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The Saberoticians - Fantasy Baseball Advice

Using Sabermetrics to Win Fantasy Baseball

Updated: 2018-01-15T11:33:49.971-05:00


THT Fantasy Focus


Hey everyone!
Well, The Hardball Times Fantasy Focus is now up and running! From now on, I'll be posting over there. Continue sending me your questions; I enjoy answering them. I appreciate all of your support this season, and I hope you continue reading over at THT. You can find it on the THT home page, or you can follow this link:

Thanks again everyone!

Derek Carty

Ranking the Young Third Basemen: Part IV


OK. Time for the finale of this feature. We'll now look at the long-term potential of these guys. Keep in mind, I haven't done extensive research into which types of minor leaguers tend to become good major leaguers, and these rankings are very rough. They represent the order in which I, if in a keeper league, would probably keep them being forced to choose now. Without further ado...

Keeper League Rankings
1. Alex Gordon
1a. Kevin Kouzmanoff
2. Ryan Braun
2a. Edwin Encarnacion
3. Akinori Iwamura
4. Andy LaRoche
5. Mark Reynolds

Alright. I hope you enjoyed this feature today. I'll be back tomorrow with the Waiver Wire for both leagues and possibly something else.

Ranking the Young Third Basemen: Part III


Alright. Throughout the day I've analyzed some of the Top Young Third Basemen in the majors. Now, I'll rank these guys in the order I think you should pick them up if you are in need of a 3B/CI. First will be short-term rankings. Please keep in mind that rookies are the toughest players to predict because we are basing these predictions on easily compromised minor league numbers and speculation. A guy like Ryan Braun could hit for a good average if his 2007 AAA numbers carry over, but as this is somewhat unlikely, I'm not going to count on him hitting .300 for me.

Alongside each player I've listed stats. These are not scientifically created. They came off the top of my head, and they are only there to compare the different skills of the different players. If your team needs steals, you'd be better off taking Iwamura or Gordon or Braun. If you need power and can afford a slightly lower BA, Reynolds might be your man. The numbers are for comparative purposes only, so please do not hold me to them.

Another note: these rankings are very flexible. A lot of the value of these guys comes in their actually playing (in the case of Encarnacion and Reynolds) and in their spot in the order. Most of these guys are batting at the back of their team's order, and if they were to be moved up their RBIs and Runs would change accordingly.

One more thing. After I plopped down the raw numbers next to each player, I realized that none are perfect. Some are strong in only one category, some two. But none can help you in all three, so the order I have them in will change based on every team's need. Pick up the one that suits your team.

2007 Rankings
Akinori Iwamura | .277 | 18 HR | 22 SB
Edwin Encarnacion | .280 | 20 HR | 8 SB
Alex Gordon | .263 | 20 HR | 20 SB
Ryan Braun | .273 | 15 HR | 15 SBs
Kevin Kouzmanoff | .283 | 22 HR | 3 SB
Mark Reynolds | .263 | 25 HR | 3 SB
Andy LaRoche | .280 | 12 HR | 5 SB

Long-term rankings will come tonight!

Ranking the Young Third Basemen: Part II


Alright, I'm back to look at another set of Young 3B that might be on your Waiver Wire. We'll get right to it.Edwin Encarnacion - I've talked about Edwin a lot over the past month or so. In 2007, so far, Edwin has an 82.8% Contact rate, 8.7% BB rate, and a 20.8% LD rate. In 2006, he had an 80.8% Contact rate, a 9.2% BB rate, and a 21.1% LD rate in 406 ABs. In 2005, he had a 71.6% Contact rate, 8.7% BB rate, and a 25.2% LD rate in 211 ABs. His LD and BB rates might improve just a bit, and his Contact rate should remain steady. These numbers don't translate to a .224 BA, and given an opportunity he should turn things around. A .280 BA seems like a good estimate.He's only hit 1 HR so far in 2007, but it went a True Distance of 402 feet. In 2006, he hit 8 of his 15 HRs past 400 feet. According to HitTracker, he had a 4.00 No Doubt-to-Just Enough ratio, meaning he was a good bet to improve his HR total. I still see 30 HR power out of Edwin eventually, and if he can play fulltime once Josh Hamilton returns (which might be unlikely) he could be good for 20-25 HRs this year. His FB% is up to 42.7% and his GB% is down to 36.5%.The Reds lineup is good, but it would be better if it was better managed. If he plays and hits in the middle of the order, Edwin should get plenty of RBIs and Runs, but we're looking at a big IF. I mean, the Reds were batting Adam Dunn 6th behind Jeff Conine and Alex Gonzalez some games and are giving Nick Hopper and Juan Castro far too many ABs.Mark Reynolds - Hasn't been in the majors long, but has made a major splash in the time he has been. So far, he has a 81.1% Contact rate, a 7.5% BB rate, and a 19.4% LD rate in 37 ABs. He's hit 3 HRs so far, and they've gone True Distances of 371, 405, and a whopping 459 feet.Here are his Minor League numbers across several levels:2005 | Low-A | 431 ABs | 77.4% Contact | 7.4% BB | 13.7% LD | 19 HR2006 | High-A | 273 ABs | 77.6% Contact | 12.7% BB | 17.2% LD | 23 HR2006 | Double A | 114 ABs | 71.9% Contact | 8.7% BB | 14.5% LD | 8 HR2007 | Triple A | 134 ABs | 76.1% Contact | 12.9% BB | 20.6% LD | 6 HRWe see that his Major League numbers this year don't seem to be entirely sustainable. His Contact rate should fall to perhaps 75%, but his BB rate might stay level and his LD% might only drop a percentage point. His power is legit, and if he were to be a starter for the rest of the season he could get up to 25 HRs. His .519 BABIP will drop, as will his .459 BA, and it should settle somewhere near .260-.265. The Dan Uggla comparisons people draw seem to be pretty accurate.The D'Backs lineup is very good, so he will get plenty of RBIs and Runs, especially if he keeps batting 4th and 5th. That they are comfortable hitting him there indicates they would like find him ABs even after Chad Tracy gets back. That may prove, though, with all of the quality hitters in their lineup. He might end up as a 3-4 game per week guy if they keep him in the majors.Ryan Braun - Braun isn't a guy I was able to buy into the hype of until this year (to a certain extent). A highly touted prospect of the Brewers, Braun's call up was announced on Thursday. Let's first look at his minor league numbers.2005 | Low-A | 152 ABs | 79.3% Contact | 5.5% BB | 25.6% LD | 8 HRs | 2 SBs2006 | High-A | 226 ABs | 79% Contact | 8.9% BB | 11.6% LD | 7 HRs | 14 SBs2006 | Double A | 231 ABs | 78% Contact | 82.% BB | 12.3% LD | 15 HRs | 12 SBs2007 | Triple A | 109 ABs | 90.8% Contact | 10.7% BB | 22.2% LD | 9 HRs | 4 SBsWe see that up until 2007, Braun's numbers were very mediocre. Where did this spike come from in 2007? Did he change something? Did he just get lucky? And most importantly, how will these numbers translate to the majors? Honestly, it's a tough call. His Contact rate could be anywhere from 75% to 90%. His BB rate could be anywhere from 5% to 8%. His LD rate (yikes) could be anywhere from 12% to 23%. Let's say that he settles at around this level: 80% Contact, 7% BB, and 18% LD. That wo[...]

