Saturday, December 28, 2013

2013 Baseball Solstice

The Baseball Solstice draws nigh. This Sunday, Dec. 29, marks the midpoint between the end of the World Series and the beginning of Spring Training games in Arizona and Florida.

Monday, December 16, 2013

2014 Quick Hits: Justin Grimm

At this point Justin Grimm is technically still a competitor for the fifth spot in the Cubs rotation. However the Chicago Cubs are determined to bring in more rotation depth that would push Justin Grimm to the bullpen. Grimm has also been mentioned as a potential closer if the club fails to acquire a more established candidate. Pedro Strop and Hector Rondon would also be considerations in that role. All three three have the power arms that most clubs prefer in the ninth inning.

Grimm has had mostly mediocre results as a starter but has solid command of a mid-90's fastball and a potentially plus curveball. His work ethic has been praised and he could still develop into a solid mid-rotation option. Still, as is to expected, Grimm has looked very good as a reliever in small samples. With very few options on the current roster and the Cubs considering the Axford's of the world as possibilities, Grimm has great sleeper potential as a closer.

Links of Note:

Fangraphs Page

Scouting Report

Closer Potential

Saturday, November 23, 2013

2014 Quick Hits: Juan Lagares

Juan Lagares is expected to be the Mets starting center fielder this season but can he hit? 

Juan Lagares is expected to be the Mets starting center fielder to begin the 2014 season. Lagares is an excellent defensive outfielder. He has excellent instincts and hands and has developed a unique style that has him positioned closer to the infield than most center fielders. His arm is rated by most scouts as average but his instincts and accuracy with it makes it score like Thor tossing his hammer. 
For fantasy purposes Lagares is no great shakes but he has made slow but steady improvement over the years. He will draw the occasional walk (though he is still below average in this area) and makes excellent contact. What he lacks is power. He should be good for a decent batting average based on a large number of ground balls and above average speed, and his recent track record in the minors. Some scouts report that he did square up the ball well in the minors, if he learns to do so in the majors he could become a regular .280-.290 hitter. He should also steal a few bases though he has never been particularly aggressive in this area he could steal 15-20 in a full season of play.

Links of Note:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Tips for Draft Domination

Originally produced for BigLeaguesMagazine  (they're gone now :( ) 

Let history inform your choices
If you have access look back at past drafts and search for trends in your fellow owners. Does one owner consistently draft young lefty pitchers? Does another fixate on much publicized sleepers? Does yet another owner always seem to have the best minor leaguers? Knowledge of your rivals gives you a degree of power over them. Call out the names of players that fit their typical plans early or force them to bid an extra dollar or two. Many owners struggle to adjust when their draft plans go awry. You can be the owner to make that happen. Let history be your guide.

Have a plan…any plan
Even a bad plan is better than not having one. It could be as simple as category goals to reach by the end of the draft (part of most good plans). It could be more complicated than Warren Buffet’s tax returns. The important thing is to have a plan of attack and to do your best to implement it. Owners without some sort of plan are more likely to forget about key players or to mess up their budgeting during an auction. There are tons of ready-made plans you can use, just adjust them to your league and the players available. If you need more ideas perform a web search for fantasy baseball strategies. I love it when a plan comes together.

Be ready to adjust when things do not go your way
Are you one of the more successful owners in your league? In many leagues the best owners will find themselves in bidding wars over any player they show even a smidge of interest in owning. Their rivals can seem more concerned with messing them up than in actually building their own winning teams. Having a decent Plan B can be the difference between a good draft day and disaster. The best way to avoid the need for an alternate plan is to have a plan with built-in options so that you are not easily hurt by those plotting against you. Is that paranoia? Not if they are out to get you.

Get your share of the Top Talent
In any draft there will be a few players that stand above the rest. In keeper leagues it is very possible there are only four or five players available with typical first round value. You should make a point of acquiring at least your share of that top talent and ideally you’ll be able to get someone else’s share of the top talent as well. The better your keeper list the more important this becomes. You do not want owners with weak keepers to be able to catch up to you just by drafting more of the top talent. It is vital to identify the best players available and decide how much of it you need to grab for yourself. Never decide you have enough to win. Be greedy.

Watch the scarce positions closely
Shortstop and second base are very shallow positions this year and though first base is deep the top tier is not deep at all and the fall to the second tier is longer than usual in my opinion. The top tier at first (in whatever order) looks like Joey Votto, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder with everyone in the second tier having some problem or question about their potential production. At second base it looks like Robinson Cano and everyone else. I love Ian Kinsler, Dustin Pedroia and Jason Kipnis but each has issues that prevent them from being in the top tier. Shortstop is just Jose Reyes and Pray Tulo Stays Healthy. There is nothing wrong with being an elitist in fantasy baseball.

