: A complete game gem heading into the All-Star Break will get you plenty of looks. Archer threw a gem against the Houston Astros (9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 8 K) and came up big for owners last week posting 60 points. He his a guy who has really fell into a groove in the month of July (2-0, 0.86 ERA, 21 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 15 K) and could be a great pick up for those looking to find another 6-8 wins in the 2nd Half.
  • Chris Carpenter, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: Shocking, I know. The report is that Carpenter will be making a rehab start in AAA Memphis tomorrow with potential to make it to St. Louis later on this month. Carpenter is obviously one of the biggest unknowns on this list. The guy tends to pick it up after the break (14-10, 3.10 ERA over the last 3 years) but health is always the number one concern. He is on arguably the best team in baseball so if you can get him in the 60 percent of leagues out there, he could be a great addition especially when the postseason starts.

    Injury is a concern, but Carpenter adds depth to an already potent rotation.

    Injury is a concern, but Carpenter adds depth to an already potent rotation.

  • Eric Stults, SP, San Diego Padres: Another guy who has picked it up in the month of July (2-1, 2.79 ERA, 19.1 IP, 10 K) and even though the data is limited, has shown that he can be a force after the ASB (7-1, 73.1 IP, .250 OPP BA). Granted, he is not a major source for K’s and he is on a team that could be in a sell mentality.
  • Danny Hultzen, SP, Seattle Mariners: Like we mentioned earlier, you can never count out what is waiting in the wings. Hultzen has been stellar in AAA Tacoma this season (4-1, 2.20 ERA, 31 K, 7 BB) and if there is one thing that Seattle knows it’s starting pitching. Hultzen would definitely be a solid 5 on any team and if you can get him in the 84 percent of leagues out there. As long as the shoulder issue isn’t serious, he could make his way to Seattle this season.
  • Taijuan Walker, SP, Seatlle Mariners: Depending on how this shakes out, this could be one of the best rotations we have seen in a long time. Walker, ranked 4th on MLB.com’s Prospect Watch, has been red hot this season in AAA Tacoma (2-0, 0.56 ERA, 16 K, 5 BB) and even though the Mariners are being conservative with him, he is easily one of the top arms in the minors this season. If they are there in the AL West, he could be a hell of an add to any rotation.

    Walker is ranked 4th on MLB.com's Top Prospects.

    Walker is ranked 4th on MLB.com’s Top Prospects.

  • Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox: He’s, like Carpenter, continue to be the ageless wonders. Konerko has had a rough 2013 (.249 BA, 7 HR, 30 RBI) but he is someone who if you can get for cheap, could be a solid addition considering he is hitting .288 post ASB his last 3 seasons. The numbers this season don’t make him a sure-fire bet but at only 50 percent ownership, he could be worth a flier.
  • Darin Ruf, 1B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies: With the injury to Ryan Howard, Ruf has paid off early since being called up. He has power potential (2 HR, 3 RBI) and in the month of July, he has been solid in terms of BA (.321) and OBP ( .441) all pluses if you ask me. He could take a dip depending on how the Phillies manage this roster but he is worth a look at the CI position.
  • Billy Hamilton, SS, Cincinnati Reds: Continuing to stay with the minor league theme, this guy could be the one piece that gets you over the hump. He is not the most consistent hitter that has played here (.243 BA in AAA Louisville) but once he gets on base, no one is better (52 SB this season). The Reds obviously have Zack Cozart at SS but with his inconsistency in terms of getting on base (.233 BA and .262 OBP) at what point do they give Hamilton a shot. Given the tight race in the NL Central, may be sooner than later.
  • Oscar Taveras, OF, St. Louis Cardinals: He is the new number 1 and could be making his way to a fantasy roster near you. Taveras has shown why he is the top prospect in minors (.310 BA, 5 HR, 32 RBI) and he is a prototypical Cardinal; he does a lot of things well. He is not a major source in the power/speed departments, but he is a guy who can be a hit machine in a deep line up. With the injury to Matt Holliday, Taveras could be in St. Louis very shortly.

    Taveras is one of several names waiting for the Cardinals in the minors. He is a 5-tool player with lots of upside.

    Taveras is one of several names waiting for the Cardinals in the minors. He is a 5-tool player with lots of upside.

  • Matt Adams, 1B, St. Louis Cardinals: You would think I am a Cardinals fan with the number of guys on here. I just like winning in fantasy and Adams is a guy who can help. He had one of the better stretches heading into the ASB (.316 BA) and he is someone who can also give you power (7 HR) in head-to-head leagues. There will undoubtedly being dealings and if he can get everyday playing time, he’s a worthy addition.

