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Fantasy Baseball Lineup Decisions: Home/Road Splits: Jimenez, Pelfrey and Lewis

Is there anything to pitchers who look significantly better at home as opposed to on the road (or vice versa)?  Should we be playing those matchups more closely? 

Over the next few weeks, we will be looking at some of the more notable splits and determining if we should be sitting a pitcher in certain situations:

Ubaldo Jimenez – Colorado Rockies
Home ERA – 6.86 (42.0 innings)
Road ERA – 2.14 (42.0 innings)

His dominance away from Coors Field continued last night, as he tossed a gem against the New York Yankees (not that the environment was any better than his home ballpark), allowing two ER on four H and four BB, striking out seven, over 7.0 innings. 

The biggest difference in his performance?  At home, he has allowed seven HR, on the road zero.

The question is if this is a new trend or something that has plagued Jimenez in the past. 

Last season he posted a 3.19 ERA at home, in 2009 he was at 3.34.  In other words, his struggles at home have not been seen before, even after he regressed in 2010.  From July forward he made nine starts at home, only twice allowing more than three ER.

It really doesn’t appear that there is too much to worry about at this point.  Jimenez is too good of an option to put on your bench anyways and you have to think that he is going to correct the problem before long. 

Stay patient and you should benefit.  His next start comes at home against the Chicago White Sox.  Despite his issues, I’d keep him active and take the “risk.”

Mike Pelfrey – New York Mets
Home ERA – 2.96 (48.2 innings)
Road ERA – 6.65 (47.1 innings)

Does it surprise anyone that Pelfrey has excelled at the spacious Citi Field, while getting his clocked cleaned on the road?  The trend continued yesterday, allowing four ER against the Rangers in Texas.

It’s very similar to last year’s split, when he went 10-3 with a 2.83 ERA at home and 5-6 with a 4.95 ERA on the road.  It’s not that he’s an extreme fly ball pitcher, though he has seen a significant jump in his fly ball rate this season. 

Last season he was at 32.0 percent and for his career he’s at 31.6 percent.  This season?  He’s at 41.0 percent, which is an entirely different issue. 

Maybe he’s trying to adjust his style to pitch to his ballpark, but that certainly doesn’t help him when he’s on the road.  He’s allowed 14 HR on the season, only four have come at home.

Pelfrey is more of a pitch and ditch option at this point, but using him when he is on the road, no matter what the matchup, would not be a wise decision. 

He has only allowed less than three ER in two road starts this season.  If he’s pitching at home, he could be worth the flier; otherwise, leave him sitting on the waiver wire.


Colby Lewis – Texas Rangers
Home ERA – 6.13 (39.2 innings)
Road ERA – 3.19 (53.2 innings)

It’s interesting to look at Lewis’ splits, because he’s been burned by the long ball all season long, whether at home or on the road.  While the rate certainly is worse in Arlington (11 HR), it’s not like the eight he has allowed on the road is a stellar number. 

He’s just allowing too many fly balls (51.9 percent), a number that isn’t even close to last year’s solid 44.9 percent.  If he can get that under control, the numbers will improve no matter where he is pitching.

Last season, he got the job done at home, with a 3.41 ERA (vs. a 3.95 on the road).  Another issue in 2011 is worse luck at home, with a 67.3 percent strand rate.  Plus, for some reason he simply isn’t registering strikeouts (5.45 K/9 vs. an 8.89 K/9 on the road). 

Is there any real reason that he’s not striking people out at home?

He’s been pitching better lately, allowing two ER over 13.2 IP in his past two starts, including one at home.  That certainly is a good sign and, if he’s healthy (he is battling a neck issue), he should certainly be active for his next outing, which comes on the road against the Astros. 

It’s worth monitoring, but I would certainly expect him to improve on his numbers at home before long making him usable regardless of where he is pitching.

What are your thoughts of these three pitchers?  Would you play the home/road split with any of them?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out these other great articles from Rotoprofessor:


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Fantasy Baseball Digging for Saves: Is There a Closer Controversy in Philly?

Seeing Jose Contreras getting a day off on Friday was not surprising. He is 39 years old and had appeared in four games in five days. According to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer (click here for the article), he had thrown 72 pitches over that stretch. 

He certainly deserved a rest, but is that why he was also not used on Saturday when a save opportunity presented itself once again? Gelb has a quote from manager Charlie Manuel saying, “He’ll be ready to pitch [Sunday].” He also said that Contreras “is OK.”

