Ace Smackdown: Jon Lester vs Madison Bumgarner

Two of the best pitchers in baseball square off in this week’s Smackdown. Lester has had a tremendous bounce-back season to regain his former slot in the pantheon of elite pitchers. Bumgarner kept right on doing what he has done ever since he hit the big leagues — mow down hitters with ruthless efficiency. This Smackdown will determine which one of them had the better season and which one is the better pitcher to own for the future.

Both contestants are southpaws pitching a few miles apart in the Bay Area. Both are big and almost the same height and weight (6’5″, 235 for Bumgarner, 6’4″, 240 for Lester), but despite their size they deliver only average velocity. Bumgarner is 5.5 years younger than Lester. Both have been true workhorses ever since coming to the major leagues, averaging more than 200 innings per year. Bumgarner has yet to have a disappointing year in his stellar career. Lester on the other hand stumbled for a couple years. Lester was excellent his first 4 full seasons from 2008 through 2011, but then he took a big step backwards in 2012 before partially recovering last year in 2013. This year he has been as good as ever.

Traditonal Fantasy Stats Lester Bumgarner Major League Average
Record 16 – 11 18 – 10 0.500
Strikeouts 220 219
ERA 2.46 2.98 3.75
WHIP 1.10 1.09 1.28
Innings Pitched 219.2 217.1

First let’s take a look at the traditional 5×5 fantasy stat categories to see if we can declare an early leader in the contest. Continue reading

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New Ace Smackdown: Collin McHugh vs Matt Shoemaker

This week’s Smackdown pits two 27 year old veteran minor leaguers who emerged as star hurlers in 2014. Neither of them were ever considered top prospects by any stretch of the imagination. McHugh was an 18th round draft pick by the Mets in 2008 and reached the majors with them in 2012. He was traded to the Rockies last summer but they made a big mistake by releasing him last December. The Astros claimed him off waivers and he has been an ace ever since. Shoemaker wasn’t drafted at all, signing as an undrafted free agent that same year of 2008. Neither of them distinguished themselves in the minors or gave a hint of future stardom. How did these two completely unheralded pitchers develop into aces? Are they for real or are they merely mirages that will quickly disappear when we examine them closely? Which one of them is the better bet for your fantasy team? Let the Smackdown begin…

Traditonal Stats McHugh Shoemaker
Record 10 – 9 16 – 4
Strikeouts 151 124
ERA 2.66 3.04
WHIP 1.03 1.07
Innings Pitched 148.2 136.0

Continue reading

Young Ace Smackdown: Alex Cobb vs Alex Wood

This week’s smackdown pits two young hurlers named Alex — the Rays’ righty Cobb and the Braves’ lefty Wood. Both are a little light on innings this year but for different reasons. Cobb missed some time early in the season due to an oblique injury that sidelined him for a month. Wood spent a month in the bullpen due to the crowded Atlanta starting rotation. Here are their stats for the season:

Traditonal Stats Cobb Wood
Record 9 – 7 10 – 10
Strikeouts 138 147
ERA 2.75 2.90
WHIP 1.12 1.15
Innings Pitched 147.1 152.0

Right now the duel is too close to call. Wood has one more win and a few more strikeouts, but Cobb has fewer losses and a slight edge in both ERA and WHIP. Both have been fantastic. We are going to have to dig deeper to find a winner. Continue reading

Young Ace Smackdown: Danny Duffy vs Jake Arrieta

Danny Duffy and Jake Arrieta are both pitchers who have burst onto the fantasy scene this year despite very low expectations coming into the season. Their ownership rates in fantasy leagues were practically zero on Opening Day but that changed gradually as the season wore on and both are now owned in nearly all competitive leagues of 12 or more teams. In 5×5 roto leagues Arrieta ranks as the 23rd best starting pitcher in 2014 while Duffy comes in one slot behind at 24th. That is better than Stephen Strasburg, Yu Darvish, Jeff Samardzija, Sonny Gray, Jeff Weaver, James Shields and many other good pitchers.

