Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses the injuries and set return dates of seven players who could have an impact on your fantasy team in the second half of the season.
Carl Crawford, LF, Red Sox
Crawford has not played this season due to left wrist surgery in March and a partial UCL tear in his elbow in April. In 2011, he had a .255 average with 11 home runs and 56 RBI. Crawford is set to return to the Red Sox lineup on Monday against the White Sox.
Jacoby Ellsbury, OF, Red Sox
Ellsbury played in just seven games before being sidelined by a separated shoulder in mid-April. In 2011, he had an incredible season with a .321 batting average, 32 home runs and 105 RBI. Ellsbury should return Friday against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Brandon Morrow, SP, Blue Jays
Morrow had a great start to the season. In 13 starts, he had a 3.01 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 67 strikeouts. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list on June 13 due to a strained left oblique. The Blue Jays are hoping that he will return to the rotation this month.
Roy Halladay, SP, Phillies
Halladay has been sidelined since May 28 with a strained right lat. In 11 starts this season, he had a 3.98 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 56 strikeouts. He is set to return to the mound Tuesday against the Dodgers.
Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Marlins
Stanton had surgery on July 8 to remove loose bodies from his right knee. This is a big loss for the Marlins, as he was hitting .284 with 19 home runs and 50 RBI. Stanton likely won’t return until late August.
Matt Kemp, RF, Dodgers
Kemp had an incredible start to the season, hitting .355 with 12 home runs and 28 RBI in just 36 games. However, he has battled a hamstring injury and was placed on the disabled list on May 31. He is set to return Friday against the San Diego Padres.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies
Tulowitzki recently had surgery on his left groin muscle. He was batting .287 this season with eight home runs and 27 RBI. He likely won’t return to the Rockies’ lineup until mid-August.
For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.
BY ROB SHAW
When it comes to evaluating player performance and creating projections for the upcoming season, Bloomberg Sports takes several factors into account. Here’s a breakdown of four of the nine factors that allow Bloomberg Sports to offer the most accurate projections in fantasy sports while attracting more than 20 Major League teams to turn to the company for scouting and advanced analytical solutions.
The first factor to consider is ballpark. Over the last five years it seems like we have shifted back to the big ballparks that favor pitchers. That is certainly the case for Citi Field, PETCO Park, and Target Field. As a result, just about any Mets, Padres, or Twins hurler performs better at home than on the road.
On the other hand, there are power alleys in Yankee Stadium, Coors Field, and most definitely the Ballpark in Arlington. Fantasy managers want to invest in the pitchers from the large cavernous and the hitters in the bandboxes.
On that note, be wary of pitchers who thrived in pitcher’s parks such as Mat Latos and Heath Bell who now join more hitter-friendly confines and definitely invest in hitters such as Michael Cuddyer making the move from Target Field to Coors this season.
The next fantasy factor to keep in mind is durability. Fantasy managers expecting full seasons from Jose Reyes, Nelson Cruz, and Chipper Jones are playing against the odds. There are durable hitters out there such as Yadier Molina and Roy Halladay. Their durability is a fantasy asset since you know what to expect from them on a day-to-day basis.
Next, fantasy managers should consider the age of their players. Bloomberg Sports has found 26-31 to be the prime age for baseball players. A younger player should be approaching his peak, while older players are typically on the decline. It should not shock you that Ichiro, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez are slowing down with age.
Finally, fantasy managers should consider the impact of a long-term deal. It is very rare that the player delivers shortly after signing such a deal. While we hate to question motivation, we have noticed that stars such as Jason Bay, John Lackey, Carl Crawford, and Jayson Werth were not nearly as productive after signing long-term deals compared to the season prior to the negotiation. On that note, Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols may not be as safe as you thought.
For all nine Fantasy Factors visit BloombergSports.com.
BY ROB SHAW
There is no question about it, 2011 was a stinker for Red Sox outfielder Carl Crawford. Acquiring the best player from the rival team was supposed to assure that the Red Sox would surpass the Rays in the AL East, but instead Crawford’s disappointment was amongst many others for Boston as they failed to make the playoffs.
