Using Strand Rates to Snag Value (Yet Again)

Last week I wrote about a few pitchers that could see serious regression in 2017 due to their inflated strand rates. As a follow-up, I wanted to touch on some guys that could see substantial improvement in their numbers if their ability to leave runners on base bounces back to around even league average. Without further ado, the thrilling conclusion to “Using Strand Rates to Snag Value”: Using Strand Rates to Snag Value 2: The Awakening (Ok, that may be overselling just a touch). Continue reading

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Two Slumping Stars

A friend of mine, let’s call him Jake, came into this season hoping to compete for a fantasy title. He was buoyed by a fantastic offense led by Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Justin Upton, and Jason Heyward. Uh, I mean led by Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Like many fantasy owners, “Jake” has been let down once again by two of baseball’s most enigmatic players.

Perhaps the most disappointing player in fantasy baseball this year is Tigers outfielder Justin Upton. Once a fantasy stud counted on for 20-plus home runs and stolen bases with good power production, Upton has sunk to Mariana Trench depths. Take a look at his year-by-year trends.

 

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The One That Amost Got Away – Wil Myers Edition

The post-hype prospect is the “one that got away” of fantasy baseball. Your relationship with that player has been broken for a while, but when you are alone, you can’t resist watching his highlight videos on YouTube and obsessing over his subtle bat flips. You daydream about his 6-hit, 6-power combo starting to click and the .400 wOBA seasons ahead. There is no way that this guy can’t be the one. Look at what he did to minor league pitching. Look at the MLB debut. This was a monster, can’t-miss prospect. He had very few weaknesses.

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Chum the Shark: Fishing for Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija dashed the hopes and dreams of many fantasy owners last year. He entered the season highly ranked off his promising 2014 season with the Cubs in which he had a 2.99 ERA in 219.2 innings. Despite the losing 7-13 record many experts pegged the Shark as a hot sleeper last winter because of the super-low ERA and his dramatically improved walk rate (from 3.29 BB/9 down to 1.76 BB/9). He was also going from a bad Cubs team to a high-scoring White Sox team that was expected to compete for a division title. Many thought that Samardzija, who is one of the hardest throwing starting pitchers in baseball, had finally taken a long-awaited step forward as one of the top pitchers in baseball. But those prognostications got shot down in flames very quickly.

The Bad:
Samardzija’s ERA ballooned to a whopping 4.96 while his strikeouts dwindled to a career low 6.86 K/9. He actually won more games despite adding two full runs to his ERA. His luck factors (.303 BABIP, 67.2 LOB%, 10.8 HR/FB%) took a slight turn for the worse but not nearly enough to account for the horrific ERA. His velocity held steady near his career average at 94.5 mph. So what happened that caused his performance to tumble so badly? Continue reading

The Verdict on 4 Struggling Hitting Stars: Cano, Desmond, Kemp and CarGo

There are several superstar hitters whose performances this year pale in comparison to our expectations. These players were expected to be elite contributors but so far have been huge disappointments to their fantasy owners. They cost you big time to acquire but they are killing  your team in the stat columns. Should you sell high or buy low? It is time to find out if they are going to bounce back or fade away.

Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners — 37 Runs, 6 Home Runs, 30 RBI, 2 Stolen Bases and .254 AVG

Cano came into the season ranked #11 on our Top 500 Overall Dynasty League Rankings. Right now at the halfway point of the season he has earned the #308 spot on 5×5 rankings for the year. That is quite a fall, and unlike with guys like Carlos Gomez, Yasiel Puig, Freddie Freeman, Adrian Beltre or Jacoby Ellsbury we cannot blame it on injuries. Cano has simply not played very well. His strikeout rate has nearly doubled from last year while his walk rate has halved. We all expected to see Cano’s home run rate fall off when he moved to Seattle and we were right, but he still had an excellent season last year for the Mariners. His 136 wRC+ was even better than his 125 career average, although it was slightly down from his last few years in New York. This year his wRC+ has dropped 50 points to 86. That’s right, the great Robinson Cano has hit 14% worse than an average major league hitter this year. This is not the first time this has happened though. The only other time Cano has slumped lower than 100 on his wRC+ was 2008 when he sat at 86 just like this year. The following year he bounced back and went on to string together seven elite seasons for the Yankees. Continue reading

Stock Watch: Bounceback Prospect Candidates

One of the hardest things to do (at least for me) in a dynasty league is to be patient, especially with struggling prospects. When a shiny new breakout prospect comes along, it’s easier in many cases to cut bait with a prospect who’s having a ‘down’ year to make room for the new helium prospect. Many times this is the incorrect long term decision and can set your team back if you cut bait too quickly. It’s an extremely frustrating feeling to see somebody snatch up your discarded prospect and see them reap the rewards when the prospect regains the form that attracted you to them in the first place. Sometimes it ends up being a good value play if you can spin the new prospect into something beneficial and you’re able circle back and pick up the old prospect if he is still available, so it can be a delicate situation. Let’s take a look at a few prospects who once graced various top-100 lists that saw their collective shine fade away over the last season or two and see if their 2015 performances warrant reconsideration.

