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Fantasy Baseball 2013: Top 60 Outfielders Heading into Exhibition Play

Here’s my early top-60 listing of outfielders heading into exhibition play, with an emphasis on 5×5 roto leagues.

This position will likely produce baseball’s largest number of four- and five-category studs by season’s end.

But that star power still cannot obscure the uncertainty of taking inexperienced young players or injury-riddled veterans later in the draft, or household names that will invariably fall short of last year’s amped-up stats.

Hopefully, this listing will eliminate some of the draft-day doubt and consternation that come with the territory.

Especially with leagues that require five starters at the position.

Enjoy the show!

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Fantasy Baseball 2013: Early Look at the Top 35 First Basemen

The following countdown details my early top 35 first basemen heading into exhibition play, with an emphasis on 5×5 roto leagues.

Generally speaking, I favor power-average-speed guys over one-dimensional sluggers who rely on their immense but sporadic power to get through a given season.

I’m also a sucker for positional versatility, which may explain why Joe Mauer, Buster Posey and Victor Martinez warrant special mention here.

Enjoy the show!

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Fantasy Baseball: Early Top 20 Starting Pitchers for 2013 Roto Drafts

The following countdown touts my best early guess of the top 20 starting pitchers heading into fantasy drafts for 2013.

(Stats compiled through Sept. 13.)

This off-the-cuff brainstorm may be rooted in hard numbers, but it’s also a soft measurement of where the market currently stands and where it’ll be in mid-to-late March.

For all we know, young guns like Dylan Bundy (Orioles), Jake Odorizzi (Royals), Matt Harvey (Mets), Gerrit Cole (Pirates), Trevor Bauer (Diamondbacks) or teen prodigy Jose Fernandez (Marlins) could somehow force their way into the next countdown, thanks to a stupendous spring.

But at this point, I prefer to lean on the following cast of savvy veterans, which includes a 23-year-old lefty who’s primed for a big jump next season.

Enjoy the show!

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Fantasy Baseball: Breakdown of AccuScore’s Rest-of-Year Estimates for Strikeouts

With the fantasy-trade deadlines coming up this week or next (I have four red-letter dates this Friday), it’s time for owners to make one last pitch for baseball’s elite categorical contributors.

AccuScore, a company that specializes in thorough game simulations, has made a few on-the-fly revisions to its seasonal projections.

These 50 starting pitchers, based on AccuScore projections (not mine), will register at least 55 strikeouts from this point forward (Aug. 7-Sept. 30):


Part I

1. CC Sabathia, Yankees—77
2. Justin Verlander, Tigers—75
3. Yu Darvish, Rangers—75
4. Cole Hamels, Phillies—72
5. Gio Gonzalez, Nationals—68
6. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals—68
7. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers—68
8. Lance Lynn, Cardinals—67
9. Roy Halladay, Phillies—67
10. James Shields, Rays—67
11. Felix Hernandez, Mariners—67
12. Cliff Lee, Phillies—67
13. Marco Estrada, Brewers—67
14. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers—67
15. Francisco Liriano, White Sox—66
16. Madison Bumgarner, Giants—65
17. Zack Greinke, Angels—65
18. Tim Lincecum, Giants—65
19. Matt Cain, Giants—65
20. Mat Latos, Reds—64
21. Jered Weaver, Angels—64
22. Jeff Samardzija, Cubs—63
23. David Price, Rays—63
24. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals—63
25. Erik Bedard, Pirates—63


Part II

26. Felix Doubront, Red Sox—63
27. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks—61
28. Max Scherzer, Tigers—61
29. Anibal Sanchez, Tigers—61
30. R.A. Dickey, Mets—60
31. Ryan Dempster, Rangers—60
32. Jake Peavy, White Sox—60
33. Josh Johnson, Marlins—60
34. Ubaldo Jimenez, Indians—60
35. Jon Lester, Red Sox—59
36. C.J. Wilson, Angels—59
37. Chris Capuano, Dodgers—58
38. Bud Norris, Astros—58
39. Matt Harvey, Mets—58
40. Michael Fiers, Brewers—58
41. Josh Beckett, Red Sox—58
42. J.A. Happ, Blue Jays—57
43. Chris Sale, White Sox—57
44. James McDonald, Pirates—57
45. Drew Pomeranz, Rockies—57
46. Ryan Vogelsong, Giants—56
47. Jon Niese, Mets—56
48. Matt Moore, Rays—56
49. Edwin Jackson, Nationals—55
50. Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees—55



