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June 17, 2011

Fantasy Beat

The Movie Title Game

by Jason Collette

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Twitter has a fascinating feature on a daily basis called “trends” that can be very entertaining at times. Last night, one particular trend was for males to describe a certain body part with a movie title and the responses ranged from predictable to hilarious.

-Anaconda

-Lethal Weapon

-As Good As It Gets

-40 Year Old Virgin

-Free Willy

-Stuart Little

In order to clean up the meme and let it relate to what we do here at Baseball Prospectus, I decided to do the same by matching players up to movie titles and explaining how each fits.

Delmon Young – “Failure to Launch”: To be fair, this could pretty much apply to the entire Twins roster this season, but Young stands out in a very large way. Last season, he was a fantasy asset coming off a down 2009 as he hit 21 home runs, drove in 112, scored 77 times, and hit .298 as a four-category player to go along with a career-high .300 TAv and a VORP of 35. Most were encouraged as Young’s walk rate was back up to five percent, and he had a career low strikeout rate of just 14 percent along with a career-high .195 ISO. Young went for $19 in Tout Wars AL this past March, but he is going to need to play the rest of his games in a local Little League park to match last year’s production. He has but eight extra base hits this season and his strikeout rate is back up to 20 percent–a horrific decline from last.  His VORP has plummeted to -3.4. Young is back to his extremely impatient ways of chasing at the plate, and pitchers are once again able to get him out without throwing him a lot of strikes.

Alex Rios – “Deadwood”: After disappointing fantasy owners in 2009, Rios bounced back in 2010 with 21 home runs, 34 stolen bases, 89 runs, 88 runs driven in, and a .284 batting average as he once again flashed that five-category potential that he showed with Toronto from 2006 to 2008. His 26.2 VORP fell short of those glory years as a Jay, but it was immensely better than the -7.9 stinker he put up in 2009 that seriously depressed his 2010 draft day value. Rios went for $26 in AL Tout Wars but reverted back to his disastrous 2009 ways as he currently has just a .209 TAv and a -4.4 VORP. His walk rate is right in line with the past few seasons and he is making the best contact of his career, but his batting average on balls in play is just .218 despite a 19 percent line drive rate.  For those reasons, I am not giving up on Rios as I am with Young because Rios is much more a victim of circumstance than bad skill.

Tyler Colvin – “Gone in 60 Seconds”: This could also apply to Sam Fuld, but that would mean this article would be off to a heavy AL-tilt. Colvin was a sleeper du jour in March coming off his 2010 season in which he had a .283 TAv, 18.6 VORP, and a .500 slugging percentage in just 395 plate appearances. This season, he is the unfortunate owner of the league’s worst TAv at .143 as he has had more BABIP misfortunate than anyone. His 17 percent line drive rate in 2010 has fallen to just ten percent this season which has driven his BABIP down to a shocking .116. He is actually making slightly better contact this season than last season and is walking at the same rate as 2010, but as quickly as he zoomed up the sleeper list, he has quickly exited fantasy usability as he has a Belanger-like .105/.175/.211 slash line on the season and is just 3 for 33 since his recall from Triple-A Iowa.

Mike Morse – “Monsters Inc”: On May 1st, Morse had a .224 batting average with a .551 OPS and just one home run in 67 at-bats. He went for $14 in NL Tout Wars but was probably cut in most other leagues after looking lost for the first month of the season. Oops. Since May 1st, Morse has rebounded to put up monster numbers with a .369 batting average and a .1128 OPS that includes 22 extra base hits and 31 RBI in just 122 plate appearances. The .415 BABIP will be extremely tough to maintain, however, and the same can be said for the 27 percent home run to fly ball rate during this unbelievable run of production. On the season, his HR/FB rate is just two percent higher than last season, but his BABIP is nearly 40 points higher. To put Morse’s numbers in perspective, he has just one fewer home run than Jose Bautista since the end of May. He is impossible to trade for because he is at his peak right now, so the price point will be painful, but if someone calls you asking for Morse, by all means see how much you can milk from that desperate owner.

Scott Kazmir – “Tombstone”: Curly Tony Reagins just told Kazmir ‘bye,’ and Johnny Ringo just said it smelled like someone’s pitching stats died. Kazmir was coming off an awful 2010 with a 5.31 SIERA in 150 innings of work in which his walk rate nearly matched his strikeout rate. He was quickly thrown on the disabled list this season, but his rehab work in Triple-A Salt Lake City has been beyond horrible. In 15 innings of work he has allowed 22 hits, walked 20 batters, and struck out just 14. The only good news is that he has not given up a home run in the Pacific Coast League, but that may be a by-product of batters just feeling pity for someone that was once one of the top young arms in all of baseball. If someone picks him up now, it’s trying to catch sparks (he doesn’t have lightning any longer) in a bottle while the Angels are writing the paychecks. If you roster Kazmir at this point, you’ve either lost a bet with a friend or you are a glutton for punishment.

Wade Davis – “Clueless”: At 5.63, Davis’s SIERA is the highest among all pitchers with at least 70 innings pitched in 2011. Last season, he won five games with a 4.07 ERA, but a 4.68 SIERA pointed to some potential issues. His 6.1 strikeout rate has dropped to just 4.4 this season while he has once again proven to be extremely home run prone in the first half of the season. In the first half of 2010, his home run rate was 1.4 and that is exactly where he is at again this season despite a league average nine percent HR/FB rate. The home runs are not something related to luck–it is a by-product of Davis’s fly ball rate jumping from 44 percent to 50 percent this season as he has changed his pitching style to someone pitching to more contact. Unfortunately, the contact most batters have made has been extremely solid, which looks similar to the unintended results James Shields suffered through last season. In 2009, Davis had a nine percent swinging strikeout rate as he went for the strikeout; in his new approach, his swinging strike rate is just five percent. He has been bombed in just about every matchup available, making him tough just to roster and even to spot start at this point. The conversion process that Davis is going through, for whatever reason, is creating puzzling and frustrating results.

Matt Garza – “A Series of Unfortunate Events”: Garza has the eighth best SIERA in baseball right now at 3.19, which bests the SIERA’s of James Shields, Michael Pineda, Tim Lincecum, and Jered Weaver, among others. Despite this, Garza is just 3-6 with a 4.14 ERA and already has had a disabled list stint. His strikeout rate is 9.8, and the fear of him being killed by home runs in Wrigley has been negated by the fact Garza has turned himself into a groundball pitcher with a current groundball rate of 50 percent. All of the skills are there for Garza, but the situation in Chicago is a series of unfortunate events. I would still be chasing his skills, hoping he gets better help from his teammates.

Cole Hamels – “I Am Legend”: It is easy to get overshadowed when you have Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay sitting on either side of you, but Hamels has been amazing in 2011 coming off two seasons of sub- $20 value in NL-only leagues. Hamels has the second-best SIERA in baseball at 2.71, which trails only Halladay and is better than Lee. Hamels has maintained his strikeout rate, has put up a career-best walk rate, and has really cut down on his home runs by increasing his groundball rate from 45 percent to 53 percent this season. He is on pace to surpass a 200 inning total for a third time in four seasons, which is quite the accomplishment for a pitcher that has a bum rap for health issues. He went for less money in NL Tout Wars than Yovani Gallardo, Cliff Lee, and Clayton Kershaw and, to date, has been the second most valuable of all NL starting pitchers, trailing only his more famous right-handed teammate.

Jason Collette is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jason's other articles. You can contact Jason by clicking here

Related Content:  Strikeout Rate

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