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.
The Philadelphia Phillies and the Kansas City Royals are polar opposites. The Phillies stand atop the NL East with a 37-26 record, while the Royals sit in 4th place in the AL Central with a 27-36 record. Yet, there are more to both teams than their records.
It so happens that the Royals are the youngest team in baseball with an average age of 26.2, while the Phillies are the oldest with an average age of 31. Among the youngest players on the Royals, is standout first-basemen Eric Hosmer at 21.
Hosmer, is hitting amongst the likes of Placido Polanco, the 35-year-old Phillies third baseman. Kansas City has the lowest Payroll in the MLB at $36,126,400, while the Phillies payroll, $172,976,381 is only second only to the New York Yankees; making the Phillies payroll about five-times that of the Royals.
Some good news for Kansas City is that they are hitting well, ranking 9th in Runs, Batting-Average, and OBP. On the other hand, the Phillies rank 17th, 20th, and 19th respectively. The old dogs aren’t just rolling over yet.
To no surprise, the Phillies well-tenured pitching staff (including big names Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels) are dominating the younger Royals staff. The stacked Phillies rotation ranks 2nd in ERA and 1st in Quality Starts, with the average age among pitchers at 30 years old. With an average age just over 25, the struggling Royals staff is almost in last place (29th) in ERA and Quality Starts.
While Philadelphia is the team to beat in the NL, Kansas City is a team to take note of. With the All-Star break coming up next month, it will be interesting to see the performance of these two teams in the latter half of the season. Will the younger team be able to mature and continue to get better as the season progresses? Will the old arms of the Phillies hold up as the games start to add up?
Written by Matt Sbordone, Bloomberg Sports @SbordoneZone
The one-year pact comes with a $2 million guarantee and could be worth
$4 million with incentives. The signing comes with a small risk, but
could end up rewarding Kansas City for their minimal gamble.
(torn labrum). He returned to make 19 starts (20 appearances) in 2010, going
4-6 with a 5.00 ERA. With a career 55-50 record, and an ERA that sits at
4.77, Francis is not coming to Kansas City to replace Zack Greinke‘s production.
But he could be a league-average or better starter for the Royals.
Though his ERA in over 100 innings of work last season was 5.00,
advanced metrics suggest his pitching performance was closer to that of a
left-on-base percentage (LOB%) was 64.5%. The league average is
generally around 72%, and Francis’s career mark is 70.5%. With outside factors
such as defense contributing to a pitcher’s LOB%, it seems Francis was a
bit unlucky here.
Francis’ style is that of a classic soft-tossing left-hander. His
fastball tops out in the high-80s, and he doesn’t rack up a ton of
strikeouts. In fact, he has largely been below average in the punchout
category. What he does do well is locate his average stuff and generate a
lot of groundballs. In 2010, he posted the highest groundball rate of
his career (47%) in addition to regaining what velocity he had before
Since he has no one particular strength, Francis has to do a couple
of things well in order to earn a rotation spot in fantasy leagues.
Outside the main concern of health, Francis must maintain his stellar
history of keeping baserunners to a minimum with a good walk rate.
Moving from Coors Field for Kauffman Stadium could also have a positive
effect on his home run rate. With the potential for a positive ERA
regression, the one-time 17-game winner becomes a buy-low candidate at
the end of AL-only drafts. You can leave him undrafted in standard mixed
By Bloomberg Sports// Ballpark Figures: Stock Report— Bloomberg Television’s Michele Steele and Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Analyst Rob Shaw are talking Bulls and Bears in Fantasy Baseball. Shaw tells us to invest in Royals infielder Wilson Betemit, Yankees outfielder Marcus Thames, Nationals outfielder Michael Morse, and Mets pitcher RA Dickey. Shaw is bearish on infielders Alberto Callaspo of the Angels and Miguel Tejada of the Padres. For more fantasy insight visit us at BloombergSports.com.