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MLB Fantasy Baseball: Friday News and Notes

Before I get into the notes for today, a quick tangent/tirade.

The idea of adding any more games to the playoffs in baseball through an additional round is ridiculous. This is not my being a purist. I have come to accept that the Wildcard works. The games though keep being played in colder and colder weather.

The idea that there are World Series games in November bothers me to no end. This will only serve to push that further out. Does baseball really want to attempt to compete with football more Sundays than it has to?

Even a best of three series is going to require more off days and more scheduling. We are dealing with a league that refuses to play back-to-back games in the playoffs at all despite the fact they do that all season.

Three more games means likely another week on to the season, pushing the World Series likely past the first week in November. You tell me how much snow you want to see in Minnesota, Colorado, Boston, New York, Detroit, etc. as the playoffs move on.

Friday Notes

Vernon Wells and Bobby Abreu have both struggled against Jon Lester. Wells, who has pretty much struggled all season, is only 5-for-28 against the lefty while Abreu is 4-for-17. Lester is 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA and 1.38 WHIP against the Angels in his last two starts against them. Not much of a sample for the lefty, but he has been much more effective in his last two outings in April.

David Ortiz is 7-for-17 with three home runs against Dan Haren. His numbers are the best of the bunch that you will see. Dustin Pedroia is 0-for-9 while J.D. Drew is only 1-for-12. Look to avoid Kevin Youkilis as well. He left last night’s game with an injury and is only 3-for-16 lifetime against Haren anyway.

The Orioles have seen plenty of CC Sabathia, but not everyone is thrilled with that fact. While Adam Jones checks in at .333 having gone 9-for-27 and Derrek Lee is 4-for-12, the rest of the lineup should be left to their own devices here. Vladimir Guerrero is 3-for-17 while Brian Roberts, though red-hot, is 9-for-39. Matt Wieters is suddenly swinging well, but he is 2-for-15 lifetime against Sabathia.

Miguel Cabrera has never had a good time at the plate against Mark Buehrle. Buehrle has allowed just one hit in 18 at-bats to Cabrera. Look to use Magglio Ordonez here. He is at .469 with two home runs in 32 at-bats.

Jhonny Peralta checks in at .281 in 71 at-bats with two home runs. Brandon Inge is the other red flag here, as he has 12 strikeouts in 57 at-bats to go with a .246 mark against Buehrle. Buehrle, for his part, is 4-0 in his last six starts against the Tigers.

Paul Konerko and Alexei Ramirez should remain on your bench against Justin Verlander if you have better options available. Konerko is only 4-for-38 against Verlander while Ramirez is 5-for-28. Otherwise, nothing of major to be concerned with. Start your other White Sox as you normally would. Last year, Verlander was 2-0 in his two starts against the White Sox.

Jason Kubel has raked against Fausto Carmona, hitting .361 with three home runs in 36 at-bats. Unless you have him, best to avoid your Twins. Denard Span is 4-for-24 and only Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau carck the .250 mark against the Cleveland starter.

Your regular Astros are good to go in this one against Yovani Gallardo. While Hunter Pence may only have a .273 average, that is nothing to be overly alarmed about. Carlos Lee is a .304 hitter and Michael Bourn checks in at .400 in his 20 at-bats against Gallardo.

While Livan Hernandez is 2-1 in his last four starts against the Pirates, his peripheral numbers have not been good. Hernandez is the proud holder of a 6.14 ERA and .329 BAA against them. In 22 innings of work, he has surrendered 27 hits and 10 walks while striking out just 17. The Pirates that are there have relatively limited at-bats, so no major concerns.

If you have a shot to use Ryan Ludwick in NL-only leagues, it would be worth the risk. Ludwick is 5-for-13 with two home runs against him. Jorge Cantu has three home runs in 25 at-bats to go with a .280 average. Orlando Hudson has been ugly in his at-bats, posting a .188 mark in 16 at-bats. Benching Chase Headley and his .200 average would make sense as well.

Weekend Notes

Another good matchup for David Ortiz on Saturday. He is 6-for-19 with two home runs against Ervin Santana. Carl Crawford and Marco Scutaro would be good to go here as well. Look to avoid the 0-for-14 of Jason Varitek and the 3-for-17 of J.D. Drew.

Chris Carpenter has dominated all Reds not named Joey Votto. Votto is at .350 in 20 at-bats with a home run. He is the only one with numbers worth starting. Edgar Renteria, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Jonny Gomes and Ramon Hernandez are all at .200 or below. Scott Rolen has a .250 mark, and he is the second-best option available.

Rare name to mention in terms of fantasy, but worth noting here. Asdrubal Cabrera simply owns Francisco Liriano. He is 10-for-17 against him overall. Shin-Soo Choo is just 3-for-13 while Grady Sizemore is 3-for-22. Matt LaPorta is only 1-for-10 as well.

Only two players on Seattle with numbers to note against Trevor Cahill. Ichiro is 5-for-12 and worth keeping in the lineup, but Chone Figgins is 2-for-13. Cahill is just 1-3 against the Mariners in his last five starts. His ERA in that stretch though is solid, at 2.93 in 30.2 innings of work.

John Danks has been relatively successful against the Tigers. Only the .609 mark of Magglio Ordonez stands out as a number that should be in your lineup. Not one other regular cracks .220 in players that have better than 10 at-bats.

While Prince Fielder is hitting just .242 against Wandy Rodriguez, the rest of your Milwaukee regulars seem to have figured out the Houston starter. Ryan Braun is at .360 in 25 at-bats with three home runs. Both Rickie Weeks and Casey McGehee are at better than .333 as well. Carlos Gomez has gone 0-for-9 and is the only other fringe starter to worry about.

