Each week I'll answer a handful of the most pertinent questions I've received during the week in an attempt to bring insightful fantasy analysis to the fore (If you wish to drop me a line at email@example.com.
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I'm seriously considering dropping Zack Greinke for Brett Myers in a head to head, 10 team, shallow points league. What are your thoughts on that?-- Bob, Central Florida
Your first reaction is likely that Bob has lost his mind from hitting the hookah pipe too often with Snoop Dog. But a look at the numbers shows why Bob is considering this option.
Greinke: 1-8, 4.05 ERA, 66 Ks, 1.30 WHIP
Myers: 4-3, 3.01 ERA, 65 Ks, 1.39 WHIP
I know it is insane to think it, let alone write it, but to this point of the season Myers has been a more valuable fantasy performer than Greinke. Amazing indeed. At the same time I would have to be totally cracked to suggest moving Greinke for Myers.
Myers has done a great job keeping his career long bugaboo -- the homer -- in check. In fact, he has done too good a job. His career HR/9 mark is 1.31 and every year since 2004 the number has been at least 1.18. This season his rate is 0.67 which is almost exactly 50 percent of his career level. If you believe that is going to continue -- insert witty comment here (I was too lazy to come up with one myself). In addition, the majority of his work this season has been dead on his career levels despite the fact that his current ERA is 1.30 runs below his career rate of 4.31.
2010: 7.25 K/9, 3.01 BB/9, 1.60 GB/FB, 20.4 LD-rate, .275 BAA
Career: 7.48 K/9, 3.13 BB/9, 1.48 GB/FB, 20.5 LD-rate, .263 BAA
Add in the fact that Myers has thrown more than 75 innings just once in the past three seasons, and you have to have some serious reservations about his ability to keep his ERA this low the rest of the way.
Greinke has been a disaster if you look at his win-loss record, but you know by now that judging a pitcher based on his W-L record is about as wise as thinking just because Heidi Montag is blonde that she is dumb (OK, bad example). Greinke still owns the pinpoint control with a 2.00 BB/9 mark, his 3.67 K/BB rate is terrific and higher than his career mark (3.36) and batters still aren't hitting too many liners off him (his 17.7 LD-rate would actually be a career best). At the same time he has been somewhat unlucky given a hit rate of .323 -- his mark has been between .313-.318 the past four years, each time with a line drive rate of at least 19 percent -- and his K/9 rate has fallen off by two batters from last season down to 7.43.
Greinke is still the superior talent and doesn't have nearly the questions that Myers does. Despite the relatively even performance of the two so far I'd still take Greinke 99.3 percent of the time in this matchup.
My league is 10-team mixed league and we use OPS instead of batting average. I have Stephen Drew and Rafael Furcal at shortstop but I need to get rid of one of them to free up a roster spot to add a pitcher. How would you rank these two?-- Sam, Memphis
Furcal was on fire in '08, hitting .357 with five homers, eight steals and 34 runs in 36 games in '08 before back woes set in. Since then, he just hasn't been the same player. Since the start of '09 he has appeared in 184 games, hitting .275 with 10 homers, 62 RBI, 115 runs and 21 steals. Those numbers would be perfectly acceptable over the course of a season, but remember we're talking about 184 games. In addition, that total of 21 steals is a real disappointment for a man who stole at least 22 bags in every season from '00-07. Moving to just the '10 campaign, Furcal stared out hot in the steals category but he has swiped a feeble total of one bag in his last 17 games. Toss in a nearly month-long DL stint for a hamstring issue -- which certainly could be related to his back woes -- and Furcal just isn't the lock for production he once was.
Drew hasn't necessarily lived up to the expectations that came with being selected 15th overall in the '04 draft, but he is starting to carve out a very nice career for himself. In each of the last three seasons he has hit at least 12 homers with 60 RBI and 60 runs scored, and only he, Miguel Tejada and Hanley Ramirez belong to that group amongst shortstops. Drew is also working on two-straight seasons of at least 10 homers, 25 doubles and 10 triples, and he is the only man in baseball who can say that. Obviously, he brings the consistency that Furcal lacks, and that is key. He isn't the base-stealing threat Furcal used to be, and he likely won't produce the runs that Furcal will if he can stay in the lineup, but Drew is younger, more durable, and I would have to say a more stable option at this point. Plus, he possesses more "upside" -- the most bandied about word in the fantasy game.