Yes, Starting Pitching is deeper but…
Many experienced owners have long practiced waiting until the mid-rounds to start building their pitching staffs. With the number of great young pitchers on the rise some owners have fooled themselves into believing they can wait until the late rounds to collect starting pitchers. That may be possible in some very shallow leagues but if you want the opportunity to score big in the pitching categories you will need to collect some of the top two tiers of starters rather than settling for the leftovers. The pitchers at the end of the draft may seem a lot better than in years past but the best pitchers are also a lot better. So do not wait too long to get your first few starting pitchers. Unless you like having the worst pitching in your fantasy league that is.

Go ahead and pay for saves
If the top closers – Craig Kimbrel, Jason Motte, Rafael Soriano and maybe Jonathan Papelbon – are available go ahead and buy one if the price is not terribly inflated. The closer position is so unstable that getting one of the top three guys could give you a huge advantage over your competition. However, if you miss out on the top three, maybe four, I suggest you wait and take the cheapest options available. Don’t avoid the category altogether in your draft as too many people are watching the waiver wire for possible saves these days. Your goal is to either get the safest options or the cheapest ones. No one likes being in the middle anyway.

Crave power above all things
The big homerun numbers have not gone away completely but when you get past the first two tiers of players the homeruns are just not available the way they used to be. Stolen bases on the other hand seem to be available at the end of drafts. There are more and more players on rosters (some do not even start) that can give you 10-20 stolen bases. Power hitters are much rarer. I like to grab power hitters that steal bases rather than devote any spots to pure base stealers. Those players are obviously much coveted by smart owners. Make the most of your dollars by avoiding the ones that could be batting average liabilities and spending a few more bucks on the best available five category hitters. Power does not just corrupt, it rules.

Stretch your draft day budget to the limit
Plan to own a few one dollar players. I try to create budget depth by planning to have a least one dollar player in each position group – one catcher, one corner, one middle infielder, one outfielder, one starting pitcher and one relief pitcher. This gives me a greater opportunity to own a top tier player in each position group as well. If you plan and execute well your one dollar guys will also be excellent sleepers. I often manage this by drafting young or inexperienced but also potential laden players in those low budget spots. Last season C John Jaso, 3B Kyle Seager, SS Everth Cabrera, OF Michael Saunders, SP Hisashi Iwakuma RP Fernando Rodney were excellent one dollar choices (wow, the Mariners dominated the end game!). Some early picks for dollar spots this season are C Erik Kratz, 2B Matt Carpenter, 3B Brent Morel, SP David Phelps and RP Sean Doolittle. If you can’t be rich, create the illusion that you are.

Dominate the End Game
Owners should attempt to save enough auction dollars to allow you to spend two or three bucks each on your last two or three players. This will eliminate the possibility that you spend the end of the auction getting outbid on players you can only nominate for a buck. At the end of most draft days there are a few players that stand out from the dregs. Perhaps talented rookies or veterans with uncertain playing time are still on the board. Most owners would prefer to avoid drafting the Michael Martinez types out of pure necessity so save a few bucks. Fill your roster with talent at every opportunity. Make your draft good to the very last spot.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Building a Fantasy Baseball Draft Strategy

By Jon Williams | @bigjonwilliams

Originally written for Big Leagues Magazine Before the start of the 2013 season.

The worst thing you can do going into a fantasy draft or auction you plan to dominate is to go in without a plan. A plan gives your draft day efforts a structure. Your plan should build towards the goal of bringing you a fantasy baseball championship. Without a plan you will make more mistakes on Draft Day. You will choose the wrong players and miss your statistical goals. You can know the player pool as well as anyone but in a competitive league you will lose without a plan. If you have no idea how to put together an effective plan, this is your lucky day.
Build Around Your League Rules
Every draft advice column seems to remind owners to check their league rules. You see it so often because it is of vital importance to winning a league. Slight variations in league rules can cause drastic changes to the value of a given player. Adam Dunn may be just a later round’s consideration in a typical league but in a league that replaces AVG with OBP he becomes a much more important player. In a Head 2 Head league, drafting a balanced team is much less important than in a standard Rotisserie League. In other leagues starting pitchers may be the most important players available. In a 10-team mixed league that drafts just three outfielders per team, outfielders are plentiful. In an AL-only league with 13 teams, that is not the case. Study your league rules and measure the impact those rules will have on your play. Imputing your data into draft day software like RotoLab can make the job much simpler.
Establish and Build Toward Your Goals
My goal is always to win and it never changes. Not every owner likes to play that way, particularly in keeper leagues. Some owners like to rebuild with cheap keepers and minor leaguers until they have a team they feel can win several seasons in a row. In re-draft leagues, I have known owners to build rosters with quirky handicaps such as all lefty pitchers, an All-Visa Team, and no player over 27-years old. Your goal for the draft should match your goals for the season. If you just want to have fun, a quirky draft goal is just fine, but if the goal is to win, save the quirky ideas for a different league.

