Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw offers four players who can have a major impact on your fantasy baseball team.
Last year only two players in baseball had 30 or more doubles, 15 or more triples, 5 or more home runs, and 10 or more saves. One is Jose Reyes, who signed a monster deal with the Marlins. The other is Dexter Fowler, an outfielder that had been considered a bust in fantasy circles for a few years. It turns out that our focus should have been more on the extra base hits than the steals. Fowler is a power guy, who slowly but surely was growing into his 6’4 frame. This year the doubles have turned into home runs and he is now on pace for 30 round-trippers. Fowler reminds me a little of Rickie Weeks. The average won’t flirt with .300 much, but he does draw walks and the power is legit.
A strikeout machine who cranks the ball up to 100 MPH, Stephen Pryor is likely a future closer who at just 22 years old will get a look in the Mariners bullpen. Pryor has had some control issues in the past, but this year he has been in control, which explains the 0.64 ERA through 28 innings split between the higher levels of the minor leagues. With Brandon League out temporarily as the closer and with his future in doubt as a free agent this summer, it makes a lot of sense for Pryor to get a look in some high pressure situations..
The long swing of Colby Rasmus is starting to make some great contact for the Toronto Blue Jays. Rasmus is riding a seven game hit streak with three home runs and six RBI over that span. In a killer lineup and a great ballpark, Rasmus has every chance to succeed in Toronto. After early struggles in spring training and then to open the season, Rasmus is finally showing the potential that made the Blue Jays a buyer last season after he wore out his welcome with the Cardinals.
Scott Feldman, SP, Rangers (at Oakland and San Francisco)
Feldman is not one of the sexier fantasy picks. He does not get many K’s, his ERA and WHIP are only alright since he calls home to the hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark, and then there is his lack of job security as a spot starter. On the other hand, Feldman does offer the Rangers a chance to win every time he takes the hill, which explains how he won 17 games just a few years ago. Now he gets favorable starts against the A’s and Giants on the road. This is as good as it gets for the Rangers veteran who should have plenty of run support and much friendly pitching backdrops.
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Carlos Beltran, OF, Giants
The numbers don’t do Carlos Beltran justice this season. Sure, he only has 15 home runs, but he also has 30 doubles. That tells me in a more favorable ballpark he’d have closer to 20 home runs. He may only have 3 steals, but he has scored 61 runs, that tells me he is not lagging on the basepaths. His on base percentage is .391, which is 30 points better than his career mark. His average, slugging, and OPS are all better than his season average as well. Now he is moving to San Francisco, which should have a minor impact on his production. The ballpark remains tough, but worse than that, he does not have Jose Reyes hitting in front of him. This might not be a bad time for fantasy managers to sell high on the veteran All-Star.
Lucas Duda, OF, Mets
In his first game as the Mets regular right-fielder, Lucas Duda sent one over the fence. There should be many more coming. The 6’4, 254 lbs. California native is a slugger. He may only boast two home runs this season, but he has 10 doubles and three triples despite just 123 at bats so far this season. His average is at a healthy .276 and the OBP of .350 is stellar. Duda will have every chance of earning the Mets starting right-field job next season, though honestly, what they should consider is moving him to left and Jason Bay off the roster.
Colby Rasmus, OF, Blue Jays
A former first round pick who simply did not get along with Tony LaRussa, Rasmus is a five-tool talent who still has plenty of room for improvement. After blasting 23 home runs last season with 12 stolen bases, Rasmus has just 11 dingers this season. On that note, his numbers should progress quite well once he leaves St. Louis. He’ll have Jose Bautista instead of Albert Pujols providing protection, and also the Rogers Centre is a very favorable hitting environment. Rasmus is a popular buy-low option.
Edwin Jackson, SP, Cardinals
A winner of three of the last four starts, Edwin Jackson is having a fine season despite the 7-7 record, his ERA is 3.92 and he has surrendered just eight home runs in 121.2 innings of work. The big concern with him is the high WHIP. This season it’s because he’s getting hit a bit too often to the tune of a .283 average. The good news for him is that he will now be under the tutelage of Dave Duncan. One of the best pitching coaches in the game, this can have a great impact on Jackson’s career.
