Apr 20, 2012

Free Agent Friday | Hot Starts | 04.20.12

We're getting to the point in the season when we can actually kinda start to believe in some of these players who are having hot starts. And, thankfully, we're just about past the point where the hottest pickups are all closers. As you look at your roster for who to drop, which hot starters are worth adding to your team at this point? Well, that fully depends on who you're thinking about dropping but let's take a look to see who is worth a damn at least...
Good Pickups
Nolan Reimold (OF, BAL) - I was pretty pumped about Reimold back in January and he hasn't disappointed thus far. Like I said back then, a 25 HR season with 10 SB is not out of the question and is actually pretty realistic. Go grab him off your waivers now if he's still available!

Kyle Drabek (SP, TOR) - Drabek had a pretty nice minor league career and has long been a top prospect but he really stunk it up in 2011 both in the majors and minors (6.06 ERA and 7.44 ERA respectively). Through two starts this year, he seems to be more aligned with his minor league numbers. He has the chance to be a 3.75-ish ERA pitcher with decent strikeout totals. There's definitely room for someone like that on your roster in deeper leagues so he's worth stashing away.

Luke Scott (OF, BAL) - We've never doubted Luke Scott's power numbers and he seems to be showing t hat this year. Instead of hitting solo HR's for the hapless Orioles, he's now on a team where he might actually get more Run and RBI opportunities. For those looking to add a little power to their teams, he's a very nice option.

Bryan LaHair (OF, CHC) - LaHair has been stuck at the AAA level since 2006 with the exception of 150 MLB plate appearances a few years back. In the past three AAA seasons, he hit 89 HR with a .309 AVG. The only reason he likely hasn't gotten a shot yet is because he's not a young pup but he's responding well in his first shot this year with 2 HR already. In a deeper league, it's definitely worth taking a shot on LaHair to see if really can deliver a 30 HR season in the bigs because he certainly has the potential for it.

Others I've Written About Recently - Lance Lynn, Danny Duffy, Adam LaRoche

Could Be Good Pickups
Cody Ross (OF, BOS) - In Cody's best season, he hit 24 HR with a .270 AVG and that would certainly be handy if he's on pace to replicate that after his hot start. However, I expect a slight power decrease in Fenway for him and his average has seemingly dipped a bit each year. So if we're playing the expectations game then let's say a .255 AVG, 20 HR, some bat flips and a dose of swagger would be what to expect in a full season of Cody Ross. It's ownable in deep leagues but now in smaller leagues.

Matt Carpenter (3B, STL) - He won't give you power and he won't give you speed but he can hit for a good average so there's some value to that. He's filling in at the hot corner while Lance Berkman is injured and he can be helpful for teams looking for a bit of an AVG boost. However, if you pick him up expecting more than that then you might be hoping for too much.

Santiago Casilla (RP, SF) - Is he better than Sergio Romo? No, but it seems like he'll be getting the bulk of the save opportunities in San Francisco. He's a decent closer but nothing to write home about. However, you can't get too picky when it comes to getting saves for your roto team so make sure he's picked up.

Others I've Written About Recently - Fernando Rodney

Let Someone Else Pick Them Up
Nobody really jumps out in this category for this week but check the write-ups below for why you should avoid the temptation to go after Barry Zito or Jordan Schafer.

Others I've Written About Recently - Jordan Schafer, Barry Zito

Apr 13, 2012

Free Agent Friday | Fresh Milk | 04.13.12

The season is still fresh and new. If you bought some milk on Opening Day last week, it likely hasn't passed its expiration date yet. So, making any big free agent moves at this point in time should be done cautiously. While there are decent options of guys to pick up out there, they are on the waiver wire for a reason and the guys on your team were drafted with good reason as well. So, before you drop anyone, take a deep breath and maybe go for a walk and think about it. I'm going to note some good options for possible pickups for this week but you shouldn't drop one of your potential sleepers just because they're struggling and Barry Zito pitched one good game. In other words, be very wary of who you drop at this point.