Whatever your goal, it is important that you commit to that goal for as long as possible. If your goal changes more often than necessary, it will worsen your chances of achieving anything. But there are times during the season when you may have to re-work your season goals. You may decide that you cannot finish first at some point. At that point depending on your position in the standings and the composition of your roster, you might decide that finishing in the money while setting up for 2014 is a more attainable goal. Others may decide to dump their present assets and enter a re-building mode. I am on record saying that re-building is for wussies but there comes a time during a season where setting up for the following season becomes the best option.
Choose Your Keepers Carefully
Your keepers should always fit your overall plans. If they do not fit your plan, you may want to come up with a new plan (or at least trade for players that do fit). You should always rank your potential keepers in the order in which they can help your winning strategy. If you plan to focus on high-average, power hitters to complement your cheap (but great) starting pitching, an “at-value” Prince Fielder is probably a better keeper than your slightly underpriced Garrett Jones. You want your keepers to work with your strengths not against them. Your great starting pitching is less effective if you also keep your one dollar Carlos Zambrano because he used to be your favorite Cubs starter.

Now, just because your primary strategy is built on high-average, power hitters and great starting pitchers, that does not mean that you should toss back your $10 Jean Segura. Segura may not hit for power or much of a batting average, but his indicators suggest his average will not be a negative and his steals potential may make it much easier for you to concentrate on the power hitters during the draft. The same cannot be said about your $15 Everth Cabrera who may steal a ton of bases, but has the potential to pull down your team batting average. It may be possible to account for this drag but a better idea is to trade for a player or players that better fit your strategy. Andrelton Simmons may cost you five extra bucks but also saves you the hassle of trying to balance a bad BA player before the draft even starts.

You also need to study the rosters of your competitors. You should have your best guess at the keepers on the other teams before deciding on yours. This is important because keepers can take a huge chunk out of the potential player pool on several levels. You could find that certain positions are going to be extremely scarce on Draft Day. If ten of the 15 potential closers in your 12-team league are held by the owners of just six teams buying a closer at the draft could get expensive. That might make your $18 Rafael Betancourt a better keeper than you originally supposed. The players you should target should be the players that will help you win. Values and profits are very important but the way they fit into your draft strategy is just as important.
Study the Player Pool
After your league’s keepers have been calculated to the best of your ability, it is time to study the player pool in depth. You need to know what positions remain to be filled on every team’s roster. How many catchers, first basemen, second basemen and so forth will be needed to fill each open spot? In deeper leagues there could be more spots than acceptable players. Understanding the depth available (or not available) at each position will help you prepare a strategy that accounts for positions that may be short on talent. In addition to finding where the talent shortages are, you also want to find where (if anywhere) there might be abundance.
You should be able to find some bargains within the talent abundant positions that make nice targets for your draft plan. Bargains are important because with a limited budget you need to acquire as much talent as possible. The bargains also give you the extra budget to afford expensive superstars. Where there is scarce talent, you will have to prepare to pay a premium. Draft inflation can cause even the bottom tier of talent at scarce positions to cost much more than the value of their stats. Because of this, you are sometimes better off paying for the better talents available at thin positions.
Use League History to Establish Category Goals
The typical strategy here is to plan on finishing third in each category. That is nice. If you meet those goals you will probably field a competitive team with a decent shot at winning. Personally, I advise a more aggressive strategy. Plan to finish first in each category. You probably will not, but that is not the point. The point is to force you to draft not just solid performers, but also more players with upside. Marco Scutaro is a fine player who will help a lot of fantasy teams this year. However, if for the same draft day cost you could draft Jedd Gyorko you may want to consider going with the talented rookie with upside. It does not need to be just rookies either. Assume you have had a fine draft and are entering the dollars days’ portion of the auction. You could be considering names like Delmon Young and Chris Heisey, solid players who should get some playing time. But also available is Jordany Valdespin who is not as established but has a full-time starting opportunity and a minor league record that indicates he has the potential for 15 homers and 20-plus stolen bases with a decent batting average.
The Heart of Your Plan is in the Roster Design
You should choose some player targets at their projected costs whether in auction dollars or draft rounds. Experimenting with various team compositions can help you shape your draft strategy. There are the standard draft plans such as Stars and Scrubs, Spread the Risk, The LIMA Plan, Portfolio 3 and the Mayberry Plan (a web search will provide all the details you need on all of these ideas) and hundreds of plans devised by experienced owners that have no names. But no matter what plan you use to design your eventual roster, you are essentially deciding how many of the following player types you need to roster.
  • Star Players – The studs. These are the best players available. They either contribute to five categories (in standard 5×5 leagues) or are exceptional in three or four categories. Every winning team needs to have their fair share of star players. In a 12 team league if there are 15 star players available you should own two of them. This is where the bulk of a team’s value rests. Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes and Miguel Cabrera are good examples of Star Players in standard leagues.
  • Potential Breakouts – These players have a solid track record and an established value in fantasy leagues but skills that suggest greater upside–perhaps even the ability to become star players. Every team should own as many of this type of player as possible. Austin Jackson, Giancarlo Stanton, Jason Heyward, Carlos Gomez, Starlin Castro, Stephen Strasburg and Kris Medlin are good examples of potential breakout players.
  • Category Target Players – These players are not stars and usually only excel in one or two categories. Most closers and many speedsters fit into this category. These players are usually used as complements to well-rounded players to meet category goals. You do not need to own players in this category but they are often helpful. Juan Pierre, Everth Cabrera, Brandon League, Huston Street, Adam Dunn and Ben Revere are good examples of category target players.
  • Sleepers – These are players not highly regarded but have skills or a new opportunity or circumstance that suggests their values could rise sharply. Every team should have one or two sleepers as this is the best way to build a team with a value much higher than its cost. That sort of profit is what turns contenders into champions. Jordany Valdespin, Cliff Pennington, Justin Ruggiano, Adam Lind and Logan Morrison are some decent sleepers.
  • Rookies – These players have very little experience in the major leagues if any at all. Most analysts will suggest you avoid rookies as they often underperform their skills. But rookies, like sleepers, can be hugely valuable to a team. When they do perform, their value often far exceeds their draft day cost. Rostering the right rookie at a minimal cost is like purchasing a lottery pick. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are examples of winning lottery tickets. This season, Jedd Gyorko, Jean Segura, Dylan Bundy and Gerrit Cole are examples of rookies that could pay off big for fantasy owners.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have a well-thought-out plan for Draft Day. Executing that plan can be difficult as other owners are certain to covet some of the same players and force you to either pay more or alter your strategies. Consider various options for every component of your plan and the odds of things going drastically wrong shrink. Going into draft day without a plan is planning to fail.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hot Fantasy Prospect: Jose Abreu

