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.          

Monday, July 01, 2013

Fantasy Baseball Daily Info: Matt Carpenter Leads Reinforcements at Second Base

By Ben Hargrove

With Ian Kinsler, Aaron Hill and Chase Utley on the disabled list and Martin Prado and Rickie Weeks slumping, several second basemen who may not have been drafted in some leagues have offered fantasy baseball daily, weekly and season-long owners good replacements.

Matt Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
As of press time, Carpenter was fifth in MLB in runs with 58 and was in thirteenth in the majors in batting at .317. Carpenter had a .360 BABIP but his 2012 BABIP was .346. In May, Carpenter hit .352 with 18 walks and only ten strikeouts.

Carpenter hit .294 with 6 homers, 46 RBI and 44 runs in 296 at bats as a 26-year-old rookie in 2012.  In the postseason, Carpenter homered off of Giants pitcher Matt Cain. Carpenter is also eligible at 1B, 3B and OF. 

Jedd Gyorko, San Diego Padres
23-year-old rookie Gyorko joined the Padres this season after two straight minor league seasons of at least 25 homers, 100 RBI and a .310 BA. Gyorko struggled in April, but hit .303 in May with 6 homers, 12 RBI and 20 runs. In June, he hit .325 with 2 homers and 5 RBI. Gyorko also has 3B eligibility as a result of filling in at third in April when Chase Headley was on the DL.  Despite playing in San Diego, Gyorko has an extreme home-road split in the other direction, with a .944 OPS at home vs. .670 on the road through 60 games. While Gyorko is currently on the DL with a groin injury, he is expected to be back soon.

Kelly Johnson, Tampa Bay Rays
Johnson, now 31, has not had much fantasy relevance since 2010, when he hit 26 homers with 13 steals and a .284 BA for Arizona.  Johnson had what had become a typical month for him in April – 3 homers and a .227 BA – before exploding in May with 7 homers, 26 RBI and a .330 BA.  But Johnson was struggling again at the start of June and missed a couple of games with back trouble. 

As of press time Johnson had 39 RBI and 11 homers. Johnson also had six steals. The lefthanded Johnson had hit all 11 of his homers off righty pitchers.Johnson still has 2B eligibility in many fantasy baseball leagues despite primarily playing outfield for Tampa Bay. 

Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
Murphy was third in runs scored among second basemen as of press time despite playing for the weak-hitting Mets.  He typically batted second, in front of David Wright, and sometimes led off. The lefthanded Murphy hits much better against righties and on the road. His splits as of the end of June were .818 OPS vs. righties against .532 vs. lefties and .659 at home against .770 on the road.   

Ben Hargrove writes on a variety of fantasy baseball daily topics for DraftStreet.