Again both Figgins and Ichiro have the best numbers to report against Brett Anderson. Figgins is at .320 while Ichiro is at .345. Might look for a reach and grab Michael Saunders who is 3-for-10 against the lefty lifetime. Anderson is 5-3 in his last 10 starts against the Mariners with a 2.01 ERA.

Juan Uribe has pretty much struggled all season, and it is not likely to be any different against Carlos Zambrano. Uribe is just a .214 hitter in 28 at-bats against him. Andre Ethier has the best numbers at 6-for-13 and it is possible we have a Tony Gwynn sighting given his 5-for-12 mark. Otherwise, start your Dodgers as normal. Few concerns here.

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Fantasy Baseball: Friday News and Notes

Some quick hitters for your Friday…

Friday Notes

Clay Buchholz has been roughed up left and right in the early going, but the Blue Jays have been overly kind to him in the past. Adam Lind has a .375 mark to go with a couple home runs. Only the 1-for-15 of Travis Snider is a truly “bad” number, but the rest of the team is largely busienss as usual. Buchholz, though, is 6-2 against them in his last eight starts.

Derek Lowe has held the bulk of the Mets lineup in check. David Wright certainly continues to be a must start given his .321 average against Lowe, but he is about it. Carlos Beltran is 7-for-35 while Jose Reyes is 3-for-13 and Angel Pagan is 4-for-18.

Xavier Nady and Stephen Drew are the only Diamondbacks that are hitting .300 or better against Matt Cain. Drew adds three home runs to go with a .333 average in his 27 at-bats against Cain. Look to avoid the rest where you can. Kelly Johnson and Chris Young are both sub-.200 while Justin Upton checks in at just .235.

Nothing great to report from the Pirates camp against Bronson Arroyo. Andrew McCutchen is the worst offender at 0-for-9. Arroyo is 5-1 in his last seven starts against the Pirates and has put up an ERA under 2.00 in those starts. The Pirates are hitting just .198 against him in that same stretch.

Hanley Ramirez is a .393 hitter against Roy Oswalt with three home runs in 28 at-bats. Oswalt has been lit up like a Christmas tree against the Marlins in the last three seasons. Though this is not the same type of team that they have been, it would be worth holding him back if you have better options available.

Jimmy Rollins is hitting just .183 against Javier Vazquez in 60 at-bats. Placido Polanco and Raul Ibanez are both better than .300 as is Ryan Howard. Howard is 5-for-15 with three home runs against Vazquez. Ibanez has four home runs in 25 at-bats against him as well. Even Ben Francisco gets in on the fun with four hits in 13 at-bats. The message is really to bench Rollins, but keep your other Phillies in the lineup for this one.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: First Base Rankings

If there is a position that is deeper than first base, you will be hard pressed to find it. The number of home runs, RBI, and runs scored from the corner is astounding. Take these numbers.

  • 17 players with first base eligibility had at least 20 home runs
  • 8 drove in more than 100 runs
  • 11 scored more than 85 runs
  • 7 hit better than .300

Sure, you will not find speed here since only one player with eligibility at first base stole better than 20 bases, but a fantasy owner cannot miss out on the other categories here. The good news is that it will be hard to do that given the power that we see. Owners need that production in order to have any chance in most leagues. Getting more than one is often the best recipe.

How do I rank them? Take a look:
(Calculations based on weights of 35% for HR & RBI, 15% for runs, 10% for average, 5% for SB; does not account for all injuries; all data based on 2010 ESPN eligibility)

Some notes:
  • Keep an eye out on Justin Morneau. I ranked him inside the top-10, but all bets go out the window if he cannot recover from the concussions that plagued him at the end of last season. Morneau was one of the best in the game prior to the injury and his return will be the lynchpin to any success the Twins see.
  • We never seem to give Paul Konerko as much love as he deserves. I will admit that he is ranked higher here than he should be, but this is a guy that is coming off a season where he was second at the position in home runs with 39 and fourth in RBI with 111. Add to that, he hit better than .300. He may not be likely to duplicate the average, but the production levels have been decidedly consistent every year.
  • Remember there were other injuries besides Morneau. Both Kevin Youkilis and Kendry Morales lost time with injuries last season. Youkilis will maintain first base eligibility this year but will move to third base full time with the signing of Gonzalez. Last chance to capitalize on that corner eligibility in all likelihood. Morales broke his leg after coming off a thunderous 2009 campaign. If healthy, he could be a steal owners need to look at late in the draft.
  • The Mark Reynolds bandwagon broke down hard last year after his .198 average appeared and the stolen bases left him. Reynolds still has upside, and I rarely argue for drafting for a good or bad average, but his situation is a tough one. The strikeouts and lack of much production in two key categories makes him a tough sell.
  • Think how deep the position is when you see Prince Fielder barely cracking the top-12. Also, I will not say Aubrey Huff will not duplicate his production from last year, but I also will not be the one gambling that he will. Huff has too long a history of disappointing owners for me to gamble on him. The position drops off quickly after the first 11 and you end up with more risk and reward type selections.
  • Best Value Selection – Konerko is currently going at 71 overall and you are getting far greater production than that. Again, I do not really believe he is a top-three first basemen, but I need to drive home the point of his value and putting him there does that. Certainly better than 71 though. Ike Davis at 198 is another sneaky selection that could pay dividends. He hit 19 home runs as a rookie. Like his chances to improve upon that, his 71 RBI, and his .264 average.
  • Sleeper Selections – Davis, Freddie Freeman, and Brandon Belt. Freeman has the job in Atlanta with the departure of Derrek Lee. Belt will be there ready to step in the second that Huff decides to come back to earth.
  • Situations to Avoid – Nothing seems overly contentious where we would be in a straight platoon. Still, I would not want to be stuck with owning Seattle’s starter Justin Smoak simply because of the lack of any sort of success track record.
  • Situations to Watch – Texas. The Rangers traded Smoak to Seattle and are now looking at both Chris Davis and Mitch Moreland. Moreland came on strong in the playoffs, but there have to be questions as to if he can maintain this over a long season. This one will play out in both spring training and in the early season returns.
  • Biggest Risk – Outside of Huff, it has to be Adrian Gonzalez. Right now, he’s going at number eight overall. I just do not see first-round value coming out of his bat. Yes, he will be playing in a more-friendly park and he has good protection, but this is a substantial jump from where he was being looked at last year. Beware drafting him this early.