Ranking the Young Third Basemen: Part I


Terrible, terribly sorry for the scarcity of posts this week. I'll try to make up for it today. Right now, let's take a look at the young third basemen that are quite possibly on your waiver wire if you're in a shallow or moderately deep league. I've been asked about a few of them over the past couple days, so hopefully this post will answer all of those questions.I'll first take a look at each player's stats in the majors this year, and then we'll see if they mesh with his minor league numbers. I'll look at 3 guys now, the rest in a couple of hours, and then provide a list ranking them later this afternoon.Alex Gordon - Picked by many as the AL Rookie of the Year favorite back in March, Gordon has disappointed those people so far. Let's look at his prospects for the rest of the year. He has a 71% Contact rate, a 9.9% BB rate, and a 22.7% LD rate. His BB and LD stats translate to better than a .252 BABIP, although his low Contact rate will prevent him from hitting for a very high BABIP. It should increase to maybe .250 or .260, but if he keeps striking out it won't get much higher. Gordon has only hit 3 HRs so far, but each has had a True Distance over 400 ft according to HitTracker.In 2006, he had an 80% Contact rate, 12.5% BB rate, and a 16.3% LD rate in Double A. Judging by that, there is a decent chance he could see an improved contact rate, which would help his average. I don't see his BB rate getting too much higher this year, but it is at a respectable level. He hit 29 HRs and 40 2Bs and 3Bs, and combined with the power he's shown this year I'd say Gordon is in for a power surge the rest of the year. I'd say 18-20 HRs is a possibility. The Royals lineup is better than advertised, so Gordon should get some RBIs and a decent number of Runs if he can move up a spot or two.Akinori Iwamura - Coming off the DL next week, Iwamura was a beast in April. He had an 82% Contact rate, 21.1% BB rate, and a 29.5% LD rate. Those numbers are bound to come down, but even if he ends up with an 11% BB rate and 22% LD rate Iwamura could hit .285-.290. He also stole three bases, and after saying preseason that he was aiming for 40, I think he could still grab 20 or 25 by year's end. He also said he wanted 20 HRs, and his only one in April went a True Distance of 414 feet.We'll look at Iwamura's Japanese numbers since this is his first year in America. In 2006, he had a 77% Contact rate and an 11.3% BB rate. In 2005, he had a 73.5% K rate and a 10.2% BB rate. For his career he had a 75.5% Contact rate and a 9.3% BB rate. Judging by that, I'd say his Contact rate is bound to drop into the high 70s and his BB rate might finish around 9 or 10%. With those numbers (and a 22% LD rate), Iwamura could hit .275 or .280. He had 44, 30, and 32 HRs, respectively, in 2004, 2005, and 2006, so 15 or 20 might be a possibility for this year. The D'Rays lineup is pretty good, and if he bats 6th again he should get his share of RBIs. His walks and a decent back of the order will help him get a few Runs.Kevin Kouzmanoff - Like Alex Gordon, Kouzmanoff was an early favorite for Rookie of the Year, except in the NL. Also like Alex Gordon, he got off to a slow start. So far in 2006, he has a 75% Contact rate, 7.7% BB rate, and 20.2% LD rate. So-so, unspectacular numbers. The good news is that they can improve. The other good news is that he's got some power. He's hit 4 HRs so far (excluding his one last night), and they had True Distances of 378, 391, 429, and 447 feet. Seems like he can hit the ball a good distance.In 244 Double AA At-Bats, Kouzmanoff had an 87.7% Contact rate, 8.3% BB rate, and an 18.4% LD rate. In 100 AAA At-Bats, he had an 89.3% Contact Rate, 8% BB rate, and a 23.3% LD rate. Judging by these, I'd say his Contact Rate should improve and his BB and LD rates seem about right. Since May 14th, he's had an 82.8% Contact Rate, so I think he is well on his way to becoming the player I expected him to be[...]

Iwamura to Return Monday


Akinori Iwamura has been playing in rehab games recently, and could potentially come off the Disabled List on Monday. When he does, he will most likely resume his role as the Devil Rays' everyday third basemen.

"He's doing very well," manager Joe Maddon said. "He hasn't felt any pulling sensation in his side."

Iwamura was a guy I liked a lot in the beginning of the season (and even picked up in one league, although he surprisingly went on the DL the next day). He had an 82% Contact rate, 21.1% BB rate, and a 29.5% LD rate. While the BB rate and LD% should drop, as long as they don't go too far Iwamura could hit over .300. He also had 3 SBs and could get 20 or 25 if he doesn't get injured again. He only had 1 HR, but it had a True Distance of 414 feet, according to HitTracker. He could end up with 15 HRs. The D'Rays' lineup is good, so Iwamura should also get plenty of RBIs and Runs.

