The Situation: The Phillies dealt Carlos Ruiz, one of the last vestiges of the 2008 World Series champions, to the Dodgers. They did get erstwhile Clayton Kershaw personal catcher A.J. Ellis back in the deal, but he’s not expected to report until Saturday or Sunday. Therefore, Jorge Alfaro gets at least a day in the majors—and wins the lifetime healthcare coverage lottery—by virtue of being the only other catcher on the 40-man roster.
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Our advanced pitching metric suggests brighter days ahead for some of these hurlers.
As we head into the homestretch of the season some of you are angling for a title run, or a challenge for the money, or waiting in vain for your one-category “Perfect Games” league to get more interesting. I, however, play in at least two full keeper leagues in which mine eyes are affixed squarely upon the great horizon beyond 2016. And that means using this time of the year to start searching for potentially undervalued acquisition targets, either for your end-of-year FAAB queue or your off-season trade list. So let’s start in a basic and logical place with some pitchers who have performed much worse than their underlying metrics suggest they should have performed to date. Below is a table of the hurlers with the biggest gaps between their DRA and ERA. I’ve isolated guys who have performed at least a run and a half worse by ERA than their DRA suggests. And for the sake of weeding out some additional riffraff I’ve limited the pool to those arms who have performed as at least a roughly league-average level.
Helping you set your fantasy rotation for next week with a look at the two-start pitchers.
Welcome to the starting pitcher planner, where every Friday we’ll be taking a look at the pitchers slated for two turns in the upcoming week. The hope is that the planner can help guide lineup and FAAB decisions that need to be made over the weekend. Of course, my information isn’t perfect and I don’t have a crystal ball. Rain, injuries, and teams reshuffling between when we write and Monday’s first pitch will definitely happen. If new information comes to light after we publish, we’ll try to tackle it in the comments. Feel free to beat us to it if you have any info, and we’ll be glad to offer our opinion there if you want it.
Let’s get some ground rules out the way before getting started. The pitchers will be split by league and then by category. Here are some general thoughts about the categories:
Modern baseball is smarter, which isn't always as fun.
At this year’s Saberseminar, I was out for dinner and one of the people in our group asked what contemporary player we think we could tell our grandchildren, “I saw him play.” Mike Trout was a gimme, but we had a hard time coming up with someone else. My thought was that Billy Hamilton would be such a player, but he was born about 30 years too late.
I know, Billy Hamilton is not a great player. He’s having his best season, and his career on-base percentage is still below .300. And it’s not like he compensates with power: Of the 172 players with 1,200 or more plate appearances from 2014-2016, his .088 ISO ranks 164th. He does play a good center field, but he’s got a .236 career TAv. That’s a lot of bad bat to carry with a glove.
But he can run. Man, can he run. Through games of August 16, when he was sidelined by a knee contusion, he has 29 stolen bases. Since the All-Star break. The only players, other than Hamilton, with that more swipes all year to that point were Jonathan Villar, Starling Marte, and Rajai Davis. And that doesn’t include plays like this:
These four junior-circuit players have risen from anonymity to prominence, but should we expect them to stay fantasy-relevant going forward?
The other day I watched a baseballing game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Boston Red Sox. Brad Miller and Sandy Leon featured prominently in this affair, and it left me feeling confused. One thing led to another, and I decided to write this column in part to help shed some light on other players in the AL who have also astounded me with their performances this year. If they confuse you too, I hope this helps.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Michael Kopech, Chance Adams, Arvicent Perez, and Colton Welker.
Prospect of the Day:
Michael Kopech, RHP, Boston Red Sox (High-A Salem): 7 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K
This is becoming commonplace. Kopech’s stuff is just too advanced for hitters in the Carolina League to stand a chance; as seen in all of the strikeouts and the .144 batting average against. The command still needs work, but he’s just 20, and he’s made some progress there in 2016. The upside here competes with that of any right-handed pitcher in the lower levels.
Twins second baseman Brian Dozier leads all major-league middle infielders in homers this season with 30. He also led all major-league middle infielders in homers last season with 28. And dating back to 2013—his first full year in the big leagues—Dozier leads all major-league middle infielders in homers with 99, ahead of Robinson Cano (90) and Troy Tulowitzki (84). Dozier is baseball’s premier slugging middle infielder. How the hell did that happen?