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Baseball Hall of Fame Voting 2011: Who Belongs?

I tend not to put up a ton of pieces like this, but this is my favorite day of the baseball year outside of Opening Day. Every year, two friends and I make the trek to the Hall of Fame for induction weekend. A truly great four days. This year, I would certainly be voting for Roberto Alomar, and he should get in. Four others would be on my ballot as well. I ended up leaving Jack Morris off. Just couldn’t make the cut with him.

These others are fringe candidates. One is likely in, one is a maybe, and two will probably still be on the outside needing a ticket to enter.

Tim Raines (OF, Expos)

Look at these stats:

Player A: .294 AVG .385 OBP 170 HR 808 SB 966 SO
Player B: .293 AVG .385 OBP 149 HR 938 SB 1,730 SO

Player A is Raines, Player B is Lou Brock.

He was a SABR guy before it was cool. Raines was an on-base machine during his 23 years in the majors. He finished in the top-10 seven times in that category, recorded 2,600 career hits, and was a seven-time All Star. Raines was the epitome of the leadoff spot in the batting order. He worked the count, recorded walks, and stole bases, finishing fifth all-time in that category.

Bert Blyleven (P, Twins)

Blyleven spent 22 years in the majors and recorded 287 wins. He has the highest win total of any pitcher not in the Hall, ranking 27th all time. He was a two-time All-Star and regularly appeared in the league’s top-10 in innings pitched (11 times), strikeouts (15 times), ERA (10 times), and wins (six times).

As a pitcher, he is comparable, statistically, to Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Steve Carlton, Gaylord Perry, and Fergie Jenkins. Not to mention, Blyleven recorded 3,701 strikeouts, good for fifth all-time.

Lee Smith (RP, Cubs)

This is mainly based on my argument against Bruce Sutter. Sutter, in theory, revolutionized the game through his use of the split-fingered fastball. But he only recorded 300 total career saves. Now, this is a solid total. But Lee Smith was the career leader in saves for years.

Smith was a seven-time All Star and finished in the top-10 in saves on 14 occasions, finishing first four times. He was a three-time NL Rolaids Fireman of the year, and his 478 saves are second only to Trevor Hoffman. The closer is a recent phenomenon, and we need to take the time to account for those who truly revolutionized the position.

Jeff Bagwell (1B, Astros)

Look, I think the PED issue is something that baseball both needs to address and deal with in some manner. Players that we have knowingly linked to steroids should not be allowed in because there is definable proof. Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, and likely Roger Clemens would never be on my ballot. But there is still the idea that this should not be a witch hunt and we cannot hold people out on speculation alone.

Many THINK Bagwell did them, but no one has come forward with any evidence to make the point fact. Until then, his 449 home runs, .297 average, and 1529 RBI should put him in the door. Bagwell was an MVP and Rookie of the Year to go with a Gold Glove winner and four-time All-Star. If you cannot show me a test that he failed or some legitimate apologies for that fact, Bagwell is in with me.

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2011 Fantasy Baseball: Catcher Rankings

I have not actually done full-on rankings in a couple years on the blog. This year, I decided to take the challenge. Why not add some fun to my life and debate to the comments section? We have to start slow and Catchers seem to be a good way to do that. These are not final yet; I reserve the right to update them as we move towards the Spring and more jobs are finalized.

Know that the way I look at a player may not be how you do. My system does not place much weight on average. If a player is not killing me (i.e., Mark Reynolds hitting below .200 qualifies as killing you), there seems to be little need for me to avoid them or draft them because they hit .300. It comes to me as more of a tiebreaker. With catchers, I do not weight runs heavily. I want this position to hit some home runs, drive in runs, and hit decently. In other words, it is not where I look to win a league. Very rarely will I reach to draft the guys at the top of this board.

The position itself is deeper than you might expect. Outside of this top 15 look there are several solid sleepers that we will discuss at the end of the post. It will allow you to wait a bit longer and not look to grab a catcher too early in your drafts.

Here is how I see it:

The ranks in green are where each player ranked amongs the others at his position in 2010 in the five key categories. In blue is where I would put them heading in to 2011.

