2014 NL East Outside Corner Report- Week 16 Fantasy Baseball Recap

Atlanta Braves

The Braves have lost three of their last five games to fall out of first place. They trail Washington by 1 game in the NL East. Atlanta is 3rd in the NL in ERA (3.32). Mike Minor has been drilled in back to back games (12 runs and 24 base runners in 9 innings), worsening his ERA to 5.32. Julio Teheran delivered a plus 11 K game in his last start against Miami when he allowed 1 run in 7 innings. Jason Heyward is hitting .364 over the last week with 1 HR and 6 RBI. Justin Upton has 7 hits in his last 20 at bats with 7 runs, 1 HR and 2 RBI. Freddie Freeman only has 2 hits in his last 22 at bats. Andrelton Simmons is only hitting .130 in his last 23 at bats. Evan Gattis return for the DL after the break and has 1 hit in 7 at bats. The Braves are 10th in the National League in runs scored (389)

Miami Marlins

Miami has lost 7 of their last 10 games to fall 8.5 games off the pace in the NL East. They have scored 3 runs or less in 10 of their last 12 games, which has led to them falling to 6th in National League in runs scored (413). Christian Yelich has 9 hits in his last 23 at bats with 2 RBI and 1 SB. Jordany Valdespin was called up to take over the starting second base job. He was hitting .270 at AAA with 8 HR’s, 29 RBI and 15 SB’s in 222 at bats. Marcell Ozuna has 4 hits in his last 23 at bats with 8 K’s. The Marlins are 13th in the NL in ERA (4.01). Nathan Eovaldi has been a train wreck in his last two starts (13 runs and 18 base runners in 11 innings). Jacob Turner has returned to the starting rotation. He allowed 2 runs in 5 innings with 4 K’s in his first start. Andrew Heaney allowed 1 run and only 2 hits over 7 innings with 8 K’s in his last start at AAA.

New York Mets

The Mets have won 9 of their last 13 games to move within 5 game of the .500 mark. They trail Washington by 8 games. New York has scored only 9 runs in their last 5 games. They are 9th in the NL in runs scored (397). Travis D’Arnaud has 7 hits in his last 20 at bats with 3 RBI. Lucas Duda was the only batter to hit a HR. Juan Lagares only has 3 hits in his last 21 at bats with 3 RBI. Jon Niese returned for the DL on Monday where he allowed 4 runs and 13 base runners in 6 innings. Jacob DeGrom has only allowed 2 runs in his last 21 innings with 26 K’s. Zack Wheeler has allowed 1 run in each of his last 4 starts covering 25.3 innings. Noah Syndergaard allowed no runs in 6.3 innings with 5 K’s in his last start at AAA. Over his last ten starts, he has a 6.65 ERA. The Mets have moved to 7th in the NL in ERA (3.49).

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies have lost 7 of their last 8 games to fall 15 games under the .500 mark. They appear to be sellers at the trade deadline. Their pitching staff has allowed 5 run or more 6 times in their last 8 games. Philly is 12th in the NL in ERA (3.99). Cliff Lee returned from the DL on Monday, but he struggled (6 runs and 13 base runners in 5.7 innings). Cole Hamels has a 2.26 ERA over his last 12 starts with 81 K’s in 83.7 innings. Jimmy Rollins has been the most productive bat (2 HR’s and 6 RBI) since the break, but he is only hitting .200. Grady Sizemore has played well since being called up from AAA (8 for 21 with 1 RBI). The Phillies have started sitting Ryan Howard down against lefties. He is hitting .209 against them with 40 K’s in 91 at-bats. I’m sure they would love to move him over the next week. Philadelphia is 12th in the NL in runs scored (386).

Washington Nationals

The Nationals have won six of their last 8 games to regain first place in the NL East. They have scored 5 runs or more in each of their last 6 wins. Washington lost Ryan Zimmerman for an extended amount of time with a hamstring injury. It’s too bad as he was just starting to find his stroke (.368 with 1 HR and 6 RBI over his last 5 games). Denard Span has 12 hits in his last 26 at bats with 1 RBI and 2 SB’s, and Ian Desmond hit .440 with 1 HR and 5 RBI. Over the last week, only Anthony Rendon struggled (.172). The Nationals have climbed to 5th in the NL in runs scored (420). Stephen Strasburg continues to pitch like a second tier arm (4.98 ERA in his last 7 starts). Tanner Roark has been their best pitcher all season (9-6 with a 2.91 ERA), although Doug Fister is a close 2nd (9-2 with a 2.92 ERA). Washington is 1st in the National League in ERA (3.12).

2014 NL Central Outside Corner Report- Week 16 Fantasy Baseball Recap

Chicago Cubs

Chicago has been on a negative progression every since they traded away Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. They have lost 12 of their last 15 games. Their pitching staff has allowed 46 runs in their last 7 games, which included a shutout led by Kyle Hendricks. He threw 7 shutout innings with 5 K’s against the Padres. Travis Wood has 6.82 ERA in his last 6 starts with 21 walks in 31.7 innings. The Cubs are now 11th in the NL in ERA (3.90). Anthony Rizzo has 8 hits in his 17 at bats with 5 HR’s and 6 RBI. Over the last month, he is hitting .311 with 11 HR’s with 17 RBI. Starlin Castro only has 3 hits in his last 17 at bats with 1 RBI. Kris Bryant is only hitting .237 over his last 10 games at AAA with 3 HR’s and 7 RBI. Javier Baez has pushed his average to a season high (.253) after hitting .333 over his last 10 games with 2 HR’s and 10 RBI. Chicago is 13th in the National League in runs scored (384).

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds have started to take on water as they have lost their last 6 games to fall 5.5 games off the pace in the NL Central. They have scored 3 runs or less in each of their recent losses. Cinci is 10th the NL in runs scored (389). It looks like Joey Votto is just about done for the season as his recent update puts him out until early September. Brayan Pena is the only batter that hit over .250 over the last week (.263 with 2 HR’s). Jay Bruce only has 2 hits in his last 18 at-bats with 8 K’s. Devin Mesoraco has 1 hit in his last 15 at bats. Mike Leake has struggled in his last 3 starts (12 runs and 23 base runners in 19 innings). He has allowed 48 hits in his last 31.7 innings. Aroldis Chapman hasn’t saved a game since July 13th, but je has 12 K’s in his last 4.3 innings (13 possible outs). The Reds are 8th in the NL in ERA (3.53).

Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers really needed a four day break as they were about to lose first place for the first time since April 4th. They had lost 11 of 13 games with a declining pitching staff. They have won 5 of their last 7 games to open up a 2.5 game lead in the NL Central. Milwaukee is 10th in the league in ERA (3.77). Wily Peralta has pitched well in his last two starts (1 run in 14 innings with 10 K’s). Jimmy Nelson was called up on July 12th to replace Marco Estrada in the starting rotation. He pitched well through 6 innings in his last start (3 runs in 6 innings with 5 K’s) before leaving in the 7th inning with the bases loaded after allowing 2 hits and a pair of hit batters (2 runs scored). Ryan Braun has 8 hits in his last 22 at bats with 2 HR’s and 6 RBI. Scooter Gennett left Wednesday night’s game with a quad injury. This will open up a short-term window for more at-bats for Rickie Weeks. The Brewers are 2nd in the National League in runs scored (448) and 2nd in HR’s (103).

Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates have pushed their way into a 2nd place tie with the Cardinals in the NL Central after winning five of their last 6 games. They trail the Brewers by 2.5 games. Pittsburgh is 9th in the NL in ERA (3.68). Francisco Liriano has pitched great since coming off the DL (1 run in 12 innings with 12 K’s), and Vance Worley has pitched very well in his 6 starts since being called up as a fill in for the rotation (3-1 with 3.10 ERA). He’ll have about two more weeks to prove his worth as Gerrit Cole is expected back from his lat injury. Neil Walker has 10 hits in his last 22 at bats with 2 HR’s and 5 RBI. Gregory Polanco is only hitting .198 over the last 30 days with 3 HR’s, 11 RBI and 4 SB’s. Starling Marte was placed on the DL with a concussion issue, and it sounds like he will only miss about a week. The Pirates have moved to 4th in the NL in runs scored (423).

St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis moved into a first place tie for 2 days over the weekend before losing three straight games. They have hung pretty tough after losing their #2 starter. The Cardinals are 5th in the National League in ERA (3.39). Carlos Martinez has been bounced for the rotation for the short term after allowing 11 runs and 28 base runners in his last 14 innings. Joe Kelly pitched very well in his 2nd start (1 run in 7 innings with 4 K’s). Lance Lynn has a 2.59 ERA in his last 13 starts with 67 K’s in 80 innings. Matt Holliday has 2 HR’s and 6 RBI in his last 16 at bats, but he has 8 K’s. Tony Cruz has 6 hits in 36 at bats since taking over the starting catching job. Oscar Taveras has struggled to get full time at-bats since being called up in early July. He only 3 hits in his last 19 at bats with 4 starts in 10 games. St. Louis is 14th in the NL in runs scored (372) and last in HR’s (65).

2014 NL West Outside Corner Report- Week 16 Fantasy Baseball Recap

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks have won 8 of their last 13 games, but they remain buried in the NL West. Arizona is 8th in the NL runs scored (406). Aaron Hill has 9 hits in his last 23 at bats with 1 HR and 4 RBI. Paul Goldschmidt hit .333 with 2 HR’s and 4 RBI. Josh Collmenter has allowed 1 run or less in four of his last 5 starts. Wade Miley has a 2.90 ERA in his last 6 starts with 40 K’s in 40.3 innings. The Diamondbacks are 14th in the NL in ERA (4.25).

Colorado Rockies

The Rockies’ struggles will soon be forgotten when the Broncos hit the field in August. Colorado has lost 22 of their last 29 games. They lost Troy Tulowitzki for a couple of weeks with a thigh injury, and he was a very non-productive over the last 30 days (.280 with 3 HR’s and 7 RBI). Corey Dickerson has 9 hits in his last 20 at bats with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 SB’s. Josh Rutledge has played well over the last week (8 for 21 with 1 HR and 2 RBI). He should get full time at-bats with Tulo out, and this may lead to more at bats at 2B if he plays well. Carlos Gonzalez only has 3 hits in his last 19 at bats with 10 K’s. Nolan Arenado is only hitting .213 with 1 HR and 6 RBI since returning from the DL. The Rockies remain the worst pitching staff in the majors (5.04 ERA), but they lead the league in runs scored (476) and HR’s (117). Jorge De La Rosa has won 5 straight decisions over the last month. The Rockies have only won two games since June 15th with him not on the mound.

Los Angeles Dodgers

LA has lost four of six games after the All Star break to drop 2 games behind the Giants in the NL West. Josh Beckett struggled in his return from his hip injury (4 runs {3 HR’s} in 3.7 innings). Clayton Kershaw allowed 3 run in his last start, which is the most in a game since May 28th. He has a 0.75 ERA over his last 6 starts with 63 K’s in 48 innings. The Dodgers are 6th in the NL in ERA (3.41). Adrian Gonzalez has 8 hits in his last 22 at bats with 1 HR and 5 RBI. Carl Crawford has 2 hits in his last 16 at bats with 1 SB. Hanley Ramirez has missed the last couple of games after getting drilled twice against the Cardinals. LA is 3rd in the NL in runs scored (425).

San Diego Padres

San Diego has lost eight of their last 12 games, yet they remain in 3rd place in the NL West. They have scored 1 run or less 5 times in their last 11 games. They are 2nd in the National League in ERA (3.18). Odrisamer Despaigne has delivered 5 straight solid start since being called up from AAA. He has a 1.31 ERA in 34.3 innings, which is surprising considering he had a 6.85 ERA at AAA with 48 base runners allowed in 23.7 innings. Sometimes fantasy player just step in shit and come out smelling like a rose. Tyson Ross has a 1.47 ERA over his last 43 innings with 42 K’s. Huston Street was traded to the Angels, which gives Joaquin Benoit the closing job for now. There’s a chance he gets traded as well. If so, Kevin Quackenbush is my favorite to pitch in the 9th. Cameron Maybin was suspended for 25 games for taking amphetamines. Will Venable will get a chance at increased at bats. He has 5 hits in his last 16 at-bats with 1 HR and 2 SB’s. Chase Headley was traded to the Yankees, which gives newly acquired Yangervis Solarte the inside track as the third base job.

San Francisco Giants

The Giants have won six of their last seven games to move back into first place in the NL West. They have scored 5 runs or more in five of their last six games. Buster Posey has 10 hits in his last 25 at bats with 1 HR and 7 RBI. Hunter Pence hit .400 with 1 HR and 8 RBI. Pablo Sandoval is the 3rd batter with 10 hits or more over the last 7 games (.370 with 1 HR and 4 RBI). Michael Morse is only hitting .235 over the last 30 days with 1 HR and 3 RBI. San Fran is 7th in the NL in runs scored (408). After struggling for 4 straight starts (19 runs in 24.3 innings), Madison Bumgarner is 2-0 in his last two starts with 1 run allowed in 14 innings with 13 K’s. Tim Lincecum has a 1.64 ERA in his last 6 starts with 4 wins and 1 save. The Giants are 4th in the National League in ERA (3.35).

2014 AL West Outside Corner Report- Week 16 Fantasy Baseball Recap

Los Angeles Angels

LA closed within a game of the A’s at the All Star break, but they have lost 3 of their last 4 games to drop 2 games off the pace. They have scored 3 runs or less in four of their last 5 games. The Angels now lead the AL in run scored (393). Mike Trout has 2 HR’s in his last 24 at bats, but he has 9 K’s. Howie Kendrick hit .333 with 1 RBI and 1 SB. Albert Pujols only has 3 hits in his last 21 at bats. LA is 6th in the American League in ERA (3.78). Garrett Richards delivered another electric start (1 run in 8 innings with 7 K’s), and Hector Santiago pitched great in a spot start (7.7 shutout innings with 4 K’s). The Angels acquired Huston Street to take over the 9th inning. C.J. Wilson was put on the DL with an ankle injury.

