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.
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.
By Eno Sarris //
Sometimes, fantasy managers have to do things that make them feel dirty. They’ll pick up a lousy pitcher who has happened upon the closer role, or grab a streaky player in the middle of a nice stretch. It happens, and it can lead to championships.
That brings us to Emilio Bonifacio and his role on the Florida Marlins this year. With the underwhelming Wes Helms the other option at third base, the speedy infielder has received ample playing time at the hot corner, while also backing up the starting outfielders. He has produced for fantasy owners too, hitting .283 with nine stolen bases in just 166 plate appearances (with three of those steals coming in September). Managers in leagues of any kind could easily get a speed boost from him right now, and they’d be forgiven.
But they’d have to be forgiven nonetheless, because there is a litany of reasons why Bonifacio is not a good long-term option. The most obvious is the fact that he’s not in the team’s long-term plans at any position: last year’s rookie of the year Chris Coghlan is said to be slated for third base next year, and most of the rest of the positions around the diamond are filled with promising young players, like the recently profiled Logan Morrison.
The rest of the reasons might be less obvious but are more damning. For example, Bonifacio doesn’t walk enough for a man with his skill set – his 7.1% career walk rate is below average (usually the league average is around 9%). He also strikes out a tad too much (21.8% career strikeout rate, average is around 20%) for a guy with absolutely no power (.069 ISO, average is usually around .150). In fact, his career strikeout rate would be the worst among batting average qualifiers with ISOs below .100 this year. He’d also be the only player to combine a below-average walk rate with a strikeout rate over 20% and an ISO under .100.
None of this even mentions his unsustainable .352 batting average on balls in play – he is speedy, and might have a higher BABIP than most, but that’s not a number that’s likely to hold. Lastly, Bonifacio rates as a negative defender at all of the infield positions he’s played, which is yet another reason why he probably won’t figure prominently in the Marlins’ plans next year.
Sometimes you have to pick up flawed players on the way to a fantasy title. The important thing is to remember to not drop a player of consequence, and to not keep flawed players from year to year. Even in a deep keeper league, there’s no point in stashing Bonifacio, despite his 30 combined steals in the past two seasons. He is just the kind of player who can give you a few stolen bases in the season’s final weeks, then get discarded in the off-season.