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Fantasy Baseball Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em: Is It Time to Give Up on Tim Lincecum?

Once upon a time Tim Lincecum was one of the elite pitchers in the game…

When you say it like that it feels like ages ago, doesn’t it?  Of course, that’s far from the case.  Lincecum was one of the best pitchers in the league as recently as last season and viewed by most as a Top 5 option entering 2012.  So, when you see these types of numbers through 8 starts, you obviously have to be curious as to what is going on:

2 Wins
43.2 Innings
5.77 ERA
1.56 WHIP
48 Strikeouts (9.89 K/9)
22 Walks (4.53 BB/9)
.346 BABIP

Yes, there has been enough bad luck at play (his BABIP as well as his 60.4% strand rate) to make us think that better days are definitely ahead.  That’s definitely a fair stance to take, but we need to look at the other numbers as well.  Unfortunately, there are things that have got to be concerning.

The first one is his control.  Prior to this season his worst career BB/9 was 4.00, and that came in his rookie season of 2007.  In the four subsequent seasons he’s posted marks of:

  • 2008 – 3.33
  • 2009 – 2.72
  • 2010 – 3.22
  • 2011 – 3.57

In other words, we know he has better control then what he’s shown thus far this season.  You would have to think that, if healthy, things would rebound in this department.

The other major concern is two-fold.  Opponents are teeing off on Lincecum, with a 24.8% line drive rate (career mark is 19.3%) and, at least in part, we can point to a major drop-off in his velocity as a reason why.  Just look at his average fastball speed since making his Major League debut:

  • 2007 – 94.2
  • 2008 – 94.1
  • 2009 – 92.4
  • 2010 – 91.3
  • 2011 – 92.3
  • 2012 – 90.0

It’s obvious that we shouldn’t expect him to be averaging 94 mph, like he did over his first two years.  Whatever the reason (if he simply changed his approach), he had dialed it back and was still among the most successful starting pitchers in the league.  However, seeing the drop once again, coupled with the line drive rate, is obviously eye opening.

There is going to be speculation that he’s injured, but until there’s news from San Francisco that is just pure speculation.  Whatever the reason, Lincecum is throwing his fastball softer (though still throwing it 51.9% of the time) and opponents are ripping it.

Would I think that he’s going to get things turned around?  I would, but there obviously have to be a few caveats like if he’s healthy and if he can get his velocity back up.

That said, I’d be willing to roll the dice on him if an owner in your league has grown frustrated and is willing to part with him on the cheap.  If I had to pay a premium for the pitcher he was from 2007-2011, or at least that upside, then I’m not buying.  There is too much risk and too many things that need to change for him to get back to that pitcher.

If I can get him at the price/risk his 2012 numbers provide, then I’m willing to roll the dice.  Unfortunately, based on what we’ve seen thus far, I’m not so comfortable that he’s going to return to the pitcher that he was.

What are your thoughts on Lincecum?  Would you be willing to take the chance on him?  What would you be willing to give up to acquire him?

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Fantasy Baseball Fabulous Foursome: Why You Should Buy Hosmer, Wainwright & More

The “Fabulous Foursome” is a new column here at Rotoprofessor that we are going to run once a week focusing on four players fantasy owners should be looking to acquire for various reasons (for example, a new closer, prospect on the verge of a recall, buy-low candidates, etc.). 

Let’s take a look at who you should be targeting this week:

1) Eric HosmerKansas City RoyalsFirst Baseman
He was impressive in his rookie season (.293, 19 HR, 78 RBI, 66 R, 11 SB in 523 AB).  That’s what makes his early season struggles so surprising.  Would anyone have expected him to open the year hitting a measly .174 over his first 144 AB?

Yes, he’s added 5 HR, 18 RBI and 16 R, but it’s not hard to imagine owners in your league not being willing to overlook the pathetic average that is staring them in the face.  You know some people will equate this to a sophomore slump, which could provide you with an opportunity to cash in.

Granted, Hosmer is not hitting the ball with as much authority as he did in 2011 (15.2 percent vs. 18.7 percent), which is a little bit concerning.  However, that drop-off should not equate to a complete collapse in production.  He has the ability to hit for a much higher average and, sooner or later, things would indicate that he’s going to get there:

  • He is continuing to make great contact, with an 11.5 percent strikeout rate
  • When he puts the ball in play, he has had awful luck with a .165 BABIP (the worst number among players with at least 100 plate appearances)

Does anyone really think that he’s going to continue to be this bad?  It’s hard to imagine.  The Royals have begun moving him around the lineup a little bit in order to get him going, but you know once he starts to hit he’ll settle right back into the middle.