As the saying goes “you have to know when to fold and when to go all in”. Hopefully you can cash in on one of these guys. Good luck and tune in tonight on 93.1 KTIK at 8:45 PM for another edition of “The Fantasy Focus”!

Till next time..

Chad Bates

No Collusion Necessary.. Who got Snubbed from the All-Star Game.

I personally think it is funny in terms of what lengths teams will go to get “the vote”.

Yesterday I was doing my daily “download session” of sports when I noticed on ESPN talking about the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays. Apparently, these 2 teams have combined their efforts in order to get Braves’ 1B Freddie Freeman (.305 BA, 9 HR, 56 RBI) and Jays’ RP Steve Delabar (5-1, 1.76 ERA, 57 K) voted into the final spot for this year’s All-Star Game. Much to the chagrin of ESPN and the entire state of California, these efforts would pretty much eliminate Los Angeles Dodgers’ OF Yasiel Puig (.407 BA, 8 HR, 19 RBI) whom many feel should be starting in this year’s ASG.

Totally normal..

Totally normal..

Looks like Philadelphia Phillies RP Jonathon Papelbon (19 saves) will get his wish. Papelbon stated last week he thinks it’s a “joke” and “injustice” that Puig would make it into the ASG having only played a little over a month in the majors.

Well Mr. Papelbon, fantasy baseball doesn’t agree with you.

Puig has been well documented on how historic his first month in the majors has been. His 44 hits in June were only second to Hall of Famer Joe DiMaggio (48 hits) for most in a debut month in MLB history. What’s also captivating is the fact that in 34 games this season, Puig has gotten at least 1 hit in 29 of them. Some would point out that his average is taking a dip in July (.324 thus far) but if .324 is a dip, then I’ll take that any day of the week. His resume is far more impressive than that of former Chicago Cubs’ OF Kosuke Fukudome who only hit .279 before the All-Star Break.

Simply put, the guy has put together a hell of a case for that final spot.

He is not the only person though to be snubbed by the voters this season. Several names were left off of this year’s rosters and several guys have the “potential” to make it in with the final vote ending tomorrow. But given the new found “Brave Jays Alliance”, it’s safe to say that these guys would be known as the “All Snub Team” of 2013.

Here are a few guys who had the door unfairly shut on them.

  • Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Los Angeles Dodgers: The fact he has made it to the final voting  stage is some justice for a guy who has rebounded nicely this season. His numbers (.298 BA, 13 HR, 57 RBI) are solid all around and what is also impressive is the fact he is hitting at least .314 in 3 out of 4 months this season. This makes him worthy of a spot.
  • Howie Kendrick, 2B, Los Angeles Angels: Showing a lot of love for the west coast in this blog. Kendrick is unfortunately in a stack division of 2B but he has been one of the more consistent players (.308 BA, 11 HR, 40 RBI, .350 OBP) this season. His production in July (.207 BA) isn’t doing him any favors but he is one to consider.

    Kendrick is in a stacked AL position but has been one of the constants in the "Cty of Angels".

    Kendrick is in a stacked AL position but has been one of the constants in the “Cty of Angels”.

  • Hanley Ramirez, 3B/SS, Los Angeles Dodgers: When you are getting over-shadowed by “Puigmania”, it can be easy to fall in this category. He is in the same boat as Puig (34 games) but his production (.404 BA, 7 HR, 21 RBI) has been one of the better ones at the SS position. Combine that with his recent 19-game hitting streak and you have a guy worthy of consideration.
  • Jed Lowrie, SS, Oakland A’s: The power doesn’t jump off the page (6 HR, 36 RBI) but he has a much better average (.302) and OBP (.371) than starting Baltimore Orioles’ SS J.J. Hardy (.254 and .293 respectfully). Lowrie, like a lot of A’s players, has been overlooked and quietly having an ASG worthy performance.
  • Adrian Beltre, 3B, Texas Rangers: This could be the biggest one of them all. I get it that Detroit Tigers’ 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera is the gold standard in the AL, but how Beltre (.319 BA, 20 HR, 52 RBI) didn’t get in over Toronto Blue Jays’ 1B/3B Edwin Encarnacion (.269 BA, 23 HR, 68 RBI) is beyond me. Beltre is by far one of the top 3B in a stacked AL but should have easily gotten in with this kind of production.

    Beltre is in the Top 5 in the AL in batting average this season to go with his 20 HR.

    Beltre is in the Top 5 in the AL in batting average this season to go with his 20 HR.

  • Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland A’s: Granted, you can’t play all these guys but Donaldson is another one who could have easily had a case to get in. His production (.316 BA, 15 HR, 58 RBI) is identical to Beltre’s but what you have to consider is the fact he is doing this on a team where he is pretty much the heart of the order. He gets overlooked which is unfair to him and the A’s.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Boston Red Sox: He is not on pace to hit the 32 HR from 2011 but he is currently riding a 17-game hit streak and he is ranked 3rd overall amongst OF. His SB production (36) ranks him tops in the MLB and we haven’t even mentioned his hits (107) which rank him in the top 10 in the majors. He’s not a power guy but he is a major contributor on a great offense.
  • Matt Moore, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: This is another one that boggles the mind. His record (12-3) is not the only thing that catches your attention but the fact that he has gone 13 1/3 innings without giving up a run also seems to be overlooked. He started off 8-0 and has won his last 4 starts. Doing this on a team where run-support is never a guarantee.
  • Lance Lynn, SP, St. Louis Cardinals: It’s hard to get attention on a star-studded team like the Cardinals, but Lynn continues to shine (11-3, 3.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP) in a division where every outing counts. His K’s (113) vs BB’s (40) is impressive combine with the fact he is holding opponents to a .229 BA this season. He should be looked at as an instant replacement if someone goes down.
  • Edward Mujica, RP, St. Louis Cardinals: Another guy who has been a key component on a team who’s value is getting overlooked. He has converted 24 of his 25 save opportunities and he has done it with an staggering 33 K to just 2 BB! In every major category besides ERA, he is ahead of Cincinnati Reds’ RP Aroldis Chapman. Mujica should easily be in New York next week.
  • Grant Balfour, RP, Oakland A’s: Just like Mujica, he is another shut down closer who is getting left out. His saves (24) rank 4th in the AL and what’s even more convincing is the fact he has converted 24 0f his 24 opportunities this season. His ERA (1.72) and WHIP (1.06) easily make him worthy of the ASG.

    Too funny not to post.

    Too funny not to post.

The beauty of living in America is the fact that just because you get the most votes doesn’t mean you always win. The court of public opinion can be a strong one and hopefully, will rectify some of these snubs before next Tuesday’s game. Until then, GO VOTE!

Till next time..

Chad Bates

Risen from the Ashes.. The Corner Infield is Back!

One thing I like about having a weekly blog; allows me to go back and correct my mistakes.

In July of 2011, I had made a somewhat bold statement that the corner infield has basically gone the way of newspaper. If it wasn’t dead, it had to be on life support.

Davis has been one of the best fantasy options this season, hitting .326 and leading the league with 32 HR.

Davis has been one of the best fantasy options this season, hitting .326 and leading the league with 32 HR.

Last year, that same idea had some merit to it but showed some signs that it may have a few more rounds in it. Guys like Toronto Blue Jays’ 1B/3B Edwin Encarnacion (.280 BA, 42 HR, 110 RBI) and San Diego Padres’ 3B Chase Headley (.286 BA, 31 HR, 115 RBI) had breathed some new life into a position that had seen it’s fair share of slumps.

This season, you can find a plethora of talent at 1B or 3B for the first time in a long time. Rising stars like Baltimore Orioles’ 3B Manny Machado (.318 BA, 42 RBI, 38 doubles) and 1B/OF Chris Davis (.326 BA, 32 HR, 83 RBI) have added depth and high draft pick quality to positions that had seen their fair share of decline.

Don’t get me wrong; there are still some gaps in this particular area. Guys like Los Angeles Angels 1B Albert Pujols (.243 BA, 13 HR, 49 RBI) and Philadelphia Phillies’ 1B Ryan Howard (.266 BA, 10 HR, 42 RBI, 95 K) are still out there and causing owners issues. Pujols has seen double digit declines in batting average since 2010 and Howard is on pace to reach 178 K this season. Combine that with DL issues like New York Yankees’ 1B/3B Kevin Youkilis (.219 BA before landing on the DL for a second time this season) and 1B Mark Teixeira (out for the season with wrist surgery) and you have concerns at the position.

Getting to my point, I promise.

Depth at corner infield this year is greater than it has been in years past. The average 3B is hitting .265 this season while driving in 21.3 RBI. On the other side, the average 1B is a little worse for wear at .250 but he is driving in more runs per game at 24.4 RBI. Basically meaning, if you want options there are plenty to chose from.

Obviously, your guys like Davis, Machado, and Detroit Tigers’ duo of 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera (.363 BA, 26 HR, 85 RBI) and 1B Prince Fielder (.269 BA, 14 HR, 65 RBI) are going to have a home on any fantasy team. Your best hope is to trade you farm and even then, it may not be enough.

However, there is money in the waiver wire. I know it has become the ongoing theme this year, but with quality of depth at both positions you can find some gems. And there are even a few guys who are undervalued that you could get for a bargain price.

Who you ask? Let me share a few names.

