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Chat: Josh Shepardson

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Welcome to Baseball Prospectus' Monday July 30, 2012 1:00 PM ET chat session with Josh Shepardson.

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Fantasy author Josh Shepardson stops by for his inaugural BP chat.

Josh Shepardson: Thank you to those that submitted questions in advance of the chat, and those that are here now. Let's kick this thing off and get to talking baseball.

Alex (Anaheim): Will Ben Sheets be worth owning down the stretch in a 12-team mixed league?

Josh Shepardson: It goes without saying that Sheets won't continue to post a sub-1.00 ERA, but I'm skeptical of him even pitching to his 3.63 xFIP. Batters are offering at pitches out of the strike zone at a rate 7.2 percent less than the league average. He's starting batters off with a strike just over half the time, 51.4 percent, a rate that is way below his 62.9 percent first pitch strike rate in his career. He has yet to give up a home run, batters are hitting line drives at a 26.5 percent clip, and he has a stand rate of 94.4 percent. His fastball is operating in the 89-91 mph range according to Brooks Baseball. There is serious regression coming, and there is also the added risk of injury Sheets carries. I'm passing.

sitdancer (DC): Looking ahead, who are your Top 5 SS for next season? (And, if you feel like it, Top 5 CF as well)

Josh Shepardson: Right now, I'd rank the shortstops
1- Troy Tulowitzki
2- Jose Reyes
3- Starlin Castro
4- Elvis Andrus
5- Ian Desmond

I struggled to rank 3-5, and an argument could be made for shuffling them up in any order. Hanley Ramirez could throw a wrench into these rankings if he sees time at SS in Dee Gordon's absence. As for the CF position, I'm much less comfortable ranking them at the moment. Matt Kemp has missed time due to injury, as has Jacoby Ellsbury. Josh Hamilton has been streaky as hell, and I just want to see a bit more from others. As it stands, though, my top 3 would be Trout, Kemp, McCutchen in that order.

Joe (San Diego): Would you rather have George Springer or Delino DeShields in a dynasty league? DeShields quietly putting up SBs.

Josh Shepardson: This is a toughy, and I'm glad the question was submitted prior to the chat because it gave me plenty of time to go back and forth on my answer. I'd probably take DeShields in a dynasty league due to his category dominance (75 SB) and position. He's also younger than Springer. Both have some serious boom/bust potential, but I'd gamble on DeShields. Trailing both, but interesting in his own right, is Springer's teammate Domingo Santana. His power comes at a cost, but not the worst dynasty stash option in his own right.

SpittinTeeth (Dentist's Office): What do you think of Jay Bruce's prospects the rest of 2012? How would you rank him among RF for ROS and in a keeper league?

Josh Shepardson: I like Bruce the rest of the year, and absolutely love him in keeper leagues. He'd rank near the top of the RF heap in keeper/dynasty formats. His walk rate is in line with his recent seasons, his strikeout rate is down a tiny bit, and his ISO is up. Most owners are likely frustrated with his .242 batting average, but be patient. His .261 BABIP is 26 points lower than his .287 mark for his career, in spite of a career best line drive rate, 21.3 percent, and a career low pop-up rate, 5.0 percent. Buy Bruce now!

NightmareRec0n (Boston): I've observed some stuff and wrote a bit on believe Lester's sinker was a problem as it was wasn't dropping and was too similar to his fastball. On Saturday, Lester didn't throw single sinker. Dan Brooks pointed out this is the first time Lester hasn't thrown a sinker since August 11 of 2011. Is it possible the sinker was causing a mechanical issue or is it something else? Wouldn't that example why the more he threw the sinker, the worse he got?

Josh Shepardson: I don't feel all that comfortable dissecting a player's mechanics, as that's not something I regularly do. Hazarding a guess, it seems like tying a mechanical issue to his throwing a sinker might be a bit of a stretch, but I suppose it could be possible. I'd think it's more likely that the pitch simply isn't effective, and using it less helped by allowing him to use his better pitches more often. According to the Brooks Baseball game data, it looks like Lester did throw two sinkers, but it wouldn't be crazy to think they could have been misclassified four-seam fastballs given the similarity of velocity and movement. Lester has certainly had a forgettable year, and it would be nice to see his K/9 creep back above 8.00, but I'd probably gamble on Lester for the right price for the rest of the season, and I'll probably buy cheap next year.

paul (omaha): hey josh, whats your take on eric hosmer's prolonged sophomore struggles? hes killin my team! should i unload him in a dynasty lg or am i over reacting?

Josh Shepardson: Speaking of rough seasons, Hosmer is having an ugly year, but he's a must hold in dynasty leagues. He's just 22 years old, and has way too much upside to sell at this low point. His groundball rate is way too high right now, and he's struggling against left-handed pitchers big time (.222/.295/.294), but I believe with time he'll straighten things out. Chalk up 2012 as a lost season, but I believe you'll come to regret dealing Hosmer if you sell now.

ray (mich): young IF allergic to walks you'd rather in a dynasty league - castro or lawrie?

Josh Shepardson: I'd rather have Lawrie. Both have had awful stolen base success rates, so it will be interesting to see how long both are continued to be allowed to run. Perhaps last season's explosion onto the scene by Lawrie is too fresh in my memory, but that's who I'm taking.

Dan (Chicago): Rizzo or Lawrie in a 12-team roto dynasty? 6x6 with OPS

Josh Shepardson: This is a tough one. The addition of OPS helps Rizzo, but the position is in favor of Lawrie. I'm taking Lawrie, but this is extremely close and you could flip a coin.

Dom (Cortland): Have you ever been referred to as a cream puff before?

Josh Shepardson: I'm being stalked! I have in fact been called a cream puff, which was a forced comp if there ever was one.

FanOfTheGame (Binghamton): If you owned Mike Trout in a Keeper League, is there any player you'd trade him for straight up? What would it take to pry him off your team in the off-season?

Josh Shepardson: Mike Trout woudl top my keeper league/dynasty league rankings. There is not a single player I'd swap him for in a 1-for-1 deal. Depending on my team composition, it would take another top-10 keeper plus an upgrade to one of my lesser keepers in order to pry Trout away, but even receiving that offer, I'd have a hard time parting with him. He's a true 5 category contributor that is good enough in every category that he could afford to slump in one and still pick up the slack in the others.

Jim (NY): Can you rank the top 5 catchers for the rest of 2012 in an obp league?

Josh Shepardson: 1- Buster Posey
2- Joe Mauer
3- Yadier Molina
4- Brian McCann
5- Mike Napoli

Miguel Montero and Matt Wieters could easily jump into the mix.

craig (LA): do you talk food like kg and keithlaw?

Josh Shepardson: While I enjoy food, I'm not much of a cook. So no, I don't talk much food.

jimmy (dc): cheap sources of steals to target on waiver wire?

Josh Shepardson: If you can stomach a low .200 average, Jordan Schafer is widely available. Carlos Gomez is also seeing fairly regular playing time, and he's a nice stolen base option. His ownership is quickly on the rise though.

Alex (Anaheim): Should the Yankees keep running Martin out there because of his power?

Josh Shepardson: The Yankees should continue to run him out there because he's considerably better than Chris Stewart.

Josh Shepardson: Thank you for joining me for today's chat. I had a great time, and look forward to doing one again in the future. Take care everyone.


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