Could the Royals opt to send the 22-year old back to Triple-A to try and snap out of this struggle?  It’s possible, but don’t let that deter you.  If other people are talking about that, his value is only going to fall a little bit more.  And, the fact is, a stop in the minors could easily help him get things back on track.

Now is the perfect time to try and get him at a discount from another owner.  The luck is going to turn around and you may not get a better opportunity to acquire him.  Remember, he is the same player who hit .293 in 2011 and .312 for his minor league career.  Stay patient.


2) Jerry SandsLos Angeles DodgersOutfielder/First Baseman

Even before the Dodgers lost Matt Kemp to the 15-day disabled list, one could argue that they needed offensive help at first base (in place of James Loney) or in the outfield (in place of Bobby Abreu/Tony Gwynn Jr. who are seeing time due to Juan Rivera being on the DL). 

So, the fact that they are giving Sands an opportunity should not surprise anyone.  Also, if he hits during this current audition, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he sticks around in the everyday lineup.

Over Sands’ minor league career (1,421 AB) he’s hit .284 with 100 HR and 300 RBI.  The power has really been burgeoning in recent years:

  • 35 HR in 2010 (between Single & Double-A)
  • 33 HR in 2011 (between Triple-A & the Majors)

The fact that he’s shown power at every level helps to stop the complaint that he’s a product of the Pacific Coast League (he has 36 HR in 506 AB at Triple-A).  The fact is, Sands showed his power potential when he got a shot to play with the Dodgers in 2011.  Yes, he had just 4 HR, but he also added 15 doubles in 198 AB.

He may strikeout a decent amount (20.5 percent over his minor league career), but it shouldn’t be a crippling number.  Just assume that he’s going to hit in the .260ish range and you shouldn’t be disappointed.

Even with that concern, how often can you find a player with his type of power potential on the waiver wire in the middle of May?  The Dodgers certainly didn’t call him up to sit on the bench, so look for him to be in the lineup regularly until Kemp returns.  If he hits, he’s going to be there much longer than that.  Now is the perfect time to try and cash in.

3) Adam WainwrightSt. Louis CardinalsStarting Pitcher

Wainwright has struggled after missing the entire 2011 season.  To an extent it’s not surprising, though I think we all were willing to stomach a few bumps.  Is anyone willing to deal with a 5.77 ERA and 1.53 WHIP?  Probably not, though you should because there are plenty of reasons to do so.

First off, most pitchers struggle with control in their first year back.  For Wainwright his “struggles” have been a 3.30 BB/9 (and the first time he walked more than two in a game was in his start on 5/12).  Nothing not to like there.

Next, you have to love the fact that he’s still generating groundballs.  In fact, his current 55.6% groundball rate is a career high.

He’s also striking batters out at a career best rate, with an 8.24 K/9.  That’s right where he was prior to the injury.

So, with these factors working in his favor, how are his numbers so bad?  It’s just bad luck.  Look at these three key numbers:

  • .341 BABIP
  • 63.6% strand rate
  • 21.9% HR/FB

It’s a near lock that he improves on all three and, with the other numbers working in his favor, there should be plenty of optimism.  He was awful in his last few outings and now may be the best chance you have to capitalize on your league mates frustrations.  See if you can get him now, as there should be significantly better days ahead.

4) Frank FranciscoNew York MetsRelief Pitcher


Really?  Considering his struggles and the instability at the position, is he really a player you want to try and acquire?

Actually, the answer is yes.

Mets manager Terry Collins has come out and said that he wants to keep Francisco in the closer’s role, because he doesn’t want to disrupt the rest of the bullpen.  Obviously, if he blows his next save in spectacular fashion that could change, but for now his job is safe.

However, does your league mate believe Francisco is on the verge of coughing up the job?  That could lead to him giving him up at a discount, just so he gets something for him before his value becomes nil.  If his trade value is down and you are in need of saves, now is the perfect time to strike.

I am not about to say that Francisco is going to stay in the job all year long.  At this point, that would actually surprise me.  However, he is a closer now and the indication is that he is going to remain there.  That gives him value, especially if you can get him at a discount.