If you need a 3B, Iwamura seems like he can help you in every category. Now's the time to pick him up.

Oakland Closer Update


Sorry I didn't post yesterday guys; things were crazy around here.

Anyway, Justin Duchscherer joined Huston Street on Oakland's DL today. It's safe to drop Duke in leagues where setup men are worthless. So who is the guy to own in Oakland?

It seems that Alan Embree is the guy to own, as Manager Bob Geren said that he will be used in "more cases than not." Kiko Calero and crew might steal a save here or there, but it seems Embree will get the majority of them while Street is out. So what should we expect out of Embree?

Strangely, his K rate has been quite unstable, but I think his current 6.87 K/9 seems about right. His 2.45 BB/9 also seems about right, giving Embree a K/BB of 2.80. Very solid. His 31.1% GB rate is down 10 percentage points from his average since 2002, and if he can't get it back up he'll blow some saves by giving up the longball. I expect it to increase though, so no worries there. Overall, Embree is a solid option as long as Street is out. He should be owned in all leagues.

Barry Zito: Fantasy Disappointment?


You know Barry Zito. Former member of the Oakland "Big Three." Part of a rock band. Used to go out with Alyssa Milano. Known for his 12-6 curveball. Signed with the Giants for $126 million. Yeah... that guy. Did you also know that he has a 3-5 record and a 5.13 ERA? If you follow baseball, chances are you did. So why is the highest paid pitcher in baseball putting up numbers like Steve Trachsel? Well, honestly, because they have a similar skill level.

Hopefully you read my Preseason Analysis of Barry Zito and didn't draft him. If you did, you've got a big problem on your hands. In that article I mentioned how Zito has only an average K rate (6.50 K/9), an unimpressive BB rate (3.50 BB/9), and a poor GB rate (38%). Has the move to the National League changed anything for Zito? Let's take a look.

4.97 K/9
4.64 BB/9
38.0% GB
.263 BABIP
0.83 HR/9

Well, it seems his K rate and his BB rate is worse than it has been in the past. I didn't see a K rate close to 7.0 as terribly unlikely, seeing as how he'll get to throw to pitchers in the NL, but we've actually seen a decrease in Ks. I expect this to increase at least to his career levels, but even that will only be around average. His BB rate should decrease a little, but I don't see it getting much lower than 4.00. His GB percentage is perfectly in line with his career numbers, so no change should happen there.

We see that Zito is actually getting lucky when we look at his BABIP and HR/9 numbers. The BABIP should be up nearly .040 points, and the HR/9 does not reflect his low BB rate. It should jump above 1.00 shortly.

While I don't expect Zito to finish the year with an ERA above 5.00, don't expect it to get much lower than 4.50. I said the Giants made a mistake, and I'm sticking by that statement. I can't say how glad I am the Mets didn't shell out even the $80 million they reportedly offered him. If you own Zito and someone in your league still thinks he is good, dump him. Otherwise, wait for his ERA to drop below 5.00 and take the best offer you get.

A Look at Mike Mussina


Mike Mussina was a player I liked a lot in the preseason, but he has since been a disappointment for Fantasy Baseball owners. He went down early in the year to a hamstring injury, and in his time on the field has been less than inspiring. His line so far looks like this:
22.1 IP
4.03 K/9
2.01 BB/9
31% GB

His career numbers look like this:
7.19 K/9
2.02 BB/9
42.1% GB (since 2002)

We see that his BB rate has been pretty consistent with his career line, and I don't expect to see much of a change in that area. His K rate is very alarming though. It is down more than 3 points from it's career average. His GB rate is down more than 10 percentage points from his career average. Coming into the season I loved Mussina and hated Chien-Ming Wang, but if Mussina keeps up these numbers Wang might be the better bet (that is not an OK to go trade for Wang).

While I expect the GB rate to increase, I'm not quite sure why the K rate is like that. I thought maybe it had to do with the injury, so I took a look at his games since coming back from the DL to see if he has improved.

5.0 IP 3 K 0 BB 33% GB
6.0 IP 2 K 1 BB 35% GB
5.1 IP 1 K 0 BB 35% GB

No such luck there. So why is Mussina struggling? Honestly, I have no idea. He is 38 years old, and this might have something to do with it.

So what do you do with Mussina? He is owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues now, and if he were dropped in any league where I needed pitching, I would probably pick him up and sit him for another few starts. I have a hard time seeing Mussina posting a 4.00 K/9 come September, and even if he can get it up to 6.00 he should be a Top 25 pitcher with his great control and decent GB rate (assuming it gets back to its normal level, which it should). If you can trade for him cheaply and you need pitching, you might want to consider doing it. There are safer options that might come at the same price. Philip Hughes might be back in a month, and Yovanni Gallardo might be coming up in a few weeks. Jamie Shields might still be considered a fluke and come at a discount. Dave Bush, Javier Vazquez, and A.J. Burnett are also some good guys to buy on. All said, Mussina could pay nice rewards, but there is some risk involved.

Exciting News!


Hey everyone!

I've got some very exciting news! I was contacted a few days ago by Dave Studeman of the Hardball Times. He told me that the Hardball Times is interested in starting up Fantasy Baseball content, more specifically a blog. He asked me if I would be interested in writing for it, and I couldn't pass up a fantastic opportunity like this to write for one of my favorite baseball sites.

So, sometime in the not-so-distant future, we'll be relocating over to the Hardball Times. I'll mostly be writing about the same stuff I've been writing about here, and there will be a few other Hardball Times writers contributing to the blog as well. I know for a fact that David Gassko will be contributing, and I've been told a few of their other writers are interested as well.

While this is a pretty big change, I don't think anything will be fundamentally different. Once the change is made, you'll simply be reading my stuff in a different location, and you'll also get the insights of a few other great baseball minds. For those of you that I have regular email contact with, that won't change either. Continue sending me your questions, and I will be more than happy to continue giving you my opinions.

Anyway, I'm not sure when the shift will occur, and I'll continue posting here until it does. When it does occur, I'll be sure to let you know. Thanks everyone for your support, and I look forward to continuing a good year with you all!

