The Bravest New Pair

By R.J. Anderson //

One of the final trades made before the deadline involved Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel heading to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for three players. The Braves hope these two help as they march toward the playoffs – could the same hold true for your NL-only fantasy team? Let’s take a look.

Farnsworth

The long and the short of this one is no. Farnsworth’s superficial number in Kansas City looked much better this year (2.42 ERA) than in 2009 (4.58 ERA). But those numbers are deceiving. Farnsworth has posted big drops in his walk (3.38 BB/9 IP in 2009 to 2.42/9 IP in 2010) and home run rates (0.72 to 0.40) this season. But he’s also seen his strikeout rate take a dive (10.13 to 7.25), while benefiting from a lot of good luck: His home runs per flyball rate has plunged to a career-low 4.5% (career average 11.6%), while his strand rate spiked to 80.8% (career 72.9%).

Meanwhile, the Braves’ pen is already well stocked. Billy Wagner, Takashi Saito and Peter Moylan are all ahead in the pecking order for save or even hold opportunities. Effectively, Fanrsworth is coming to Atlanta to take the role of a middle reliever. There are better options out there in NL-only leagues, even among the ranks of non-closer relief pitchers.


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Ankiel

Ankiel has put up a mediocre line of .253 AVG/.314 OBP/.453 SLG, with four homers in 105 plate appearances. That’s right on par with his previous National League experience, when he hit .251/.311/.452 with the Cardinals. That’s what Ankiel is: a decent power hitter without much in the way of contact, on-base skills, or stolen base skills who’s also a below-average defender.

Ankiel takes Nate McLouth’s position, after the incumbent center fielder got sent down following a stint on the disabled list with a concussion. Ankiel should be batting somewhere in bottom five of the Braves lineup, which makes him a decent bet for some run production. If you play in a league where positions are counted, then Ankiel has some value in center fielder. Even in standard National League-only leagues, he’s worth a look. Don’t expect the next coming of Jason Heyward and you should be fine.

For more on Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office

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