May 25, 2010

For more fantasy analysis, check out

Somebody help me out here; I'm a little confused. Did the island ever happen? Was the Driveshaft concert a real-life event or some kind of afterlife meeting place? If Claire was indeed dead, how did she have a baby (not to mention, of course, that she was all shiny clean at the church right after the concert)? And what does the polar bear have to do with any of this?

Of course these questions (along with hundreds more) come after I've just watched the series finale of the phenomenon known as Lost.

In the words of Jimmy Kimmel. "What the hell just happened?"

This baseball season is making many fantasy owners feel much the same way. Things we thought we knew, we don't. Players we regarded as trash have suddenly taken on real value. And what does the Panda Bear have to do with all of this?

Feel like you're on a fantasy island? This week's Man in a Box will solve the mysteries of the fantasy world and leave you a little more sated than Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse did on Sunday night.

What's wrong with Tommy Hanson?

First, I received a question about Hanson's struggles on a weekly segment I do on an ESPN radio affiliate; then I read on a prominent fantasy site that it's just not Hanson's time yet. Ladies and gentlemen; there is nothing wrong with Tommy Hanson. He simply had a bad start. Prior to his eight-run drubbing last Thursday, Hanson was sitting with an ERA of 2.88 and a WHIP of 1.14. He's added almost two strikeouts per nine to his numbers and has actually been a little unlucky, as evidenced by his .344 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and 71.4 strand rate (LOB%). Unless something more comes of his reported light-headedness, feel confident that Hanson will resume putting up Top Five starting pitcher stats.

Is Jose Bautista real or is he simply a smoke monster that will float away on the breeze?

After years of being a fantasy afterthought, Bautista suddenly leads the majors in HRs and is third in RBIs. What's more, whatever is afflicting Bautista seems to be catching, as teammate Edwin Encarnacion is showing the same symptoms. Not to worry though, Bautista's bat will be back to itself in short order. Every major statistical indicator for Bautista is right in line with his career norms, except for one. His percentage of fly balls leaving the yard (21.2) is almost double what he's done in any other season. Along with his fly balls, Bautista's production will come back to Earth as things even out. He's a useful player, but not the monster he's been playing on TV.

Who is this pitcher and what have you done with Jake Peavy?

Peavy is the Benjamin Linus of fantasy baseball; he's bad, he's good, he's bad. Seriously, it would be fitting if this article was themed around Sybil. Peavy has been nothing short of an enigma this season. Many experts expected trouble with the move to the AL, but the .248 batting average against (BAA) is not out of line with his past seasons. Walks were a huge problem early in the season, but he's walked a total of four hitters in his last four starts. The two numbers that might explain his recent struggles are the 63.8 LOB% and an elevated 11.9-percent HR/FB. Do these answer all the questions about his 5.74 ERA? No, but Peavy has shown me enough to stick with him for a few more starts.

He was lost, but now seems to be found; have we seen the recent Ben Sheets in another life?

After six starts Sheets had a 7.12 ERA and had fanned just 16 hitters in 30.1 innings. In his last four starts, he's rebounded with a 2.52 ERA and 29 Ks in 25 innings. Is he back to being the Ben Sheets of 2006? Probably not, but the increasing K rate is a sign that his arm is gaining strength. He's pitching in a great park and the offenses in the AL West are far from intimidating. He's probably the biggest injury risk this side of Mark Prior, but there's no reason not to ride him while he's hot.

Is Pablo Sandoval really just a cheap Kirby Puckett knockoff or will the real Kung Fu Panda return?

The question about Sandoval was always whether he could add power to his high-average bat. Last year's 25 HRs seemed to answer that question, but with just three HRs in 170 ABs, Sandoval is giving his owners reasons to doubt once again. Sadly, his minor league track record suggests that last year's power was an aberration. He's still hitting line drives; just don't expect as many of them to leave the yard.

Is Gordon Beckham related to Joe Charboneau?

Beckham was a hot commodity coming off an impressive second half in his rookie campaign. Besides being one of the most successful college hitters in recent memory, he was moving to second base, where his value would be magnified even more. Somehow I don't think his one HR, nine RBIs and .191 BA are what fantasy owners were expecting. So what gives? His .236 BABIP suggests that his average will rebound, but what about the power we were expecting? Beckham's line drive rate is close to last year's number, but his fly ball percentage has gone down from 43.0 to 35.8. He's just not elevating the ball. It's time to bench him in mixed leagues, but his middle infield eligibility makes him an intriguing buy-low target if you've got the room to stash him.

Can fantasy owners rest easy knowing that Jacoby Ellsbury is back in play?

Ellsbury returned this past weekend and has gone 1-for-9 since rejoining the Boston lineup, but did knock in a couple of runs. The concern though, isn't if he will hit as much as if he will run. He's admittedly still dealing with pain that he expects to last the rest of the season. The lengthy stay on the DL and the delayed schedule of his rehab assignment show the uncertainty surrounding this injury. The ribs are placed under stress with virtually every movement of the body. I find it hard to believe that a player who is still experiencing pain and lacks core strength and flexibility, will run with the abandon that he is accustomed. Expect a significant decrease in stolen base attempts for Ellsbury going forward.

* All statistics current as of May 24.

Don't forget to check out our Xclusive Edge Rankings for help with tough lineup decisions.

Doug Anderson is the Executive Editor at Look for Man in a Box every Tuesday and catch him on The Fantasy War Room, Thursdays at 8 ET.

Feeling lost and confused? Want to help Doug understand what the finale of Lost really meant? E-mail Doug at

You May Like

Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)