Results tagged ‘ Pittsburgh Pirates ’

Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Baseball 2012 Recap: First Basemen

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw and Analyst Alex Burwasser recap the top five first basemen this fantasy season as well as the top three busts.

TOP FIVE PERFORMERS

5. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels

In an offseason move that shocked many, Albert Pujols decided to leave St. Louis, his home for a decade where he won two championships, for the bright lights of Los Angeles in Anaheim. To the delight of jilted Cardinals fans, Pujols got off to a rough start for the Angels, even hearing some cat calls in his home park, but he more than made up for it over his final 105 games where he hit .319 with 26 home runs and 86 RBI. You can make a case that he may not be as dominant a hitter as he once was but he still put up his typical 30-HR, 100-RBI season, which always has fantasy value.

4. Billy Butler, 1B, Royals

Billy Butler has always been a very productive hitter throughout his career for the Royals but has consistently flown under the radar because he plays in relative obscurity in Kansas City. However, this year he was the subject of a national controversy when Robinson Cano decided not to pick him for the Home Run Derby in front of his home fans at Kauffman Stadium. Butler took the high road and did the talking with his bat the rest of the year when he finished with 29 home runs and 106 RBI, both career highs, all while hitting above .300 at .313.

3. Prince Fielder, 1B, Tigers

Much like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder moved from the top of the NL Central to the opposite league in the offseason. Fielder signed a massive nine-year contract which left many worrying about the long-term injury risk of signing a man of his size, but his performance in the first year of that deal quieted all the critics when he blasted 30 home runs and knocked in 108 RBI leading the Tigers to their second consecutive AL Central crown. Though Prince has had more powerful years, he hit over .300 for the first time in his career, checking in at a very impressive .313 on the season.

2. Edwin Encarnacion, 1B/3B, Jays

Encarnacion had been a solid player for Toronto since acquiring him from the Reds in 2009, putting up seasons of 20 home runs and a little more than 50 RBI on average in 2010 and 2011. This season, however, he completely obliterated those numbers with 42 home runs and 110 RBI, more in each category than the previous two years combined. In addition, Encarnacion also improved in other categories, setting career highs in stolen bases (13) and walks (84). What makes this rapid improvement all the more impressive is that he did it without Jose Bautista in the lineup who missed about half the year injured. Next year could be very intriguing for the Jays with those two bats healthy and producing in the middle of that lineup.

1. Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B, Tigers

There really is not much else you can say about the year Miguel Cabrera had for the American League champion Tigers. He was the first Triple Crown winner since 1967 (led the AL in batting average, home runs and RBI) and he did it before the age of 30! In fact, Miguel Cabrera leads all active major leaguers under the age of 30 in hits (1802), home runs (321), and RBI (1123). We are not sure Cabrera is on his way to his second championship ring this year, but it sure looks like he will be on his way to Cooperstown one day.

TOP THREE BUSTS

3. Mark Teixiera, 1B, Yankees

Every year in his career besides his rookie campaign in 2003, Mark Teixiera has had at least 30 home runs and 100 RBI, but not in 2012 when he hit only 24 home runs and knocked in only 84 RBI. Even more alarming for Teixiera is that he has seen his normally stellar batting average drop season after season. A perennial .280, and some years .300, hitter has not reached those numbers since 2009 when he hit .292. The last three seasons he has not hit above .256 including this year when he hit .251 and had a dreadful on-base percentage of .332. For the Yankees, he provides a lot of value with his defense at first base, but for fantasy owners, his value seems to be slipping fast.

2. Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Pirates

At the beginning of the year, many picked the Marlins and their revamped team with the acquisitions of Jose Reyes and Heath Bell among others to possibly win the NL East. Gaby Sanchez was one of the players set to contribute in the middle of that lineup, but much like the entire team, he was a gigantic disappointment. After the first 55 games of the season while hitting just above the Mendoza line at .202, Sanchez was sent down to the minors and subsequently traded to Pittsburgh. Though he fared better for the Pirates than for the Marlins, he still finished the year with a .217 average and only seven home runs, a huge dropoff from back-to-back 19 home run seasons in 2010 and 2011.