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Fantasy Baseball 2B Rankings (As of 5/19/12): Kipnis Rising & More

Unlike some other positions around the league, second base has not been ravaged by injuries.  Sure, you have two well-known options on the DL, but at this point in their careers can they really be counted on? That means, despite some struggles, we have the full slate of stars to chose from.  Let’s take a look at how things currently rank:

  1. Robinson Cano – New York Yankees
  2. Dustin Pedroia – Boston Red Sox
  3. Ian Kinsler – Texas Rangers
  4. Dan Uggla – Atlanta Braves
  5. Ben Zobrist – Tampa Bay Rays
  6. Jason Kipnis – Cleveland Indians
  7. Brandon Phillips – Cincinnati Reds
  8. Rickie Weeks – Milwaukee Brewers
  9. Kelly Johnson – Toronto Blue Jays
  10. Howie Kendrick – Los Angeles Angels
  11. Jemile Weeks – Oakland Athletics
  12. Jose Altuve – Houston Astros
  13. Daniel Murphy – New York Mets
  14. Omar Infante – Florida Marlins
  15. Mike Aviles – Boston Red Sox
  16. Dustin Ackley – Seattle Mariners
  17. Aaron Hill – Arizona Diamondbacks
  18. Neil Walker – Pittsburgh Pirates
  19. Danny Espinosa – Washington Nationals
  20. Marco Scutaro – Colorado Rockies

Currently on the DL – Chase Utley, Brian Roberts


  • Robinson Cano hasn’t performed as expected.  It’s a statement I don’t think anyone would argue.  That said, we all know what he’s capable of and he’s already started to turn things around.  The numbers should be there by year’s end and I can’t move him out of the top spot.
  • I was extremely high on Jason Kipnis prior to the season and thus far he’s making myself and all the others who grabbed him look like geniuses.  In his first 157 AB of the year he is hitting .268 with 6 HR, 23 RBI, 26 R and 6 SB while settling into the second spot of the order.  The only thing that you can point to for a possible regression is his strikeout rate (15.3%), but the rest of the numbers are for real (.288 BABIP, 13.3% HR/FB).  In other words, it’s become clear that he’s one of the best options in the league at the position.  If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’ll be in the Top 5 the next time these rankings are released.
  • I know Howie Kendrick has shown some power early on (4 HR in 139 AB), but he continues to simply drive the ball into the ground way too much.  Thus far he’s carrying a 56.9% groundball rate, up from last year’s 51.6% (a career low).  He’s just never going to be a big source of power with that type of number, so keep that in mind.  It would seem like 15-18 HR would be his ceiling, and I wouldn’t anticipate even that many (despite his 18 HR last season).
  • Jose Altuve was an option that we discussed as a sleeper prior to the season.  Thus far he’s making us look like geniuses, isn’t he?  Over his first 35 games he’s hitting .315 with 2 HR, 13 RBI, 22 R and 9 SB.  However, before we thrust him too far up the rankings, keep in mind that he’s not going to hit for much power and is currently benefitting from a .355 BABIP.  Those are two red flags, both of which cap his potential value moving forward.
  • Don’t buy into the power surge for Omar Infante thus far.  His career HR/FB is 5.2%, though this season he’s at 12.0%.  Can he be breaking out?  Maybe, but until we see him do it for a little bit longer you will want to temper expectations.

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Fantasy Baseball 2012 Rankings (AL-Only): Top 12 Third Basemen

Third base is generally considered a weak position, but in AL-only formats, it doesn’t look so bad. 

While he may not be an ideal option, would only complain about a potential 20-plus HR hitter in Edwin Encarnacion? 

What about a potential 30-plus SB option like Chone Figgins? While there may be good options (especially once Miguel Cabrera gains eligibility), that doesn’t mean there aren’t some options that are better than others. 