Cuban first baseman Jose Abreu has been so impressive playing for the Cuban National Team that when he officially declared a MLB free agent every team in baseball sent someone to see him in his various showcases. These were teams that had obvious needs at first base and/or designated hitter as well as teams that had the positions well filled. The obviously strong interest was fueled even further by teams in need of a power bat that could not afford to part with a top draft pick to sign free agents who received a qualifying offer.

Despite all the interest the scouting reports on Abreu have skewed a bit negative. Most of them seem to focus on the report from Baseball America which states that Abreu seemed to struggle against quality fastballs located on the inner third of the plate. This is a weakness that many major leaguers have and one that does not necessarily destroy his potential as a high average masher. He may certainly struggle against the frontline starters with impeccable control but doesn’t everyone? Many major league starters struggle to consistently locate their fastballs. Abreu could also be coached to take a half step away from the plate.

I think it is helpful to note that several teams were involved in the bidding. Depending on which reports you buy into it is possible that as many as seven teams bid more than 50 million for Abreu. Those teams seem to include organizations such as the Boston Red Sox, Texas Rangers and Houston Astros – organizations that at this point we should have learned to trust when it comes to scouting and player evaluation.

I first heard of Abreu when I saw Clay Davenport’s Cuban Player Translations. Take a look at these stats and I think you will be quite impressed. Clay Davenport of course one of the best analyst in the business and his translations well worth your attention.

What should be emphasized from almost every report is that Abreu despite average bat speed, has advanced hitting skills and tremendous power. I fully expect him to hit for a quality batting average and above average power as he adjusts to the majors. The hype created by previous Cuban imports like Yoanis Cespedes and Yasier Puig not only fed into the free agent frenzy but will also drive up his fantasy cost this coming season. I will be a buyer as long as the price stays reasonable. If he costs the same as other established power hitters I’d rather have one of them then the newbie, wouldn’t you?

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Anthem Media Acquires RotoExperts and Sports Grid

This sounds like great news for my friends at RotoExperts.

Here is the Press Release:

TORONTO --- Anthem Media Group announced today that its Fantasy Sports Television Network (FNTSY) has acquired 100% of the assets of New York-based RotoExperts and SportsGrid in a cash and stock transaction. The acquisition immediately stamps the new media company as a leader and innovative force in the already-exploding Fantasy Sports industry. is established as one of the Fantasy Sports industry's premier websites and is regarded as one of the leading independent providers of fantasy content in the space. Since 2008, RotoExperts has rapidly grown to become a prominent national staple in online content, broadcasting and syndicated offerings to reach the estimated 40 million Fantasy Sports players in North America. RotoExperts programs over 30 hours per week on Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports Radio and has occupied the morning drive slot since the launch of the channel. Founder and CEO Louis M. Maione, a longtime Wall Street executive, will now join FNTSY Sports Network and serve as the Executive Vice President of Anthem Media.

SportsGrid, one of the top mainstream sports websites in the U.S., was acquired from Abrams Media. SportsGrid was founded by U.S. television personality Dan Abrams, who has been instrumental in establishing the site as a major destination and player in the sports and media worlds.

"This is a tremendous acquisition for us as we build out the world's premier fantasy sports media company," said Leonard Asper, President and CEO of Anthem Media. "We will have access to many of the most talented commentators to develop and expand the video content

for the TV channel, one of the most accomplished executives in the industry in Mr. Maione, and a great set of assets with which to market the channel."