1. Eric Hosmer, 1B, Royals

During Spring Training, there was a lot of buzz around the Royals that they may be the team on the rise given their farm system and dearth of young talent. One of the centerpieces of this renewed hope was Eric Hosmer, and after his rookie campaign in 2011, it was easy to believe given that he hit .293 with 19 HR and 78 RBI in only 128 games. Much like his team, Hosmer severely underperformed his expectations this year hitting .232 in his first full season in the majors with less home runs (14) and less RBI (60). You would hope that this is just your classic sophomore slump for the third overall pick in the 2008 draft and 2013 is a year he can replicate or even outperform his 2011 numbers.

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Report: Michael McKenry, Grant Balfour, Josh Vitters, and Erik Kratz

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down four players who fantasy managers may want to pick up off the waiver wire this week.

 

Michael McKenry, C, Pirates

The Pirates are trying to stay in contention for the playoffs and they have gotten some help on offense from an unlikely source in McKenry. In 47 games, he’s batting .285 with 11 home runs and 28 RBI. He has eight homers in his last 21 games alone. If you need a catcher and McKenry is available, he is a good pickup, though it’s unlikely that he will sustain these numbers.

 

Grant Balfour, RP, Athletics

The A’s have had some issues in the bullpen as rookie Ryan Cook has struggled recently. This opens the door for Balfour, who last gave up a run on June 29. He is 2-2 with seven saves, a 2.60 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. The coaching staff has acknowledged that it has to consider moves within the bullpen as the team is in contention, and Balfour is a likely option for the closer role.

 

Josh Vitters, 3B, Cubs

Vitters was the third pick of the 2007 draft, selected ahead of Matt Wieters, Madison Bumgarner and Jason Heyward. The top prospect made his debut for the Cubs on Sunday. In 110 games at Triple-A, he had a .304 average, 17 home runs and 68 RBI.

 

Erik Kratz, C, Phillies

Kratz played seven years at Triple-A and had a .288 average with 15 homers last season. He’s making the most of his opportunity with the Phillies, batting .379 with four home runs and four doubles in 15 games. Kratz should do well as a backup while Carlos Ruiz is on the disabled list.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Fantasy Baseball Players Getting a Shot: Brown, Olt, Holland, Wallace, and Sanchez

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses five players who are getting a chance to play in the majors and how valuable they may be to fantasy managers.

 

Domonic Brown, OF, Phillies

With a couple of outfielders on the move, Dominic Brown has returned to the Phillies. The former top prospect hit .310 with 20 doubles in just 65 games in the minor leagues this season. A month shy of his 25th birthday, Brown’s window of opportunity is closing, so it makes a lot of sense for the Phillies to give him a shot. If you are in need of some offensive support, Brown should be able to offer a decent average and respectable on base percentage, though the power and speed have not developed the way we thought they would so far.

 

Mike Olt, 1B, Rangers

A late first-round pick in 2010, Olt is a big-time power hitter who slammed 28 home runs with 82 RBI in 95 games at Double-A this season. He was desired by all teams when it came to blockbuster deals at the trade deadline, but instead the Rangers plan to have him contribute in the big leagues now. This is bad news for Mitch Moreland, who offers great power but has not been given much of a shot to play everyday.

 

Greg Holland, RP, Royals

A 27-year-old right-hander who throws hard but does not surrender many long balls, Greg Holland picked up his first save on Wednesday night with a 1-2-3 inning. Holland can still get wild at times and is not nearly as dominant as he was a season ago, but the Royals are at least providing him with the opportunity to succeed in the high pressure role of closer.

 

Brett Wallace, 1B, Astros

It took Brett Wallace more than 330 at-bats to rack up five home runs last year. He already has four this year in fewer than 50 at-bats after blasting two in his last start. Though his plate discipline is lacking, Wallace did offer some power at Triple-A this season while offering a .300 average. The soon-to-be 26-year-old will have every shot to contribute for the remainder of the season with the Astros in what could be his last chance at being an everyday player.

 

Gaby Sanchez, 1B, Pirates

The Marlins found no more use for the struggling Gaby Sanchez while the Pirates are eager to give him an opportunity. Sanchez has a .200 average with just three home runs this season, but this is a player who hit 19 home runs in back-to-back seasons and was batting .302 with five home runs in 34 games at Triple-A. With Casey McGehee dealt to the Yankees, Sanchez has first base to himself in Pittsburgh.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Ballpark Figures Trade Deadline Wrap Up

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw break down the moves made at the trade deadline and the implications for your fantasy team.