Houston Astros

The Astros have struggled to score runs in 6 of their last 7 games. They have won 6 of their last 10 games to remain ahead of Texas for the battle of the cellar dwellers in the AL West. George Springer has missed the last couple of games due to a knee injury, and he is only hitting .191 over the last 30 days with 42 K’s in 99 at bats. Jose Altuve continues to be the team’s best hitter (.400 with 1 HR and 4 RBI). Jason Castro doesn’t have a hit in his last 13 at bats with 4 K’s. Houston is last in the American League in runs scored (387). They are 14th in the league in ERA (4.36). All four of their starters allowed 3 runs or less in their starts after the break, but no pitcher delivered a noteworthy game. Brett Oberholtzer allowed 2 runs in 7 innings, but he had no K’s.

Oakland A’s

The A’shave lost 5 of their last 9 games, but they remain 2 games ahead of the Angels in the AL West. They are 1st in the American League in ERA (3.10) while slipping to 2nd in runs scored (487). Sonny Gray has been Oakland’s best pitcher over the last month (4-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 30 K’s in 33.3 innings). Jeff Samardzija has pitched reasonable well in his three starts (3.27 ERA), but Jason Hammel has proved to be a weak link in his two starts (0-2 with a 9.00 ERA). Yoenis Cespedes has 6 hits in his last 17 at bats, and Josh Donaldson hit .313 with 1 HR and 6 RBI. Coco Crisp only has 2 hits in his last 17 at bats. Drew Pomeranz allowed 1 run in 6 innings with 5 K’s in his last start at AAA. He may get the next call if Hammel continues to struggle.

Seattle Mariners

Seattle has lost 7 of their last 11 games to drop 8.5 games behind Oakland in the AL West. They are still one of the favorites to win the last wild card slots for the playoffs. Their pitching staff ranks 2nd in the league with a 3.11 ERA. Every starting pitcher allowed 3 run or less since the All Star break. Erasmo Ramirez delivered a surprising 10 K game over 7 innings in his last start against the Mets. Feliz Hernandez, who threw 7 shutout innings with 9 K’,s continues to be a rock at the front of the rotation. Over the last month, he is 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA and 41 K’s over 38 innings. Dustin Ackley has 10 hits in his last 21 at bats with 3 RBI, and Kyle Seager hit .304 with 1 HR and 3 RBI. Mike Zunino only has 3 hits in his last 18 at bats while Logan Morrison has 1 hit in 13 at bats. The Mariners are 13th in the AL in runs scored (394).

Texas Rangers

The Rangers have lost 17 of their last 20 games. They have the worst record in baseball at 40-60 and are last in the American League in ERA (4.85). Their under par starters have allowed 2 runs or less in four games since the All Star break. Yu Darvish allowed 1 run in 6.7 innings with 12 K’s. Nick Martinez pitched a surprising 5.3 shutout innings against the Yankees with 3 K’s. J.P. Arencibia was called back up to play some 1st base. He has 3 hits in 19 at bats, but 2 of those hits left the ballpark. Roughed Odor has 7 hits in 18 at bats with 2 RBI. Shin-Soo Choo is hitting .221 over the last 30 days with only 2 HR’s and 6 RBI. The Rangers are 9th in the AL in runs scored (408).

2014 AL Central Outside Corner Report- Week 16 Fantasy Baseball Recap

Chicago White Sox

Chicago have won 3 of 5 games since the All Star break. They remain 5 games under .500 while trailing Detroit by 9 games. The White Sox are 6th in the AL in runs scored (429). Adam Eaton has 9 hits in his last 18 at bats with 2 SB’s. Gordon Beckham has 1 hit in his last 18 at bats. Adam Dunn was the most productive player (1 HR and 4 RBI). Scott Carroll and Jon Danks combined to allowed 12 runs and 25 base runners in 9.3 innings. Chris Sale was the only starter to have success (1 run in 7 innings with 8 K’s), and Zach Putnam has earned 2 of the last 3 saves. Matt Lindstrom is scheduled to begin a rehab assignment in early August. Chicago is 12th in the league in ERA (4.20).

Cleveland Indians

The Indians have won 7 of their last 10 games to move within 5.5 games of Detroit in the AL Central. They are 9th in the American League in ERA (3.91). Both Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar pitched well after being recalled from the minors (2 combined runs in 10.3 innings with 12 K’s). Corey Kluber continues to pitch at a high level (2 runs in 8.7 innings with 10 K’s). Jason Kipnis broke his homerless drought with a pair of HR’s and 6 RBI. Yan Gomes has 9 hits in his last 17 at bats with 1 HR and 3 RBI. Carlos Santana hit .304 with 1 HR and 5 RBI. David Murphy has only 3 hits in his last 15 at bats. Cleveland is 5th in the AL in runs scored (449).

Detroit Tigers

The Lions up and down season continued over the last 10 days as they have lost 5 of their last 7 games. Detroit has scored 5 runs or less in their last 9 games, and they remain 3rd in the AL in runs scored (457). Miguel Cabrera and Austin Jackson have 10 hits each in their last 24 at bats with a combined 1 HR and 6 RBI. Cabrera hasn’t hit a HR in July (61 at bats), and he only has 4 HR’s in his last 165 at bats. Torii Hunter hit .333 with 2 HR’s and 7 RBI. J.D. Martinez has only 3 hits in his last 20 at bats. Drew Smyly had a nice bounce back game (1 run in 7 innings with 6 K’s) after struggling in his previous three starts (13 runs in 14.3 innings). The Tigers overpriced pitching staff is 10th in the AL in ERA (4.02). It’s almost hard to believe that Rick Porcello has been their most productive pitcher this year (12-5 with a 3.42 ERA).

Kansas City Royals

The Royals are still in 2nd in the AL Central despite losing 7 of their last 10 games. They have scored 1 run or less in 5 of their last 8 games. Kansas City is 12th in the AL in runs scored (396) with the lowest HR total (57). Billy Suckler only has 3 hits on his last 19 at bats. Alex Gordon has 7 hits in his last 18 at bats with only 1 RBI, and Mike Moustakas was the only batter to hit a HR (.308 with 2 HR’s and 3 RBI). Yordano Ventura struggled badly in his last start against Boston (6 runs and 13 base runners in 4.3 innings), which may be a sign of an underlying injury. Jason Vargas was placed on the DL after having his appendix removed, and Bruce Chen allowed 1 run in 5 innings as his replacement. The Royals are 3rd in the American League in ERA (3.74).

Minnesota Twins

The Twinshave lost 4 of their last 5 games to solidify last place in the AL Central. Their pitching staff has allowed 5 runs or more 6 times in the last 8 games. They are 13th in the league in ERA (4.32). Kris Johnson was the only pitcher to have any reasonable success over the last week (2 runs in 5 innings with 4 K’s). Alex Meyer is 5-4 at AAA with a 3.30 ERA and 107 K’s in 95.3 innings. Brian Dozier has 4 hits in his last 21 at bats with 1 HR. Kurt Suzuki hit .357 with 3 RBI. Kendrys Morales has been made available via the trade market if any major league teams have interest. He has 6 hit in his last 19 at bats. Morales is hitting .253 over the last 30 days with 1 HR and 13 RBI. Minnesota is 8th in the AL in runs scored (414).

2014 AL East Outside Corner Report- Week 16 Fantasy Baseball Recap

Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore has won13 of their last 18 games to open up a 4 game lead in the AL East. They are 7th in the AL in run scored (427), and they now lead the majors in HR’s (122). Adam Jones has been the most productive bat since the break (3 HR’s and 9 RBI). J.J. Hardy led the team in batting (.353 with 1 HR and 4 RBI). Chris Davis has 8 K’s in his last 18 at bats. Overall, the Orioles have had 4 solid starts over the last week with only Kevin Gausman struggling (5 runs and 11 base runners in 4 innings). Zach Britton has converted his last 3 saves after struggling on July 18th (3 runs and 3 base runners while not recording an out). Ubaldo Jimenez was placed on the DL with an ankle injury. Baltimore is 8th in the AL in ERA (3.86).

Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox were just about left for dead nearly two weeks ago before winning 8 of their last 10 games to move within 6 games of the .500 mark. They are 5th in the AL in ERA (3.77). Rubby De La Rosa, John Lackey and Jon Lester combined to allow 2 runs in 22 innings with 13 K’s. Dustin Pedroia only has 1 hit in his last 20 at bats. David Ortiz only hit .217, but he pounded 3 HR’s with 5 RBI. Since the All Star break, Boston has hit 10 HR’s in 5 games. Stephen Drew hit .357 with 2 HR’s and 6 RBI, and Mike Napoli has 8 hits in his last 16 at bats with a pair of HR’s. Shane Victorino has 6 hits in 11 at bats since returning from the DL. The Red Sox are 11th in the league in runs scored (397).

New York Yankees

The Yankees pitching has held up over the last 8 games. They have allowed 3 runs or less in 7 of those games, and they are 7th in the AL in ERA (3.82). Brandon McCarthy pitched great after being traded from Arizona (1 run in 6 innings with 9 K’s). Chase Whitney threw 6 shutout innings with 7 K’s after struggling his previous 4 starts. Jacoby Ellsbury has 10 hits in his last 21 at bats with 2 HR’s, 5 RBI and 3 SB’s, and Carlos Beltran (.300) was the only other batter to hit a HR. The Yankees acquired Chase Headley from San Diego for Yangervis Solarte and Rafael DePaula. The Yankees are 14th in the American League in runs scored (393). Kelly Johnson was placed on the DL with a groin injury, and Mark Teixeira has a slight lat injury that will cost him a couple of games .

Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays have crept their way back in race in the AL East. They have won 17 of their last 22 games, but they still remain 5 games under .500. They have allowed 3 runs or less in their last 6 wins. Tampa is 4th in the AL in ERA (3.75). David Price has won his last 5 starts while only allowing 4 runs in 40 innings with 40 K’s. Jake Odorizzi is 4-1 in his last 6 starts with a 2.48 ERA and 43 K’s in 36.3 innings. James Loney has 9 hits in his last 16 at bats with 3 RBI. Evan Longoria hit .353 over the last 4 games with 1 HR and 5 RBI. Kevin Kiermaier has hit .310 over the last 30 days with 5 HR’s and 20 RBI. The Rays are 10th in the American league in run scored (400). Ben Zobrist only has 2 hits in his last 15 at bats.

Toronto Blue Jays

Toronto desperately needed a couple days off after losing 8 of 11 games. They have won 3 of their last 4 games to remain 4 games off the pace in the AL East. They are 11th in the league in ERA (4.16). Marcus Stroman threw 7 shutout innings with 5 K’s. He has a 2.50 ERA over his last 9 games with 48 K’s in 54 innings. Drew Hutchison has a 6.97 ERA over his last 6 starts. Melky Cabrera has 10 hits in his last 20 at bats with 1 HR and 5 RBI. Dioner Navarro hit .353 with 2 HR’s and 4 RBI. Juan Francisco has 1 hit in his last 11 at bats with 8 K’s. The Blue Jays are 4th in the AL in run scored (453) with the 2nd most HR’s (121) in baseball.

2014 NL Central – Midseason Fantasy Baseball Reflection

An important part of fantasy baseball is reflecting on the previous season to see what went right and what went wrong. Since we are at the All Star break, I thought it would be a good time to look back on how I did on my research in the offseason. Over the winter, I did well over 300 hours of research and writing about the 2014 MLB player pool. I’m not only doing this to help other fantasy baseball players; I’m doing the research to help me have success in the high stake baseball market as well.

Over the next couple of days, we’ll be posting some of the content from our baseball package. I’ll look for players that I was right about, but it is also important to see why I missed on some that did well. If you would like to receive a full copy of the baseball E-book, you can e-mail us at scoutpro@competitivesportsanalysis.com, and we’ll be happy to send you the document.

Enjoy the All Star break, and get ready because the NFL push has already started. We have all of our NFL research done as well, and we will have our early projections up shortly.

Anthony Rizzo 

Rizzo’s results were shorter than fantasy players expected in 2013. His HR’s (23) and RBI’s (80) were enough to keep you in the game, but his batting average ended up being a huge negative. His K rate (18.4%) came in at league average and he had growth in his walk rate (11.0%). Anthony had a tough time with LH pitching (.189), but he was able to hit 7 HR’s off of them in 190 at bats. Just like Castro, his best month of the season was April (8 HR’s, 20 RBI, and 3 SB’s). Rizzo only had 15 HR’s and 60 RBI’s over the last 5 months of the year. His FB rate (37.9%) was higher than 2012, but his HR/FB rate (12.6%) dropped by almost 50%. Anthony was a career .303 hitter in the minors with 87 HR’s and 343 RBI’s in 1,693 at bats. He added length to his hits (AVH – 1.801), while his approach at the plate should have resulted in a high batting average. Overall, Rizzo is an upside player with 30 HR power. He can’t make a huge step forward in runs or RBI’s without better production by his supporting cast, but he does have some underlying speed. His next step is solving LH pitching at the major league level.

Mike Olt 

The Cubs acquired Olt last July in a trade with Texas for P Matt Garza. He played well at AA in 2012 (.288 with 28 HR’s and 82 RBI’s), but he had a tough time making contact at AAA with the Rangers (.213 with 11 HR’s and 32 RBI’s in 239 at bats – 33.2% K rate). However, he was much better with the Cubs at AAA (.168 with 3 HR’s and 8 RBI’s in 131 at bats – 24.3% K rate). Mike plays well defensively and his scouting report gave him a future All Star tag. His lack of approach leads me to believe he needs more time to develop. Olt has had 361 at bats at AAA. Prior to last season, he appeared to have plus power with batting average risk, but he was willing to take a walk (14.0% walk rate). He is a career .258 hitter in the minors with 67 HR’s and 213 RBI in 1,244 at bats. His K rate suggests he isn’t ready to be a starter in the majors. For Mike to get at bats in the majors, he’ll only have to beat out the low flying fruit – Luis Valbuena, Ryan Roberts, and Donnie Murphy. Possible flash power hitter with the Cubs, but his skill set will get exposed over time. Fantasy players need to read his stats, which will be a tell all. HR’s = more playing time >>> K’s with no power = less playing time and a possible trip back to AAA.