Some thoughts…

  • As you can see, Mauer’s average does not play highly into my ranks. His power numbers fell off dramatically in 2010 and I do not see him as being a 20+ home run hitter. Mauer’s game is solid, but it is not enough to put him at the top for me. In my opinion you could easily flip flop Martinez and McCann at the top. Both produced extraordinary power numbers. McCann adds a few steals while V-Mart hits .300. I do not expect my catchers to steal bases, that is a bonus. Thus, edge in my book to V-Mart.
  • The issue with Posada is injuries. He spent more time on the DL than he did on the field last year. With Martin and Jesus Montero ready to step in behind the plate, Posada will spend most of his time at DH. That will help his ailing shoulder injury that has caused the problems in back-to-back years. He will retain eligibility at catcher for the year still.
  • I have a good feeling on Wieters this season. I know he had the hype last year, but he will come into 2011 underrated as a result of the poor showing. He hit .289 in July and .282 in September, so he can certainly perform. He has power and is going to be in a very different lineup than what was there last season. Expect him to surprise.
  • Russell Martin is a player I simply have no idea on. He has been hurt regularly, lost the speed that once made him special as a catcher, and is heading to one of the hardest places to play if you do not come out of the gate hard. In fact, his average, steals, and home runs have dropped every year since 2007. Add to that, he will be pushed for the job by a rookie. In AL-only leagues, I like him more than mixed leagues. Mixed formats give too many other options.
  • As much as I like Miguel Olivo and feel that he can produce, I still think that J.P. Arencibia ends up getting more time behind the plate than not. He has nothing left to prove at the minor league level and with the new management in place is likely to be given a chance to win the job in the spring.
  • Best Value Selections—Buck, Soto, and Suzuki along with Wieters. Each of these four is going to be taken more towards the middle rounds of the draft, a good place to grab your catcher. None will hurt your team and all will provide value in multiple categories as you look through the season. Not one should hit below .260 and all will be in line for at least 15 home runs and 70 RBI. Steady production should not be frowned upon.
  • Sleeper Selections—Carlos Santana, Arencibia, Rod Barajas. Barajas just missed my top 15. Injuries hurt him last season, and I do not think he is likely to replicate the rate at which he was hitting home runs. Still, he could be another player that goes .250/15/70. Santana was ready to explode on the scene before a horrific knee injury ended his season. The Indians expect him to be ready for the Spring and he should be set to take the starting job.
  • Situation to Avoid—Boston. Jason Varitek is not an everyday catcher anymore. He is good in a part-time role, but the more he plays, the more he wears down. Jared Saltalamacchia has not been healthy a full season yet and managed to get hurt after a week in Boston. Too many risk factors. A healthy Mark Wagner may still come in and steal this job full time. A trade could also still happen. Nothing is final here.
  • Situation to Watch—Pittsburgh. You might be surprised to know that Ryan Doumit still hit 13 home runs last season and drove in 45. The Pirates have added Chris Snyder who, though hitting .207, had 15 home runs and 48 RBI of his own. Not bad potential production. The concern will be the time share and/or who gets the starting job. Could be a nice late-round selection for someone to steal or waiver wire grab for the first injury that happens.
  • Biggest Risk—Posada. Outside of him, I would be wary of people overdrafting Buster Posey. He had a great year and I reflected that in my rankings. I also think it will take a selection inside of the top-60 to really get him. I just am not ready to spend that on a second-year player. Just might be that it is an opinion shared by very few.

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Fantasy Baseball: Priming for 2011—Late Round Drafting

Anyone can grab a winner in the early rounds; it takes a smart owner to get it done in the final portions of the draft.

Oftentimes these are players that are coming off bad years or are young players that are looking to make a name for themselves. The list below has a few of both.

Some of this article will appear in the draft guide, so below is just a taste of some of the names that you will see there.


Jair Jurrjens, Braves

To think that Jurrjens was healthy all season is to fool yourself. After missing all of May and making just one start in June, he was destined for basically a lost season.

Still, there were good signs in July and August. In those two months, he went a combined 5-1 with an ERA in the high 3.00s. Granted, Jurrjens fell apart in September, but he will now get a full offseason to get himself healthy and ready to go in the spring.

This is a pitcher that was 14-10 in 2009 with a 1.21 WHIP and 2.60 ERA. We know he has the ability to pitch and pitch well. Because of the time he missed and the numbers overall, owners may miss him on draft boards, and he could be a solid late-round grab.


Chone Figgins, Mariners

Figgins certainly still has buzz about him, but he was certainly an overall disappointment given the expectations heading into 2010. Through the first half, he hit just .235. After the All-Star break, though, things started to change. Figgins did only have one home run and 35 RBI this season, but he did steal 42 bases and hit .286 after the break. For the full year, he hit .276 with runners in scoring position.

In seasons where he has played more than 150 games, this was the first time he has scored fewer than 93 runs.


Brandon Allen, Diamondbacks

Unless a trade is in the works or a signing is afoot, Allen is the only first baseman on the Arizona roster heading in to 2011. Though Arizona acquired Juan Miranda, Allen will likely still get the inside track. If not, Arizona has already looked at him in left field as well, a position that has been somewhat of a revolving door for the team.

Allen had 25 home runs in 104 games at Triple-A last season. This followed a 2009 campaign where he had 20 home runs for three different teams over two levels before promotion to Arizona. Net of it is that he can hit. Arizona simply needs to give him the necessary plate appearances to prove that out. That should come in 2011.


Scott Sizemore, Tigers

His first shot with the Tigers last year did not exactly go as planned. Sizemore simply could not get it done at the plate. The .224 average is a far cry from what he had been hitting in each level of the minor leagues. Still, after being sent down, Sizemore rebounded to hit .298 with nine home runs in 299 at-bats. In 2009, he had 17 home runs between Double-A and Triple-A to go with a .308 mark.

Sizemore will be given every chance to win the job again out of spring, and the Tigers do not have many other options that would be better at filling the spot in the lineup.


Freddie Freeman, Braves

While Atlanta acquired Derrek Lee late last season to man first base, he was nothing more than a short-term fix. The job this year will likely belong to Freeman. Though he suffered a thumb injury during Fall League that cut his time in Arizona short, the prospect had 18 home runs and 87 RBI with a .319 average during 124 Triple-A games this year.

Freeman is the long-term answer Atlanta is looking for, and it is all set to begin this season. He has some pop and will produce in several key categories. He’s a late-round grab as a corner infielder or backup first baseman for certain.


Who are some of the other names? You’ll have to download the draft guide to find out!

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Fantasy Baseball: Looking Back at Pitchers

Those of you that are regular readers of this space know my opinion on drafting pitchers early: With so many players that impact your team on a daily basis, it is hard for me to draft ones that only take the ball once every five days.

On top of that, it seems that we regularly see too many injuries or bad seasons to take the risk in these early selections. Factor in that controlling for wins is almost impossible—just ask Felix Hernandez—and we often are selecting pitchers that control only four of the five categories in their own section of the world.

This season was no exception.

