Updates on Cory Seager, Rafael Devers, Jose Berrios, and more.
Hitter of the day: Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers (Oklahoma City, AAA): 6-6, 2 R, 2 2B, HR. Seager went 13-for-18 with two walks, three homers, and 27 total bases over his last four games; I think he enjoys hitting in Salt Lake City. Like with Joc Pederson last year, there may not be anything that Seager can do to force his way onto the Dodgers. If that proves to be the case, it looks like he’s gearing up for a big summer in the PCL.
Pitcher of the day: Justin Nicolino, LHP, Marlins (New Orleans, AAA): 7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 SO. A season high in strikeouts for Nicolino, who has worked at least six innings in all but one of his 10 starts this year. He’s never going to miss many bats, but with a plus changeup and above-average command, he should survive as a backend starter at the highest level. He’s in line to make his big-league debut as soon as the need arises in Miami.
In December of 2012, Jordan and I started the Cespedes Family Barbecue in my living room. Inspired by the Up and In podcast, we had recently become extremely interested in the ins and outs of baseball and wanted a place to put all the dumb jokes we were making. A blog seemed like the dorkiest and most obvious choice. But at first, we didn’t know what to call it...
Rewatching every pitch Strasburg has thrown this season to diagnose his problems
Stephen Strasburg’s season has been a frightening experience for me, not just as a Washington Nationals fan but also as a sabermetrician. Dissecting the reasons for his season-long struggles is not easy. To begin with, my brain is struggling with how much of his 6.50 ERA to attribute to bad luck and how much to bad pitching. Matt Trueblood took a good crack at exploring the issue a few weeks ago. Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller touched upon it earlier this week in their podcast, and left with no good explanations; they concluded it was likely just a random rough patch in his career.
The numbers don’t really point to a strong conclusion. Some of the peripherals say he’ll be fine, and others say he’s in real danger.
Jason Kipnis was good, then bad, then bad still, and now he's good again. Why?
Streaks are a fascinating thing in baseball. There's an ongoing debate about whether having a hot hand is a fallacy or if there is actually some rhyme and reason to performing better for longer stretches of time.
Frankly, all that stuff is a bit beyond my interest. What I enjoy trying to figure out is why a great player is struggling, how he handles it, and how he attempts to bounce back. A month ago, I talked toAndrew McCutchen about a rough patch he was going through; his OPS was hovering around .600 at the time. He was confident he’d figure things out, and repeatedly talked about how the game is all about adjustments. Well, to no one’s surprise, Cutch has been on fire since, with a .368/.464/.691 line in his last 19 games. I’m not going to say I motivated him, but hey, you can thank me later, Pirates fans.
Helping you set your fantasy rotation for next week with a look at the two-start pitchers.
Oh, to be young and the owner of a National League ace this week. Chances are, if you’ve got one, he’s going twice in Week Nine. Between the true aces and the near ones, NL-only leaguers will have a full nine glorious, “safe” options at their disposal, while junior circuit riders will once again be left weighing options from a lengthy “consider” column.
Uncertainty persists as of press time in Oakland, where Scott Kazmir’s MRI yesterday will likely reveal a delayed next turn at the least and put the Oakland rotation slot @DET and @BOS into someone else’s hands. That’s not a great lineup, and with neither Gray nor Hahn—the two other guys in Oakland’s rotation I’d consider running here—anywhere near on turn, it’s unlikely this slot will yield much interest even in AL-only formats. It’s also unclear who will take the injury-ravaged Marlins’ two-start slot. I’m not sure that one much matters either, however, as we’re down to about the eighth or ninth guy on the Miami depth chart at this point, and a trip to Coors Field looms for whoever ends up stepping into the fire.
Dynasty league owners should be taking notice of these leadoff hitters for their future stolen-base potential.
As power numbers have dwindled in recent years, dynasty owners have been focused on adding speed to their rosters in any way possible. Billy Hamilton stole 56 stolen bases in 2014 and finished as a top-50 contributor in virtually all formats, despite hitting .250 and compiling a sub-.300 on-base percentage. Hamilton’s 72 runs scored were not good enough to rank him in the top 60 hitters overall, so the vast majority of his value was tied to one category. Fantasy overlord Bret Sayre ranked Hamilton the 16th-best outfield dynasty commodity this winter, outlining the value that a top-flight base-stealer can add to a dynasty league roster.
As a dynasty owner, finding speed in the minors is often a tricky proposition. A prospect like Garin Cecchini can swipe 51 bases in Low-A ball in 2012 but fail to surpass 15 steals in a season as he’s moved up the latter due to the more advanced ability of pitchers and catchers to control the running game. That’s why it’s always important to listen to the great BP Prospect team to have them tell you who has elite speed and who is feasting on poor battery combinations in the lower minors.
Danny Salazar had a rough night in Texas on Tuesday. In 5 2/3 innings, he gave up three runs (all on a Prince Fielder home run), struck out six, walked three, and hit a batter. In eight starts, he has a 3.65 ERA, a 3.50 FIP, and a 3.56 DRA—the stats of a perfectly good starting pitcher, but not those of an ace.
As we always say, though, ERA is a flawed statistic. It does nothing to remove the vagaries of batted-ball luck, nor to adjust for park factors. It also makes arbitrary, often inscrutable judgments about which runs count against the pitcher, and which ones don’t. Some of those things are corrected for by FIP, which takes as its inputs only strikeouts, walks, hit batters and home runs, and thereby mostly strips defense and batted-ball luck out of the equation. Sometimes, though, batted-ball luck isn’t luck, and a pitcher is exercising some influence over the efficacy of his defense. Unfortunately, FIP doesn’t capture that. It also doesn’t correct for the parks in which those home runs are hit.
Digging through the reader mailbag, and much more.
On the Podcast:
This week we dig through the mailbag and answer some listener questions—thanks for sending them in, keep it up! We talked about banked stats, projection systems, online data resources, and some pointers on how to handle trade negotiations. We also discuss potential buy and sell trade candidates in both leagues, with each of us highlighting a couple players of each kind in each league.
How scouting can form a bridge between the fantasy islands of Roto and DFS
The DFS game can be a shark tank, one that becomes more treacherous in deeper (read: more expensive) waters. There are some experienced gamers out there who have made a killing at Draft Kings and continue to put considerable sums on the line each day of play, and some these “pros” have been known to utilize market dynamics and Wall Street strategies to find success, even in cases where sport-specific knowledge might be lacking. In contrast, I'm an admitted Baseballholic who plays on a near daily basis during the baseball season, but aside from the occasional football Sunday, I don't play the games that are outside of my comfort zone.
Twins-Red Sox action, a long pitcher dinger, King Felix gets in a duel, and more, plus what to watch today
The Wednesday Takeaway
No division in baseball has so undermined the strategy of spending money to win baseball games as the AL Central. The Tigers, a team that has sold both its soul and farm system for present success, and the White Sox, who went on an eyebrow-raising spending spree themselves during the offseason, currently trail the small-market, offense-light Royals and Twins. After a Kansas City loss and Minnesota win on Wednesday, the two squads are tied atop the division.