Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw discusses four players worth picking up off the waiver wire this week.
Daniel Murphy, 2B, Mets
Murphy has nine hits in last 11 at-bats but has been resting against lefties. Though he is hitting .274 against southpaws, he has just a .295 OBP with a .359 SLG against them.
Travis Snider, LF, Blue Jays
Snider hit his first homerun of the season on Sunday and is now hitting .364 through three games in the majors. He had 13 home runs with 56 RBI in 56 games at Triple-A.
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies
The injury to Troy Tulowitzki allowed the Rockies to give their 2010 third-round pick Josh Rutledge a chance to play every day. He now boasts a six-game hitting streak with a .353 season average and three steals. The 23-year-old looked like a five-tool talent at Double-A this season.
Justin Maxwell, OF, Astros
After missing a few weeks due to injury, Maxwell has returned in a big way for the Astros, as he blasted his ninth home run of the season on Sunday. Maxwell has a ton of power, and though he does swing and miss a lot, he has also drawn some walks. With the Astros slowly improving, he could become a legitimate slugger in the big leagues.
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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.
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BY ROB SHAW
There was once a time when drafting a Colorado Rockies pitcher in your fantasy league was nothing but trouble, but after we saw Ubaldo Jimenez not just tame the altitude, but dominate in it, fantasy managers are willing to invest in a Rockies hurler. One pitcher who is drawing a great deal of interest is Jhoulys Chacin.
The 24-year-old hurler was hurt last season by a lack of defensive and offensive support as his record was just 11-14 and more than 10% of runs scored against him were unearned. However, some of his struggles were self-inflicted. Chacin walked 87 batters and surrendered 20 home runs. Though he still managed a solid 3.62 ERA, he was flirting with danger despite the stellar .231 average against.
What makes Chacin so effective in Coors is that he keeps the ball on the ground. In fact, of all pitchers in the Majors last season with at least 100 innings pitched, Chacin ranked seventh with a 57% ground ball rate.
While Chacin is a solid pitcher the question is whether he will become a great pitcher. In order to do so he has to improve his control, which would result in a lower WHIP, better ERA, and a career-high in wins. At 24 years old, there is a great deal of upside for Chacin and it is fair to assume that he’ll take a step in the right direction this season.
Typically pitching in a pitcher’s park is more advantageous than a hitter’s bandbox. There is an argument to the contrary for Reds hurler Mat Latos who makes his way from San Diego’s PETCO Park to Cincinnati. The greatest liability in Latos statistics last season was the 9-14 record. Otherwise, the second-year hurler was stellar with a 3.47 ERA and 1.18 WHIP.
The idea here is that Latos could use a little run support. With Adrian Gonzalez having left the west coast for Boston last season, Latos had few batters to offer the run support needed for a winning record. That should not be an issue this season as he once again will have an MVP candidate manning first base with Joey Votto, plus the presence of Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce among others in the lineup.
Expect a rise in the ERA as the hitter-friendly ballpark can’t be ignored, but it will come with nearly 200 strikeouts and around 15 wins.
The Rays will compete once again in the AL East thanks to the fine young talent making up their starting rotation. While the Yankees and Red Sox acquire talent in trades and via free agency, the Rays secure their stars via drafts.
The next top prospect to follow the path of David Price and Jeremy Hellickson as prospects turned stars is rookie Matt Moore. In his first taste of the Big Leagues, Moore actually pitched more post-season innings than he did in the regular season. In 19.1 combined innings, Moore fanned 23 batters compared to just six walks.
In the minor leagues, Moore dominated while fanning batters at a shocking rate. The sunshine state southpaw surpassed 200 strikeouts in both seasons despite pitching 155 innings or fewer. Similar to Hellickson last season, Moore will likely make an immediate fantasy impact, though with more K’s. On the other hand, the Rays will likely play it safe and limit him to around 180 innings.
While most fantasy managers prefer proven commodities when it comes to fantasy drafts, there are very few hurlers with the upside of Moore’s, and yet you can likely nab him as late as the 10th round. For more fantasy insight visit BloombergSports.com.
By Eriq Gardner //
By Eriq Gardner //
Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies is having a very charmed season. By season’s end, he’ll have roughly 35 HRs, 25 SBs, 120 RBIs, 110 Runs, and a .340 batting average. These numbers arguably earn him the title as the season’s Fantasy MVP and gain him consideration as one of the top few picks heading into next year. The case in his favor
Let’s start out with the obvious: CarGo has been the beneficiary of tremendous luck this season.