  1. James Loney, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays: His ownership has jumped up 10% over the last 2 weeks and with good reason; it’s hard to find a guy who can hit .317 at 1B. Loney has been on a tear lately hitting .398 in his last 7 days and while not known for his power, he has a respectable .478 SLG. The Rays are always a gamble offensively but if you can get him or trade for the right price, he could be a solid piece on any team.
  2. David Freese, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals: He is the perfect option at this point in the season. Freese has been rumored to be an expendable asset for the Cardinals which means he is fighting for a contract. Freese has picked it up over the last 7 days hitting .333 and .319 in the month of June after starting off with a .163 BA in April. His power (5 HR this season) has been on the decline but if he can pick it up, he is worth a trading gamble.
  3. Michael Young, 1B/3B, Philadelphia Phillies: He continues to be the ageless wonder and a valued commodity as of late (rumors are the Yankees and Boston Red Sox want him). Young has had a typical season by his standards (.285 BA, .350 OBP) but could see a rise in value, especially if he heads to Boston. He is good with RISP (.271) and even though he is not a power guy, he can still get points (178 fantasy points this season).
  4. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Kansas City Royals: If you bought him in Week 11, the gamble has paid off. Over the last 28 days, no one has scored more fantasy points at 1B in standard scoring formats than Hosmer and he has seen a spike in ownership because of it (26% over that time). Over his last 7 days, he is crushing the ball with a .440 BA and 5 HR to go with 7 RBI. Summer months are kind to hitters and he is one worth getting.

    Hosmer went on a tear in June, with a .303 BA, 6 HR, and 17 RBI.

    Hosmer went on a tear in June, with a .303 BA, 6 HR, and 17 RBI.

  5. Kendrys Morales, 1B, Seattle Mariners: He’s another forgotten commodity that has been turning heads the last 7 days. Over this span, he is batting .375 with 2 HR and 7 RBI and he is rebounding in July (.364 BA) after having an rough June (.235 BA). His ownership has gone up since the 2 HR performance on July 2nd but he is someone worth stashing and has value in 5×5 Roto Leagues (CI position).
  6. Jedd Gyorko, 2B/3B, San Diego Padres: A former Northwest League All-Star has cashed in his first season with a solid .284 BA to compliment 8 HR and 25 RBI. His ownership oddly enough didn’t take a major hit when he went on the 15-day DL with a groin injury and rightfully so; before he was hurt, he was crushing the ball in May (.303) and June (.325). The Padres have an improved offense and once Gyorko gets back, he could be a solid addition.

    Before landing on the 15-day DL, Gyorko was batting .284 with 8 HR for the Padres.

    Before landing on the 15-day DL, Gyorko was batting .284 with 8 HR for the Padres.

  7. Jose Iglesias, 3B/SS, Boston Red Sox: On a team that is loaded with talent, he has been one of the best this past month. In June, Iglesias went on fire batting .395 and earning AL Rookie of the Month honors. Although his power stroke has remained minimal (1 HR, 11 RBI) he is a solid source for runs (24) and bottom line, the guy has a .411 BA. He is a great acquisition in any league.

Hopefully a few of these can help you win big in the upcoming weeks. If nothing else, a little depth never hurt anybody. Good luck this upcoming week and tune in to “The Fantasy Focus” tonight at 8:35pm ET on 93.1 KTIK “The Ticket”!

Till next time..

Chad Bates

Double the pleasure, double the fun.. 2 Start Pitchers that can impact your fantasy team!

In the famous words of HOF Ernie Banks: “Let’s play two!”

I can rest assured that the majority of media relations managers around the baseball world will kill me if I was advocating that. I would have probably killed me too back in the day when I was actually getting paid to talk about baseball.

Two-start pitching is kind of like doubling down in Black Jack; you can win big or lose big depending on how the cards fall. But like the kids from MIT which is the basis for the movie “21″, you can do several things to improve the odds in your favor.

Zimmerman has been a stud this season and the first pitcher to 11 wins in the NL.

Zimmerman has been a stud this season and the first pitcher to 11 wins in the NL.

June has just about come and gone and like all of you, the race for wins and first in your division is heating up. With the plethora of call ups and several teams finding their starting rotation in the ER, there have been plenty of people looking to cash in on some “waiver wire gold” (myself included).

There is no real formula (unlike counting cards) for predicting who’s a “must” and who’s a “bust”. Every now and then you have to go with your gut. And just like Wall Street, there are always stocks that people will dangle in front of your face to get you to bite.

In fantasy baseball, we call them two-start pitchers.