  • I’ll buy the “under” for CC Sabathia and 77 strikeouts. Since May 26, Sabathia (11-3, 3.53 ERA, 1.20 ERA, 133/34 K-BB) has averaged 6.8 strikeouts over 10 starts. So, if he should squeeze in another 10 outings before Sept. 30, he’ll have to improve upon his current pace of the last 13 weeks. On the positive side, Sabathia has four double-digit strikeout efforts for the season.
  • Clayton Kershaw has 69 strikeouts since June 15, with six or more K’s in nine of the last 10 outings. And compared to Justin Verlander (who bedazzled the Yankees for 14 strikeouts on Monday night), Kershaw will likely enjoy one more start than the Tigers ace from this point forward. Bottom line: I’ll buy the “over” on Kershaw and 68 strikeouts.
  • Stephen Strasburg (11.31), Max Scherzer (11.28), Yu Darvish (10.34) and Gio Gonzalez (10.02) are the only regular MLB starters to post K/9 ratios above 10 this season, and from a 30-day perspective, Scherzer, Strasburg, Darvish, Francisco Liriano, James Shields, Madison Bumgarner and David Price boast that honor. So naturally, they’re all good candidates for 60-plus strikeouts.
  • Roy Halladay has posted respectable results in his last four games with Philly—1-1, a 4.13 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and 21/3 K-BB ratio. But the punch-outs aren’t necessarily coming at an accelerated rate, likely a consequence of his recent shoulder woes and subsequent absence from the Phillies rotation for June and half of July.
  • Noticeably absent from this list: A.J. Burnett, Dan Haren, Wandy Rodriguez, Vance Worley, Andrew Cashner, Johnny Cueto, Wei-Yin Chen, Jordan Zimmermann, Aaron Harang, Miguel Gonzalez, Zach McAllister, Chad Billingsley, Corey Kluber and Ricky Romero.
  • For what it’s worth, AccuScore projects Reds closer Aroldis Chapman for 48 more strikeouts in just 27.4 innings. For July, Chapman had a 0.00 ERA and 0.56 WHIP. He was also a perfect 13-for-13 in save opportunities. Chapman’s K/9 ratio for July was a mind-blowing 19.5, easily his best effort of the season.


Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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Fantasy Baseball: Breakdown of AccuScore’s Rest-of-Year Home Run Projections

With the fantasy trade deadlines coming up this week and next (I have four red-letter dates this Friday), it’s time for owners to make one last pitch for baseball’s elite categorical contributors.

AccuScore, a company that specializes in thorough game simulations, has made a few on-the-fly revisions to its seasonal projections.

These 46 hitters, based on AccuScore projections (not mine), will register at least nine home runs from this point forward (Aug. 7-Sept. 30):

Part I
1. Adam Dunn, White Sox—14
2. Ryan Braun, Brewers—13
3. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers—13
4. Curtis Granderson, Yankees—12
5. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs—12
6. Josh Hamilton, Rangers—12
7. Albert Pujols, Angels—12
8. Mark Trumbo, Angels—12
9. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays—12
10. Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays—12
11. Matt Kemp, Dodgers—11
12. Mark Teixeira, Yankees—11
13. Paul Konerko, White Sox—11
14. Josh Willingham, Twins—11
15. Corey Hart, Brewers—11
16. Prince Fielder, Tigers—11
17. Mike Trout, Angels—10
18. David Ortiz, Red Sox—10
19. Robinson Cano, Yankees—10
20. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins—10
21. Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies—10
22. Jay Bruce, Reds—10
23. Adam LaRoche, Nationals—10

