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Fantasy Links — 11/17/2009

Let’s take a trip around the web and see what some other sites are saying two-and-a-half weeks into the offseason…

Paul Singman of The Hardball Times believes 36-year-old first baseman Todd Helton is worth trusting in drafts for the 2010 season. As Singman points out, he has remained a consistent hitter well into his 30s and still delivers the kind of power rates that will lead to useful home run and RBI totals. Helton also holds a .328 career batting average and has shown no discernible signs of slowing down. As long as he can avoid the back problems that hampered him in 2008, the former Tennessee quarterback is primed for another stellar season.

Advanced Fantasy Baseball gives us an early preview of the 2010 Red Sox, and lists some Boston players that might hold strong fantasy implications. Clay Buchholz could be a hidden gem on a strong staff if he can make a few slight improvements. His K/9 was just 6.65 in 2009, a career-low on any level. It was 8.53 in the majors in 2008 and 12.80 at Triple-A Pawtucket in 2007. Buchholz has the potential to develop into a strikeout machine and he may reach full development sooner than later. The post also has a look at Jeremy Hermida‘s disappointing strikeout rates as a Marlin and how he might improve now that he’s with the Red Sox.

Fantasy Baseball Junkie thinks speedy outfielders will continue to go undervalued in drafts next season. Players like Michael Bourn, Nyjer Morgan, and especially Bobby Abreu, can often be had at a discount despite quality numbers all over the fantasy map. As FBJ notes, “There are only two players that have been top 50 fantasy hitters for the past eleven seasons. One of them is Alex Rodriguez; the other is Bobby Abreu.” He was ranked only the 20th best fantasy outfielder for 2010 by CBS and the 54th best hitter by ESPN. Of course, things could change by the time leagues begin drafting.

The fellas over at Razzball give a 2010 fantasy outlook for the Diamondbacks’ Brandon Allen. He should get an opportunity during Spring Training to win Arizona’s starting first base job and has shown enough power in the minor leagues to warrant selection late in drafts next season. That said, he needs to work on his strikeout rate, which stood at an ugly 38.5% in 116 plate appearances last season. The D’Backs already have enough whiffers.

One of the writers over at SB Nation’s Fake Teams had the sixth overall pick in a recent mock draft and selected the Brewers’ Ryan Braun. Here’s his justification: “I chose Braun as I feel there is some position scarcity in the outfield in 2010, and Braun provides you 5 categories in 5×5 leagues, and has increased his RBI totals in each of the last 2 seasons, and hit the 20 marks in SBs in 2009.”

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Fantasy Links — 11/10/2009

We’re only about a week into the offseason and spots all over the web are already preparing for the 2010 fantasy baseball season. We’ll have excellent content all winter long here on RotoGraphs, but let’s check out what some other folks are up to as well…

Fantasy Alpha has a 2010 mock draft with some pretty interesting picks, including Troy Tulowitzki in the second round and Ben Zobrist in the fourth. RotoGraphs’ own Eno Sarris broke down Tulo’s fantastic 2009 campaign a few weeks ago. With a .344/.421/.622 second-half batting line, the shortstop might be poised for another fine season, but taking him in the top 20 does seem risky.

Paul Singman of The Hardball Times takes an even deeper look into Tulowitzki’s 2009 season. “The last time he was coming off a good season he did disappoint in the next one,” writes Singman. “However, no logical reasoning points to why that would happen again.”

The fellas over at Razzball aren’t expecting big things from Stephen Strasburg in his rookie season: “Best case scenario is a 3.50 ERA and 120 Ks in 100 innings after a June call-up. Terrific, ownable, not draftable for where he’ll be taken.” Strasburg may go a bit over-valued in drafts this spring because of the hype.

Razball also has a look at Alcides Escobar‘s draft value now that J.J. Hardy is out of the picture in Milwaukee. Escobar swiped 42 bases in 109 games at the Triple-A level in 2009. He probably won’t hit for a great average in his first full season, but it sounds like the Brewers are committed to giving him a great deal of playing time. He’s a sleeper in the stolen bases category, without a doubt.

Charlie Saponara of FantasyBaseball365 is concerned about the drop in Brian Fuentes‘ rate stats from 2008 to 2009. “In 2008 Fuentes posted a career best 3.78 K/BB rate including 11.8 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched,” writes Saponara. “His K/BB rate dropped to 1.92 this past season with a decline in K/9 to 7.5.” But does that mean he should be overlooked in drafts for the 2010 season? Definitely not. “As long as he’s the Angels closer,” Saponara concludes, “his save total will be inflated.”

