Author Archive

First Five Disappointments: The Early Busts

It’s late August. Real life baseball enters into pennant races and playoff chases. Fantasy baseball is filled with stark reality. I’ll challenge in one league, I’ll flirt with prize money in a couple others. I got killed in a few. I’m sure that sounds familiar. But around this point in the season, I start to look back and marvel at the picks which were clearly steals and the picks that almost singularly destroyed title dreams.

Nobody expects every pick to work out. Injuries are practically unavoidable, and certainly we’ve seen the name Tommy John tossed around aplenty this season. But what confounds me are the players who aren’t obviously hurt — at least inasmuch as their team putting them on the disabled list. And perhaps this is more of a venting of sorts, a cathartic calling-out of players who didn’t miss much time this season and just failed to live up to any reasonable expectation. And for our purposes today, I’m just going to focus on offensive players who were slotted to go in the first five rounds of a standard 12 team snake draft.

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Free Help: Drew Smyly and Bud Norris

Drew Smyly and Bud Norris aren’t unknowns. But you may not realize that both have been among the elite performing starting pitchers over their last month or so. And yet Smyly is owned in about a third of Yahoo leagues while Norris sits at 14%. In ESPN, ownership rates appear to be about 50% for Smyly and 5% for Norris. So there’s a good chance that one or both of them are available at little to no cost. Should you find yourself behind in innings or you’re trying to eek out a spot-start win, keep these guys in mind.

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Holding Their Own: Familia, Morris, Maurer

I find mining for holds to be a pretty thankless endeavor. While one might gripe about wins and saves being particularly fickle (and of course, potentially meaningless), every time I feel like I have a grasp on my holds for the season, the ebb and flow of late inning talent wipes it all away. With that in mind, there are a few guys I’d like to draw your attention to relative to holds.

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Josh Harrison Eats His Wheaties

He’s 27 and been a role player for the Chicago Cubs minor league system and more recently the Pittsburgh Pirates over the course of a seven year career. Drafted in the sixth round, Josh Harrison was kind of classic organizational depth — a stocky yet speedy guy who could spot start in a pinch in the infield or the outfield should the need arise. And even when the need did arise over the last several seasons, the results have certainly not been worthy of attention in fantasy baseball.

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Closer Carousel Creates Holds Opportunity

It’s probably safe to say that the Tampa Rays and Anaheim Angels didn’t draw up their bullpen plans like this in March. Both teams have had numerous players close games — or rather, attempt to close games — since the beginning of the season. They’ve both had the dubious “closer by committee” approach. They’ve both tried reclamation projects and they’ve both tried some kids. But what falls out of focus is how this shifting impacts the arms trotted out there in the 7th and 8th innings for those of you in leagues which value the hold. And over the last month, there have been two very valuable late inning arms whom you may want to employ.

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To Buy or Sell: McGehee and Donaldson

The not terribly accurate “second half” starts today. If you’re anything like me, the All-Star game doesn’t do a helluva lot to satisfy the need to fill up those multiple box scores and follow the ridiculous number of rosters I have in fantasy baseball. So thank goodness the break is over and we can move on to more important things other than whether a pitcher not-so-gracefully curtseyed to a living legend. Who cares, we have titles to win here.

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Line Drive Oddities: David Freese and Josh Donaldson

Head over to the leaderboards, sort by third basemen over the last 30 days and filter by line drive rate and a really unexpected thing happens. There are 29 qualified third basemen on that list. Dead last is the leading All-Star vote getter at the hot corner in Josh Donaldson, who has a 6% line drive rate over the last month. Six percent. If that didn’t surprise enough, at the top of this list is none other than maybe-back-from-purgatory David Freese, who has hit almost 35% line drives over the last month. Go figure.

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Buy and Sell: Starting Pitchers

Earlier this week, I suggested some names to buy and sell at third base and today I’ll turn my attention to the bump. There are actually a lot of pitchers who occupy my “sell” list, but a couple names jump out as prime candidates that you might want to jettison before they turn into pumpkins.

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Buying and Selling at Third Base

I can’t say definitively that third base has been more volatile than any other position this season, but it certainly feels like third base has generated more of a roller coaster ride than normal. We’ve seen All-Stars reduced to fringe fantasy players and we’ve seen no-names and retreads act like budding stars. To the objective fantasy baseball observer, this should provide you with opportunity. And sometimes, that requires you to kill your darlings.

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Moustakas Clawing Way Out of Irrelevancy

This season was going to be different. Not only was Mike Moustakas entering the 2014 season as a best-shaper, but if you read through that link, he put in an inordinate amount of time to fix a swing which at one point in his career was thought to be a sure thing. Spring training arrived and all Moustakas did was hit .429/.522/.768 with four home runs, seven doubles, and 18 RBI through 24 games. He even stole a base. No, this season would be different.

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