Trade Targets: Strasburg, Leake and Odorizzi are Undervalued Pitchers

Here are some pitchers whose perceived value is less than their real value. Each of them is a solid trade target right now because you might be able to get them at a discount compared to what it will cost you in the offseason. These guys will be ranked highly on cheat sheets next Spring. Let’s dive right in…

Stephen Strasburg — Washington Nationals

9 Wins, 194 Ks in 163 innings, 3.53 ERA, 1.21 WHIP

Strasburg’s 3.53 ERA is easily the worst of his career and ranks him only 44th out of 93 qualifying starting pitchers in the majors. Is Strasburg really only a middle of the pack starting pitcher this year? Well, his 2.94 FIP is 16th in the league, his 2.51 xFIP is 3rd (behind only Kershaw and King Felix) and his 2.62 SIERA is 4th in baseball. You know how much I like K%-BB% and Strasburg’s is 5th in baseball at a stellar 23.2%, which is the best in his career for a full season. In fact, pretty much every one of Strasburg’s peripheral stats is better than his career averages. What does this mean? It means he has been pitching better than ever despite the fact that 26 starting pitchers are ranked higher than him in 5×5 roto leagues. Strasburg has a losing record again this year just like he did last year, but much of that is because the Nationals rarely score many runs behind him. His 4.42 runs per game of run support is 70th in the league this year. The Nationals’s below average Defensive Efficiency Rating of .700 is not doing Strasburg any favors either. His .336 BABIP is 40 points higher than his pre-2014 career average and is likely to come down as the season progresses. His ERA and WHIP will improve right along with his BABIP. Continue reading

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Unexpected Aces: Porcello, Duffy, Keuchel and Simon. Will Their Success Continue?

Last week we talked about some pitchers who have come out of the blue to deliver excellent results this year. In that article we covered Tyson Ross, Jake Arrieta, Garrett Richards and Tanner Roark (read it here). But those guys are not the only unforeseen fantasy aces to burst onto the scene in 2014. This week we will evaluate several more to see if their success is the real deal or if they will regress in the future. Let’s get right to it…

Alfredo Simon — Cincinnati Reds

12 Wins, 85 Ks in 138 innings, 3.07 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

Simon’s pretty stats have him ranked as the 24th best starting pitcher in 5×5 fantasy leagues so far this season. After several disappointing years in Baltimore the Orioles released Simon and the Reds picked him up off the trash heap. Nobody knew it at the time, but that move has been a tremendous success for the Reds. Simon put up a brutal 5.18 ERA over 184 innings with the Orioles, but as a Red he has delivered a magnificent 2.92 ERA in 286 innings. What a huge difference! Why did that happen? Did Simon suddenly become a better pitcher or are there other reasons? Well, some might say that going from the AL East to the NL Central is the reason why, but I don’t think so. For one thing, the competition in the NL Central is every bit as good or better than the AL East the last few years. Both Wild Card teams came out of the NL Central last year and it could happen again this year with 4 of the division’s 5 teams well over .500 and close to claiming the Wild Card. Getting to face the pitcher instead of a DH does help, but not nearly enough to explain the difference in Simon’s performance. Continue reading

Unexpected Aces: Arrieta, Roark, Ross and Richards. Can They Maintain Their Success?

The season is now two thirds over and it is a good time to look at the newest and most surprising members of the Ace Pitchers’ Club. Last year at this time you had never heard of these guys, and the ones you had heard of you didn’t think were very good. But things have changed in a hurry and they are all premium assets for your fantasy team now. Let’s take a look and see why these guys got so good so fast and predict if their success will continue…

Garrett Richards — Los Angeles Angels

11 Wins, 143 Ks in 144 innings, 2.74 ERA, 1.04 WHIP

I love me some Garrett Richards. Out of all of this year’s breakout pitchers he is my favorite. The 26 year old is a great reminder that most elite pitchers were not elite from day one. Unlike Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey, most aces start their careers off slowly and ramp their way up the ranks until they finally reach the upper echelon. My favorite pitching stat is K%-BB% and Richards’ went from an awful 3.2% in 2011 to a still awful 4.1% in 2012 to a Continue reading

Is James Ramsey Worth Your Time?

So, James Ramsey was just traded for Justin Masterson, and you’re left wondering, possibly scrambling – because no one talks about James Ramsey. Is he suddenly worth something? There have been some takes that Ramsey is now the Indians second best outfield prospect. Without saying who he’s behind, we’re left to guess, but either way I think it’s an overstatement. With Tyler Naquin performing solidly at Double-A, and fellow first round picks Clint Frazier and Bradley Zimmer in the lower minors, Ramsey would check in fourth on the outfield depth chart for me, both in real life and in fantasy.

Continue reading

The Dynasty Guru Experts League — July Update #TDGX

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. There are several teams still in the hunt for the inaugural championship, while others are building for next year and beyond. 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

Breakout or Fakeout: Evaluating July’s Surprisingly Hot Hitters

The month of July has seen some surprising names rise to the top of the Hot Hitter Charts. Over the last month these 5 hitters have really opened some eyes with their sticks. Can they keep it up? Most of these guys have been around for awhile. Have they truly arrived as star players or are they just mediocre hitters on a hot streak? Let’s separate the true breakouts from the fakeouts…

Kole Calhoun — Outfielder, Los Angeles Angels

Calhoun came into the season as a trendy sleeper pick. He was coming off a nice 2013 where he put up a .282/.347/.462 slash line for an .808 OPS in 195 major league ABs, but his .354/.431/.617 megastats in the minors that year was what really got the pundits excited. Going into 2014 he was expected to be an everyday player Continue reading

Trade Targets: 4 Starting Pitchers to Go After and 1 to Avoid

This is a great time of year to make some trades. The All Star break is a natural time for people to evaluate their teams. Many team owners have now realized they are out of contention and may be willing to sell off some of their assets. Other owners who are in contention will want to beef up their squads before the upcoming trade deadline. For all of these reasons late July is historically a time when trading activity heats up. It is one of the best opportunities of the entire year to improve your team. Make sure you get in on the action!