Junior Lake 

Lake overachieved his skill set in batting average with the Cubs last year. His K rate (26.8%) is too high for his skill set (23.4% during his minor league career) and he barely took any walks (5.1%). Junior is career .271 hitter in the minors with 47 HR’s, 260 RBI, and 117 SB’s in 2,254 at bats. Lake came through the system as a shortstop (has also played 2B and 3B in the minors). Physically he looks like a talented player, but he gets himself out too many times by chasing pitches out of the strike zone. Junior has upside in speed and enough size where his power could develop. Possible 10/30 player with batting average risk that will lead to less at bats. Last year, he hit .377 against LH pitching in 67 major league at bats.

Jeff Samardzija 

Samardzija followed up with a strong K rate (9.0) in 2013, but his command (3.3) didn’t repeat (led to more walks). He was even easier to hit (.255), but lefties still give him some trouble (.266 with .447 SLG %). Jeff pitched well in his first 12 starts (2.96 ERA with 91 K’s in 77 innings). His value was inconsistent over the last 4 months of the year, which led to a 5.11 ERA in 22 starts. His ERA declined in each month (June – 4.20, July – 5.28, August – 5.54, and September – 5.58). Samardzija allowed 5 runs or more in 8 of his 33 starts. His AFB (94.5) was a tick down from 2012 (95.0). His slider continues to be his #2 pitch, followed closely by a split-finger fastball and an improving cutter. His GB rate (48.2%) is rising and was a career high, while his FB rate (31.4%) is declining. Also, HR’s were a slight problem in 2013. Batters couldn’t hit his split-fastball (.138 with 98 K’s in 167 at bats) and they have a tough time with his slider (.227), but they crushed his sinker (.332) and cutter (.319 and .559 SLG %). The biggest difference between 2012 and 2013 was the lack of command with his fastball and cutter. It almost looks like he lost confidence in his ability. Jeff has a huge edge when he can get ahead in the count as his split-finger fastball is deadly. His K total will put him on the radar, but he still has plenty of downside risk if his walk rate doesn’t improve. Wins could be a problem again due to a weak offensive team.

Jason Hammel

Hammel couldn’t repeat his success from 2012. He had knee surgery the previous offseason, which may have led to his weak K rate (5.3) and walk rate (3.3) in April. Jason had success over his first 6 starts (4-1 with 3.79), but he wasn’t the same pitcher. Hammel was blasted in May (6.44 ERA), June (5.34), and July (5.52), which led to a DL stint with a right forearm injury. His AFB (92.7) was almost 1 MPH lower than 2012. His # 2 pitch is a slider, followed by a curveball and show me changeup. LH batters hit .300 against him with 15 HR’s in 317 at bats (.508 SLG %). The Cubs signed him in late January to a 1-year, $6 million contract, so they have to believe his arm issue is a thing of the past. His command (3.1) was slightly improved, but his K rate (6.2) regressed. Hammel doesn’t have a great resume, but he did flash some upside in 2012. Maybe he wasn’t all the way back from his knee issue in 2013. 2014 could be his best opportunity to have success with the change back to the NL. His price point should be free, so he may be worth a swing as a bench arm with upside in 15-team leagues.

Jake Arrieta 

Arrieta has been a bucking Bronco over the last 2 seasons. He showed upside at times in 2012 with an improved walk rate (2.7) and K rate (8.6), but he had too many disaster starts. Last year, he was kicking and screaming in April (6.63 ERA with 16 walks in 19 innings), which led to a trip to AAA (4.41 ERA – 2.6 walk rate and 7.4 K rate) and then a trade to the Cubs. His K rate (11.6) spiked at AAA with Chicago, but walks were a problem (16 in 30.3 innings). He gave the Cubs 4 solid starts over the last 6 weeks, but Jake struggled in 4 others. Batters only hit .216 against him in the majors as he dominated lefties (.187). Arietta did have more problems with his command to LH batters (25 walks in 139 at bats). His AFB (93.9) was also a career high. He threw a curveball as his #2 pitch, however, his slider and changeup lost value and he added a cutter. Batters had a tough time against every pitch he threw (four seam fastball – .207, sinker – .208, changeup – .118, and slider – .222) except his curveball (.277). It really comes down to him just throwing strikes, but his secondary pitches are an asset due to volume of pitches. Jake isn’t a great option, but he has enough talent to surprise with a huge step up in command.

Billy Hamilton 

Hamilton is going to be an intriguing player during his professional career. He has dominating speed which should allow him to score 100+ runs in most seasons. Billy has 395 steals (82% success rate) in 2,015 at bats in the minors with a .280 batting average. His K rate (19.9%) is a bit high for his skill set, which may bring some batting average risk early during his career. Furthermore, his walk rate (9.5%) was just above the major league average during his minor league career. It is an important part of his skill set going forward as a walk can easily turn into a double or triple with his speed. Hamilton showed some growth in his K rate (18.6%) at AAA, but he took less walks (6.9%). This led to a shorter batting average (.256). His AVH (1.341) was almost the same as 2012 even with a bump in HR’s (6), so his power isn’t a factor in his equation. The Reds gave him a shot in September mostly as a pinch runner. Bill stole 13 bags in 19 at bats while hitting .368. It’s too bad he won’t qualify as a middle infielder in most leagues. During his minor league career, Billy was the same hitter against RH (.282) and LH (.281) pitching. Hamilton is going to ruin many pitcher’s rhythm with his plus speed, especially late in tight games. His skill set will carry fantasy teams in the SB category, but he will also crush them if he gets hurt. I’ve never been a fan of Judy players, but his exceptional speed will be a huge edge. I’d love to own him, but his price point is probably going to be too high for me. If you don’t draft him, you can still finish 2nd in steals with the right team structure. Hamilton has 100 SB upside in his first season and should have no problem scoring over 100 runs with 550 at bats. I see him as a neutral hitter during his first full season (.270 range). His value should be higher in auction leagues when you can build a better structure around him.

Todd Frazier 

Frazier was a serviceable late round third baseman, but his batting average (.234) took a big hit, even with a decline in K rate (20.8%) and some growth in his walk rate (8.3%). Todd struggled against both RH (.233) and LH (.236) pitching, finishing with 9 HR’s in 157 at bats against lefties (.471 SLG %). Frazier hit under .265 in every month of the season. He was career .280 hitter in the minors with 75 HR’s, 300 RBI’s, and 58 SB’s in 2,008 at bats. Overall, I’m somewhat intrigued by Frazier in 2014. His skill set may be just high enough to bat 2nd in the batting order based on the lack of competition in the lineup. If the Reds continue to bat Phillips between Votto and Bruce, Frazier is my choice to bat 2nd. He has 20 HR power with some underlying speed. It would serve him well to hit in front of Votto. Todd had a career OP % of .353 in the minors, compared to .332 by Cozart.

Johnny Cueto

Cueto struggled with the same injury 3 times last season. He strained his oblique in mid April, which cost him 5 weeks of the season. After 3 starts, he blew it out again for 2 more weeks. Three starts later, he was done for another 2 and 1/2 months. Johnny finished the year with a strong ERA (2.82) for the 3rd straight season. His walk rate (2.7) was in line with his career resume and his K rate (7.6) was his highest since his rookie season. Cueto allowed 1 run or less in 8 of his 11 starts and only had one bad outing (12 base runners and 7 runs in 4.1 innings). However, his AFB (92.5) was a career low. He threw a cutter as his #2 pitch, which is a change in his skill set from 2012. His changeup is a close 3rd, followed by a solid slider. Johnny was dominant against both RH (.213) and LH (.204) batters. Cueto is a nice major league arm, but he hasn’t popped in the K department, so he tends to be undervalued. He tried to change his motion to help alleviate the strain on his lat muscles. Cueto has pitched over 30 starts 4 times during his 6 year career, but has only pitched over 200 innings once. He has upside in wins, ERA, and WHIP and his stuff is strong enough where he could step forward with his strikeouts. If he has no problems in spring training, he will be an upside SP3 in 2014.

Mike Leake 

Leake was much better in 2013, but his skill set didn’t really change that much. His K rate (5.7) and walk rate (2.2) both declined slightly, and he threw less first pitch strikes (59%). Mike had the same success against RH (.263) and LH (.263) batters, and allowed 2 runs or less in 17 of his 31 starts. His ERA (2.59) was in an elite area after his first 21 starts, but he pitched poorly over 5 starts in August and his 1st start in September (7.21 ERA with 55 base runners allowed in 33.7 innings). Leake continues to be a GB pitcher (48.7%). His AFB (90.2) was a career high. Additionally, his cutter is his #2 pitch, followed by an improving curveball, a slider and a changeup. Mike still struggles at home (4.00 ERA with 15 HR’s allowed in 90 innings). Leake doesn’t have an elite arm, but he is a very good pitcher with limited upside in K’s. He works both sides of the plate and will have success when he keeps the ball down. When he develops better command in the strike zone with his fastball, Leake will offer a little more upside in K’s. Possible 15-win season with below average K’s.

Johnathan Lucroy 

Lucroy is a nice major league catcher. He has been very good driving in runs over the past 2 seasons (20% RBI rate in 2012 and 18% in 2013). His K rate (11.9%) was a career best and it has improved a lot since 2011 (21.2%). His walk rate (7.9%) was also a career high and it has improved during every season in the majors. Jonathan played at a high level against LH pitching (.312 – .496 SLG %). His approach showed growth in July and August (20 walks and only 16 K’s), but his K rate (18.6%) spiked in September. His FB rate (38%) was a career high, while his HR/FB rate (10.3%) has been in a tight range over the last 3 seasons. His speed was a bonus last year and it was somewhat supported by his 2008 season at A ball (8 steals). Overall, his skill set is improving and he still has upside power. While his success is strong enough to where he can be a middle of the order hitter, his improving walk rate may work well as the #2 hitter for the Brewers this season. Gomez is too much of a free swinger, even with plus speed to bat 2nd, and I’m not solid on any of their other options. Lucroy will even have some added value be playing some games at first base. I see him as a possible .300 hitter with a 20/80 skill set with upside. His RBI production will take a hit if Milwaukee does give him a shot at batting 2nd, but he will score more runs.

Carlos Gomez

Gomez had a breakthrough season in the majors in 2013, setting career highs in almost every category. The only negative was a high K rate (24.8% – tied a career high). His walk rate (6.3%) also tied a career high, and Carlos crushed LH pitching (.315 with a .622 SLG %). He ran into an outfield wall 3 times that resulted in him missing time due to a shoulder and knee issue. His knee injury cost him the most time, and it led to a poor August (.197 with 1 HR’s and 3 RBI’s in 84 at bats). His HR/FB rate (16.4%) was a career high last season, and has improved in each of the last 4 years. However, his FB rate (38.3%) declined after showing growth over the previous 2 seasons (43.8% in 2011 and 43.2% in 2012). Last year, his biggest change was the ability to hit a slider (.315 with a .577 SLG %). This led to a 3.1% drop in the number of sliders he saw. Gomez has had a low RBI rate (13%) during his entire career, which means he isn’t built to be a middle of the lineup hitter. His K rate is too high to bat 2nd, but he may provide the most value to the team by hitting there. He pretty much has a similar skill set to B.J. Upton, but his price point will be a 2nd round pick in 2014. He has upside in speed and his power is developing, but his K rate does invite batting average risk. The growth in his HR/FB rate gives him a chance at 30 HR’s. Gomez did have minor elbow surgery in the offseason.

Yovani Gallardo 

This guy will make you bang your head against the floor. After having 200+ K’s over the previous 4 seasons, the writing was on the wall with the drop in his first pitch strike % (56%). He continued to not throw strikes in 2013, which led to his worst season in the majors (4.18 ERA). His K rate (7.2) was a career low and his command (3.3) still hasn’t improved. Furthermore, his AFB (90.7) was a career low and it has lost 2 mph over the last 2 seasons. His slider is still his #2 pitch, followed by a plus curveball and a weak changeup. Yovani has become more of a GB pitcher (49.2% – career high) over the last 3 seasons. This led to career low FB rate (27.6%), but his HR/FB rate (11.9%) invites downside in HR’s. Most of his decline in K’s was to LH batters (67 in 317 at bats – 102 in 371 at bats in 2012). Gallardo pitched better over his last 8 starts of the year (4-1 with a 2.41 ERA), but his K rate (7.4) remained shorter than his career resume (plus he missed a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury). Batters still struggle to hit his slider (.247) and curveball (.236), but his sinker has become a lot more hittable (.322 with .546 SLG %). Overall, Yovani has never made the step forward to be a fantasy ace due to a high WHIP (1.304 – career). His fastball is declining and he can’t throw first pitch strikes. While he has a long enough resume to have a bounce back season and his price point will be more than fair, his trend tells me to stay away. Tough to past up a possible 200 K arm, but there are enough signs where he might not bounce back all the way. We really need to see more life on his fastball plus one of those best shape of your life stories. Possible free agent in 2015.

Marco Estrada 

Estrada didn’t appear to be healthy over his first 12 starts of the year (5.32 ERA). He allowed 11 HR’s in his first 7 starts (38.3 innings) before suffering a hamstring injury in early June that led to a 2 month stint on the DL. When Marco returned, he was a much better pitcher (2.15 ERA with 56 K’s in 58.7 innings). Batters only hit .165 against him over his last 9 starts, compared to .275 over his first 12 starts. Estrada had more success against LH batters (.214), but he held his own against righties (.242). His AFB (89.2) was a career low and it has lost about 2 mph over the last 2 seasons. His #2 pitch is a changeup followed by a solid curveball. Marco is a FB pitcher (44.3%) with a rising HR/FB rate (11.9%). Estrada doesn’t have a great minor league resume (3.89 ERA), but he has shown growth in his command (2.0) over the last 2 seasons in the majors. This has led to a higher K rate (8.3) than his minor league career (7.8). Last year, batters only hit .185 against his changeup. His sample size of success in the majors is short, but he does have a plus changeup with developing command. HR’s tend to be a problem when he isn’t keeping the ball down. Possible 175 K upside with 200 innings, but I fear the declining fastball.

Neil Walker 

Walker is one of those players that isn’t flashy. He went on the DL twice with a hand and oblique injury, but his overall skill set showed some growth. His K rate (15.4%) was a career low and his walk rate (9.1%) was a career high. His AVH (1.667) even gained value, however, his value against LH pitching really bottomed out in 2013 (.225 with only 1 extra base hit in 80 at bats). Neil is a career .260 hitter against lefties with only 4 HR’s in 477 at bats (50 career HR’s). Overall, Walker delivered below replacement value in 5 of 6 months. His power (7 HR’s) did emerge in September. Over the past 2 years, Neil has missed 62 games. His power is trending up (even with shorter at bats), while his skill set is still strong enough to be a slight asset in batting average. Prior to last season, he had a solid RBI rate (19% in 2010, 18% in 2011, and 19% in 2012) in 3 straight seasons. I believe he has the potential to be a 20/80 player with some underlying speed.