"In SportsGrid, we add a popular website to serve as the core of our digital strategy for all our channels, including Fight Network, Pursuit Channel, FNTSY Sports Network and the other channels we will add moving forward," Asper added.

"I am thrilled to be joining the Anthem team as a shareholder and executive," said Mr. Maione. "As we were looking to further develop our web and radio presence with a team who can execute the broadcast component, Anthem became the perfect fit, so we decided to join forces to create scale and speed of execution. At RotoExperts, it has always been our goal and promise to the fantasy community that we would always bring them the highest quality of content online and on radio. Now, we can deliver the same standards of insights and information to their living rooms, where they have waited for it and really deserve it. Our vow to them is to keep innovating and surprising them because they have supported us and put us in position to give them exactly what they want."

Chad Midgley, VP Programming of Anthem and the FNTSY Sports Network, added: "We intend to continue working with all components of the industry, including other websites, talent on both sides of the border, and the providers of the statistics and data feeds that support the industry".

About Anthem Media Group Inc. Anthem Media Group Inc. is a media company operating niche television channels on linear, digital and mobile platforms globally. It is the owner of Fight Network, the world's premier combat sports channeland is a significant investor in Pursuit Channel, one of the top outdoor channels in the U.S., and FNTSY Sports Network, a TV channel to be launched this Fall targeting the burgeoning fantasy sports industry.

About RotoExperts Founded in 2008, RotoExperts quickly became one of the leading independent providers of fantasy content in the industry. RotoExperts has provided fantasy content to major sites and publishers such as,, Yahoo Sports,, USA Today and the Bloomberg Professional Service. RotoExperts programs over 30 hours per week on Sirius/XM Fantasy Sports Radio and has supplied regular broadcast content to TuneIn, Alloy Digital, the Beasley Broadcast Group and Fox Sports Radio. RotoExperts was nominated for a total of 51 industry awards in its first five years of existence. RotoExperts has won six Fantasy Sports Writers Association Awards in the past two years, including Managing Director Scott Engel being inducted with the inaugural class of the FSWA Hall of Fame.

About SportsGrid SportsGrid is the site for news, videos, and smart opinions about sports as seen through the eyes of the media-addicted fan. Its coverage of athletes, teams and coaches goes beyond the playing field, and in the SportsGrid world, a players' late night TV appearances and controversial political views matter just as much as their batting average. SportsGrid is the ultimate destination for the media-savvy sports fan who wants to stay entertained.

For More Information Contact:

Anthem Media Group Chad Midgley
VP Programming & Production

Examining the Reasoning Behind the Jake Peavy Deal

As fantasy owners we are almost always interested in the trades that happen between major league rosters. We get especially excited in the days leading up to MLB's Non-Waiver Trade Deadline. We want and expect to see big names and major loves that will radically change the face of Major League Baseball teams and the fate of our fantasy squads. Unfortunately the deadline deals rarely match-up with our great expectations. This year's deals were not an exception.

By far the most interesting deadline deal was the three-team deal between the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox gave up young defensive shortstop Jose Iglesias (to Detroit) and a trio of prospects ( infielder Cleulius Rondon and pitchers Francelis Montas and Jeffery Wendelken) and received starter Jake Peavy from the White Sox and reliever Brayan Villarreal from the Tigers. Chicago received the Boston prospects and young outfielder Avisail Garcia from the Tigers.

Jose Iglesias is a good fit with the Detroit Tigers for a few reasons. If the Detroit Tigers have a weakness it is in their infield defense. Iglesias can provide the Tigers with Gold Glove quality defense at shortstop and even second and third base if necessary. Over the last few seasons, Iglesias has become a much better contact hitter with improved patience at the plate. It does not show in his walk rate but it does appear in his swing rates and his declining strikeout rate. Iglesias has close to zero power (2.2 HR/FB% and .079 ISO) but is becoming the type of player that can find ways to contribute (or at least not be a huge negative) in a lineup full of sluggers while contributing vastly increased defensive range. He still swings at too many pitches, especially outside of the strikezone. He is also unlikely to keep batting .330 or maintain his .379 BABIP but he should be able to hit for a decent average, at least for a power lacking defensive dynamo.

Iglesias' most significant contribution to the Tigers in 2013 is likely to be as the player who replaces Jhonny Peralta during his coming PED suspension. Peralta has yet to test positive for anything illegal or against the rules at this point. However, Bud Selig is determined to punish anyone linked to rumors of wrong doing via the BioGenesis scandal. So in effect, Peralta is being punished for not testing positive while being linked to BioGenesis. No, it is not meant to make sense. Peralta is likely to miss most of the remaining season. It is possible he could be around for the playoffs but it is difficult to see that happening if Iglesias is successful over the next two months. Peralta is a free agent after the 2013 season and could very well finish his career with the Tigers watching from home.This could mean Iglesias is the shortstop of the future for the Detroit Tigers.

The Red Sox were already in good shape heading into the season's last two months.They were playing well with a solid lineup, starting rotation and bullpen all contributing. The Red Sox also have a loaded farm system which is loaded with enough quality talent to allow them to deal their former shortstop of the future. But if you look closely you can see why the Red Sox felt they wanted another veteran starter.