Let’s take a look at some starting pitchers who can be expected to put up better stats in the 2nd half than they did in the 1st half. You should be able to obtain these guys at a bargain price compared to their future production…

Wade Miley — Arizona Diamondbacks

Miley’s season line of 5 Wins, 118 Ks, 4.18 ERA and WHIP of 1.24 isn’t very good. He is playing for one of the worst teams in baseball and they are unlikely to get better any time soon. Continue reading

Breakout Prospects: Berrios, Nimmo, Williams and Renfroe

Time for another look at some fresh names that are thriving in the minor leagues. This week we will examine several players who made it onto the Midseason Top 50 lists published by Baseball Prospectus and/or Baseball America this week despite not being considered consensus Top 100 prospects prior to the season. There were several other players who met the same criteria but I have already written about them in prior columns (links below).

Jose Berrios — Starting Pitcher, Minnesota Twins

The 2012 1st round pick from Puerto Rico put up a solid season in Low A ball last year with a 3.99 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 103 innings along with 40 walks, although in the second half he lost a lot of steam that degraded his stuff and depressed his overall season stats compared to his stellar first half rates. But it was good enough to get him ranked this Spring at #75 on the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects, #93 by FanGraphs, #90 by MLB.com and #102 by The Dynasty Guru, but he wasn’t ranked by Baseball America or ESPN. He kicked his game up a notch here this year in the High A Florida State League where he put up a 1.96 ERA with a fantastic 109:23 K:BB ratio in 96 innings. He was promoted to Double A last week and managed to give up 5 runs in 5 innings in his first start, although he only gave up 3 hits. That bump from High A to AA is considered the biggest jump in baseball, so we could find out really quickly just how good the 22 year old Berrios really is. He gets a lot of velocity from his smallish frame. His fastball averages about 94 mph. He also sports a plus slider, a good curveball and a solid changeup.  About a month ago I traded Berrios to ESPN’s Chris Crawford for Michael Lorenzen in the #TDGX experts’ league, so of course Berrios has been on an epic hot streak ever since. Yikes. My trade doesn’t look quite as good as it did at the time, although Lorenzen also made the BP top 50 list just a few slots behind Berrios so I am still happy with the deal. Verdict: Top 40 Prospect. Potential #3 starter. Continue reading

Struggling Stars: Votto, Bruce, Hosmer, Kemp and Santana

This week I will take a look at some good hitters who were highly drafted in your league but are killing their owners. Putting one of your star hitters on the bench is a hard decision to make and it is too important to get it wrong. We don’t want to let emotions and sentiment steer us off track. Don’t allow anger over a player’s slump to trick you into benching a good performer, and don’t let fondness for a favorite player trick you into keeping him in your lineup long after he should have been sacked. Halfway through the season the sample sizes have now grown plenty large enough for us to evaluate our rosters with a discerning eye.

Joey Votto — 1B Reds

The Canadian’s 2014 slash line of .259/.396/.417 pales in comparison to his career .311/.418/.533 record. Votto won’t admit he is playing hurt, but the grimaces and limps during his plate appearances prove otherwise. He missed nearly a month on the disabled list in an effort to allow the muscle strain in his knee to heal. It clearly didn’t work. He is playing in pain and it has severely sapped his power. His OBP is holding steady but his overall performance is drastically degraded. This is not a short term problem and it is going to dog him for the rest of the season. The only way to heal is extended rest and the Reds have said that Votto will continue to play through the injury. The good news is that this type of injury will probably heal itself over the long winter and he will be back to normal in time for the 2015 campaign. Verdict: Damaged Goods. If you are in contention to win your league this year you might want to trade him now. If you are rebuilding you might want to trade for him while his price is depressed. Continue reading

Current Events: Is Now The Perfect Time to Trade Mookie Betts?

I am a Red Sox fan and Mookie Betts is in the majors. I should be rejoicing.

But while I’m certainly happy to play along with “Feats of Mookie” on Twitter and to follow Betts’ every MLB plate appearance, I have to admit I’ve been a bit distracted by another thought over the last few days:

Isn’t now the perfect time to deal Mookie Betts?

His stock has never been higher, and it very well might never be higher. The expectations for him are off the charts, and one look at the MiLB season he’s had tells you why. He’s in a major market, he has speed, he has a terrific name and in some leagues, he still carries MI eligibility. It’s a sexy package.

But all of that ignores the very real fantasy deficiencies that plague Betts’ game. He’s not going to hit for much power right now. He’s fast, but he’s not a 70-grade runner or a 40-steal guy. And in many leagues, he’s only eligible in the outfield. That skill set still makes for a good fantasy prospect, yes. But it doesn’t make for an elite one.

Beyond Betts’ specific profile, there are plenty of reasons to try and trade hotshot prospects the moment they reach the majors anyway. Savvy owners looking to flip prospects who don’t fit their teams or who they feel are generally overrated can reap pretty significant rewards if they’re willing to deal at the apex of prospect value.  Continue reading