Now, fantasy owners are left wondering what is going to happen. Ryan Madson certainly has the better pure stuff, but his struggles in the closer’s role in the past led to him being overlooked for the role with Brad Lidge out of action. All he’s done over the past two days is allow one H and zero BB, striking out one, in 2.0 innings of work to lock down two saves.

Could he now start to see a few opportunities? His 1.00 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, along with 10 K, over 9.0 innings of work would certainly justify such a move.

However, what has Contreras done to lose his job? All he has done is post a 0.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP, along with nine K, in 8.0 innings to convert five saves.

Are we going to move to a committee situation? Will the matchups dictate who is going to be used? Will one stumble by either pitcher lead to the other getting the next opportunity?

It’s hard to imagine Contreras losing the job, considering that he has done nothing but excel in the role thus far. However, the Phillies may want to see if Madson, 30 years old, has finally matured to the point that he could handle ninth inning duties. 

It is no secret that Brad Lidge is no lock as a closer and, with his contract expiring after 2011 (the team does hold a $12.5 million option that is unlikely to be picked up), the team needs to know if Madson can handle the job in 2012 (though he is also a free agent after the year) or if they need to import another option. Madson will likely command far less than someone like Heath Bell or Jonathan Papelbon.

How this will play out, no one knows, but it has become a difficult situation for fantasy owners. Both Contreras and Madson should be owned in all formats, but unless your league values middle relievers or if you are desperate for saves, both should be on your bench. In a perfect world, if you owned one you would also own the other, but we all know that’s not always possible. Given Madson’s history, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him stumble, but right now he certainly is in a groove.

What are your thoughts on the situation? Who do you think deserves the job? Who do you think will be the closer?

Make sure to check out the Rotoprofessor Closer Tracker (updated on April 24) by clicking here.


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Fantasy Baseball Buy Low or Ignore: Can Jorge Posada Start to Produce?

Moving out from behind the plate and working exclusively as the Yankees DH, Jorge Posada was supposed to be fantasy gold.  Despite being 39 years old, a player with his upside, coupled with being eligible at catcher…people were drooling over the potential for him to produce massive power while playing every day.

The power has been there, but the rest of the numbers have certainly disappointed:

58 At Bats
.160 Batting Average (8 Hits)
5 Home Runs
6 Runs
0 Stolen Bases
.276 On Base Percentage
.460 Slugging Percentage

He has five home runs in eight hits…that really tells you what you need to know.  He’s showing the power that we all expected, though outside of that he just hasn’t been productive.  Of course, the power has come courtesy of numbers that are unlikely to continue.

To date he is sporting a fly-ball rate of 51.4 percent, significantly higher than in any year since 2002 (42.9 in 2009 was his previous high).  In fact, since 2002 his fly-ball rate is at 38.1 percent.  His HR/FB is also elevated, at 26.3 percent (only one other season above 18.9).  So expecting him to continue at his current rates would be slightly misguided. 

As for the average, we all know it’s going to improve.  His strikeout (26.0 percent) and walk (12.1 percent) rates are right along his career marks.  The problem is his BABIP, currently sitting at .094. 

No one is that unlucky, so look for the hits to start to fall.  With it should come improved run production as well.

Playing as the DH should hopefully help him stay healthy and in the lineup, allowing him to exceed the “expected” 20 HR and 50ish runs that many would have projected. 

Just stay patient for now and he should produce more than enough to make you happy.  If someone in your league has grown impatient with his low average and lack of any production (outside of power), now may be the best time to strike.

What are your thoughts on Posada?  What are you expecting from him?  Is he a player you would target?

Make sure to check out these other great articles from Rotoprofessor:

Around The Majors: April 22: Anibal Sanchez, Michael Pineda and More
Injury Report: April 23: Jose Reyes, Kevin Youkilis & More
The Trade Counsel: The Only Bad Offer Is No Offer At All
Prospect Report: Brett Lawrie One Step Closer To The Majors?


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Fantasy Baseball Buy-Low Candidate: Is Pedro Alvarez Already a Bust?

Pedro Alvarez was given a day off on Monday as he continues to falter in the opening weeks of the 2011 season. At a shallow position, Alvarez was supposed to give owners a little bit of thump. Instead, all he has done is fallen with a resounding thud.

Now, the question is if it is time to give up hope or do we still think he can turn things around?

Clearly, the numbers from his first 15 games have been ugly:

57 At Bats
.193 Batting Average (11 Hits)
0 Home Runs
3 Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.258 On Base Percentage
.228 Slugging Percentage
.297 Batting Average on Balls in Play

It is actually quite concerning that his BABIP is not outlandishly low. In fact, it’s quite realistic. Is there room for a little bit of improvement? Sure, but it’s not like we should have been expecting him to replicate his 2010 mark of .341.

