For more fantasy analysis, check out Fanball.com.
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. Need your questions answered? Drop me a line. For more fantasy analysis, check out Fanball.com.
What is wrong with Zack Greinke? I've been patient all year, but where is the 2009 Cy Young winner hiding?-- Jed, Florida
How many times has a beautiful lady been chosen the Playboy Playmate of the Year more than once? Exactly. Greinke never had a shot to repeat his phenomenal 2009 effort (16-8, 2.16 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 242 Ks) this season. At the same time his current level of performance is a bit disappointing to be sure, though really, it's pretty much what he has done over the totality of his career. Take a look.
2010: 4.14 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.64 K/9, 1.95 BB/9, 3.91 K/BB, 1.13 GB/FBCareer: 3.79 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.61 K/9, 2.23 BB/9, 3.41 K/BB, 0.97 GB/FB
Given that his current batting average against is only .004 points off his career mark (.262), that his BABIP is only .003 points off his career mark at .312, and that his WHIP is below his career mark, it is odd that his left on base percent is just 64.5 percent, this after four-straight years of the mark being at least 75.2 percent. If that number was where it should be and at the 75 percent level, Greinke's ERA could very easily be below his career number (3.79) and that would make things look a whole lot better.
Has he been disappointing? Absolutely. Has he been inconsistent (he has allowed at least six runs in three of his last seven outings)? For sure. Still, as I said above, he was never going to repeat his 2009 effort and he still has the 16th best WHIP in the AL and more strikeouts than Cliff Lee (126), Max Scherzer (120), John Danks (114) and Matt Garza (110) to name but a few. In sum, Greinke has been very solid, though clearly nowhere near as dominating as he was last season, and that will certainly leave many wanting more.
In a non-keeper league, would you prefer young stud Domonic Brown or the veteran Raul Ibanez?-- Andy, Lakewood, Colo.
This question got a lot easier earlier Wednesday. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported the following exchange with manager Charlie Manuel when he was asked what the team would do when Shane Victorino returns from a left abdominal strain on Friday. "...the people we signed, we pay them money and they're our regular players. That's like saying because a guy gets hurt he loses his job." Despite a plethora of talent, and a future that will likely entail many a trip to an All-Star game, Brown will likely be demoted once Victorino is activated. Brown, who would almost certainly be recalled when rosters expand, has 11 Ks and an awful .237 OBP through 10 games as he has yet to draw a single walk. He has knocked in 10 runs, but his current approach allows him to be exploited by top level hurlers.
You might be saying to yourself -- why in the world would the Phils demote Brown with the slacker that is Raul Ibanez the only thing that is standing in Brown's path to super-stardom? If you think that, you need to look at the numbers a bit closer. Ibanez is hitting a merely passable .273 with 11 homers and 57 RBI this season, but he has been en fuego of late with a 17-game hitting streak that has increased his batting average .025 points, an over his last 64 at-bats Ibanez is hitting .391 with 16 RBI, not to mention that in that time his OPS is a tidy 1.128. Ibanez won't reach the numbers that most expected out of him this season, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be active on someones fantasy roster at the moment in virtually all leagues.
Is it time to pick up J.J. Hardy since I continue to wait, impatiently, for the return of Rafael Furcal?-- Ryan, Las Vegas
After this question was submitted the Dodgers decided to place Furcal on the DL with a lower back strain. The move is retroactive to Aug. 3, but it's unclear when he will be able to return, and how he will do once he is back in action (Furcal has hit a mere .175 over his last 12 games).
Is Hardy an adequate replacement? Obviously the answer is no if you are looking for thefts or the ability to fly around the bases while racking up copious amounts of runs, but that doesn't mean that Hardy is without value by any means. The often injured shortstop of the Twins is in quite the groove of late hitting .375 the past week and .333 over his last 60 at-bats covering 18 games played. Though he has only 241 at-bats and doesn't qualify for the batting title, his .270 batting average on the year is actually better than Stephen Drew (.263) and only six points behind Derek Jeter. Hardy's .402 SLG is no great shakes either, but once again that is a better mark than Jeter (.388), Jhonny Peralta (.389) and Erick Aybar (.373) to name but a few other shortstop options. As is Hardy is a nice pickup, and if his power were to return (his fly ball rate is down five percent while his HR/F mark is 3.3 percent below his career rate) he would really offer a real opportunity for some late season value.
I'm in a 12-team keeper league, and I have a tough choice to make. Would you hold on to Buster Posey or Jaime Garcia if salaries and contract years were unimportant?-- Brett, Aurora, Ill.
Garcia is 10-5 with a sparking 2.71 ERA in his first full season. He has a a solid K/9 mark of 7.05, and does an excellent job keeping the ball on the ground with a 2.07 GB/FB ratio. However, he still needs to work on cutting down the walks (3.63 per nine), and it remains to be seen if he can continue to strand runners with such skill (his 75.2 percent LOB mark is slightly elevated). There are also valid concerns about Garcia's durability given that he tossed just 37.2 innings last season and that he has been limited to less than 150 innings in each of the past three years (he is up to 126.1 innings right now, one of the reasons the Cardinals will likely be somewhat cautious with his usage for the rest of this season).
Posey was incredible in July on his way to Player of the Month honors (.417-7-24-20), and predictably he has slowed down since (he his hit .261 his last 13 games). Overall, Posey has been unbelievable for the Giants this season hitting .345 with eight homers and 42 RBI in just 232 at-bats. To put that effort into perspective, Joe Mauer is hitting .325, Mauer has seven homers in 375 at-bats, and Victor Martinez has only 40 RBI. Posey hit .325 in the minors last season before bashing his way to a .349 mark this season, so clearly the man can rap out base hits with the best of them. It remains to be seen if he is anything more than a 15-homer guy, though the number of catchers who hit .300 with 15 homers each season doesn't even take one hand to count.
Hurlers can toss one pitch and blow their arm out. Catchers can take one foul tip and break a hand ending their season. Both positions have risks associated with them, and while I like Garcia, his upside clearly doesn't rise to the level of Posey who, if he can just stay healthy, seems likely to be a difference maker an a potential top-5 option at the catchers position for the foreseeable future.
Ray Flowers is Managing Editor for Fanball.com Owners Edge and 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. You can also follow Ray's thoughts at the Baseball Guys' Twitter page.