Derek Carty

Buy Low Candidate: Jason Giambi


There's a lot surrounding Jason Giambi right now, which makes it a good time to buy low on him. To start, he's only batting .268 after hitting .253 last year. He hasn't hit over .300 since his first year with the Yankees in 2002. In addition, he has only hit 5 HRs through nearly two months of the season.

Next, he's having trouble with a bone spur in his left heel. This is the problem I am most concerned with. This problem has kept him out of Yankee Interleague games being played in NL parks so far. Not healthy enough to play first base, Giambi has been relegated to sitting on the bench.

To top it all off, Giambi all but admitted on Friday to using steroids. His comments have allowed speculation to run rampant among reporters and speculators. Some have said that Giambi could be suspended. As far as I know, however, players can only be suspended if they have used steroids since 2005. Others have said that the Yankees might try and terminate Giambi's large contract. Again, this seems doubtful at best. George Steinbrenner cares about one thing: winning. He doesn't care how much money it costs or how ethically he does it (i.e. he doesn't care if Giambi used steroids a couple years ago); he just wants to win. Giambi can help him do that. Giambi is one of the best players in baseball, and to think Steinbrenner will give him up so he can save a few bucks just doesn't seem to be a likely scenario.

So where does all this leave Giambi's fantasy value? In the gutter. Honestly, it's already probably slipped through the gutter cracks and is being swept away down a sewage pipeline of grime. That makes this the best time to take advantage.

Preseason, I expected Giambi to hit around 45 HRs judging by his HitTracker numbers. While his power hasn't been very impressive so far, and he has yet to hit a ball with a True Distance over 400 feet, I have to think that the power is still in there and will come out soon. His 78% Contact rate is the best it's been since it was 80% in his 2002 season (the last season he hit over .300). His BB rate is down from its gargantuan 20% in 2005 and 2006, but 14% still ranks among the best in baseball. His career BB rate is 16.2%, so an increase is likely. His LD Percentage is a respectable 18.8%. All in all, I think his selectivity will allow him to hit .280. Plus, he hits for the Yankees, so a lot of RBIs and Runs should be a given.

My biggest concern with Giambi is his foot. I wish I knew a little more about how certain injuries affect players, but if you can get Giambi for cheap I think this is a risk that is well worth taking. If you get Giambi, just make sure you have a capable backup in case he can't play in the next Yankee NL Interleague series. A guy like Dan Johnson would be more than adequate. Conor Jackson would work too.

A Look at Tim Lincecum


Alright, so Tim Lincecum has pitched in 3 games so far, and today the Giants confirmed that he will remain in the starting rotation once Russ Ortiz returns from the DL. Ortiz will move to the bullpen and should become obsolete for Fantasy Baseball purposes. So what should we expect from Lincecum for the rest of the year?

His season line looks like this, through 3 starts:
10.31 K/9
3.44 BB/9
45.7% GB rate

Here is the breakdown of his three starts:
4.1 IP 5 K 5 BB 33% GB
7.0 IP 6 K 1 BB 57% GB
7.0 IP 10 K 1 BB 38% GB

His K/BB has improved every start, and he seems to have shown that he can wrack up the strikeouts even at this level. His GB has fluctuated, but I think it could settle in at around 48%. That, combined with his high Ks alone makes him an above average pitcher. The main concern with Lincecum coming up was his control. If he came up and started walking a lot of batters, he wouldn't be worth a roster spot in a lot of leagues. However, he has walked just two batters in his last 14 IPs, so this may not be an issue.

We are looking at a small sample size here, but for now I think Lincecum looks like a keeper. If he can keep his BB rate steady, he could end up being a Top 12-15 Starting Pitcher. In the leagues I own him, I'm hanging tight.

Waiver Wire - National League


OK. Here's the National League Waiver Wire for this week.National LeagueRyan Doumit | PIT | C/1B/OF - Might not be in the bigs for a whole lot longer, but while he is he has value. He has pretty good power, and could hit about 8 with 200 ABs. He has a pretty good 82% Contact rate, 8.9% BB rate, and 20.3% LD rate, so a .280 average seems likely. He should grab a good amount of RBIs hitting 5th and grab a few Runs.Recommendation: Should be owned in 12 and 14-team leagues while he is starting. Should be owned in all NL-only leagues while he is starting.Endy Chavez | NYM | OF - With Alou on the DL, Chavez will get some regular playing time. Carlos Gomez will start some games, but Chavez has a great Contact Rate and good BB and LD rates. Plus, he has good speed, so he could grab a few SBs.Recommendation: Should be owned in 14-team leagues until Alou gets back. Should be considered in 10 and owned in 12 and 14-team NL-only leagues until Alou gets back.Kevin Gregg | FLA | RP - Tankersley hasn't been pitching very well, and Kevin Gregg seems to be the favorite for saves until Owens gets back, which could be in a few days. I like Gregg a lot preseason, and had drafted him late in a couple of leagues with early drafts. Should be a good closer for the next few days.Recommendation: Should owned in all leagues until Henry Owens returns.Henry Owens | FLA | RP - Could be back on the 24th, and while his peripherals in the majors haven't been very good, he will have a job closing, at least for a while, and is worth owning. I like Kevin Gregg's numbers better, and if Owens falters Gregg would make a better closer this year.Recommendation: Should owned in all leagues.Jeremy Hermida | FLA | OF - Still owned in just 2.5% of ESPN leagues, and I've had a few questions on him this week, so I'll put him here again. Should have hit a few more HRs last year and could hit 15 with 400 ABs. Good patience and LD rate, but his 78% Contact Rate will need to improve for Hermida to hit more than .280-.285. Marlins lineup should help with RBIs and Runs, and Hermida can grab a handful of steals. Recommendation: Should be considered in deep 10 and owned in 12 and 14-team leagues. Should be owned in all but the shallowest NL-only leagues.Fred Lewis | SF | OF - Didn't have overly impressive minor league numbers in 2006, but this year he's had LD rates around 21% at both levels, in addition to 80% Contact Rates. He had an 11% BB rate in the minors and has a 7.9% BB rate in the majors. Has a little bit of power and can steal some bases. Might have some use in deeper leagues while Dave Roberts is out. Has been hitting at the top of the lineup quite often.Recommendation: Should be considered in deep 12 and owned in 14-team leagues. Should be strongly considered in 10 and owned in 12 and 14-team NL-only leagues.Rafael Soriano | ATL | RP - With Mike Gonzalez hurt, Soriano becomes the Braves's go-to-guy before the 9th inning, and it wouldn't surprise me if Wickman is out of a job before the year is over. Soriano would probably step in if that happened, with Gonzalez picking up a few saves here or there. Should be owned in leagues where relievers have value.Recommendation: Should be owned in deep mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team NL-only leagues.Tim Lincecum | SF | SP - I'll talk about him more in depth later today, but he still is only owned in about 2/3 of ESPN leaguesRecommendation: Should be owned in all leagues, for now.Yovanni Gallardo | MIL | SP - Gallardo is getting tough to ignore for the Brewers with a 12.46 K/9 and 3.02 BB/9 in AAA. There isn't a pressing need for a SP in Milwaukee, but it's tough to keep a guy like Gallardo down there. Could see a callup soon after June 1st.Recommendation[...]

