First a look at the running totals through half of week 18:
Here’s a look at this week’s recs, with team wOBA in parentheses:
Jason Vargas – 18.2% ESPN/27% Y!/72% own, 35% start CBS – @MIN (.312), @TEX (.307)
The entire Vargas-in-KC situation reeks of genius, despite all the grief that GMDM gets. Vargas, when right, is one of the league’s better innings eaters. That alone is probably worth $8 million per year. Add to that his balls-in-play tendencies — mostly fly balls but he’s no Chris Young or Jered Weaver either — paired with the Royals fantastic defense, and that’s a pretty beautiful marriage.
Consider this year’s batted ball results for Vargas:
.230/.230/.251 (.481 OPS on .230 BABIP) on grounders
.126/.126/.358 (.483 OPS on .064 BABIP) on fly balls
.661/.661/.932 (1.593 OPS on .649 BABIP) on liners
Against these AL marks:
.249/.249/.271 (.521 OPS on .249 BABIP) on grounders
.161/.157/.454 (.610 OPS on .087 BABIP) on fly balls
.673/.666/1.003 (1.669 OPS on .652 BABIP) on liners
This shows a couple things, at least to me. Not only is the Royals outfield defense world-beating — check the OF defensive ranks on FG, I’ll wait — but Vargas is also benefitting from a good infield defense and isn’t getting battered any more than any usual pitcher on line drives. Now, did it have to be Vargas and did it have to be a four-year, roughly market rate contract? Maybe not. Maybe the Royals are onto something here and could grab fringy fly ball guys and turn them into nice trade chips. I don’t know, and I’m not sure we care about that here. What we care about here is that he’s pitching at Target Field Monday, and against a Rangers offense that is sponsored by Clara Barton. Vargas isn’t sexy, but he’s solid.
Vance Worley – 31.2% ESPN/28% Y!/56% own, 34% start CBS – v. ATL (.302), @MIL (.318)
I’ve hemmed and hawed. I’ve stewed and stammered. I’ve contemplated, studied, and have come to the conclusion that I can no longer be a Worley adversary. For as bad as he was with the Twins last season, he’s been a godsend for the Pirates so far. Granted, it’s just 70 innings, but this is basically now the same guy who the Twins thought highly enough to ask for in a Ben Revere deal, and the Phillies thought highly enough of to use to fill out a rotation with Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels, and Roy Oswalt. Worley isn’t sexy — though the goggles kind of are — but with him it’s grounders, a few strikeouts but not many, and a disdain for the free pass so far this season that would have even made the Twins blush. Atlanta is on a free fall (7-13 in last 20, 12-18 last 30) and barely over .500 at this point. Offensively they have struggled. Milwaukee on the other hand is a bit of a dicey matchup, but working in Worley’s favor is his walk rate versus the Brewers 6.7 percent season mark (25th overall). If he can attack the zone and get the Crew to put it on the ground, there’s no reason he couldn’t skate through with a quality start.
Chase Anderson – 12.1% ESPN/16% Y!/41% own, 27% start CBS – @WAS (.312), v. SDP (.283)
It came down to Anderson, who gets an average-ish Nationals lineup and a bad but much, much better lately Padres offense, or Dillon Gee, who has been basically replacement level all season long and has to travel to Oakland and Los Angeles. So while the Diamondbacks have been lousy all season long, it seemed as though Anderson was the better choice. Anderson doesn’t carry a ton of intrigue as a soft-tossing, slightly built (6-foot-1, 175 lbs) righty, but his changeup is enough to make one stand up and notice, with a swinging strike rate of 23.3 percent. Even the curve, with a 14.5 percent whiff rate and 61.3 percent groundball rate is pretty interesting, especially to use against lefties at that home launchpad he plays at. He already nukes lefties, however: .180/.266/.321. Righties give him plenty of trouble, though: .309/.358/.543. That’s a worrisome trend that has followed him all the way up the minor league ladder, and would be something to monitor before committing long-term to owning Anderson.
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