Tagged: Conor Jackson

Fantasy Baseball Panic: Shoo, Davis, Ramirez, and Lincecum


Twitter: @RobShawSports

To put it mildly, Aramis Ramirez has not had Brewers fans forget about Prince Fielder.  While Fielder has already offered the Tigers a .345 average with two home runs, Ramirez has chipped in with just a .129 average and no home runs for the Brew Crew.  This is a far cry from the .306 average Ramirez offered last season, not to mention the expectations coming into this season with Milwaukee.

While Ramirez is off to a slow start, he has had a tad of bad luck.  Alfonso Soriano robbed him at the left-field wall of an extra base hit on Tuesday, and he already has swiped two bases while nailing two doubles.  Plus, Ramirez is a notorious slow starter as March and April are his worst batting months throughout his career.

At this point, fantasy managers should be in a holding pattern, as Ramirez is likely to bounce back.  For the first time this season, Ramirez did not strike out in two consecutive games.  It looks like he is starting to see the ball better, and that usually leads to a rise in batting average and the power metrics.  Patience is a virtue in dealing with A-Ram’s early slump.

There has been a very scary trend in Cleveland for fantasy managers in recent years.  We’ve seen players who reach superstardom with the Indians only to lose their luster seemingly overnight due to injuries.

First it was MVP contender Travis Hafner, who went from a .300-plus hitting machine with loads of power to a lackluster DH who struggles to stay healthy.  More recently, it’s been all-around sensation Grady Sizemore, who has lost his speed and power in recent years and now is once again on the disabled list for an extended period.

The question that is plaguing fantasy managers right now is whether Shin-Soo Choo will follow that undesirable path.  Following consecutive 20-20 seasons, Choo had a season to forget last year with off-the-field controversy followed by an injury-plagued season.  Fresh off his worst season with 8 home runs and a .259 average, Choo is struggling once again.  The two-time 20-20 fantasy star has five hits, all of them singles.

The good news is that Shoo is drawing walks and already has two stolen bases while his OBP is north of .400.  For now fantasy managers should be in a holding power with Choo.  The solid plate discipline suggests that he is seeing the ball well and could bust out of his power outage at any moment.  In fact, if you have confidence in the 29-year-old outfielder go ahead and acquire him while his stock is low.

What’s the deal with Mets first baseman Ike Davis?  Last season he got off to a excellent start before a bum ankle shut him down for the season with seven home runs, 25 RBI, and a .302 average through 36 games.  This season has been the total opposite.  Davis has two hits through 28 at bats, and both hits have been singles.

While the Mets are calling Davis healthy, there are some questions as to whether a fungal disease suffered during spring training is still limiting him physically, or if at this point, the toll is mental, as Davis has 10 strikeouts through the first eight games of the season.

To be specific, the ailment that Davis encountered this spring was Valley Fever, a lung disease that could lead to fatigue.  It very much should be taken seriously, as the illness once knocked 130 games out of the season from Conor Jackson.  So yes, fantasy managers should be on red alert, as the disease commonly found in desert environments such as Davis’ hometown in Phoenix could be an issue.

Some good news is that David Wright returned from his broken pinkie on Saturday and blasted a home run.  With Wright’s return to the Mets lineup, there are more likely to be runners on base for Davis to drive home.  Furthermore, Lucas Duda has looked very much like a slugger this season with three home runs already.  With Duda batting behind Davis, there could be an uptick in the runs scored as well.

Of course, the main focus for Davis right not is to snap out of the slump, then he will no longer hear the whispers of mystery ailments and more concerns about the health of Mets players.

When last season concluded with Tim Lincecum brandishing a losing record, there was not much panic in San Francisco as his 13-14 record came with a superb 2.74 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.  On that note, fantasy managers again picked Lincecum early in the drafts this season expecting him to contend with rival Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young award.  Through two starts the Giants ace may have already pitched himself out of contention.

