Fantasy baseball mailbag
Hart's season started late because of injury, and then the Brewers made the mistake of activating him too quickly (he had only 15 at-bats in the minors and produced two hits).
"Maybe we could have kept him there longer but some of that has to do with the player ... Corey thought he was ready," said manager Ron Roenicke.
Clearly, Hart wasn't ready. Through 34 at-bats he was batting .176, had a .382 OPS and hasn't produced a single RBI. So do you drop him? Would you drop Troy Tulowitzki? If you weren't aware, he has been worse than Hart the past two weeks, hitting just .093. Obviously Tulo is a better player than Hart, but the point should be obvious -- you don't want to panic and drop guys with track records of success because of down periods. Coming off a season in which he hit 31 homers, knocked in 102 runs and scored 91 times -- something only seven other hitters in the game did last year -- it would be pretty darn tough to recommend dropping Hart unless you are desperate or in a really shallow mixed league.
Ibanez had an 0-for-35 stretch recently, and the results of that slump are clearly evident in his .222 batting average for the season. At the same time, the guy has completely turned things around of late with five multiple hit games in his last seven outings. In fact, over the last seven days, Ibanez is hitting .462 with two homers and five RBI as he is on his way to putting that massive slump to bed. However, there are concerns with Ibanez. First, he will be 39 next month and coming off his worst HR total (16) in six years and his worst RBI mark (83) in seven years. Second, Domonic Brown is closing fast, hitting .367 with four bombs, 10 RBI and 11 runs in 13 minor league games as he works his way back from injury. Will Brown eat into Ibanez's playing time? He may not if Ben Francisco continues to struggle so mightily (he has one hit in 18 at-bats in May), but both Ibanez and Francisco could be put on notice shortly when Brown is called up.
Ibanez is a veteran run producer, and manager Charlie Manuel is nothing if not supportive, sometimes to a fault, of his veterans. There isn't much reason to think that Ibanez can't replicate the numbers he posted last season (.275-16-83), even with his slow start, so you'll have to decide how much value there would be in your league for an outfielder like that.
Back in January I broke down Buck in
While admitting my initial thoughts of a regression appear to be taking hold, I'm surprised at the fact that Buck has done as well as he has this year. At the same time, Buck has three homers and eight RBI in his last 10 games, or his numbers would look awful. He still isn't getting on base (.317 OBP), but I will commend him for his BB/K mark, which is 0.52. Of course, only once in his career has that mark been 0.40, and for his career it's 0.28, so it's doubtful to hold up. So in the end, I'm still sticking with the regression I predicted three and a half months ago.
I've long been a fan of Iannetta. He'll never hit for a strong average -- he is currently batting .247 and striking out 35 percent of the time -- but he has always had plenty of power (five homers in just 77 ABs) and he has always known how to work the count (his OBP is a whopping .414). The difference between these two backstops boils down to this: Iannetta is younger (by three years), hits in a better park and knows how to take a walk. Sooner or later those factors will overcome a grip-it-and-rip-it hitter like Buck. While their numbers look pretty similar at this point, I'd offer this slant. Let's compare each hitter's career numbers, per 400 at-bats, and see what we end up with.
J. Buck: .243-15-56-47 with a .302 OBP and .723 OPS
Give me Iannetta, who has slightly more power, a much better eye, is younger and hits in the better ball park.
Cano, widely acknowledged as the best second baseman in fantasy, has done little to dissuade anyone from that view, hitting .290 with eight homers with 24 RBI and 18 runs scored. For those of you who love "pace" talk -- that would equate to a season-long fantasy line of .290-40-121-91-10. Uh yeah, that's pretty good. Clearly, you would only move Cano if the return was substantial.
Bell just lost his streak of 41-consecutive save chances converted, but he has still been dynamite. Through 14 appearances Bell has posted a 1.29 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and has converted eight of nine save chances. His strikeout mark is down almost two full batters from his career mark (7.71 compared to 9.45) and he is walking more batters than ever before (his current BB/9 mark of 3.86 is well above his career rate of 3.03), but I would take those two numbers to be more of a reflection of a small sample size than declining skills. With all the turnover in the ninth inning this year, there can't be any argument that Bell is one of about 10 "locks" at the back end of bullpens right now.
Sizemore started out on fire (he hit .378 in April), and then slumped miserably of late (.143 in May). In total, he's hitting .288 with a .342 OBP. For his career he has hit .273 with a .363 OBP, so he's pretty much right on track. However, he's really upped the homer pace with five bombs in 73 at-bats, leading to a mark of one homer every 14.6 at-bats. Given that he hit one every 25.3 at-bats over his first 3,259 at-bats, you'd have to assume that rate will regress moving forward. However, the biggest concern with Sizemore is his utter lack of thefts. Sizemore has attempted only one steal and he was unsuccessful. It's no a shock that he has curtailed his running since he is coming back off major knee surgery, but there is a massive difference in terms of the value of a player if he is swiping 20-plus bases, as Sizemore did from '05-08, compared to the a guy who just isn't running.
I'd hold onto Cano. He's as certain as any hitter in baseball to meet his lofty projections as an elite option. Sizemore, until he starts running, simply isn't close to being an elite level fantasy outfielder. Bell is elite, but with seemingly half the teams in the league switching things up in the ninth inning on a daily basis, you have, and will have, plenty of options to turn to if you need saves help moving forward.