If you compare their statistics you can see a lot of similarities:

Danny Duffy vs Jake Arrieta

Both look like excellent young fantasy starters. Both have stellar ERA and WHIP scores. Both have well above average fastball velocity. Since they look so much alike it seems this smackdown could end in a tie. We are going to have to look much deeper into their peripherals to figure out which of these guys is better than the other: Continue reading

The Dynasty Guru Experts League — August 2014 Update #TDGX

There is one month left to go in the inaugural season of The Dynasty Guru Experts League. Team McKahn has pulled out to a commanding lead, having gained 11 points in the standings since last month’s update. It is going to take a monumental comeback of epic proportions for anybody to catch him now. He has snared 191 of the 200 possible points and might not be done yet. It is shaping up to be a beatdown that will go down in legend. The rest of us are going to have our work cut out for us trying to dethrone Ian and Tim next year. I am up for that challenge!

As you know by now, all of the writers here at TDG have been playing in an epic 20-team dynasty league with fantasy baseball writers from all over the Internet. Matching wits with some of the best players in the country has proven to be quite a challenge and a ton of fun — exactly the way a fantasy league should be. Below you will find the complete standings as well as plenty of enlightening comments from the team owners themselves.

I will summarize the league setup here, but for a more in-depth overview of how it all got started read this: Welcome to The Dynasty Guru Experts’ League. The league is a dynasty league of course, with 30 man rosters Continue reading

Prospect Perspective: Nolan Arenado and Nick Castellanos are Still Elite Prospects

When a young player has been in the major leagues for awhile it seems like they are older than they really are. It is uncommon for a player to break into the major leagues at the age of 20 or 21 but it does happen. There are usually a couple players who do it each year. Oftentimes those players struggle quite a bit their first year or two in the majors, Mike Trout being the exception that proves the rule. Guys like Nolan Arenado, Nick Castellanos, Manny Machado, and even Yasiel Puig and Freddie Freeman are much younger than people think they are. It is easy to forget that these guys are still younger than many or most top prospects. Many baseball fans and fantasy team owners fall into the trap of believing that a player who has been in the majors for awhile “is who he is” and fail to consider the context of the player’s situation. The reality is that all of the players on the list below are still kids who are a long way from reaching their peak performance. You can expect significant performance increases from every player on this list over the next several years, even the ones who are already stars.

The definition of a prospect as defined by the baseball scouting industry is a hitter who has not reached 130 ABs or a pitcher who has not yet thrown 50 innings in the major leagues, but that definition is misleading. That may be the cut-off for Rookie of the Year eligibility, but a 22 year old doesn’t cease being a prospect just because he has seen a modicum of major league time. Continue reading

2014 Has Been a Disastrous Year for Elite Prospects

We had a bumper crop of elite prospects to play with this Spring. We had visions of new players joining our rosters and playing like the next Mike Trout and Yasiel Puig. The consensus Top 12 prospects this year were as good as we have ever seen. The excitement was at a fever pitch for prospect hounds like us, but the season ended up being a tremendous letdown. Some of it was due to injuries, while most of it was due to flat out poor performance. It just goes to show that patience is key when it comes to prospects — even the elite “can’t miss” prospects often struggle when they reach the majors.

For this discussion let’s focus on what I consider to be the consensus top 12. These are the guys that were ranked at the top of nearly every major list that was published last offseason. We will go down the list and review each prospect. The theme of the day is disappointment. Every guy on this list except for one or two had a disappointing season for one reason or another…

1. Byron Buxton, OF Twins

Buxton has been touted as the next Mike Trout, an all around superstar 5 tool talent. His season has been absolutely destroyed by injuries. He sprained his wrist early in Spring Training and was forced to sit out until May, then he played 5 games and re-injured the wrist again. He had to sit out another two months. He played 30 games at High A Fort Myers but didn’t perform as well as he did last year. His .718 OPS wasn’t too impressive but you could still see the talent and tools in action and see a future superstar. On August 13th he got promoted to AA and what happens? He got hurt in his very first game. He suffered a bad concussion during a diving collision in the outfield. Buxton is still an elite talent and a future star but this season was a total bust. Continue reading