A look at the surprising early season success of Baltimore's hitters
Your computer is not broken. The Baltimore Orioles do indeed lead all of baseball in home runs this season with 56. They were quietly the fourth-best team last year with 191 home runs, trailing only the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rangers. Last season, the Orioles hit 1.18 home runs per game, but in 2012, that pace has spiked to 1.6 per contest… with essentially the same personnel as last year, no less. Nick Johnson—who anointed Joel Peralta his favorite pitcher this weekend when he took him deep twice—is the lone addition to the lineup.
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A look at Matt Moore's struggles this season, what the problem is, and what the outlook for the rest of 2012 is
Matt Moore has done one thing very well in 2012: remind everyone that he is a rookie. He was purchased in the low-teens in mixed league, upper-teens in AL-only leagues, and even as high as the eighth round in drafts. Despite the high praise fantasy drafters gave him, he is currently 1-2 with a 5.71 ERA and 5.15 FIP while walking 18 and striking out 28 in 34 2/3 innings of work.
A look at Baseball Prospectus' new, fantasy-themed podcast
In case you do not peek at the blogs section on the front page or the revamped toolbar at the top, Baseball Prospectus has a new podcast for fantasy baseball! Paul Sporer may be a new addition to the staff, but he is a long-time friend of mine, so I could think of nobody better to start the podcast with than someone I have written with, debated against, and have known for ten years.
A look at the players many predicted breakouts for based on strong September performances
One of the most common fallacies in fantasy baseball is that hot Septembers are precursors to players performing well the following season. Ben Zobrist hit .321/.42/.732 in September of 2008 after doing nothing the previous five months before breaking out in 2009. Jose Bautista had OPS’s of 868, 691, 735, 606, and 503 before hitting 10 home runs in September, putting up a 944 OPS, and then breaking out in 2010. In 2010, Troy Tulowitzki had his coming out party in September, hitting 15 of his 27 home runs over the final month and parlaying it into a monster 2011 season.
A look at how Phil Humber has changed the way he is attacking batters
In our preseason fantasy baseball awards piece a few weeks ago, I was the lucky guy who told everyone that Philip Humber would be the best $1 pitcher you could pick up in a mixed league. While I am patting myself on the back, please try to ignore the fact I also told you that Homer Bailey would be the Comeback Player of the Year this season instead of the player you wish you could just throw back into the free agent pool already.
Jason looks back on 2011 chat answers and how his advice panned out
Yesterday, Jason Parks ran a piece entitled Chat Accountability where he went back and revisited advice he had given in earlier chats. I love this concept because as writers, what we spat forth in a chat should be praised as well as panned. We are advising with the information at hand at the time, and that kind of analysis is tougher than results-based analysis because you are advising based on the potential rather than the actual.
A look at Chapman's 2012 success and what has made the difference
In hindsight, maybe spring training stats do mean something. Aroldis Chapman turned heads in Arizona when he struck out 18 batters while walking just two in 17 innings of work, but it’s not as if no one has turned heads in March only to turn stomachs in April. Chapman, however, took his talents north with him to Cincinnati, pitching eight dominating innings this season while allowing just three hits, not allowing a run or a walk, and striking out 15 batters. Do the quick math and you get 32 strikeouts and two walks in 25 innings of work from a guy who walked 41 batters in 50 innings of work last season.
A look at whether Dee Gordon is capable of stealing 80 bases, a feat not achieved since the 80s
In Monday’s piece about bold predictions, reader dodgerken22 called his shot by saying that Dee Gordon would steal 92 bases in 2012. My initial response was that I am not sure an 80-steal season is possible in the major leagues any longer with the increased use of slide steps, improved pickoff moves, more awareness about time to the plate, and managerial tendencies, but I figured it was worth going back and looking at where those kinds of seasons came from in the past.
Jason makes nine bold predictions based off early season happenings
The first month of April is the most frustrating month for any fantasy writers. Sample sizes are incredibly small, making article ideas tough to come up with, but that does not stop people on Twitter from overreacting to opening weekend moves anyway. Between covering the firsttwo games of the Rays and Yankees series and completing an online auction (don’t!) in my longtime mixed league this weekend, I must have received at least 50 inquiries on Twitter related to add/drop moves.
A look at the early season closer injuries and which pitchers to target as ninth-inning replacements
We are not even two days into the regular season and closers are already dropping like flies. On back-to-back days this week both Andrew Bailey and Kyle Farnsworth hit the disabled list with injuries of different severities. Bailey is going to miss at least two months of the season to repair the UCL in his thumb that he landed awkwardly on while colliding with Alex Presley covering first base. Manager Bobby Valentine was quick to name Alfredo Aceves as the primary closer rather than Mark Melancon, who served as the primary closer in Houston last season. Melancon came into yesterday’s game in a tie-situation and handed a mess off to Aceves that he was unable to clean up, thus continuing the chatter that spilled over from Spring Training of Valentine’s true feelings for Melancon; the BoSox manager had some rather back-handed complements of Melancon’s work at one point in camp.
A look at how player values have changed in the weeks leading up to Opening Day
On Friday, I took a look at three prominent AL-only expert league auctions to see how player values have changed over the course of five weeks. Overall, the results were rather stable, but the same cannot be said for the National League expert auctions. The injuries to Ryan Madson and Chase Utley certainly added to the volatility, but 39 other players saw at least a six dollar difference between their minimum and maximum auction price.
A look at how spring performance has impacted player auction prices
One of the fascinating things to follow during the weeks leading up to the season is how highly players are valued in different auctions. Luckily for writers, there are three different points in which players are auctioned in a public format: the CBS Auctions, the LABR Auctions, and Tout Wars. CBS does their auctions in late February, LABR the first weekend of March, and Tout happens the weekend before opening day. That type of schedule allows us to see how factors such as injuries, spring breakouts, and spring slumps are affecting auction values.