Have a link you think others should see? Send me an e-mail or hit me up on Twitter.


Melvin Mora, Movin’ On

The Orioles hold an $8 million club option on Melvin Mora for 2010, but are in no way expected to exercise it.

The third baseman turns 38 in February and hit just .260/.321/.358 this season in 450 plate appearances. He’s a shadow of the player who compiled a .340 batting average back in 2004, on top of 27 home runs, 104 RBI, and 111 runs scored. That season, his best by far, Mora posted a wOBA of .420, which ranked 10th in the league at the time and would have put him among the top three hitters in the majors this season.

Mora’s walk rate has fallen from 11.7% in 2004, to 9.1% in 2007, to 7.0% in 2009. He’s not hitting the ball with much force these days and he’s never really been considered a disciplined hitter. His Isolated Power hit a career low in 2009 at .098. It was .143 in 2007 and a career-high .222 in 2004. He’s also hitting more groundballs than he ever has with a 42.9% GB rate this year compared to where it sat — 36.1% — in 2005. That’s not a positive for an aging veteran that lacks speed.

So, what can we make of it all? And what can teams who might bid on his services this winter expect from the aging infielder in 2010?

It’s normal to see drops in production with age, especially when players near 40. And Mora, for all his faults, was among the unluckiest hitters in baseball last season with a .285 Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP). He’s also remained rather healthy over the course of his career and plays a fine third base. There’s no doubt he’s capable of serving as a quality utility infielder in another locale, but he may finally be off the fantasy map.

Mora will likely have to settle for a one-year contract in the $1.5 million to $3 million range, and he probably won’t find that in Baltimore, where they’re building for the future and attempting to trim some of their proverbial “fat.”

Mora played 1,256 games for the Orioles, which ranks 10th in the history of the franchise. His 252 doubles in an O’s uniform rank 7th in franchise history, his 662 RBI rank 8th and his 158 home runs rank 9th. “He’s been here for a long time. He’s been consistent,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said earlier this month. “He’s been the anchor at third base here for nine years. That should say it all. … He will go down as one of the top Oriole third basemen of all time and he has the numbers to back it up.”

“Is it going to hurt a lot? Of course,” Mora said in October, with the realization that he’s probably going to have to leave Camden Yards behind this winter. “I’m always going to a part of the Orioles. There’s no doubt about it.”


Fantasy Links — 9/24/2009

The Yankees clinched a playoff berth the other night and the Cardinals’ magic number sits at 1. It’s going to be an exciting October yet again, with some really intriguing match-ups forming in both leagues.

Major pro sports leagues no longer really have offseasons, especially when it comes to coverage. We’ll be here all winter, up to our usual tricks. And if you haven’t already, check out FanGraphs’ beautiful new iPhone app. I’ve been playing around with it all morning and am simply in love. Let’s check out some other sites who are doing great work…

The fellas over at FakeTeams are beginning to look ahead to next season, starting with a breakdown of the Top 10 fantasy pitchers for 2010. The usual suspects top the list: Zack Greinke, Felix Hernandez, Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia.

Still plugging away in your fantasy league this season and looking for a few spot starters? R.J. White of Fanhouse suggests looking at Bronson Arroyo, who has pieced together 11 straight quality starts, Brett Anderson, who is coming off a 10-strikeout game and Vicente Padilla, who has struggled recently but is facing Washington.

Matt Snyder, also writing for Fanhouse, provides an early preview of the 2010 group of closers. A lot can change in the offseason with free agency and trades, but it’s a nice look into the future.

Rotoworld’s Aaron Gleeman reviews Tim Hudson‘s impressive return to action. The veteran right-hander is 2-1 with a 3.56 ERA in five starts since returning from Tommy John surgery and was impressive in damage control Wednesday against the Mets. As Gleeman notes, “His average fastball has clocked in at 90.1 miles per hour after living between 90.3 and 90.9 in the four seasons prior to going under the knife, his breaking-ball velocity is also similar to pre-surgery levels, and perhaps most importantly he’s maintained the extreme ground-ball tendencies that have long keyed his success.”