Not saying that it is hard to not run with a guy like Washington Nationals’ stud SP Jordan Zimmerman (first pitcher to 11 wins in the NL) or that you would even find a guy like him on the waiver wire. That’s like expecting to hit a jack and an ace multiple times in a game of Black Jack.

There are several pitchers on waiver wires across fantasy that are waiting to be picked up and depending on your current rotation, could be a great fit to push you to another W. Or they could be the albatross that pulls you down to the depths. Simple right?

Here are several potential buy’s and sell’s for next week (7/1-7/7) that might improve the odds in your favor.

BUY

  1. Phil Hughes, SP, New York Yankees: He’s 3-7, he’s got a 4.82 ERA, and he just lost his last start today against the Texas Rangers. So why is he a buy? This is one of those situations where it’s all about the match up. Next week he is taking on a sluggish Minnesota Twins (collective .248 BA) who rank 11th in the AL in hitting. The wild card is Baltimore in start 2 (7.00 ERA against the Orioles this season). With Hughes it’s feast or famine; the Orioles could get on him early but he will be in the confines of Yankees Stadium (8 innings today). Hughes could be a quality buy. He’s available in 47% of leagues which makes him expendable and cheap.
  2. Roberto Hernandez, SP, Tampa Bay Rays: He has lost his last 3 starts which raises some eyebrows as to why he is on the list. That and his 4.98 ERA are not helping either. Next week Hernandez takes on two of the worst offensive teams in baseball in Houston (.239 BA) and the Chicago White Sox (.242 BA) and on top of that, June has been unkind to both teams. Neither team is hitting above .250 or registering an OBP .305 in June. With a combo of starts at home and on the road, Hernandez can be an intriguing buy for the upcoming scoring period.
  3. Jason Marquis, SP, San Diego Padres: He may be the most unexciting 9-3 pitcher in baseball history. But Marquis has been getting the job done this season with relatively low K’s (62) and a WHIP that is higher than what you would expect at a 1.44. In spite of the record, he is available in 43% of leagues and he does have a favorable week coming up against the Miami Marlins (.232 BA) and the sluggish Washington Nationals (.235 BA). Marquis has been average in June (4.35 ERA and 1.32 WHIP) but could be a candidate for 2 wins in the upcoming scoring period.

    He has been bounced around most of his career, but he is ASG potential with 9 wins this season.

    He has been bounced around most of his career, but he is ASG potential with 9 wins this season.

  4. Jason Hammel, SP, Baltimore Orioles: Normally the 5.09 ERA would be enough to turn you off, but Hammel has made the most of it in spite. He is 7-4 this season and on pace to win 14 games. With that being said, he hasn’t won in any of his last 5 starts and he has gone 0-2 in that span. The upside is that we gets 2 starts against the White Sox who have had issues offensively and the Yankees who have declined offensively in the month of June (.223 BA, ranked last). Hammel is an all or nothing guy but with this match up, could net some serious fantasy points (17 in his last start).
  5. Justin Grimm, SP, Texas Rangers: The continuous trend here is guys with good situations, not necessarily players. Grimm is 7-5 and that is nothing to sneeze at. He has won his last 2 starts and will face two struggling offenses in the Seattle Mariners (.232 BA in June) and Houston (.216 BA in June) which looks good. His ERA (5.56) and his WHIP (1.56) make it hard to buy; he’s also not a major strikeout pitcher either (62 K’s this season). Grimm does have favorable odds and with a healthy higher powered offense behind him, he should be a quality add.

SELL

  1. Scott Kazmir, SP, Cleveland Indians: It’s hard to sell a guy after turning in a solid outing like he did last night (7 IP with 1 hit allowed) but being pulled due to back spasms is always a bad sign. On top of that, you look at the match up and that can also make the hair stand. The Detroit Tigers are red hot offensively (112 R and .297 BA in June) and the Kansas City Royals are also formidable at home (.251 BA, 134 R this season). He could help, but there is too much risk here.
  2. Roy Oswalt, SP, Colorado Rockies: He has been a heck of story this season. He comes back through the minors and has had an amazing season debut against the Nationals (11 K). With that being said, he has been rocked in his 2 outings. His ERA is inflated at 7.36 amd his WHIP hasn’t helped him either (1.73). The match up looks decent between the Los Angeles Dodgers (ranked 23rd in total offense) and Arizona Diamondbacks (ranked 24th) but it’s hard to take a leap of foaith until he can prove something.
  3. Shaun Marcum, SP, New York Mets: Just like Kazmir, it can be hard to sell on a guy that picked up a W and did it with style in his last start (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER against the White Sox). Marcum isn’t necessarily high on anyone’s radar due to his 1-9 record with a 5.08 ERA. What makes him even more suspect is that he is going up against to solid offenses in Arizona (8th in June) and the Milwaukee Brewers (.260 BA overall). If he can keep his WHIP respectable (1.26) and get some run support, he may be more added down the road.
  4. John Danks, SP, Chicago White Sox: Another pitcher who cashed in a solid outing last time he was up but as has been the problem in Chicago, the run support hasn’t been there. Danks went 7 1/3 IP with 7 K against the Mets last night but he has lost his last 3 starts including last night. Danks will be taking on 2 hot offenses next week in Baltimore and Tampa Bay which makes him a bit of a gamble. He won’t get K (32 on the season) so that’s also something to consider.
  5. Andy Pettitte, SP, New York Yankees: He is owned in 71% of leagues out there but has been slowly declining in the last couple of weeks (down 5%). Pettitte has lost his 3 last decisions and given up an alarming 12 ER and 26 H in his last 3 starts. In spite of all that he is still maintaining a respectable ERA at 4.22 but opponents are hitting .272 against him. If he can right the ship, he could be more valuable but for now, it’s too risky.