Part II
24. Trevor Plouffe, Twins—10
25. Nelson Cruz, Rangers—10
26. Adrian Beltre, Rangers—10
27. Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics—10
28. Adam Jones, Orioles—9
29. Kevin Youkilis, White Sox—9
30. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates—9
31. Mike Napoli, Rangers—9
32. Pedro Alvarez, Pirates—9
33. Dan Uggla, Braves—9
34. Mark Reynolds, Orioles—9
35. Alfonso Soriano, Cubs—9
36. Ryan Howard, Phillies—9
37. Josh Reddick, Athletics—9
38. Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox—9
39. Michael Morse, Nationals—9
40. Aramis Ramirez, Brewers—9
41. Matt Holliday, Cardinals—9
42. Carlos Quentin, Padres—9
43. Nick Swisher, Yankees—9
44. Joey Votto, Reds—9
45. Carlos Beltran, Cardinals—9
46. Brandon Moss, Athletics—9



  • The prediction that immediately stands out is Anthony Rizzo (9 HR, 23 RBI, .301 BA) clubbing 12 homers from this point forward. To date, he’s averaging one homer for every 14.78 at-bats. Extrapolating that figure over another 49 games (sitting out six) with four daily at-bats (conservative estimate), that’s another 196 at-bats for the season…or 13.26 home runs. AccuScore’s right in that ballpark.
  • I’ll reluctantly buy the “under” on Adam Dunn’s prediction of 14 homers from this point forward. For the season, Dunn (31 HR, 74 RBI, .205 BA) has a sterling trend of one homer for every 12.26 at-bats. But in the last 30 days, Dunn’s rate has regressed to one homer for every 15.2 at-bats.
  • Noticeably absent from this list: David Wright, Evan Longoria, Chris Davis, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adam Lind, Alex Rios, Ryan Zimmerman, Startling Marte, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kubel, Ike Davis, Brian McCann, Carlos Pena, Carlos Santana, Buster Posey, Shin-Soo Choo, Justin Morneau, Hunter Pence, Dayan Viciedo, Jason Heyward and Alex Gordon.
  • I’ve seen approximately 12 of Paul Goldschmidt‘s 16 homers on live TV this season, via MLB Extra Innings. And that somehow led me to believe Goldy was belting bombs at a more prodigious rate than one homer per 21 at-bats (seasonal)…or one homer for every 16.1 at-bats (minus a shaky April). If he maintains that May-August pace, he’ll clear double digits.


Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: Robinson Cano Headlines All-Star Team for Month of June

The following slideshow touts Fantasyland’s All-Star team for the month of June.

To clarify, the 27-man listing only honors statistics from the 30-day window for June and does not necessarily reflect a player’s status from April, May or the preseason.

The competition among outfielders and the corner infield spots was particularly intense.

And yet, this should hardly mollify the embedded masses crying foul over alleged snubs involving Brandon Phillips, David Price, David Ortiz, Mark Trumbo, Colby Rasmus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kubel, Juan Pierre, Ben Revere, Josh Johnson, Wade Miley, Justin Verlander, Ryan Vogelsong, Scott Diamond, Clay Buchholz, Jonathan Broxton, Ernesto Frieri and Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster (not enough strikeouts), among others.

Enjoy the show!

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: 10 Red-Hot Minor League Pitchers and Hitters to Watch

Here are 10 under-26 prospects (in alphabetical order) who are tearing it up in the minor leagues.

Whether any of these talents gets promoted to the majors soon is unknown, but if their numbers are called sometime between late June and early September, be ready to scoop ’em up in 12- 14- or 16-team leagues.


SP Trevor Bauer, Reno Aces (Triple-A)
Age: 21
Parent Club: Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Stats: 11-1, 2.11 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 104/42 K-BB
Skinny: There’s no time like the present in splurging for a Justin Verlander/Clayton Kershaw/Stephen Strasburg-esque prospect who’s been nearly unstoppable at every level of the minors. (Bauer was recently promoted to Triple-A Reno.) Given the Diamondbacks’ patient approach with super prospects (Justin Upton would be a rare exception), there’s no guarantee Bauer will see a major league ballpark before Sept. 1. However, he could easily force Arizona’s hand with a few more dominant starts in Reno.