There were typical success stories that marked the landscape, but there were just as many problems for fantasy owners that could have impacted them over a long season. It is not always the draft pick that you make, but the players that you pass up in exchange that can compound an issue.

Look at the case of Tim Lincecum.

Lincecum was considered by many to be a first-round selection this season and had an ADP in ESPN leagues of 8.7. Drafting him, you received 231 strikeouts, 16 wins, and a 3.41 ERA with a 1.27 WHIP. Those numbers seem strong overall.

What if you were told that, 32 picks later, you would have received three more wins, a lower ERA, a lower WHIP, and only six fewer strikeouts if you drafted Jon Lester?

If you had waited 100 picks, you would have lost 19 strikeouts and three wins, but picked up a half a run in ERA and improved your WHIP by selecting Clayton Kershaw.

Another 35 picks after you could have gotten more strikeouts, a better ERA, and a better WHIP despite three less wins by taking Jered Weaver.

What’s the point?

Even the most sure things at the beginning of the season can turn out to look less than favorable and provide opportunity for late picks to shine.

There were 15 pitchers in 2010 that struck out more than 200 batters. Of those 15, seven were selected after the 90th pick, making them available in 12-team leagues after Round 7. If you were concerned with trying to draft wins, would you necessarily have thought that, of the top 25 in total wins, 11 of them would have gone in the final five rounds?

That’s right: There were 24 pitchers with at least 15 wins and 10 did not crack the top 200 in ADP. That is the exact reason why drafting wins is such a crap shoot from year to year.

The other two categories saw just as many surprising names. ERA is one piece to the puzzle. There were 15 pitchers that had at least 25 starts and posted an ERA under 3.00. Jered Weaver was just outside that mark at 3.01 on the year. Nine of those pitchers were picked after the 110th selection in the draft, with eight going later than 150th and four going later than 200th.

WHIP produces the same story: Baseball produced 15 pitchers with a WHIP of 1.15 or below and eight were selected after pick 140, with five going after pick 200.

This year, we saw fewer disappointments than in the past with regard to the pitchers that were selected early on. The biggest issues were probably with Josh Beckett, Zack Greinke, and Javier Vazquez. All of these pitchers were selected inside the top 75. That does not necessarily make them an anchor, a top-60 player who went in the first five rounds, but it’s certainly close. Dan Haren is a fringe name that could find his way on to this list as well. Despite their draft position, not one of these players ranked in the top 25 of pitchers overall in ESPN rankings.

While I’ll admit to having been off in my comparison to Daisuke Matsuzaka, Vazquez was a name who may have disappointed based on his draft position, as referenced in this post.

The question continues to come up whether players like Roy Halladay are worth drafting in the first round next year. Halladay has been utterly dominant this season and was selected at the end of the first round or early in the second this past season. If selected there again, the pressure on owners will be immense for him to duplicate that type of performance. He has had one of the best seasons for a pitcher in recent memory, and expecting the same may leave owners disappointed.

The volume of turnover among the top-tier pitchers is much greater than in other positions. Halladay may seem safe now, but one injury could cost you not just your ace pitcher but your first-round selection. All the factors above suggest passing on a pitcher even of this caliber.

The greater concern would be pitchers that will be overdrafted as a result of stellar performances this season, as is often times the case. One name that springs to mind is Mat Latos.

Latos came out of nowhere to dominate with the Padres this season to post a 2.92 ERA and 1.08 WHIP, along with 189 strikeouts in 184 innings of work. He threw just 50 major league innings in 2009.

Trevor Cahill and Tim Hudson do not have the same innings changes, but they did produce similarly surprising statistics that will give them a major jump in ADP this season over last. Weaver will see the same type of move.

These are just a few names where fantasy owners will want to be more careful, as each year we see an overachiever fall off just as dramatically. Look at how excited everyone was over David Price at the end of 2008 and what happened to him over the bulk of 2009.

Overall, there was greater stability in the position this season, but it is the first time in several years that a major injury has not taken down a top-tier ace for the bulk of the season. We continued to see pitchers pile up solid statistics seemingly out of nowhere. The key for fantasy owners will be knowing where to look for these same situations in 2011 when they decide not to make the move for an ace early.

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Fantasy Baseball: Friday News and Notes

Last Night Rewind

  • The limited slate of games last night did yield some solid performances from the Giants, who took over first place last night. Jonathan Sanchez struck out 12 in seven innings of work yesterday while allowing only one run on four hits. Better still, after walking seven in his last outing he did not walk a batter in last night’s game.
  • Rodrigo Lopez has been up and down over the better part of the season, but he has looked solid in September. In his three starts, he has surrendered six runs in 19.1 innings of work and given up only just one home run. Lopez worked seven innings last night in getting the win over the Reds. He is a matchup play, but one that may be intriguing in the final weeks.
  • In what has to be considered an interesting move at best, Chris Young will get the start for the Padres this weekend. Young will return from the DL after having surgery on his shoulder in August of last year. Young pitched well in his rehab outing last weekend, and the Padres are looking for any shot in the arm that they can get right now.
  • Delmon Young had himself a strong game last night, recording three hits in five at-bats, while adding a home run and a couple RBI. His three hits helped raise his average up over .300 and the home run was his 18th of the year. This is also a guy that now has more than 100 RBI on the season. Not bad for a guys with an ADP over 200!
  • Nyjer Morgan, unfortunately, had his suspension reduced to just one eight-game set. Morgan showed consistent immaturity in gaining those suspensions, and it is somewhat unfortunate that they made the move. Fantasy owners will likely lose him for the first part of the finals, and probably already have better and more reliable options available. More just an FYI.

