Results tagged ‘ Baltimore Orioles ’

Bloomberg Sports Ballpark Figures: Pennant Chase Players to Watch

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses both the American and National League playoff picture as we head towards the last few weeks of the regular season, while highlighting some of the possible key players that may help their team get into October.

 

Mark Reynolds, 3B, Orioles

He is trying to maintain his hot early start to September where he hit nine home runs and had 17 RBIs in only nine games. Though he still strikes out a ton, Buck Showalter will find a place for him in the lineup because of his prodigious power.

 

B.J. Upton, OF, Rays

In his all-important contract year, Upton has gotten very hot over his last 30 games up to Wednesday, where he has hit .292 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs.

 

Torii Hunter, OF, Angels

At 37 years old, you would think Hunter would be slowing down, but he is having actually a career year hitting .309 with 15 home runs, nine stolen bases, 76 RBIs and 72 runs scored despite missing half of May with an injury. He is trying to hit over .300 for the first time in his career.

 

Josh Donaldson, 3B, Athletics

After starting out miserably this season with the major league ballclub, Donaldson was sent down to the minors on June 13th where he reaffirmed his potential by hitting .335 with 13 home runs in just 51 games. He quickly earned a call-up back with the A’s where he is now hitting .324 with six home runs and 17 RBIs through 28 games.

 

Kris Medlen, SP, Braves

This 26 year-old former top prospect missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but has re-emerged this year as one of the Braves best starting pitchers. He has been especially hot as of late, winning seven straight starts since July 31st.

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Teixeira, Grandal, Thome, Francisco, and Morales

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the injuries and comebacks of five players and how they affect your fantasy team.

 

Mark Teixeira, 1B, Yankees

The Yankees big bopper aggravated a wrist injury diving for a ball on Monday night. The injury first occurred Sunday, but now it looks like he will miss some time.  An immediate X-Ray came back negative, but Teixeira will have an MRI Tuesday, which could dictate whether he has to spend some time on the disabled list.

Big Tex has 20 home runs and 71 RBI this season. Even with the recent swoon, the Yankees were thought of as a safe bet for the playoffs. However, if Teixeira joins A-Rod on the DL, things will change. Most notably, the Yankees could end up being buyers prior to the trade deadline.

 

Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres

In the midst of a rally against Reds hurler Mike Leake Monday, Grandal had to leave the game with a strained oblique.  We’ve seen a lot of this injury this season and it usually ends with the player landing on the disabled list. The 23-year-old Cuban has been great in his rookie season, batting .312 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 24 games.

 

Jim Thome, DH, Orioles

Thome is one of the most dangerous sluggers in baseball, but nearing 42 years old, staying healthy has been a challenge lately. The Orioles have given him an opportunity to play everyday, and just when he was getting hot, Thome hurt his neck and is now getting an MRI in Baltimore to determine whether a stay on the DL will be necessary.

 

Frank Francisco, RP, Mets

While his 4.97 ERA may be ugly, Frank Francisco does have 18 saves in 21 attempts and was enjoying a fine June with a 2.16 ERA before he went down with an oblique injury. The 32-year-old veteran is now on the mend and could return as the Mets closer as soon as Friday. The Mets interim closer has been Bobby Parnell, who remains a bit too hittable despite a 100-MPH fastball. He has blown two of his last three saves.

 

Kendrys Morales, 1B/RF, Angels

Talking about injuries, Morales missed nearly two seasons, all because of a celebration after hitting a grand slam that resulted in a broken ankle. While he has been back all season, it wasn’t until Monday night that we saw a vintage performance. He blasted two home runs from both sides of the plate for six RBI in one inning.

Morales now has 11 home runs and 45 RBI through 84 games. He has been striking out too often and not walking enough, but it was a nice turn-back-the-clock performance for a player who could still have some solid years left in the tank.

 

For more fantasy inishgt, visit BloombergSports.com. 

Ballpark Figures: Top Second-Half Storylines

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

Bloomberg Sports Anchors Rob Shaw and Julie Alexandria discuss the top five stories in baseball after the All-Star break.

 

Will R.A. Dickey win 20 games?

