The A's lefty logs his first complete game since 2006, plus more recaps from a walkoff-filled Wednesday and previews for Thursday.
The Wednesday Takeaway
Fans at Oakland Coliseum were treated to a fantastic pitchers’ duel between Scott Kazmir and Anibal Sanchez on Wednesday, and the visitors started the bottom of the ninth inning with a 1-0 advantage.
Kazmir was in line for a complete-game loss, in which he threw 76 of his 103 pitches for strikes and struck out eight batters without issuing a walk. The lone mistake he made was a slider left up that Torii Hunter deposited over the right-center field wall. Kazmir was able to subdue the Tigers with his changeup, as he threw 19 of his 26 off-speed offerings for strikes—nine of them of the swing-and-miss variety. The southpaw was able to hold his velocity over the course of the game, registering his fastest four-seamer of the game with his second-to-last pitch.
The Brewers walk off thanks to Tuesday's starting pitcher and Ben Revere finally goes deep, plus much more from Tuesday and previews for Wednesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
After tweaking his ankle during his most recent start last Tuesday, Yovani Gallardo had his scheduled start on Sunday pushed back for tonight’s rubber match against the Orioles. Approximately 10 hours before being scheduled to take the hill for Wednesday’s start, Gallardo capped off the second consecutive extra inning matchup between the two clubs with a pinch-hit walk-off double.
The last position player off the Brewers bench, Elian Herrera, pinch-ran for Lyle Overbay after the first-sacker led off the ninth inning, down 6-5, with a single off Baltimore closer Zach Britton. Herrera would come around to score the tying run on Jonathan Lucroy’s two-out infield single. Third baseman Manny Machado rushed the soft chopper off the bat of Lucroy, but had to adjust because of a last-second bad hop, and the throw ended up pulling Chris Davis off the first-base bag.
Ben Revere does (or doesn't do) something historic, plus other highlights from Tuesday and what to watch on Wednesday.
The Tuesday Takeaway
When Ben Revere arrived at Globe Life Park yesterday evening, he did so three plate appearances shy of the post-World War II record for the highest total amassed without a big-league home run. As far as I could tell by scanning his spray chart and digging up video of deep fly balls, this triple on September 23, 2012, is the closest he’d ever come:
The senior-circuit bats might provide nice value on draft day.
Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
Rizzo’s 2013 season boils down to a lack of singles. He notched 65 extra-base hits and generated a healthy 11 percent walk rate, but those types of things get mitigated in a big way fantasy-wise when you hit .233. His ADP is typically in the 100 range, and I think he can outperform that position this year. He has his issues with left-handed pitchers, but he also posted a .258 BABIP, which I think points to at least a bit of bad luck. If he gets the average in the .260 range, he makes a big jump in value considering the power potential. I think it’s a jump he can make considering the plate discipline and manageable 18.4 percent strikeout rate.
Rizzo is being judged off of what can only be described as a disappointing 2013, and that’s fair. But that assessment also creates an attractive value pick in the middle rounds of drafts.
The fantasy implications of these manager decisions.
Evaluating players based on lineup position is a tricky science. On one hand, it can have a dramatic impact on a player’s value. Take a guy batting eighth in an NL lineup, move him second, and it can be as much as a $5 boost. On the other hand, batting lineups are fickle constructs, so sometimes it is best not to put too much stock in where a player is hitting at the moment and focus on skills instead.
Lineup position also has an obvious compounding effect—that is, players who are already hitting well tend to be the ones who benefit from moving up in the order, and vice versa. Still, whether through injury or merit, when a player has moved into a more (or less) favorable hitting position, it’s worth reviewing who has seen their value affected thus far in 2013.
The second half of our outfield rankings takes you from Carl Crawford through Chris Davis.
The Baseball Prospectus fantasy team has been rolling out its positional rankings over the past couple of weeks, and will conclude the process next week. Each team member assigned to cover a position will create an initial top 15 (more for outfielders and starting pitchers) on his own. He will then send that list to the rest of the team for discussion, at which point we will debate the rankings, both in terms of each player’s specific placement and the merits on which he was included in the top 15. This back-and-forth debate will yield the final list, which will be presented by the original author with notes on the pertinent players. We encourage you to bring your opinions into the fray using the comment section below.
Today, we continue the rankings with the second half of our outfielders list, featuring the players ranked 26-50. We released our top 25 outfielders on Wednesday, and you can view that article here.
Who are the weakest humans in Major League Baseball? If we can't figure that out, we don't deserve to be here.
For lots of obvious and good reasons, we don't spend a lot of time talking about weak hitters. I don't mean bad hitters, because we actually do spend a lot of time talking about them ("Who's the worst everyday player in baseball?" is a common question, for instance). I mean weak hitters—guys who have an ability to put the bat on the ball but are completely incapable (or unwilling?) of doing so with any force, of causing the ball to travel at extreme velocities, of making a crowd, even a very inexperienced crowd, rise to its feet as it perceives the possibility of a home run.
Before we get deep into it, I want to give full credit to my sources, so I'll tell you about the genesis of this topic: this weekend, I listened to Sam Miller and Riley Breckenridge discuss how well they thought Sam would hit in adult-league baseball against low-80s heat and guys with no breaking stuff, which led to the question of how well reasonably athletic but really not terribly talented adults would do in the major leagues (one hit in 20? 30? 100?), which itself led to the question of which players in baseball have the least upper-body strength. I was along for the ride, as my brain tends to operate on a glacial scale, making me something less than a scintillating conversationalist, but then I got to thinking about weakness.
Playing for one category might make sense this late in the season. Here are some limited players who might nonetheless pick up a point or two for you.
On Thursday, I discussed the importance of managing your categorical needs at this time of year. By this point in the season, you could actually make a case for dropping certain would-be stars like Adam Dunn or Michael Bourn if their categories are no longer of use to you (and if you’re certain enough they won’t fall into the hands of a competitor that needs what they offer). On the flip side, players that you might have turned your nose up at earlier in the year may now be incredibly appealing. Because there is so little time left in the year, a couple of home runs or steals could mean a point or two in the standings. And if this is the case, the crappy batting average that is likely to come with it probably doesn’t matter to you. As I always say, it’s all about context. So today I return with some more one-category wonders that are worth considering for a final championship push.
My Mitch Moreland obsession is far from a secret. He was one of my preseason sleepers and I drafted him everywhere. As little love as the guy gets outside of these pages, he has 25-homer power at worst. Especially if you have the luxury of picking the days you play him (he sits against lefties), he could give you a couple of homers over the final weeks.
Speedsters are the theme of this week's outfield VP with Revere and Brantley joining the crew.
Despite booting Dayan Viciedo and his .381 week with two home runs, the Value Picks outfielders hit a composite .295/.390/.477 this past week with five home runs and five stolen bases. With the three leadoff hitters combining for two runs batted in (neither Jarrod Dyson nor Denard Span had any), the group still managed 18 RBI while scoring 28 runs. Obviously, results may vary from week to week, but this is the sort of “found money” that can be realized when Value Picks work out.