Friday, May 17, 2013

Slow Starts and Quick Starts

It has been a tough month. Since you last heard from me I have had some important family issues to deal with which were only made more difficult by the Marathon Bombing in my neck of the woods. I have had a hard time getting back in the swing of writing and following fantasy baseball the way I usually do. I have even considered just quitting this effort. But I have not. For now at least, I am going to continue to write here when the mood strikes at least. Hopefully it will start to get easier. I will still be writing for Big League Magazine as much as possible so my work will still be out there somewhere.

This week's BLM features two of my articles focusing on Slow Starts and Quick Starts. Here are a few excerpts for your enjoyment. Hopefully this will entice you to subscribe.

  Quick Starts

James Loney, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays have a way of getting the most out of players but it is not magic. Despite Loney’s high current batting average, he does little for a fantasy team. He has little power and no speed so homeruns and stolen bases will be rare. Can he keep hitting for a high batting average? Sure, if he maintains his current approach. He has been a lot more patient at the plate this season. He is swinging at far fewer pitches out of the strike zone which has reduced his strikeout rate. Making stronger contact has led to a lot more line drives which will usually result in a higher batting average. The improvement is real but his .416 BABIP will not last so the average will come down. He could stay above .300 if he sticks with his new approach.
Mark Reynolds, Cleveland Indians
The key as it always was for Reynolds was to reduce the strikeouts. He is swinging at a few more pitches and making better contact. His swinging strike rate is up and his walks are down slightly but swinging more seems to agree with him so far. His BABIP is around league average so it does not look like lucky drops (his career BABIP is .305). He looks a lot like the player he was in the minor leagues. It is tough to say he will keep hitting .280-plus but I would ride him as long as it lasts. Swinging at more pitches, especially outside the zone is usually a bad idea but it is working for now.
Josh Donaldson, Oakland Athletics
Those watching closely last year got a glimpse of the player that Donaldson could be. This season it has been on display from the start for everyone to see. The keys were better BABIP luck, a few more walks and fewer strikeouts. The power is not tremendous but could add up to 15-plus over the course of the season. Not bad for a late round third baseman in AL-only leagues and probably undrafted in many mixed leagues. He is for real.
 Slow Starts

Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels
Hamilton has gone from one of the best parks for American League batters to one of the worse. But even before he left he made a strange change to his approach at the plate. He is swinging at just about everything and his contact rate the last two seasons has really suffered. Hamilton has fantastic power can be a great hitter but he seems strangely committed to this weaker approach. Unless you own him I would not be interested until he starts making better contact again.
Scott Kazmir, Cleveland Indians
On the surface, Scott Kazmir’s season stats to this point would place him solidly in the mediocre class. But he seems to be getting better with each start. His velocity is back in the mid 90’s and his strikeout rate is at 11.07K9. His control is fine judging by his 2.66BB9. The holdup seems to be a poor BABIP (.346) and an elevated HR9 (2.21) which is more than double his career rate. Kazmir is a great buy low if his owner lacks faith.
David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
Price has been disappointing. However, his k-rate and control numbers are right around his career levels. His problem has been an elevated HR/FB (16.7 percent) compared to his (9.6 percent) career level. The homeruns are probably the result of his declined fastball velocity. His velocity has been around 95mph the last two seasons but is around 93mph this season.