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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Digging for Diamonds: Scouting the Cape League

It’s never too early to get a jump on planning for your dynasty squad’s future, particularly in the middle of August if you happen to be at the helm of a team whose ship has already sailed in the current season. And one of the best opportunities for longer-term planning presents itself annually out on Cape Cod, where a solid majority of the nation’s best and brightest soon-to-be-draft-eligible collegiate players congregate for their first taste of wood bat baseball. I made my annual pilgrimage out to the land of mackerel bones and sand last week and caught home-and-home series of Brewster-Harwich and Chatham-Orleans. In the process I managed to squeeze in looks at a handful of players that should be high on your deep league follow lists heading into the spring college season and next year’s draft. Below are my scouting reports on some of the more intriguing fantasy prospects I was able to put eyes on, along with some notes about their future potential fantasy value.

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Trader’s Corner: The Value of Corey Kluber

We’re at the point where most leagues’ trade deadlines have passed or are close to passing. That means trader’s corner will likely glide to a gentle stop over the next two weeks. We did have several submissions this time around and next week I’ve got a big TDGR trade deadline extravaganza planned, so stay tuned.

One of the names I see coming up frequently is Corey Kluber. He’s had a dominant season and at 28 years old he’s being targeted in a lot of keeper and dynasty formats. In 2014, Kluber has a 2.46 ERA (2.69 xFIP) with 187 strikeouts and 36 walks in 171 innings pitched. Those are ace numbers and improvements across the board over his quality numbers from 2013. So the question is really whether dynasty and keeper league owners value Kluber in that “ace” tier now. Is he somebody you build a fantasy rotation around or is he a fantasy #2?

Personally, I’d be happy to have him as my fantasy ace going forward and I’d imagine this winter we’ll be talking about who next year’s ‘Kluber’ will be. His breakout has been a huge boost to Indians fans here in Cleveland, and I’m a little sore that I didn’t have more faith in him this preseason. Here are this week’s trades… Continue reading

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

#TDGX Trade Deadline Strategy: Standing Pat

The trade deadline is quite frankly the main reason I enjoy playing fantasy baseball. I love trading. Who doesn’t love trading? Bring me to them, I’ll make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse. The art of the deal – the process of finding common ground on an agreement that improves your team (cough while diminishing your opponent cough) – is the most challenging and riveting dynamic of the game. And when you add in the ticking clock of a looming deadline as an increasingly-prominent-by-the-minute variable it kicks things up another couple notches. The thrill of the hunt, and so forth.

I can’t recall ever standing pat at a trade deadline in any league I’ve played in ever. That is, until this trade deadline in TDGX, anyway. Yep. I sit in fourth place as of this writing, and the clock just ticked past the deadline with no frantic last ditch efforts by m to acquire X, Y, and Z pieces to make my run at glory down the stretch. So why’d I do it? Why’d I let this golden opportunity to chase the inaugural league flag slip through my twiddling fingers?

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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

Digging for Diamonds: Red Sox Pitching Prospects

Ah, the trade deadline. Usually one of the more disappointing days of the year in terms of media-investment-to-things-that-actually-happen ratio, this year’s deadline was bursting at its jolly seams with big, dramatic moves right up ‘til the clock struck 4:00 EST yesterday. And right at the center of the frenzy was my favorite team, the Boston Red Sox. The Sox traded off a staggering four-fifths of their Opening Day rotation before this year’s deadline, leaving open the question of just who will pitch in Fenway going forward. So let’s revisit some of the top names on Boston’s depth chart (and welcome a new name to the list) to check in on what value – if any – fantasy owners should be placing on the queue of potential future Sox rotation candidates. The player’s pre-season rank on our Top 500 list is in parenthesis.

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Trader’s Corner: Getting Started

I recently took over an abandoned team in a dynasty league and I thought it would be interesting to lift up the hood for readers as I move forward. We’re pretty transparent in TDGX, and I think that it’s helpful for dynasty players to see the thought processes behind decisions. The league is 30 teams deep with 25-man MLB rosters and 45-man MiLB rosters. Holds and SLG make it a 6×6 scoring system with OBP instead of average. There is a $100 million salary cap, a $5 million signing bonus stipend mid-season, and three tags that can be used for players with expiring contracts. There’s a restricted free agent tag that provides pick compensation, a franchise tag that assumes the real life contract of a player, and a flex tag that can be used as either. It’s a very active league as I’ve already made some trades and have been back and forth with several owners.

I love how deep it is and how the contracts impact the decisions I need to make going forward. Obviously the team wasn’t in great shape, but there are some nice pieces on the MLB roster and I was able to take over the team just before the mid-year MiLB free agent signing, allowing me to snag some prospects for what was a pretty thin farm. You’ll see what I mean after the jump…   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