Gregory Polanco

After a slow start to his minor league career, Polanco has blossomed into an upside prospect over the last 2 seasons. Last year, he hit .285 with 12 HR’s, 71 RBI’s , and 38 SB’s at High A and AA. He has 127 career steals in 1,495 at bats with a solid walk rate (9.5%) and a low K rate (15.5%). He might have the best skill set to bat near the top in Pittsburgh’s lineup. Overall, he has enough size where some believe he may develop into a 30/30 hitter. Should start the year at AAA.

Edinson Volquez 

The Pirates have saved two veteran pitchers over the last 2 seasons (Burnett and Liriano), but they will have their hands full with Volquez. Since his breakthrough season in 2008, Edinson has made 106 starts in the majors (4.93 ERA during that span). His command (4.8) has been poor in just about every season in the majors. Last year, he allowed the most runs (108) in the NL and allowed the most walks (105) in 2012. However, Volquez did have his lowest walk rate (4.1) since he became a full time starter. On the flip side, his K rate (7.5) was the lowest of his career. In his 6 starts with the Dodgers last year, Edinson had the best command (2.6) of his career with a stronger K rate (8.4), but he struggled with HR’s (5 allowed in 28 innings). Volquez struggled with both RH (.269) and LH (.294) batters, and had an ERA over 4.02 in every month of the season. Additionally, his AFB (92.5) was the lowest of his career. His curveball is his #2 pitch, followed closely by a changeup. Volquez has been a GB pitcher (47.6%), but he has struggled with a high HR/FB rate (12.0%) during his career. There is a whole lot of ugly in Volquez’s resume and he is a pitcher that can crush a fantasy team’s ERA and WHIP. He has always had three plus pitches, but his lack of command has killed any chance of success. If you draft him, it’s almost like you are trapped by his short term success. Over the long haul, his bad starts will eat away at your numbers. Possible breakthrough year if you believe in his late command with LA and if you believe the Pirates have the keys to saving washed up pitchers’ careers.

Jeff Locke 

Locke gave the Pirates almost 4 and 1/2 months of quality pitching before blowing up on August 17th. After 23 starts, he had a 2.43 ERA. Over his last 8 outings of the season, Jeff had a 8.59 ERA. Locke had success despite his inability to throw strikes (4.5 walk rate). Not surprisingly, he led the NL in walks (84). His K rate (6.8) was also much lower than during his minor league career (8.3). However, Jeff did have solid command (2.5) in the minors. In the minors, he went 51-44 with a 3.60 ERA and 733 K’s in 799 innings. Locke had more success against RH batters (.229), but he allowed 10 of his 11 HR’s to righties. Furthermore, Jeff allowed 67 of his 84 walks to RH batters and struggled to strikeout LH batters (19 K’s in 140 at bats). His AFB was 90.4 and Locke threw a curveball as his #2 pitch, followed by a changeup. Overall, he is a GB pitcher (53.2%). Jeff isn’t an elite arm, but he proved he had enough in his arsenal to have success in the majors, even with poor command. His minor league resume suggests his command should be better. Many will overlook him due to his high walk total. I don’t love him, but I do think he has more in the tank than meets the eye. With more strikes, he could push his K total over 150.

Matt Adams 

Adams will be an interesting player in 2014. He hit .318 during his minor league career with 82 HR’s and 293 RBI’s in 1,442 at bats. His K rate (25.1%) was much higher than his minor league career (17.1%), while his walk rate (7.2%) was just above his minor league mark. Last year, he did most of his damage against RH pitching (.295 with 14 HR’s in 244 at bats). He hit 3 HR’s in 52 at bats against LH pitching, but he had 19 K’s (36.5% K rate) with no walks. In 2011 and 2012 in the minors, Adams hit .294 against LH pitching with 12 HR’s and 40 RBI in 221 at bats (24.0% K rate). His lack of contact against LH pitching will restrict his upside in batting average in the near future. However, his HR/FB rate (21.8%) is elite. Adams has 30 HR upside, but his batting average may have some short term risk until his approach improves. It may make sense to bat him clean up to break up the Cardinals top 2 RH batters, but he may need time to develop to handle that role. Let’s throw out .270 with 28 HR’s and 88 RBI’s as a baseline. Overall, an interesting player that has an upside bat for sure.

Allen Craig 

Craig will move to the outfield with Adams taking over at first base. He has had an elite RBI rate (22.0%) during his career and it was even better last year (24.0%) despite a short HR total (13). His K rate (17.8%) is just above the league average, while his walk rate (7.1%) is a notch below the league average. He missed the last 3+ weeks of the season with a foot injury. Allen hit better against RH pitching (.327), but he had more power against lefties (6 HR’s in 126 at bats). From May to August, he hit .331 with 13 HR’s and 78 RBI’s. He had a plus LD rate (26.9%), which led to a low FB rate (28.1%) and a 50% drop in his HR/FB rate (11.2% – career low). Craig is a career .300 hitter in the majors, but he hasn’t played over 134 games in any season. The move to the outfield will invite injury risk for him. His AVH (1.450) had a big regression, so his upside in power is limited. I love his RBI rate, but I hate the move to the outfield. Solid major league bat that will see time on the DL.

Lance Lynn 

Lynn has gone 33-17 over the last 2 seasons, but his command (3.4) isn’t improving and his K rate (8.8) is declining. He allowed 2 runs or less in 16 of his 32 starts. His downside is that he allowed 4 runs or more in 14 starts. His lack of command to LH batters (49 walks and 71 K’s in 317 at bats) continues to be the reason he hasn’t made another step forward. He had success against both RH (.247) and LH (.259), but didn’t dominate either side of the plate. Lance had a 5.19 ERA in June, July, and August. Lynn was able to right the ship in September (2.12 ERA with 36 K’s in 29.7 innings), but his AFB (92.4) declined from 2012. However, his slider gained value at the expense of his curveball (also throws a weak changeup). Batters have a tough time with his four seam fastball (.211) and his curveball (.192), but they crushed his sinker (.332) and changeup (.320). His velocity did improve in September and October. Lynn has upside in K’s and wins, but his lack of a 3rd pitch really hurts his value against lefties, which in turn hurt his ERA and WHIP.

2014 NL East- Midseason Fantasy Baseball Reflection

An important part of fantasy baseball is reflecting on the previous season to see what went right and what went wrong. Since we are at the All Star break, I thought it would be a good time to look back on how I did on my research in the offseason. Over the winter, I did well over 300 hours of research and writing about the 2014 MLB player pool. I’m not only doing this to help other fantasy baseball players; I’m doing the research to help me have success in the high stake baseball market as well.

Over the next couple of days, we’ll be posting some of the content from our baseball package. I’ll look for players that I was right about, but it is also important to see why I missed on some that did well. If you would like to receive a full copy of the baseball E-book, you can e-mail us at scoutpro@competitivesportsanalysis.com, and we’ll be happy to send you the document.

Enjoy the All Star break, and get ready because the NFL push has already started. We have all of our NFL research done as well, and we will have our early projections up shortly.

 

Evan Gattis 

Gattis was a nice surprise in 2013. His K rate (21.2%) was higher than during his minor league career (15.1%), but his walk rate (5.5%) was short. Evan hit .236 against righties with 16 HR’s in 258 at bats. In April, May, and September, Gattis did almost all of his damage (18 HR’s and 50 RBI in 247 at bats). He is a FB hitter (44.6%) with a solid HR/FB rate (17.1%). Evan hit .308 during his minor league career with 45 HR’s and 168 RBI in 853 at bats. With McCann out of the picture, Gattis will be the everyday catcher for the Braves. He may even get some added value by playing in the outfield on some of his off days. His batting average will have some short term risk due to his K rate, but it should improve with more playing time in the majors. Evan has only had 203 at bats between AA and AAA in his career. Overall, he has 30 HR power with 80 RBI upside.

Freddie Freeman 

Freeman did everything right last year except have growth in power. He was great with runners on base (23% RBI rate), but he had short RBI chances (396). His K rate (19.2%) has improved in each season in the majors, but it isn’t in an area to support a .319 batting average without more growth. His walk rate (10.3%) was a career high. Freddie crushed righties (.334 with 19 HR’s and 80 RBI in 377 at bats) and hit well against lefties (.287), but his power was short (4 HR’s). He hit over .300 in 5 months of the season. After the All Star break, Freddie hit .335 with 14 HR’s and 48 RBI. His HR/FB rate (15.0%) has improved slightly in the last 2 seasons. Overall, he crushed fastballs (.353 with 16 HR’s in 343 at bats). He has exciting upside, especially if the front of the Braves offense plays better. Solid .300 hitter with 35 HR and 120 RBI upside.

Julio Teheran 

It’s pretty easy to see why the top 3 starters for the Braves had success last season. All three pitchers threw a high % of first pitch strikes. Teheran had better command (2.2) than he did during his minor league career (2.7), which led to a solid K rate (8.2). Julio didn’t pitch well in his first 3 starts (13 runs and 28 base runners in 17 innings with 5 HR’s allowed). After 6 strong starts, his upside started to shine through when he struck out 20 batters over 2 starts (14.7 innings). On the year, he allowed 2 runs or less in 16 of his 30 starts. Teheran started to fade over his last 7 starts, allowing 4 runs in 4 starts. Over a 20 start span from mid April to mid August, he only walked more than 2 batters once. Julio was dominant against RH batters (.204), but has weakness against lefties at this point of his career (.289 with a .483 SLG %). His AFB was 91.5, and his #2 pitch was a slider, followed by a curveball and an occasional changeup. His changeup was expected to be a plus pitch, but he didn’t trust it last season. Last year, righties couldn’t touch his four seam fastball (.174), but it had a lot less value against LH batters (.329 with a .504 SLG %). His step forward in 2013 was due to the huge improvement of his slider. Teheran was expected to have the best changeup in the Braves system, so he could have electric upside if that pitch gains value in 2014. Julio is the Braves future ace with Cy Young upside. His K rate will spike dramatically when his changeup becomes a plus pitch.

Alex Wood

Wood was a nice short term find for fantasy owners from late July through August last year. He pitched 6 straight solid outings (1.54 ERA with 35 K’s in 35 innings) before blowing up in September in 2 starts (11 runs and 22 base runners in 7 innings). Alex didn’t dominate either side of the plate (RH batters – .261 and LH batter – .267), and his AFB was 91.7. Wood threw a changeup as his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball. Alex was 9-5 during his short minor league career with a 1.73 ERA and 114 K’s in 114.7 innings. His walk rate (3.1) came in higher than his minor league resume (2.4), while his K rate (8.9) remained in a good area. His success last August proves he is ready to be a starter in the majors. The key to his development will be the value of his curveball. Wood has a chance at a sub 3.50 ERA with 150 K’s. I expect him to pitch about 180 innings, but his WHIP has some risk until his command takes a step forward.

Giancarlo Stanton 

Stanton had a down year due to multiple injuries. He suffered a minor shoulder injury in mid April, a bad hamstring injury in late April, and a minor ankle injury in early September. His K rate (27.8%) has been high during his entire major league career, while his walk rate (14.7%) made a move into an elite area (he was only intentionally walked 5 times in 2013). Giancarlo was a better hitter against LH pitching (.278 with .593 SLG %). Last year, he only hit over .250 in one month (June – .296). Stanton is one of the best pure power hitters in the game, but has struggled to stay healthy over the last 2 seasons. The Marlins don’t have a great supporting cast around him, but it should be better in 2014. He has 50 HR upside with downside risk in batting average. His price point tends to be high, which hurts a fantasy owner in a couple of categories unless he has a massive breakout season. I expect him to have his best season in the majors with 40+ HR’s and he will approach 100 RBI helped by Yelich hitting in front of him.

Marcell Ozuna 

Ozuna played surprisingly well with the Marlins after his early season call up from AA. He hit .331 over his first 36 games, but he only had 1 HR in his first 152 at bats with 17 RBI. Additionally, Marcell only hit .195 over his last 133 at bats with 2 HR’s and 15 RBI. Ozuna was very good against lefties (.318). His K rate (19.5%) was just above the major league average, while his walk rate (4.5%) was very short. He struggles to make contact with sliders (.207) and curveballs (.133). In 2013, pitchers only threw him 49.5% fastballs. Marcell is a career .274 hitter in the minors with 85 HR’s, 326 RBI, and 42 SB’s in 1784 at bats. Last year, his season was cut short in late July due to a thumb injury that required surgery. Ozuna has some talent, but he only has 42 at bats above A ball in the minors. He had short term success with Miami, but pitchers were able to expand the strike zone against him which led to less contact. The Marlins don’t have great options in the outfield, so Marcell may end up earning a job out of spring training. Upside player with 20 HR power if he can lay off breaking pitches off the plate. His skill set suggests he needs more time in the minors, but Miami may be forced to play him as he is the best option they have on the roster.

Henderson Alvarez 

Alvarez had a nice growth season in 2013 after getting drilled in 2012 in Toronto. His K rate (5.0) has been short during his major league career and it was probably the lowest in baseball for a starting pitcher in 2012 (3.8). It was only slightly better during his minor league career (6.5). His command (2.4) improved, and his minor league resume showed more upside (1.7). Henderson handled himself against RH batters (.206) with no HR’s allowed, but he struggled to find a strikeout pitch against lefties (22 K’s in 186 at bats) which led to a .269 batting average against. He allowed 3 runs or less in 12 of his 17 starts with only 2 bad starts (allowed 5 runs in each). Alvarez missed the first three months of the season with a shoulder injury that he suffered early in spring training. He is a GB rate (53.5%) pitcher with a stronger fastball (93.3) than his K rate suggests. Last year, he threw an improved slider as his #2 pitch, followed by changeup and an occasional curveball. Batters have the most success against his four seam fastball (.279). Alvarez is a pitcher a fantasy player has to take a 2nd look at. It’s easy to dismiss him as a soft tosser with weak upside in K’s, but his arsenal has more upside if he can get batters to swing at pitches outside the strike zone. His fastball can reach the upper 90′s at times (average four seam fastball was 94.5 MPH in September) and his changeup has some upside. For now, maybe he is just a right handed version of Mark Buehrle as far as results. Sneaky option if you can handle the downside in K’s.