Baseball fans are trying to figure out if R.A. Dickey is Tom Candiotti or Phil Niekro.  At 12-1, Dickey is enjoying a banner season and arguably would be the NL Cy Young award winner if the season ended today. The problem for Dickey is that the season does not end today and he still has about 15 starts to go. Can he possibly continue his dominance and nab another eight wins for an even 20?

Hall of Fame knuckleballer Phil Niekro attained three different seasons with 20 or more wins.  On the other hand, Dickey might only win another 3-5 games this season and finish with a solid, but more expected total that is more in line with a solid hurler, such as knuckleballer Tom Candiotti, who won 14, 15 and 16 games in his career.

 

What becomes of Tim Lincecum?

The good news is that Tim Lincecum is on pace to strikeout 200 batters. The bad news is that he is also approaching 100 walks, which could lead to some time in the bullpen.  We’ve had some surprises this year that fill the bust category.  As of now both Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols join a recent trend of major free agents struggling with new franchises.

Lincecum is pitching for the very franchise he came up with and has dominated for the last five seasons.  However, he is getting hit often and hard, and with a 3-10 record and 6.42 ERA you have to wonder if he will stick in the starting rotation all season long.  Lincecum hasn’t made it out of the fourth inning in back-to-back outings.

 

Where will Zack Greinke end up?

The Brewers have had their struggles and perhaps for that reason, Zack Greinke’s performance has gone under the radar.  He is 9-3 with 111 K’s and a 3.32 ERA.  With the Brewers five games out of first place, the team will be in sell mode especially if Greinke does not indicate that he wants to stick there.

So what teams could be interested?  How about the Baltimore Orioles, or the St. Louis Cardinals?  Greinke’s presence could make a world of difference in how this ost-season shapes up.

 

Are the Phillies buyers or sellers?

The Phillies are in dead last place in the National League East.  They opened the season without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, and now that they are coming back, the pitchers have been out: Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay.

The big question for the Phillies is figuring out whether or not Cole Hamels will stay as a free agent.  There have been rumblings that he could be destined to the Dodgers, which would leave the Phillies in a bind if they do not get anything in return for his services aside from draft picks.  Hamels, by the way, is 10-4 with a 3.20 ERA with 118 K’s and a 1.10 WHIP.  He has been the ace for the Phillies this season.

 

Are the Pirates playoff bound?

The Pirates are in first place late in the season for a second straight year.  The question is whether they can stick this time and if they learned from last year’s collapse.  It looks like they could actually stick this time for a couple of reasons.  Firstly, they have an ace with James McDonald boasting a 2.37 ERA with much better control this season.  Next, their gamble with AJ Burnett seems to be paying off as he’s been a solid number two.  Though the starting rotation lacks depth, the bullpen is strong enough to let leads stick.

Finally, on offense there are several solid players, then an MVP candidate in Andrew McCutchen and a potential star in Pedro Alvarez. The Pirates lack some depth, but so far they have been good enough, and with extra wild card spots available, this team could advance.

 

For more insight, visit BloombergSports.com

Fantasy Baseball Weekend Recap: Perez, Young, Thome, Davis, Alvarez, and Hosmer

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the weekend in baseball and how it affects your fantasy team.

 

Martin Perez, SP, Rangers

Perez made his major league debut Saturday night against Oakland. The 21-year-old southpaw had five strikeouts and gave up six hits, one walk and two earned runs in 5.1 innings pitched. He had struggled in the minor leagues this season with a 1.29 K/BB ratio at AAA. However, he has been better in the past and there is reason to be excited about his future.

 

Chris Young, SP, Mets

Young has only started 13 games since 2010, but his numbers during that stretch are among the best in baseball. He has a 2.19 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, compared to Roy Halladay’s 2.60 ERA and 1.05 WHIP and Cliff Lee’s 3.00 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. This season, he has started five games, his greatest workload since 2009. The last time he made 20 starts was in 2007.

 

Jim Thome, Orioles

Thome spent his first 12 seasons with the Cleveland Indians and has since been on seven teams over the last 10 years. Moving to Baltimore allows him to play more regularly as a designated hitter. He has had 40 home runs in 553 at-bats over the last two years and could bring some power to the Orioles’ lineup and your fantasy team.