There are two ways for Alvarez to improve his numbers and give value to fantasy owners:

1. Show some power
2. Reduce the strikeouts

The first one is pretty obvious when you realize that he has yet to hit one out. He hit 16 HR in 347 AB in 2010 (a home run every 21.7 AB). Over his 707 AB minor league career he hit 40 HR (a home run every 17.7 AB). There is no questioning the fact that there is some thunder in his bat. If you can afford to show some patience, you should be rewarded in this department before long.

The second point may be the more disturbing one. Thus far this season he has posted a 35.1 percent strikeout rate after posting a 34.3 percent mark in his rookie year. Considering his 27.9 percent minor league mark, there may be room for improvement, but not necessarily a great one.

Then again, we knew that heading into the year. When you drafted Alvarez, you knew that there was a very good chance that he struggled to hit for a good average, so it really shouldn’t be a surprise. Granted, a little bit of power will certainly help his bottom line and it should still be considered realistic that he hits around .250.

It’s not a great number, but what did you actually expect?

The bottom line with Alvarez is the power and, sooner or later, it is going to come around. He has shown it at every level since being selected in the first round of the 2008 draft, including in the major leagues. Just stay patient and you will be rewarded.

However, as a young player, it certainly is possible that your league mates are not willing to wait. Kick the tires and see what they would want. He’s going to get hot and you will reap the benefits.

What are your thoughts of Alvarez? Do you think he’s going to come around? Why or why not?

Make sure to check out these other great articles from Rotoprofessor:


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Fantasy Baseball: Which Breakout Pitchers To Sell or Keep?

There are quite a few pitchers who have gotten off to amazing starts to their 2011 campaigns, surprising many fantasy owners. Who’s for real? Who should we cut bait on now? Let’s take a look at a few of them:


Gio GonzalezOakland Athletics

In his first three starts, Gonzalez is sporting a 0.47 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. The problem is that he has done it with a BABIP of .212 and a strand rate of 100.0 percent. Obviously that’s not going to continue.

He has also continued to struggle with his control. In 19.0 innings of work, he has walked 12 batters—good for a BB/9 of 5.68. It’s hard to imagine continued success if he is going to walk that many batters. Think it’s an aberration? In his minor league career he had a BB/9 of 4.01. In his previous three seasons he posted the following BB/9:

  • 2008—6.62 (34.0 IP)
  • 2009—5.11 (98.2 IP)
  • 2010—4.13 (200.2 IP)

If he continues to walk people, the numbers are going to come tumbling down. It’s really just a matter of time. Yes, being a good ground-ball pitcher (50.0 percent in ’11) helps, but it’s not enough. I’d be wary of Gonzalez moving forward, as the numbers scream for a possible regression.


Matt HarrisonTexas Rangers

After stymieing the Yankees on Friday night (8.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 3 BB, 3 K, W), Harrison is at 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. He certainly has had luck on his side with a .203 BABIP and 93.0 percent strand rate, but there are other numbers at play as well.

Thus far this season he’s posted a line-drive rate of 9.8 percent, after being at over 20 percent in his previous three seasons. Can that continue?

Harrison also offers little upside in the strikeout department (5.73 K/9 in ’11, 6.42 in his minor league career). He does have good control (2.07 BB/9 in his minor league career), which helps to backup his 2.45 mark in ’11. 

Is good control and an improved ground-ball rate (52.5 percent in ’11) enough to warrant grabbing him off waiver wires? I wouldn’t expect him to induce six ground-ball double plays very often, meaning the results against the Yankees could’ve been very, very different.

While those in AL-only formats could consider him, there’s a risk for a major regression at hand. If you are in a mixed league, that risk coupled with the low strikeout rate are enough reasons to stay away.


Justin MastersonCleveland Indians

With a 1.33 ERA, a 0.93 WHIP and a 3-0 record in his first three starts, there’s a lot to like about the “Masterful” Justin Masterson.

A lot of people have written him off due to his struggles the past few years, but there was an awful lot of bad luck at play (68.6 percent, 66.6 percent strand rates the previous two years). He also hadn’t shown very good control, something that he had consistently displayed in the minor leagues (2.28 BB/9).

He is one of the elite ground-ball pitchers in the league, currently sporting a 65.0 percent ground-ball rate. Since 2009, among pitchers with at least 300 innings pitched, Masterson is second in the league with a 57.8 percent ground-ball rate (Joel Pineiro leads the way at 58.2 percent). That certainly says a lot about his potential to produce, assuming the luck is there. 