Good Pickups
Adam LaRoche (1B, WAS) - Ah, yes, good ol' Adam LaRoche. In a full year of play, he's pretty consistent in what he'll give you and it's usually a .270 AVG with 25 HR's. But, when Michael Morse returns, the question will be whether LaRoche stays at 1B. The answer is most likely "yes" as Morse can play OF and Washington has holes there that he could fill. You know what you're going to get with LaRoche and it's pretty good.

Lance Lynn (SP, STL) - You may remember Lynn as the guy who was tabbed to fill in as a starter (instead of Roy Oswalt) while Chris Carpenter heals himself. In his first start, he mystified a strong Brewers offense with 8 K's, 2 H and 1 BB. It was a phenomenal start and he has the potential to deliver good results in this role. I wouldn't expect the strikeouts to continue at that rate based on his minor league numbers but he should be a sub-4.00 ERA pitcher with decent control. That's certainly ownable in deeper leagues but be careful who you drop for him as he's likely a temporary solution.

Danny Duffy (SP, KC) - Danny Duffy had shown promise in his minor league career of becoming a low ERA, high strikeout pitcher who may struggle with control here and there (but as so bad like an Edinson Volquez, for instance). Last year, he started 20 games as a rookie and the results were not pretty. But, this year, in his first start, he looked more like the guy he was projected to become. He has the potential to have a big year with high strikeout totals and low ERA. For that reason, it's likely worth stashing him if your roster is deep enough and you have someone expendable to cut.

Kyle Seager (3B, SEA) - ZiPS had projected Seager to hit .267 with 8 HR and 11 SB in a full season of work. That's not very attractive in fantasy leagues. However, that is a fairly conservative projection as Seager hit .328 over his minor league career so has the potential to hit for high average. He doesn't have a ton of power or speed but any player hitting over .300 has pretty good value. His role with the Mariners is questionable but he could be a super-utility player once their team gets healthy. He's worth stashing if you need a boost in AVG.

Others I've Written About Recently - Chris Parmelee

Could Be Good Pickups
Hector Santiago (RP, CHW) - First, a disclaimer when it comes to any closer - they're all worth owning in roto leagues as long as they're getting saves. But, is Santiago a good long-term solution? That's harder to say. He was a Single-A pitcher for years until making the jump to Double-A last year and then he is now suddenly a major league closer. As a result, we don't have a ton of history to evaluate here; he's a wild card in that respect. The major concern here is that his job is not 100% secure and any potential hiccups will cause people to call for Addison Reed or Matt Thornton who both seem to be made to close games. Because of that uncertainty, he remains a somewhat risky option to rely on.

Fernando Rodney (RP, TB) - Unless Rodney is unstoppable over the next few weeks, he is just holding down the fort until Kyle Farnsworth gets back. Control has been a problem for Rodney as he's always struggled with letting up walks. But, regardless, he is the closer for the time being and that's a valuable thing. If he blows a save or two (which seems inevitable based on past history) then the team might go back to throwing one of their many other options into the role until Farnsworth comes back. But, for the time being, Rodney is worth owning in roto leagues.

Chone Figgins (3B, SEA) - Let me start by saying that his .330 AVG in 2007 was obviously a fluke but also say that his .188 AVG in 2011 was very much a fluke too (his career .281 AVG is likely where his talent level lies). His role is muddled with him playing LF as Kyle Seager plays 3B while Mike Carp is out but he's leading off and doing it well for the time being. I wouldn't drop a great player for Chone but if you have someone expendable then it's worth looking at Figgins as a potential .280 hitter with 30-40 SB.

Let Someone Else Pick Them Up
Barry Zito (SP, SF) - Hey, look, Barry Zito had a good game. We've seen Zito pitch over 2,000 innings in his career so to expect him to be a different pitcher based off of one good game is foolish. He's still a 4.50-ish ERA pitcher with 1.40-ish WHIP and unexciting strikeout totals. Pass.

