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.
Bloomberg Sports Anchors Julie Alexandria and Rob Shaw discuss players who may be on the road to the Hall of Fame.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre may be a surprise on this list for some people, but the longeivty of his career could land him in the Hall of Fame. The 33-year-old currently has 2,113 hits and 322 home runs. In order to get to 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, he would need to average 127 hits and 25 home runs per season until the age of 40. Beltre has a good chance to reach those benchmarks, as he plays in one of the most homer-friendly stadiums in baseball and could benefit from the designated hitter position in the American League down the road.
Paul Konerko is certainly a surprise when it comes to potential Hall of Fame candidacy. The White Sox first baseman, who is 36 years old, has 409 career home runs, and 500 homers is definitely in reach. He would need to average 22 home runs per year until he is 40 to get to 500. That would put him in a good position to get into the Hall of Fame, as he also won a World Series in 2005.
Andy Pettitte has 243 wins and 2,297 strikeouts in his career. He has the most postseason wins in history with 19, including four World Series wins. If he can get another seven wins and 203 K’s in the next two seasons, he would have 250 wins and 2,500 K’s, good for 47th and 31st all-time. That should give him a good shot at the Hall of Fame.
Roy Halladay has 192 career wins and 1,990 strikeouts. The 35-year-old would need 21 wins per season until he is 40 to reach 300 wins. Though he has dominated during certain parts of his career, he doesn’t have the longevity to get the numbers he needs to make it into the Hall of Fame, especially as he is battling a shoulder injury this season that should keep him out for six to eight weeks.
The odds are against Johan Santana making it into the Hall of Fame, as he is 33 years old and only has 137 wins and 1,956 strikeouts. He would need another five standout years to rack up the numbers to earn a spot in Cooperstown. He has had major surgery and it is uncertain how many more dominant years he has left in the tank.
C.C. Sabathia is as durable as they come and he should definitely make the Hall of Fame. He has 185 wins and is already 58th all-time in strikeouts with 2,119. If he finishes this season with another 90 strikeouts and averages 170 K’s for the next four years, he will have 2,889 K’s by the age of 36, good for 17th all-time. He would be well on his way to 3,000 K’s, a feat which only 16 pitchers have accomplished, all of them in the Hall of Fame aside from ineligible players.
Adam Dunn is 32 years old and has 388 career home runs. He should get into the Hall of Fame if he can reach 500 homers, which is certainly in striking distance. He has 23 home runs in 289 plate appearances this season. If he can hit another 17 home runs this year and enter the 2013 season with 405 in his career, he would need to average just 19 home runs for the next five seasons to reach 500.
Miguel Cabrera‘s home-run total of 277 through age 28 was the 13th-highest of any player at that age. If he hits 19 more home runs this season, he will enter his age-30 season with 310 career homers. From there, it would take him less than six seasons to get to 500 at his career rate of 33 home runs per 162 games. If he keeps playing the way he is now, he’s a certain Hall of Famer.
Ryan Braun joins Willie Mays and Darryl Strawberry as the only players to hit at least 180 home runs and steal at least 100 bases in their first six seasons. If Braun can hit 20 more homers this season, he will be one of two players to hit at least 200 home runs and bat at least .310 in his first six seasons, joining Albert Pujols. Braun is definitely on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer but he may need to prove himself more than others after testing positive for PEDs, even though his suspension was overturned.
Matt Holliday‘s Hall of Fame candidacy is iffy right now. If the 32-year-old can keep his average above .300 and record 1,032 more hits and 136 more home runs, he will be one of only 12 players with a .300 average, at least 350 homers and at least 2,500 hits, joining eight Hall of Famers as well as Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Chipper Jones and Vladimir Guerrero. He is a very solid player, but not necessarily a player worthy of the Hall of Fame.
For more fantasy baseball insight, visit BloombergSports.com.
BY ROB SHAW
Kyle Drabek was a top prospect when the Blue Jays acquired him from the Phillies for perennial Cy Young contender Roy Halladay. The Blue Jays fan base was hoping that Drabek would be able to make an immediate impact, but that did not occur at all in 2010, as the son of former Pirates All-Star Doug Drabek found some success at Double-A, while also walking four batters per nine innings. That is a statistic that Drabek could get away with in the minor leagues, but a different story in the Majors. Drabek lost all three starts in 2010.