Jon Lester is their ace in theory but recently went through a rough period similar to last season's disaster. Lester seems to have recovered relatively quickly but he does not inspire great confidence in Boston fans nor the team's management. Clay Buchholz finally seems to be the ace-level starter he was once projected to become but his track record of success is not long and his recent shoulder discomfort is worrying.

Peavy has a history of durability problems but was great in 2012 when he contributed 219 innings in 32 starts. Peavy is recently returned from a few weeks on the disabled list with a non-displaced fracture in his ribs. It is expected that this injury has contributed to a slight decline in his velocity relative to 2012 and some rust in his command since his return. But his elbow and shoulder are both strong and not an issue at this point. He has solid velocity in the low 90's and excellent control. He has a very solid strikeout rate and induces a fair number of ground balls when necessary but also allowed quite a few homers pitching in Chicago's homer friendly stadium. Fenway should be a little better for Peavy's stats and his fantasy owners. Most of all he has pitching experience that the talented youngsters on the team can use in this group's first run into the playoffs.

The White Sox had and still have an aging roster and a high payroll that does not provide much bang for the bucks. Avisail Garcia is the best prospect the White Sox acquired but is still very much a work in progress. More than anything else the White Sox are looking to load up their farm system and clear payroll so that the new management team can rebuild the roster with younger and more cost effective talent. Garcia could see a small power boost playing in Chicago but his lack of patience and over aggressiveness will limit his impact on fantasy rosters and in the White Sox lineup. Garcia is only 22 years old so he has plenty of time to develop the skills necessary to become a solid major league outfielder.

Here are the deals leading up to the deadline that you may interest you: (from ESPN)

• The Baltimore Orioles acquired SP Bud Norris from the Houston Astros for DH L.J. Hoes and SP Josh Hader. (July 31)

• The Kansas City Royals acquired OF Justin Maxwell from the Houston Astros for SP Kyle Smith. (July 31)

• The San Diego Padres acquired SP Ian Kennedy from the Arizona Diamondbacks for RP Joe Thatcher, RP Matt Stites and a 2014 competitive balance round B draft pick. (July 31)

• The Boston Red Sox acquired SP Jake Peavy from the Chicago White Sox and RP Brayan Villarreal and OF Avisail Garcia from the Detroit Tigers and sent SS/3B Jose Iglesias to Detroit and Garcia, RP J.B. Wendelken, SP Francellis Montas and SS Cleuluis Rondon to Chicago. (July 30)

• The Oakland Athletics acquired 3B Alberto Callaspo from the Los Angeles Angels for SS Grant Green. (July 30)

• The Atlanta Braves acquired RP Scott Downs from the Los Angeles Angels for SP Cory Rasmus. (July 29)

• The Tampa Bay Rays acquired RP Jesse Crain from the Chicago White Sox for players to be named or cash. (July 29)

• The Detroit Tigers acquired RP Jose Veras from the Houston Astros for OF Danry Vasquez and a player to be named. (July 29)

• The New York Yankees acquired OF Alfonso Soriano and cash from the Chicago Cubs for SP Corey Black. (July 26)

• The Baltimore Orioles acquired RP Francisco Rodriguez from the Milwaukee Brewers for 3B Nick Delmonico. (July 23)

• The Texas Rangers acquired SP Matt Garza from the Chicago Cubs for SPs C.J. Edwards and Justin Grimm, 1B Mike Olt, and a player to be named. (July 22)

We can still expect to see some fairly big names moving during the waivers period. Alex Rios, Mike Morse, and Michael Young are some of the bigger names on the market and they could change the shape of some close races in both fantasy and MLB.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Veteran Names Resurface Among Fantasy First Basemen

By Ben Hargrove

The following veterans have unexpectedly become starting fantasy baseball daily first basemen in many leagues, or are still eligible in fantasy baseball leagues due to having fantasy first base experience in the past.

Michael Cuddyer, Colorado Rockies

Cuddyer, now 34, hit 32 homers with 94 RBI in 2009 but has hit more than 20 homes just one other time. When he came to Colorado in 2012, the combination of Coors Field and second base eligibility in many leagues made him an intriguing fantasy option. Injuries limited Cuddyer to 358 at bats, but he did hit 16 homers with 58 RBI while batting .260.

In 2013, Cuddyer lost his 2B eligibility and has primarily played the outfield, but he still has eligibility at first base. As of June 30, Cuddyer was on pace for a career year, hitting .346 with 14 homers and 48 RBI. He was hitting .372 at Coors. But Cuddyer has already been on the disabled list once this year for a neck injury and was battling a rib injury in early June. 

