Fantasy baseball mailbag
Here are the answer to some of the quick hitters that I received at the
Everyone still loves Morales, and I'm not sure I understand why. I know Morales has posted a 5x5 line of .284-28-94 per 162 games in his career, and that in his last full season he hit .306-34-108 (2009). Still, the guy hasn't played in a big league game since last May, and he still isn't 100 percent with his leg. Don't get me wrong, I think he has a chance to be effective once he returns to full health and shakes off the rust, but I have no faith that will occur at any point in April.
Huff gets no love despite finishing '10 in 7th place in the NL MVP vote. Did anyone notice that he hit one more homer than Adam LaRoche (26 to 25), had three more RBI than Prince Fielder (86 to 83), scored 13 more runs than Ryan Howard (100 to 87) or that he posted a better OPS than Mark Teixeira (.891 to .846)? Or how about the fact that Huff has hit at least 20 homers in seven of the last nine years and had at least 85 RBI in six of the last eight years? Or how about the fact that Huff qualifies at first base and in the outfield?
Add that all up and I want Huff over the uncertainty of Morales.
Jones has produced nearly identical totals the past two years.
While that seems like a good thing, it really isn't. Jones had 102 extra plate appearances last year, so his rate of production fell precipitously. Also in the negative column is that his walk rate was cut in half, leading to the third BB/K mark below 0.25 over the last four years for Jones. It's difficult to have consistent, long-term success when you have such poor control of the strike zone.
Tabata's game is his wheels, and unlike other players with similar skill sets -- I'm talking about you Carlos Gomez -- Tabata gets it. He posted a 2.42 GB/FB ratio last season, beating the ball into the turf and using his wheels to chug out the hits. He will fall short of the power production of Jones, but Tabata should at least double, if not triple, the steal total of Jones. Another plus derived from his speed and ground ball tendencies is that his batting average could continue to push .300 as it did last year when he hit .299.
If you need speed Tabata would be a nice fit. However, I'd still go with Jones. His ability to be a five-category contributor still exists, and if he just gains a modicum of patience at the dish he could conceivably be a top-25 performer at the outfield position. After all, he is just 27 years old.
Duensing gets it done. Over 214.2 innings in his career the lefty has posted strong ratios (3.02 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) despite a less than scintillating 5.49 K/9 mark. Duensing is able to generate a lot of ground balls, 50 percent of batted balls in his career, which helps to offset his poor K-rate and less than big league average 1.98 K/BB mark. However, Duensing is much more Jake Westbrook than he is Francisco Liriano, and though he might have a long and successful big league career he simply doesn't profile as a hurler who has much chance of replicating his ratios from last year (2.62 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) or one who is destined to be a fantasy ace.
People love rookies, don't they? After Beachy allowed just one run while racking up seven Ks in six innings in his first start, the love for Beachy is at an all-time high. Still, let's be fair to Beachy here. First, the kid has all of 174.2 innings above Single-A ball. Normally that wouldn't be too much of a concern, but up until '08 Beachy was primarily a hitter, so it is an issue. That's not a lot of experience on the hill. Second, while his stuff is good, it's not at the elite level. He does possess three solid big league pitches (fastball, curve, changeup), and he isn't afraid to challenge hitters, which should serve him well. Once the Braves rotation is back to full strength -- i.e. Jair Jurrjens returns -- Beachy will likely be looking over his shoulder ever time he struggles with Mike Minor looming.
I'd take a shot on Beachy, who has the upside tag going for him, though Duensing wouldn't be a horrible fall back option.
I've been touting Narveson as a great late-round add for months now (see
It looks like the Braves have settled on Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning, leaving Venters to handle eighth inning work, which would seem to cap his fantasy upside in the short term. Still, Venters has been an absolutely dominating force during his brief big league career of 85.2 innings -- 2.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 9.77 K/9 and an amazing 4.35 GB/FB ratio (the big league average is usually about 1.10). You've heard me say it before if you paid any attention to my work -- the ideal combo with a pitcher is one who misses bats and one who generates tons of grounders. That's Venters in a nutshell.
Walden has a slight advantage in the fantasy game in that the closer on his team -- Fernando Rodney -- is terrible. That would seem to move Walden much closer to working the ninth inning. The Angels do have other options to handle the ninth -- don't forget about Scott Downs, who is nearing a return from a foot issue -- but Walden's early season work this year is drawing rave reviews (five of his seven outs have come via the strikeout and he owns a 14.26 K/9 mark over 17.2 big league innings). When your average fastball is 98 mph, people tend to notice.
At this point the better pitcher is likely Venters. However, with the uncertain ninth inning of the Angels, the better short term fantasy pick up is Walden.