Author Archive

Marco Scutaro: Season Review & 2013 Outlook

If you’ve been watching the playoffs (if you’re not, what the hell?) you’ve probably been hearing alot about Marco Scutaro. He didn’t do much of anything in the NLDS against the Reds but has been seemingly impossible to retire in the championship series, hitting .481 as I write this.

Of course, we all know he isn’t quite the Barry Bonds level hitter he’s shown against the Cardinals, but he’s been a steady fantasy contributor for quite some time and that didn’t change in 2012.

His final totals — .306 AVG/7 HR/87 R/74 RBI/9 SB — were good enough for 10th in our end of season second base rankings. Solid all around, but digging deeper into the numbers shows of just how strange Scutaro’s season was. He began his season playing shortstop with the Rockies and you expect any player to get a boost from the thin mountain air of Coors Field. Scutaro, 36, did just that, posting an .812 OPS in 54 home games. It was hitting on the road he had to worry about.

In 95 total games in a Rockies uniform he managed to hit just .271/.324/.361(!). In late July he was traded to San Francisco, and his season took off. Playing 33 games in AT&T Park, one of the best pitchers’ parks in the game, and switching to second base, Scutaro hit .352/.399/.488 and managed a. 859 overall OPS with the Giants. He hit better in San Francisco than Colorado. Let that sink in for a second.

Of his 74 runs batted in an amazing 24 came in September/October, tied for the seventh most in baseball. It helped that the Giants offense turned it on in the last month and scored the third most runs in National League over that time.

Scutaro’s biggest strength is his ability to put balls into play. He lead the league in O-Contact% (89%), Z-Contact% (98%) and overall Contact% (95.3%). On a related note, he also had the lowest swinging strike percentage (1.8%). When you don’t have a lot of power being able to put the ball in play is an important skill and Scutaro is king.

It was a fine season, but what does it mean for 2013? Well, probably not much. For one, we don’t know where he’s going to be playing. He’s a free agent at season’s end and while it’s very possible the Giants bring him back, some other team is likely to throw money at a second basemen who hit .306. He’s also not going to hit as well as he did the final month of the season. The .400 BABIP and .402 average are going to be tough to maintain. It happened and we can’t take it away from him but I’m afraid some people’s opinions may be skewed by it. Without that amazing month he ends up lower than 10th in our rankings.

He’s a starter in most mixed leagues thanks to his eligibility at shortstop, but he’s going to be 37 come October 30th and got a little lucky last season. I’d rather take my chances with Jose Altuve, Neil Walker or gamble on a bounce back from Rickie Weeks.

Fernando Rodney: AL Reliever of the Year

For as great of a season as Fernando Rodney had it doesn’t seem like enough was written about him. Add that to the list of sentences I never thought I’d write. Before the season the Rays signing of Rodney for $2 million seemed strange. His ERA and FIP were above 4.00 the previous four years and he was coming off of a season in which he walked more batters than he struck out. Cash strapped Rays + wildly ineffective reliever = head scratching move.

The Rays have a good track record of turning out quality relievers, resurrecting the careers of Joaquin Benoit, Grant Balfour and J.P. Howell. Rodney is now the crowning jewel of that group and the best reliever in the American League in 2012.

Read the rest of this entry »

Streaming AL Outfielders, Again

Following the lead of my colleagues this week I’ll continue with players available to stream as  your head-to-head leagues come to a close.

David Murphy

As opposed to our own David Wiers, I’m not afraid of streaming Murphy, especially when his ownership is down to just 30% in Yahoo! leagues. Murphy has somehow been able to shed the platoon tag that’s been placed on him his whole career. Coming into the season his OPS against southpaws was .676…it’s .856 right now with a .351 batting average. That success has enabled him to turn into a fulltime player. His performance has dipped a bit in September as compared to August (.944 OPS) but he may be helped by the Rangers playing their next five games at home where he, like every other player in baseball, does very well. The A’s have a very good pitching staff and Murphy has been held hitless the past two games, but you’re not likely to find a better option owned in fewer than 50% of leagues.

Read the rest of this entry »

Shortstop Injuries: Tulowitzki, Rodriguez, Furcal

As your leagues start to wind down and the playoffs approach it’s important to be up to date on all the latest injury news affecting your players. Any little edge could pay dividends. Today we’re focusing on shortstops.

Troy Tulowitzki:

Remember this guy? No? I’ll give you a second…got it now? I know, it’s tough. He hasn’t played a game since late May. I get it. To jog your memory, he’s one of the better players in baseball, and best shortstop, when healthy. From 2009-2011 he averaged a line of .304/.376/.554 with 29 home runs, 97 runs batted in, 90 runs scored and 13 stolen bases. Sadly, this has been a lost season for Tulo. As our own David Wiers wrote in yesterday’s Roto Riteup, the Rockies are hesitant to play him. He’s still bothered by the groin injury and the Rockies are far out of the playoff hunt. There’s really no reason to play him at all if you’re not 100% certain he’s ok. Josh Rutledge has filled in nicely at short, slugging .526 in 218 plate appearances. There’s no reason to keep Tulowitzki on your roster in non-keeper leagues.

Read the rest of this entry »

Shortstop Updates: Martin Prado and Tyler Greene

Martin Prado has been one of the most versatile and underrated players in baseball over the past few seasons. He’s kind of like the National League version of Ben Zobrist, except with a better batting average. He’s played all over the field, helping the Braves when they’ve needed to fill a hole. Take a look at his games played break down:

1B: 4G, 4GS
2B: 9G, 7GS
3B: 23G, 18GS
SS: 9G, 7GS
OF: 107G, 100GS

He’s eligible at four positions and with one more start at first will have the five pack. While that’s all fine and dandy, I’m most interested in his shortstop eligibility. Before this season he hadn’t played there since 2008, and that was only for 15 innings. He’s been thrust into action with Andrleton Simmons out since July with a hand injury, sharing duties with Paul Janish. With Simmons due back Prado will go back to his normal spot in left field, but that added eligibility will have an impact on his fantasy value for next season.