SP Tony Cingrani, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (Double-A)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Cincinnati Reds
2012 Stats: 6-2, 1.45 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 91/17 K-BB
Skinny: Cingrani went 13 starts (and 60-plus innings) before allowing more than two runs in an outing. That alone should garner Cingrani (the Reds’ No. 10 prospect) prime consideration to be Cincinnati’s next big callup to the majors, among pitchers. At the very least, Cingrani may be evolving into the organization’s No. 1 pitching stud (fractionally ahead of Donnie Joseph/Robert Stephenson).

SP Jose Fernandez, Greensboro Grasshoppers (Single-A)
Age: 19
Parent Club: Miami Marlins
2012 Stats: 7-0, 1.59 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 99/18 K-BB
Skinny: In recent years, the Marlins haven’t been afraid to promote teenagers in the majors. Of course, Miguel Cabrera and Edgar Renteria were hitters, but Fernandez, a pitcher in the mold of Felix Hernandez, might be too great a force to ignore during the pennant chase.


SP Danny Hultzen, Jackson Generals (Double-A)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Seattle Mariners
2012 Stats: 8-3, 1.19 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 79/32 K-BB
Skinny: It may be just a matter of time before Hultzen—the Mariners’ No. 1 prospect—punches a permanent ticket to Seattle. In his last seven appearances (spanning 44.2 innings), Hultzen has allowed a microscopic two runs (0.41 ERA in that span), while collecting six wins and 45 strikeouts. In the fantasy realm, Hultzen projects to be a high-end No. 2 starter in the majors.


SP Jake Odorizzi, Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Kansas City Royals
2012 Stats: 8-2, 2.89 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 81/20 K-BB
Skinny: Odorizzi, who headlines the Royals’ next wave of big-time prospects to Kansas City, would be a welcome sight upon earning an MLB promotion. Since April 23 (covering 10 appearances), Odorizzi has surrendered just 15 runs (2.21 ERA in that span) while racking up seven wins and 74 strikeouts. In the fantasy realm, Odorizzi could evolve into Kansas City’s No. 1 pitcher throughout the decade.



OF Jackie Bradley, Salem Red Sox (Single-A Advanced)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Boston Red Sox
2012 Stats: 3 HR, 34 RBI, 53 R, 16 SB, .359 BA, .480 OBP, 1.006 OPS
Skinny: According to The Roanoke (Va.) Times, Bradley will earn a promotion to Double-A ball this week, a nod to his consistent success over the last two months. But with outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford likely rejoining the Boston lineup in the next 30-45 days, Portland, Maine, may be Bradley’s last destination for the season. That aside, he could provide three-category production if given the chance to succeed in the majors.


C Travis d’Arnaud, Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A)
Age: 23
Parent Club: Toronto Blue Jays
2012 Stats: 15 HR, 48 RBI, 42 R, 1 SB, .335 BA, .385 OBP, .987 OPS
Skinny: The Blue Jays already have a solid, young catcher in J.P. Arencibia (nine homers, 32 RBI). But the club can only stash a great prospect like d’Arnaud in the minors for so long. In the last two seasons, d’Arnaud (36 homers, 126 RBI, .319 batting) has separated himself from the pack of under-25 prospects. He’s also built up expectations to the point where he could be a top-10 catcher to open the 2013 season. But that distinction is based on him getting quality at-bats in the majors this season—hopefully in the next three weeks.


2B Jake Elmore, Reno Aces (Triple-A)
Age: 25
Parent Club: Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Stats: 1 HR, 48 RBI, 60 R, 23 SB, .395 BA, .473 OBP, 1.007 OPS
Skinny: In the course of his 26-game hit streak (May 20-June 17), Elmore has 14 multiple-hit games, 15 steals and a whopping .420 batting average. Hopefully, it’ll be enough to motivate the Diamondbacks to give Elmore a look in the coming weeks, although Aaron Hill just hit for the cycle on June 18.

OF Wil Myers, Omaha Storm Chasers (Triple-A)
Age: 21
Parent Club: Kansas City Royals
2012 Stats: 24 HR, 61 RBI, 59 R, 5 SB, .337 BA, .408 OBP, 1.127 OPS
Skinny: Check out this run of statistical success from May 31-June 17: In that span, Myers notched eight homers, 18 RBI, 23 runs and batted at a .358 clip. As hitters go, Myers could be Kansas City’s next big target to burst onto the scene. As fantasy leagues go, there’s a chance Myers will have outfield and catcher eligibility whenever he breaks through to the bigs. If that’s the case, he’ll definitely be worth rostering in 16-team leagues.