Friday Notes

  • A.J. Burnett is 2-2 against Baltimore this season, and the 2.48 ERA is one of his better numbers against any team this season. He took the loss against them the last time out, giving up four runs in seven innings. Brian Roberts has the best numbers against him, posting a .326 average. Only Adam Jones at .242 comes across as a player that you would normally start that could be avoided.
  • The Yankees have killed Kevin Millwood this season. Millwood has gone 0-2 in three starts with a 7.56 ERA against them. In 16.2 innings against them, he has given up 25 hits and 14 runs, along with five home runs in those outings. Jorge Posada’s 5-for-21 is the only number to leave behind.
  • The Blue Jays have a .312 average against John Lackey this season, and Lackey has ended up with a 7.71 ERA as a result. Adam Lind and Fred Lewis have put up the best numbers, with both hitting better than .450. Aaron Hill is only 3-for-21 and Vernon Wells is just 6-for-29.
  • If there is a team that you want to avoid Felix Hernandez against, it would be the Rangers. Hernandez is 0-3 in four starts against them, putting up a 6.38, ERA and allowing four home runs in 24 innings of work. Ian Kinsler and Josh Hamilton are both below .200 against Hernandez, but the rest of the lineup has solid numbers.
  • Jose Lopez is 10-for-18 against C.J. Wilson, but he has the best numbers against the Texas starter. Chone Figgins is 5-for-19, while Ichiro Suzuki is only 6-for-23. Wilson, after winning four straight starts, has given up 10 runs in his last 8.1 innings of work.
  • Randy Wolf has solid numbers against the bulk of the Giants lineup. Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe have the best numbers against him and both are only hitting .273. There is no single player on the Giants with an average north of that.
  • Hiroki Kuroda is 0-1 in three starts against the Rockies, posting an ERA over 6.00 in those starts. Troy Tulowitzki is just 3-for-16 while Todd Helton is only 1-for-10 against him. The rest of Kuroda’s numbers thoguh are ugly against them. Keep him down if you can.
  • While Wandy Rodriguez has struggled this season against the Reds, giving up eight runs in 10.1 innings against them, he has been lights out at home. He has posted a 2.71 ERA at home with allowing batters to hit just .210 against him. Jay Bruce is only 1-for-17 against him, and Brandon Phillips checks in at .219 against him. The rest of the lineup is solid.
  • Weird to think that Kyle Davies may be a good option tonight. Davies is 2-0 this month, giving up two runs in 12 innings of work. Asdrubal Cabrera has decent numbers, going 5-for-15 against him, but Travis Hafner is 1-for-9, and Shin-Soo Choo is only 2-for-13. In a tight position, look to Davies. He has upside here.
  • Spot Start: Davies, Bumgarner, Kennedy

Weekend Notes

  • Riding the Jeremy Guthrie train has been fun, but he has been killed by the Yankees this season. In two starts, he has given up 12 hits and 10 runs in 11.2 innings pitched. While going 6-2 over his last eight starts is good, the numbers here do not add up. Start your Yankees and avoid him here. Avoid the 1-for-18 of Mark Teixeira, but Nick Swisher is a .542 hitter against him.
  • Vernon Wells has five home runs in 35 at-bats against Josh Beckett, and Aaron Hill is hitting far better than .400 against him. Lyle Overbay and Adam Lind are both solid producers as well. Only the catching tandem of Jose Molina and John Buck should be benched.
  • Tim Hudson has pitched well against the Mets this season, going 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in his starts. In 20 innings, he has allowed only 18 hits and one home run. Carlos Beltran has hit .373 against him, but he is the only true regular hitting over .300 against Hudson. Might see Angel Pagan here, as he is 6-for-12 against Hudson.
  • Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, and Michael Bourn are all hitting better than .300 against Bronson Arroyo. Pence is the big winner, checking in at .370 in his at-bats. Arroyo finally got a win in his last start after losing three straight. He has been solid on the road, going 9-5 with a 3.89 ERA. Despite the numbers of these three, a good spot start.
  • John Danks has allowed only two earned runs in 13 innings against the Tigers this year. No great numbers for the Tigers against him either. Jhonny Peralta is at .226, while Brandon Inge is at .238. Ryan Raburn is only 3-for-16 against Danks. Look to avoid your Tigers where you can in this one.
  • Andy Pettitte will take the mound after successful rehab starts. Pettitte was pitching very well prior to the injury, and will draw the Orioles, a team he has fared well against historically. Owners looking for the pick-me-up should grab him for the start.
  • Jon Lester goes into his start against Toronto with a 6.60 ERA against them this season. When you peel back the one bad start of nine runs in two innings, the numbers are much better. Lester is 6-1 in his last seven starts and has a 3.60 ERA for the month.
  • Clayton Kershaw goes in to Sunday’s start against the Rockies with a 3-0 record against them this season. He has struck out 30 while allowing just three runs in 26 innings. Tulowitzki has struggled, hitting only .192 in 26 at-bats and even Carlos Gonzalez is only 1-for-9. Only Dexter Fowler at .353 cracks the .275 mark against the lefty starter. Avoid your Rockies where possible.
  • Spot Starts: Figueroa, Sanchez, Vargas, D. Hudson, Niemann

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Fantasy Baseball: Wednesday News and Notes

Last Night Rewind

  • Two major injury notes from yesterday. Josh Johnson looks like he could miss his next start with a back problem. Johnson was sent back to Florida for evaluation after stopping a bullpen session early. They will also look at his shoulder. Miguel Cabrera was pulled from last night’s game by the Tigers after aggravating a shoulder injury.

How about some hot hitters to consider to round up the rest of the night?

