Archive June 2009

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MLB Notes

Tim Lincecum won the Cy Young last year, but he’s been an even better pitcher this season, despite a 7.56 ERA after his first two starts. His K rate is ever so slightly down compared to last year, but 10.42/9 is still an acceptable number, and his walk rate is down significantly (2.21 BB/9). His xFIP (2.80) is the second best in baseball, so despite a decrease in velocity (92.5 mph), Lincecum remains one of the three best pitchers in the game. And he’s becoming more efficient too, averaging a staggering 8.75 innings pitched over his last four starts, never throwing more than 110 pitches in the process. The choice between Lincecum or Dan Haren starting the All-Star game is a tough one.

Under the Big Straw Hat - No. 2

This has been a particularly interesting and rewardng year for top prospects in virtually every major league organization.  Many familiar names we have been watching and writing about have made their major league debuts within the past month or two.  Some come to mind as particularly intriguing:

MLB Thoughts and Observations

I haven't heard a lot of talk about Nate Schierholz - surprising especially from DDD who's a Giants fan. Schierholz isn't a super prospect, but he posted an OPS of well over .900 for two years in a row at Triple-A and is still just 25. He'll run a bit, hit for average and a little pop. He won't take a walk, but that's not a bad thing in fantasy, especially since his contact rate isn't a problem. Got him in the RotoWire Staff 18-team keeper league a couple weeks ago for $1 - which shows how forgotten he'd been. I'd suggest picking up players like James McDonald, Matt LaPorta, Chase Headley and Clay Buchholz - even in deeper one-year mixed leagues because you never know when one will break out, and you want to be there before it happens.


Mauer Revisited

One month ago there was some discussion that Joe Mauer's newfound power was more than just a hot streak and that he had developed a new skill.

Why My Friends and Family Blockbuster Has Worked Out So Far (Knock on Wood)

On June 3, despite being comfortably in first place in the Yahoo Friends and Family League, I made the following blockbuster trade: I dealt Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, Jorge Posada and Gil Meche to Mike Salfino for Hanley Ramirez, Geovany Soto, Roy Oswalt and Carlos Quentin.

RotoWire 150

Here's our overall NFL cheat sheet - at least as of late June:

NFBC Free Agent Results, Week 13

Marlins closer bidding war week.

Who's Available in Your League?

It's been awhile since I've solicited names from you for our FAAB articles - I figured now's a good time to get a gauge on what's out there.

Buy Lowest - Part 2

I wrote the first version of this column three weeks ago, and judge for yourself whether you should have bought into that portfolio generally at the going rate. (It's almost impossible to remember what the market was like for those players now that many have turned it around so completely - unlike the stock market we can't just look back at the dollar value at which they were trading). Here are a few more.

The View from Under the Big Straw Hat

Since I went to Scout School and worked as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners, I haven't been able to watch a baseball game without evaluating each and every player.  I don't watch a game the way I did before I worked as a scout.

Jarrod Washburn

Another great performance by the unheralded lefty.

MLB Notes

Over his last six starts, Felix Hernandez has a 1.00 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. Three games against the NL West have certainly helped, but after back-to-back seasons with WHIPs approaching 1.40, Hernandez may finally be realizing all that potential, and it’s easy to forget he’s still just 23 years old. While his command could still use some improvement, his 8.68 K/9 mark is a career-best, and despite Seattle fielding one of the better defenses in baseball, Hernandez’s BABIP (.311) has hardly been lucky. While his G/F ratio has dropped from a remarkable 2.67 in 2007, of the top-30 starting pitchers who have induced the most groundballs in 2009, Hernandez has the best K rate by a wide margin, which is the type of combination that could eventually lead to a Cy Young.

NBA Mock Draft

A stab at the first 15 picks:

Pre-Draft Thoughts and Observations

What's on my mind heading into Thursday's NBA draft:

For all the talk about how the Clippers can't screw this one up with Blake Griffin sitting there for them at #1, the reality of the situation is that they certainly can (and will probably find a way to). The Clippers have been nearly as bad when it comes to player development as they have been with evaluating/drafting prospects. Even if they do end up drafting Griffin first overall, Clipper nation shouldn't be breathing a sigh of relief just yet.

2009 NBA Draft: Tiered Top-30 Prospect Rankings

With trade talks heating up and numerous picks expected to change hands on draft day, mock drafts are becoming less and less useful of a tool as each day passes. So instead of putting together a mock draft that will more than likely be outdated by the time the draft begins, I've opted to create a top-30 tiered rankings list of this year's prospects. They may differ dramatically in some aspects from what we've been seeing in the mainstream mocks and rankings, but they are a reflection of my thoughts and opinions on each player's pro potential based on a wide variety of evaluators.

Intentionally Walking a Batter with Runners on First and Second

With the Braves down 8-4 in the ninth inning and runners on first and second with two outs, manager Bobby Cox intentionally walked Robinson Cano to load the bases.

Are Any of the League's Top Power Hitters Clean?

