Let us appreciate what Cain gives: Consistent support in every category.
It should go without saying that every professional baseball player is remarkable to watch, to listen to and to read about. One simply doesn’t get to this level of the craft without being exceptional at what they do. Of course, when they constantly are compared to their peers, some major leaguers fade into the background. That especially is true from a fantasy perspective. Oftentimes, the most under-appreciated players aren’t the ones who are left on the waiver wire while performing well, but those left in the starting lineup. The most under-appreciated can be those that we just keep in our lineup without giving much thought to the production these players give to our teams throughout the season. Many fit this bill, but one that I’ve noticed is on a couple of my teams is Lorenzo Cain.
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How has the big spike in home runs—which has been trending for more than 20 years—affects player values.
Earlier this year, I talked about how to adjust to starting pitchers not throwing nearly as many innings as they used to do. Today, I am going to look at the other change that has altered the fantasy landscape: the big spike in home runs.
All 2017 statistics in this article are for games played through Wednesday.
When our colleague Mike Gianellaupdated the starting pitcher tiers in early June, Danny Salazar barely clung to the bottom in the three-star tier. At the time of the ranking, it’s quite possible it was even a couple spots too high. The flame-throwing righty was striking everyone out, sure, but he also was giving up almost two homers and five walks per nine innings and had a 5.40 ERA. Not great. Salazar was coming off the first of two bullpen appearances, a measure the Indians hoped would help him get things straightened out. After his second outing from the pen, he made another move, this time to the DL. The 27-year-old came off the DL on July 22 and has been HOT FLAME EMOJIS ever since. In 20 innings, Salazar has fanned 28 batters, walked only five, and has surrendered only eight hits en route to a 1.35 ERA. As Paul Hollywood might say while standing over a perfectly baked Genoese sponge cake with raspberry jam, “I like that.”
How about David Hernandez on Chicago's South Side, and Greg Holland with the North Siders?
We’ve flipped the calendar over to August, which means the MLB trade deadline has passed and player are, more or less, where they will be for the rest of the season. It also means that our fantasy trade deadlines are quickly approaching. This is obviously a busy time of year, particularly for those of us in longer-term leagues. If you’re the owner of a team that is not in contention this year, it’s time to start thinking of next year. With that in mind, I thought today I would attempt to predict the closer landscape for next year. Obviously, there are going to be events that I cannot predict, but it’s useful to know who could get saves in the following season and try now to get them on the cheap. So, with that in mind, here is a link to who I see closing for each team at the start of next season. Below is an explanation for teams that are seeing a change from who is closing right now.
Masahiro Tanaka, Jon Lester, Nelson Cruz, Mark Melancon and Dinelson Lamet are profiled.
Buoyed by the long, winding collective stroll through the charred aftermath of the fantasy landscape one day after the trade deadline, I figure I’ll use the pretense to talk about some of the players I acquired and fired in my own home league, in hopes that those of you playing in leagues with slightly later deadlines will be able to benefit from some insights on a few difficult-to-evaluate players. Let’s take a look at five on the move from one of my rosters.
Masahiro Tanaka (SP)—NYY: Tanaka is having one of the stranger seasons around, with all kinds of strange splits and, underlying everything, an insane home-run rate. His whiff and walk numbers are delicious, and he gets grounders at a good clip to boot. But, much like his fallen comrade Michael Pineda, the contact he does yield is hard contact. And that is, of course, particularly true in the air this year, where his average exit velocity rests around the 20th percentile and is home-run rate has pretty much single-handedly driven his avert-your-eyes ERA.
“It is difficult to believe the 2017 Major League Baseball season is past the 100 game mark,” is the kind of thing people like to say in early August, even though time moves forward in the same way every year. Let’s move past this terrible segue and look at fantasy baseball valuation!
Leagues offering daily transactions, instead of weekly, open themselves up to losing owners.
A few weeks ago, there was some talk on the message board in one of my leagues about moving from weekly transactions and lineups to daily. I’m firmly on Team Weekly because I prioritize sustainability.
A few simple but important steps you can make, regardless of overall strategy, as we hit the stretch run.
In one of the first fantasy leagues I ever joined, for years the trade deadline was Aug. 1. This is an AL-only league, so the Aug. 1 date gave fantasy managers 24 hours to try and fill any holes created by trades to the National League. This gives away how old the league is. -Only leagues are becoming a thing of the past, and the ones that do exist have mostly switched to permitting players traded to the “other” league to remain on a team’s roster until the end of the regular season.
Most of the leagues I play in now have a trade deadline in late August or early September. In a typical keeper league, nearly everyone already has decided if they are in or out for 2017. But unless your season is going perfectly, you probably are going to need to make some free-agent pickups or trades down the stretch in order to win. This advice is not limited to teams in contention. If you have already given up on your season the last thing you want to do is let your team lie fallow and miss potential keepers for 2018 and beyond.
Webster’s dictionary defines “utility” as... just kidding. The positional flexibility craze in baseball didn’t start with Ben Zobrist, but his ability to play several positions at a high level certainly brought more attention to the modern utility player. Every year fantasy rosters are crippled with injuries. It’s terrible and awful and frustrating. It’s also inevitable. Having a super utility player stashed away on the roster is the ultimate luxury, and can help bail you out of such pickles, Benny “The Jet” style. This season, a handful of players have embraced the task of playing multiple positions and have thoroughly excelled in the process.
Sal Perez isn't striking out, but he's swinging more than ever and his batting average would be a career high. Is that why his fantasy value has been higher in 2017?
Coming into 2017, fantasy owners felt like they had a good handle on Salvador Perez. He was a safe bet to make regular starts at the position who would give you something like a .250 batting average, 20 home runs, 50-60 runs, and 60-70 runs batted in. These totals landed him in the “three star” tier of Baseball Prospectus’ preseason catcher rankings. He was a player who was supplying increasing power at a cost to his batting average.
Jose Quintana moving from the AL to the NL is the rare case when players in an -only league discover "found money" in FAAB free agency. Those who saved can prosper. All-too-frequently however, it can be shrewder to use FAAB money earlier, incrementally, because "big-fish" free agents simply never come.