    Pettitte started off this season hot but has lost his last 3 starts.

    Pettitte started off this season hot but has lost his last 3 starts.

Good luck with any or all of these two start pitchers and may the odds ever be in your favor.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

Harvesting from “the farm”.. Which prospects can impact your fantasy team?

It’s only a matter of time before the gamble pays off. You know what I am talking about.

You drafted him in the mid or late rounds in March because everyone said “this guy is the next big thing!”. He was the game changer that would revitalize your team in the Summer months.

April and May came, no luck. The depression sets in and next thing you know, you are selling him for a bag of baseballs because you can’t trade him soon enough.

Myers is latest Big Name to be called up after batting .286 in AAA Durham.

Myers is latest Big Name to be called up after batting .286 in AAA Durham.

Then, the baseball gods smile down upon and you get those famous words “the so-and-so have purchased the minor league contract of so-and-so”. You feel like your birthday has come early and you will be the smart one who took a flier on him when no one else did!

But like many new toys, there are lemons that over promise and under deliver. Happens a lot unfortunately. The gamble you made doesn’t pay off and next thing you know, you’re back to taking a bag of baseballs or a pack of Big League Chew just to move this disappointing gamble.

This season has been nothing short of major call ups and some have been worth the wait and others have been “not as good as advertised”. We seem to take this road every couple of blogs but luckily, there are plenty of people out there who are quick on the trigger when it comes to “top prospects”.

On Sunday the Tampa Bay Rays, who are fighting to stay relevant in a “better than advertised AL East”, finally called up stud OF Wil Myers who was ranked 4th on MLB.com’s “2013 Prospect Watch”. Myers, although not a home-grown product, has been the main gem in the Rays farm system who with 3B Evan Longoria is supposed to add pop to a pedestrian Rays lineup.

Myers has had some opportunity in his first 4 games thus far, batting only .200 with no HR and 2 RBI. Some people who are impatient would see this as “less than stellar” but Myers is someone who could make a Bryce Harper kind of impact as this season progresses. It would take a lot to be on the same par as Los Angeles Angels’ OF Mike Trout but Myers is a stud.

His call up is not the only one that has set this season (and the media wire) on fire. Several top prospects have navigated their way to “The Show” and some have had some serious impacts. Others have barely made a ripple. And some are waiting in the wings that have the ability to make an impact that could alter things on your fantasy rosters.

We have done this before, but here are a couple of names to BUY, SIT ON, and SELL.

BUY!

  1. Jose Fernandez, SP, Miami Marlins: I originally had this guy as a “sell” back in April but Fernandez has made some significant strides since then. In May, Fernandez showed why he was coveted going 2-1 in 5 starts with a 3.18 ERA. In the month of June, he has made a statement going 2-1 with a ridiculous 1.65 ERA and 29 K to just 8 BB. He has a less than stellar lineup behind him but he is one to buy while he is pitching like this.
  2. Jeff Locke, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates: He has shown why the Pirates brass looked like geniuses when they acquired him from the Atlanta Braves in 2009. Locke has been stellar thus far going 6-1 and being ranked 2nd in the NL in ERA at 2.01. Locke has only allowed 4 runs in his last 37 2/3 innings and is becoming a sure fire “lock” (no pun intended) to make the All-Star Game.
  3. Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, Washington Nationals: He wasn’t high on the list, but Rendon has been the spark the Nationals have needed since Harper hit the DL. Rendon is already batting .315 in 20 games and while the power hasn’t been showcased yet (1 HR) he has shown great plate discipline with a .383 OBP. He’s not been as flashy as others but he is a guy who can help at 2 thin positions.

    Rendon has been a source of offense in DC, batting .315 this season.