Marc Rzepczynski, RP, Cardinals
Another winner in the big deal between the Blue Jays, White Sox, and Cardinals is Rzepczynski. Just 26 years old, this southpaw boasts a 2.97 ERA and 1.05 WHIP this season. I would also love to see how he handles starting. He was very promising a few years back and he can really miss some bats. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Rzepczynski in the Cardinals starting rotation next season. He has star potential.
by Eno Sarris //
He’s a center fielder with power and speed. He’s young. He’s under team control until the end of 2014. Apparently all of these things were not good enough for manager Tony La Russa or the Cardinal’s General Manager, because Colby Rasmus has reportedly been shipped out of St. Louis. That’s fine for us, because all of those facets make him an immediate pickup in most fantasy leagues, and we know that fantasy baseball is the most important game of all.
The full trade looks like it will be the Cardinals shipping Colby Rasmus, Trever Miller, Brian Tallet, and P.J. Walters to the Blue Jays for Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski and Corey Patterson. The pitchers are immediately more interesting because they are moving to a pitchers’ league and park with a great ground-ball wizard of a pitching coach, but that’s for another time.
The fact that Rasmus is moving in the opposite direction should perk up your ears. The 25-year-old lefty will receive a power boost most definitely. The park factor for home runs by left-handed batters in St. Louis is 84, meaning they are suppressed by 16%. In Toronto, home runs by lefties are encouraged by 16%. Rasmus will also go from playing in Pittsburgh (-27%) and Houston (+7%) to New York (+43%) and Baltimore (+18%). To be fair, Milwaukee and Cincinatti are fine power parks, but the change in home address will be a boost.
There’s a chance, also, that the team philosophy in Toronto will play into his strengths. One of Tony La Russa’s complaints about the young center fielder was that he struck out too much. This year, Rasmus cut down on the Ks and lost his power. Strikeouts are also correlated with power across baseball, so this is not some small sample size thing. The Blue Jays? Their grip-it-and-rip-it philosophy is well known. They are ninth in strikeout rate in the American League and fourth in isolated slugging percentage. They won’t care about his strikeouts if he’s tearing the cover off the ball.
The Jays also like to run. They are fifth in the American League in stolen bases, while the Cardinals have the fewest steals in baseball. When Aaron Hill has 13 stolen bases, you know that the team is okay with giving the green light if you can be successful at least 66% of the time. Rasmus has been successful 65% of the time. Let’s give him a steals boost anyway. He certainly has speed.
Rasmus doesn’t profile as a player that will put up a good batting average. He hits more balls in the air than on the ground and strikes out a little too much to be a .300-hitting center fielder. But if you look past his flaws — something that his former manager couldn’t manage — you can see the power, speed and fantasy value that he represents. Enjoy Colby Rasmus, Blue Jay.
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By R.J. Anderson //
Biggest Surprise: David Freese
Acquired three years ago in the Jim Edmonds deal, Freese’s pedigree made him an iffy candidate to become a starting third baseman in the major leagues. He made a solid case this season, though, hitting .296/.361/.404. There’s not a ton of power in that line, which tends to make fans and fantasy baseball players antsy with expectations of sluggers at the corners. His four home runs will not fool anyone into thinking he’s the reincarnate of Scott Rolen, but the injuries might. Not a recommended keeper.
Biggest Bust: Felipe Lopez
Coming off one of the best seasons of his career, Lopez registered one of the worst. He played better in a brief stint with Boston, but was downright horrendous with the Cardinals. A .231/.310/.340 line looks nothing like what we’ve come to expect from the 30-year-old. Folks in the industry aren’t thrilled with his personality and that could keep him from securing a major league deal (let alone a starting job) this off-season. There’s a chance Lopez could enter 2011 as a utility player.
2011 Keeper Alert: Colby Rasmus
Lost in the hoopla of Rasmus vs. Tony LaRussa was the fact that Rasmus played very well and managed over 500 plate appearances while hitting .276/.361/.498 as a 23-year-old. That’s more plate appearances than Curtis Granderson received, and nobody is going to pass on Granderson because of it. Rasmus’ future is bright whether he’s in St. Louis or another major league city, but two things are for sure, he’s going to be in the majors in 2011 and he’s going to hit.
2011 Regression Alert: Matt Pagnozzi
No batter really over- or underperformed expectations; therefore, Pagnozzi’s .892 OPS in 44 plate appearances registers as the individual season which you should not buy into as being legitimate.
For more on Albert Pujols, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Kits.