Jordan Schafer (OF, HOU) - In half a season, Schafer stole 22 bases last year while only hitting .242. He already had a 3 SB game this year that has people jumping to him on the waiver wire. If Schafer could hit for decent AVG, he could likely steal a ton of bases on the year. Unfortunately, there's no reason to expect him to hit for anything much higher than .245 or so despite his hot start this year. His current totals seem to be more about small sample sizes rather than a potential breakout.

Apr 9, 2012

Podcast | Fantasy Baseball Performance Enhancing Discussions, Ep. 5

In a weekly feature here, we present another episode of the entertaining weekly podcast that is hosted by me and Russ, my co-host who will represent the average inquisitive fantasy player. Step away from baseball statistics and step into the world of insightful and witty fantasy baseball banter.

Episode 5: Fantasy League Types 101
This week, we discuss the various league types that exist in fantasy baseball from 5x5 roto to point-based leagues and head-to-head roto. We discuss the merits of each and exchange some fantasy war stories about each type. In this mini-cast, we merely conclude with the resource of the week (MLB.tv) after the topic of the week.

Go ahead and subscribe to the podcast RSS feed and/or subscribe on iTunes. Also, it would be a huge help if you'd rate and review us on iTunes. Beyond that, leave us some comments about the show and submit mailbag questions for future episodes!

(Also, make sure to follow the Twitter account for Russ: @mrscheatsheet)

Apr 6, 2012

Free Agent Friday | Closers Galore | 04.06.12

We've played less than 0.5% of the baseball that will be played this season thus far but that shouldn't stop you from shopping around your waiver wire for potential values. At this point in the season, the biggest movement on the waiver wire is all about closers. Lots of situations are still murky and now are becoming clear on Opening Day so closers are being snatched up like crazy. Most of the time, any closer that is starting is worth a shot because saves are so valuable but let's dive into this week's possible waiver wire picks and see who is worth a shot.

Good Pickups
Brad Lidge (RP, WAS) - Lidge is a good pickup like hiring a temp worker for your office is a good hire. Lidge is a temporary solution in Washington until Storen returns but if you want cheap saves then step right up. At the end of the year when you're vying for position in the saves category, those extra two or three saves you get from Lidge may be worth it. Get the saves over the next week or two then cut bait. He will be alternating save chances with Henry Rodriguez so keep an eye on him too. This is one of those situations that is clearly defined at least so you know what you're getting. 

Chris Parmelee (1B, MIN) - I pegged Parmelee as a potential sleeper but it didn't seem like he would get a chance to start this year so I didn't dive too far into evaluating him on this website. In deeper leagues, Parmelee could end up having value as a corner infielder though. He's not a game changer but it seems like he could hit .275 with 20 HR and maybe 90 RBI and 80 Runs on the season. Those type of numbers would be very nice to snatch up off the waiver wire.

Alejandro De Aza (OF, CHW) - I hyped him up already here but just wanted to give him another shout-out since he still available in many leagues.

Bartolo Colon (SP, OAK) - Colon restarted his career in a big way last year and it seems like the renaissance will continue in Oakland. Steamer has him projected for a 3.89 ERA and 1.29 WHIP which is quite nice for a waiver wire pickup. He's gotten the attention of the fantasy world with his start against the Mariners where he went 8 strong innings and picked up the win. Yes, it was the lowly Mariners but I still think Colon is a good option for deeper fantasy rotations.

Could Be Good Pickups
Matt Thornton (RP, CHW) - Thornton will be a tremendous option if he closes for the White Sox this year. The key word in that last sentence is "if". For whatever reason, the Sox still have not officially named a closer so Thornton still represents a risk if you decide to roll with him. If he gets the job, he racks up a ton of strikeouts without a huge walk rate and has posted an xFIP of under 3.00 in four consecutive seasons. Sign me up.