Let’s take a look at how things currently look:

  1. Jose Bautista: Toronto Blue Jays
  2. Evan Longoria: Tampa Bay Rays
  3. Adrian Beltre: Texas Rangers
  4. Brett Lawrie: Toronto Blue Jays
  5. Kevin Youkilis: Boston Red Sox
  6. Michael Young: Texas Rangers
  7. Alex Rodriguez: New York Yankees
  8. Mark Reynolds: Baltimore Orioles
  9. Mike Moustakas: Kansas City Chiefs
  10. Edwin Encarnacion: Toronto Blue Jays
  11. Chone Figgins: Seattle Mariners
  12. Sean Rodriguez: Tampa Bay Rays


  • Both Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez have proven how talented they are, but both carry significant injury risks at this point in their careers. They are high risk, high reward, but could prove well worth it. I’d prefer to take the gamble on Youkilis, myself, since the Yankees will give Rodriguez significantly more time off throughout the season. In other words, consider Eduardo Nunez could ultimately prove to be a viable sleeper.
  • Is there any doubt that Brett Lawrie is the future of the position? However, while everyone may want to write off Mike Moustakas given his slow start to his Major League career, he may not actually be too far behind. I’ve given my projection of him for 2012 (click here to view), so make sure to check that out. The bottom line is that Moustakas has a history of starting slowly at a level before figuring it out. In September ’11, he hit .352 with 4 HR and 12 RBI. Yes, there was some luck, but it could easily be the start of things to come.
  • Now that it appears Chone Figgins will be playing every day and hitting leadoff, he has suddenly re-entrenched himself as a viable fantasy sleeper. Remember, he posted a pathetic .215 BABIP last season. He also had stolen at least 40 bases five times in six seasons from 2005-2010 (and at least 30 every year from 2004-2010). He simply needs some improved luck and he should be a viable option in all formats.
  • Evan Longoria struggled in 2011, hitting .244 with 31 HR, 99 RBI and 78 R. However, does that mean that he no longer should be viewed as one of the elite players in the game and a potential first-round pick? Absolutely not, which I discussed here. The fact is that he suffered from a .239 BABIP after never posting a mark below .309. With an improved average will come more runs scored. Considering he already had the power and RBI, there’s no reason to think that he won’t rebound.

Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings:

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Andy Pettitte: How Does Lefty’s Return Impact Rest of Yankees Pitching Staff?

Yesterday brought on some rather surprising news as the Yankees signed Andy Pettitte to a minor league contract. They already had six starting pitchers for five rotation spots, which had brought on questions as to who was going to be in and who was going to be out. 

The questions just got much more plentiful.

Obviously there is no guarantee that Pettitte can produce. He will turn 40 years old in June and did not pitch in 2011. Is that a pitcher that you want to bet on? As it was, he had posted an ERA above 4.00 and a WHIP above 1.38 in four of the final five seasons of his career. Sure, he was solid in 2010 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 129.0 innings, but he also enjoyed a 77.3 percent strand rate.

Could he produce those types of numbers again? It’s possible, but I wouldn’t invest too highly on him and expect it a given. He’s going to have to face the Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays on a regular basis.  Those are not going to be easy matchups, and there’s a good chance that he struggles.

Maybe the Yankees are bringing him back for his leadership. Maybe they want to expose their young pitchers like Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos to Pettitte as he prepares for the season in the minor leagues. Maybe they want Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova to learn from him.

Whatever their reasoning is, don’t let that skew your thoughts on drafting him for your fantasy team. He’s a huge gamble and shouldn’t be considered anything more than a late-round flier.

The more interesting question is who Pettitte will replace in the Yankees rotation. It would be shocking to see him working out of the bullpen (more shocking than his signing), and you have to think the Yankees are going to give him a shot in the rotation sooner rather than later. As it is, the Yankees were sporting the following options:

1. CC Sabathia
2. Hiroki Kuroda
3. Michael Pineda
4. Ivan Nova
5. Phil Hughes
6. Freddy Garcia

At this point you would have to expect the last two pitchers to be working out of the bullpen. Hughes has done so in the past and excelled in the role. Let us not forget his 3.03 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 10.05 K/9 in 86.0 IP in 2009 (he did make seven starts that year). 

You would think it would make sense for the Yankees to start prepping him to move back to that role now, wouldn’t you? Maybe you keep Hughes stretched out a little longer, just in case Pettitte completely fails, but long-term you would think his ticket has been punched.

How much better would the bullpen look with Hughes joining David Robertson (once healthy) and Rafael Soriano in setting up for Mariano Rivera. That foursome would have the potential to be the best group in baseball.

As for the other pitcher to lose out, Garcia would make the most sense. He could work as a swingman, making spot starts when needed and operating as a long man out of the bullpen.

However, could the Yankees ultimately decide to send Nova to the minor leagues? While you would think that Nova did enough in 2011 to entrench himself in the rotation, he does have options left. That opens the door for the possible move, especially if Garcia is pitching exceptionally well.