 

Reds Trade for Jonathan Broxton

For the Reds, Jonathan Broxton simply provides depth and some closer experience. However, he is destined for a middle relief role with the club in front of Aroldis Chapman. The Royals get two quality arms in return and Greg Holland becomes the closer in Kansas City.

 

Rangers Acquire Ryan Dempster

With the Angels breathing down their necks, the Rangers had to do something before the trade deadline, especially with Colby Lewis and Neftali Feliz lost for the season. Ryan Dempster had already been traded to the Braves but he rejected the move last week. He did, however, welcome a trade to the Rangers mere hours before the trade deadline. This is a move that will help Dempster quite a bit when you consider that he has won just five of his 16 starts despite a 2.25 ERA. His ERA is likely to rise in Texas, but I’m sure fantasy managers will welcome it with the additional wins due to the Rangers run support.

 

Shane Victorino Traded to the Dodgers

One of the better offensive outfielders in baseball, Shane Victorino ends his career with the Phillies now that he has been traded to the Dodgers. He gets plenty of steals, has some pop and reaches base often. However, in Los Angeles, he will likely lose some of that pop, which could keep his average down a tad. Originally drafted by the Dodgers in 1999, Victorino owns a .357 average at Dodgers Stadium and will benefit from having Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier in the lineup.

 

Hunter Pence Traded to the Giants

This is the big surprise, as Hunter Pence is 29 years old and clearly in his prime. Though Pence has lost some of his speed this season, he does have some pop and is a line drive hitter.  A move to the Giants could cost him some home runs, but at least he will play some meaningful baseball this fall. Regardless, overall the move hurts Pence’s fantasy value.

 

Yankees Acquire Casey McGehee

For a second straight season, Casey McGehee has struggled at the plate but he is a fine Ty Wigginton type player who can contribute in big moments. What this acquisition does is hurt the fantasy value of Eric Chavez, as three is now a crowd with Jayson Nix also taking some at-bats away while filling in for the injured Alex Rodriguez.

 

Pirates Acquire Gaby Sanchez

The Pirates had nothing to lose and now hope that a change of scenery will do some good for Gaby Sanchez. After two straight seasons with 572 at-bats and 19 home runs, Sanchez struggled mightily this season with just three home runs and a .202 average before being relegated to the minor leagues. The 28-year-old moves to a more hitter-friendly ballpark and a surprisingly better lineup to resurrect his career.

 

Cardinals Acquire Edward Mujica

Last year the Cardinals brought in relief help including Octavio Dotel and it worked out well for them. This year, the Cardinals have a bit more work to do but they will not let the bullpen be the team’s unraveling.  On Tuesday, the Cards acquired Edward Mujica, a hard-thrower with solid control. He does surrender some home runs but is another quality arm to help bridge the gap to Jason Motte.

 

Pirates Acquire Travis Snider

Another cheap pickup for the Pirates, Travis Snider has some serious potential, but it just did not work out in Toronto. On the other hand, Pittsburgh is a fine place for him to establish himself and at 24 years old, he has some time to reach his potential. I see Snider as a potential 30-homer guy with more than 10 steals and a respectable average. He is the big bat that the Pirates would love to team up with Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen.

 

Blue Jays Trade Steve Delabar for Eric Thames

A feel good story in Seattle, Steve Delabar went from a coach to a player in a little over a year and has averaged well over a strikeout per inning this season. He provides the Blue Jays with the power arm that they expected to have in the injured Sergio Santos. His value takes a minor decline since he moves from the pitcher’s haven Safeco Field to the hitter-friendly Rogers Centre.

Eric Thames makes the reverse move from Toronto to Seattle. There won’t be many complaints from Thames since he will likely get a crack at playing everyday with the Mariners. He has some power but really struggles when it comes to the strikeout-to-walk ratio.

 

Braves Acquire Reed Johnson and Paul Maholm

A .300 hitter for a second straight year, Reed Johnson is very much a utility player with no fantasy value. On the other hand, Paul Maholm has enjoyed his time in Chicago with a 9-6 record and a solid 3.74 ERA. He has surrendered a run or fewer in each of his last six starts. Maholm also boasts a 1.69 ERA in five career starts at Turner Field. Though the Braves only made this deal since Ryan Dempster rejected the trade to Atlanta, I do think this is a nice fit with Maholm as hot as any pitcher in baseball right now.

