Showing posts with label Big League Monthly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Big League Monthly. Show all posts

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.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hey Guys,

I've been doing a lot of work for Big League Monthly and the BLM Daily Edition. Please check it out.

Some recent pieces include:

Five Ways to Prepare for Next Season

Using MLB Teams as a Model for Fantasy

An Early Look at 2013 Season Targets

As anyone who has been a fan of this site knows, there is a lot more action in the offseason than during the season. Why? I guess I enjoy writing about the hot stove and examining how teams are built and how to exploit that to benefit fantasy teams. You should start to see some position rankings with a lot more commentary than you've seen before on my lists of this type.

See you soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Amazing Austin Jackson - For Real?

Take a minute and think of a few players that might be the owner of this batting line:

.319 Batting Average/ .401 On-Base Percentage/ .527 Slugging Percentage

Joey Votto? Albert Pujols? Matt Holliday? Chances are you got it right because you looked at the title of this post. However, that does not make Austin Jackson's season any less impressive. If that is not enough, the Tigers' star center fielder has already either tied his career high in homers (10) and is nearly on pace for highs in doubles, triples, homers, walks, runs, and RBI. That after missing three weeks while on the disabled list with an abdomen injury. For fantasy owners the only real disappointment in his season is the low number of stolen bases - just eight as of this writing. The low number of steals can probably be blamed in part on his increased power, as most teams discourage stealing third base and attempting to steal home and not making it can get a young player benched.

The question you should all be asking is how much of this is improved skill and how much is just good fortune? Jackson entered the majors in his age 22 season. Three seasons in the majors and not yet in his prime - that is almost the recipe for a breakout season. His walk rate has improved two straight seasons from 7 percent to 8.4 percent to this season's 11.8 percent. That looks like real improvement. He has also cut his K percentage to 22.6 percent from last season's 27.1 percent which was a slight bump up from 2010's 25.2 percent.

Jackson is swinging at fewer pitches out of the strike zone which is probably key to both improvements. In case you are wondering, Jackson's O-Swing has improved three years running. Jackson attributes his lower strikeouts to not chasing two-strike pitches, which makes a lot of sense. Swinging at better pitches does more than just increase walks and reduce strikeouts. It also allows the batter to make better and more consistent contact. Better contact has likely been a large part of his power increase.

Before the season and in Spring Training, Jackson worked with hitting coach Lloyd McClendon on reducing his high leg kick and shortening his swing. Jackson says this allows him to turn on better fastballs. "I'm extremely pleased by how quickly he adjusted and adapted," McClendon said to the Detroit Free-Press. "And really the credit goes to him because he wanted to do it and he was willing to do it."

The future looks very bright for Austin Jackson. But we can find a few worrisome factors if we try. His BABIP is an extremely high .399 and despite his improved skills and terrific speed is not really sustainable. We can expect at least some regression to his career averages, though that is not as big a drop as we may once have expected. His13.3 HR/FB is not absurdly high except relative to his career 7.1 percentage. There may be some luck in his homerun rate, but again part of this is based on real improvements so it is very difficult to say how much to expect it to decline over the next 12 weeks (if at all).

Just In Case You Do Not Follow Me on Twitter (@bigjonwilliams)

I am writing for a new digital magazine called Big League Monthly. This is not just a fantasy mag, though that is what I write about for them. The magazine includes great interviews with minor leaguers, features on major leaguers - this month that includes Mike Trout, Stephen Strasburg, Chris Sale, Eric Hosmer and others. Please check it out, it is completely free.