The trade deadline has come and gone and it was actually very exciting with lots of action leading up to the deadline and coming in right at the deadline itself. I’ve already examined the Scott Kazmir trade to the Astros, Johnny Cueto heading to the Royals, Cole Hamels to the Rangers, Troy Tulowitzki and Jose Reyes trading places, the 3-team/13-player mega deal between the Dodgers/Braves/Marlins, and a slew of other trades, so follow the links for analysis on those. Now I will take a look at all the other impact trade deadline deals and what they mean for the teams involved and for fantasy purposes. Continue reading
For the first time ever in his 13-year career, on the 4th of July, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera has landed on the DL with a calf strain that he suffered as a base runner taking off from first to second base. The injury is expected to sideline Cabrera for 6 weeks. It’s nothing short of amazing how Cabrera has gone so long without ever incurring an injury that he was unable to play through, but he is now 32 years old and with this calf injury and the ankle injury that he played through for a good portion of the 2014 season, there appear to be some chinks in his armor at a time where we should be expecting him to exit his offensive prime anyway.
With his ankle injury last year, he still was able to hit .313 with 25 HR, 109 RBI, and 101 R, but remarkably, that was his lowest batting average since 2009 and his lowest HR total since 2006. This season he is batting what would be a career best of .350, but with just 15 HR before the injury, he was once again on pace for one of his lowest HR totals and with the injury, it’s all but guaranteed that it will be one of his worst HR outputs of his career.
Cabrera is still obviously a great hitter and he will have several more years left in the league where he will produce much better than the average player. But here is what I said about him in the pre-season rankings:
“You know how we saw the beginning of the decline of Albert Pujols in his age 31 season in 2011 when he “only” hit .299/.366/.541 with 37 HR, 99 RBI, and 105 R? Well, we saw something similar from M-Cab last year in his age 31 season. Perhaps it can be contributed to the bum foot that he was playing on, which has since been surgically repaired. Even so, there is a decent chance that he continues to experience an assortment of injuries as he is now on the wrong side of 30. So I’m pretty sure his best days are behind him, but of course he still is a better hitter than most of the league.”
So let’s go ahead and categorize this into the “assortment of injuries” column.
The Tigers will surely miss his bat, and it will be interesting to see how the offense responds to Cabrera’s absence. With J.D. Martinez so hot right now, it’s possible that he can shoulder the load to carry the team. But at some point, the Tigers offense should experience some rough times without Cabrera.
For fantasy squads, it’s nothing short of heartbreaking to lose a 1st round pick to the DL for a significant amount of time. First it was Giancarlo Stanton a couple weeks ago and now it’s Cabrera. Their production simply can’t be replicated, so you just have to make due with what you can.
Let’s check out Sunday’s action now.
With Delino DeShields landing on the DL with a hamstring injury, the Rangers had to recall someone to take his roster spot and the guy they called upon was 21-year old Rougned Odor. If the name sounds familiar, then you may be confusing him with the 17-year old Rougned Odor that the Rangers signed to a contract this past off-season. It sounds completely whacky only because it is. These two individuals both of the same name, Rougned Odor, are actually brothers. It is an extremely odd situation and even crazier that they are both within the same organization. I really hope that some day they form a double play combination up the middle for the Rangers — that would be amusement at its finest (it doesn’t take much to amuse me).
Anyway, for real this time. If the name Rougned Odor sounds familiar, it is because he came onto the scene last year and made a little noise as a 20-year old middle infielder with a .259 AVG, 9 HR, 48 RBI, 39 R, and 4 SB in 114 games with the Rangers. And then he was expected to build on that performance this season in what was supposed to be his first full year in the Majors. Odor began the season as the team’s starting second baseman, but with a triple slash of .144/.252/.233 after 29 games played, the Rangers got a huge whiff of Odor and it was not very pleasant on the olfactory senses. So they sent him back to AAA to figure things out.
At AAA, Odor was a whole new hitter as he compiled a line of .352/.426/.639 with 5 HR, 19 RBI, 26 R, and 3 SB in 30 games. And in addition, he even bumped up his walk rate to 9.7% and his strikeout rate was exceptional at 8.1%. Though a small sample size, that type of strikeout rate was much better than his career 15.0% rate in the Minors, and light years ahead of the 24.3% rate that he had in his 29 game stint with the Rangers earlier this year. So he clearly took being demoted seriously and really worked on improving upon some things that needed attention, which is now needing our attention.
Odor presumably will take over as the Rangers starting second baseman from this point forward, and it will be his job to lose once again, but with the adjustments he seemingly has made, I don’t think that he will be losing the job this time around. Odor was slotted 6th in the order on Monday and he responded by going 3 for 3 with 2 RBI to keep his hot hitting going. Odor is definitely a talented hitter with the capability to post a 15 HR/30 SB type of year over the course of a full season in the future. And given that he is slotted at a shallow second base position, the type of production that he is capable of is a valuable commodity. I definitely recommend him as a pickup in all formats.
