The total numbers are disappointing, 2 homers, 15 runs, 17 RBI, and a .267 AVG. On the other hand, he has hits in 16 of his last 18 games, has stolen six bases, and already has 5 doubles over the last 11 games. Keep in mind that Choo took a little while to bounce back after missing a large chunk of last season. However, at his best this is a rare 20-20 talent. This is a fine time to pick him up while his fantasy managers are keeping him glued to the bench.
In the past, the only thing keep Nelson Cruz down was his health. This season he has been an iron man and while his run production is solid with 24 runs and 23 RBI and his average is respectable at .274, so far the power has been limited with just four home runs. However, a closer look at the double-digit doubles tells me that maybe some of those shots simply have not left the yard, but come the summer in Texas, I think the ball will really start to fly off his bat. I still think 30 home runs is realistic, so go ahead and make the move for Cruz, though keep in mind that he is slowing down a bit on the base paths and he does have that injury-prone label.
Stolen bases have some serious value in fantasy leagues and for that reason alone you may be able to unload Drew Stubbs. Stubbs is a low average hitter with some pop and speed. He swiped 40 bases last season, which got a lot of attention, but also we saw a decline in home runs from 22 to 15. This season he only has three in comparison to his seven stolen bases. The positive is that he does score a lot of runs, which really is amazing when you consider that he strikes out a ton and rarely reaches base. Trade Stubbs while you can to someone desperate for some steals.
I have been known to lead my leagues on annual basis in saves despite not drafting closers until the middle or late rounds. I do this by picking up the pitchers who gain the promotion into the ninth inning because of either the struggles or health woes to the player ahead of them. Often it can result in excellence, such is the case with my drafting Aroldis Chapman in the final round of my draft. On the other hand, sometimes the closer I pick up implodes and doesn’t hold the gig for long. I fear that Cubs closer Rafael Dolis is of the latter. While I do like his youth at 24 years old and his live arm, I am very much in fear of his lack of strikeouts. This will not only hurt my fantasy team in that category, but also you typically like closers that can miss bats otherwise they can find themselves in trouble. With a 3.75 ERA and 2 blown saves already, I am selling on Dolis and keep in mind that Carlos Marmol will return from the DL and could end up earning the gig once again.
BY ROB SHAW
To put it mildly, Aramis Ramirez has not had Brewers fans forget about Prince Fielder. While Fielder has already offered the Tigers a .345 average with two home runs, Ramirez has chipped in with just a .129 average and no home runs for the Brew Crew. This is a far cry from the .306 average Ramirez offered last season, not to mention the expectations coming into this season with Milwaukee.
While Ramirez is off to a slow start, he has had a tad of bad luck. Alfonso Soriano robbed him at the left-field wall of an extra base hit on Tuesday, and he already has swiped two bases while nailing two doubles. Plus, Ramirez is a notorious slow starter as March and April are his worst batting months throughout his career.
At this point, fantasy managers should be in a holding pattern, as Ramirez is likely to bounce back. For the first time this season, Ramirez did not strike out in two consecutive games. It looks like he is starting to see the ball better, and that usually leads to a rise in batting average and the power metrics. Patience is a virtue in dealing with A-Ram’s early slump.
There has been a very scary trend in Cleveland for fantasy managers in recent years. We’ve seen players who reach superstardom with the Indians only to lose their luster seemingly overnight due to injuries.
First it was MVP contender Travis Hafner, who went from a .300-plus hitting machine with loads of power to a lackluster DH who struggles to stay healthy. More recently, it’s been all-around sensation Grady Sizemore, who has lost his speed and power in recent years and now is once again on the disabled list for an extended period.
The question that is plaguing fantasy managers right now is whether Shin-Soo Choo will follow that undesirable path. Following consecutive 20-20 seasons, Choo had a season to forget last year with off-the-field controversy followed by an injury-plagued season. Fresh off his worst season with 8 home runs and a .259 average, Choo is struggling once again. The two-time 20-20 fantasy star has five hits, all of them singles.
The good news is that Shoo is drawing walks and already has two stolen bases while his OBP is north of .400. For now fantasy managers should be in a holding power with Choo. The solid plate discipline suggests that he is seeing the ball well and could bust out of his power outage at any moment. In fact, if you have confidence in the 29-year-old outfielder go ahead and acquire him while his stock is low.
What’s the deal with Mets first baseman Ike Davis? Last season he got off to a excellent start before a bum ankle shut him down for the season with seven home runs, 25 RBI, and a .302 average through 36 games. This season has been the total opposite. Davis has two hits through 28 at bats, and both hits have been singles.
While the Mets are calling Davis healthy, there are some questions as to whether a fungal disease suffered during spring training is still limiting him physically, or if at this point, the toll is mental, as Davis has 10 strikeouts through the first eight games of the season.
To be specific, the ailment that Davis encountered this spring was Valley Fever, a lung disease that could lead to fatigue. It very much should be taken seriously, as the illness once knocked 130 games out of the season from Conor Jackson. So yes, fantasy managers should be on red alert, as the disease commonly found in desert environments such as Davis’ hometown in Phoenix could be an issue.
Some good news is that David Wright returned from his broken pinkie on Saturday and blasted a home run. With Wright’s return to the Mets lineup, there are more likely to be runners on base for Davis to drive home. Furthermore, Lucas Duda has looked very much like a slugger this season with three home runs already. With Duda batting behind Davis, there could be an uptick in the runs scored as well.
Of course, the main focus for Davis right not is to snap out of the slump, then he will no longer hear the whispers of mystery ailments and more concerns about the health of Mets players.
