Fantasy baseball mailbag
Here are some answers to a few of the questions that I recently received at the
Let me repeat: In each of the last five seasons, the only five seasons he has been in the majors, mind you, Uggla has hit 27 homers, had 88 RBI and scored 84 runs. In the history of baseball, no second baseman can match that streak. Ever. In fact, no other second sacker has done it more than two-straight years. That doesn't mean that Uggla will get there again this year; it's merely to illustrate his historically excellent consistency. I'm going to trust those five years over 49 games of poor performance in a Braves uniform this season when trying to determining the value of the 31-year-old second baseman.
In terms of his current performance, Uggla's K-rate has been at least 25 percent each of the past four years, and he's currently at 21.1 percent. However, he just can't hit 'em where they ain't. His current BABIP is .197, and that's only .098 points below his career mark. He could pull an Aaron Hill -- we saw what that meant in 2010 for the Blue Jays' second baseman -- but the odds are strong that Uggla will rebound the rest of the way.
Youkilis was injured and ineffective in April but broke out in May as he's hit .338 with a 1.027 OPS and 17 RBI in 19 games. That run of games has upped his numbers back into the pantheon of third basemen (.275-8-32-29). Like Uggla, Youkilis is exceedingly consistent, hitting at least .288 with a .390 OBP in each of the last four seasons. When you toss in his eligibility at first and third base, you have a player who is clearly a difference maker. In addition, because of his ability to get on base, Youkilis has posted an OPS of at least .958 in each of the past three years, and his mark of .964 from 2008-10 is the best mark in the American League and second in baseball (Albert Pujols, 1.074). To compare, Uggla, whom I mentioned above, doesn't possess the ability to hit for an average or to get on base like Youkilis, and the best single season OPS of his career is .877.
Davis is out with an ankle issue. He has resumed some baseball-related activities, but he still hasn't begun running yet (the hope is that he will return late this week). There is always risk adding a player coming back off injury, especially so when that player has all of 652 big league at-bats. I'm not going to sit here, and yes I do type these reports sitting and not standing at my homemade bar (this Manhattan is pretty good actually), and say that Davis is overrated, but I think people are a little ahead of themselves in terms of their expectations. Though he's hitting .302 this year, he did bat just .264 last year. He's still striking out in a quarter of his at-bats, and yet again has a below average line drive rate (17.0 percent). At that level, it's pretty tough to predict a continuation of his current .344 BABIP. The power is legit, though.
I'd keep Youkilis. He is the best player of the three, and even though I'm a big fan of Uggla's, there's just no way he, or Davis for that matter, will be able to match the elite level OPS of Youkilis.
Walker has been one of the better hitting second baseman in the game so far this year (.276-6-30-28-2). Unfortunately, he's striking out a bit more this season, nearly a quarter of his at-bats, and his ground ball rate is up eight percent this year (44 percent). Neither of those numbers are scary by any means, but both would seem to cap his ability to be an elite option in average or the home run department. Basically, he's been slightly more effective at going deep this year, thanks to a 40 percent increase in his HR/F ratio, while essentially maintaining many of the levels he posted last season. If he is able to hold on to what he has shown over his last 155 big league at-bats we're likely looking at a top-10 player at second base.
Zimmerman is coming back from Tommy John surgery, and the Nationals are carefully limiting their prized righty's innings when possible. After a slow start to the year in the K department, Zimmerman has been bringing the heat in his last three starts, racking up 22 Ks in 18.2 innings. He's also tossed four-straight quality starts the last four times he has taken the hill and limited the walks to two or fewer in each of his last eight starts, a great sign since pitchers coming back from Tommy John surgery often struggle to locate their pitches.
Both players are solid building blocks in a keeper league. While Walker will likely be very good, Zimmerman has a shot at being a top-25 starting pitcher option moving forward. Given your stated need of pitching help, I'd feel completely comfortable in making this deal.
I've said this probably 46 times the past three months -- when healthy, Bedard is really, really good. However, as we all know, he spends as much time sipping a piña colada as he does climbing onto the bump. Bedard tossed 81 innings in 2008, 83 in '09 and zero in '10. He's up to 45.2 this season, so you have to ask yourself, how much faith do you have in him taking the ball every five games?
Bumgarner is 1-6, so he's pitched pretty poorly this season. Wait a second, that isn't true at all actually. Though he has only one victory, each of the last five times he has taken the hill he has produced a quality start, leading to a 1.60 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 3.50 K/BB ratio.
Let's compare the two directly. Here are their 2011 numbers.
E. Bedard: 3.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8.08 K/9, 2.41 K/BB, 1.10 GB/FB
Both are left-handed.
Both are pitching well of late.
Both pitch in great pitcher's parks.
Do you want the up and comer in Bumgarner or the slightly more skilled, but infinitely more volatile Bedard?
As much as I love the skills of Bedard, I just cannot trust him to make 30 starts, so I'd go with the Giants' lefty.