  • Owners continue to throw Mark Reynolds into their lineups everyday, but Reynolds has been a decided disappointment overall this season. His average has regressed, and he is hitting just .185 in the last two weeks with five home runs in 43 at-bats. Great numbers, but you could pick up 100 points in batting average starting Kevin Kouzmanoff, who has four home runs and the same number of RBI (12) in 46 at-bats during this stretch.
  • Those that have missed out on Austin Jackson could still make up for the runs that he scores. Logan Morrison leads baseball in runs scored over the last two weeks with 19, four more than Jackson. He has done it with a .351 average and a home run to go with six RBI. Jackson has three steals, but Morrison has him in every other category of late.
  • You will not make up for the loss of Justin Morneau, but starting Michael Cuddyer could be improved. Cuddyer has not hit to the degree that he did last season and has just one home run and 10 RBI in his last 58 at-bats to go with a .276 average. Daric Barton, on the other hand, has three home runs and a .298 average over that same stretch. Owners needing some production at first base can at least get some help.
  • There are some widely available hitters that have put up solid numbers over the last week specifically. Mike Stanton has four home runs and seven RBI in the last week and is just 35 percent owned. Ike Davis is only 23 percent owned and has three home runs and seven RBI to go with a .455 mark in his last 22 at-bats. Help in the middle infield could come from J.J. Hardy or Danny Espinosa. Hardy is hitting .300 with eight RBI in his last 20 at-bats, while Espinosa is nine for his last 18 with four home runs.


Wednesday Notes

  • J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell have ugly numbers against Matt Garza. Both have at least 22 at-bats, and neither cracks .160 against him. Look to use Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, as both hit better than .300 against him. David Ortiz is only a .250 hitter but does have three home runs in 28 at-bats. Garza is 2-1 against Boston in five starts but does have a 4.11 ERA.
  • Dan Uggla has certainly had his issues with Cole Hamels. Uggla is just 5-for-32 against him lifetime with 11 strikeouts. Hanley Ramirez has hit just .256 in 39 at-bats with 11 strikeouts as well. Hamels has been solid of late, not allowing an earned run over his last two starts, covering 15 innings of work.
  • Barry Zito has been hit hard by both Mark Reynolds and Stephen Drew. Reynolds may only be hovering near .200 this season, but he is 8-for-17 with three home runs against Zito. Drew checks in at .345 in 29 at-bats. These two have by far the best numbers against the lefty. Zito is just 2-7 on the road this season with a 5.07 ERA.
  • Chad Billingsley is 2-1 against the Padres this season, giving up only three runs in 19.1 innings of work. The numbers have not been great for the Padres overall against him. Adrian Gonzalez is just a .233 hitter in 43 at-bats. Only Miguel Tejada and Yorvit Torrealba have numbers worth starting in any format.
  • Nothing good to report for the Tigers against John Danks. Ryan Raburn is 1-for-13, while Jhonny Peralta is only 6-for-29 and Brandon Inge 4-for-18. Danks is 6-3 on the road this season and already has recorded a good win against the Tigers.
  • David Wright certainly enjoys hitting against Livan Hernandez. He has hit .308 with four home runs and 10 RBI in 39 at-bats. Carlos Beltran checks in better than .300 as well. Henry Blanco should get the start behind the plate, as he is a .407 hitter against the Washington starter. Hernandez has allowed 20 earned runs in his last 15 innings.
  • Zack Greinke is 0-3 against the Twins this season with a 10.29 ERA in those starts. That translates to 14 innings pitched but 16 earned runs allowed on 23 hits. They are hitting .365 against him this season. Only Jim Thome at .226, Orlando Hudson at 1-for-10, and Alexi Casilla at .231 stick out as major options to avoid. Look to start all Twins you normally would.
  • Gio Gonzalez is 7-3 at home this season and has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his last six starts overall. He is holding batters to a .190 mark at home this season and has been especially tough on lefties by keeping them to a .189 average so far this year. Gonzalez is finally over 80 percent owned, but there is still some room to grab him.
  • Randy Wells continues to be feast or famine, and he has been struggling lately. Wells has allowed 11 earned runs in his last 17.2 innings over three starts. He is just 3-7 at home this season with a 4.30 ERA and is 0-2 against the Astros in 2010. Start your Astros in this one and keep Wells on the bench.
  • Spot Starts: Daniel Hudson, Ivan Nova, Brian Duensing


Thursday Notes

  • Very limited slate of games, so we’re going to go with just a couple of brief notes today and add the rest for the update tomorrow. This should certainly be enough to get your lineups started and focus on any spot starts.
  • Johnny Damon, Jhonny Peralta, and Ryan Raburn need to be in your lineup against Gavin Floyd. Damon is 6-for-11, while Peralta checks in at .381 with two home runs. Even Raburn looks solid with a .400 average in 25 at-bats. Look to avoid Miguel Cabrera and Brandon Inge where possible.
  • Matt Cain is 0-2 in three starts against the Padres this year, posting a 4.34 ERA and .284 BAA in the process. The Padres have hit him very well individually. Adrian Gonzalez, Yorvit Torrealba, and David Eckstein are all checking in at better than .310 with Eckstein over .400. Scott Hairston is only 3-for-15.
  • Jon Garland is much stronger at home than not. He has posted a 7-4 record inside his own park and only a 2.68 ERA. Jose Guillen is likely to be in the lineup for the Giants. He is 9-for-19 against Garland lifetime. Cody Ross has hit well as well. Look to avoid the 3-for-19 of Edgar Renteria.
  • Spot Starts: Bud Norris, Jason Hammel

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Fantasy Baseball: Tuesday News and Notes