Nathan Eovaldi 

Eovaldi looks to be slightly more advanced than Turner. His command (3.4) still needs work, while his K rate (6.6) was a career high. He had equal success against RH (.251) and LH (.246) batters, but he struggled throwing strikes to LH batters (25 walks). Eovaldi allowed 2 runs or less in 13 of his 18 starts. Without his worst 3 starts of the year (20 runs in 10 innings), he had a 1.87 ERA over 96.3 innings. His AFB (96.2) was the highest of his career. Furthermore, he threw a slider as his 2nd best pitch, followed by a curveball. At this point of his career, Nathan is really a two pitch pitcher as his curveball really doesn’t have any value (.321 batting average against). His K rate can’t spike upward without a better off speed pitch. In the minors, he had a career 3.44 ERA with 298 K’s in 364 innings. Eovaldi has a nice arm, but his upside is somewhat limited due to a lack of command and depth of his pitching arsenal. In the American League, we have seen Justin Masterson have success with just a slider and fastball, but he throws a two seamer (sinker) and a four seam fastball. Last year, Nathan didn’t throw a two seam fastball once. For now, he has WHIP risk and low K upside, but his fastball is big enough to have a positive ERA, especially pitching in Miami (last year he pitched better on the road {2.80 ERA}).

Daniel Murphy 

Murphy was a perfect back end option at second base last year. He was an asset in 4 categories and hit enough HR’s to keep you in the game. Daniel had a nice bump in power (13 HR’s). He has 78 double over the last 2 years, but his AVH (1.452) suggests he doesn’t have a lot of upside in HR’s. Murphy is tough to strikeout (13.6% K rate), but his walk rate (4.6%) is weak and fading. All of his power comes against RH pitching (12 HR’s in 442 at bats – 1 HR in 216 at bats vs. lefties). He hit well against LH pitching (.273), but his approach was weaker (6:48 BB:K ratio). Daniel hit over .280 in 5 of the 6 months last season. He played his best ball in July, August, and September (.294 with 8 HR’s, 46 RBI, and 14 SB’s). His HR/FB rate (6.3%) only rose slightly, while his increase in power was due to a huge bump in his FB rate (36.3% – 24.9% in 2012). Overall, he has a short major league resume with a high level of success. We know he can hit and his speed is somewhat supported by his minor league resume. His power doesn’t look out of line and it could have upside if he continues to hit more fly balls. With more strength, he could hit 20 HR’s. Let’s set the bar at 15/15 with a plus batting average and hope for upside in HR’s and SB’s. Murphy could be an easy player to overvalue in 2014, so proceed with caution and don’t overpay.

Curtis Granderson 

2013 was a tough year for Granderson. He broke his right forearm in late February, which cost him the first 6 weeks of the season. Curtis was barely getting his feet wet when he was hit by a pitch that broke a finger in his left hand (required surgery). When Granderson returned in early August, he wasn’t the same player as he struggled through 186 at bats (.226 with 6 HR’s and 14 RBI). The Mets signed him to a 4-year, $60 million contract in December. The change in ballparks will hurt his upside in power. His K rate (28.2) has been very weak over the last 2 seasons, while his walk rate (11.0%) remains a positive. Rather than reflect over his injury plagued season, here’s his write up from last season: Granderson repeated his success hitting HR’s and will be one of the few players that will enter 2013 with over a 2.00 rating in the average hit category (AVH). He has hit 46 of 84 HR’s at home (Yankee Stadium) over the last 2 seasons. His K rate at home was 26.7% in 2011 and 2012, which has led to a .251 batting average. His quest for HR’s has led to a decline in his K rate (28.5%) over the last four seasons. While his walk rate (11.0%) has been solid for five straight seasons, it did take a nose dive during the 2nd half of 2012 (8.2% – 15.3% in 1st half). He is a career .225 hitter against LH pitching, hitting .218 against them last season. In 2011, he had a 20.5% HR/FB rate. Last year, that number rose to 24.2%. Granderson is motivated to hit HR’s, which puts his batting average at risk. Last year, I shied away from him due to his batting average risk (I was right in this area), but he still delivered on three plus categories. His production will give you an edge, but it will be tough to overcome his BA. I think the pluses outweigh the negatives, but is he really a key piece when you start building your team? If your goal is to get 60+ points in the batting categories, you can still accomplish your goal by punting batting average. If you are looking to win an overall prize, he may leave you one category short of a championship. I think he is a smart enough guy where he will hit above .250 this season. Note: his ADP was 96 in 2012 and it is about 131 in 2013.

Zack Wheeler

Wheeler is getting solid respect in the early draft season. He is expected to be a SP3 this season, but his skill set does have some risk. I know some fantasy players don’t want to miss on the next Matt Harvey, so they are paying almost full price for Zack. His walk rate (4.1) has been poor during his entire career. This led to a shorter K rate (7.6) in the majors (9.7 in his minor league career). Wheeler had a career 3.56 ERA in the minors with 420 K’s in 391.3 innings. Last year, he had a spike in his HR/9 rate (1.2) at AAA. Zack had success against righties (.230), but he allowed too many walks to LH batters (31 in 162 at bat), which led to a .259 batting average against him. With the Mets, he allowed 2 runs or less in 11 of his 17 starts. His AFB was 94.4 with the Mets, while his slider is his #2 pitch (followed by a curveball and a weak changeup). Wheeler is a high upside pitcher, but his command is still a couple of miles down the road. His first pitch strike % (53%) was terrible with New York in 2013. I’m thinking Ubaldo Jimenez of 2008 with slightly better command, but a weaker changeup. 3.75 ERA with 175 K’s and 90 walks.

Jenrry Mejia

Mejia has kicked around the Mets system for 7 years. He looked like a high upside pitcher in 2010 when he went 2-0 with a 1.28 ERA in 42.1 innings with 45 K’s. His season was cut short by a shoulder injury, which led to Tommy John surgery in May of 2011. He returned to the minors in 2012 and appeared to be a lot less pitcher. His ERA (3.59) was solid and he had the best command (2.8) of his career, but his K rate (5.3) looked like it has faded off into the sunset. Last year, he struggled with an elbow/forearm injury out of spring training that led to two long DL stints. The last resulted in right elbow surgery to remove bone chips. He is expected to be ready for spring training. In between his struggles, Mejia flashed major league upside. He pitched well during his 5 major league starts (2.30 ERA) with elite command (1.3) and a solid K rate (8.9). Overall, Jenrry is an extreme GB pitcher (58.0%). His AFB (92.1) has declined during each season in the majors. He added a slider at the expense of his curveball, followed by a changeup. Mejia has an upside arm, but he has never pitched over 100 innings in his career at any level. The emergence of his slider is a change in skill set and it looks like the missing ingredient to being a successful starter in the majors. His lack of health will depress his value to where his price point is just about free. Possible flyer if he is healthy in spring training and is named the 5th starter for the Mets.

Ryan Howard

Howard has missed more than a season of games over the last 2 years. Last year, he wasn’t great in his 80 games (11 HR’s and 43 RBI), but he wasn’t terrible either. His K rate (30.0%) has been more of a negative over the past 2 seasons. Also, he had the lowest walk rate (7.3%) of his career in 2013. He developed a left knee issue on May 19th and tried to play through it, but it ended up being a meniscus tear that required surgery in July. His approach at the plate was brutal in April and May (10 walks in 185 at bats – 5.0% walk rate), which was totally out of character for him. His walk rate (11.4%) fell back in line in June. Last year, he had absolutely no value against LH pitching (39 K’s in 81 at bats with only 3 walks – .173). Overall, Howard has a long resume of success hitting HR’s in the majors. His struggles over the last 2 years have been due to injuries. Ryan has been working hard to get back in shape during the offseason. I expect another plus HR season and his draft value is low enough where he will be this year’s Chris Davis at 1st base. Over a six period, he averaged 44 HR’s with 131 RBI. I know the talent around him has declined, but his power is still elite.

Domonic Brown

Brown had an electric 19 game stretch between May 20th and June 8th where he hit .397 with 18 runs, 12 HR’s, 25 RBI’s, and 5 SB’s over 73 at bats. Over the first 3 months of the year, he hit .274 with 21 HR’s, 57 RBI, and 8 SB’s. His walk rate (7.4%) was shorter than his minor league resume (10.5%), which was due to his approach in May (no walks in 109 at bats with 21 K’s). He showed patience in April and May, so he isn’t just another free swinger with batting average risk. His K rate (18.0%) was about the major league average. Domonic had his most success against RH pitching (.281 with 21 HR’s and 62 RBI), but he had power against lefties (.252 with 6 HR’s and 21 RBI in 147 at bats). His production dropped off the table over the 2nd half of the year (.270 with 4 HR’s and 16 RBI in 141 at bats) due to a concussion in late July and an Achilles injury in August. His HR/FB rate (19.3%) more than doubled from his 2 previous seasons where he had short at bats. Brown’s success driving the ball was due to a change in his grip early in spring training (suggested by Wally Joyner). During his minor league career, Domonic hit .297 with 59 HR’s, 285 RBI’s, and 106 SB’s in 1,994 at bats. He had what appeared to be a 20/20 skill set, but his growth was slow at the major league level. Many will look at his final stats and see a ho-hum 20/80 skill set. Brown showed elite upside with even more underlying speed. His failure late in the year was due to injuries and he even had a slight back issue in April. His only downside is he won’t hit in an ideal part of the batting order, unless the Phillies are willing to bat 3 straight lefties. Brown is a five category player with upside across the board.

A.J. Burnett

Burnett has pitched the best ball of his career over the last 2 seasons with the Pirates, tying a career low in ERA (3.30) and set a career in K’s (9.8) in 2013. While his walk rate (3.2) was a step back from 2012 (2.8), it has been high during his entire career (3.5). His success has been due to throwing the most strikes of his career (65%). A.J. was electric against RH batters (.203 with 120 K’s in 375 at bats), however, his step back in command was due to his lack of success against lefties (.263 with 45 of his 67 walks). In addition, he allowed 2 runs or less in 19 of his 30 starts. Burnett did miss about a month of the season with a calf injury in June. He has had an elite GB rate (56.5%) over the last 2 years, but his AFB (92.5) was near his career low (it has been about the same over the last 3 years). He threw a high % of curveballs (35.4% – career high) as his #2 pitch, followed by a show me changeup. Batters only hit .150 vs. his curveball in 1083 pitches, .283 vs. his sinker, .322 vs. his four seam fastball, and .333 vs. his changeup. A.J. probably cost himself some money over the winter as he was contemplating retirement, which seems strange considering how much money major league baseball has been throwing around and his success last year. Burnett has a nice arm, but he only has one tough pitch to hit (curveball). If he isn’t throwing strikes, his best pitch has a lot less value. He signed a 1-year, $16 million contract in February with the Phillies. His stats from the last 2 years will keep his price point high, but I see some regression.

Bryce Harper

Harper went to war in the outfield for the Nationals last season. His season started with a swollen left thumb late in spring training. The injury appeared to be a non-factor as he was hitting .400 with 5 HR’s and 10 RBI just ten games into the season. On May 1st, he suffered bruised ribs when he crashed into the outfield wall. Bryce had a minor toe issue on May 10th after having surgery to correct an ingrown toenail. He then ran into another wall face first, suffering a bruised knee and shoulder (plus a cut on his chin that required 11 stitches). Harper then suffered concussion like symptoms and his knee started to swell up, which led to a DL stint in early June. He returned to the lineup on July 1st, but the knee issue lingered all season. Bryce had a minor hip issue in late July and a bruised triceps in mid August. Furthermore, his hip issue flared back up in early September. In the offseason, Harper had surgery to remove a bursa sac in his left knee. Each knee has 11 bursa sacs, which are filled with fluid to work as a cushion between your bones, tendons, and muscles. His recovery time table was about 4 to 6 weeks. In between all of his drama, Bryce had reasonable success. He was electric in April (.344 with 9 HR’s and 18 RBI). However, his wall banging issues crushed his value in May (.193 with 3 HR’s and 5 RBI in 57 at bats). When he returned to the lineup in July, Harper was the same player (.266 with 8 HR’s, 35 RBI, and 9 SB’s in 274 at bats). Overall, his skill set did improve as his K rate (18.9%) and walk rate (12.3%) showed growth. Bryce bashed RH pitching (.300 with .560 SLG %), but he struggled against lefties (.214). His FB rate (33.4%) has been low during his 2 seasons in the majors, but he has a plus HR/FB rate (18.0%). There is a lot of information to digest from Harper in 2013. First, he showed elite upside before taking on a couple of major league outfield walls. Second, his skill set for the season still showed growth. Third, he is a complete beast against RH pitching. Harper needs to play a lot smarter going forward. He has to let that one great play go in the outfield in order to protect his career. His next step is solving lefties. His approach did improve against them, although it didn’t show in his batting average results. Harper is going to be a perennial top 5 pick in baseball. He has .300 batting average upside with 30 HR power and 20 SB ability. I’m sure he’ll hit his way up the draft board in spring training. The only thing that can derail this runaway train is the dare devil behind the wheel.

Anthony Rendon

Rendon was able to make the push from AA to the majors with just 11 AAA at bats. His results with the Nationals won’t blow you away, but his scouting report suggests he has 20 HR power with a plus approach at the plate. His K rate (17.5%) came in just above the major league average and it was almost identical to his short minor league career. His walk rate (7.4%) was shorter than expected, but his minor league career (16.9%) suggests upside in this area. Last year, he saw 64.4% fastballs, so major league pitchers didn’t fear his power. He struggled with both breaking pitches (.226) and off speed pitches (.191). In essence, Rendon has a third baseman skill set playing second base. If his power develops, he could be an edge at the position. Anthony offers no upside in speed. He may have the skill set to bat leadoff and could be this year’s version of Matt Carpenter of the Cardinals with more upside in power. With his short resume, I would tread carefully. Possible 15 HR’s with a solid batting average, but his runs and RBI’s will be short due to his slot in the batting order.