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com.

Fantasy Baseball: MLB Debuts and The Five Players Most Likely to be Traded

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down the fantasy implications of two players’ MLB debuts and the potential trades of five players who are most likely to be moved.

 

The Big Debuts

 

Matt Harvey, SP, Mets

Finally some good news for Mets fans as 2010 first-round pick Matt Harvey made his debut Thursday night and it was a memorable one to say the least. Harvey set a Mets record for a debut with 11 strikeouts and did not allow a run to score in 5.1 innings.

Harvey touched 98 MPH on the radar gun and got some K’s with high fastballs while also getting some weak swings by putting sliders in the dirt. Don’t expect all of his starts to go this smoothly, but Harvey is a strikeout artist who should continue to rack up the K’s, though it could come with some walks as well.

 

Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

On the first Major League pitch he saw, Starling Marte made his mark, blasting a home run. The 23-year-old outfielder is an instant upgrade for the contending Pirates. Marte has some power, as he blasted 12 home runs with 13 triples and 21 doubles at Triple-A. He lacks plate discipline, but also has some speed. I do not see Marte having too much fantasy value this year aside from what could be a hot start since the Major Leaguers lack an in-depth scouting report on him. Regardless, the future is now for the Pirates and Marte only makes the team more interesting.

 

Five Players Most Likely to be Moved

 

1) Zack Greinke, SP, Brewers

The Brewers have come out and acknowledged that they are going to trade their ace, which makes it clear that no long-term commitment could be reached with Zack Greinke.  Ultimately, a trade to a contender will do fantasy managers some good, but at varied levels.

If he goes to the Rangers: The hitter’s ballpark is bound to lead to some extra runs so Greinke’s ERA may spike, but he will also enjoy the best run support possible. This is the trading partner that makes the most sense for everyone. Greinke owns a sensational 2.38 lifetime ERA at Rangers Ballpark.

If he goes to the Angels: Greinke should continue to post similar numbers but with a few extra wins thanks to the offensive star power of Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo. You can expect a big second half from the ace who is 44-45 in the first half of seasons and 41-31 following the All-Star break.

If he goes to the Braves: This is the best ballpark for Grienke, plus in the NL he faces opposing pitchers, which will keep his ERA lower. Greinke is 25-9 in 49 starts with a National League club.

 

2) Jonathan Broxton, RP, Royals

The interest in Jonathan Broxton has been limited on the trade market and it may be for a couple of reasons. First, few contenders are desperate for a closer or late reliever right now. Also, Broxton’s numbers are not as good as they appear. He is not getting many strikeouts, which is a reversal of his career trend. He is also allowing 1.40 runners on base each inning, which is a recipe for destruction in late innings. The Royals are wise to put him on the block.

 

3) Jason Vargas, SP, Mariners

With the demands so high for front-of-the-rotation hurlers such as Greinke and James Shields, alternatives such as Jason Vargas are becoming attractive for teams. Vargas has won four straight starts and now owns a career high 11 wins this season. So when he does get traded, what does this mean to his fantasy value? The run support will increase, but his ERA will also soar. He has a 4.67 ERA on the road this season compared to 2.63 at home, which explains everything you need to know about the 29-year-old southpaw.

 

4) Francisco Liriano, SP, Twins

When the Twins dealt their ace Johan Santana to the Mets a few years back, they not only assumed that some of the prospects from the trade would turn into stars, but the hope was that Francisco Liriano would step up as an able replacement at the top of the rotation. Though he did enjoy some success in 2010 with 14 wins, a 3.62 ERA and a career high 202 strikeouts, the following two seasons have been disastrous.

Liriano has found himself in the bullpen and even in the minors over the last two seasons while sustaining an ERA north of 5.00 in the Majors. The positive signs this season are that the opposition is hitting just .239 against Liriano and he is fanning more than a batter per inning. On the other hand, his control is lacking, which makes him a major gamble for whoever brings him in via trade.