I was never big supporter of Nova, thanks to a mediocre K/9, but I wouldn’t completely write him off in deeper formats even if he is demoted to Triple-A. Sooner or later he’s going to be pitching for the Yankees and, with their offense behind him, he’s going to have value.

The bottom line is that the Yankees are now a better team than they were on Thursday. There’s no arguing that fact, but that doesn’t mean the bottom of their rotation is going to hold value. Outside of the top three options, the other four guys all have questions.

Can Nova end up at Triple-A?

Could Hughes and Garcia end up in the bullpen?

Will Pettitte even produce enough to justify a rotation spot?

They all could have value, but they also all could fall completely flat. Consider them in deeper formats, but the situation just seems to get cloudier and cloudier at this point. It’s a situation I’d prefer watching from a distance.


Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings:

First Basemen

Second Basemen

Third Basemen


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Fantasy Baseball 2012 Projection: Will Hanley Ramirez Prove Worthy in ’12?

There was a time when Hanley Ramirez was among the elite players in the game and, if he lasted past the third or fourth selection, it was a shocking development.

But after a 2011 filled with injuries and controversy, he suddenly looks like a potential second round bargain. There’s no arguing that he’s a highly risky selection, but the reward is quite hefty as well.

So now the question facing fantasy owners is what to expect from him in 2012. Is he going to rebound or should we bypass him in the second round, opting for a safer selection? Before we answer that question we need to look at the numbers he actually produced last season:

338 At Bats
.243 Batting Average (82 Hits)
10 Home Runs
45 RBI
55 Runs
20 Stolen Bases
.333 On Base Percentage
.379 Slugging Percentage
.275 BABIP

There were countless issues, but it would be a significant mistake to harp on the details. It was a down season and there isn’t going to be one simple explanation for why the poor performance. You can point to the injury, a lack of effort, or a number of other issues.

Some will want to say that we should simply expect those things to continue. Others will say that Hanley’s move to third base will cause controversy, something that will lead to a repeat of last season’s effort deficit and overall struggles. 

It’s impossible to know how the position switch will influence him for sure, but adding 3B eligibility will obviously add to his fantasy appeal.  We all know that the position is generally the weakest in the game, so adding another potential stud is certainly not going to hurt anything.

You also have to look at the additions of both Ozzie Guillen and Jose Reyes. I know Reyes spurred the position change, but he also helps to significantly upgrade a lineup that now should look like this:

  • Jose Reyes
  • Emilio Bonifacio
  • Hanley Ramirez
  • Mike Stanton
  • Gaby Sanchez
  • Logan Morrison

How can you not like someone hitting in the middle of that lineup? It should provide both opportunities to drive in and score a ton of runs, assuming his bat comes back to him.

The one thing we never have to worry about with Ramirez is the ability to steal a base. There’s always the concern that when someone moves lower in the order that they aren’t going to get as many opportunities to run. Last season Ramirez stole 20 bases, 16 of which came with him hitting either third or fourth. He may not be the 50 SB threat he was earlier in his career, but he’s stolen at least 27 bases every year he’s reached the 500 AB plateau (2011 was the first time he didn’t).

Last season there were two 3B to steal at least 15 bases, Eduardo Nunez and Ryan Roberts. Right away, Ramirez gives any owner who gets him an advantage on that part of the stat sheet.

The power, however, has become a major concern. While we don’t know how the new ballpark will play, we have seen a disturbing shift in his groundball rate in recent years.  From 2006-2009 his high was at 45.8%, but also posted years of 40.1% and 38.6%. That meant more line drives and more fly balls, which obviously helped to lead to more home runs.

Over the past two seasons he’s posted groundball rates of 51.0% and 50.9%. If it was just in 2011 we could probably come up with a few excuses to help explain the problem. However, with Ramirez’ ground ball issues stretching back to 2010, there’s no way to deny that there is an issue here. Unless he can reverse that trend, his power is going to take a serious hit. Seeing him exceed 18-22 HR may be a stretch.

Obviously if he adds 25 SB no one will care. Just keep in mind that we are not talking about a 30/30 threat, but more of a 15/25 type player.

You put it all together and you get the following projection:

.292 (146-500), 18 HR, 95 RBI, 85 R, 30 SB, .325 BABIP, .368 OBP, .478 SLG

I don’t think anyone would complain about a player posting that type of line, especially since you could argue that it’s more of a floor than a ceiling and comes from a player who will quickly gain 3B eligibility.  We’ve seen what Ramirez is capable of when he puts it all together and you could definitely think that he is going to be motivated to show everyone that 2011 was an aberration, not the new rule.