Last season, it was assumed that Drabek would hold a spot in the starting rotation, and sure enough he did open the season with the Blue Jays. The stay did not last long as he ended the season with just 14 starts and a 6.06 ERA. The main issue was his lack of control, as he ranked as the worst in the Major Leagues in BB/9 as well as BB/K.
Now 24 years old, Drabek is getting another opportunity this season and he shined bright in the first two games. In fact, Drabek walked just one batter in his second start as he pitched into the eighth inning and surrendered just one earned run to a solid Orioles offense. Suddenly, Drabek was again en vogue and was a hot pickup in fantasy baseball.
Alas, doubt has returned to the mind of this fantasy expert. Even though Drabek remains undefeated with a 2-0 record and the Blue Jays have won all three of his starts, his control was lost in his last start, as he issued six walks in 5.1 innings. The fact that the Royals did not capitalize has a lot to do with Drabek’s ability to miss bats (he boasts 15 K’s in 18 innings) and a little bit of luck.
On Thursday, the Orioles face Drabek for the second time this season. In many ways, Drabek remains a wild card as he has great stuff, including a 94 MPH heater with movement, but if his control is lost the numbers could take a hit. I’d expect a bit of regression for the next few months of the season. I see Drabek offering up an ERA closer to four and could end up on a career path similar to fellow Blue Jays hurler Brandon Morrow. In other words, Drabek is not for the risk adverse. He will have moments of glory, but also fits of frustration.
BY ROB SHAW
Every season a different strategy has to be utilized in fantasy baseball drafts in order to appropriately take into account positional depth and player rankings. In general, a unique strategy can be utilized on a round-by-round basis. Here’s a breakdown of Bloomberg Sports recommended Fantasy Baseball Strategy 2012 Edition:
In the early rounds, the focus is finding the best available player while also taking into account the disparity between the best player and the next best option at each position. For example, there is a plateau in excellence for starting pitchers as Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw can all be claimed as the best of the bunch. On the other hand, Troy Tulowitzki stands alone amongst fellow shortstops.
If your fantasy league includes slugging percentage and on base percentage as statistical categories, there is no competition for Jose Bautista in the outfield while there are several stars at first base including Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, and Joey Votto. The best strategy is to pick up the best talent at a position where there is a large enough disparity that when the next player is drafted from that position there is a decisive advantage in your favor.
In the early middle rounds, it’s not a bad idea to scoop up a fine hurler who has the potential to rank amongst the best. Players such as Jered Weaver, CC Sabathia, and Danny Haren as well as Nationals phenom Stephen Strasburg make sense in these rounds. These hurlers have the ability to dominate and enjoy a Cy Young caliber season thanks to their enormous upside.
Having two high potential and consistent hurlers is more valuable than having just one dominant ace. Therefore, by drafting where there is greater disparity in the early rounds with a focus on position players, then nabbing a couple of pitchers with sky high potential fantasy managers can enjoy the best of both worlds.
In the later middle rounds you can draft a closer and many of them. Closers are often overrated in fantasy leagues since they only contribute 70 innings, which means saves are all that matters. Second-tier closers still get the job done and players such as Joe Nathan could end up as bargains. In fact, rather than selecting a Jonathan Papelbon in the sixth or seventh round, you can grab a Gio Gonzalez or a Drew Stubbs, someone who will have a much greater impact on your fantasy team.
Then five rounds later go ahead and draft three closers in a row: Sergio Santos, Jason Motte, and Frank Francisco. Plus, usually about 10 closers become available on the waiver wire each season. In fact, all three of the pitchers just mentioned did not start the season as closers for their respective teams last season.
Finally, in the later rounds, it’s not a bad idea to focus on young talents with great potential as well as players with multiple position eligibility. This allows you to pick up some big time prospects while also enjoying depth. Consider top prospects such as Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. There is no telling if the precocious sluggers will develop into stars as soon as this season.
On the other hand, drafting veteran players such as Ryan Raburn and Daniel Murphy is also a key strategy in the later rounds since they cover multiple positions, providing depth to your fantasy teams. This way if a player on your team gets injured, a single bench player can fill multiple holes.
For more fantasy insight turn to 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
Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw uses the BloombergSports.com Front Office projections to rank the top five strikeout artists in Major League Baseball for the upcoming season. While Justin Verlander is expected to lead the Majors in strikeouts, National League rivals Tim Lincecum andClayton Kershaw are not expected to be far behind.