Waiver Wire - American League


Today we'll go over the American League Waiver Wire, and tomorrow we'll do the National League.American LeagueJustin Duchscherer | OAK | RP - Hurting a little himself, but with Huston Street on the DL, Duke becomes the go-to-guy in the Oakland 'pen. The A's say he should be ready to pitch today. His BB/9 is up this season, but I expect it to come down shortly. Solid K rate, good GB rate. If you need saves this is the probably the best guy to pick up this week.Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.Octavio Dotel | KC | RP - Could be back on Tuesday, so if he's available in your league, pick him up. Has pretty good peripherals, assuming his injuries haven't affected him much. A closer with skills needs to be owned in all leagues.Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.Akinori Iwamura | TB | 3B - Maybe you've forgotten about this guy, but he had dynamite numbers to start the year. We're going based on a small sample size, but he could be the answer to 3B woes for a lot of teams. I'm still struggling to fill Edwin Encarnacion's void in one league, and I'll probably be picking up Iwamura soon. He's got 20/20 potential, seems to have good discipline, and makes good contact. On Wednesday, Joe Maddon said Iwamura was 2-3 weeks from returning. Might be too soon to pick him up, but make sure you don't get beat.Recommendation: Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team leagues until he proves otherwise. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues until he proves otherwise.Joe Blanton | OAK | SP - Still owned in just 46% of ESPN leagues, Blanton should probably be owned in all of them, at least for now. Solid K/9, great BB/9, and good GB%. If his BB rate regresses he won't be as valuable, but there's a good chance that won't happen. Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.Andrew Miller | DET | SP - Talked about him a couple of days ago. Was less than dominant at Single A.Recommendation: Should be avoided in all mixed leagues. Should be owned in only the deepest AL-only leagues.Scott Baker | MIN | SP - Interesting guy. He's a tough one to predict, but he'll be getting the Twins start today and could stick in the rotation for a little while. Last year he had a 6.70 K/9 and 1.73 BB/9 in 83.1 IP. This year in AAA, he had an 8.65 K/9 and 0.84 BB/9 in 42.2 IP. These numbers indicate he has good control and can strike out a decent amount of Major League batters. He will need to do both to compensate for his terrible 34% FB rate. Baker will give up some HRs, but in deeper leagues he might be worth using for a little while.Recommendation: Should be owned in deep 12 and 14-team mixed leagues, for now. Should be owned in 10, 12, and 14-team AL-only leagues.Devern Hansack | BOS | SP - Has shown decent numbers in the minors this year and last with K rates above 8.00 and BB rates below 2.5. GB rate sits around a decent 42%. Tough to tell how this will translate to the majors. Might be worth a use in some AL-only leagues. It'll be easier to make a judgement if he can get a few starts. Will probably be sent back down when Beckett gets back. Recommendation: Too risky to be owned in mixed leagues. Should be owned in very deep AL-only leagues for a couple of starts.Kevin Youkilis | BOS | 1B/3B/OF - Not sure why, but Youkilis is only owned in 66% of ESPN leagues and comes in at #17 on CBS's Most Added Players list. Youkilis should be owned in all leagues. His Contact rate is much better than last year, and while it might regress he has good selectivity/patience and is a good LD hitter. He could also be good for 20 HRs. Plus, he hits for the Red Sox. Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.Reggie Willits | ANA | OF - I meant to write about him last wee[...]

Garrett Atkins Analysis


Sorry it took so long to write this up, but here it is. Garrett Atkins is one of my favorite 3B trade targets right now. First let's go over the power. In the preseason it would have been easy to predict a small power increase from Atkins, and 35 HRs were a distinct possibility. So far, he has only hit 2 HRs. They have had True Distances of 389 and 396, according to HitTracker. Not great, but decent. While it is possible he won't hit a lot of HRs, I think it is likely that he will bust out sometime soon and become the player I thought he would be. His Flyball Percentage is up to 48% (from 41% in 2006), which adds a little further support to the prediction that he will soon begin to be a serious power threat.So what about the .240 Batting Average? I see this increasing as well. His Contact Rate is at 83.5%, which is down from his 87.3% of last year, but still respectable. I think it is fairly likely once Atkins shakes this funk his Contact Rate will improve a bit. His BB rate is only down a little from last year, and 11% is still quite good. With selectivity like that you'd expect Atkins to be converting his balls in play into hits at a better rate than his .275 BABIP indicates. His BABIP last year was .340 with a 11.6% BB rate. LD Percentage also has an effect on this, and his LD rate is also only down a little from 2006. It is at 20.8% now, down from 22% in 2006.Overall, it seems like Atkins's contact hitting numbers are down across the board, but only by a little bit. Even if they remain as they are, they are still better than a .240 BA. I expect them to improve a little though, and his BA should rise significantly. Preseason I though a BA above .300 was very likely, and I still feel Atkins can achieve this mark.The Colorado lineup is decent, so Atkins should be able to score a good number of RBIs and Runs. Tulowitski's BA should improve and he walks a lot. Taveras is a good contact hitter and he is surprisingly walking a lot too. Holliday has established himself as a good hitter. Helton's days as a serious power threat are gone, but he is a fantastic contact hitter who walks a ton. Plenty of RBI opportunities for Atkins once he shapes up.If he could squeeze himself into the 3rd or 4th spot he'd be in a perfect spot for a lot of RBIs and Runs with Tulowitski and Taveras ahead and Holliday and Helton behind. If he stays batting 5th, the guys behind him are only OK, but his high BB rate should still be able to keep his Run total up.So there you have an analysis of Garrett Atkins. Overall, I'd say if you can get him cheap, definitely do it. I still think he will be considered one of the Top 3 or 4 Fantasy Baseball 3B by year's end. He has all the tools to do it, now he just has to.[...]