You couple that with the new position eligibility and I would say Ramirez is worth the risk in the second round in all drafts.

Make sure to check out our 2012 projections:

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Fantasy Baseball 2012 Rankings (NL-Only): Top 12 Second Basemen

When looking at the National League second base options, you almost feel like you are deprived of the best talent, don’t you?  It’s a running trend (we felt the same way when looking at the NL first baseman, which you can view by clicking here).  This time it is three best options who reside in the AL, as well as the most promising youngsters.  What is there actually to draft in the NL?  Let’s take a look:

  1. Dan Uggla – Atlanta Braves
  2. Brandon Phillips – Cincinnati Reds
  3. Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies
  4. Rickie Weeks – Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Neil Walker – Pittsburgh Pirates
  6. Aaron Hill – Arizona Diamondbacks
  7. Danny Espinosa – Washington Nationals
  8. Jose Altuve – Houston Astros
  9. Ryan Roberts – Arizona Diamondbacks
  10. Daniel Murphy – New York Mets
  11. Orlando Hudson – San Diego Padres
  12. Mark Ellis – Los Angeles Dodgers


  • I am already on record about not being very high on Neil Walker (click here for my thoughts on him).  However, when you are talking about an NL-only format, those thoughts have to be thrown completely out the window.  The position is relatively weak, especially when you throw in the injury risk of Rickie Weeks and the knee troubles of Chase Utley.  Considering what else is available, Walker suddenly looks like one of the better options.
  • Speaking of Utley, we recently looked at him as well (click here to view).  The knee injury could be a consistent issue for the rest of his career, and at 33-years old, he already is showing that he’s not the player that he once was.  He’s got to be viewed as an incredible risk, though one that does come with a potentially great reward.
  • It remains to be seen if Daniel Murphy can both stay healthy and show the baseball IQ required to be the Mets regular second baseman for 2012.  While he’ll open the year with the job (at least it appears that way), Justin Turner could easily step in, as could the two youngsters in the minor leagues (Jordany Valdespin or Reese Havens).  I wouldn’t invest too heavily in Murphy, as there’s a good chance he doesn’t finish the year as a starter.
  • Danny Espinosa offers speed, power and a propensity to strikeout.  It’s the latter that is a huge issue, as it destroys his ability to hit for a viable average.  In 676 Major League AB, he’s hit a paltry .232, and there unfortunately isn’t much reason for optimism that he can rectify the situation.  Barring a dramatic turnaround, he’s not going to be anything but a mid-level option.

Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings:

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Fantasy Baseball 2012 Projection: Can Paul Goldschmidt Deliver More Than Just HR

While first base is generally considered among the deepest in all of fantasy sports, things have gotten even better with a recent influx of youngsters at the position.  Among those who have burst onto the scene is the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt, who made the jump from Double-A to the Majors as a 23 year old (he turned 24 in September) and posted the following line:

156 At Bats
.250 Batting Average (39 Hits)
8 Home Runs
26 RBIs
28 Runs
4 Stolen Bases
.333 On Base Percentage
.474 Slugging Percentage
.323 BABIP

Goldschmidt caught everyone’s attention during his time at Double-A in 2011, hitting 30 HRs in 366 ABs.  You couple that with the 53 HRs he hit over his first two seasons—after being drafted in the eighth round of the 2009 draft—and you have a player with 83 HR in 1,178 ABs in the minor leagues.  That’s a home run every 14.2 ABs.

Let’s compare that to some of the best home run hitters in the Major Leagues in 2011:

  • Jose Bautista – HR every 11.9 AB
  • Matt Kemp – HR every 15.4 AB
  • Mike Stanton – HR every 15.2 AB
  • Ryan Braun – HR every 17.1 AB

Obviously the competition is dramatically different, but in his first taste of the Major Leagues Goldschmidt delivered a home run once every 19.5 ABs.  With more experience would it really be a surprise if he delivered like one of the elite sluggers in the game? 

If it is power that you are looking for, Goldschmidt is going to be a great selection, especially calling Arizona home.

With power should come RBIs and at least some runs, especially since he should ultimately hit fifth or sixth in the lineup.  Obviously, if he starts the season hitting seventh (or settles into the sixth slot) he won’t score as many runs, but if he can get to 70+ he should be alright.