    Rendon has been a source of offense in DC, batting .315 this season.

SIT ON

  1. Jurickson Profar, 2B, Texas Rangers: It’s hard to be the top prospect and live up to the hype. Profar has been inconsistent since being called up in May but he has shown some glimpses of brilliance. Profar was looking like a stud in May (.333 BA, 1 HR, 5 RBI in 30 at-bats) but has since cooled off in June hitting a pedestrian .237 with just 1 HR and 10 K. He has the talent so there is no need to sell just yet, but if he dips to the .240 range, it’s time to sell.
  2. Zack Wheeler, SP, New York Mets: It’s rare that you get 2 Top 10 call ups in 48 hours, but the Mets went ahead and called up their prized prospect who was ranked 7th overall. Wheeler showed us the potential he has going 6 IP with 7 K and 4 H in his debut. His walks (5) are a concern but if he can get his control in check, he could be a heck of a “post-draft” pick up.
  3. Nick Franklin, 2B/SS, Seattle Mariners: He gets lost in the shuffle at times (47.4% own rate) but he is secretly putting together a solid run. Franklin is hitting .280 thus far and has showcased some power (3 HR, 6 RBI) in just 75 at-bats. His OBP (.365) is what you like about him the most; he’s smart at the plate. He’s still one to watch but he could be a stud in a “better than expected” Mariners team.

    Profar has struggled in June but could shine once the Rangers get the lineup figured out.

    Profar has struggled in June but could shine once the Rangers get the lineup figured out.

SELL!

  1. Kevin Gausman, SP, Baltimore Orioles: What’s with the Orioles and prospects lately? Gausman, who was a top prospect last year, has struggled in his 2013 campaign. After being called up to the majors (possibly sooner than expected) Gausman got rocked in 5 outings with a 7.66 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. He has above average stuff and could be a gem but for now, you want to look elsewhere. He could possibly be a good add later this season.
  2. Trevor Bauer, SP, Cleveland Indians: Another Top 20 prospect who has the potential, but has struggled in his call up this season. Bauer managed to cut down on the runs (5 ER this season) but has not been able to cut down on the WHIP (1.47) in his 3 starts this season. He is currently in AAA Columbus right now but until he can get the control figured out (33 BB in AAA), he is one you can sell.
  3. Mike Zunio, OF, Seattle Mariners: The Mariners also went to AAA Tacoma to add some hitting in the OF, but this experiment has not worked out thus far. In his 6 games thus far, Zunio is only managing a .200 BA with 6 K already this season. What makes him a sell is the fact that Tacoma (.238 BA, 59 K) hasn’t been as promising either. He has power (11 HR, 33 RBI in AAA) but is the K potential worth it?

    Bauer has the potential, but needs more work in AAA Columbus before he becomes "a buy".

    Bauer has the potential, but needs more work in AAA Columbus before he becomes “a buy”.

Like we said last week, there is no science to this but fortune favors the bold. Good luck to you and we will see you Friday night on “Fantasy Focus”!

Till next time..

Chad Bates

Breaking out is hard to do

In the case of baseball, it can be impossible at times. I’m 27 and I am still waiting for my chance to make it to “The Show”.

It’s the dog days of June and like every year we are beginning to the see the temperatures rise, the bats heat up, and the prospects are hitting boiling point (Dodgers OF Yasiel Puig

It's "Fernando Mania" all over again.

It’s “Fernando Mania” all over again.

anyone?). The season is still young but thus far, there have been plenty of names, young and old, who have been making an impact on fantasy rosters everywhere.

Personally, I wish there was a method to calculate this kinda thing.

Third-year pitchers and 27 year old’s are everyone’s favorite metric to use. Rockies’ OF Carlos Gonzalez (2nd in the NL in HR at 18) would be a classic example to sight but let’s face it, he was a stud already. Brewers’ OF Carlos Gomez (.326 BA, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 13 SB) is one of my favorite examples thus far. Up to this point, the most HR he has ever hit in a season is 19 (last year) and his career BA is .255. What’s even more amazing is that if you take WAR (wins above replacement) into consideration, Gomez is 1st in the ML at 4.5 (higher than Tigers 1B/3B Miguel Cabrera and Orioles 1B Chris Davis).

As far as third-year pitchers go, that’s a tall order. Rays’ SP Matt Moore (8-2, 3.78 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 64 K) would be a good example of keeping the superstition alive. Recently though, Moore has fallen on tough times with 2 straight losses after starting the season 8-0 (19 H, 14 ER, 7 BBA in those 2 games). He’s still on pace to hit 19 wins which would make him a viable candidate for AL Cy Young. Outside of Moore, the “3 year itch” has not found too many pitchers. Marlins’ SP Jacob Turner (1-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.05 WHIP in 3 starts) has the potential to have a solid year but 3 starts isn’t enough data to call it just yet.