Jordan Zimmermann 

Zimmermann ended up being the most successful starter for the Nationals last season. He allowed 2 runs or less in 21 of his 32 starts, but he had one disaster start in each month from May to August. Jordan is a strike throwing machine with an elite walk rate (1.7), but his K rate (6.8) was a career low. He was 17-1 in games when Washington scored 3 runs or more, but he was 2-8 with a 4.45 ERA in games when they scored 2 runs or less. Zimmerman was very good against RH batters (.212), but was just average against lefties (.262). His AFB (93.9) was in line with 2012, while his slider continues to be his #2 pitch (followed by a curveball and show me changeup). His GB rate (47.6%) has risen over the last 2 seasons. Jordan had a 2.26 ERA in his 28 starts without his disaster outings (28 runs in 18 innings). He is very good major league arm, but his lack of K’s makes him a step down from a fantasy ace. He has 15 win upside, but his run support might not repeat in 2014. Overall, he really needs a swing and miss off speed pitch against lefties to have growth in K’s.

Tanner Roark

Roark would draw some attention from fantasy owners if they just look at his ERA (1.51) and his win/loss record (7-1). He has a career 4.04 ERA in the minors with 573 K’s in 667.7 innings. He spent part of 3 seasons at AA, and went 6-17 at AAA in 2012 with a 4.39 ERA. His AFB (92.6) was just major league average, while his #2 pitch was a slider, followed by a curveball and changeup. Tanner was a GB pitcher (50.0%) during his first season. His command (1.8) was elite with the Nationals thanks to a plus first strike % (71%). However, his K rate (6.7) came in short. Roark dominated RH batters (.157 with no HR’s allowed in 108 at bats), but he struggled to strike out LH batters (7 K’s in 80 at bats – .263). I can’t totally write him off as he did flash a plus season at High A in 2009 (10-0 with 2.70 ERA with 91 K’s in 86.7 innings). His resume says he’s a fraud, but his command gives him a chance at short term success. I don’t trust him.

2014 NL West – Midseason Fantasy Baseball Reflection

An important part of fantasy baseball is reflecting on the previous season to see what went right and what went wrong. Since we are at the All Star break, I thought it would be a good time to look back on how I did on my research in the offseason. Over the winter, I did well over 300 hours of research and writing about the 2014 MLB player pool. I’m not only doing this to help other fantasy baseball players; I’m doing the research to help me have success in the high stake baseball market as well.

Over the next couple of days, we’ll be posting some of the content from our baseball package. I’ll look for players that I was right about, but it is also important to see why I missed on some that did well. If you would like to receive a full copy of the baseball E-book, you can e-mail us at scoutpro@competitivesportsanalysis.com, and we’ll be happy to send you the document.

Enjoy the All Star break, and get ready because the NFL push has already started. We have all of our NFL research done as well, and we will have our early projections up shortly

 

Troy Tulowitzki

Another baseball season; another Tulowitzki injury. Troy is a great player and a clear edge at his position. Without a full season of at bats, he can’t make the impact fantasy players need to win leagues. Last year, he suffered a broken rib in mid June, which cost him about a month of the season. Later in the year, Troy had a minor oblique issue. His K rate (16.6%) was slightly above his career average, while his walk rate (11.1%) was just off his career high. Tulowitzki was very good against both RH (.310 with a .560 SLG %) and LH (.318 with a .482 SLG %) pitchers, but he hit 21 of his 25 HR’s against RH pitching. He had the 2nd highest HR/FB rate (18.1%) of his career. Over the last 4 seasons, Troy has missed 210 games. If he ever played a full season, he would be a huge edge at his position. He has high upside in batting average with a 30/100 skill set. Without the injury risk, he would be a top 5 selection in 2014. It’s tough to ignore his talent as he could pop for a career year at any time.

Justin Morneau 

Cuddyer set a career high in batting average (.331) in 2013 that led to the NL batting title. Just like Gonzalez and Tulowitzki, Michael missed 30+ games of the season. In early May, he had a bulging disk in his neck, which cost him a 2 weeks on the DL. Late in the year, he had a wrist forearm injury that he was able to play with. His K rate (18.5%) and his walk rate (8.5%) were both below his career averages, however, Cuddyer crushed RH pitching (.350 with .555 SLG %). He played well at home (.356 with 11 HR’s and 45 RBI’s in 225 at bats) and on the road (.311 with 9 HR’s and 39 RBI’s in 264 at bats). Michael has had a strong HR/FB rate (16.9%) during his 2 seasons with the Rockies, but he had a high GB rate (49.7%) and a low FB rate (30.1%). Overall, Cuddyer is on the downside of his career. He is playing in a great ballpark and maybe he is this generation’s version of Dante Bichette. His batting average isn’t repeatable, but it should still be an asset. Michael has 20+ HR power, but the HR upside is limited due to his low FB rate. The Rockies lineup has enough talent to score a lot of runs if everyone stays healthy. Possible .290 with 25 HR’s and 90 RBI’s.

Juan Nicasio

Juan has a 4.92 ERA after 55 starts in the majors. His command (3.7) has regressed during each season in the majors and his K rate (6.8) was a career low. During his minor league career, he had an elite walk rate (2.0) and a solid K rate (8.9). Last year, he pitched more than 6 innings only twice. Nicasio had 5 disaster starts in his last 12 outings. He allowed 2 runs or less in 17 of his 31 outings, so he has some talent when he is throwing strikes. HIs AFB (91.9) has lost over 2 mph since his rookie season. Furthermore, he throws a slider as his 2nd best pitch, followed by a declining changeup. Juan pitched well against lefties (.228), but he allowed 41 of his 64 walks to them. In addition, RH batters lit him up pretty good (.302). Last year, he only had one month with an ERA under 4.50 (July – 3.53). At this point of his career, he isn’t a good enough pitcher to be a major league starter. His velocity is moving in the wrong direction, he can’t throw strikes, and he doesn’t have a 3rd pitch of value. Nicasio has no fantasy value in 2014.

A.J. Pollock

Pollock made the Diamondbacks out of spring training after Adam Eaton went down with an elbow injury. He showed some upside in April (3 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, and 3 SB’s in 82 at bats), but struggled to deliver any production over the last 5 months of the year (5 HR’s, 28 RBI’s, and 8 SB’s in 361 at bats). A.J. only played about 2/3 of the games after April. He hit .303 during his minor league career with 14 HR’s, 147 RBI’s, and 67 SB’s in 1,233 at bats. His K rate (17.0%) was higher than his minor league career (12.8%), while his walk rate (6.9%) was in line with his minor league career. Pollock was a better hitter against LH pitching (.283 with a .480 SLG %). This year, A.J. will get regular at bats against LH pitching. He should get a chance to prove himself early in the season if Ross isn’t ready. His skill set may be slightly higher than Gerardo Parra’s. If he plays well in April, he may emerge as the starting center fielder. Possible 10/30 skill set with some upside in batting average.

Gerardo Parra 

Parra was able to play a full season in the outfield thanks to a couple of injuries. Overall, he didn’t do anything exceptionally well. His K rate (16.1%) was a career best, while his walk rate (7.2%) has declined over the last 2 seasons. Gerardo also only hit .198 against LH pitching with no HR’s in 177 at bats (.226 SLG %). However, he played well against righties (.297) and may have more power against them in the future (10 HR’s in 424 at bats – 38 doubles). Parra played his best ball before the All Star break (.285 with 7 HR’s, 27 RBI’s, and 6 SB’s). His lack of success against lefties led to less playing time over the 2nd half of the year (.242 with 3 HR’s, 21 RBI’s, and 4 SB’s). Gerardo is a GB hitter (55.3%) with a short HR/FB rate (8.2%). Parra was a career .314 hitter in the minors with short power and possible 25 SB upside. His lack of success against lefties makes me believe he is a platoon player in 2014. Possible upside in batting average and steals, but he’ll never see 601 at bats this year.

Addison Reed

Reed converted 40 of 47 chances in 2013, however, his overall stats haven’t been elite during his 2 seasons in the majors. His walk rate (2.9) was identical to his 2012 season, while his K rate (9.1) rose slightly. Addison had success against both RH (.220) and LH (.210) batters. Reed pitched well over the first 2 months of the season (1.96 ERA with 17 SV’s), but his season started to go backwards on June 5th when the White Sox pushed him into his 3rd inning in an extra innings game. He allowed a grand slam in the 16th after allowing a run in the 15th. Later in the month, Reed allowed another crooked number (4 runs) to ruin his June (11 runs in 13 innings). Addison was great in July (3.60 ERA), but blew up again in September (7.88 ERA with huge walk rate {8.0}). His lack of dominance led to him being moved in the offseason. Reed is a FB pitcher (45.4%), while his AFB (92.8) was almost 2 mph lower than his previous 2 years. His #2 pitch is a slider, followed by a show me changeup. Addison had elite command (1.7) during his minor league career with a plus, plus K rate (12.9). Even with less velocity, his fastball was tougher to hit (.191). For Reed to be an impact reliever, he needs his slider (.271 BAA) to make a step forward (along with his command). Overall, his arm has been as electric as advertised.

Wade Miley

Overall, Miley finished with a similar season to 2012, with the exception of the drop in his walk rate (2.9). Wade improved against RH batters (.259 – .270 in 2012), but he regressed against lefties (.272 – .200 in 2012). Miley pitched well in April (2.37 ERA), but lost his command in his last start of the month (7 walks). He was terrible in May (1-5 with a 7.34 ERA) and was easy to hit in June (.317 batting average against). Over the last 3 months of the year, he allowed 2 runs or less in 12 of his 17 starts (2.67 ERA). Without his bad month, Miley had a 2.78 ERA. In addition, hIs AFB (91.0) was a career high. His #2 pitch is a slider, followed by a solid changeup and a low level curveball. Wade had a career high GB rate (52.0%). While he had growth on the road (3.09 ERA), he struggled at home (4.01). So far during his career, his command (2.5) in the majors has been better than his minor league career (3.1). However, his K rate (6.5) remains short, but his minor league resume (7.0) offers short upside. Just like Corbin, Miley has pitched better at the major league level. Steady major league arm with not much more upside. His changeup had growth in 2013 which is a plus, but his walk rate does have some downside risk.

Dee Gordon – Gordon has struggled to hit his way on to first base over the last 2 seasons. His window for a starting job may be gone with the addition of Guerrero. His skill set has no value as a 3rd baseman, but the Dodgers have enough talent on the roster to play him there in the short term. While his K rate (19.8%) has risen over the last two seasons, his walk rate (9.4%) did show some growth. Last year, he only hit .222 against RH pitching. At AAA last year, Dee hit .297 with 49 SB’s in 374 at bats. Gordon has been working hard in the offseason to add bulk to help him earn more playing time. Dee has difference maker speed, but he has no value in HR’s and RBI’s. Solid bench option as a base stealer in waiting whose best option for playing time may be third base.

Yasiel Puig 

Puig made the jump from AA to the majors last season and showed 30 HR power with 20 SB upside. Yasiel had a K rate (22.5%) that was below the league average, while his walk rate (8.3%) came in as league average. Puig crushed both RH (.312 with a .516 SLG %) and LH (.340 with a .583 SLG %) pitching. Puig also had a plus HR/FB rate (21.8%), but he was a GB hitter (50.2%). In addition, Yasiel had success hitting four seam fastballs (.324 – .533 SLG %), sinkers (.396 – .496 SLG %), and sliders (.327 – .636 SLG %). Overall, he hit .349 over his first 3 months in the majors with 13 HR’s, 31 RBI’s, and 10 SB’s in 298 at bats. His approach at the plate did show growth over the last 2 months of the year (10.9% walk rate and 20.9% K rate). Simply put, he is an elite talent with high upside across the board. However, he didn’t do a good job with runners on base (10% RBI rate). He is expected to bat leadoff for the Dodgers this season, and has a chance to score 120+ runs with solid HR’s and SB’s. His batting average may come in shorter than expected due to his K rate, but I expect him to improve in this area. He looks like one of the rare 5 tool players in the game. His only negative is his maturity, which leads to many bad decisions. Possible top 5 draft pick in 2015, so his ride is still on the uptick.

Josh Beckett 

Beckett pitched pretty well over his first 3 starts (3.26 ERA with 17 K’s in 19.3 innings), but struggled through his last 5 outings (6.75 ERA). His season ended in mid May when he developed a groin injury that led to a nerve issue in his right arm and hand. He had surgery in July to fix a nerve impingement in his right shoulder. The time table for recovery was 3 to 5 months, which gives him a chance at being ready for the start of spring training. Beckett is 132-100 in his major league career with a 3.94 ERA. Josh has struggled over the last 2 seasons with declining command (3.1). He pitched at an elite level in 2011 (2.89 ERA), but his K rate (7.0) was below his career average. In addition, his AFB (92.0) has been on the decline over the last 5 seasons. He throws a cutter, curveball, and changeup almost the same % of time. Beckett has flashed elite upside at times during his career, but he has also fallen on his face more than once. Upside arm that may be overlooked on draft day who should be healthy for the first time since 2011. Possible 15 wins with 200 K upside.

Dan Haren 

Haren has been a pig in back to back seasons. He had elite command (1.6) with an improved K rate (8.0), but he allowed plus HR’s (1.5 per 9 innings) for the 2nd straight season. His AFB (88.9) did have a little more life than 2012. He threw his cutter as his #2 pitch, followed by split-finger fastball and a fading curveball. Furthermore, his FB rate (42.1%) was career high, which led to a career high HR/FB rate (13.0%). Dan struggled with RH batters (.281 – .471 SLG %), and was drilled over his first 15 starts of the year (6.15 ERA). Over the last 3 months of the year, he was a totally different pitcher (3.29 ERA with a higher K rate {8.6} and a shorter HR/9 rate {0.9}). His failure over the first half of the year was due a sore shoulder, which required a DL stint in late June. His velocity was actually less over the last 3 months. Haren is 129-111 during his major league career. While he has excellent command, the value of his pitches are declining. His success over the 2nd half gives a fantasy player a glimmer of hope that he might have one last run in him. My feeling is that he has one last dance.