The problem with Goldschmidt is the potential to struggle mightily in the average department, and it’s a potentially big issue.  He has suffered from strikeout issues since being drafted, and they culminated in the Major Leagues last season:

  • 2009 – Rookie League (287 ABs) – 22.4%
  • 2010 – Single-A (525 ABs) – 26.9%
  • 2011 – Double-A (366 ABs) – 20.1%
  • 2011 – Majors (156 ABs) – 29.9%

It’s not a surprise to see the leap forward against the tougher competition, and given what he did in Single-A in ’10, it may not be a completely unrealistic number either.  He did show some improvement with a little experience, going from a 32.6 percent strikeout rate in August to a 27.3 percent mark in September.  It’s not much, but at least it’s something.

If he can maintain a mark in the 27-28 percent range, given his power upside, he isn’t likely going to kill you in the average department (think around .255-.270).  The problem is it’s going to be a risky proposition.

What happens if the power isn’t quite what we expect?  The average is going to plummet (as is his overall value anyways).

What happens if the strikeouts remain extremely high?  He’s not going to hit for a strong average, which also will cost him RBI opportunities (since he won’t be making contact).

What happens if he doesn’t have much luck?  Well, you can see above, because it’s going to be the same scenario as if he had high strikeouts.

You put everything together and here’s what I am projecting for Goldschmidt for the 2012 campaign:

.260 (130-500), 29 HR, 85 RBI, 70 R, 6 SB, .318 BABIP, .337 OBP, .500 SLG

The bottom line with Goldschmidt is that, while he has the potential to have a monster 2012 season, he also has the potential to be a player similar to Mark Reynolds.  Obviously that’s a player with value, but not quite as much since he’s almost going to cripple you in one category.  Just keep that in mind before setting your sights on him on draft day.

Is he a player I would recommend?  Yes, but more as a corner infielder and if I can get him at a discount.  There’s too much risk involved in investing highly in him.

What are your thoughts of Goldschmidt?  Is he a player you believe is worth drafting?  What type of numbers are you expecting from him in 2012?

Make sure to check out our 2012 projections:

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Fantasy Baseball Draft Day Decisions: Why Brandon Belt Is Not a Lock to Produce

Brandon Belt was highly touted as we headed into 2011. That’s what happens when you hit .352 with 23 HR and 112 RBI over 492 AB across three levels in your first full season of professional ball. 

However, the 2009 fifth-round draft pick was not quite as impressive in his first stint in the Majors:

  • 187 At Bats
  • .225 Batting Average (42 Hits)
  • Nine Home Runs
  • 18 RBI
  • 21 Runs
  •  Three Stolen Bases
  • .306 On Base Percentage
  • .412 Slugging Percentage
  • .273 BABIP

It obviously was a far cry from what owners had hoped to get from the rookie.  Now, the question is not only if he can recover and find his footing in the Major Leagues, but if he will even be given an opportunity to play in 2012.

With the ability to play first base and the outfield, the acquisitions of Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan (who join Nate Schierholtz) does make things a little bit crowded. 

As for first base, we all know that Aubrey Huff is going to get the first crack at starting there… 

Unfortunately for Belt, the presence of Brett Pill could also cloud his opportunities.  Not only did Pill flourish at Triple-A (.312, 25 HR, 107 RBI over 536 AB), but he looked a lot better in his Major League cup of coffee (.300, 2 HR, 9 RBI over 50 AB). 

Discussing Pill and what would be possible is a story for another day, but the point is that Belt is no lock to get the first chance there anymore.  Things get even trickier when you consider that Buster Posey could see at least a few games there in an attempt to keep him healthy.

So, the opportunity may not necessarily be there for Belt.  That alone should cause owners to be skeptical about investing too heavily on him in yearly formats.  From an ability standpoint, there are also things that he needs to improve.

First is his strikeout rate, which was at 27.3 percent in the Major Leagues.  Before we call that an unrealistic number, look at what he has done at Triple-A:

  • 2010 (48 AB) – 24.6 percent
  • 2011 (165 AB) – 22.2 percent

While they aren’t based on a huge same size, it still shows that he has had issues making contact at the upper levels.  It’s not impossible that he improves (you may want to call it likely), but it is also no guarantee. 