Buying and Selling


Another Buy Low / Sell High day. This will usually come on Wednesday's, but I didn't get a chance to write it up this Wednesday.Buy LowGarrett Atkins - I'll run a full post on Atkins later today, but he is probably my favorite Buy Low 3B target right now.Kenny Lofton - Fantastic Contact rate, good Walk rate, and a lot of speed. His LD rate is at 11%, which is a little worrisome, but I see Lofton as a cheaper Juan Pierre. He should hit .300 if the LD rate picks up, will steal a lot of bases (35 is a definite possibility... maybe more), won't hit many HRs (less than 5), will score a lot of Runs atop the Rangers lineup, and get a modest number of RBIs. If you need SBs or a quality CF in somewhat deep leagues, Lofton makes a good target.Ian Kinsler - If his owner is panicking with the slow May, jump on Kinsler. Will be a starting quality 2B the rest of the way. 85% Contact and 10% BB rates are good, and his 16% LD rate should increase. A .194 BABIP will surely increase, and a BA around .290 seems likely. He's got a little bit of speed, and while it looks like he hit more than his share of HRs in April, he still has some power. He could hit another 15-20 the rest of the way.Frank Thomas - Power last year looked legit using Hit Tracker's ND/PL/JE system, and he has been crushing balls this year. Hasn't hit any Just Enoughs yet, so expect his power to really pick up soon. Owners might be getting impatient, and his .236 BA doesn't help things. His BB rate is still fantastic and his Contact rate - like last year - is above 80%. LD percentage is down a little, but I'd still bank on Thomas putting it back together. Hits in a good lineup. Now with him sitting during Interleague Play might be the best time to pounce on angry owners.Jeremy Bonderman - 5.71 K/BB rate is fantastic and his 43% GB rate is pretty good. Much better than his 4.20 ERA indicates. His recent injury might be just the push his owner needs to trade him. While I am no medical expert, a cut on his pitching hand doesn't sound like it will have any long-term effects.Dave Bush - Mentioned before on here, but his ERA is still over 5.00. A K rate just under 7.00 and a K/BB of 4.75 deserves some credit. Buy on Bush before he starts putting up the surface numbers. He should be a Top 25 SP in 2007.Don't Buy LowCarlos Zambrano - I feel obligated to continue putting Zambrano on here. His BB/9 is still 4.47 and this just won't do. Keep away.Dontrelle Willis - The D-Train won't improve too much with a K/BB under two. His K rate has always been mediocre, and his BB rate is at the worst point of his career. It's likely it'll improve a little, but Dontrelle isn't the pitcher a lot of people think he is.Chien-Ming Wang - I mentioned him in this spot when he came off the DL, and I'll put him here again. Strikes out too few players to be a very good pitcher, and the lack of Ks will kill you in most Fantasy Baseball formats. BB rate has improved, and his K/BB is over 2.00, but the 3.48 K/9 is just too much to overcomeJosh Barfield - The 7th 2B taken, on average, in preseason expert drafts, Barfield has seriously underproduced these expectations. He didn't hit a single No Doubt HR last year, according to Hit Tracker, so his lack of power so far is no surprise. His BA might increase a little, but all of his vitals are down from last year. Contact rate is at 75%, BB rate is at 3.7%, and his LD rate is at 14.3%. These should improve a little, but don't expect a repeat of 2006... at least not in 2007.Sell HighMatt Cain - Surface numbers are starting to catch up to his peripherals, but his 0.35 HR/9 and .233 BABIP are both much lower than they should be. Se[...]

More on Pitchers and BABIP


Alright. We seemed to have a good response to the post on pitchers, hitability, and BABIP when I posted it two days ago. I'll now go over some of these comments and some mistaken assumptions that I made.The first of these assumptions was that league average BABIP is .290. I'm not sure why I was under this impression (I must have read it incorrectly somewhere), but it seems that league average BABIP is generally closer to .300. This changes a lot of what I said and a lot of the assumptions that I had made about BABIP.After reading up on BABIP this morning at the Hardball Times, Baseball Prospectus, and the Diamond Mine, it seems that pitchers can have an affect on how many hits they give up, but that this effect is quite small and much of this effect can be explained by their DIPS (Defense Independent Pitching Statistics - K/9, BB/9, and GB rate).Pitchers can, in fact, affect their hits per ball in play a little bit, but at this time there is no statistic that can truly capture this skill. For now, DIPS is the best means we have of predicting future performance. Future performance can also be roughly predicted by looking at BABIPs that stray significantly from league average (such as Jason Marquis's .206 BABIP) and realizing that at some point it will regress to a point much closer to the league average.Now we'll take a look at some of the comments people had about the previous post on this subject. One reader mentioned the exclusion of HRs and how this can skew BABIP because a lot of HRs are balls that are hit so well that they would be considered hits if left in the field of play. I can come up with a couple of reasons why I'm not overly concerned about their they are more a result of a pitcher's tendency to give up The first is that HRs have a very strong correlation with Groundball rate. The more GBs a player induces, the less HRs that player should give up. (This is a subject I'll talk a little more about in the not so distant future, but this is the primary reason why I talk a lot about GB rate when analyzing pitchers.) Because this is the case, I don't really have a problem excluding HRs. I see a high HR rate as more a result of a pitcher giving up a lot of flyballs than it is of his ability to limit hits.Roughly 90% of HRs are flyballs. If - hypothetically - the field of play were extended another couple hundred feet (and outfielders were fast enough to cover this entire area at the same efficiency they cover current outfields) these flyballs would still be caught at the same 78% that normal, non-HR flyballs are caught at now. Of course that notion is absurd, but I think it shows that HRs are mostly just farther traveling flyballs, which we've already established has a direct connection with Flyball Percentage (or Groundball Percentage, by default).That's why we can look at BABIP and GB% separately. GB% represents how many HRs a pitcher should give up, and BABIP represents the number of non-HR hits that a pitcher has given up. Of course GB% is more stable than BABIP, and that is why HRs are easier to predict than hits and should be treated differently.A couple of readers asked to see another list of pitchers and their career BABIPs, except this time using average and poor pitchers. It is tough to get a list of poor pitchers who have pitched for as many seasons as the guys on the previous list because if a pitcher is that bad there is little chance he will survive in the big leagues that long. Therefore, I'll give a list of some average pitchers that were able to last for a while.Woody Williams - .285Pat Hentgen - .288Andy Benes - .292Kevin Appier - .292Hi[...]

