Showing posts with label Mark Reynolds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark Reynolds. 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.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Catching Up on Transactions: Part One

The Trades
The Toronto Blue Jays traded RHP Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers for 2B Brett Lawrie.

We knew that the Blue Jays were planning to deal some of their surplus of starting pitching. Our mistake was believing they would deal prospects rather than arguably their best starter. Shawn Marcum may not qualify as an ace in the eyes of some but he was a great starter for Toronto when healthy in 2008 and 2010. The AL-East is where only the best pitchers can thrive and Marcum thrived. Now he heads to the NL-Central where instead of the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays he will see the Pirates, the Astros, and the newly weakened Cardinals. Pitchers almost automatically see a bump in performance moving from the American League to the National League, moving to the central should make Marcum look even better. Marcum is a prime target in NL-only leagues now.

Brett Lawrie is presently called a second base prospect but he actually shoulld be called a hitting prospect. The position is just a detail, Lawrie is a hitter. He should hit for average and power and steal a few bases from whatever position he ends up playing. There are rumors of a switch to third base, no doubt based on the huge hole the Blue Jays have on their major league roster.

The Milwaukee Brewers traded Carlos Villanueva to the Toronto Blue Jays.

The Chicago White Sox traded RHP Scott Linebrink to the Atlanta Braves for Kyle Cofield.

The Arizona Diamondbacks traded 3B Mark Reynolds to the Baltimore Orioles for RHPs David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio.

Mark Reynolds is an interesting player but not a great one in fantasy or otherwise. I doubt he'll hit worse than he did in 2010 again. But he will also be a threat to trash your batting average in exchange for 30 or so homeruns. The Orioles actually can use Reynolds as both a third base insurance plan until Josh Bell is ready and then move him into their (at least for now) gaping hole at first base. He should be a decent fantasy player just don't expect him to repeat 2009 again.

The Diamondbacks get two middle relievers. I actually like David Hernandez a lot and until they acquired J.J. Putz I thought he might fill their closer hole nicely. In deeper leagues he's still a decent reliever to fill a spot and could see some action in the ninth if Putz has problems staying healthy and effective.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

5 Slumps that are about to End

Also known as the buy-low list, here are five players who are either slumping right now or have been slumping all season, and the reasons why their slumps (hopefully) won't last. Some players are just second-half guys, for whatever reason.

1. Mark Teixeira -- If you have played fantasy baseball at all in the past few years, you know what Teix is capable of doing after the all-star break (which is coming up on July 12). In 2009, he hit .313 after the break and raised both his on-base and slugging percentages significantly. In 2008, the first- and second-half differences were even more dramatic -- he went from batting .271 to .366; slugged nearly 200 points higher (.656 vs. 484) and raised his OBP from .373 to .464. Now is the time to make a play for Teix -- and you are hoping his owner can't take another day of his .230 average so far this season.

2. Derrek Lee -- Lee had an enormous second half last season; and while he is only batting .233 right now (not nearly as good as the .280 first half he posted last season), he posted a .336 average with a .656 slug and .436 OBP after the break in 2009. His current BABIP (Batting average on balls in play) is just .275 -- well below his career mark of .321. So, has Lee just been a bit unlucky this season, or has his career turned the downhill corner? My guess is the former. Buy.

3. Mark Reynolds -- Reynolds has improved in the second half in two of the last three seasons, and his career second-half batting average is 10 points higher than first-half. He is another player whose BABIP this season is way below his career mark (currently he is at .271, and his career number is .333). Give his second-half improvement in past years, I would expect his luck to change.

4. Jorge Cantu -- After a red-hot start to the season, Cantu has been plugging along at a snail's pace in the RBI and batting average department. He is batting .210 in June with just 9 RBIs -- just for comparison's sake, he had a .311 average and 23 RBI in April. And yeah, his slugging has fallen dramatically in that span, from .567 at the end of April to the .432 it stands at today. The good news is that Cantu improved slightly in the second half in 2009, and I think a shake-up a the helm in Florida is going to spur him on for the second half this year. This one is more of a gut-feeling pick than the others that are based more in numbers; however, Cantu's BABIP is 21 points below his career average -- so there's that.

5. Adam Lind -- It is much more difficult to predict players that haven't been around all that long. His career splits indicate that he is a much better second-half player, but most of that was determined by the enormous season he posted last year. So what is Lind, who has a .205 BA, just 9 HR and 34 RBI doing wrong? Well first of all, he just may have been pressing -- really hard -- in the first half, trying to reproduce the magic of last season. Toronto has tried to ease the pressure by moving Lind down in the lineup (this week), and he responded by hitting his first homer since May. Cito Gaston says Lind and fellow struggling teammate Aaron Hill (who was moved to sixth in the order) will stay down there until they get hot. His BABIP is .244 so far as opposed to the .323 he had last season -- there must be some middle ground to be had here. It might be risky, but it is probably a cheap enough chance to take.

Honorable Mention: Matt Wieters -- I can't use the numbers to back me up, since he is only in his second season, but his second half last year was awesome. He is only hitting .203 in June, so his slump is for real -- let's see if his second half last year was too.