Now let’s check out the rest of Monday’s games. Continue reading
Well, when you got three different Jason Hammel‘s coming at you like a Denny’s Grand Slam hologram card like in the picture above, I imagine it would be hard to touch him! Do you remember those hologram collector’s cards from Denny’s? When I was a kid, Friday nights were always “out to eat dinner” nights with my parents and brother. The places that we would frequent the most included Coco’s, Bob’s Big Boy, Flakey Jake’s, and of course Denny’s. Denny’s had the promotion if you ordered one of their signature “Grand Slam Meals” then you would receive a collector’s Grand Slam hologram card by Upper Deck. So being the collectors that we were, we would venture out to Denny’s restaurants to try and collect all the different players cards that they had to offer. We wouldn’t just go to the local Denny’s, because each restaurant location had different cards. So we would go to Denny’s a couple towns over in each direction to try and get them all. But I just remember ending up with one too many Danny Tartabull cards.
But anyway, onward to talk about MC Hammel. Hammel pitched on Tuesday at Petco Park versus the Padres and had an excellent game giving up one unearned run on 3 hits and 0 walks while striking out 8 Padres in 7 IP in a no-decision. The brilliant effort leaves him with a 3-1 record, 2.70 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 49 K/6 BB in 53.1 IP. Now we have seen Hammel go on some pretty good runs over the last few years, but what stands out about this 8 start stretch to begin the season is the low amount of walks. His 6 walks in 53.1 IP translates to a walk rate of 1.01 BB/9, which would easily be a career best and he would be quite the force if he can maintain it.
Over the course of his career, Hammel has had a slightly better than average walk rate with 2.99 BB/9 heading into the 2015 season. However, he did showoff one of his best seasons in the category last year with a 2.25 BB/9, so maybe he was on to something. But is Hammel going all 2014 Phil Hughes on us this year when Hughes had a miniscule 0.69 BB/9 and an all-time best strikeout to walk ratio of 11.63?
Hammel’s great first pitch strike rate of 63.0% backs up the low walk rate, but his PITCHf/x rate of pitching within the strike zone 50.9% of the time, although higher than the recent years and 28th best in the Majors this year, is not indicative of a walk rate as low as he has. For comparison, out of the top 7 pitchers in BB/9 in 2014 (all 1.41 BB/9 or lower), 6 of the 7 pitchers were in the top 10 in zone% ranging from 52.6%-61.1%. Hammel could end up being that one who does sneak in to the top of the rankings in BB/9 despite not being one of the elite in zone%, but the odds are against him.
So what can we expect from Hammel the rest of the season? Even if his walk rate does not remain as low as it currently is, which I don’t believe it will, he definitely seems to have turned a corner with his command and control dating back to last season. So he can surely end up maintaining a walk rate under 2.00 BB/9. His slider is his out pitch and it is good enough to allow him to keep a strikeout rate at or above 8.00 K/9. Some areas that he may see some regression in are in his HR allowed and BABIP. Currently, he is allowing HR at a rate of 0.84 HR/9, which is well below his marks the last couple of seasons. And his BABIP of .262 is likely not sustainable, and although it may not get as high as his career mark of .304, it is surely to increase at least somewhat. One more thing with Hammel is that he has never gone very deep into games and he has had some injuries that he has dealt with over the last few seasons, so he is not exactly the perfect model of health.
But with all this being said, Hammel still should be a fairly productive pitcher for the rest of the season. For the remainder of the season I’ll give him: 9 W-6 L, 3.48 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and 122 K/31 BB in 137 IP.
Now let’s see what else happened on Tuesday…
Platoon is a 1986 Oliver Stone film about the horror of wars and duality of man for a young soldier in the Vietnam War, starring the always amazing Tom Berenger (or since this is a baseball site, you may know him better as Jake Taylor of the Cleveland Indians). Sadly, I cannot say that I have seen the movie, but perhaps I should. I did enjoy another Tom Berenger soldier movie called Sniper where ***SPOILER ALERT*** his character was a sniper. But I just like sniper movies in general. Don’t worry though, I am not some guy who is gung ho about firearms. Instead, they actually frighten me quite much. I am just a camping sniper when I play Call of Duty so these sniper movies fascinate me. But back to the topic that I am here to talk about.
The platoon that we need to be talking about here is a situation in baseball where two players share the same position on the same team and split time in the lineup at that position. The most common usage for a platoon by baseball managers is to use a right-handed hitter at a position when there is a left-handed opposing starting pitcher on the mound, and to use a left-handed hitter at that same position when there is a right-handed opposing starting pitcher on the mound. The reasoning for this is that the majority of hitters have more success versus pitchers of the opposite handedness. There are various reasons that would seem to back up this fact, some of which include that versus pitchers of the same handedness, breaking pitches break away from the batter which a lot of players have difficulties with, and hitters tend to have an easier time seeing the ball come out of the hand of a pitcher of opposite handedness. The extreme to which a player is better versus one-handedness than the other varies from player to player, and some may even have “reverse splits” where they are actually better against same handed pitching. But generally speaking, hitters are more successful versus opposite handed pitching and this is something that is exploitable in fantasy baseball.