The Hardball Times’ Derek Carty asks an interesting question, and THT’s Eriq Gardner provides an answer: “What do you think has a greater impact on one’s ability to win a fantasy baseball league: player evaluation or strategy?” It’s something to think about as the 2009 season comes to a close.

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Fantasy Links — 9/21/2009

We’re hitting the final stretch of the 2009 season and most fantasy baseball leagues are entering, or have entered, playoff mode. There are 10 games on tap for this evening. Let’s dive into some links before the action begins…

Fantasy Baseball Junkie has a look at the most balanced statistical producers in this year’s fantasy baseball class — hitters and pitchers who covered a range of categories and still posted high all-around numbers. Torii Hunter, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Hunter Pence, and Albert Pujols top the list of batters, while Josh Johnson, Matt Cain, Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, and Johan Santana covered a wide range of statistics as fantasy pitchers.

Jeremy Kempter of SB Nation’s FakeTeams profiles the Rays’ Jeremy Hellickson for keeper league purposes. The 22-year-old right-hander posted a 9-2 record, 2.45 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, .178 BAA, and collected 132 strikeouts in 114 innings this season at Triple-A Durham. “And this isn’t a one-year fluke,” writes Kempter. “In five minor league seasons, he’s got a 37-13 mark, 2.71 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 507 K’s and 100 BB’s in 461 innings.”

Derek Ambrosino of The Hardball Times reviews Yahoo’s 2009 preseason Top 100. His conclusion? “The pre-ranks are not particularly accurate. Overall, only 51 of its projected top 100 actually finished in the top 100. ” It’s often better to go with your gut, trust your research, and work the waiver wire with ferocity than it is to trust the rankings of these huge fantasy services.

Baseball Prospectus’ Geoff Young analyzes Raul Ibanez‘s career first- and second-half offensive splits, and then compares them to this season. “He played over his head for 50 games and then regressed to the [old] Ibanez,” Young concludes. “It happens. Just because he was one of the best hitters in baseball for a third of the season doesn’t mean he’s one of the best hitters in baseball, period.

The fellas over at Razball have a few Monday observations, including praise for Padres starter Kevin Correia, who threw seven shutout innings on Sunday afternoon. The 29-year-old right-hander isn’t big on strikeouts, but has a 4.08 ERA and a win-loss record above .500 on a bad San Diego team.

Have a link, question or comment you’re dying to get off your chest? Send it over to me in an e-mail or find me on Twitter.


Fantasy Links — 9/9/2009

Eight teams are participating in daytime baseball this afternoon and the rest of the clubs will get underway later tonight. With a whole lot of action in store for 9/9/09, let’s hit some links…

Eric Mack of CBS Sports provides a handful of starters who are destined for success down the stretch. “If you still are playing Fantasy Baseball,” Mack writes, “you are either fighting out the last few weeks for wins, ERA, strikeouts, WHIP and saves or you are desperately trying to line up a winning staff in your Head-to-Head playoffs.” Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Barry Zito headline his list.

Florida’s Chris Coghlan tops Knox Bardeen’s latest edition of “Fantasy Fill-Ins” over at AOL Fanhouse. The rookie outfielder is batting .424/.457/.485 in the month of September and .307/.380/.444 overall. Bardeen also likes Luis Castillo, Placido Polanco and Adam LaRoche for the regular season’s final few weeks.

Derek Ambrosino of The Hardball Times discusses some of the more disappointing top 2009 fantasy picks, and looks ahead to their value for 2010. Corey Hart, Cole Hamels and Alexei Ramirez top the list. Can we expect them to rebound next season, and are these guys worth hanging onto in keeper leagues?

Mike Silver, also writing for The Hardball Times, calls the Giants’ Jonathan Sanchezthe pitching equivalent of the three-true-outcomes hitter” because he “matches eyepopping strikeout rates with equally huge walk rates.” What does that mean for his long-term fantasy value? Well, if he can tone down the walks while maintaining an effective wildness, things are looking up. As Silver notes, “the hurler has amassed a career 75.3 percent contact rate over 388.1 innings through parts of four seasons.” That’s one of the best ongoing rates in all of baseball.

Tim Dierkes of RotoAuthority hosts this week’s “fantasy roundtable,” asking four other fantasy baseball experts this question: “Have you ever quit on a fantasy team of yours? If so, what were the circumstances? If not, how were you able to maintain your motivation even after you had no chance?