 

5) Yunel Escobar, SS, Blue Jays

After a strong 2011 season that included 11 home runs, a .290 average and .369 on-base percentage, Escobar has struggled this season. His average is down to .255, his OBP is .299 and his 19 extra-base hits have resulted in a .342 slugging percentage.

Escobar has shown some life recently with a five-game hitting streak, but there is growing concern about his character according to ESPN’s Buster Olney, which may scare off some suitors. Keep in mind that Toronto is a favorable hitter’s park and the Blue Jays lineup has posted a lot of runs. The 29-year-old Cuban does not make for a very good fantasy investment.

 

 

For more fantasy insight, visit BloombergSports.com. 

Fantasy Baseball Prospects on the Rise: Gose, Harvey, Myers, and Marte

 

Twitter: @RobShawSports and @BloombergSports

 

Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss four players who have made or will soon make their major league debut and could help your fantasy team.

 

Anthony Gose, OF, Blue Jays

Gose picked up a single in his debut as a pinch hitter against the Yankees on Tuesday.  Just 21 years old, he boasts a high on-base percentage and even stole 70 bases a year ago.  He is not a power hitter, which is fine for a Toronto lineup with plenty of them.  The injury of Jose Bautista opens a door for Gose, who does strike out a little too often for a player most dangerous when on the base paths.

 

Matt Harvey, SP, Mets

The season-ending injury to Dillon Gee opens the door for Harvey to eventually make his debut.  For now, the Mets will go with veteran spot starter Miguel Batista, but General Manager Sandy Alderson did confirm that we will see Harvey this season with the Mets. Harvey has been a bit wild this season but he does miss bats and even hit a home run with a .267 average as a batter at Triple-A.

 

Wil Myers, OF, Royals

The former catcher is shining bright at Triple-A this season with 15 home runs, 46 RBI and a .313 average through 53 games. The Royals are very much playing for the future and will likely be sellers this summer in order to open up some playing time for Myers. Look for Lorenzo Cain or Jeff Francouer to be on the move to get Myers some Big League at-bats.

 

Starling Marte, OF, Pirates

The Pirates are a small-market team and usually prefer to upgrade from within. For the first time in a while, they will have that opportunity the second they call up Starling Marte. The outfielder has 11 home runs and 18 steals while batting .292 at Triple-A. Marte is bound to mesh well with Andrew McCutchen as the Pirates look to win the division.

 

For more fantasy insight, 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.

Fantasy Baseball Preview: Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard, and Yu Darvish

 

BY ROB SHAW

Twitter: @RobShawSports

 

Edwin Jackson is young, durable, and has been a winner with 10-plus wins in each of the last four seasons.  The solid track record begs the question why did so many teams pass on him.

 

The 28-year-old hurler is now on his seventh Major League team and he hasn’t played for losers either.  He went 5-2 down the stretch for the Cardinals last season, playing a role in the team’s World Series Championship.

 

One of the hardest throwing hurlers in baseball, Jackson has improved his control over the years.  His greatest weakness recently is that he is just too hittable.  Even in his successful run with the Cardinals the opposition hit .300 against him.  The good news is that he keeps the ball in the yards, but for fantasy managers looking for a low WHIP, Jackson is not a solution.

 

The move to Washington means he’ll now don the jersey for his sixth team over the last four years.  However, Bloomberg Sports likes his fantasy value.  The larger ballpark and National League setting should translate to 170 strikeouts, double-digit wins, and a 4.21 ERA.

 

Jackson is a fine low-risk, high ceiling option in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.  After all, it was just a few years back that he threw a no-hitter while pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Let’s see if he can finally sustain such dominance over a full season.

 

Once one of the hurlers in the most demand in the Major Leagues, Erik Bedard hopes to build on his improvement from last season while joining the Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

Bedard was a disaster in Seattle.  Because of injuries, he never lived up to the hype and while the Mariners traded away top prospect Adam Jones to the Orioles for him, they ended up letting him go for very little in return last season to the Red Sox.

 

The good news is that Bedard showed that even after all of the injury-ravaged seasons, he still has some potential right now.  He offered fine control last season and fanned a batter per inning throughout the year.

 

A move to Pittsburgh should lead to some good results for Bedard’s fantasy managers.  Pittsburgh’s ballpark plays neutral and he will no longer have to deal with designated hitters in the majority of his starts.  Most importantly, he has sustained his health, which is the key to his performance.