Not that he’s going to be able to continue his .242 BABIP, but for a ground-ball pitcher, marks of .314 and .324 (which he posted in ’09 and ’10) are going to hurt.  Improvement there will go a long way to his success.

I know people are going to point towards his 5.31 K/9 and say that he’s worthless, but that’s shortsighted. Over his minor league career he posted a 7.46 K/9 and showed in his second start of the season (nine K in 6.1 IP against the Mariners) that he has the potential to pile up the strikeouts. If he can strike out five to six batters a night—to go with the rest of his repertoire—he has the stuff to be a breakout starter in 2011.

If others in your league have not yet bought into his early season success, I would highly recommend him. Yes, there is the chance for a regression, but he has the stuff to be a useful starter all year long.


Chris NarvesonMilwaukee Brewers

He’s won only one game in his first three starts, but Narverson’s sporting a 1.45 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. Considering his realistic .286 BABIP (though he has benefited from an 86.4 percent strand rate), there certainly is reason to take notice.

The real question when it comes to Narveson is his 9.16 K/9. If he can come reasonably close to sustaining it, the sky is the limit. If he can’t, there’s going to be a regression.

Over his minor league career he posted a K/9 of 7.50. At Triple-A in ’09 he posted a 9.1 K/9, though a lot of that came while working in the bullpen (only six starts in 26 outings). In September of 2010 he did show the potential to maintain this type of mark in the rotation, with 37 Ks in 37.1 innings of work. In August he had 20 Ks in 26.1 innings of work.

His performance as of late has not just come out of nowhere.

Can it continue with a fastball that has been averaging 87.9 mph? I’m not so sure about that.

He has looked good and is certainly worth owning, but he is no guarantee to continue. Having never shown this type of strikeout success in the past, it’s hard to say that three starts is a given. Even if you include August and September of 2010, you are looking at 14 starts. It’s a lot better, but it still shouldn’t be accepted as the new norm.

Tread carefully, but he’s certainly worth owning in most formats because he’s pitching in the NL. Just don’t become too attached, because there is a good chance that a regression could be coming.

What are your thoughts on these four pitchers? Who do you think is for real? Who would you avoid?

Make sure to check out these other great articles from Rotoprofessor:


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Fantasy Baseball Around the Majors, April 14: Gio Gonzalez, Cliff Lee and More

It was another great day around the league, so let’s take a look at all the stories from yesterday’s games.


Gio the Great…

Gio Gonzalez tossed 6.0 shutout innings, allowing just two hits with six K, so it had to be a good start, right? Well, that’s not really accurate, as he walked six batters. Yes, the results have been there with a 0.47 ERA (one ER over 19.0 IP), but he’s already walked 12 batters on the year. Consider these numbers:

  • He had a career minor league BB/9 of 4.01.
  • He entered 2011 with a BB/9 of 4.67 in over 333 innings of work in the majors.

Can he continue to work into and out of trouble? Right now he is sporting a strand rate of 100 percent, so clearly we know something is going to give, sooner or later. He also has a BABIP of .212, another number that is going to regress significantly.

Gonzalez entered the year with a lot of hype, and thus far his numbers look like he is backing it up. Considering the underlying metrics, things are going to catch up to him sooner or later. Now is probably the perfect time to cut bait and get a huge payoff for your draft-day gamble, don’t you think?