Have a link, comment or question you’d like to send my way? I’m always looking for new content and fantasy strategies. Shoot me an e-mail or find me on Twitter.


Fantasy Links — 9/3/2009

Three day games have already gotten underway and there are seven more contests on deck. Let’s get to some fantasy links as the season marches on…

Dustin Hockensmith of Imaginary Diamond lists 10 young players who could prove to be fantasy sleepers in 2010. As Hockensmith notes, “Some of these guys — Andrew McCutchen, Tommy Hanson, Neftali Feliz and Rick Porcello — are making an impact right now.”

The boys over at Fake Teams work through a discussion-inducing question: “Who would you rather have, Justin Upton or Matt Kemp?” Both have shot up in fantasy value this season and will be taken among the top tier of outfielders in drafts next season.

Not ready to begin thinking about 2010? Fantasy Baseball Junkie has you covered with a look at “vulture win opportunities” for the month of September. The blog post suggests adding guys like Jamie Moyer and Alfredo Aceves, who leach off starters like Pedro Martinez and Joba Chamberlain, respectively, for wins. The strategy may come off as odd, but it does make some sense.

With Chad Qualls, Mariano Rivera and Huston Street hitting the bench recently with injuries, there are an awful lot of saves up for grabs. Knox Bardeen of AOL Fanhouse runs us around some of those situations.

Troy Patterson of Roto Savants previews Buster Posey‘s September fantasy value. For those who didn’t catch the news, the elite prospect was called up to the majors on Wednesday to aid the Giants in their push toward the playoffs. Bengie Molina is hurting and reportedly disgruntled, so there may be some playing time available.

Rotoworld’s Matt Stroup spins us around the league with a group of recommended waiver adds. Brian Joura handles that duty wonderfully for RotoGraphs, but it’s always nice to have multiple perspectives.

Have a link, comment, question or fantasy blog you think I should be reading? Send me an e-mail and tell me about it. Or find me on Twitter.


Fantasy Links — 8/31/2009

There are two baseball games already underway and another 10 on tap for tonight. Let’s hit some fantasy links as the season rolls on…

Getting amped for September call-up season? So are we, and so are others. Charlie Saponara of FantasyBaseball365.com thinks Cameron Maybin‘s defense could earn him some playing time in Florida’s crowded outfield down the stretch. Maybin has been a disappointment on the major league level thus far, but, as Saponara notes, there’s reason to think he could steal a few bases in September.

Knox Bardeen of AOL Fanhouse thinks the Diamondbacks may roll with a closer-by-committee in the wake of Chad Qualls‘ knee injury, with Juan Gutierrez getting most of the chances and a combination of Clay Zavada and Esmerling Vasquez filling in the gaps. “You may want to avoid the Diamondbacks closer situation all together,” Bardeen writes, “and grab either Mike MacDougal or Leo Nunez from the waiver wire.Andy Behrens of Yahoo! Sports calls Gutierrez “the add,” noting that he averages a closer-like 94.9 MPH average velocity on his fastball.

Bardeen also takes a quick look at the fantastic (and vastly underrated) season that Angels first baseman Kendry Morales is piecing together. The Halos deserve a pat on the back for pulling out of the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes last winter and going with the 26-year-old Morales. A .283/.331/.509 career hitter, he is batting .311/.355/.593 this season.

Rotoworld’s Aaron Gleeman believes Zack Greinke is headed for his first Cy Young Award. As Gleeman notes, “He leads the AL with a 2.32 ERA, six complete games, three shutouts, and a 1.08 WHIP while ranking behind only Justin Verlander with 202 strikeouts and second to only CC Sabathia with 190.1 innings.” Even with his lack of win potential, Greinke remains a top fantasy arm down the stretch.

Grey over at Razzball ranks MLB’s closers in tier format. His top dogs for the home stretch? The Twins’ Joe Nathan, the Yankees’ Mariano Rivera, Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon, the Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez and the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton. The Cardinals’ Ryan Franklin heads his second group of ninth-inning stoppers.

Have a link, question or comment you’d like to share? Shoot me an e-mail or find me on Twitter.


Fantasy Links — 8/27/2009

There are a couple of day games set to get underway around the baseball world. Let’s dive into some fantasy links before the action starts.