When last season concluded with Tim Lincecum brandishing a losing record, there was not much panic in San Francisco as his 13-14 record came with a superb 2.74 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. On that note, fantasy managers again picked Lincecum early in the drafts this season expecting him to contend with rival Clayton Kershaw for the NL Cy Young award. Through two starts the Giants ace may have already pitched himself out of contention.
Tim Lincecum currently sits at 0-1 with a 12.91 ERA. Fantasy managers are wondering if it will it be sink or swim by the Bay this season for Lincecum. This is a major concern for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list is that Lincecum is usually strong out of the gates. April is usually the best month for him, at 12-3 entering this season with a sub-3 ERA.
Another key concern has been the diminishing velocity. Lincecum is so far throwing his fastball at 90 MPH this season, down from 91 MPH last year and 92 MPH the year before. He relies a great deal on his high velocity since his outpitch is no longer his slider, but his change-up. In fact, Lincecum has mentioned that he will try to avoid use of his slider this season since it puts pressure on his arm. It will be tough to get away with just a fastball and change-up if he can’t reach the mid-90s.
Keep an eye on Lincecum’s next start as this may be a concerning trend. For more fantasy baseball insight visit BloombergSports.com.
By R.J. Anderson //
As far as non-Cleveland Indians fans are concerned, Shin-Soo Choo’s trip to the disabled list comes at a pretty horrible time. Beyond the fantasy implications, Choo’s sprained thumb means he’ll miss the All-Star game, weakening the American League roster and watching experience alike. In his place, Fausto Carmona will represent the Indians in the mid-summer classic and Michael Brantley will be recalled to replace Choo on the Indians roster. Since the Indians are replacing Choo with Brantley, does it mean fantasy owners can do the same?
Short answer: no. The 23 year old acquired in the CC Sabathia trade of 2008 has 157 major league plate appearances with the Indians with a line of .278/.329/.313. His minor league statistics shed some more light on what Brantley’s roof might be: .284/.364/.377 in 806 Triple-A plate appearances with 57 stolen bases on 67 attempts. That is to say: Brantley is a speedster without much pop, but a decent ability to reach base and promptly take a few others by force.
Choo was hitting .286/.390/.475 with 13 blasts in a little over 350 plate appearances this season. Meanwhile Brantley has hit 13 home runs in the minors since the 2008 season began. The similarities outside of team and position between Choo and Brantley are few and far between, which means if replicating Choo’s strengths is your main goal then Brantley isn’t much of an option whatsoever.
The Cleveland player who may stand to benefit the most from Choo’s absence is Shelley Duncan. The former Yankee farmhand has racked up 68 plate appearances this year while hitting .267/.353/.500. He won’t continue to hit quite that well, as his Triple-A career line is only .275/.370/.529, but his skill set is far more similar to Choo’s than Brantley’s. Odds are, you aren’t finding someone like Brennan Boesch on the open market to grab for no cost; so while Duncan is hardly optimal he might make more sense after doing opportunity cost analysis. A roster spot at this point in the season is less valuable than a productive player.
For more on Shin-Soo Choo and other injured stars, check out Bloomberg Sports Fantasy Tools
By Tyler McKee
Many of the seats at The Jake – ahem, excuse me – “Progressive
Field'” are likely to sit empty this summer, as the Cleveland Indians
figure to muddle through another losing season.
The Tribe’s roster similarly contains some underexposed players. Shin-Soo Choo
continued to quietly emerge as one of the American League’s most
productive outfielders last season, easily outdistancing more heralded (and more desired)
players, such as teammate Grady Sizemore – despite Sizemore missing 56
games and putting up much weaker numbers than Choo in 2009.
Choo put himself in an elite class last season, becoming one of just
14 players to reach 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Choo is an elite outfield option with
an elite reputation, with few offensive holes in his game and
across-the-board contributions in 5X5 fantasy leagues – as shown in
this Bloomberg Sports Spider Chart.
chart shows Choo rating above league average in all five offensive
categories: 20 homers, 21 steals, 86 RBI, 87 runs scored, and a .300
batting average. Advanced metrics, which account for walks and other
non-fantasy contributions, show Choo with 116 Runs Created in 2009.
That total places him behind only one other MLB outfielder: Brewers hitting Ryan Braun.
Choo’s a safe
bet to play against any pitcher, given his reasonable splits. In 2009, he hit a stellar .312/.406/.504 (AVG/OBP/SLG) against right-handed pitching, and a still solid .275/.369/.456 vs. lefties.
does have one glaring weakness: he strikes out a lot – he whiffed 151 times last season. Few players can rack up strikeout totals that high and
still maintain a .300 average. A sky-high
.370 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) helped Choo pull off the feat last year; expect some BABIP
regression in 2010, and with it some downside batting average risk.
with a potential batting average pullback, Choo’s all-around skills make him a great selection. It’s Choo’s potential value play that makes him most attractive, though. The 27-year-old right fielder is getting picked in the middle
rounds of drafts, with an Average Draft Position of 76. Compare
that number to Choo’s B-Rank: Bloomberg Sports’ proprietary overall
ranking slots him as #27 overall, eighth among OF. That 49-slot gap is
one of the largest for any player in our database.
Target Choo around the late-fifth or early-sixth round
in a 12-team mixed league. If you land him near that spot, you’ll have a big,
For more information on Shin-Soo Choo and hundreds of other
players, and for dozens of tools to help you dominate your fantasy
league, check out Bloomberg
Sports’ fantasy kits.