James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays

Loney made a strong impression in 2007 when he hit .331 with 15 homers in 344 at bats for the Dodgers at the age of 23. That year, he had a .919 OPS. But Loney failed to hit .300, reach 15 homers or have an OPS over .800 in his next four seasons. In 2012, Loney was sent to the Red Sox as a minor piece in the blockbuster trade that landed the Dodgers new first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.  Despite switching his home park from Dodger Stadium to Fenway Park, Loney’s production went down with the Red Sox, as he hit .230 with a .574 OPS in 100 at bats before Boston let him leave as a free agent.

Signed at a discount by Tampa Bay, Loney, who turned 29 in May, hit .373 in April and hit .306 in May with six homers and 17 RBI. Loney got off to slower start in June, hitting .283 with 2 homers.  As of June 30, Loney was hitting .314 with nine homers, 40 RBI and 34 runs. 

Kendrys Morales, Seattle Mariners

Morales had a breakout year in 2009 with the Angels, hitting 34 homers with 108 RBI and a .306 batting average. But a serious ankle injury in May 2010 put Morales out of action until 2012. After hitting 22 homers with 73 RBI and a .273 batting average in 134 games, Morales was traded to the Mariners.  Despite playing his home games in Seattle, Morales was hitting .278 as of June 30 with nine homers and 42 RBI.

 Ben Hargrove writes on fantasy baseball daily topics for sites like

Many Top-Rated Starting Pitchers Were Amateur Draft First-Rounders

By Ben Hargrove

Whether you play in fantasy baseball leagues for money or for fun, it is important that you pay attention to which players were drafted highly in real-life fantasy baseball leagues. That’s because there is a correlation between the two.

14 of the 17 starting pitchers drafted highest in Yahoo! fantasy drafts this season were selected in the first round of Major League baseball’s June amateur draft. Two pitchers – Felix Hernandez and Yu Darvish – were international pitchers not subject to the draft. The only pitcher in the top 17 who was drafted outside of the first round was Cliff Lee, who was a fourth-round pick of the Montreal Expos in 2000. 

Two top-rated starting pitchers were first-overall picks (Stephen Strasburg, 2009, and David Price, 2007). Justin Verlander was picked second overall in 2004. But being drafted first or second does not guarantee stardom. The three other pitchers picked first or second from 2002 to 2007 were Bryan Bullington, drafted first by the Pirates in 2002, Luke Hochevar, drafted first by the Royals in 2006 and Greg Reynolds, drafted second by the Rockies in 2006.  And it’s not as if 2006 was a weak year for pitchers - Clayton Kershaw (drafted seventh by the Dodgers), Tim Lincecum and Max Scherzer were all picked in the top 11.

Six of the top-rated 14 were top-ten picks (Verlander, Kershaw, Strasburg, Price, Madison Bumgarner (drafted tenth by the Giants in 2007) and Zack Greinke (drafted sixth by the Royals in 2002)).

Five of the 14 were picked in the second ten – Jered Weaver, Angel s (2004, 12th pick), Chris Sale, White Sox (2010, 13), Cole Hamels, Phillies (2002, 17), R.A. Dickey, Texas (1996, 18) and CC Sabathia (1998, 20).

Matt Cain was drafted 25th by the Giants in 2002, Adam Wainwright was drafted 29th by the Braves in 2000 and Gio Gonzalez was a supplemental first-rounder, going 38th to the White Sox in 2004.

Five other pitchers picked in the top 30 starting pitchers in Yahoo! fantasy drafts were first-rounders: Roy Halladay, Toronto (1995, 17), Scherzer, Arizona (2006, 11), Brandon Morrow, Seattle (2006, 5), Lincecum, Giants (2006, 10) and Ian Kennedy, Yankees (2006, 21).

In 2013, breakout young pitchers Matt Harvey of the Mets (2010, 7) and Shelby Miller of the Cardinals (2009, 19) were drafted in the first round. Mike Minor went seventh to the Braves in 2009.

Miami rookie Jose Fernandez was drafted 14th in 2011.  Trevor Bauer, now with Cleveland, was drafted third by Arizona in 2011.

In late May, Baltimore called up Kevin Gausman (2012, 4), St. Louis called up Michael Wacha (2012, 19) and Arizona called up Tyler Skaggs (a supplemental first-rounder drafted 40th by the Angels in 2009).

 Ben Hargrove writes on fantasy baseball leagues for money topics for sites like             

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Many Top-Rated Hitters Were Amateur Draft First-Rounders

By Ben Hargrove

The Major League Baseball amateur draft, which is held in early June each year, does not get the same kind of attention as the NFL or NBA drafts. As cash fantasy baseball fans know, even successful draft choices generally take a few years to reach the majors.  Many first-rounders fall well short of stardom, or even getting to the majors.  But plenty of star players were originally drafted in the first round, including 12 of the 25 highest-drafted hitters in Yahoo! fantasy leagues this season.

Three of these hitters were number one overall picks – Bryce Harper by Washington in 2010, Justin Upton by Arizona in 2005 and Josh Hamilton by Tampa Bay in 1999. Joe Mauer (2001, Minnesota), Adrian Gonzalez (2000, Florida) and Alex Rodriguez (1993, Seattle) were also top overall picks. 

