MLB Notes

Over the last two seasons while on the road, Adrian Gonzalez has hit .311 with 48 homers, 105 runs scored and 122 RBI over 161 games. It’s not exactly a secret him moving from the best pitcher’s park in Petco to one of the better hitter’s parks in Fenway should absolutely boost his numbers, not to mention the huge lineup upgrade in Boston. It wouldn’t surprise me even a little if Gonzalez finished 2011 as the No. 1 overall fantasy player. However, I worry about the offseason shoulder surgery, a procedure that can sometimes take some time to fully recover. If he were 100 percent healthy, he’d easily be the No. 2 player on my board. As is, he’s much safer as a late first round pick.

This guy takes diving in soccer to a new level.

A worthwhile read about the deteriorating movie industry.

Carlos Quentin has averaged 27.7 home runs over the past three seasons, which looks pretty enticing when you consider he’s averaged just 428 at-bats per year over that span. Of course, this also highlights just how injury-prone Quentin has become (he set a career-high by appearing in 131 games last season), and he’s also a career .251 hitter. Remarkably, .251 is also his career BABIP. Of course, it wouldn’t be wise to expect that to suddenly creep toward .300, especially since he’s such an extreme fly ball hitter, but since his contact rate isn’t so bad for a power hitter, he’s probably more likely to hit .260 this year than .240 like he has the past two seasons. Quentin is poor defensively and benefits greatly from his home park, but the power upside is very real. I’m buying.

A new form of carpooling.

I’m beginning to think Tommy Morrison’s perception of reality is out of whack.

Sticking with enigmas on the White Sox, Edwin Jackson appears to be the opposite of most pitchers, actually preferring to play in the American League. After a solid season in Detroit in 2009 (3.62 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 2.3:1 K:BB), he flat out flopped in Arizona last year (4.0 BB/9), only to throw better than at any other point in his career after a midseason trade to Chicago (77:18 K:BB ratio over 75.0 innings). In fact, he had a three-start stretch in which he posted a 32:6 K:BB ratio and walked just one batter in five of his final seven starts. It’s hard to tell if a light switch really went on for the former top prospect, and it’s worth mentioning his schedule was rather easy after joining the White Sox, but he remains intriguing thanks to impressive fastball velocity, and he even saw his GB% jump by more than 10% last year compared to 2009 – all the way to 49.4%, which would be a key skill to maintain now pitching in U.S. Cellular Field.

Interesting stuff regarding life expectancy.

Seems everyone is talking about the new book “Forecasting,” and I found this review enlightening.

What C.J. Wilson did last year transitioning from the pen to a starter was impressive, and while he’s not going to require an especially high pick in 2011, he’s someone to treat cautiously. For one, he saw his workload increase from the year prior (which was a career-high) by a whopping 154.2 innings, which is almost unheard of. He did so while also walking the most batters in the American League, so it comes as no surprise he was awfully lucky in BABIP (.266) and HR/FB% (5.3%), the latter being even more fortunate considering his home park. While some of the same concerns can be said about teammate Colby Lewis, his underlying peripherals are much more impressive (8.78 K/9, 2.91 BB/9). As a fly ball pitcher in Texas, he’s likely to give up too many homers to post an elite ERA, but last season’s 1.19 WHIP looks for real. Many will want to see him do it again before becoming a true believer, so Lewis looks like an undervalued commodity.

As if the Oakland Coliseum wasn’t enough of a dump as is.

Good stuff regarding quarterbacks and sacks taken (although the headline is misleading, since Ben Roethlisberger was suspended the first four games of the season).

Jered Weaver is an interesting case entering 2011, as his previous career-high K rate was 7.68/9 before jumping all the way to 9.35/9 last season. In fact, he led all of baseball with 233 strikeouts, while also posting a career best walk rate (2.17/9). He’s an extreme fly ball pitcher, so while last year’s BABIP (.276) may rise some, it’s worth noting his career mark is .283, so a major correction there isn’t necessarily in store. But can he maintain that strikeout rate, or something close to it? If you believe so, he arguably should be treated as a top-three fantasy starter, although he certainly won’t cost as much. And starting off last year’s baseline, he could regress some and still be among the 10-15 most valuable fantasy starters.  It just depends how much you believe in such an increase in performance during a career-year that occurred during Weaver’s fifth season in the league.

Video game urinals? Video game urinals.

Finally watched the series finale of “Friday Night Lights,” and I must say, the last season could arguably be its best. Amazing how a show could remain so terrific despite changing 80% of its cast throughout its running. It’s too bad such quality has been watched by so few.

Before suffering a broken foot last year, Dustin Pedroia was quietly having possibly the most productive season of his career. If you projected his stats over just 150 games, he was on pace to finish with this line: .288-24-106-82-18. He seemed to consciously sacrifice strikeouts (his 12.6 K% was still strong, but his previous high was 8.1%) in order to add power (his .205 ISO was by far a career-high). Chase Utley’s slugging percentage has dropped each of the past three seasons (it’s important to note he actually hit more groundballs than fly balls last year) and an already injury-prone player (he consistently leads MLB in hit by pitch) is quite a risk now at age 32 playing such a vulnerable position on the diamond. Robinson Cano is great (and his durability has been impressive) but just realize if Pedroia hadn’t gone down last season, their stats would have been close to equal, mostly because of the stolen base discrepancy (for that matter, Rickie Weeks and Ian Kinsler are the two second basemen with the most fantasy upside, but their even riskier as far as health is concerned), and it’s also worth pointing out Pedroia’s career BA (.305) is right in line with Cano’s (.309). All that said, while I was ready to go all contrarian and call Pedroia my No. 1 second baseman for 2011, this report regarding the status of his foot is no doubt disconcerting.

Did anyone check out Jay Mariotti on Jason Whitlock’s podcast? Here are some highlights: Mariotti showed zero contrition for his arrest, named Dan Shaughnessy and Skip Bayless among his two favorite writers, doesn’t read Bill Simmons because his articles are too long (“who has the time?”), never heard of A.J. Daulerio, didn’t directly address what Whitlock was asking him in at least half his responses because he apparently didn’t understand the questioning, has never seen “The Wire” (and more importantly, it was unclear if he had ever even heard of the show) and vehemently denied having a “shtick” on “Around The Horn” – although after hearing the podcast, that last part might be true, and that really was him being his true self all along. This is not a good thing.

I’ve reached for younger players with upside less and less over recent years, finding more value in veterans, but there are two especially intriguing hitters I’d be willing to buy the hype and pay the price tag for this year, and they are Jason Heyward and Mike Stanton. And the more I look into it, the more I’m starting to prefer the latter, and that’s without considering Stanton’s current ADP is 100 picks lower. Heyward has more SB potential and much better plate discipline, and it’s possible that thumb injury really affected last year’s stats, which were still quite impressive for a 20-year-old, but it doesn’t look like a fluke he finished with four fewer homers than Stanton despite getting 161 more at-bats. Heyward actually posted a 2.03 GB/FB ratio last season, which translated into a 55.1 GB%, which was the seventh highest in baseball. To put that into perspective, the six players above him COMBINED for 24 home runs. There’s no doubt Stanton is a BA risk with all those Ks, but at 6-5, 233 lbs, he’s already one of the strongest players in major league baseball, so I’m a believer in his HR/FB% (22.9). That he hit so poorly at home (.182/.272/.327) and against left-handers (.218/.253/.391) suggests there’s significant room for improvement too. Both Stanton and Heyward could appear in a dozen All-Star games before all is said and done, but the former’s fantasy value is much closer to the latter’s than the current ADP suggests.

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