What followed was a tumultuous off-season that saw the departure of the manager and general manager. However, Crawford remains.
While last year’s struggles can be tied to Crawford’s acclimation to a major market for the first time in his career plus some nagging injuries, don’t forget the reason why fantasy managers liked him so much heading into last season. He is a line drive machine who should be able to use the Green Monster as a weapon, while adding speed to the top of the lineup.
Part of the issue for Crawford’s poor numbers was the fact that he was pushed down to the seventh spot of the Red Sox lineup. As a result his runs took a major hit. Always interested in the psyche of his players, expect Bobby Valentine to give Crawford every chance to succeed towards the top of the order.
Bloomberg Sports Front Office expects a decent bounce back from Crawford. He should blast 14 home runs with 35 stolen bases and a respectable .281 batting clip. Of course, this can only happen if he stays healthy. Crawford is currently dealing with a sore wrist that is threatening his ability to be a part of the Red Sox lineup on Opening Day.
Expectations have never been lower, which makes him a decent middle round sleeper considering his sky-high potential that made him a bust last season.
For many years we have come to expect 30 home runs and 100 RBI from Alex Rodriguez. Those benchmarks also came with great run production, solid stolen base totals, and a batting average north of .300. Not anymore.
Last season we saw that even the great ones are mortal. A-Rod managed just 16 home runs as he was hampered by injuries all season. Though he looks to be in great shape entering the spring and had some medical procedures done during the off-season, the big question in the Bronx is whether it’s even possible for A-Rod to return to prominence as an elite slugger.
The answer is probably no. There is a very well known pattern for players entering their late 30s tailing off in production. It is also clear that Rodriguez is not as healthy as he was when he was younger. It was five years ago that he last played 140 games in a season.
Bloomberg Sports does anticipate a mild bounce back. A-Rod should pound 23 home runs with 82 RBI. That would mean he finishes the season with an astounding 652 career home runs. Unfortunately, we are at the point in A-Rod’s career where we will celebrate what he’s accomplished over time rather than on a day-to-day basis.
It was shocking enough that an ace would tame Coors Field, it’s even more mesmerizing that he actually regressed when traded to a far more pitcher-friendly ballpark.
Ubaldo Jimenez was an elite pitcher in 2010. He finished that season with a 19-8 record, but was even more dazzling at the All-Star break with a 15-1 record and 2.20 ERA. Since then, Jimenez has regressed to being a barely above average hurler.
In the second half of the memorable 2010 season, Jimenez went 4-7 with a 3.80 ERA. He then struggled out of the gate in 2011 and was traded to the Indians when his record was 6-9. Things went from bad to worse, as his ERA soared to 5.10 during his 11 starts with the Indians.
Jimenez will try to start from scratch this season, and while his results in his first two spring training starts are not very promising, the good news is that his fastball is back over 95 MPH for the first time since 2010. Regardless, Jimenez remains a risky pick for fantasy managers.
He should offer plenty of strikeouts, Bloomberg Sports projects 208, but his lack of control could lead to a WHIP and ERA well above what he’s offered when he was at his past two seasons ago.
Fantasy Baseball’s Surprise Party:
1) Ichiro hits under .300
The future Hall of Famer may be labeled somewhat of a one-trick pony, but at least he always had that trick, which was the ability to rack up hits at an unprecedented level. Suzuki boasts a .327 career average and never before has hit for lower than a .303 average through 10 years in the Major Leagues. However, at the moment, Suzuki’s average is under .270. When you consider that Ichiro actually started the season quite well with a .328 average through the first month of the season, you have to wonder if the 37-year-old veteran is finally slowing down. Suzuki will also have his third straight season with fewer than 100 runs scored.