Research Day


Hey guys. Sorry for the lack of posts today. I dedicated today to some research about hitter selectivity and related things. Made some good progress that should go towards make the 2008 projections fantastic. It could help with this season as well, but a lot of what I used was from Retrosheet. Retrosheet doesn't put out data for a particular season until a couple months after it is completed, so I'm not sure how this stuff will work for the current season. As I get near the completion of what I'm doing I'll be sure to let you all know though.

On days like this I'll try to give you guys a heads up earlier in the day.

Andrew Miller Called Up... But Don't Rush to Your Waiver Wire


Andrew Miller has been announced by the Detroit Tigers as their starter for Friday's game after Jeremy Bonderman has been sent to the DL. Possible buy low situation with Bonderman, but I'll talk more about that later.

Miller put up an amazing 63.5% GB rate at Single A Lakeland this year, but only managed 6.52 K/9 and 3.49 BB/9 in 38.7 IP. While Miller might be good one day, I would stay away from him in redraft leagues this year. His numbers just don't look like those of a guy who is ready for the big time. Also, notice that those numbers came at Single A. Don't pick up Miller unless you are in a keeper league (in which case he might already be owned) or an extremely, extremely deep league.

Manager Jim Leyland also said Miller will be sent back down once Bonderman is ready to return.

Pitchers and 'Hitability'


Today, my friend and I had a conversation that I thought might interest you guys. We were talking about pitchers and their 'hitability'. Surely you've heard someone, possibly a broadcaster, talk about how a certain pitcher is very hittable, or how another pitcher is able to prevent hits. This person, unfortunately, is misinformed.Anyway, my friend and I were talking about whether or not pitchers can do anything to prevent hits. We know that once a ball is put into play it is out of the pitcher's control, but can a pitcher throw the ball a certain way so that when it is put into play, it is hit worse than when another pitcher allows a ball to be put into play?My friend said that good pitchers are able to limit their hits. I said that they can't. They can help determine the type of hit it is (groundball, airball, or pop-up), but cannot determine how hard it is hit or whether it is more or less likely to become a hit. To attempt - albeit crudely - to prove my point, I looked up the career Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP) for some of the greatest pitchers of our generation. HRs can be prevented by pitchers (by giving up more groundballs than flyballs), but hits in the field of play - I said - cannot be prevented. Here is a list of the pitchers I looked up. Keep in mind that league average BABIP is .290, so in order for my theory to be correct each pitcher should have a BABIP close to this (it can vary slightly due to luck and a tendency to give up either more groundballs or airballs, which fall for hits at slightly different rates).Tom Glavine - .285Johan Santana - .287Pedro Martinez - .287Greg Maddux - .288Jamie Moyer - .289John Smoltz - .290Al Leiter - .291Roger Clemens - .294Mike Mussina - .295David Wells - .300Randy Johnson - .301I chose these players because they are all considered good pitchers and all pitched for a good number of years. My viewpoint states that given enough time, all pitchers will put up the league average BABIP (or the variation for a pitcher with each specific GB and FB rates). Since league average is .290, it doesn't appear that any of these guys deviate too far from it. If anything, it looks like the deviation occurs in the opposite direction expected. Randy Johnson has given up more hits on balls in play than the average pitcher.I think that this - while crude and dealing with a very small sample size - is a pretty good indicator that pitcher's can't control how many hits he gives up. It also gives further credibility to the statistics that I stress for pitchers. Since a pitcher cannot control hits or runs, we should focus only on what he can control - Strikeouts, Walks, and Batted Ball Types. The best of these Batted Ball types is the pop-up, but because this percentage is small for all pitchers I place more emphasis on talking about Groundball Percentage. Groundballs can't be hit out of the park and can be turned more easily into double plays than flyballs despite a slightly smaller Out Percentage.I think there is a good chance that somebody out there has already proven this point - and most likely in a more scientific way - but I found the numbers above quite interesting and wanted to share them with you. Hope you enjoyed it![...]

Bob Wickman Activated by Braves


Bob Wickman was activated by the Atlanta Braves yesterday, who indicated that he will resume his normal closing duties. Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano, who had formed a closing tandem while Wickman was sidelined, will be returned to their former roles. It wouldn't be a surprise to see one - or both - of these two to take the closer's job right back within a few weeks if Wickman doesn't shape up. A BB/9 over 7.00 is terrible and completely unacceptable for a closer. If Wickman doesn't lower than quickly, he might find himself in a middle relief role.

Look for an article on players to Buy Low and Sell High later today.

Huston Street to DL


Huston Street has been placed on the DL by the Oakland A's. Justin Duchscherer is one of the best setup men in baseball, however, he is day-to-day with a hip injury. I have picked him up in a few of my leagues regardless, but if he can't pitch Kiko Calero is a good bet to get the save opp. It's your call, but I've picked up Duchscherer.