But several other hitters picked first overall have not enjoyed that sort of success, including Delmon Young (2003, Tampa Bay), Matt Bush (2004, San Diego) and Tim Beckham (2008, Tampa Bay). (Beckham is still only 23, but is no longer considered a top prospect.)

Along with Harper, Upton and Hamilton, five other players drafted among Yahoo!’s top 25 were top-ten MLB draft choices:  Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay (2006, third pick), Ryan Braun, Milwaukee (2005, 5), Buster Posey (2008, 5), Prince Fielder, Milwaukee (2002, 7) and Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado (2005, 7).

2005 was quite a year for hitters at the top of the draft, with Alex Gordon, picked second by the Royals and Ryan Zimmerman, picked fourth by the Nationals, joining Upton, Braun and Tulowitzki in the top seven.  But Jeff Clement, picked third by Seattle in 2005, has been a bust.

The remaining four first-rounders in Yahoo!’s top 25 drafted hitters are Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh, 2005, 11), Jason Heyward (Atlanta, 2007, 14), Mike Trout (Angels, 2009, 25) and David Wright (Mets, 2001 supplemental, 38).

Five of Yahoo!’s top 25 drafted hitters were international players who were not part of the amateur draft:  Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Carlos Gonzalez, Adrian Beltre and Jose Reyes.

Two of the most prominent hitter callups so far in 2013 – Jurickson Profar and Yasiel Puig – were also international free agents not subject to the draft.

But two other 2013 hitter callups were first-rounders – Anthony Rendon, Washington (2011, 6) and Nick Franklin, Seattle (2009, 27).

Wil Myers, expected to be the next big hitter callup sometime in June, was drafted in the third round by Kansas City in 2009 before being traded to Tampa Bay this past offseason.

 Ben Hargrove writes on cash fantasy baseball topics for sites like DraftStreet.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

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Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Chicago White Sox Sign Outfielder Micker Zapata

I don't know much about this Dominican prospect but if the Future Sox article that brought him to my attention is accurate, Micker Zapata is someone to keep in mind for next year's minor league drafts.

 In Zapata’s case, the big tool in his kit is serious raw power from above average bat speed.  At a January scouting combine in the DR, Jason Parks (of Baseball Prospectus) relayed a story about scouts being rendered silent by the bombs being continuously sent over the wall by Zapata.  He may have the best power potential in the entire July 2nd class, despite his young age.  Defensively,’s Kiley McDaniel notes he has a plus arm, and above average foot speed.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Atlanta Braves Hitters and the Mendoza Line

By Ben Hargrove

The Atlanta Braves have the biggest lead of any division leader and they’ve done it with three of their main hitters unable to cross the Mendoza Line for much of the season. On June 10, B.J. Upton was hitting .158, Dan Uggla was hitting .193 and Jason Heyward was at .200 exactly, the first time since April 3 he had gotten his batting average out of the .100s. As of press time, Upton was hitting .178, Uggla .203, and Heyward .227, not exactly great numbers for those who play weekly fantasy baseball.

The Braves success this season stems from their 3.20 staff ERA, an earned run average that is currently second in the majors. But they are also 13th in runs despite being 22th in batting average, thanks to their 99 homers, which is fourth in the majors. 

Even if the Braves were not having so much success despite their low batting averages, contract considerations would likely keep Uggla and Upton in the lineup. They are the two highest-paid Braves, with Upton making $75 million for five years and Uggla getting $62 million for five years.  (B.J. Upton’s brother Justin has a six-year, $50 million deal.)  

Uggla is still a slugger
Uggla at least is hitting homers. He has 13, second-best among second basemen behind the Yankees’ Robinson Cano. Uggla, hit 30 homers for five straight seasons from 2007 to 2011 before hitting 19 last year.
But Uggla has also hit for a poor average since coming to Atlanta -.233 in 2011 and .220 in 2012. In his five seasons with the Marlins, Uggla hit below .250 twice. 

Upton showing some signs of life
B.J. Upton has not hit above .250 since 2008 and he has at least 150 strikeouts in five of the last six seasons.  But Upton also has five straight seasons of 30 or more steals and has averaged 23 homers per year over the last three seasons.  This season, Upton has just six steals along with four caught stealing. He has eight homers. 

Upton has shown signs of life in June, hitting .244 with four homers and 11 RBI in the month.  He has 15 walks along with 21 strikeouts after fanning 63 times with 16 walks in April and May.

Heyward’s power numbers are still poor
Heyward has also looked better in June, hitting .308 for the month after entering the month at .146. Heyward was hitting just .121 in April when he underwent an appendectomy and was out almost a month. After he returned in mid-May, Heyward hit .178 for the rest of May.  Heyward’s career April batting average is.231 and his May mark is .225, but his marks for the next three months are all .270 or above. But after hitting 27 homers with 21 steals in 2012, Heyward has just six homers and one steal this season.    

Ben Hargrove writes on a variety of season-long, daily and weekly fantasy baseball topics for DraftStreet.