2) Lance Berkman’s Power Stroke
Since blasting a career-high 45 home runs in 2006, Lance Berkman’s annual home run total has declined in four straight seasons. That streak has come to an end this season, as the 35-year-old veteran has nearly doubled last year’s total already with 27 home runs. After hitting just one dinger in 106 at bats last season with the Yankees, it looked like Berkman was playing on borrowed time. However, the Cardinals outfielder is instead enjoying an MVP caliber season.
3) Manny’s Retirement
With just one hit through 17 at bats, it looked like the worst was out of the way for Rays recently acquired outfielder Manny Ramirez. However, the legend in Boston who enjoyed a heck of a half-season with the Dodgers would never again stare down another pitch. No, Ramirez, approaching his 38th birthday, was caught using performance-enhancing drugs for the second time in his career and a hasty and quiet retirement soon followed. 555 home runs and a .312 average likely won’t be enough to bring Manny to Cooperstown.
4) Bartolo Colon Back in the Majors
He’s a former Cy Young award winner with 150-plus wins under his belt, but Colon was never expected to play a key role in this season considering we last saw him pitch in 2009 when he finished a season with the White Sox with a 3-6 record. However, after plenty of rest and a controversial arm surgery, Colon is back in a big way for the Yankees. Armed with great command and some serious heat, Colon improved his record to 7-6 this weekend with a fine 3.29 ERA
5) 2011 Free Agent Busts: Werth, Crawford, and Dunn
The big bats on the market this past winter were Jayson Werth, Carl Crawford, and Adam Dunn. They all came into the season with stellar career marked with consistency and fairly predictable production.
Jayson Werth, for instance, has belted 20-plus home runs with 10 plus steals, and an average north of .265 in each of the last three seasons. Werth is currently batting just .219 with 11 home runs in what was supposed to be his prime at 32-years old.
Carl Crawford has hit less than .300 just once in the last six seasons entering this season. Well, now he’s batting .254, and his steals are on pace to be his lowest season total since his rookie season.
Finally, Adam Dunn has hit either 38 or 40 home runs in each of the last six seasons. He currently boasts just nine home runs, and his .160 average is 100 points off last season’s batting clip.
Are They Hall of Famers?
Johnny Damon– Labeled clutch, a winner, and one of the top leadoff hitters of his generation, it is surprising to learn that Johnny Damon has only made two All-Star appearances over his 17-year career. That tells us that Damon was never the dominant left-fielder of his generation, and will likely put an end to his bid for a spot in the Hall of Fame. However, the door is not closed yet.
Damon is just 357 hits shy of 3,000 for his career and he does not appear to be slowing down that much either. Other personal milestones that will shortly be reached are 1600 hits and 400 steals. If Damon can hand around for another three seasons, his longevity as well as his World Series heroics may result in a Hall of Fame plaque.
Todd Helton– A .324 career average screams Hall of Fame worthy. However, for the first time Hall of Fame voters will have to take into account the Coors Field impact. Helton is a .355 career hitter at home compared to just .292 on the road. Also, when it comes to power 209 home runs were swatted at home, compared to 133 on the road.
So Helton is a dominant first baseman when playing at home, but more of a Mark Grace type hitter when on the road. Considering he failed to reach any of the common Hall of Fame milestones such as 3,000 hits or 500 home runs, I do not see Helton as a Hall of Famer.
David Ortiz– As a long-time designated hitter, David Ortiz would need at least 500 home runs in order to gain admission to the Hall of Fame. Considering he is currently 134 home runs shy of that total and has been linked to performance-enhancing drugs, Ortiz will likely have to settle as a Red Sox legend, but not a Hall of Famer.
On the Path:
Roy Halladay– The dominant pitcher of his era, Halladay has won two Cy Young awards and won 20 or more games on three occasions. With 178 wins compared to just 89 losses, Halladay will probably need just another season or two of dominance to win over the Hall of Fame voters.
CC Sabathia– A very durable ace for the Yankees, Sabathia has the best chance of 300 wins with 165 already under his belt. He will need another four or five 15-18 win seasons to guarantee a spot in the Hall of Fame.
