Fantasy baseball mailbag: Stubbs' speed trumps Plouffe's potential
I'm Ray Flowers, co-host of
Before we go bashing Stubbs, let's not overlook what Plouffe has done, or better yet not done, of late.
Plouffe has had quite a season. In June he went deep 11 times. He also hit 14 homers in a 29-game stretch. Still, he's not exactly been Mr. Consistent. He went deep Wednesday night, his first homer since July 3, a span of 28 games. Plouffe also hasn't stolen a single base this season. Plouffe is hitting .242, .017 points below the league average. Plouffe has a .312 OBP, nine points below the league average. Plouffe is also hitting .169 with a .468 OPS in August. So before we go and canonize Plouffe, let's make sure we realize (A) who he actually is and (B) he has been dreadful for the last month.
Stubbs hasn't been much better of late as there is no disputing that fact as he too hasn't reached the Mendoza Line in August. Still, he has a slightly better batting average (.187) and OPS (.486) than Plouffe. He also has the same amount of homers (one), has scored three times as many runs (14-5), and has killed Plouffe, destroyed him, with those massively relevant six steals.
Stubbs certainly has his faults, but the only way I would drop him in favor of Plouffe was if I desperately needed help at third or shortstop, but even then I'd be reluctant to drop Stubbs since his speed would likely make more of a difference over the final month than the power potential of Plouffe.
Hanson has been battling shoulder woes all year. His fastball velocity is down two mph, and at times he has had had a lot of trouble throwing strikes (his walk rate per nine is up nearly three quarters of a point from his career average at 2.88). He's still striking out his share of batters though, his 8.00 K/9 mark is strong, but after two years with a K/BB ratio over 3.00 the mark is down a full point this year to 2.07, well below the league average (2.47). When you add into that diminished ratio a league average GB/FB (1.04), a slightly elevated HR/9 (1.27) and a league average 19.8 percent line drive rate, you get basically a league-average pitcher. Unfortunately, it's a bit worse than that. He does have 12 victories, but those ratios aren't helping anyone (4.40 ERA, 1.47 WHIP). He's also been pretty darn bad over his last six outings with a 6.82 ERA and 2.01 WHIP.
I don't know the size of your league, or who you would replace him with, but it's certainly worth investigating moving on, potentially for one of the two pitchers I'm about to discus ...
Tillman has been a star for the Orioles. In eight of 10 outings this season, he's allowed three or fewer earned runs, and if you remove those two rough outings his ERA would be 2.44 and his WHIP 1.01. Still, history says you should be very wary of Tillman. Over his first three seasons with the Orioles, 2009-11, he made 36 starts. Tillman went 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, a 5.78 K/9 an a 1.45 K/BB ratio. Those are awful numbers. Now it's not that he is without talent, and most around baseball have been surprised that he had been unable to make the necessary adjustments. Has he made those adjustments this season? To this point the answer is an emphatic yes. His K/9 rate is up to 7.29, his walk rate at a career best, and the resulting 2.47 K/BB ratio is a massive step forward. At the same time it's a league average number, as is his K/9 and his GB/FB (1.03). He's also working with a career worst line drive rate (23.0 percent) that has somehow led to a career best .254 BABIP (career .294). His 3.26 ERA really should be a run higher, and given his track record in the bigs, it's hard to think he will be able to keep up his current pace.
Anderson has been elite since returning from Tommy John Surgery. In two starts, he's won two games while allowing one run for the Athletics. Talk about hitting the ground running. Just like with Tillman, there's no way the current trend will continue with Anderson. The difference between the two is two-fold: (A.) Anderson has had more success in the big leagues. (B.) He's a more highly skilled pitcher. Anderson has made 64 starts in the big leagues and owns a 3.55 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Tillman has only pitched at that level for two months. Anderson also sports a 3.16 K/BB ratio for his career, which when coupled with his 1.84 GB/FB ratio marks Anderson as an arm every fantasy squad would want to own -- provided his arm was healthy.
I'd go with Anderson. Tillman has the advantage in that he's been healthy all year and isn't coming back from elbow surgery, but Anderson is the more highly skilled and the more effective hurler. Just hope the A's don't limit his workload because he's just a year removed from the surgery.
Jansen has had a recurrence of his heart issue, one that kept him out of action for a month last season. The Dodgers haven't said they expect Jansen to miss a month this time, but obviously one has to question whether or not Jansen will be able to return this season as he's been termed to be out "indefinitely." Who will the Dodgers turn to in the 9th inning in the meantime? Ronald Belisario converted the Dodgers' last save chance, and he has been great this year with a 2.84 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 47 Ks in 50.2 innings. On the flip side he has all of three saves in his career. He's likely the lead horse in the race right now though. Brandon League, who had 37 saves last season for the Mariners, could also be in the mix. Though he has struggled since being dealt to the Dodgers with a 6.00 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in 11 outings, he claims to have fixed a mechanical issue and has thrown 4-straight scoreless outings. The club could always recall Javy Guerra who has 29 saves for the Dodgers since the start of last season.
Should you hold on to Jansen? All depends on who you can add and where you are currently sitting in the standings. I will say that, given the uncertainty of his prognosis, that I would be reluctant to drop Jansen just yet. It's also tough to suggest dropping a man who has 223 Ks in 137.1 innings leading to a 14.61 career K/9 mark which just so happens to be the second best mark in the history of the game for any pitcher who has tossed at least 125 innings in his career (Craig Kimbrel leads the way with a 15.63 mark).