UPDATE: Duchscherer will be fine to pitch while Street is out. He should be picked up in all leagues he is available.

Mailbag: Barry Bonds


Here's a Fantasy Baseball Mailbag question that just came in. I haven't talked too much about Barry Bonds yet this year, but I absolutely love him, especially when combined with a good OF to play on his off days.

Steve writes:
"Hey there,
Ive been reading your blog for a couple weeks now and I think you do a very good job & I respect your opinion. That being said, I am looking for some advice. I am semi-new to fantasy baseball, second season, and am starting to spend some serious time on my team. I drafted Barry Bonds very late in the draft and am thus far very impressed with what he has done for me but I fear that after he breaks the record he is going to fall off. I was looking at trading him but found that all of my friends in my league have personal problems with Mr. Bonds and don't want him on their team no matter what kind of numbers he puts up. What would you do in this situation?"

I responded:
"Hey Steve,
I also drafted Barry Bonds late all of my drafts and have been reaping the rewards. In your situation, I would simply sit tight with Bonds. While he certainly wants the record, I doubt he will stop putting up numbers once he gets it. The Giants are only three back in the NL West, and I bet he also wants to win a World Series. He is still 11 HRs away from breaking the record, and even if he quits baseball the day after he hits #756 you'd still get 22 HRs out of him for the year. Not bad for a late round pick.

I fully expect him to continue hitting for Contact and Power, though. His HRs have been rockets, and I wouldn't be surprised if he gets 35 or 40 this year. Hang onto Bonds (I will be in my leagues), and make a note of each player in your league that won't touch Bonds because of the issues surrounding him. In future drafts, target similar players once more information comes out in later rounds. You have to leave emotions and personal feelings out of Fantasy Baseball in order to be successful. Take advantage of this."

I know that there are mixed feelings about Barry Bonds, but regardless of his issues, the fact is he can produce for your Fantasy Baseball Team. In order to win, this is all that can matter. When you let personal feelings or team allegiances or anything like that get in the way, it becomes much more difficult to win a competitive Fantasy Baseball League.

Mailbag: Hanley/Chavez for Atkins/Dye


Alright. Here's our next Mailbag question from an anonymous reader.

The reader writes:
"Hello Derek,
Here is my question. 12 team mixed, head to head, 5x5 league with total bases in place of average. Here is what the offer is:

I get: Atkins, Dye
I trade: Hanley Ramirez and Eric Chavez

I realize on the surface it is a bad trade. However, I have Rafael Furcal on my bench. Thus, in essence I am also getting Furcal in the deal as I now free up my SS position (I have Hafner in my overall utility spot and I like a power hitter in my utility infield spot so I do not want to play both Furcal and Hanley). I would still have Damon, Vernon Wells, and Kinlser along with Furcal to steal some bases for me,

I downgrade from Ramirez to Furcal which is not that much of a downgrade, I get a potential upgrade from Chavez to Atkins, and I get Dye as an extra. I know that you love Atkins. Dye was bound to regress after last season, but what are his prospects for the remainder of the season? Plus, have your thoughts about Atkins changed any since he is still struggling?
Thanks! Sorry for the long message. I just really respect your opinion. "

My response:
"I would definitely make this trade. I still like Atkins, and he is one of my favorite Buy Low candidates right now. He's got a good Contact Rate (which should improve) and a good BB rate, and I fully expect him to raise his BA to at least .300. Based on HR data from 2006, his season was not a fluke, and I expect him to start hitting HRs shortly. He should hit at least his HR ratio from last year from here on out. 25 HRs by the end of the year seems likely, even though he only has 2 so far.

Dye is also quite good. He crushed a lot of balls last year, and a repeat HR performance would not shock me. His BA will be down from last year, but it should remain at a respectable level. He has a 75% Contact Rate and 8.2% BB rate, but I think the Contact Rate has a pretty good chance of improving a little bit. He hits in a pretty good lineup, so I expect Dye to be looked back on as a very good player come September.

Chavez is decent, but not great. I expect an above average BA and around 22 HRs, plus the luxury of hitting in a good lineup for RBIs and Runs, but I think Atkins is much better. Hanley is good, and I love the increased BB rate this year, but Furcal is plenty good enough to be your starting SS."

Mailbag: Oliver Perez, Anthony Reyes, and Cliff Lee


I've had a few questions about Oliver Perez lately, and today's first Mailbag will deal with two of them.

Mark writes:
"What do you think of Reyes? I love his peripherals, but giving up 3 or 4 earned runs every time out is getting old. I dropped him today to pick up Oliver Perez, who I had picked up and dropped earlier this year. I figure Perez will be more of a rollercoaster, but if I'm selective I could get better overall numbers from him."

I responded:
"Reyes is an interesting guy right now. He's got good peripherals, and he isn't getting unlucky with Hits or Home Runs. He just seems to be giving up a lot of Runs. This will change at some point (if he keeps up these peripherals), but I think Oliver Perez is better anyway. He'll get you more Ks, has a better offense, and has better peripherals. I don't like the low GB rate, but that won't change, and as long as he keeps the K/BB up he'll be a pretty good pitcher. Good job taking him over Reyes."

The other question regarding Oliver Perez came from an anoymous reader:

This reader wrote:
"I know that you are a mets fan, so please reassure me that Oliver Perez is not a bad option against the Yankees this weekend and that he is a better option than Cliff Lee at home against the Reds. "

I responded:
"I definitely would take Oliver Perez against the Yankees over Cliff Lee against the Reds. Perez has a good K/9 and K/BB, although I wish his GB% was higher. Cliff Lee though, doesn't have a good K/9 or K/BB or GB%. Go with Perez. He's putting up peripherals similar to his 2004. I'm very pleased to see this as a Mets fan."

All said, I like Perez, even more so than I did this off-season when I had him ranked as my #36 Starting Pitcher. I like Reyes second among these three pitchers, and Cliff Lee last.