Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses three playeres to pick up this week for your fantasy baseball team.
Brett Anderson, SP, Athletics
In his 2012 debut, Anderson had a strong performance with 7 IP, 4 H, 0 BB, 6 K, and the win. This 24 year-old southpaw had a good 2010 as well, going 7-6 with a 2.80 ERA and 1.19 WHIP
Andrew Bailey, RP, Red Sox
In only six appearances this season, Bailey has gone 4.1 IP, 1 SV, 2.08 ERA, 1.15 WHIP. In his first three years, he has convered 75 of 84 save opportunities. In his career he has a 2.07 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP.
Jhoulys Chacin, SP, Rockies
In his first start since May 1, Chacin went 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K against the Mets. In his second start on Sunday, he went 5 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 K against the Cubs. He had 11 wins last year with a 3.62 ERA and .231 OPP AVG
Players to watch for
Troy Tulowitzki and Lucas Duda are both returning for their respective teams, so look for them to possibly make an impact if you pick them up for your fantasy team.
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BY EVAN BLEIER
Although you won’t see his name near the top of any AL Rookie of the Year lists, Red Sox third baseman Will Middlebrooks is putting together a season that should have more folks taking notice. Since being called up to the majors in early May, Middlebrooks been one of the most consistent hitters in the Boston offense despite having his place in the lineup shifted time and again by manager Bobby Valentine. The constant juggling hasn’t seemed to affect Middlebrooks at the plate, as his average has hovered around .300 for much of the season. It currently rests at .299 after career game 64. Pair that average with 13 home runs, 47 RBI and an OPS of .855 and you have the makings of a pretty good rookie season.
In fact, take a look at another first year player’s numbers through 64 games and it’s easy to see why Middlebrooks should be getting a little bit more attention:
BA: .281 HR: 8 RBI: 25 OPS: .817
The numbers above belong to National League Rookie of the Year favorite Bryce Harper. Granted, Harper bats higher up in the lineup than where most of Middlebrooks’ at-bats have come from, so it’s logical that his RBI totals would be lower, but the rest of the numbers more than speak for themselves. Harper does possess superior speed and he walks more than Middlebrooks, but both players struck out at nearly identical rates through 64 games, Harper with 55, Middlebrooks with 61. This is not to say that heralded top prospect Harper shouldn’t be getting his due or that Middlebrooks will turn into a superstar, but the gap between the two players, at the plate at least, is a lot smaller than some might think.
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BY ROB SHAW
Selling Jair Jurrjens:
The Braves hurler is now in the minor leagues after an atrocious start. Jurrjens has been one of the more underappreciated hurlers of the last few years. He won at least 13 games in three of the last four seasons, twice with an ERA sub-3. However, this season, he lost some of his stuff as he failed to make it out of the fifth inning in three of four starts and not only is he walking way too many batters, but the opposition is hitting .411 off him. With his fastball in the decline, perhaps a confidence boost in the minor leagues will do the 26-year-old some good. Feel free to release him from your fantasy team.
Buying Cody Ross:
Fantasy managers may have forgotten that Cody Ross once carried a power bat in Florida, surpassing 20 home runs in back-to-back seasons. Sure, he has some World Series heroics a couple of years ago, but playing for the Giants kept him in a pitcher’s park that ate away at his power stats. That changes this season as Ross is now playing at Fenway and already has five home runs, three of which have come at home. A streaky hitter, Ross has had home runs in consecutive games twice already this season. With Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury out, Ross should enjoy regular playing time. This is a player to target for his power.
Selling Ryan Roberts:
The good news for super utility man Ryan Roberts was the 19 home runs and 18 stolen bases last season. The bad news for Roberts was the .239 average over the second half of the season. Unfortunately, Roberts resembles the second half player from last season as his average is sub-Mendoza line with just 10 hits in 66 at bats. At 31 years old, it’s fair to say that what we saw last season was too good to be true. Roberts is now losing out on playing time to Cody Ransom.
Buying Nate Schierholtz:
A 1-17 struggle has brought the average down to .283, but Nate Schierholtz remains an intriguing fantasy option and should continue to get regular playing time in the outfield for the Giants. The addition of Buster Posey has a huge impact in the lineup, and Schierholtz has proven capable of hitting with power and surprising speed over the last few years. If this is finally the first time that the veteran will get 400 at bats, Schierholtz can surprise with some fantasy value.
BY ROB SHAW
The Red Sox willingness to trade away both Marco Scutaro and Jed Lowrie was certainly bold, but really the bigger story was the franchise’s confidence in former Royals middle infielder Mike Aviles.
A career .288 hitter, Aviles has been a fine contributor in the Majors when healthy. The New York native making himself at home in Boston doesn’t have much power, but in a solid lineup he can pile up many runs. He is also a sneaky stolen base threat. Think of Aviles in the same mold as Angels second baseman Howie Kendrick, except for a much lower cost and with shortstop eligibility.
Aviles and the Red Sox played at the hitter-friendly US Cellular in Chicago this weekend. Though he finished hitless in his final seven at bats, the 31-year-old veteran makes for a great start in the next series against Oakland. The series will be played in Fenway Park where he already boasts two home runs and a .333 average this season.
The Cubs slugger Bryan LaHair reminds me a bit of Michael Morse, a late bloomer with plenty of power who finally broke out last season with the Nationals. LaHair, is a 29-year-old slugger who entered the season with just five home runs to his credit. He spent the last six seasons at Triple-A and last season blasted 38 round-trippers with a .331 average.
So far LaHair is batting .382 with the majority of those hits good for extra bases. While those numbers will regress quite a bit, that does not mean that he can’t still end up as one of the greatest surprises of the season. LaHair can blast 25 home runs with 90 RBI.