Chase Headley 

Chase had his season derailed in mid March when he suffered a fractured left thumb. The injury forced him to miss just over 2 weeks of the season. His HR/FB rate (10.9%) was his 2nd highest of his career, but it was almost 50% less than 2012 (21.9%). His FB rate (31.3%) was a career low, and it has now declined in each of the last 4 years. Furthermore, his K rate (23.7%) has declined in each of his last 3 seasons, while his walk rate (11.2%) has been very good over the last 3 years. Headley had almost the same success against RH (.251) and LH (.248) pitching. Overall, he only played well in September (.305 with 5 HR’s and 14 RBI’s). His success hitting HR’s in 2012 was due to a change in his skill set as he started pulling the ball at a much higher rate than in previous seasons (23% pull rate batting RH in 2010 and 2011, 29% in 2012, and 37.6% in 2013 – 27.5% pull rate batting LH in 2010 and 2011, 39% in 2012, and 40.2% in 2013). Chase had a calf injury in June and a minor back injury in late August, and needed surgery in the offseason to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Overall, Headley has only had one plus season in the majors during his career. His K rate is rising, which is inviting more batting average risk. The change in swing path didn’t result in more HR’s last year, and he did have a couple of injuries. Possible gamble if his price point is discounted, but I wouldn’t overpay hoping for his 2012 season. Set the bar at .270 with 20 HR’s and 10 SB’s and hope for upside.

Ian Kennedy 

Kennedy probably overachieved his skill set in 2011 when he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA. His value has been on a negative progression over the last 2 seasons. While his command (3.6) took a huge step backwards, his K rate (8.1) stayed intact. However, HR’s (1.3 per 9) have been a problem over the last 2 years. He pitched a little better with the Padres (4.34 ERA) after a late July trade, but he walked 18 batters in his first 5 starts with San Diego (29.7 innings – 5.4 walk rate). In September, Ian threw more strikes (7 walks in 28.7 innings – 2.2 walk rate), which led to 4 quality starts. His AFB (90.3) was in line with his 2011 season, and his changeup is his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a cutter. His biggest failure was against LH batters (.265 with 19 HR’s allowed in 340 at bats – .500 SLG %), but his command against righties has also regressed. Overall, his stuff has lost value across the board due to his inability to throws strikes. His home park gives him a big edge and he had a 2.81 ERA in 5 starts in San Diego after the trade (7-2 in his career with 2.41 ERA and 90 K’s in 71 innings). Solid backend gamble – 3.75 ERA with 13+ wins and 170+ K’s.

Andrew Cashner 

Cashner is drawing a lot of interest in the early draft season. He has an electric arm with a plus fastball (94.5), but it was the lowest of his career. Andrew throws a changeup as his second best pitch, followed by a slider and a low % of curveballs. His command (2.4) was the best of his career, which made a huge step forward last year. However, his K rate (6.6) surprisingly regressed to a career low. Cashner was very good against RH pitching (.217). Over his last 6 starts of the year, Andrew only allowed 4 runs in 44.7 innings (0.81 ERA – 38 K’s). He also only allowed 1 walk in his last 23.7 innings. Last year, he threw 175 innings, which was over 100 more than his previous season. Furthermore, Cashner has only pitched over 110 innings one other time during his career. I like his talent and he should have upside in K’s, but I can’t trust him to be healthy enough to be a SP3 in 2014.

Brandon Belt 

Overall, Belt had some growth in 2013, setting career highs in multiple categories. His K rate (21.9%) improved, but it is still below the major league average. However, his walk rate (9.1%) has been asset during his short career. Brandon played his best ball over the last 2 months of the year (.346 with 7 HR’s and 28 RBI’s in 191 at bats – 18.7% K rate). He was a much better hitter against RH pitching (.297 with a .495 SLG %), but he held his own against lefties (.261). His HR/FB rate (10.6%) went up by more than 50% from 2012 (9.2%). Belt is more of a FB hitter (41.3%) with a solid LD rate (24.3%). In addition, he was a career .343 hitter in the minors with a stronger K rate (17.8%). His only negative is that Posey will steal some at bats from him at first base, unless the Giants decide to let him play in the outfield (which didn’t happen in 2013). Upside player that is really close to being a fantasy asset. This year, he will finally hit 20+ HR’s with 80+ upside in RBI’s. He’ll even throw in double digit steals.

Pablo Sandoval 

Sandoval has sucked in fantasy players for 4 straight seasons. His power has been short in 3 of the last 4 years. He missed 2 weeks in June due to a hairline fracture in his left foot. Over the first 2 months, Pablo hit .288 with 8 HR’s and 37 RBI’s. He appeared to be on a pace for a 25/100 season, but struggled to hit for power over the next 2+ months after returning from his foot injury (2 HR’s and 27 RBI’s in 255 at bats). Sandoval finished the year on the upside (.322 with 4 HR’s and 15 RBI’s). Over the summer, Pablo lost 22 lbs. due to a new diet created by his brother. In the offseason, his desire to get in shape continued. Heading into 2014, he will be in some of the best shape of his life. His K rate (13.5%) has been in a tight area during his entire career, while his walk rate (8.1%) is just below the league average. Sandoval had no power batting from the right side of the plate (1 HR in 148 at bats). Furthermore, his HR/FB rate (8.3%) has declined in 2 straight seasons. Overall, Pablo has been an above average run producer (17% RBI rate during his career). A fantasy player now has to decide if his power was for real and if the extra weight was a factor for his lack of success. His K rate suggests his batting average has upside and if he gets 550+ at bats, I have to believe he is a lock to be a 20/80 player with upside in both areas. Possible all in candidate due to his low price point.

Tim Lincecum 

After going 69-41 with a 2.94 ERA during his first 5 seasons in the majors, Lincecum is 20-29 over his last 2 years with 4.76 ERA. His command (3.5) was much better than 2012 (4.4), but it was well off his career best in 2009 (2.7). His K rate (8.8) was a career low along with his AFB (90.2), which has faded for most of his career. His changeup continues to be his #2 pitch, followed by a slider and curveball. His value against RH batters (.260 -.433 SLG %) is fading. While Tim had success against lefties (.235), he issued too many walks (45 in 362 at bats). Last year, he never had an ERA under 3.60 in any month, and only allowed 2 runs or less in 14 of his 32 starts. Batters still have a tough time hitting his changeup (.157), slider (.237), curveball (.204), and sinker (.245), but his four seam fastball now has no value (.347 with a .564 SLG %). The Giants signed him to a 2-year, $35 million contact in October. His value has bottomed out where he is just about free on draft day. While his K ability remains strong, the value of his fastball is no longer elite. He has been unable to improve his command to help take advantage of his swing and miss secondary pitches. Overall, Lincecum really needs to throw more first pitch strikes. I don’t love him and he won’t be a target in 2014, but I can’t ignore him if he is given to me on draft day. I’ll take the possible 200 K’s and hope for improved command and a possible 3.75 ERA. Tim is a double jeopardy pitcher, meaning he’ll either crush your ERA and WHIP or he’ll bounce back and help make a good pitching staff special. It’s all about price point with him. In a way, I hope he pitches great in spring training to raise his value so his success will remove his name from my decision making process.

Tim Hudson 

Hudson didn’t pitch at an elite level last year, allowing 2 runs or less in just 10 of his 21 starts. His season ended in late July when he broke his right ankle on a play at first base. San Fran signed him to a 2-year, $23 million contact in November. Tim is expected to be ready for spring training. While his command (2.5) remains very good, his K rate (6.5) has been short over the last 12 years. However, it was above his career average (6.1). His AFB (89.7) was the 2nd lowest of his career, and his cutter continues to be his #2 pitch, followed by a resurfacing split finger fastball and curveball. Hudson has been a high % GB pitching (55.8%) during his entire career. Last year, batters had a tough time hitting his four seam fastball (.192), curveball (.184), cutter (.186), and split-finger (.204). Tim had the least value with his sinker (.305). Hudson is 205-111 during his major league career with a 3.44 ERA. He has won more than 15 games 8 times during his career. Solid major league arm with upside in wins whose K’s may surprise due to the addition of his split finger fastball.

2014 AL West – Midseason Fantasy Baseball Reflection

An important part of fantasy baseball is reflecting on the previous season to see what went right and what went wrong. Since we are at the All Star break, I thought it would be a good time to look back on how I did on my research in the offseason. Over the winter, I did well over 300 hours of research and writing about the 2014 MLB player pool. I’m not only doing this to help other fantasy baseball players; I’m doing the research to help me have success in the high stake baseball market as well.

Over the next couple of days, we’ll be posting some of the content from our baseball package. I’ll look for players that I was right about, but it is also important to see why I missed on some that did well. If you would like to receive a full copy of the baseball E-book, you can e-mail us at scoutpro@competitivesportsanalysis.com, and we’ll be happy to send you the document.

Enjoy the All Star break, and get ready because the NFL push has already started. We have all of our NFL research done as well, and we will have our early projections up shortly.

 

George Springer 

It really makes no sense for Houston to start Springer in the minors this season. He played well in 219 at bats at AAA in 2013 (.311 with 18 HR’s and 22 SB’s). His K rate (24.2 %) even improved from his AA results (29.7 %). Overall, George has hit .299 during his minor league career with 223 runs, 62 HR’s, 198 RBI, and 81 SB’s in only 1026 at bats. Furthermore, his walk rate (12.2 %) is solid. Without his huge K rate (26.5 % – career), his skill set looks elite. His lack of contact makes him a tough player to project in 2014. If he struggles to make contact early in the year, he could be sent to the minors quickly. Just by looking at Chris Carter, we can see a minor league 23.5 % K rate translating into a much higher K rate in the majors. Springer could have all the talent in the world, but he can’t have elite success in the majors with a 35 % strikeout rate. He has a 30/30 skill set, but we have no idea how far his batting average will fall in the majors.

Jose Altuve 

Altuve regressed slightly across the board in 2013, with the exception of RBI’s (52). His K rate (12.7%) remains solid, but it was higher than 2012 (11.8%). His walk rate (4.8%) is real short and was lower than last year (6.4%). Jose is a better hitter against lefties (.321 – career) with much more power (6 HR’s in 390 at bats – 8 HR’s in 1033 at bats against RH pitching). Altuve is a GB hitter (49.2%) with a short FB rate (28.3%) and an even shorter HR/FB rate (3.2%). Jose is one of the smallest players in the league, but he did hit 10 HR’s or more twice during his minor league career. He has stolen 30+ bags over the last 2 seasons, but was caught a league high 13 times in 2013. Altuve is a nice middle infielder that has more upside in power and could have more steals if he can improve his base stealing technique. Possible .300 average with a 10/30 skill set.

Scott Feldman 

You know is it going to be a long year for the Astros when I can’t find a better option as an ace than Feldman. He pitched real well for the Cubs over 15 starts (3.46 ERA). Scott had decent command (2.8) in 2013, but his K rate (6.5) remains short. Feldman allowed 3 runs or less in 11 of his 15 starts with Baltimore, but was racked 3 times (20 runs and 28 base runners in 12.3 innings) which led to a weaker ERA (4.27) in the AL. His AFB (89.9) was almost 2 mph lower than his previous season. Scott throws a cutter as his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a show me split-finger fastball. Surprisingly, both RH (.233) and LH (.235) batters had a tough time hitting him. This year, he is destined to have an ERA over 4.50. Feldman has pitched poorly as starter in 3 of 5 seasons. His low first pitch strike % (56) isn’t a good sign for 2014. Avoid at all costs.

Brandon Moss 

Moss had full time at bats in April where he hit .295 with 4 HR’s and 19 RBI, but he ended up only being a platoon player against RH pitching over the last 5 months of the year. Brandon only hit .200 against lefties with a monster K rate (43.2%). After the All Star break, Moss hit .296 with 14 HR’s and 43 RBI in 179 at bats. For the year, his K rate (27.7%) remained poor, but it was lower than his 2012 season. His walk rate (9.9%) was a career high. Brandon had a career high FB rate (51.5), but his HR/FB rate (18.8%) regressed from 2012 (25.9%). Moss only hit .206 against a four seam fastball with 11 HR’s in 126 at bats. Moss has no chance of getting full time at bats. His approach at the plate will lead to batting average risk. Overall, he has no chance of repeating his 2013 success. Moss has 20 HR power with 70 RBI potential.Don’t pay full price for his 30 HR’s.

Yoenis Cespedes 

For the 2nd straight season, Yoenis missed time due to multiple injuries. He suffered a thumb injury in April, which cost him 14 games. He had a slight hamstring injury in June, a slight wrist injury in July, and a shoulder injury in September. His approach at the plate regressed in 2013 as his K rate (23.8%) spiked upward and his walk rate (6.5%) regressed. His final results were in line with his 2012 season, with the exception of a huge decline in batting average and a weaker success rate stealing bases. Cespedes held his own against lefties (.280 with 11 HR’s in 161 at bats), but he regressed against righties (.223 – 24.6% K rate). He had a jump in his FB rate (45.6%), but his HR/FB rate (14.4%) declined slightly. It looks like pitchers have the most success against him with sliders. Last year, Yoenis struck out 35 times in 121 plate appearance against the slider with 6 HR’s. Cespedes has a 30/100 skill set if he could ever stay healthy for a full season. His batting average has risk if he is going to have a swing for the fences type of approach at the plate. I would consider his speed a bonus at this point of his career.

Scott Kazmir 

Kazmir was banished from baseball in 2011 after struggling in back to back seasons with the Angels. His lack of success was somewhat due to a bad back. After 5 disaster starts at AAA in 2011 (0-5 with a 17.02 ERA), Scott found himself trying to rebuild his career in the Independent league in 2012 where his results were less than attractive over 14 starts (5.34 ERA with 33 walks in 64 innings). The Indians signed him to a minor league deal in December of 2012. Kazmir pitched well during spring training, but he developed an abdomen injury at the end of March which cost him the first 20 days of the season. Scott was bombed in his first start with the Indians (6 runs and 11 base runners in 3.3 innings), but he responded with 3 straight solid outings highlighted by a 10 K game on May 9th. Overall, Kazmir allowed 2 runs or less in 16 or his 29 starts. In September, he showed electric upside when he posted three 10 or more K games. Scott was very good against lefties (.226), however, he allowed 41 of his 47 walks to RH batters and they hit .275 against him with 16 HR’s in 451 at bats. Kazmir finished the year with a plus K rate (9.2) and solid command (2.7). His AFB (92.5) was also his highest since his 2005 season. He threw a changeup as his 2nd best pitch, followed by a slider and a show me cutter. His HR/FB rate (11.6%) was higher than his best years in Tampa, but he did change his skill set, evidenced by him allowing the least amount of fly balls in his career (36% – 42.1% career average). His success led him to signing a 2-year, $22 million contract with the A’s. Kazmir has upside in 2014, but he needs to improve against RH batters. His K rate and command give him a chance at a 3.50 ERA or less with 200 K upside and 30 starts.

