Fantasy baseball news: Nelson Cruz keeps on raking
In our daily fantasy baseball news and notes column, we'll be discussing hot topics in the fantasy baseball world, as well as offering up tidbits of information to help you set your lineup. Comments are welcome below.
Nelson Cruz is hitting like a madman right now, and that makes it difficult to discuss anyone else. (Well, except for maybe George Springer and Edwin Encarnacion.) Cruz bashed two more home runs on Wednesday, bringing his major league-leading total to 19. The Kansas City Royals have 21 home runs in 1,774 at-bats this season; Cruz has nearly as many in 193. (You're not helping, Eric Hosmer.)
To put Cruz's numbers in perspective, I wanted to see how they stacked up to Barry Bonds' numbers from 2001. After all, it's always fun to think that maybe, just maybe, the single-season home run record could fall again. Only Bonds' 73-home run campaign was on an entirely different level than Cruz's epic start. Through 50 games, Bonds had 29 home runs in 161 at-bats. Cruz is having the best season of any American League hitter this year, and that's good enough to be 10 homers shy of where Bonds was when he shattered the home run record.
Sure, this isn't revolutionary insight, but when people mention the jaw-dropping numbers of the steroids era, the fantasy side of things is often overlooked. Thirteen years ago, Cruz's hot start would've likely been regarded as an afterthought. (Remember, Luis Gonzalez hit 57 homers in 2001.) The great statistics and performances from today pale in comparison to the inflated stats from the early aughts.
Oddly enough, fantasy baseball is the opposite of fantasy football from a historical respect. NFL records drop like flies these days: The top quarterback, running back or wide receiver will put up stats that were unfathomable twenty years ago. In baseball, however, modern stats are more in line with what they were before the steroid era, but nothing compared to what they were a decade ago.
Still, Cruz has two more homers through 50 games than Roger Maris did in 1961. Cruz is unlikely to reach that milestone, too, but it's not out of the realm of possibility.
For your consideration
• Homer Bailey outdueled Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday night, allowing two runs in seven innings while striking out six. Bailey's name wouldn't normally appear in this section, which is reserved for up-and-coming players. But Bailey has been mostly awful this year; even after this quality start, Bailey's ERA and WHIP are 5.04 and 1.51, respectively. He is a much better pitcher than he has shown, and coming off back-to-back quality starts against the Cardinals and Dodgers, it's time to restore faith. Bailey is a good buy-low candidate.
• Joe Nathan spoiled Anibal Sanchez's gem on Wednesday. Called upon in the ninth inning, Nathan surrendered a game-winning three-run blast to Josh Donaldson. Nathan has already blown four saves and his ERA sits at 4.58, but the Tigers will likely run away with the AL Central and have little motivation to shake up a bullpen that isn't exactly overflowing with viable closing candidates. Nathan isn't the reliable pitcher he was during his previous stints in Minnesota or Texas, but he is locked in as Detroit's closer. That makes him a steady stopper in fantasy baseball, subpar ERA and all.
• Tommy Medica enjoyed a sweet night on Wednesday, going 3-for-5 with his second home run in as many games. The 26-year-old outfielder and first baseman has hit well in limited action with the Padres, but as of my writing this, he is owned in exactly zero percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. That's kind of remarkable, considering Michael Young, who is retired, is owned in one percent of leagues right now. The Padres have a swarm of players vying for outfield playing time (Medica, Will Venable, Seth Smith, Chris Denorfia, Cameron Maybin and Carolos Quentin) and there's no guarantee the Padres will play Medica regularly. Still, his solid play of late should earn him some leeway. If he produces, who knows?
• Gavin Floyd took the loss to the Red Sox on Wednesday, but he allowed just one earned run over five innings. Despite a litany of injuries and a pair of massive disappointments in Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton, the Braves remain a legitimate NL contender, and pitchers like Floyd are part of the reason why. Only once in Floyd's career has he posted an ERA under four, but it's at 2.37 right now, and he has faced tough teams like the Cardinals (twice), Rockies and Giants. His 27-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio is in line with his career average, so some ERA regression should be expected. Still, seemingly every starter the Braves plug in does well, so maybe they've found a way to reform him like they have with Alex Wood and Aaron Harang. Floyd is a good streaming option when he takes on the light-hitting Mariners next week.
• Tim Lincecum held the Cubs hitless through five innings on Wednesday, but then he was yanked, as he had already thrown 96 pitches. Lincecum strikes out hitters with regularity, and that alone makes him a nice starter to roll with every now and then. But he's maddeningly inconsistent. It's incredibly risky to use him in a random matchup, but he can still be effective against the right opponent.