Other Notes

  • It was an amazing four-game series for Troy Tulowitzki in Citi Field, wouldn’t you say? In yesterday’s doubleheader he went 5-for-8 with two HR, two RBI and two R. Over the course of the four days he went 10-for-16 with four HR, eight RBI and five R. Is anyone doubting him as one of the elite now? He already has seven HR on the year and looks to be picking up right where he left off in September of 2010.
  • Jose Reyes went 3-for-9 with one HR, one RBI, one R and one SB in yesterday’s doubleheader. He is now on a 12-game hitting streak, going 20-for-57 with one HR, five RBI, nine R and four SB. He certainly appears primed to cash in on his contract year, wouldn’t you say?
  • The Twins entered the ninth inning with a 2-0 lead, only to see Joe Nathan implode and allow two ER on two H and one BB, striking out none. Lucky for them the game was only tied, and they still had a secondary closer just in case they took the lead. That’s what happened in the top of 10th, as the Twins went up 3-2. Of course, Matt Capps just couldn’t hold it, allowing a two-run home run to Johnny Damon (1-for-5, one HR, two RBI, one R). It’s almost unbelievable, isn’t it?
  • The retirement of Manny Ramirez has brought Sam Fuld into fantasy relevance. He went 2-for-5 with one R and one SB yesterday, putting him at .324 with one HR, four RBI, six R and seven SB. In 696 AB at Triple-A between ’09 and ’10 he had 44 SB. Over his minor-league career (2,281 AB) he hit .285. It certainly appears that he’s playing a bit over his head, so you certainly should enjoy his success while you can.
  • Randy Wolf had a tremendous start, tossing 6.2 shutout innings, allowing just three H and two BB and striking out 10. After a terrible first start (six ER, 10 H, two BB over 4.0 IP), he certainly has turned things around. Then again, his next start comes against Cliff Lee in Philadelphia. Still, he should be a solid option in all formats.
  • The poor start his last time out should be a distant memory, as Cliff Lee returned to dominance. He went the distance, allowing three H and one BB, striking out 12, in a complete-game shutout. That’s already two double-digit strikeout performances on the season. Is anyone complaining?
  • Jordan Zimmermann pitched well, allowing four R (one earned) on five H and no BB, striking out four, over 7.0 IP. He hasn’t offered much in strikeouts (10 K in 18.1 IP), but he is sporting a 2.45 ERA and 0.98 WHIP. In deeper formats, he’s a good play.
  • Phil Hughes was better this time out, but that doesn’t mean he was good. He allowed five ER on seven H and no BB, striking out two, over 4.1 innings. The sad thing is that this was arguably his best start of the year. For someone who we were leaning on for Ks, Hughes has three K in 10.1 innings to open the year. I was wary after the first two starts, but at this point he should be nowhere near starting lineups. His velocity remains down, and it clearly is affecting the results. Keep him on your bench until he proves worthy of being in your starting lineup.
  • With just two hits in his previous six games, Nick Markakis was certainly struggling. He woke up in a big way against Hughes and the Yankees yesterday, going 3-for-5 with one HR, three RBI and two R. He is looking a lot more like the player he was from 2007-2009 than the down 2010.
  • Can Wilson Betemit keep Mike Moustakas down in the minors? Moustakas’ slow start certainly will play a role, but Betemit is currently playing his part as well. After going 1-for-2 with one HR, two RBI and one R yesterday, he has an eight-game hitting streak (12-for-29 with one HR, seven RBI, seven R and two SB). It’s not going to last, but at a shallow position he is a good play while he’s hot (either as an injury replacement or a corner infielder). Be ready to move on, though, as you know the Royals are.
  • Ricky Nolasco got off to about as bad of a start as anyone possibly can, wouldn’t you say? The first four batters all got hits, and all scored. That’s right: Capped off by a Brian McCann three-run home run (2-for-4, one HR, three RBI, one R), Nolasco had allowed four ER without getting an out. Clearly, anyone watching live stats was not too pleased. He settled down, finishing the day with a line of 5.0 IP, five ER, six H, one BB and four K, but the damage was done. He’s always been a frustratingly up-and-down pitcher, so we have to take the good with the bad. His next start comes against the Pirates, and you would expect a bounce-back from him.
  • Dan Uggla went 1-for-4 with one HR, one RBI and one R. Well, at least he hit a long ball, right? On the young season he’s hitting .160 with three HR, three RBI and three R. That’s right—the only way he’s either scored or driven in a run is on solo home runs. Sooner or later he’s bound to get going, so don’t hit the panic button quite yet.
  • Was it a pitching duel between Dustin Moseley (6.2 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 1 K) and Bud Norris (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 7 K, W), or was it two anemic offenses looking awful? Either way, both pitchers looked good. Norris does have potential as a low-end option of strikeouts, and so far he’s matching that billing with 20 K over 16.0 IP. While he does have a 5.06 ERA, his WHIP is just 1.19. His next start comes against the Mets in Citi Field, and those in deeper formats can consider taking a flier on him.
  • It was a non-save situation for Ryan Franklin, but you still can’t like seeing him give up a home run in his only inning of work. Of course, it did lower his ERA to 9.64, but what does that say? It remains to be seen who the Cardinals go to with the game on the line at this point.
  • Albert Pujols went 1-for-5 with one HR, one RBI and two R, just his second home run of the year. He’s now on a modest four-game hitting streak with one HR, three RBI and six R over that stretch. You knew it was just a matter of time.
  • Matt Kemp went 3-for-5 with one HR, two RBI, two R and one SB. On the year he’s hitting .444 with two HR, eight RBI, 11 R and eight SB. Is there anything to saw but “WOW!” Clearly, he is over his ’10 struggles, though sooner or later he has to hit a slow period…doesn’t he?

Make sure to check out these other great articles from Rotoprofessor:


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Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Rankings (4/11-4/17): Top 20 Catchers

It’s early, so I will update these as needed throughout the week (injury, hot/cold, etc.). 