Justin Verlander– So far so good for this young hurler. Verlander has been durable and dominant. He has put together a couple of no-hitters, won an AL Rookie of the Year, and made three All-Star teams. The problem with Verlander is that he is so young, so he’ll need to stay healthy and effective for another 6-8 years.
Carl Crawford– A move to Boston should only help his chances. Crawford has a Gold Glove, four All-Star appearances, more than 1500 hits and 400 steals, which is incredible for someone just 29 years old. As long as he stays healthy, Crawford has every chance of making the Hall of Fame as one of the most consistent hitters of his generation.
Jose Reyes– Despite all of the injuries zapping Jose Reyes over the years, the 28-year old shortstop compares well to Carl Crawford. He has made three All-Star games and will have every chance of making many more.
If he can hit around .300 for a good five to six years while hitting at the top of the lineup with 100-plus runs and 40-plus steals, Reyes will boast some very impressive numbers by the time he reaches his mid-30s. It’s a gamble on his durability, but I see Reyes making the Hall of Fame.
Miguel Cabrera– Though he has yet to win an MVP, Miguel Cabrera has been a dominant player through his first eight seasons. He will need at least four or five more in order to be considered for the Hall of Fame, but the good news is that at just 28-years old, Cabrera could end up playing another ten seasons assuming he stays healthy.
By Tommy Rancel //
Despite the news that the New York Yankees do not plan to pursue Carl Crawford or Jayson Werth this offseason, the pair of outfielders are the most sought-out position players on the open market. But who deserves top billing?
According to Scott Boras, the agent of Werth, the Phillies’ outfielder is the cream of the crop. It is normally good practice to treat agent speak as such, but Boras isn’t too far off.
Over the past three seasons, Werth has averaged a slash line of .279/.376/.513 with 29 home runs and 84 RBI. Only five players other than Werth can say they’ve averaged at least those numbers over the same time frame (min. 1800 plate appearances). Those players are: Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, and Joey Votto.
This season he joined Pujols, Matt Holliday, and Jose Bautista as the only major leaguers with an OPS greater than .920 with a minimum of 650 plate appearances. That’s nice company to keep heading into a rather weak free agent class for position players.
On the other hand, the case can be made that Carl Crawford is not only the better overall player right now, but will be the better value in three to four years.
First, Crawford is younger and more athletic. Although Werth is a decent defender, Crawford is among the best in the league. Despite being the better overall offensive player right now, Werth’s skillset is not as broad as Crawford’s and could decline quicker.
Crawford’s offensive game plays in all types of parks and he has spent his career in the American League. Werth, on the other hand, has enjoyed his success playing in the National League at one of the more hitter-friendly parks. In fact, the gap in his home/road splits has grown even further apart over the past two seasons.
Consider this, the closest statistical player to Crawford at age 28 according to baseball-reference.com is Roberto Clemente. Also consider that Crawford has more career hits, doubles, triples, home runs, RBI, and nearly 10 times as many steals than the legendary Clemente did at the same age, despite just a 22-game difference in career games. While Crawford doesn’t have the arm of Clemente, he is regarded as one of the best defenders in the game. Imagine if Clemente hit the open market going into to what some consider his prime; that could be what we have here.
Everyone knows that Crawford’s main asset is speed. That said, in recent seasons he has taken a few more walks. He also showed more power this season with a career-high 62 extra-base hits. Although Tropicana Field has taken a toll on his legs, he has avoided major injury to those valuable wheels.
Looking at short-term value, Werth is likely the better offensive player for 2011 – even though Crawford is the superior fantasy commodity given his prodigious speed. Werth’s power potential is much greater, and it’s not just tied to balls leaving the yard. He led the league with 46 doubles in 2010 and could rack up even more in a place like Fenway Park. However, if you’re looking for a keeper between the two, Crawford is the one. He will continue to offer tremendous value in steals, as well as providing an above-average number of extra-base hits for the next few years. In conjunction with steals and extra bases, He should score a lot of runs in a good lineup as well.
For more on Carl Crawford, Jayson Werth, and other MLB Free Agents check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office.