Looking over the last 20-odd years, nearly all of baseball's top power hitters are accused or confirmed PED users. Here are the top-10 career home run leaders from this era:

MLB Notes

There have been a lot of rookies who have failed to impress this year, but Colby Rasmus isn’t one of them. His .772 OPS doesn’t jump out, and his .114/.220/.182 line against southpaws is an abomination, but Rasmus is hitting .358 in June, and his defense in center field has been the absolute best in baseball (30.1 UZR/150). Moreover, he recorded 74 steals with an 81% success rate over four abbreviated seasons in the minors, so more activity on the basepaths should be expected (he has just one steal this season). Better plate discipline is a must, but Rasmus looks like a keeper.

Tuesday MLB Pregame Notes & Snapdraft Lineup

There's a full slate of games on Tuesday, here's my look at tonight's game plus my SnapDraft lineup.
Here's who I went with:

Joe Mauer - MIN @ MLW - Tue @8:05 PM    $2,610,000
1B Albert Pujols - STL @ NYM-Tue @7:10 PM    $3,670,000
2B Chase Utley - PHI @ TB - Tue @7:08 PM    $3,040,000
3B Chipper Jones - ATL vs. NYY-Tue @7:10 PM    $2,880,000
SS Hanley Ramirez - FLA vs. BAL - Tue @7:10 PM    $3,320,000
OF Jason Kubel - MIN @ MLW - Tue @8:05 PM    $1,760,000
OF Nate McLouth - ATL vs. NYY - Tue @7:10 PM    $2,350,000
OF Michael Cuddyer. - MIN @ MLW - Tue @8:05 PM    $1,820,000
P Tim Lincecum - SF @ OAK - Tue @10:05 PM    $3,030,000
P Zack Greinke - KC @ HOU - Tue @8:05 PM    $2,370,000

Mitch Stetter, Sooper-LOOGY

Maybe it's the fact that he pitches for Milwaukee. Maybe it's the fact that he's considered little more than a lefty specialist. But Mitch Stetter has gotten very little attention despite being on something of a crazy tear over his last five games.

In that stretch, he's faced 13 batters. One of them, Troy Tulowitzki, beat out an infield single to shortstop. Another, Victor Martinez, grounded back to the mound and reached on a fielder's choice.

The other 11 struck out.

The Limitations of Yards Per Target

While writing up the wide receiver section for our football magazine the last several years, I've noticed a few things about wideout stats that hadn't initially occurred to me. For starters, it turns out that deep threats as a group average more yards per target than possession receivers.

BABIP and Control (or Lack Thereof)

It's widely believed that for pitchers, batting average on balls in play is largely due to luck and that over time, will settle toward .300. Put differently, 30 percent of batted balls that don't go over the fence are expected to drop in for hits regardless of the pitcher. (This does not account for extremely good or bad defense, but assuming the defense is close to average, the main explanation for severe deviations from a .300 BABIP is dumb luck).

NFBC Free Agent Results, Week 12

Quieter week on the bidding front:

BABIP of the Week: Carl Pavano(?!)

In this week's edition of BABIP of the Week, we examine a very unlikely tout: Carl Pavano.

Boston Rottweilers, Orlando...Poodles?

Paul Pierce on Lakers vs Magic, and next year's Celtics.  Gotta love Twitter.

What We're Keeping our Eis on --- Saturday Edition

Don't see Year One.

Juan Big Problem

With Manny Ramirez's return coming soon, the Dodgers are put in a tough spot. Juan Pierre has produced and wants to keep playing, so what to do? Whatever it is, there will be fantasy blood.

Worst. Article. Ever.

Harold Reynolds made a recent blog post talking about those kids and their wacky statistics ruining baseball. What stat does he have a problem with in particular? VORP? WPA? UZR? xFIP? No, what really gets under Reynolds’ skin is the crazy, convoluted, new stat known as “OPS” – that’s on-base plus slugging for those of you who haven’t watched a baseball game since the 80s.

I would carry on killing this idiocy, but Joe Posnanski already took care of that.

MLB Notes

With just six wins on the season and playing for a last place team, Dan Haren is getting a little overlooked, as he’s quietly become one of the three best pitchers in baseball since coming to Arizona. His 7.38:1 K/BB ratio ranks best in MLB, and his mediocre record obviously can’t be held against him, since his run support (4.72) ranks 106th among qualified starters, and his bullpen has done him no favors either. Haren has held opponents to a collective .539 OPS, which is a full 50 points lower than the second best mark (Josh Johnson). He’s been fortunate with his hit rate and LOB%, but considering his home park currently ranks second only to Coors Field in boosting run scoring according to Park Factors, Haren’s performance is all that more impressive. Arizona’s defense also ranks in the bottom-10 in efficiency, so it’s not like he’s been getting a ton of help with the gloves behind him either. The guy’s WHIP is 0.82! He was No. 2 on my NL Cy Young ballot last season, but he’s currently atop my list so far in 2009.

Drafting at the FSTA Conference

I participated in a 12-team live draft at the FSTA conference in Chicago on Wednesday night. This league is a PPR league, with 1 point per WR/TE reception, .5 per RB reception. QB's are significantly devalued in this league - 3 pts /pass TD, 1 pt/30 passing yards, -1 point for each interception thrown.
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