Fantasy Mailbag: Cut bait on Papi, but stay course on Nolasco
Each week I'll answer a handful of the most pertinent questions I've received during the week in my attempt, weak as it might be, to bring insightful fantasy analysis to the fore.
You are either going to look really smart if you hold on to him, or really dumb if he continues to hit as if his hero is
Alas, the only thing he has alleviated to this point of '09 is the concern of pitchers having to face him. Ortiz has failed miserably according to almost every measurement as he is currently operating below his career averages in his walk rate (it's currently 12.5%), K-rate (26.6%), OBP (.301) and perhaps most shocking his SLG of .299 is .081 points
There is no way that Ortiz doesn't start sending a few more ball into the seats, he is too big and strong not to start "running into a few", and his current luck factor is also very low with a hit rate of .259 (career .307). Still, with his profound struggles he should be nowhere near a starting lineup, even an AL-only one, at the moment. Considering that he only qualifies as a utility option in most leagues you should only hang on to him in mixed leagues if you can afford to have him taking up a bench spot.
Nolasco was one of the better starting pitchers in the game last season going 15-8 with a 3.52 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP on the year, and he took his game to a whole other level after the All-Star break when he was one of the best pitchers tossing the ball with a 3.29 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 9.22 K/9 and a stupendous 8.17 K/BB mark. As a result, he was most likely a top-20 SP this season in most draft, though to this point in time he hasn't even performed like a top-200 option (9.07 ERA, 1.81 WHIP) which has resulted in a demotion to Triple-A where he will make at least two starts, potentially more, before the club will look to recall him.
Despite these facts, there are still a few major reasons to expect a rebound when he is recalled. First off, his K-rate of 7.63 is a near match for his 7.88 mark from last season, so he has lost nothing from his ability to put away hitters with the punchout. Second, his walk rate is almost a full batter up from last season at 2.68, but that number is still well below the league average of about 3.3, and as a result his K/BB rate of 2.85 is still a perfectly acceptable mark considering that the league average hurler usually sits around 2.00 (his current 2.85 is also a bit below his career 3.17 mark). Third, amongst pitchers who have tossed 40-innings this season, Nolasco "leads" the league with a .402 BABIP. What this means is that on batted balls that don't go over the fence Nolasco is surrendering a .402 batting average meaning that he is making every hitter he faces look substantially better than
Given the depressed value that he possesses at the moment, Nolasco makes an excellent buy low candidate. In fact, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see him on the waiver-wire in some leagues do to his profound struggles. Considering the fact that most of his measures seem to indicate that the reason for his failures thus far have really been luck induced (more to the point a lack of luck), it would make all the sense in the world to see Nolasco return to fantasy relevance in the second half of the season.
Zobrist has been a boon to AL-only owners this season as he has more home runs (eight) than
What has Zobrist done well this season? Lots of things, but the main growth in his game would appear to be his ability to work the count more effectively as his career 8.5% walk rate has spiked all the way up to 13.7% which has helped lead to a strong .376 OBP in the early going. On the flip side, there are some reasons to hold off on the ticker tape parade. The eight home runs in 38 games is great, but that number has been driven by a HR/F rate of 21.6%, a number that hardly seems sustainable over the course of the rest of the season. In addition, he has hit a massive amount of his balls in the air at 47%, which has led to a four year low in his ground ball rate (38%), while his line drive rate has dipped to 15% (the major league average is about 20%). If his home run rate slips, all those flyballs will likely start to drain his decent batting average of .277 downward (not to mention what could happen if his LD-rate continues to sit so far below the major league average).
Still, add that all up, toss in eligibility at shortstop, outfield and potentially second base, and you might have this year's version of