Bloomberg Sports Anchor Rob Shaw breaks down four players who have a surprising number of stolen bases this season.
Yadier Molina, C, Cardinals
Molina had a career-high nine stolen bases in 2009, which is impressive from a catcher. He already has seven steals this season, in addition to 11 home runs and a .319 batting average. It’s hard to believe, but the Cardinals may have picked correctly when it came to which free agent to give a big contract to in the offseason, Molina or Albert Pujols. So far, Molina is performing at a higher level this season.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, Indians
Kipnis’ career high in stolen bases was 17, which he achieved last year between AAA and the majors. He already has 17 steals this year and is on pace for nearly 40 by the end of the season. He’s also contributing in the power area with 11 home runs, 46 runs and 42 RBI.
Michael Saunders, OF, Mariners
Saunders stole 29 bases in 2009 in the minors and has 12 stolen bases so far this season. What is surprising is how much playing time he is getting, but he can’t be taken out of the lineup with a .267 average, eight home runs and 35 runs.
Carlos Beltran, OF, Cardinals
We know that Beltran has speed, as he became just the eighth player in MLB history to have 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases. However, he only had seven stolen bases in the past two seasons combined, making his seven steals this year so surprising. He is also batting .312 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI.
For more fantasy baseball insight, visit BloombergSports.com.
Here’s a look at the best fantasy players of April and whether they are sustaining their production or regressing to a less impressive level of play.
Best April Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
April Stats: 14 runs, 4 HR, 15 RBI, 2 SB, .316 AVG
Update: Since the change of month, Yadier Molina has only one RBI. Molina hurt his left hand in a game on May 8 and hopes to return to the diamond.
Conclusion: One of the most well-rounded catchers in baseball, Molina will remain one of the game’s best at his position, though Orioles masked marvel Matt Wieters may overtake him.
Best April First Baseman: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
April Stats: 15 runs, 7 HR, 20 RBI, .298 AVG
Update: Four hits and 3 RBI against the A’s on Thursday got Cabrera back in rhythm. His statistics have gone down a bit, but he remains amongst the best in baseball.
Conclusion: Cabrera is 100% legitimate and the best corner infielder in baseball right now.
Best April Second Baseman: Ian Kinsler, Rangers
April Stats: 24 runs, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, .298 AVG
Update: Though riding a six-game hit streak, Kinsler’s batting average has declined and he does not have an extra base hit during that stretch.
Conclusion: What makes Kinsler so valuable is the combination of power and speed. If he can keep the batting average closer to .300, he’ll be in the MVP conversation.
Best April 3rd Baseman: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays
April Stats: 15 runs, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 4 SB, .322 AVG
Update: One of the biggest surprises in April, Encarnacion remains a valuable power bat in May, though the batting average has returned to normalcy.
Conclusion: Encarnacion should finally swat 30-home runs, but it may come with a disappointing average.
Best April Shortstop: Mike Aviles, Red Sox- 18 Runs, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 3 SB, .291 AVG
April Stats: 18 Runs, 5 HR, 17 RBI, 3 SB, .291 AVG
Update: Aviles has not been immune to the Red Sox struggles. His power numbers have come back to earth and his average has been in free fall this May.
Conclusion: Aviles is a fine middle infielder, but he is not the best. He over-performed in April.
Best April Outfielder: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
April Stats: 24 runs, 12 HR, 25 RBI, 2 SB, .417 AVG
Update: Kemp has slowed down a bit and has yet to go deep this month. He remains one of the best hitters in baseball and likely MVP contender, but he is no longer running away with the honor.
Conclusion: He was bound to slow down as pitchers were bound to adapt. Josh Hamilton is now challenging him for supremacy in the Big Leagues.
Best April Starting pitcher: Jake Peavy, White Sox
April Stats: 3 Wins, 33 K, 1.67 ERA, 0.69 WHIP
Update: With two quality starts already this month, Peavy continues to dominate the fantasy scene. He has pitched at least seven innings in each of his last five starts and has only quality starts this season. He is 1-0 in May so far.
Conclusion: It’s been several years since we’ve seen this type of dominance from Peavy. Let’s hope he can avoid the injury-bug for the first time since he’s left San Diego.
Best April Reliever: Fernando Rodney, Rays
April Stats: 1 Win, 7 SV, 9 K, 0.87 ERA, 0.77 WHIP
Update: Rodney has added a win and two saves to his record this month without surrendering a single run.
Conclusion: This is looking pretty real and it all has to do with control. Rodney boasts a 14:2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He’s the latest reliever to enjoy a renaissance after joining the Rays bullpen.
BY ROB SHAW
With more than 20 of the Major League Baseball teams turning to Bloomberg Sports as a business solution, fantasy managers can rest assured that their fantasy teams are in good hands.
In a previous article, we focused on ballpark, durability, age, and contract status. Now the focus is on the remaining five Fantasy Factors.
In fantasy baseball, career trends are an important aspect to be considered when evaluating players. In essence, fantasy managers like investors have to know what’s a growing stock and what’s a mature stock. A player on the rise would be a growing stock and two examples are Baltimore Orioles rising stars Adam Jones and Matt Wieters. Both players are in their mid-20s and have been improving their statistics consistently over the last few seasons.
On the other hand, Yankees veteran Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are far from their prime and have recently suffered their worst seasons of their legendary careers. It’s perfectly fine to invest in a player on the decline, as long as you are realistic about what they can produce in the upcoming season.
Next, luck is a Fantasy Factor that can help forecast performance. Using an advanced statistic: BABIP, it is possible for baseball fans to find out if a player had luck on their side or if it worked against him over a given period.
BABIP is the batting average for balls in play and takes into account whether a player enjoyed a higher percentage than usual of balls in play falling for hits. For instance, if a player offers a BABIP that is significantly higher than their career norm, it is often a safe bet that in the following period his performance will regress to the previous rate.
On the other hand, if the BABIP is abnormally low, it is safe to assume the player will have better luck ahead and his batting average and other statistics will improve. The statistic can also be used for pitchers when looking at BABIP against the opposition.
Next, team support is an important fantasy factor for hitters and pitchers. For hitters, it is a matter of whether they have players around them in the lineup that they can drive in and players who will drive them in. In other words, team support has a direct impact with RBI and runs. For pitchers, it’s a matter of having run support to earn wins, plus a solid defense behind them to keep runs off the board.
Strength of schedule is the next factor, and this is all about what ballparks and teams an opponent faces. Pitching in the AL East is no easy task for pitchers who have to deal with the Red Sox offense in Fenway Park, the Yankees offense in Yankees Stadium, and additional hitters parks in Toronto and Baltimore. On the other hand, the NL West calls home to several pitcher parks and limited offenses including in San Francisco, San Diego, and Los Angeles.
Consistency is a fantasy factor, as fantasy managers have to decide whether to gamble on a player who has great potential, but also great volatility. A player like Geovany Soto seems to alternate between good years, while Torii Hunter and Yadier Molina are examples of players who seem to produce consistent numbers every given season.
To see the Fantasy Factors in action visit 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.