Matt Stroup of Rotoworld likes the Rangers’ Chris Davis, the Cardinals’ John Smoltz and, surprisingly, the Rays’ Pat Burrell in this week’s version of “Waiver Wired.” Burrell, as Stroup notes, is 14-for-35 (.400) since receiving two days off in mid-August with a sore neck. He has mashed two homers and seven RBI in that span, and is available in most fantasy leagues.

Charlie Saponara of Fantasy Baseball 365 takes note of the possible fill-ins if closers Chad Qualls and Trevor Hoffman are moved before the August 31 waiver trade deadline. “Though there is a better chance that nothing happens than a trade actually being made (both GM’s would expect a decent return), we should be prepared to add replacement closers should something go down,” writes Saponara.

Eric Cunningham of RotoTimes.com is still monitoring platoon situations throughout the league, including the Rangers’ catching depth and the Cardinals’ interchangeable outfield.

R.J. White of AOL Fanhouse thinks Cole Hamels may be righting the ship, using the left-hander’s impressive outing against the Pirates Wednesday night as evidence. “Hamels actually has been better than his ERA and WHIP indicate, as he now has 126 Ks versus just 33 BBs this season,” writes White. “I’ll take that K/BB ratio from my pitcher any day, as nine times out of ten, the ERA and WHIP will be sparkling.

Alex Geshwind of Fantasy Bullpen is ready to discuss the 2010 fantasy baseball season (must be a Cubs fan), and begins with a look at the catching position. Here’s an interesting question he poses: “Is Joe Mauer a first-rounder?”

Scott Pianowski of Yahoo! Sports reviews the status of closers around the league, including the frustrating developments in Philadelphia. In case you’ve lost track, Brad Lidge now has nine blown saves and Ryan Madson, his likely backup, has blown five. “Madson is in the middle of a strong campaign (3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) so there’s no need to pile on with him,” writes Pianowski, “but you have to wonder if the Phillies will try to get creative as they angle for the playoffs.”

Have an article or column you think others would like to see? Shoot me an e-mail or find me on Twitter.


Fantasy Links – 8/24/2009

Divisional races are heating up, both in the fantasy world and MLB standings. It’s time to bear down and make that final push toward the playoffs. With that in mind, let’s check out some fantasy links…

Brandon Funston of Yahoo! Sports puts a fantasy spin on John Smoltz‘s impressive return to the National League. “St. Louis pitching coach Dave Duncan has been known to work magic with reclamation projects and I think Smoltz still has plenty to offer,” Funston writes. “His upcoming schedule sets up nicely, with Washington and Pittsburgh next on his starting agenda.”

Brian L. Schubert of Fantasy Baseball Cafe joins the ogling of Rangers reliever Neftali Feliz. Setup men don’t often carry much fantasy value, but a 21-year-old who posts a 0.63 ERA, 0.35 WHIP and 19/1 K/BB ratio in his first 14-plus major league innings clearly deserves attention from all realms of the sport.

Rotoworld’s Matthew Pouliot checks out some potential September call-ups both in the American League and Nationals League. Keep an eye out for Milwaukee’s Mat Gamel, Atlanta’s Jason Heyward and San Diego’s Aaron Poreda. It’s sometimes surprising how much of an impact these guys can have.

In desperate need of steals? Aren’t we all? Charlie Saponara of FantasyBaseball365.com runs down some potential September call-ups who boast fantasy-worthy wheels. The Rockies’ Eric Young Jr., Oakland’s Eric Patterson and Cleveland’s Michael Brantley top the list.

Ray Flowers of BaseballGuys.com takes a deeper look at “The Resurgence of Barry Zito.” As Flowers notes, over the last 30 days, Zito “has a 2.51 ERA, the 10th best mark in baseball and better than guys like Jon Lester (2.70), Johan Santana (3.19) and CC Sabathia (3.35).” FanGraphs’ own Erik Manning delivered a post on Zito late last week.

R.J. White of AOL Fanhouse takes note of Ryan Zimmerman‘s recent hot streak. The Washington third baseman has posted a .359 average, .512 on-base percentage and .781 slugging percentage in the month August, with seven homers, 15 RBI and 15 runs scored. White suggests Zimmerman could be a top-25 player heading into next season.

Have a fantasy-relevant link you think others should see? Or simply have a question or comment? Shoot me an e-mail or hit me up on Twitter.