Moore has been an ace this season with an 8-2 record.

Moore has been an ace this season with an 8-2 record.

Call it parity or call it genius, but this season has yielded a decent amount of break out stars. You have your big names like Puig and Davis but several other names have busted onto the scene this season in a big way. Some names have been former top prospects in baseball and others have essentially come out of nowhere. Here’s a list of a few guys who have made their mark on an early 2013 season.

  1. Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies: When you become the NL leader in HR (19) and post 57 points in 1 week, you will obviously get noticed. Brown had one of the more impressive 2 week runs this season by combining Week 9 and Week 10 for 94 fantasy points! His power has started to show some signs of leveling off (3 HR in his last 10 games) but Brown has been one of the breakout kings this season. He’s only 25 and with a healthy team returning to Philadelphia, he should be poised for a monster 4th year in the bigs.

    Brown leads the NL with 19 HR and is on pace to reach 46 this season.

    Brown leads the NL with 19 HR and is on pace to reach 46 this season.

  2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks: Another name you would be surprised to see at the top of the charts, but Goldschmidt (aside from the .313 BA and 15 HR) is leading the NL in RBI at 59 and ranks 2nd amongst 1B in the ML in fantasy points (255). What you like about him is the fact that he is more or less, a poor man’s Joey Votto; he ranks 7th or better in 6 major offensive categories. He has shown some signs of regression over his last 10 (.148 BA, 5 RBI) but he is still one of the better hitters in baseball right now.
  3. Matt Carpenter, 1B/2B/3B/0F, St. Louis Cardinals: The position lineup is not a lie; this guy has more utilities than a Swiss Army Knife. Carpenter is a prototypical utility man you draft late because your banking on someone getting hurt. But he has shined this season (his 3rd  year oddly enough, and he’s 27) with a .326 BA, 5 HR, and 25 RBI. He’s not your main source of power or speed (1 SB) but bottom line, the guy gets on base (.411 OBP). He has 215 fantasy points thus far and on one of the better teams in baseball, his value can only go up.
  4. Jean Segura, SS, Milwaukee Brewers: Between Gomez and Segura, you would think the Brewers would be 11 games under .500? Then again, who’s pitching? Segura has been the top producer amongst SS in fantasy baseball this season (245 points) and shows no signs of slowing down. Over his last 7 games, he has been heating up with a .346 BA and showing off a power stroke (2 HR, 10 on the season) we didn’t previously realize he had. He’s a consistent source of SB (19) and the thing you love about him the most, he rarely strike’s out! (31 on the season) He’s simply a stud at a thin position.
  5. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Oakland A’s: As it customary with the A’s, they are winning and doing it with guys you have probably never heard of. Donaldson has been shifted around the minors (6 teams since 2007) but this season he has found his stride with the A’s. His .310 BA is 70 points higher than last season and like Carpenter, he just gets on base (.377 OBP). Donaldson caught plenty of buyers in May after posting a .330 BA and 6 HR. Given the lack of depth at 3B in fantasy, Donaldson has increased his value and should be a force this Summer.
  6. Hisashi Iwakuma, SP/RP, Seattle Mariners: Sometimes it only takes 1 season to breakout; in his case, less than 30 starts. Iwakuma ranks 2nd in the ML in ERA (1.79) and with ace Felix Hernandez, has given the Mariners arguably the best 1-2 punch in the ML. In his 2nd year, Iwakuma has blossomed and he can obviously help in any major category (7-1, 87 K, 0.82 WHIP) and up to this point, he is 2nd in fantasy points amongst pitchers at 311. It’s hard to say if he can continue to buck the trend but there is no doubt, he is one of the best at this time.

    Iwakuma has been sensational this season, ranking 2nd in the ML in ERA.

    Iwakuma has been sensational this season, ranking 2nd in the ML in ERA.

  7. Jason Grilli, RP, Pittsburgh Pirates: There’s something about Pittsburgh and closers? Last year we saw the breakout of now Red Sox’s RP Joel Hanrahan (36 saves) and this year we are seeing the same thing with Grilli, who has never earned more than 2 saves in an entire season! His 23 saves ties for the ML lead and he is also 23 for 23 in his attempts this season. As long as the Pirates continue their winning ways, Grilli is on pace to hit 56 saves this season with 115 K’s. Not bad for a guy who was only owned by 74% of owners to start the season.

Breaking out is not easy to do but can be rewarding if you’re an owner with a sliver of patience. Hopefully one or several of these guys have made their way to your roster and if not, there’s always next year.

Till next time..

Chad Bates

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