The biggest knock against Gonzalez is his plate discipline. He strikes out 23% of the time and only takes a walk 6% of the time. This has added up to a .389 BABIP, which puts him only behind Josh Hamilton and Austin Jackson among players with regular playing time who have benefited from better luck on balls hit in play. Certainly, we can expect a higher-than-normal BABIP considering Gonzalez’ great speed, but not this high. Expected regression could knock anywhere from 40 to 60 points off that lofty .340 batting average.
As for power, don’t expect 35 HRs again. Yes, he’s the beneficiary of playing in the tremendous hitting environment of Coors Field. But then again, CarGo is rather below-average in hitting for fly balls. His 37% rate is below average, roughly on par with Rajai Davis.or Alberto Callaspo. He’s knocked 35 out of the park this year thanks to the fact that nearly 21% of his fly balls have gone for HRs. Only Joey Votto, Carlos Pena, Jose Bautista, and Adam Dunn sport a higher percentage. At 6’1” and 210 pounds, Carlos Gonzalez carries less body mass than those other four to support such massive power.
Carlos Gonzalez’ great luck in average and power has contributed to him reaching triple digits in both runs and RBIs. The team has another excellent player in Troy Tulowitzki, but the decline of Todd Helton and the departure of Brad Hawpe leaves the lineup dependent on youngsters like Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, Eric Young Jr. and Seth Smith to get on base in front of CarGo or reciprocally drive him home. Any slippage in the ability to get on base or knock balls out of the park will erode his ability to post elite context stats in runs and RBIs like the production he’s given this season.
That’s part 1 of the case against Carlos Gonzalez.
All of which might be acceptable but for two more glaring facts about Carlos Gonzalez: First, to put it simply, he’s never done this before. And second, his price tag in fantasy leagues is going to be through the roof coming off such a stellar year.
Yes, he was a very fine prospect coming up through the minors, is only 24-years-old, and is still growing.
By Eno Sarris //
It’s a little tough to make the case for Carlos Gonzalez next year when you agree with many of the points made by the other side, in this case by Eriq Gardner. A lot of luck on the batted ball does go into most .340 batting averages, and Gonzalez has certainly seen a few balls clear the fence that haven’t before. He probably won’t put up the same season next year, that much we can grant.
But how much will he regress? If he regresses just a little bit, he could still be an outfielder with a .300 batting average and 25+/25+ numbers, which would probably make his owners happy even if they spent an early first-round pick on him.
The .389 BABIP is an eyesore to the sabremetrically-inclined fantasy fan. That number seems like it includes a lot of luck. But we also know that every player has their own ‘true’ BABIP level, based on their unique blend of speed and batted ball mix. Peter Bendix once created an xBABIP calculator to see what an expected BABIP might be, given these factors, and using that calculator we find that CarGo’s xBABIP this year is .349. The difference in hits would be 18 hits if he featured his xBABIP instead of his BABIP, and his batting average would instead be .308 instead of .341. Gonzalez could be a little less lucky and still have a strong batting average next year.
The fact that he is showing the best power in his career doesn’t necessarily mean that he won’t come close again next year. His ISO this year is .270, last year it was .241. In the minor leagues, it was .194 overall, but .291 in his final stop. If he retreats to an ISO between his last two major league numbers, he’ll be in among Mark Reynolds, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Quentin and Vernon Wells on the ISO leaderboard. His power likely won’t disappear completely in other words, especially if he still calls Coors Field home, since he has a career .292 ISO in 155 home games.
About his flyballs and the HR/FB rate, those numbers fluctuate from year to year. Last year, he hit 38.8% flyballs, and 16.7% HR/FB. This year, those numbers are 36.9% and 20.9%, respectively. In the minor leagues, his full-year flyball rates fluctuated from 30.7% to 43% at different stops. He could easily hit more flyballs next year, have fewer home runs per flyball, and not see a huge drop in his home run total.
One last note. Gardner mentions the lineup around Gonzalez as a negative, but it seems like more of a positive to this analyst. As Todd Helton and Clint Barmes have declined or shown their flaws, they have lost at-bats to younger players, and Ian Stewart, Dexter Fowler, Eric Young Jr. and Seth Smith all have upside beyond their current levels. Projecting an entire lineup is iffy either way, but let’s just say: Carlos Gonzalez is the number-three hitter for the Colorado Rockies. In 2009, the three-hitter for the Rockies accrued 92 runs and 100 RBI. As long as the offense stays somewhat similar and Gonzalez stays healthy, he will likely approach 100/100 numbers in those categories.