Ah, it’s good to be back…

Last Night Rewind

  • Keep an eye on Ryan Kalish in deeper leagues heading in to next season. Kalish has shown the ability to hit and is working on adjustments to the big-league game. He hit another grand slam last night and stole two bases, giving him three in his short stint. Kalish is likely to stick at this point heading in to 2011, and could be seen as a 20-20 player as early as next season.
  • Corey Hart finds himself on a recent tear, going eight for his last 25. In that stretch, he has knocked four home runs, including two last night. His numbers have fallen from the .288 he was hitting before the break to only .260 afterwards, but he certainly is hitting the ball well right now. At this point, it’s all about the streaks.
  • Madison Bumgarner recorded another road win last night, his fifth of the season. He has yet to win at home, but has pitched well outside of San Francisco. Of late, he has been solid. Bumgarner has worked seven innings in three of his last five starts, and has allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of five.
  • Mat Latos was scratched from his start on Monday, following a battle with the flu that kept him away from the team on Sunday. Latos lobbied to pitch, but the Padres were looking to be cautious overall with their young pitcher. Latos is expected to be fine, and is looking to get the start tonight for the Padres.
  • The loss of Josh Hamilton cannot be understated for both fantasy owners, and the Rangers. His injury did not look like much at the time, but a rib injury is what has sidelined Jacoby Ellsbury for the bulk of the season. Hamilton seems to be prone to maladies in general, and that makes him a hard selection. It looks like both David Murphy and Julio Borbon will see extra at-bats as a result of losing Hamilton.

Tuesday Notes

  • You might say that CC Sabathia has owned the Orioles this season. Sabathia is 4-0 in four starts against them this season with a 2.73 ERA. The one slight issue has been the home run. Sabathia has surrendered four in 29.2 innings. Nothing overwhelming from the Orioles, but you may see them start Nolan Reimold (he is back!) tonight, as Reimols is 6-for-14 against Sabathia liftime.
  • Jason Bartlett and B.J. Upton have struggled against Daisuke Matsuzaka. Upton is only 1-for-13, whlie Bartlett has recorded just three hits in 19 at-bats against him. Other than these two, there are no real concerns from the players you would have in your normal lineup. Matsuzaka has allowed seven runs on 12 hits, and eight walks in 11 innings against the Rays this season.
  • Justin Verlander has been dominant at home this season, posting a 9-3 record in 13 starts, while allowing batters to hit just .230 against him. Paul Konerko is only 4-for-34 against him lifetime while Mark Teahen is just 4-for-29 with 13 strikeouts. Big winner is the .333 of A.J. Pierzynski, who adds three home runs to the mix. Carlos Quentin checks in at .300 as well.
  • It is nice to see that Freddy Garcia is 2-0 against Detroit this season, but he had a setback over the week that delayed his last start. The back issue has lingered, but he anticipates being able to make his next start tonight against the Tigers. Despite the wins, he has allowed six home runs in 24.2 innings, and has an ERA over 4.00 against them in 2010.
  • While I would look to avoid Jose Lopez against Dallas Braden, Chone Figgins has shown good numbers at 8-for-19 against him. Ichiro Suzuki checks in at .294, and even Franklin Gutierrez is 4-for-9 against the Oakland pitcher. Braden has allowed only two earned runs in two starts over 16 innings against Seattle this year.
  • Clayton Kershaw is 2-0 against San Diego this season, allowing only two runs on 10 hits and four walks in 14.1 innings pitched against them. Adrian Gonzalez has ugly numbers against him, going only 3-for-22. Ryan Ludwick is not much better with only two hits in 12 at-bats. The best bet is Scott Hairston at 5-for-12 or Miguel Tejada at 4-for-9.
  • Tim Linececum is just 1-5 in his last six starts and is just 0-1 in three starts against the Diamondbacks this year. He has allowed 11 runs in 19 innings against them on 19 hits. The numbers are not exactly pretty from a team perspective, but Justin Upton has hit .321 against him lifetime. Otherwise, despite the numbers this year, leave your Diamondbacks on the bench where you can.
  • Both Ryan Braun and Craig Counsell are hitting better than .400 against Kyle Lohse. Braun is 7-for-17 while Counsell checks in at 10-for-22. Lohse has had ugly numbers in three of his last four outings and has allowed 23 earned runs in his last 16.2 innings of work.
  • Chris Volstad has had some ugly outings against the Phillies this year. He is 0-1 in three starts with a 5.63 ERA in that stretch. That translates to nine walks and 23 hits in 16 innings pitched. Only red flags for the Phillies are the 1-for-17 of Jayson Werth, and the 4-for-21 of Shane Victorino. Everyone else is good otherwise. Raul Ibanez, Carlos Ruiz, and Ryan Howard all check in at better than .400 against him.
  • Spot Starts: Figueroa, Blanton, Chacin

Wednesday Notes

  • J.D. Drew and Mike Lowell have ugly numbers against Matt Garza. Both have at least 22 at-bat,s and neither cracks .160 against him. Look to use Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez, as both hit better than .300 against him. David Ortiz is only a .250 hitter, but does have three home runs in 28 at bats. Garza is 2-1 against Boston in five starts, but does have a 4.11 ERA.
  • Dan Uggla has certainly had his issues with Cole Hamels. Uggla is just 5-for-32 against him lifetime with 11 strikeouts. Hanley Ramirez has hit just .256 in 39 at-bats with 11 strikeouts as well. Hamels has been solid of late, not allowing an earned run over his last two starts in 15 innings of work.
  • Barry Zito has been hit hard by both Mark Reynolds and Stephen Drew. Reynolds may only be hovering near .200 this season, but he is 8-for-17 with three home runs against Zito. Drew checks in at .345 in 29 at-bats. These two have by far the best numbers against the lefty. Zito is just 2-7 on the road this season with a 5.07 ERA.
  • Chad Billingsley is 2-1 against the Padres this season, giving up only three runs in 19.1 innings of work. The numbers have not been great for the Padres overall against him. Adrian Gonzalez is just a .233 hitter in 43 at-bats. Only Miguel Tejada and Yorvit Torrealba have numbers worth starting in any format.
  • Nothing good to report for the Tigers against John Danks. Ryan Raburn is 1-for-13, while Jhonny Peralta is only 6-for-29 and Brandon Inge is 4-for-18. Danks is 6-3 on the road this season and already has recorded a good win against the Tigers.
  • Spot Starts: Hudson, Wells, Duensing

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