Players that are part of a platoon situation obviously are not going to play every day, which often leads to season long fantasy owners to turn their heads in another direction when drafting or perusing the waiver wire looking for that extra bench bat or to replace an injured player. However, I am here to tell you that utilizing these types of platoon players in fantasy baseball can be very savvy, if used correctly, and can provide a ton of positive value. However, it does depend on your league type to fully implement this strategy at its optimum.
We’ll take a look at a couple of real life scenarios to show the benefit of creating a fantasy platoon by examining players that are relegated to a platoon situation in real life, whether it be by using two players who are in a real life platoon on their Major League team, or by using two players from different teams that have favorable splits versus one handedness. For the first scenario, let’s look at the center field situation in Detroit. Continue reading
DFS is an abbreviation for “daily fantasy sports” and sites that offer DFS have daily tournaments or head-to-head games with the chance to win a pretty penny (or lots of pretty pennies actually). I’m sure you’ve seen the commercials for the two leaders of the industry, FanDuel and DraftKings. I signed up for FanDuel years ago when it first became a thing, but I didn’t have much success as it was a different kind of monster to tackle than the season long leagues I was accustomed to. And it was not until recently that I tried my hand at it again, as I got into it in the second half of this past NFL season. After doing some research reading various literature about DFS, I’ve gone on to win a NHL freeroll on DraftKings, beating out a few thousand other people to win tickets to the NHL All-Star Weekend, and I have come close to a couple of big scores where I would’ve gotten 1st or 2nd in large tournaments. In those tournaments, I was choosing between two players to fill one position, but the ones I chose ended up doing nothing and the ones I did not choose did really well and would have won me a lot of money. DRAT!
Last night on a site called FantasyAces, which is definitely not as big as FanDuel or DraftKings but is still one of the top 5 sites in the industry, I constructed a lineup that did very well and I had the top or second best score in each game I entered (see below). So the point of me sharing this is not to brag, but to explain what DFS is all about and introduce it to those who are unfamiliar, and to show that winning at DFS is very much possible. I would highly recommend playing DFS for fantasy gamers out there, as it is a lot of fun (especially when you win!).
But let’s take a look at Friday’s diamond action now.
Heading into each and every fantasy year is an adventure with Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. He is like that super hot, yet somehow kind of trashy, girl you meet at the bar that is all over you and you so badly want to take her back to her home (because hey, you don’t want her knowing where you live, right?) to have some silly bedtime fun with, but you know that maybe you shouldn’t because she might be carrying three different kinds of STI’s (yes, STI is the more proper abbreviation/term than STD with the “I” standing for infection — cue the jingle ***The more you know). When pondering on whether or not to draft Tulo, even if he falls to you at a value spot, you know that he will provide some great production (the amazing bedtime fun), but later on down the road he is going to hit the DL with some season-ending injury (the discovery of the contraction of multiple STI’s).
This season though, Tulo is not even providing that instant gratification. On the bright side of things though, he isn’t giving anyone any STI’s either. He’s just vomiting all over you after having one too many cosmos. After Thursday night’s ugly 0 for 5 with 3 K performance, he is hitting .289 with 2 HR, 11 RBI, 16 R, and 0 SB through 31 games played. And there were rumblings of Tulo wanting to request a trade, but if you are the brave soul who took a chance on this super hot yet kind of trashy player, you don’t want him to get traded. You want him to stay where the air is thin in Colorado as he has a career home line of .322/.395/.563 versus a career road line of .275/.347/.468. Thankfully, Tulo shut down those rumors by saying he is not demanding a trade at this time. However, that does not mean he will not demand one later this season.
But what is going on with the All-Star shortstop? How come Tulo is hitting too low? Well for starters, that abysmal strikeout to walk ratio of 28 K/2 BB is doing him no favors. Tulo is a hitter that has displayed above average walk rates in his career with a career walk rate of 9.9%, and even more so in recent years with 11.1% and 13.3% in 2013-14. But he appears to be jumping out of his cleats to swing at the ball, and when he is swinging at the ball he is failing to make contact like he has in the past. Additionally, he is pulling the ball a lot more than usual at 52.3% versus 41.2% career rate, instead of using all parts of the field.
So in a nutshell, Tulo is being overly aggressive at the plate, which is putting himself into some poor hitter’s counts that he is failing to do anything with. In terms of AVG and lack of HR, Tulo has endured poor streaks like this before, but he’s never had such a stretch where his strikeout and walk rates have been so bad, and that is what worries me the most about Tulo going forward. The Rockies do have an 8-game homestand hosting the Phillies and Giants beginning next week, so if he cannot get things going by the end of that then it’ll be even more troubling. Own him in fantasy at your own risk.
Now let’s take a look at other action from Thursday. Continue reading