Jonathan Broxton (RP, KC) - The mystery of who would take over for Joakim Soria is finally solved. Originally, it seemed like Greg Holland was the obvious choice but it became more clear each day that the Royals were leaning towards Broxton. Now, it becomes official that it is Broxton and he becomes a decent option for your team but I have my worries still. Steamer has him projected for a 3.80 ERA, 1.39 WHIP with 8.55 K/9 and 4.11 BB/9. For a closer, this seems a bit scary for my tastes. With Holland breathing down his neck, that high of a walk rate may not cut it early on.

Alfredo Aceves (RP, BOS) - Let's see... He's a closer... He's on a winning ball club... That all sounds well and good but there are some caveats here. Thus far in his career, he's had an ugly 4.54 xFIP with low strikeout rates and decent walk rates. When I'm looking at a closer, I want low xFIP with high strikeout rates ideally. So, this raises a red flag with me. Boston has enough other options that I could see them moving on from Aceves after a few poor performances. I'm not sold here.

Let Someone Else Pick Them Up
Joel Peralta (RP, TB) - With Kyle Farnsworth ailing, there is some mystery about who will pick up the save opportunities in Tampa Bay. There has been no indication of who that will be and I wouldn't be surprised to see the Rays do a closer-by-committee situation. Tampa has a variety of options and likely won't commit strongly to any of them until Farnsworth returns. People seem to be jumping to Peralta on the waiver wire but I'd just stay away from this situation as there doesn't seem to be a strong favorite and even Peralta isn't a lights-out option if he does close for the time being.

Apr 5, 2012

2012's Targeted Players (Or Guys I Drafted To Multiple Teams)

I write about fantasy baseball drafts a lot here, if you haven't noticed, and I also talk about it a lot too. With the MLB season not being in full swing yet with fantasy draft season concluded, we have a lull in the action at the moment. But, as a reader, you may be wondering who I ended up drafting in my leagues and who I'll be cheering on this year. While some of the guys I targeted are obvious (Paul Goldschmidt and my other sleepers), there's some that may surprise you as they even surprised me.

I'm actually in four fantasy leagues and they are each incredibly different (which stresses the importance of knowing your league type and planning according to that structure). I'm in two point-based leagues with different scoring formats which radically change the values of certain players. Two of my leagues are long-time keeper leagues and one league was drafting keepers for the first time. I'm in one traditional 5x5 roto league and one 6x6 league (which uses Holds and OBP/SLG). So, it goes without saying that each league of mine has different concerns and focus but certain players still rise to the top in terms of being undervalued across the board and I snatch them up wherever I can.

There wasn't one player who ended up on all four of my teams but there were five players on three of them and twelve players on two of them. Let's take a gander into the mind of Mr. Cheatsheet to see just who I ended up targeting this year:

Third Time's A Charm
In three of my four leagues, I drafted some of my big sleepers like Paul Goldschmidt, Lucas Duda and Jason Kipnis. The reasons that I targeted them shouldn't be surprising if you read my sleeper profiles about each of them. The two other players that I drafted in three leagues were Mark Reynolds and Edwin Jackson.

We know what we're going to get with Reynolds. In three of my leagues, that happens to be a bit more valuable because of the league formats. His AVG is the one thing that absolutely kills you but it's not as heart-breaking in my 6x6 roto league where OBP is used instead and SLG is a category too. In my two point leagues, HR's are overvalued and strikeouts don't play a huge factor (while walks are rewarded nicely) so he's a nicer play in those leagues. In my 5x5 league, I avoided him though. I'm holding out hope that he gets traded to a team that uses him at DH given his horrible play at 3B may cost him playing time but I felt he was a nice value in my league types regardless.

