Fantasy baseball mailbag
I get questions like this all the time, and my answer is usually some form of the cream rising thingie.
Here's the deal. I'm not a soothsayer, I'm no Nostradamus writing in quatrains, I'm just an analyst who attempts to use the data that has been compiled over thousands upon thousands of games through the years. Is that analysis always accurate in every situation? Of course not. There are always exceptions to every rule, people who seemingly have success in whatever endeavor they pursue, despite the fact that it doesn't make sense (I know there are more than a few of you reading this who are thinking "that sounds like an apt description of my boss -- how in the hell is he/she successful?"). That is the caveat I have to offer -- nothing is certain other than saying something like
That said, I bet this question comes from someone who read an article I wrote about three weeks ago entitled
Here are the baseline numbers I look for when starting an analysis of hurlers:
* A K/9 mark of 6.0.
How do those three hurlers grade out in those five categories?
Hernandez: 3.10 K/9, 2.74 BB/9, 1.13 K/BB, 1.09 HR/9, 1.17 GB/FB
The only category where Livan meets the minimum is his walk rate, and that K/BB rate is hideous. I got a bridge to sell you if you believe in Livan.
Fister: 3.83 K/9, 1.72 BB/9, 2.22 K/BB, 0.19 HR/9, 1.62 GB/FB
When pitchers keep the ball on the ground as well as Fister has thus far they can have success with less than impressive numbers in the other categories. Still, I just don't see this continuing, a fact I recently detailed in
Garland: 5.06 K/9, 4.69 BB/9, 1.08 K/BB, 0.56 HR/9, 1.58 GB/FB
I don't care how many grounders he induces, his career rate is 1.30, by the way, or how much Petco helps him to keep the ball in the yard, you simply cannot have long-term success walking more than four and a half batters per nine innings unless you strike our more than a batter per inning. Truthfully, it's shocking -- and I mean as astounding as it would be to awake tomorrow morning with a Playmate on my front porch delivering the paper -- that Garland has been successful as he has been through eight starts.
So I'm still predicting that all three will see their positive results curtailed substantially as we move forward. Remember, we are only a quarter of the way into the season, and it's a marathon and not a sprint in major league baseball. Could I end up being wrong? Certainly, but more times than not reasoned analysis leads you to a correct conclusion.
Both of these shortstops came into the year as top-10 options, and both have failed, miserably, to live up that advanced billing.
Ramirez is a talented, undisciplined hacker who can, when going right, help in all fantasy categories. Unfortunately, things aren't going well right now, and the main culprit is likely his approach at the plate. After posting a pathetic 0.30 BB/K mark as a rookie -- the big league average is about 0.50 -- Ramirez bumped that mark all the way up to 0.74 last season. So how has he followed up that growth in 2010? With a cavernous fall that would make a spelunker nervous. Ramirez has a career-low walk rate, a career worst K-rate and as a result his BB/K mark is horrifying at 0.20. Certain players can have success swinging at everything, names like
Bartlett had a rather large .364 BABIP mark last season, thanks to a major league leading 26.0 percent line drive rate. Obviously those were levels he wasn't going to be able to sustain this season. Still, his current line drive rate is 21 percent, right on his career mark, yet his BABIP is down .042 points from his career mark at .281. Things should even out in the batting average category and his .242 mark should move back to the .284 range that he has posted in his career. After all, he is currently operating with his best BB/K mark (0.76) and his GB/FB rate of 1.08 is pretty close to his career level of 1.23. Because of the dip in his batting average he isn't even getting on base at a league average level right now (.319 OBP), and that makes it tough to steal bases. Speaking of thefts, Bartlett has stolen at least 20 bags in each of the past three seasons, so one would think if his OBP returns to his career level (.348) that he should be able to greatly improve upon his current theft rate.
If I had to make a decision at this point I'd say go with Bartlett. He is the safer option, has the better approach at the dish, and seems to be in a much better position to return to a level of fantasy relevance at this point than Ramirez, who has seemingly regressed after showing some signs of growth in '09.
If you have five strong pitchers, six with Anderson, who should return soon, I'd make this move an add Hart. He is going well right now, seems locked into everyday playing time, and that chip on his shoulder has never been larger. Add that up and I wouldn't be at all surprised if he continued to be a solid option in the outfield for rest of '10.
You aren't the only person struggling with your top choices this year Josh. It seems like everywhere we look there are top flight players struggling, or worse yet on the shelf. It's been a really weird start to 2010.
Gonzalez plays in an awful park for hitters and is surrounded by a bunch of guys that may not be all-stars if they were playing in Triple-A. As a result he is fourth in the NL In walks (27) putting him on pace for a second straight year of triple-digit walks. While that helps him to maintain a strong OBP (currently .380), it's not likely to give him a chance to produce a tremendous amount of offense if he is always getting four wide ones. There is a misnomer that Gonzalez is a strong producer in batting average but he isn't having been in the .270's the past two years. That said, his current .254 batting average is lower than it should be. Blame his 17.1 percent line drive rate that shows he just hasn't been squaring up the ball like he normally does (his LD-rate has been at least 19.4 percent in every season of his career). History is on his side with three straight 30-HR, 99 RBI efforts, and while he is well on that pace in the homer category, he may not make it in the runs driven in department unless he has someone on base to drive in.
Sandoval is one of those players who is tough to analyze. Much like
Both players would have trade value, they were both highly thought of entering the year, but the vultures would likely be circling if you put up either meaning the offers likely wouldn't be very strong. My advice? Hold on to both. Star level players have a tendency to produce over the course of a 162 game season. Much like the discussion above about pitchers this is the general rule, though of course it is always possible that either or both will fail to reach the levels that were expected.