Phil Ervin – CF, Cincinnati Reds (Pre-2014 prospect ranking #63, Baseball Prospectus)

What went wrong in 2014: Ervin saw his OPS fall from .989 in his first taste of pro ball in 2013 to .680 in 2014, his first full season in the Midwest League. Ervin clubbed nine home runs and swiped 14 bags in his 200 plate appearances in his draft year of 2013, but was only able to see seven balls leave the yard in 561 Midwest League plate appearances to go with 30 steals over the course of the year.
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Who Is The Real Trevor Story?

Shortstop Trevor Story has been one of the most enigmatic prospects over the last few seasons and the start of his 2015 season has served as yet another reason to not give up on a talented prospect too quickly in a dynasty league because of a ‘down’ season or an extended period of struggling. You probably are already familiar with the trials and tribulations that have played out over the last few seasons for Story. After being selected 45th in the 2011 draft, he burst on the scene at Low-A Asheville in 2012, posting a .872 OPS powered by 18 home runs and 15 steals. Dynasty owners were already licking their collective chops picturing the next up-the-middle fantasy monster invading Coors Field soon. Then 2013 happened. Continue reading

What To Do With: Stagnant Hitting Prospects

Patience, as it relates to dynasty leagues is often times a curse rather than a blessing. If you’re stuck holding onto a failed prospect when you had an opportunity to get value in a trade, or missed an opportunity to add a better option for free because you just couldn’t let go of your beloved, (now) failed prospect, patience is often the cause of missing out on more valuable options. One of the most difficult aspects of evaluating a minor league roster at the end of the season is deciding which prospects to cut bait with and which prospects are capable of fulfilling the promise that caused you to acquire them in the first place. Non-elite prospects who reach the upper levels of the minors and struggle are often times the most difficult to evaluate, because it can be dangerous to overreact to one ‘bad’ minor league season. Do you hold on and hope the prospect makes the adjustments necessary? Do you try and sell high if you feel the prospect has reached his peak value, or just plain cut bait if you can’t find a trading partner?

Let’s take a look at 5 prospects who were among the Top 101 fantasy prospects according to Baseball Prospectus at the beginning of the year who did not take a step forward and now are in danger of being leapfrogged by other options this season:  Continue reading

Danny Salazar is Still Sleeping

If you gave up on Danny Salazar it might be time to reconsider. He had a brutally bad start to the season but down the stretch he was just as good as he was during his breakout 2013 campaign. This might be your last chance to buy him at a discount.

Danny Salazar came out of nowhere late in the 2013 season, brandishing his blazing fastball to deadly effect. In 10 starts over 52 innings he struck out 65 batters while walking only 15. His 3.12 ERA and 1.13 WHIP opened some eyes and suddenly the 23 year old rookie with the 97 mph heater was on the map as a popular sleeper pick heading into the 2014 season. Well… those predictions didn’t turn out too great. Salazar began this season by getting blown up at every opportunity. He put up a horrific 6.04 ERA and 1.66 WHIP in April and was well on his way to another terrible month in May when he got demoted to the minors after three more bad games. His mechanics were out of whack, his release point was too high and his velocity was down. It looked like his breakout 2013 was just a fluke. Continue reading

Don’t You Forget About Me: NL Prospect Edition

Last week, I took a look at four prospects in the AL who have regained some measure of relevancy in dynasty leagues. This week, I will use this same exact concept, but apply it to the National League. This is innovation at work.

Taylor Jungmann, RHP, Brewers

I loved Jungmann as a potential fast-moving, mid-rotation starter when the Brewers popped him in the 2011 draft. I thought he was a perfect fit for an organization that lacked much noteworthy pitching in the mid-minors, and I didn’t think he was a reach from a pure talent perspective in the first round either. Jungmann had rewarded that faith with pretty pedestrian seasons in High-A and Double-A in 2012 and 2013. Because of his proximity to the majors he might’ve still made some Top 250 lists before the season, but he wasn’t sniffing anyone’s Top 100. Continue reading