Still, let’s take a look at my rankings for the upcoming scoring period and see which catchers I would use and which I may shy away from:

  1. Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins – vs. KC (2), @ TB (4)
  2. Victor Martinez – Detroit Tigers – vs. Tex (3), @ Oak (4)
  3. Brian McCann – Atlanta Braves – vs. Fla (3), vs. NYM (3)
  4. Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians – @ LAA (3), vs. Bal (3)
  5. Buster Posey – San Francisco Giants – vs. LAD (3), @ Ari (3)
  6. Geovany Soto – Chicago Cubs – @ Hou (3), @ Col (3)
  7. Miguel Montero – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Stl (3), vs. SF (3)
  8. Mike Napoli – Texas Rangers – @ Det (3), @ NYY (3)
  9. Jorge Posada – New York Yankees – vs. Bal (3), vs. Tex (3)
  10. Matt Wieters – Baltimore Orioles – @ NYY (3), @ Cle (3)
  11. Kurt Suzuki – Oakland Athletics – @ CWS (3), vs. Det (4)
  12. Russell Martin – New York Yankees – vs. Bal (3), vs. Tex (3)
  13. J.P. Arencibia – Toronto Blue Jays – @ Sea (3), @ Bos (3)
  14. Chris Iannetta – Colorado Rockies – @ NYM (4), vs. CHC (3)
  15. Nick Hundley – San Diego Padres – vs. Cin (3), @ Hou (4)
  16. John Buck – Florida Marlins – @ Atl (3), @ Phi (3)
  17. Yadier Molina – St. Louis Cardinals – @ Ari (3), @ LAD (3)
  18. Miguel Olivo – Seattle Mariners – vs. Tor (3), @ KC (4)
  19. Josh Thole – New York Mets – vs. Col (4), @ Atl (3)
  20. A.J. Pierzynski – Chicago White Sox –  vs. Oak (3), vs. LAA (3)


Obviously, we all know that catchers don’t play every day, so having six or seven games in a week does not have a major impact on the rankings (outside of someone like Mike Napoli or Jorge Posada, who will see action at 1B or DH to keep their bat in the lineup).

Geovany Soto gets to play six games in hitter’s ballparks in the coming week.  We all know the potential that he has, so seeing him in these setting have to make fantasy owners happy.  He could be in store for a big week hitting in the middle of a good lineup.

You don’t want to get too excited over just a few days, but it’s hard to argue with the start of J.P. Arencibia’s season (3-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 R). Of course, he had a similar start after being recalled in 2010, before struggling significantly. 

We also know that he’s going to sit when Kyle Drabek takes the mound (as well as Brandon Morrow when healthy). Yes, the matchups aren’t ideal (Felix Hernandez and Clay Buchholz), but with his power, it is hard to ignore him.

I have been torn on who was the better option all along between Buster Posey and Carlos Santana.

In the coming week, Posey has likely matchups with Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, before moving to a hitter’s park. Santana draws Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, so it’s not like he’s in much better shape. Both hit in the middle of their respective lineups, so there’s nothing there. It’s Santana’s better start to the season (and the fact that he will see time at first base) that gives him the edge for the coming week, though just minimally.

Don’t get too excited over Ramon Hernandez and Ryan Hanigan’s big starts to the season. They are going to be sharing time, so their value will be limited.

Kurt Suzuki left Opening Day with a mild ankle sprain, but he has been able to return to the lineup and should be a solid play moving forward.

What are your thoughts of these rankings? Who’s too high? Who’s too low?


Make sure to check out our other Week 2 Rankings:

Top 20 First Basemen


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Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Rankings (4/11-4/17): Top 20 First Basemen

It’s early, so I will update these as needed throughout the week. 

First base is the deepest position in the game and generally ranking the top names is like splitting hair. Let’s take a look at how things shake out for the coming week:

  1. Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals – @ Ari (3), @ LAD (4)
  2. Miguel Cabrera – Detroit Tigers  – vs. Tex (3), @ Oak (4)
  3. Adrian Gonzalez – Boston Red Sox – vs. TB (3), vs. Tor (3)
  4. Joey Votto – Cincinnati Reds – @ SD (3), vs. Pit (3)
  5. Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees – vs. Bal (3), vs. Tex (3)
  6. Prince Fielder – Milwaukee Brewers – @ Pit (3), @ Was (3)
  7. Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies – @ Was (3), vs. Fla (3)
  8. Adam Dunn – Chicago White Sox – vs. Oak (3), vs. LAA (3)
  9. Kevin Youkilis – Boston Red Sox – vs. TB (3), vs. Tor (3)
  10. Paul Konerko – Chicago White Sox – vs. Oak (3), vs. LAA (3)
  11. Justin Morneau – Minnesota Twins – vs. KC (2), @ TB (4)
  12. Billy Butler – Kansas City Royals – @ Min (2), vs. Sea (4)
  13. Ike Davis – New York Mets – vs. Col (4), @ Atl (3)
  14. Adam Lind – Toronto Blue Jays – @ Sea (3), @ Bos (3)
  15. Gaby Sanchez – Florida Marlins – @ Atl (3), @ Phi (3)
  16. Carlos Pena – Chicago Cubs – @ Hou (3), @ Col (3)
  17. Lance Berkman – St. Louis Cardinals – @ Ari (3), @ LAD (4)
  18. Derrek Lee – Baltimore Orioles – @ NYY (3), @ Cle (3)
  19. Aubrey Huff – San Francisco Giants – vs. LAD (3), @ Ari (3)
  20. Kila Ka’aihue – Kansas City Royals -@ Min (2), vs. Sea (4)


Kendrys Morales continues to work his way back from injury. Even when he first comes back, it is hard to imagine exactly how much he’s going to play initially, so just keep him on your bench for now and wait for him to get healthy.

No matter what they’ve done over the first 10 days of the season, Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera are just too good to downgrade at this point. They can explode at any moment and should remain atop the rankings indefinitely.

Can Mark Teixeira produce in April? It certainly looks like it so far, doesn’t it? The fact that Joey Votto has three games in San Diego this week makes it a very tough call on who should be ranked above the other for the coming week.

Adam Dunn proved rather quickly what he can do in a White Sox uniform. Now, with six games in a hitter’s park, you have to love him for the upcoming week.

Yes, there are some tough matchups against Jered Weaver and Brett Anderson, but it doesn’t matter. It just takes one swing for Dunn to prove his worth.

Justin Morneau is back in the everyday lineup. That has to make fantasy owners happy, doesn’t it? Still, his slow start has got to be concerning. Over the first three days, he was just 1-for-10 (though he did show signs last night, going 2-for-4 with 1 R) and it has been said that he will get some extra time off now and then. 

It’s tough to put him on your bench, but I honestly would consider starting Ike Davis or Billy Butler over him at this point. I said consider it, because the fact is Morneau has too much upside to be on your bench right now.

If Carlos Pena is healthy, he’s a solid play as a corner infielder this week, playing in two hitter’s parks. Monitor the news as the week progresses.

First base is by far the deepest position for fantasy owners. Brandon Belt could quickly become a fixture on these rankings, currently has a little uncertainty hanging over him (there have been rumblings that a roster crunch could send him down to Triple-A when Cody Ross is healthy). That helped Kila Ka’aihue barely edge him out for this week (and just barely).

I have left off Victor Martinez and Buster Posey, since most owners are going to be using them as catchers, not first baseman.

What are your thoughts of these rankings? Who’s too high?  Who’s too low?


Make sure to check out our other Week 2 Rankings:

Top 20 Catchers


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Should Fantasy Baseball Owners Sit Phil Hughes for His Next Start?

When I posted my projection for Phil Hughes prior to the season (click here to view), I noted that I was concerned with him heading into the 2011 season. 

I do believe a lot of people got caught up with the fact that he was an 18-game winner, allowing that to overshadow some fairly evident flaws hanging over him.

If you looked closely, you would have noticed that after May, Hughes failed to post an ERA under 4.00 in any month:

  • June – 5.17 (31.1 innings)
  • July – 5.52 (29.1 innings)
  • August – 4.22 (32.0 innings)
  • September – 4.85 (26.0 innings)

You also saw that he was very prone to the long ball, with a HR/9 of 1.59 from June on (and 1.69 at Yankees Stadium).  Pitching at home to open the season, we saw this problem present itself as he allowed a pair of home runs to Miguel Cabrera.

Want to think that he could be a big strikeout pitcher?  Given his K/9 of 10.01 in the minor leagues and striking out nearly a batter per inning over the first two months of ’10, it would be a fair assessment.  Of course, he was also at 6.72 from June on in ’10, so seeing him struggle and strike out just one in his ’11 debut shouldn’t be shocking.

Do I think he’s that bad?  No, of course not. 

Hughes should be a good source of strikeouts moving forward, but the other numbers are concerning.  The biggest problem are the home runs which, if he can’t get them under control, are going to eliminate any opportunity for a good ERA.

There has also been a lot of talk about Hughes’ velocity, which sat at or below 90 mph on Sunday.  Last season he averaged 92.6 mph on his fastball. 