Even if he were down in the low 20 percent range, the number would put a bit of a wrench in his ability to hit for a good average.  Before you point to his .300 average at Triple-A, that mark came courtesy of a .381 BABIP. 

In other words, it’s not going to happen.

His track record tells us that he should be able to figure it out, but time will ultimately tell.

Belt still showed off his power in 2011, and there is a ton of potential, but it is hard to consider him a lock to produce in 2012.  First, he may not get the opportunity.  Second, he needs time to adjust to the upper levels of professional baseball.  I would expect him to open the year at Triple-A, getting regular AB and trying to figure things out.  If he does and the Giants need an offensive boost, then he should get an opportunity.

Unfortunately, he is going to need something (Huff/Schierholtz struggles for example) to get that chance. 

Is it likely to happen?  Yes, but don’t consider it a given.

What are your thoughts on Belt?  Do you think he could be a productive option in 2012?  Why or why not?


Make sure to check out all of our 2012 rankings: Catchers, First Basemen, Second Basemen, Third Basemen and Shortstops.

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Fantasy Baseball Breakout Potential: Brandon Morrow Is More Than a Source of K

Brandon Morrow is a name we have all heard about in recent years. Whether it was the potential of being a lights-out closer in Seattle early in his career or a blow-away strikeout pitcher in Toronto, there has always been intrigue surrounding him from a fantasy perspective.

While the Mariners started his transition back to the rotation, the Toronto Blue Jays have given Morrow his true opportunity to shine in the role. He has exclusively been a starting pitcher since joining the team prior to the 2010 season, so should fantasy owners be prepared to reap the benefits of their patience?

Before we get started, let’s take a look at what he accomplished in his second full season as a starting pitcher:


  • 11 wins
  • 179.1 innings
  • 4.72 ERA
  • 1.29 WHIP
  • 203 strikeouts (10.19 K/9)
  • 69 walks (3.46 BB/9)
  • .299 BABIP


The 27-year-old has struck out 381 batters in 325.1 innings over the past two seasons, so there should be no doubt about his ability to generate swings and misses. Armed with a fastball that has averaged more than 93 mph the past two seasons, he will help to buoy fantasy owners in this regard.

The question is, can he help teams in other categories?

Morrow showed improving control last season after posting a 4.46 BB/9 over his minor league career (and a 4.06 mark in 2010). He actually was consistent all year long, so it’s hard to call it unsustainable.  Just look at the numbers over the final four months of the year:


  • June (31.0 IP): 3.19
  • July (37.0 IP): 3.16
  • August (30.2 IP): 3.23
  • September (36.2 IP): 3.68

So, we know we have elite strikeout stuff and improving control—what exactly is there not to like about Morrow? 

Sure, if you look at the numbers on the surface, the ERA would be more than enough to scare off owners. However, we can easily point to last year’s 65.5 percent strand rate as the culprit. If he had posted even just a league-average mark in that regard, the ERA would’ve been under 4.00.

Yes, there is concern regarding pitching in the difficult AL East. While he may have handled the Yankees in 2011 (1.74 ERA over 20.2 IP), the opposite can be said about the Red Sox (12.32 ERA over 19.0 IP). Can we expect those numbers to continue? It’s impossible to predict any pitcher to dominate the Yankees like that every single season, though will the Red Sox really be able to shell him again.

However, while the consistent matchups are reason to downgrade him slightly, they are not enough to completely write him off. Many pitchers have proven that they can not only pitch well in the AL East but that they can perform with the elite in the game. If you don’t want to use CC Sabathia as an example since he plays for the Yankees, how about Jon Lester or David Price? Both should enter 2012 considered among the top 15 starting pitchers in the league.

In other words, to think Morrow can’t take the next step due to the division he pitches in would be a drastic mistake. Maybe he’s not on the level of those elite pitchers, but there is reason to think he can thrive.

As we enter 2012, we no longer have to worry about an innings limit. Seeing Morrow throw more than 200 innings will be likely, and that will almost certainly mean another 200-plus strikeout campaign. If he can simply replicate last year’s control with that, his numbers are going to be impressive.

Obviously he is not going to be an early-round pick, but if you can get Morrow as a pitcher to fill out your rotation (according to Mock Draft Central, his ADP is 181.62). He’s a player I will certainly be targeting in all formats, and I would recommend you doing the same.

What are your thoughts on Morrow? Is he a player you would be willing to draft? Why or why not?

Make sure to check out our 2012 projections:

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