Jim Johnson 

Johnson has the most saves in baseball over the last 2 seasons. He signed a one year, $10 million contract in January with the A’s. His command (2.3) has declined over the last 3 seasons. While his K rate (7.2) made a nice bump, it has been short during his entire career. Last year, he didn’t dominate RH (.266) or LH (.279) batters. Johnson is an extreme GB pitcher (58.0%) with a low FB rate (21.5%). His HR/FB rate (11.4%) made a high jump from his previous 2 years. Furthermore, his AFB (93.8) was his lowest since 2008 and it has declined over the last 2 seasons. His curveball is his 2nd best pitch, followed by a changeup. Johnson’s resume looks good, but he did blow 9 saves last year. He isn’t dominant and wasn’t tough to hit in 2013. He has 40 save upside with a low K rate, but his skill set may lead to job loss if he struggles.

Sonny Gray 

Gray allowed 2 runs or less in 8 of his 10 starts with Oakland last year. He had a plus K rate (9.4) with good command (2.8). While Sonny had success against both RH (.198) and LH (.226) batters, he allowed 15 of his 20 walks to lefties. He has a solid fastball (93.1) with a plus curveball, followed by a show me changeup. Gray was a GB pitcher (52.9%) with the A’s. Overall, his minor league resume doesn’t match his major league success. Sonny has a career 3.66 ERA in 292.3 minor league innings with 237 K’s. His command (3.2) was less and he had a weaker K rate (7.3). Early during his minor league career, Oakland tried to change his mechanics, which led to less movement on his pitches. He switched back to his old throwing motion, which led to more late life on his stuff. His 2013 success with the A’s looks attractive, but he does have some downside risk if his command takes a step back. Gray really doesn’t have a dependable 3rd pitch at this point of his career. Upside arm that may need more time to develop in 2014. His ERA may fall on the wrong side of 3.75 with a higher than expected WHIP.

Kole Calhoun 

Trout should really be the #3 hitter for the Angels, but that plan will have to wait one more season. In order to create as much value for Trout, LA needs to have a quality bat leading off and really need a solid option hitting 9th in the batting order. Aybar is nice major league hitter, but his on base % is only .317 during his career. Calhoun gave the Angels 195 plus at bats in 2013. He showed upside power and a willingness to take a walk (9.5%). Furthermore, his K rate (18.5%) was about the major league average. He is a career .317 hitter in the minors with 55 HR’s, 263 RBI, and 45 SB’s in 1364 at bats. He had a solid walk rate (11.9%) in the minors, which gives him more upside in this area in the majors. In his limited at bats (50) against lefties in the majors, Kole hit .340. At AAA in 2013, he hit .439 against left hand pitching in 57 at bats with 3 HR’s and 16 RBI. His skill set probably isn’t built on being a leadoff hitter, but he does enough things well where he appears to be the best option on the team after Trout. His career on base % in the minors was .402. Calhoun also has underlying speed, even though he only has average base running ability. Kole is an older prospect with low upside tools, but he has great character and smarts. I expect him to be undervalued on draft day, especially if he does get a chance to bat at the top of the order.

Albert Pujols 

Last year, Pujols missed most of spring training after a slow recovery from knee surgery from the previous October. He was limited to a DH role early in the year and it was clear he wasn’t 100% healthy just based on his slow foot speed. For most of his career, Albert has struggled with plantar fascia. Last year, he tore his left plantar fascia in late July, which ended his season. The injury didn’t require surgery and he was almost 100% healthy in January. Pujols had a career low 17 HR’s and a career low .258 batting average. Prior to last year, Albert had hit 30 HR’s or more in 12 straight seasons and his lowest RBI total was 99. If he played a full season in 2013, Pujols was on a pace for 27 HR’s and 100 RBI. His K rate (12.4%) has been elite during his career, but it was a career high last year. Additionally, his walk rate (9.0%) has been below his career average over the last 3 years. Pujols has a great major league resume and great work ethic. He has under achieved in his first 2 years with the Angels and this year his draft value has slid to a career low. Last year, Mike Trout was on base 282 times, which gives Pujols one of the best RBI chances in the game. A fantasy player would just be crazy to pass up the Trout/Pujols hook up on the 2/3 turn. Albert should hit over .300 this year with 30+ HR’s and 120+ RBI.

C.J. Wilson 

Wilson was one of the few bright spots on the Angels in 2013. His command (3.6) has been a negative during his entire career, while his K rate (8.0) was in line with his career average. C.J. was dominant against lefties (.169), but he did struggle a bit with righties (.269). Wilson was a much better pitcher at home (2.55 ERA), but won most of his games on the road (11-3 with 4.13 ERA). HIs AFB (91.2) was down from 2012 (91.7). Wilson threw a slider as his #2 pitch for the 1st time since 2009. He also throws a curveball, followed by a cutter and a show me changeup. C.J. is 61-32 over the last 4 years as a starter with a 3.37 ERA. Wilson has been able to survive in the majors even with poor command. In a way, he has somehow overachieved considering his skill set. His solid season will push up his draft value, which makes it easier to avoid his downside WHIP risk. Possible down tick year.

Garrett Richards 

Richards had some growth in the majors last year. His command (2.7) moved in line with his minor league resume (2.8), but his K rate (6.3) still needs some work. Last year, Garrett turned into a high GB pitcher (57.9%). He has a plus fastball (94.8), but really only has one other pitch that he trusts (slider). Richards will throw a show me curveball and an occasional changeup. In 2013, he struggled with LH batters (.281) and wasn’t dominant against righties (.252). Over the last 2 months last year, Garrett had a 3.98 ERA in 12 starts for LA, but he allowed too many base runners (1.40 WHIP). Richards is 34-11 during his minor league career with a 3.34 ERA and 347 K’s in 398.3 innings. He struggles with lefties and lacks a 3rd pitch at this point of his career. His fastball gives him upside, but his skill set may make more sense as a closer down the road if he doesn’t improve. His jump in GB rate shows a change in approach to batters. Garrett needs to improve his first pitch strike % (54%) as well. Possible upside, but he isn’t ready to make a fantasy impact. Potential sub 4.00 ERA with some WHIP risk and low K upside.

Ernesto Frieri 

Frieri wasn’t an easy ride last year. He struggled with walks (17 in 23.7 innings) over the first 2 months of the season. This led to a bad stretch in May where he allowed 6 runs and 12 base runners in 5.3 innings. He survived his slump without blowing any saves, but his 2nd bad stretch in late July and early August (12 runs and 19 base runners in 4.7 innings) led to him losing the closer job for 2 weeks. When he returned to the 9th inning in late August, he only walked 3 batters over his last 16.7 innings with 22 K’s. Ernesto finished 2013 with a plus, plus K rate (12.8), but his walk rate (3.9) is a huge problem especially if you add in 11 HR’s (1.4 per 9 innings). RH batters hit .292 against him. Frieri was very good against lefties (.159), but he allowed 21 of his 30 walks to them. His HR problem was to both sides of the plate. Last year, he had an incredible 59.2% FB rate. His AFB (94.4) was the highest of his career, but he threw it 87% of the time. Ernesto throw a slider as his #2 pitch. Frieri is a one dimensional pitcher with a huge FB rate, poor command, and a HR problem. His lack of success against righties isn’t good for his long term job security. Overall, he’s a tough swing for me in 2014. I just see too many factors working against his success, even with an improved 1st pitch strike %. Frieri needs to find a 2nd pitch he can trust.

Kyle Seager 

Seager played real well over the first 4 months of the year (.298 with 17 HR’s and 50 RBI), but he died over the last 2 months of the year (.181 with 5 HR’s and 19 RBI). His batting average has been short against lefties over the past 2 years (.237 in 2012 and .235 in 2013), but he hit 17 HR’s in 453 at bats. His K rate (17.6%) declined slightly, while his walk rate (9.8%) was a career high. Kyle’s power growth is a good sign and his approach at the plate and his minor league resume suggests upside in batting average down the road. Kyle will even chip in with possible double digit steals. Seager hit .304 with a .374 OB % while batting 2nd. His batting average has .300 upside with 20 HR power and double digit speed.

Robinson Cano 

The Mariners blew away Cano with a 10-year, $240 million contract. Robinson has hit over .300 in his last 5 seasons. His K rate (12.5%) remains in a very good area, while his walk rate (9.5%) has shown very good growth. Last year, Cano was a plus run producer (20% RBI rate), but he had his shortest RBI chances since 2006. Furthermore, he had a great first half of the year (.302 with 21 HR’s and 65 RBI) before his power faded after the All Star break (6 HR’s). Cano is a career .318 hitter against RH pitching and .290 against lefties. He has hit .309 at Safeco Field with 4 HR’s and 20 RBI in 163 at bats during his career. His FB rate (29.8%) has been short over the last 2 seasons, while his HR/FB rate (17.3%) has been strong over the past 3 years. The change in ballpark and team is somewhat of a concern. Cano is a rock solid .300 hitter with 25+ HR potential, but his RBI total may lack upside unless the Mariners get a solid option as a leadoff hitter.

Felix Hernandez 

Hernandez has been a great pitcher during his major league career, but he only has a 110-86 record. Felix has only won more than 15 games once during his career. Furthermore, Seattle has only averaged 72 wins per season since he has been a full time starter. Hernandez has averaged 13 wins per year over his last 8 years. Last year, Felix had the best command (2.0) of his career, which led to a career high K rate (9.5). His strikeout rate has risen in each of the last 5 seasons. Hernandez was elite after the first 4 months of 2013 (11-4 with a 2.34 ERA with 158 K’s in 143.7 innings), but tried to pitch through a sore back late in the year. Over his last 5 starts in August, Felix had 3 poor starts (19 runs and 34 base runners in 27 innings), which led to him missing 3 starts in September. He finished the year with a 1-6 record over his last 8 starts with 5.77 ERA. His AFB (91.9) has declined over his last 3 seasons and it is well off of his rookie year (95.8). His changeup continues to be his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a changeup. Hernandez has pitched over 200 innings during his last 6 seasons and has made 30 or more starts in his last 8 years. He has an elite arm with an improving skill set (despite a declining fastball). Seattle should be better in 2014, which gives the King a chance at 15+ wins and a sub 3.00 ERA. Excellent fantasy ace who is reaching the prime of his career.

Taijuan Walker 

Walker pitched well enough at AAA and in the majors in 2013 where he is expected to make the Mariners starting rotation in 2014. His K rate (9.7) has been strong at every level of the minors, but his walk rate (3.6) really hasn’t shown a lot of growth. He did throw more strikes at AA (3.2 walk rate), but he regressed at AAA (4.2). In his 3 starts in the majors, he did throw strikes (2.4 walk rate), but his K rate (7.2) declined. At AAA, RH batters hit .315 against him with 4 HR’s in 29.7 innings (.222 in the majors with only 2 K’s in 18 at bats). Taijuan was very good against lefties in the majors (.194) and AAA (.161 with 35 K’s in 27.7 innings). However, Walker did struggle with walks to LH batters (5.5 walk rate) at AAA. He has a plus fastball (94.7) and throws a cutter as his #2 pitch, followed by a curveball and a show me changeup. Taijuan is a high upside pitcher, however, his command suggests it won’t be an easy ride over a full season in the majors. I like the development of his cutter, but he needs to find a secondary pitch to get righties out at a higher rate in the majors. His innings should be capped at 180 this season. I’d draft him with a 3.75 ERA in mind with WHIP risk and possibly 150 K’s if he pitched the whole year with Seattle.

Elvis Andrus

This year, Andrus may finally get a chance to bat leadoff. He continues to show no upside in power and has one of the weakest AVH scores (1.22) in the game. His RBI totals have been inflated by plus chances (also helped by plus at bats). Elvis has decent size and may develop power, but his low FB rate (22.4% in 2013 – 21.4% during his career) suggests he isn’t ready to make that step forward. Andrus hit most of his fly balls to right center where they have no chance of leaving the park. Furthermore, he has had a high GB rate (56.3) during his career. Last year, he had almost the same success against RH (.270) and LH (.273) pitching. After hitting no HR’s in his first 449 at bats over 4+ months, Elvis hit 4 HR’s in his last 171 at bats. He had a spike in RBI’s (34) in August and September. Over the last 3 months of the season, Andrus hit .301 with 4 HR’s, 39 RBI, and 25 SB’s. His K rate (13.9%) was slightly above his career average, while his walk rate (7.5%) has declined over the last 3 years. Elvis really doesn’t have the ideal skill set to bat leadoff due to a lack of walks, but the Rangers team structure set up well with him at the top of the lineup. By hitting Choo 2nd, Andrus’ speed will open up the right side of the infield when he is on base. This gives Shin-Soo more room to hit a ground ball through the infield (plus Choo takes plenty of pitches). In turn, this will allow Andrus to steal more bases. I don’t trust that Andrus will have a breakout season in terms of power, but he has upside in batting average, SB’s, and runs. He is a young player that has shown to have durability and he has even more upside. I see his first 200 hit season, which leads to a .300+ average with 60+ steals.

Joakim Soria 

Just like Feliz, Soria made the slow crawl from Tommy John surgery in 2013. He pitched 7 shutout innings in the minors while only allowing 1 hit and no walks with 8 K’s. When he returned to the majors, Joakim lacked command (5.3), but had a plus K rate (10.6). RH batters hit .366 against him in 41 at bats, but he only allowed 2 extra base hits. Lefties had only 3 hits off of him in 44 at bats. His AFB (90.8) came in short of his previous 3 seasons. He threw a slider as his #2 pitch, followed by a slow curveball. For some reason, his changeup was no longer a pitch of value. Soria has 160 major league saves with a history of having solid command. He is more than capable of doing the job and I expect him to pitch at a high level this season. If Feliz lacks command early in the year, Joakim could steal the job and run with it. He almost looks like a must handcuff.