 

 

Shaw also discusses three players whose slumps have ended and who are putting up big numbers in recent weeks. First is Mets first baseman Ike Davis, who has six home runs, 24 RBI and a .333 average in 19 games since June 9th. Second, Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez has seven home runs, 19 RBI and a .377 average in 15 games since June 16th. Finally, Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer has a .423 average, one home run and three RBI in his last seven games.

 

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

The Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Factors Part 2

 

BY ROB SHAW

Twitter: @RobShawSports

 

With more than 20 of the Major League Baseball teams turning to Bloomberg Sports as a business solution, fantasy managers can rest assured that their fantasy teams are in good hands.

 

Offering a trade analyzer, lineup manager, and projections for every single player in the Big Leagues, Bloomberg Sports uses an algorithm that takes into account nine Fantasy Factors.

 

In a previous article, we focused on ballpark, durability, age, and contract status.  Now the focus is on the remaining five Fantasy Factors.

 

In fantasy baseball, career trends are an important aspect to be considered when evaluating players.  In essence, fantasy managers like investors have to know what’s a growing stock and what’s a mature stock.  A player on the rise would be a growing stock and two examples are Baltimore Orioles rising stars Adam Jones and Matt Wieters.  Both players are in their mid-20s and have been improving their statistics consistently over the last few seasons.

 

On the other hand, Yankees veteran Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are far from their prime and have recently suffered their worst seasons of their legendary careers.  It’s perfectly fine to invest in a player on the decline, as long as you are realistic about what they can produce in the upcoming season.

 

Next, luck is a Fantasy Factor that can help forecast performance.  Using an advanced statistic: BABIP, it is possible for baseball fans to find out if a player had luck on their side or if it worked against him over a given period.

 

BABIP is the batting average for balls in play and takes into account whether a player enjoyed a higher percentage than usual of balls in play falling for hits.  For instance, if a player offers a BABIP that is significantly higher than their career norm, it is often a safe bet that in the following period his performance will regress to the previous rate.

 

On the other hand, if the BABIP is abnormally low, it is safe to assume the player will have better luck ahead and his batting average and other statistics will improve.  The statistic can also be used for pitchers when looking at BABIP against the opposition.

 

Next, team support is an important fantasy factor for hitters and pitchers.  For hitters, it is a matter of whether they have players around them in the lineup that they can drive in and players who will drive them in.  In other words, team support has a direct impact with RBI and runs.  For pitchers, it’s a matter of having run support to earn wins, plus a solid defense behind them to keep runs off the board.

 

Strength of schedule is the next factor, and this is all about what ballparks and teams an opponent faces.  Pitching in the AL East is no easy task for pitchers who have to deal with the Red Sox offense in Fenway Park, the Yankees offense in Yankees Stadium, and additional hitters parks in Toronto and Baltimore.  On the other hand, the NL West calls home to several pitcher parks and limited offenses including in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles.

 

Consistency is a fantasy factor, as fantasy managers have to decide whether to gamble on a player who has great potential, but also great volatility.   A player like Geovany Soto seems to alternate between good years, while Torii Hunter and Yadier Molina are examples of players who seem to produce consistent numbers every given season.

 

To see the Fantasy Factors in action visit BloombergSports.com.

 

The Rise of Matusz

By R.J. Anderson //

The below graphic is taken directly from Brian Matusz‘s Bloomberg Sports Front Office profile. Within the graphic, there are plenty of little icons which give you easily referable information (like, whether the player pitches or hits within an offensive-friendly ballpark, whether the player is durable, or in his prime, and how the pitcher’s offense produces). As you can also see, Matusz also holds a B-Rank in the 500s and an ADP in the 180s. I have to say, I agree with the ADP’s take on Matusz’s value more than the B-Rank.

matusz1.png

Matsuz is a big lefty, at 6’4″, with a fantastic pedigree. The Orioles took him fourth overall in the 2008 draft out of the University of San Diego. The 24-year-old reached the majors in 2009 and has since made 40 starts in total, with the majority coming last season. He has a nice arsenal of pitches and seems unafraid to pitch inside on right-handed batters. Matusz’s draft stock received a boost based on his second half performance where he dropped his ERA from the 4.7’s (where it was at the end of the first half) down to 4.30 backed behind eight quality starts in 14 appearances.