The crop of elite shortstops is usually thin, and might get thinner if Derek Jeter ever slows down. Adding Prado to the mix beefs things up considerably. According to Yahoo! he’d currently be the sixth ranked shortstop and fifth ranked second basemen. Entering the season Prado was only left field and third base eligible. Picking up two, and possibly three, positions is a huge jump. His bat wouldn’t play as well at first base but his stock rises considerably if placed at one of the up the middle infield positions. One of the more versatile real life players has finally brought that over to the fantasy realm.

When Jed Lowrie went down with a leg injury in July Houston’s shortstop duties were taken over by Marwin Gonzalez. That experiment failed as he’s hit .234/.280/.328 this season and tore a ligament in his left ankle in a freak injury two weeks ago. Before the injury he had been spending more time at third base anyway thanks to the Astros trading for Tyler Greene on August 9th. Since the trade Greene has started nearly every game at short. His average and on base percentage (.229/.274) are actually worse than those of Gonzalez, but he’s slugging an even .400 on the season, and .458 in his time with the Astros.

In other words, he’s not making much contact (the 29.5% K rate shows that) but he’s doing damage when he does. Over the past 30 days he has six home runs and five doubles in 29 games. In 33 games spanning June and July he totaled exactly one extra base hit. He’s always shown decent power in the minor leagues (~15 HR) but that hadn’t come to light at the major league level until this season. His career Isolated Slugging coming into the season was under .100 in 359 plate appearances.

He’s owned in less than five percent of leagues. If you’re looking for a cheap source of power from an unlikely source and position in the stretch run, especially in very deep mixed or NL only leagues, Greene may be your man.

September Call-Ups: American League Bats

The list of September call-ups in the American League this year is rather disappointing once you get past Jurickson Profar’s name on the list. There’s no Jesus Montero or Matt Moore to go along with Profar this season. Since no impact arms, like a Shelby Miller, are being called up in the AL we’ll stick to looking at some notable hitters for these final ~25 games.

Jurickson Profar

As one of the top prospects in baseball anyone who plays fantasy should be well aware of his existence. The 19-year-old shortstop more than held his own at Double-A, posting a .367 wOBA, 129 wRC+ and hitting 14 home runs in 126 games. As good as Profar is, the Rangers have a, young, star shortstop in Elvis Andrus which limits his playing time dramatically. The Rangers would probably be best served by benching Michael Young and using Ian Kinsler at DH and playing Profar at second, but Ron Washington is too stubborn/loyal/stupid to do that. Young has been one of the worst every day players in baseball this season and Profar would provide better defense than Kinsler at second. In his only action this season Profar went 2-4 with a home run and double. He’s sat the last three games while Young and his .653 OPS have started them all.

In a perfect would Profar would be getting regular to semi-regular playing time, making him a startable player in deep mixed or AL only leagues. Sadly, Washington seems set on keeping Profar on the bench, almost making him un-ownable. In keeper leagues he should already be gone, but if he’s somehow still available grab him as soon as you can. He has the potential to hit for a decent average and provide a little bit of pop and speed if given the opportunity this season, but I wouldn’t count on it due to playing time issues.

Read the rest of this entry »

Todd Frazier and Will Venable Deserve Your Love

Today we’re looking at two players, one more prominent than the other, owned in less than 70 percentage of leagues that could add big value to your roster down the stretch.

Todd Frazier

Excuse me but I’m going to be blunt for a second; How in the hell is Todd Frazier owned in just 68 percent of Yahoo! leagues? What is wrong with people? I’m not talking to you, the Rotograph reader, you’re too smart to let him sit on the free agent pile. I’m talking to your average fantasy player. Is it his dull name? I kind of get it, people named Todd usually aren’t too exciting. But this Todd is killing it, in the good way, unlike the Todd from Breaking Bad.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ben Zobrist: Shortstop Once Again

Going on four seasons now, Ben Zobrist has been Mr. Everything to the Rays. He’s played every position besides pitcher and catcher in his tenure in Tampa Bay. This season his responsibilities have remained pretty constant, rarely straying away from second base or right field. Lately, though, that has changed as Joe Maddon has begun starting him at shortstop, his original position.

Last night marked the fourth time in five games Zobrist has started at short. That means he needs just one more start, or six more appearances, to gain that position eligibility. Reading quotes from Maddon makes it look like this may last the rest of the season.

Read the rest of this entry »

Omar Infante Returns to Detroit

It wasn’t the most publicized trade made yesterday but it will likely have the most impact on the playoff race and possibly your lineup. The Tigers, trying to win now, shipped top prospect Jacob Turner to Miami in exchange for Omar Infante and Anibal Sanchez.

For the purposes of this post we’re going to focus on the second base positions of both teams. Infante rejoins the Tigers after having spent the first five years of his career there. He’s currently ranked 12th among second basemen – not great but a solid contributer. With eight home runs and a .155 ISO the 31-year-old has been showing the most power he has since his 16 home run 2004 season. Contributing to that ISO are his doubles; he’s already at 23 while his career high is 28.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jed Lowrie: Injured Again

You knew it was going to happen.

You didn’t know when or how, but you knew. It was only a matter of time but Jed Lowrie found himself on the disabled list again over the weekend. The injury occurred when Gregor Blanco slid hard into his leg trying to break up a double play. He suffered a sprained ankle and may have damaged a nerve in his leg. Tough break for the Astros but not something unexpected to fantasy owners.

Read the rest of this entry »