 

BloombergSports.com projects a solid 3.74 ERA and 1 .30 WHIP from the veteran hurler this season, and with some luck he could reach double-digit wins for the first time in five years.

 

The loss of CJ Wilson could be crushing to the Texas Rangers.  Just a year removed from a second World Series, the Rangers lost their ace for a second time.  First it was Cliff Lee who bolted to rejoin the Phillies.  Now it’s Wilson, and while he may not be as dominant as Lee, the fact that he joins the rival LA Angels of Anaheim makes matters worse.

 

The Rangers were desperate to respond and without many proven stars on the market they had to compete with teams including the Toronto Blue Jays to land Yu Darvish, an ace from Japan.  With an enormous bid, the Rangers land the hard-throwing hurler who will enjoy the loftiest expectations by a free agent to join the Rangers perhaps since Alex Rodriguez signed his now infamous $252 million deal.

 

As far as realistic projections for Darvish, BloombergSports.com offers a 13-8 record, 185 strikeouts, and a 3.63 ERA for the hard-throwing hurler.   That makes him the 16th best starting pitcher, and a top-50 fantasy talent.

 

Despite the lofty projections, there is still a great deal of risk for fantasy managers.  After all, Darvish is new to America and will have to adapt culturally to Major League Baseball, plus he calls home to one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league.  He will not get away with many mistakes and the media will be hounding him all season long.

 

For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.

The New Duke of Arizona

By R.J. Anderson //

In 2006, the Pittsburgh Pirates had five pitchers of age 24 or younger combine to account for three-quarters of their season starts. Only one of those pitchers remains a Bucco. Oliver Perez was the first to go, then Tom Gorzelanny and Ian Snell hit the bricks. Now, Zach Duke is a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks, leaving Paul Maholm as the sole survivor.

The Pirates chose to designated Duke for assignment last week rather than hold off and (eventually) non-tender him. The move simply paved the way for Duke to leave the team. The only added benefit was the potential to recoup something in exchange for the rights to Duke. Someone did bite, and as a result the Pirates will receive a player to be named later, which reports peg as a marginal prospect.

The 2009 season represents the apex of Duke’s fantasy value. He tossed more than 200 innings of 4.06 ERA ball and won double-digit games. In typical Pirates fashion, the breakout’s sequel was a setback. Duke still made 29 starts, but only lasted 159 innings – a little over five innings per start, on average. That’s not a good ratio for someone who had averaged more than six innings per start throughout his career, including a career-best 6.7 innings a start in 2009.

The drop in innings was not because of durability or stamina issues, but rather ineffective pitching. His 5.72 ERA was an eyesore. Digging deeper, Duke had nine starts last season where he allowed more than four runs and he allowed more than six runs in six of those starts. He also had seven starts where he allowed multiple home runs and two where he allowed three homers.

Nevertheless, Duke is exactly the kind of pitcher Arizona General Manager Kevin Towers targeted during his time in San Diego. A lefty, Duke throws a mid-to-high-80s fastball with sink on it (resulting in a career groundball rate just a tick below 49%). His changeup sits in the low-80s and he relies heavily on two kinds of breaking balls; a low-70s curve and a high-70s/low-80s slider. The pitches combined for a decent whiff rate the last two seasons, but nothing special.

Pittsburgh plays its games within the friendly dimensions of PNC Park – a stadium with a reputation for limiting right-handed power; which in turn enhanced Duke’s ability to pitch. Arizona’s Chase Field is geared towards hitters, particularly lefties. Attempting to find similar cases of pitchers who went from Pittsburgh to Arizona (or vice versa) and quantify the trend is impossible. The Diamondbacks are too young to have many common links throughout the league, but even they had standards above the Pirates’ rejects.

Expect Duke’s hit rate (because pitchers who give up hits on 34.7% of their balls in play simply don’t last in the major leagues) and his home run rate (because, again, pitchers who give up homers on nearly 14% of their flyballs never make it this far) to decline. From there, his upside is likely that of a league-average pitcher, with the chance to look slightly better thanks to pitching his road games in some extremely friendly environments. He could be serviceable for the DBacks. But he’s unrosterable in all but the deepest fantasy leagues.

For more on Zach Duke and other change of scenary pitchers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Front Office.  

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