It’s just another wrinkle, and something else to concern us.  To make matters worse, Joel Sherman of The New York Daily News said that Hughes “threw 40 fastballs in all—and never got a swing and miss on a single one.”

In his first start today against the Tigers Hughes posted the following line:

4.0 IP, 5 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 1 K

Obviously, it’s just one start and you don’t want to do anything drastic because of it.  Of course, his next start comes in Boston against arguably the best lineup in the game. 

So what do you do?

It is hard to say that he belongs on your bench in daily formats, but at the same time it is hard to argue against it either.  He did fair well against the Red Sox in ’10, going 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA and 19 K over 25.0 innings. 

To help make the decision a little bit easier, let’s look at how some of the top Red Sox hitters have fared against Hughes in their careers:

  • Kevin Youkilis – .308, 1 HR
  • David Ortiz – .417, 1 HR
  • Carl Crawford – .154, 0 HR
  • Dustin Pedroia – .077, 0 HR
  • Adrian Gonzalez – Never Faced

It’s a mixed bag really. 

Hughes’ lengthy struggles certainly should be cause for concern and the match-up doesn’t do you any favors.  If I had the option I would probably leave him on my bench due to the tough match-up and the decreased velocity. 

If you do opt to play him, just be prepared to be disappointed and deal with the consequences.

What are your thoughts on Hughes?  Would you start him against Boston?  Why or why not?

Make sure to check out these other helpful articles from earlier today:


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Fantasy Baseball 2011 Rookie Watch: What Is the Outlook for Michael Pineda?

The Seattle Mariners could have opted to keep Michael Pineda in the minor leagues to start the season, likely saving themselves millions of dollars (due to arbitration time). 

Instead the team opted to reward the 22-year-old righty after he dominated in spring training (2.12 ERA, 15 K, 6 BB over 17.0 innings) by naming him the fifth starter.

Finances aside, it really should have been an easy decision for the Mariners to make. 

Outside of Felix Hernandez (and perhaps Erik Bedard, though the chances of him staying healthy appear slim), it is not like the team is swamped with viable starting alternatives. 

Do the names Doug Fister, Luke French or Jason Vargas instill fear in many opposing hitters?

Pineda’s 2010 season was split between Double- and Triple-A, posting the following lines:

  • Double-A: 2.22 ERA, 78 K, 17 BB over 77.0 IP
  • Triple-A: 4.76 ERA, 76 K, 17 BB over 62.1 IP

Before we get too worked up about the “regression” at Triple-A, there are a few points to keep in mind: It was the Pacific Coast League, which, as we all know, is a notorious hitter’s league.  As a 21-year-old it wouldn’t be overly surprising to see him struggle getting his feet wet at that level.

You also have to take into consideration that his 4.76 ERA came despite a 1.14 WHIP, 11.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.  In fact, his BABIP against him at the level was .312, a very believable number.  In other words, despite the ugly ERA, the other peripherals were sparkling and it was more poor luck than anything else. 

Obviously, the Mariners are likely to handle him with kid gloves throughout the season.  It wouldn’t be a surprise to see him have a few starts skipped, when the schedule allows it.  He also will likely be held to an innings limit, having thrown just 139.1 innings in 2010. 

It just gets magnified when you factor in a pair of stints on the DL in ’09 due to elbow strains.  The team is just not going to want to overwork him and risk his long-term potential.

I would imagine that 170-175 innings would be the limit, so those in head-to-head leagues will want to keep that in mind.  When your fantasy title is on the line, Pineda may very well be shut down.

However, there is no questioning his potential upside.  Baseball America, who ranked him as the Mariners’ No. 2 prospect prior to the season (behind Dustin Ackley), said the following: “Pineda has the size, stuff and control to pitch at the top of a rotation. He throws a crisp fastball that sits at 93-97 mph and gets as high as 101 with explosive life and occasional heavy sink.”

Yes, there are things to be worried about, but from a pure “stuff” perspective, there is no reason to be concerned.  Pineda has the potential to be a fantasy ace in short order and, outside of the shallowest of formats, should be considered a must-own option in all formats. 

However, I would proceed with caution in the early going.  His first start is scheduled for April 5 in Texas against a high-powered Rangers offense.  Rookie starters are always a tough play in their major league debut, and this setting just makes it even tougher.

Be cautious, but you should reap the benefits soon enough.

What are your thoughts on Pineda?  Would you play him in his major league debut?  What are you expecting from him in 2011?


Make sure to visit Rotoprofessor’s Live Chat today, April 1, at 2PM!  Click here to join the chat.


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