1B Anthony Rizzo, Iowa Cubs (Triple-A)
Age: 22
Parent Club: Chicago Cubs
2012 Stats: 23 HR, 59 RBI, 46 R, 2 SB, .364 BA, .426 OBP, 1.170 OPS
Skinny: Of the prospects listed here, Rizzo is the odds-on favorite to garner the next big-league promotion. In fact, the Cubs recently placed first baseman Bryan LaHair in the outfield, a move that could precipitate Rizzo’s permanent relocation to Chicago in the coming days or weeks.


Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: The Max Scherzer Trade-Value Conundrum

I could not have envisioned the context of this entry just five days ago…but here it is.

On the strength of his 15-strikeout gem against the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 20, Tigers pitcher Max Scherzer (3-3, 63 strikeouts in 2012) has emerged as a coveted asset in trade talks, primarily with squads chasing strikeouts.

Sunday’s stellar outing (which included only one walk) was already Scherzer’s second double-digit strikeout effort and fourth of nine or more Ks since April 13.

There’s also an ERA angle to consider here: Before his May 5 start against the White Sox, Scherzer (5.73 seasonal ERA) and Tigers pitching coach Jeff Jones apparently closed a hole in the pitcher’s delivery. Since that tutorial, Scherzer has surrendered just 10 earned runs in his last four starts (3.73 ERA during that span).

During spring training, I had Scherzer pegged as the No. 33 starting pitcher, a ranking that has looked boldly prescient at times and woefully inadequate for others. (Scherzer has allowed five or more runs three times this season.)

Looking at his next five starts (@ Twins, @ Red Sox, vs. Indians, @ Cubs, vs. Rockies), Scherzer has a realistic capacity for three wins and 38 strikeouts.

Obviously, Scherzer is not in Tigers teammate Justin Verlander‘s class; but as No. 4 fantasy starters go, he compares favorably to Colby Lewis, Tommy Hanson or Josh Beckett.

(For the record, AccuScore has Scherzer projected for 7.2 victories, 139.3 strikeouts, a 4.35 ERA and 1.35 WHIP from this point forward—May 23 to Sept. 30.)

Here’s a balanced, three-tiered breakdown of Scherzer’s adjusted trade value in 12-team roto leagues:

Bryan LaHair, Melky Cabrera, Nick Markakis or Drew Stubbs

Scherzer/Michael Cuddyer for Yovani Gallardo/Jason Kipnis
Scherzer/Jason Heyward for Anibal Sanchez/Andre Ethier
Scherzer/Ichiro Suzuki for Matt Cain/Justin Morneau

Scherzer/Ian Kinsler for Matt Holliday/J.P. Arencibia/Tim Hudson
Scherzer/Jose Bautista for Michael Young/Brandon Phillips/C.J. Wilson
Scherzer/Joe Mauer for Austin Jackson/Jonathan Lucroy/Jordan Zimmermann
Scherzer/Curtis Granderson for Hunter Pence/Erik Bedard/Jose Reyes

Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.

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Fantasy Baseball: Matt Kemp Leads List of Top 15 Players on the Disabled List

The following slideshow touts the 15 best fantasy players who currently reside on the disabled list (15 days/30 days/60 days).

This countdown doesn’t necessarily run in concert with a player’s preseason ranking or overall standing at the time of his injury. It’s merely an educated guess as to which DL-based stars will yield the most productivity from this point forward.

It goes without saying, but Mariano Rivera, Joakim Soria, Danny Duffy and Mat Gamel—all victims of season-ending injuries—were not considered for this listing.

Enjoy the show!

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Fantasy Baseball 2012: 4 Unsung Roto-League Hitters to Ride on May 8

The following slideshow touts four unsung hitters from 12-team leagues who may experience fantasy nirvana on May 8.

There’s one more tie that binds this foursome: Each player would be an excellent buy-low option in trade talks right now.

However, Omar Infante would probably have to be included in a larger deal involving name-brand superstars.

Enjoy the show!

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