I'd prefer Drew in this scenario, especially when you toss in the caveat about OPS instead of batting average. Furcal has a career OPS of .758 and only once in the past three years has he bettered that mark. As for Drew, his career mark is only slightly higher at .774, but he has been over .830 in two of his previous four seasons and clearly owns the more powerful bat which makes him the go-to choice here.
Carlos Silva is 8-0. He is on waivers in my league. Would you gamble on him if it meant dropping Gavin Floyd?-- Matthew, Los Angeles
I'm still not buying Silva and his exemplary work so far this season. I touched on him yesterday in Around the Horn, and here is a synopsis of that report -- he's been fairly lucky, is performing at levels we have never seen from him, and there is no conceivable way that I can posit a continuation of what he has offered so far (I'd suggest you read the piece for a more nuanced discussion).
Floyd has been a total mystery this season. In his last eight starts he has allowed one earned run three times while being beaten around like an opponent versus Mike Tyson in his heyday to the tune of four outings of at least five earned runs allowed. As a result, his numbers pale in comparison to those of Silva in pretty much every conceivable way other than a head to head look at strikeouts (57 to Silva's 47). However, I'm still buying on Floyd, especially since he can likely be had for a song at this point. Floyd's 7.66 K/9 mark is a career best, his 3.36 BB/9 mark is right on his career rate of 3.31, and he has continued along with the growth he showed last season in holding down the homer (his 0.94 per nine mark is well below his 1.33 career number). I also see that Floyd continues to evolve as a pitcher as he has induced more grounders than ever before -- that number is up to 46.6 percent -- all of which leads me to believe that its only a matter of time before things turn around. After all, guys that own BABIP marks of .299 rarely post a season long mark of .369 when their LD-rate is actually four tenths below their career level.
I know it sounds crazy based on where each pitcher currently sits in the four major fantasy categories for starters, but I'd still prefer Floyd to Silva for the remainder of the campaign.
At what point should I bail on Matt Capps? He was great to start the season but with his continued missteps of late I really worry about Drew Storen taking over in the ninth sooner rather than later.-- Steven, New York
Let me dust off the old crystal ball.
The truth is I have no idea when/if the Nationals will remove Capps from the closer's role, or when/if they will trade him. That doesn't mean I'm going to turn a blind eye to an unforeseeable future though since concerns are clearly warranted with Capps.
First off, Capps got the dreaded vote of confidence from team management, and that always seems to mean a guy is about ready to get hosed.
Second, Capps' performance just hasn't been very good of late. In his last eight appearances he has three saves but he has two loses and four blown saves as his ERA has shot up from 2.01 to 3.49. We aren't just talking about a couple of innings of poor work either. Here are his numbers since the calendar flipped to May: 6.00 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP over 15 innings. There are some positives like his K/9 mark of 8.26 being a career best, that his 3.71 K/BB mark is a strong total, and that his current BABIP mark of .365 is way too high for a guy who owns a .305 mark in his career. Still, this is a results driven business, and the bottom line is that he hasn't been delivering the wins like he did early in the season.
Third, there is the presence of the closer of the future, Drew Storen. A collegiate closer at Stanford, Storen flew threw the minors (1.08 ERA, 5.00 K/BB mark in 16.2 IP) and has done a pretty fair job at getting outs at the big league level as well (1.93 ERA, 1.18 WHIP through 9.1 innings). Storen hasn't exactly dominated with a six punchouts and five walks, but you get the feeling that the kid is ready for prime time.
Fourth, you don't want to forget about Tyler Clippard, either. An amazing eight vulture victories vaulted him to prominence, and the rest of his work has keep him there. Clippard hasn't allowed a run since May 18 lowering his ERA down to 1.62 which compliments his impressive 1.03 WHIP. Clippard has also racked up 46 strikeouts in just 39 innings on the season and clearly has the faith of the coaching staff. Moreover, since the start of the '09 season Tyler has thrown 99.1 innings with a 2.27 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a dominating 10.24 K/9 mark. Given all those facts I'm not certain that Storen would be the first option to take over the ninth inning if a decision was made to remove Capps from the role.
Should you bail on Capps? Considering the premium that is placed on saves, I don't think dumping Capps right now makes sense. I would recommend, however, that you roster at least one of the two "backup" arms in Washington, and like I just wrote, at this point I would suggest that you grab Clippard if he is available.
Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Fanball.com Owners Edge and http://www.rototimes.com. His work can be found weekly, exclusively at the home of fantasy baseball: Fanball.com. To e-mail Ray a question for next week's piece, drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.