The Orioles have improved over the offseason but remain likely to finish in fourth or fifth place within the division, that means Matusz is unlikely to rack up as many wins as he deserves, because the divisional foes are good enough to nudge the O’s in close games. Still, he’s likely to post a better than league-average ERA and his infield defense should be improved enough to help lower his WHIP. The projections suggest he’ll finish with an ERA over 4.00 and while those are based in good reason and numbers, they know not of Matusz’s scouting profile or prospect status.

It’s those very aspects of Matusz’s game that lead me to believe he can outpitch the projections. Maybe not by much, and perhaps the results won’t shine through on his fantasy value, but in a division with fellow young southpaws like David Price and Ricky Romero, Matusz stands his own.

Taking Matusz to be the ace of your staff is too much, but depending on the league size, he could be a very good second or third starter this year and a fantastic keeper option.

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com

Baltimore Closer Battle

by Eno Sarris // 

The closer carousel in Baltimore continues. Since 2008, George Sherrill, Alfredo Simon, Jim Johnson, David Hernandez, Mark Hendrickson, Mike Gonzalez, Lance Cormier, Jim Miller, Cla Meredith and Rocky Cherry have all notched a save for the Orioles, and that’s not mentioning the two main candidates for the closer’s role this year.

This past offseason, the Orioles signed Kevin Gregg to a two-year, $10 deal. Gregg has functioned as his teams’ closer for four straight years, providing solid-but-not-spectacular numbers for the Marlins, Cubs and Blue Jays along the way. Now that he’s the second-highest paid player in the pen, and owns the most career saves of the crew, is the the favorite for the role?

Probably, but that doesn’t mean he’s not without his flaws. Last year, Gregg struck out 8.85 batters per nine, walked 4.58 batters per nine, and had a 42.3% groundball rate. All of those numbers are too close to average for relievers to get very excited about. Relievers averaged 7.58 strikeouts per nine, 4.56 walks per nine, and a 42.7% groundball rate last year. That means that Gregg was a mere strikeout per nine away from being an average pitcher, which doesn’t scream “Closer” with a capital ‘c.’

Last year’s closer, Koji Uehara, is still with the team, as he was resigned to a one-year, $3 million deal that can jump to $5 with incentives. He might be paid a little less, but he’s a better pitcher. After moving to the pen last year, Uehara had an insane 11.25 strikeouts per nine against 1.02 walks per nine. He’s an extreme flyball pitcher – his 23.6% groundball rate has to count against him – but that kind of strikeout punch and control is ideal for a closer. Some may point to his relative inexperience in the role as a negative, but Uehara pitched over 1300 innings in Japan, saved 32 games in 2007, and has a generally excellent resume once you include his Japanese history.

gregg projected.jpgTake a look at the Bloomberg Sports projection for Kevin Gregg on the left, and the argument comes into focus. Gregg may be in line for the saves right now, but his projected ERA (4.11) and WHIP (1.37) should make fantasy managers nervous. Remember, saves are just one category, and Uehara should easily trump Gregg in the other categories – and could easily steal the job completely. Consider handcuffing these two together late in drafts this year.

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com 

The Year of Adam Jones?

By R.J. Anderson //

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Over the weekend, the Orioles added Vladimir Guerrero. This development gives the Orioles a lineup heavy on name value, as the team could field a starting nine with Derrek Lee, J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts, Matt Wieters, Mark Reynolds, Guerrero, Luke Scott, and Adam Jones. The latter is perhaps the most intriguing player not named Wieters.

 Despite only being 25, it feels like Jones has a half-dozen seasons under his belt at the big league level — and he will after the 2011 season. Since becoming a regular with the Orioles, Jones is averaging a line of .278/.324/.343, above league-average rates, but one thing to take away from Jones is the predictive power of the hot hand. In more precise terms: There is no little to no predictive value.

Consider Jones’ month-by-month OPS breakdown during the 2010 season:

April: .634
May: .678
June: .952
July: .692
August: .850
September/October: .821

Depending on the narrative one wants to establish, Jones either needs to be more prepare to start the season or he finally got comfortable around midseason. Either way, it will lead to skewed views on just how valuable Jones should be viewed entering the 2011 season. The key is to look at the final product rather than how Jones got there unless there’s a reason (injury, mostly) to think one month is more indicative of his talents than another.