In many ways, he is an upgrade over Carlos Pena for the Cubbies at first base. He may not be the defensive gem that Pena is, but with an average .150 better than what Pena has offered the last few seasons, the Chicago fan base is not complaining. Neither should fantasy managers.
BY ROB SHAW
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.
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By Bloomberg Sports // Ballpark Figures: Stock Report– Bloomberg Television’s Michele Steele and Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Analyst Rob Shaw are talking baseball. For the details surrounding the K-Rod Mets saga, Jim Thome’s power display, the injured second base superstars, and Josh Willingham and Jacoby Ellsbury, Bloomberg Sports brings on USA Today baseball columnist Steve Gardner. For more fantasy insight visit the Fantasy Windup at USAToday.com as well as BloombergSports.com for your top notch data analysis.
By Erik Hahmann
New York Yankees
New York comes into the season as not only a juggernaut in real life, but in the fantasy realm as well. Their offense is anchored by the best infield in baseball, led by Alex Rodriguez, who fully healthy should go back to putting up MVP-type numbers. The infield is rounded out by Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixiera, each of whom is capable of ranking in the top 3 at their respective positions. New addition Curtis Granderson should flourish in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium – he hit 30 homers in far less friendly Comerica Park last year. Home plate is once again manned by Jorge Posada, who even given his advanced age should put up above-average numbers.
CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett lead a strong rotation, with newcomer Javier Vazquez making for an excellent number-three starter. Phil Hughes moves to the rotation and is a rare Yankees sleeper; he was once an elite SP prospect before he became a lights-out bullpen guy, and he’s the number-five starter to start the season. Joba Chamberlain should get a good amount of K’s in the 7th-8th inning role, setting the table for the always reliable Mariano Rivera to once again be the one of the best closers in the game.
An emphasis on defense led the Sox to acquire several new players this off-season. Adrian Beltre could have a bounceback season at 3B now that he is in a more hitter-friendly park – assuming he’s finally healthy. Marco Scutaro is coming off a career year at age 35, so expect some regression from his 2009 season. Center field is now manned by Mike Cameron, with Jacoby Ellsbury and his 70-steal potential shifting to left. Expect regulars like Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, and J.D. Drew to continue to put up their usual stellar numbers. Playing in Fenway for a full season, in a solid lineup, could also boost Victor Martinez‘s already high fantasy value.
The strength of the team is the rotation. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett lead the way as one of the top 1-2 punches in the game, with John Lackey a close third. Moving to the AL East should slightly hinder Lackey’s numbers, so downgrade him a bit. The closer position is filled by Jonathan Papelbon for now, with Daniel Bard poised to take over if Papelbon falters.
The Rays set a team record for runs scored last season, and this year’s offense could be even better. Evan Longoria has put up outstanding numbers in his first two seasons and could exceed them this year as he vies for the AL MVP. Last year’s fantasy darling, Ben Zobrist, moves up to third in the order (ahead of Longoria) though he might struggle to approach 2009’s monster numbers. Carl Crawford should make his (probable) last season in Tampa Bay a good one, getting on base and stealing 50 or more bases. Jason Bartlett enjoyed a career season in 2009 and should regress, as his BABIP was a sky-high .364. A player who should stick around all season is Sean Rodriguez, who was acquired in the Scott Kazmir trade last season. He’s hit the cover off the ball this spring and could provide strong multi-positional value at 2B/OF.
The pitching staff is once again led by James Shields and Matt Garza, with Garza a popular pick for a breakout season; both Shields and Garza ranked among the unluckiest pitchers in the baseball for run support, and could both win more games with a little more luck on that front. Jeff Niemann, David Price and Wade Davis all offer upside as well, with Davis penciled in as the fifth starter, with a chance to compete for Rookie of the Year honors. Rafael Soriano has looked shaky in his first outings as the Rays’ new closer and has a history of injuries. J.P. Howell could make a good insurance policy for Soriano, assuming Howell himself can return healthy in the near future.
One of the more exciting teams to watch this season might well be the Baltimore Orioles. Rookie starter Brian Matusz has the skills to be an above-average performer this season, even in the rugged American League East. Veteran Kevin Millwood will start Opening Day for the Orioles. Millwood is a workhorse who should give Baltimore much needed innings at the top of the rotation.
What everyone will pay to see, however, is the O’s exciting young offense, led by Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, and Matt Wieters. Markakis drove in more than 100 runs last season and looks poised to do the same this year. While Jones had a slightly down 2009 season at the plate, he did lower his strikeout rate and up his walk rate, a very good sign for a young hitter. He could attain 20 HR/15 SB status this season. It was hard for Wieters to live up to the hype that preceded him last season, but he did an admirable job. It could all come together this season, with 20 HR and a .290 batting average very real possibilities – big numbers from the catching position.
The Blue Jays might not have the talent to finish even fourth in the division, but they still have a few interesting fantasy options for this season. Aaron Hill was one of the biggest surprises in baseball last season, exploding for 36 HR and 108 RBI at second base. He did have a fairly low OBP (.330) and his 36 home runs were 19 more than his previous career high, so some caution is advised. The other member of the Jays’ lineup to enjoy a breakout season was Adam Lind. The 26-year-old seemed to finally put it all together during his first full year with the team, putting up a .300 AVG+, 30 HR+, 100 RBI+ season. He shouldn’t have an issue putting up similar numbers this season.
An inexperienced pitching staff is led by Shaun Marcum, who hasn’t pitched since 2008. Ricky Romero, a Rookie of the Year contender last season with a 13-9 record and 4.30 ERA, might be the safest play of any of the Blue Jays starters.
For more information on the AL East, check out Bloomberg Sports fantasy kits