Tim Lincecum currently sits at 0-1 with a 12.91 ERA.  Fantasy managers are wondering if it will it be sink or swim by the Bay this season for Lincecum.  This is a major concern for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list is that Lincecum is usually strong out of the gates.  April is usually the best month for him, at 12-3 entering this season with a sub-3 ERA.

Another key concern has been the diminishing velocity.  Lincecum is so far throwing his fastball at 90 MPH this season, down from 91 MPH last year and 92 MPH the year before.  He relies a great deal on his high velocity since his outpitch is no longer his slider, but his change-up.  In fact, Lincecum has mentioned that he will try to avoid use of his slider this season since it puts pressure on his arm.  It will be tough to get away with just a fastball and change-up if he can’t reach the mid-90s.

Keep an eye on Lincecum’s next start as this may be a concerning trend.  For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride: Conor Jackson

by Eno Sarris //

It didn’t quite start with a
crash in the library. But Conor Jackson has so far had a career that
resembles the now-defunct Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

It all started
so well when he got his first regular playing time in 2006, racking up a .291/.368/.441 line that suggested further upside.
He’d been ranked as high as #17 on Baseball America’s top 100 list and had
shown a .200 ISO in the minor leagues (isolated power, or slugging
percentage minus batting average), so it seemed possible that Jackson
was going to develop into an above-average first baseman despite his
underpowered debut (.151 ISO). At the very least, his nice walk rate (9.7%) could provide good value to his team.

The ride meandered a bit when he followed that up with a .284/.368/.467 season that made fans
wonder if there wasn’t a lot of projectability there. Though he had hit 15 home runs in both seasons,
there was still some hope that he could improve that number in the
future, especially after a solid .183 ISO in his sophomore season.

The 2008 season took most of the shine off Jackson’s future, as his
batting line looked very familiar (.300/.376/.446) and his ISO took a
step back (.146). First base, of all positions, is not a great place to
stick an underpowered stick, as the average batting-title qualifying
first baseman put up a .287/.378/.515 batting line in 2009. But
Jackson still offered value with his batting average, and by playing in
the outfield he added a little quirk and a little spice for people in
deep, five-outfielder leagues.

But last season, things turned for the worse. Jackson caught valley fever, a fungal
affliction seen mostly in the southwest. To quote the Wikipedia entry
on the subject

The spores, known as arthroconidia,
are swept into the air by disruption of the soil, such as during
construction, farming, dancing at desert raves, or an earthquake.

I hope he caught it at a rave, so that some fun came from the situation. The rare disease has mild, flu-like
symptoms, but the fatigue associated with it basically cost Jackson the
year. He amassed just 110 plate appearances in the majors, and a dismal
.182/.264/.253 batting line. It might be safe to call 2009 a bedeviled section of the wild ride for Jackson.

Will there be a return to
normalcy for Jackson? Though claiming to be healthy, he has struggled
to a .245/.331/.343 line. The Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools spider
graph shows just how bad such a line is, when stacked up against first
basemen. Jackson is available in 97% of Yahoo leagues and 89.7% of ESPN
leagues. With his mild power even when he was going well, he was easy
to jettison and easier to ignore.

maybe there are still
fine times coming. Jackson has picked it up in June (.289/.357/.421)
and there are other encouraging signs. He never stopped walking
throughout his troubles (11.4% this year) and his contact rate is right
on target
(87.3% this year, 87.6% career). Now he’s finally hitting the ball with
some authority (27.5% line drive rate).

He probably won’t ever have the power of the average starting first
baseman, he just doesn’t hit the ball in the air enough (34.4% this
year, 40.3% career). But if Jackson can continue to spray line drives
and show his trademark excellent eye at the plate, he can
help in deeper leagues – especially in leagues that count OBP and have five outfielders. Maybe Kevin
Smith was right – maybe everyone does want Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

For more on Conor Jackson and other waiver-wire options, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.