With respects to others, this means look beyond the last 10 days or three weeks of performance. In Jones’ case, do not expect a drastic step forward in performance. The typical hitter will gradually improve through his late 20s before beginning a decline, keep a conservative projection in mind for Jones rather than using his last month or two as the base line in order to avoid disappointment when it turns out he simply had a well-time hot streak.

 

adamjones1.jpg

Projection systems (like the one that generated the above projection) are heartless and emotionless. They are, undoubtedly, better at projecting players than human beings. When in doubt, trust the cold grip of a projection system above your gut and you’ll be less likely to suffer disappointment from under performing players.

For the best fantasy baseball analysis and insight please visit BloombergSports.com

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Orioles Add Derrek Lee

By R.J. Anderson //

The Baltimore Orioles’ infield has received a makeover this offseason. Trades for Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy filled the holes on the left side, while the latest move – signing Derrek Lee – completes an infield around the venerable Brian Roberts. Lee comes at a steep price (the contract carries a max value of $10 million) despite hitting only .260/.347/.428 last season. Can a 35-year-old Lee recover from a down season in the game’s toughest division?

Perhaps burdened by an underachieving team, Lee struggled with the Chicago Cubs to the tune of a .251/.335/.416 line. The Cubs traded Lee to the playoff-surging Atlanta Braves following an injury to Troy Glaus in August and immediately saw his line shoot up: Lee hit .287/.384/.465 in 39 games worth of action with Atlanta. While the success with the Braves is encouraging relative to his Cubs’ struggles, it is not a sure sign that Lee is back. A more encouraging note: from 2007-2009, Lee hit .304/.384/.515 and averaged 26 home runs a season.

Beyond the surface, the big differences from Lee’s 2010 and prior seasons came down to strikeouts and batting average on balls in play. Lee fanned 17.4% of the time during his glory days, as opposed to 21.4% in 2010. He also saw his BABIP drop from .340 to .309. The decrease in batted ball success is at least partially responsible for Lee’s ISO dipping below .170 for the first time in his career (excluding his 236 plate appearance stint in 1999).

A sharp decline in BABIP can usually be waved off as either bad luck or random fluctuation. There seem to be larger concerns at work with Lee, though, as scouts have questioned his bat speed (according to ESPN’s Keith Law). Lee’s new division features left-handers with stellar fastballs – CC Sabathia, Jon Lester, and David Price for starters – meaning that Lee owning a platoon advantage may not be enough to find success.

As such, Lee becomes someone to watch on draft day. He’s worth a shot at the end of a standard mixed league draft, or a little earlier in shallower mixed leagues and AL-only formats.

MLB Season in Review: Baltimore Orioles Pitchers

By Eriq Gardner //

Biggest Surprise & 2011 Regression Alert: Jeremy Guthrie
Forgive us, we’re grading on a curve on this one. Truth is, no Baltimore Orioles pitcher surpassed expectations this past season. Forced under gunpoint to pick, we’ll grudgingly give the honor to Guthrie, who notched a season with an ERA under 4.00, thanks to both a sparkling walk rate of 2.15 BB/9 IP and some good luck (.263 batting average on balls in play, vs. league average of around .300). More broadly, Guthrie doesn’t strike out too many batters and his ability to keep the ball on the ground is nothing special. Don’t bid on him next year, except in very deep mixed leagues or AL-only formats.
Biggest Disappointment: Mike Gonzalez
Last December, the Orioles signed Gonzalez to a two-year contract worth $12 million, hoping to finally find a closer after years of searching for one. Almost from the moment that Gonzalez signed the deal, it was a big mistake. In spring training, he couldn’t even muster 90 MPH on the radar gun and spent about half the season in rehab, attempting to recover the ability to dominate batters with strikeouts. He finished the year with just a single save.
2011 Keeper Alert: Brian Matusz
Certainly, Matusz was also a disappointment this season. Entering 2010, many considered him to be the leading favorite for Rookie of the Year. With just 10 wins and a 4.30 ERA, he didn’t come close. Still, the left-hander has a pretty bright future, as evidenced by a strong close to the season. In 56 innings of work during the final two months, Matusz had an ERA around 2.00 and 43 strikeouts to just 14 walks.
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