Verlander is fresh off one of the greatest seasons ever by a starter and while he earned the MVP and Cy Young award, he is expected to repeat his success this upcoming season. The Tigers have added some pop to their lineup in the form of first baseman Prince Fielder, while Miguel Cabrera is now destined for third base.
While most fantasy managers will focus on that offensive boost, a greater concern may be the poor defense behind Verlander. The good news is that he may become more dependent on strikeouts. Bloomberg Sports projects a staggering 244 strikeouts from Verlander this season.
On the west coast, Tim Linecum and Clayton Kershaw will battle for fantasy supremacy. The hurlers seem to be moving in different directions as Lincecum has regressed a tad in recent years while Kershaw is peaking. Regardless, Lincecum remains a safe bet pitching in AT&T Park with a proven track record that includes 220 or more strikeouts in each of the last four seasons. It also helps having a healthy Buster Posey back in the lineup.
Kershaw finally put it all together last season as he improved his control, went deep into games, and finished with a stellar 21 wins and 248 strikeouts. The southpaw’s statistics are looking more and more like Sandy Koufax’s by the day. The BloombergSports.com Front Office tool projects 239 strikeouts from Kershaw this season.
The fourth most strikeouts will likely be racked up by the forgotten Felix Hernandez. The Mariners 2010 Cy Young award winner has a little more offensive support this season, which should lead to more wins and greater confidence. The durable right-hander picked up 222 strikeouts last year despite some struggles at home. He is projected to surpass 200 K’s for a fourth straight season.
Finally, Cliff Lee edges teammate and fellow ace Roy Halladay on the list. The veteran hurler brandished a 6:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in one of his finest seasons yet. He tallied a career-best 238 strikeouts and that number is expected to take just a minor decline this season.
if looking for sleepers, a couple of less heralded hurlers who can deliver K’s are Braves starter Brandon Beachy and A’s top prospect Brad Peacock. While Beachy is hoping to be a bit healthier in his second full season, Peacock is just the latest young hurler hoping to breakout in Oakland.
For more insight visit BloombergSports.com for access to Front Office.
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 Eno Sarris //
Biggest Surprise: Cole Hamels
We’ll term it a surprise – Cole Hamels did put up a 3.06 ERA a year after having a 4.32 number in that category last year. But if you follow secondary statistics, it was just another year for Hamels. Consider his FIPs (Fielding Independent Pitching, a stat that runs along the same scale as ERA, but strips out the park effects, defense and other factors beyond a pitcher’s control) since his rookie season: 3.83, 3.72, 3.72, and 3.67 last year. This year, he finally benefited from some good luck, standing 82.7% of the runners he put on base and thus netting his “surprise” year.
Biggest Bust: Joe Blanton
This was a good year for the deep Phillies staff, but Joe Blanton‘s ERA spiked to 4.85 from the 4.05 mark he put up in 2009. He also ate up the fewest innings since becoming a regular rotation member (175.2), fueling low totals in wins (nine) and strikeouts (136). He did have a 4.34 FIP this year, (4.21 career), so he’s basically somewhere between the 2009 and 2010 versions of himself, though neither is very helpful in fantasy baseball.
2011 Keeper Alert: Roy Halladay
Sure, the Doc is a little older these days (33), but he sure enjoyed the weaker league, as he had the best strikeout (7.86) and walk rates (1.08) he’d ever shown in a full season. The innings totals might be a little worrisome for other pitchers (more than 220 innings for five straight years), but not all innings are created equal. Halladay has averaged just 14 pitches per inning – almost two fewer than Blanton, for example – despite the solid strikeout totals. He’ll surely win some hardware and make a fine keeper this off-season.
2011 Regression Alert: Roy Oswalt
Roy Oswalt is also 33 and also put up his best strikeout rate (8.21) since he became a full-time starter. This, despite hovering under 7 K/9 for most of his recent career. Unlike Halladay, Oswalt hadn’t shown this kind of Cy Youngish performance in years. Asking for another ERA below 3.00 next season is probably asking too much.
like these aren’t the easiest to pull off. As the Bloomberg Sports tool notes, “As a rule of thumb, in an unbalanced trade you should aim to acquire the best player in the deal.”