If you pro-rate out CarGo’s 2009 totals to 600 plate appearances – which is problematic considering he only accrued 317 PA, but let’s do this for the sake of comparison – he might have had 25 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Add a batting average close to .300, and you still have a very exciting young player worth a very high draft pick, especially in leagues that break out the outfielder positions and count CarGo as a center fielder.
Gonzalez’s numbers in 2011 might not look like 2010’s gaudy Triple Crown-contending statistics, but the power and speed are real, and there’s little reason to think that next year’s Rockies lineup won’t allow him to accrue 100 runs and 100 RBI yet again. He’s a great keeper and a great first-round investment next year. Auction managers should remember to temper their power expectations when bidding, but otherwise it’s all “go CarGo” here.
For more on Carlos Gonzalez and other power/speed outfielders, check out Bloomberg Sports’ Fantasy Tools.
- He’s averaging about 7.99 strikeouts per 9 innings. That ranks him 26th among starters with at least 70 IP this season. He’s behind Colby Lewis, Ricky Romero, and Gavin Floyd, to name three pitchers with much less star power.
- He’s averaging 3.03 walks per 9 innings. That ranks him 54th among starters with at least 70 IP. Among the pitchers walking batters at a lower rate are Brian Bannister, Kyle Kendrick, and once again, Gavin Floyd.
- He’s averaging 0.34 home runs per 9 innings.That ranks him 6th among qualified starters. However, only 4.4% of his fly balls are going for home runs. His career rate is 7.6%, and he plays half his games at Coors Field. That’s very likely to regress.
- His strand rate is 87.8%, meaning 87.8% of the runners he puts on base don’t score. That’s largely a function of fortuitous timing (pitching abnormally and probably unsustainably well with men on base), as well as unusually strong bullpen bullpen. That’s also the luckiest rate in the entire major leagues.
By Tommy Rancel
The Rockies are expected to start the season with closer Huston Street on the disabled list. Street has been battling shoulder stiffness this spring, and suffered a setback while playing catch on Tuesday. He underwent an MRI on Wednesday, and although the results were clean, he is likely too far behind on his throwing program to be ready by opening day.
Right-handers Rafael Betancourt and Manny Corpas would seem like obvious replacements, but both have issues of their own. Like Street, Betancourt has missed time with a shoulder issue this spring. Corpas, on the other hand, missed the second half of 2009 with a bone chip in his right arm.
More likely, the Rockies will turn to left-handed former starting pitching prospect Franklin Morales to fill in for Street. Most baseball fans remember Morales, 24, as a promising rookie starter on the 2007 National League championship team. He dealt with a back injury and inconsistency in 2008, and had a shoulder problem of his own in 2009. Once healthy, he rejoined the Rockies as member of the bullpen. When Street went on the DL in September with biceps tendinitis, Morales closed out six games in his absence.
He made 40 appearances last season (38 in relief) and had a league average-ish 4.50 ERA. He also saved seven games in eight chances. Despite the ho-hum ERA, Morales showed traits of a good relief pitcher.
In his brief time as a major league starter (72.2 innings), Morales had an unimpressive strikeouts per nine innings rate (K/9) of 5.4. Meanwhile, as a relief pitcher he struck out a batter per inning (32 strikeouts in 32 innings). He also allowed just one home run in 32 relief innings.
The knock on Morales has been control. In his major league career, he has a walks per nine innings rate (BB/9) of 4.6. In 2009, his BB/9 was over 5.0. While his control remains an issue, velocity is not. As a starter, Morales averaged low 90s on his fastball; as a reliever, he topped 93.0 mph, on average, in 2009.
Outside of his strikeout rate, Morales currently offers little to fantasy players. With a league average ERA and poor walk rates, his average draft position is just 335.5. That said, as a the potential closer on a promising team, those flaws become less relevant, and Morales becomes a serious late-inning target.
Grab Morales at the back end of your draft, especially in a deep NL-only league or a larger mixed league. Given Street’s injury history, as well as the medical and performance questions facing the rest of the bullpen, Morales presents the potential for some cheap save opportunities – and maybe more.
For more on Franklin Morales and other potential sleepers, check out Bloomberg Sports’ fantasy kits.