Edwin Jackson is not going to make or break any of my teams. He's one of those late round grabs that may be handy for the right situations though. He's a bit undervalued as he had a 3.71 and 3.73 xFIP over the past two seasons and a fairly high BABIP that should drop. If I can get a pitcher with a potential 3.75 ERA and decent strikeout totals in the last rounds then, sure, I'll do that. He's not going to surprise anyone this year but there's worse guys to grab towards the end of a draft.

It Takes Two
I drafted a lot of guys twice. Some were on my sleeper lists (Desmond Jennings, Alejandra De Aza, Brandon Beachy) so I won't harp on them too much. A few of them were carried over as keepers from my teams so I can't really say I drafted them for a particular reason related to their value in drafts this year (Dan Uggla, Madison Bumgarner, Justin Upton). So, the guys left over would be Mike Napoli, Stephen Strasburg, Mike Minor, Ryan Dempster, B.J. Upton, and Chris Capuano. I won't devote a paragraph to each of those but here's a short blurb at least:
  • Mike Napoli - Needed power in two roto leagues and one of them was a two catcher auction league where he was being undervalued. So, the Napoli Experiment begins for me.
  • Stephen Strasburg - I drafted him in an auction keeper league where he surprisingly went for a very low price after other drafters spent too much early. The other league I got him fairly early in a redraft league but I really do feel that the 160 IP we get out of him will be lights out this year. It's a gamble though.
  • Mike Minor - Given his relative lack of experience, I got him for a cheap price despite the fact that he pitches for one of the best NL teams and has as high of a ceiling as any other young pitcher this year (he's a former early first round draft pick after all). In 123 IP, he's had a 3.63 xFIP in the majors with 8.76 K/9. That's awesome value for the late rounds.
  • Ryan Dempster - Over the past four seasons, his xFIP has been as low as 3.69 and as high as 3.76. To say he's been consistent would be an understatement. Don't be fooled by his 4.80 ERA last year; this is still the same Dempster at a lower draft price.
  • B.J. Upton - I drafted him before he went onto the DL but, like Mark Reynolds, he's a valuable player to a roto team if you build your team around his weakness in AVG. A hitter who can potential hit over 20 HR and steal over 40 bases? You can find a way to make that work if you play your cards right.
  • Chris Capuano - He seemed like a completely different pitcher last year than the old Brewer we knew. His strikeout rate increased and his walk rate dropped yet his ERA was 4.55 due to some poor luck. I see him being a valuable pitcher this year hopefully with some better luck in Los Angeles. As far as late round pitcher options go, I felt he was worth the a bench spot.
So, now you know the guys that I will officially be rooting hard for in 2012. Some of them will fail and some of them will work out and only time will tell who those will be. The MLB season has finally started so let the fun begin of finding out just how good our drafts really were. Play ball!

Apr 3, 2012

Podcast | Fantasy Baseball Performance Enhancing Discussions, Ep. 4

In a weekly feature here, we present another episode of the entertaining weekly podcast that is hosted by me and Russ, my co-host who will represent the average inquisitive fantasy player. Step away from baseball statistics and step into the world of insightful and witty fantasy baseball banter.

Episode 4: The Tradition of Live Drafting
This week, we discuss why live fantasy baseball drafts are so essential to a good fantasy league. Given that drafts have concluded and the season hasn't started, this live-ish episode focuses less on the analytical and strategical aspects of fantasy baseball and more on the tradition-based aspects of it. In the broken news, we discuss Ryan Madson's replacement, Michael Pineda's DL stint and the return of Johan Santana.

  • Given that this was recorded in a different format, the audio quality is a bit different than you may be used to. Back to normal next week.
  • We mention a draft board service on the show but didn't know the name of it. Their website is: http://www.revolabels.com/

Go ahead and subscribe to the podcast RSS feed and/or subscribe on iTunes. Also, it would be a huge help if you'd rate and review us on iTunes. Beyond that, leave us some comments about the show and submit mailbag questions for future episodes!

(Also, make sure to follow the Twitter account for Russ: @mrscheatsheet)