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Dissecting Josh Donaldson, and the Josh Donaldson story.

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May 29, 2014 6:00 am

What You Need to Know: Kazmir's 'A' Game

2

Chris Mosch

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.


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Bret and Mike take some deeper dives into important fantasy topics of the week.

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The young Ray's fine outing, a shutout by Masahiro Tanaka, David Ortiz's yardwork, plus more from Wednesday and previews for Thursday.

The Wednesday Takeaway
Entering last Friday’s start against the Indians, Jake Odorizzi owned a 6.83 ERA and 1.80 WHIP, and had made it out of the fifth inning in just three of his six starts. The Tampa Bay right-hander held the Indians scoreless during that outing and racked up 11 punchouts, but lasted just five innings and promptly watched his bullpen squander the lead. On Wednesday, Odorizzi carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and reminded Rays fans that he was more than just a throw-in that the club got in the James Shields-Wil Myers trade.

Odorizzi’s fastball worked particularly well against the Mariners, as the pitch generated 13 swinging strikes, nearly doubling his previous career high of seven (which came in his last start against Cleveland). After the game he told reporters, “It felt good coming out. The hitters tell you what your stuff is like. They didn't put any hard contact on it, so we kept going to it. Kept bringing it up higher and higher in the zone to see if they kept swinging at it, and a lot of them did.”


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December 17, 2013 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Putting Stock in the Best Hitters of the Second Half

6

Bret Sayre

These players excelled from July through the end of the regular season, but does that mean great things are in store in 2014?

It’s relatively easy to tell when a player has a full-on breakout. Matt Carpenter and Paul Goldschmidt both had easily the strongest seasons of their respective careers in 2013—it doesn’t take a baseball genius to figure that out. However, every pre-season, there is always be a lot of talk about how a player had a “breakout second half,” leading to talk that they will be able to build off that experience in the following season. At face value, that makes sense. But at face value, we’re also clearly dealing with sample size issues. For every Jose Bautista and Josh Donaldson, who hinted at their offensive explosions towards the end of the prior season, there are many more who never capitalize on said promise.

For the purposes of this exercise, we’re going to be looking at hitters with a .900+ OPS during the second half of the previous season in at least 100 plate appearances. But before we dig into the 2013 members of this group, we’re going to take it one step further and look back at the last couple of seasons to see exactly how this control group fared.

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October 17, 2013 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back: Endgame Sleepers

2

Bret Sayre

Bret advised you to gamble on these players seven months ago; now it's time to look back and see how he did.

Welcome to the second installment of “Bret looks back on his favorite 2013 columns and grades himself.” Last week, I took a look at my 10 bold predictions based on April’s small samples, but today we’ll go even further back in the time machine.

My favorite column to write every year looks at my favorite endgame sleepers just as Spring Training is coming to a close. In the past I’ve stopped at 10, but this year I turned the dial all the way up to 20—putting the spotlight on players in leagues of varying depths.

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The BP Prospect Team bring you advanced scouting reports for the 2013 playoffs.

Throughout the past two weeks, Jason Parks and the Baseball Prospectus prospect team have been writing detailed reports on key players to enhance your enjoyment of the MLB playoffs. Below is every published report in a single post.

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October 10, 2013 6:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Looking Back: 10 Bold Predictions

7

Bret Sayre

Bret went out on 10 limbs based on small samples from April; it's time to find out how he did.

April is a time of goldmines and landmines for fantasy players. The annals of rotisserie leagues are filled with owners who jumped in head first on a player who could not maintain a small-sample stretch. And we see it every year. Using 2013 as an example, let’s take a look back at the 10 players who hit eight or more homers in April (see if you can spot the two players who actually hit more than 15 homers from May 1 on):

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September 19, 2013 6:00 am

Painting the Black: The Things You See

6

R.J. Anderson

Taking a close look at some small moments from various recent games.

The regular season is nearing its end, but the past few days have given us some interesting sequences in games with playoff implications. Let's go blow-by-blow, Will Woods style, and break a few down.

***

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June 26, 2013 5:00 am

Fantasy Freestyle: Patience is a Virtue

5

Jason Collette

For hitters and fantasy owners alike, a little bit of patience can go a long way.

Episode 230 of the Effectively Wild podcast featured an interesting discussion on strikeouts and walks this season. Strikeouts are up this season for a fifth consecutive year while walks continue to fall. Heading into play on Monday, there were 56 pitchers who had strikeout-to-walk ratios of at least 4.0 with a minimum of 25 innings pitched. That is seven more than in 2012, which shattered the previous record of 33 that was set in both 2010 and 2011.

Walks are a bit harder to come by these days, but for some hitters, getting that first walk solves some ills they are having at the plate. The best example of that would be Josh Donaldson. In 2012, Donaldson was twice optioned back to Triple-A Sacramento by Oakland in the first half of that season. In his final game before his second option, Donaldson walked. It was the first time he had walked in 2012 and he went to the minors with a .153/.160/.235 slash line in 100 plate appearances.

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The A's are getting unexpected production out of third base this year. Why it might not be an illusion.

The unfortunate truth is teams sometimes benefit from their players' injuries. Take Oakland. 

Last spring the A's entered camp with Scott Sizemore as their everyday third baseman. Sizemore's season soon ended when he suffered a torn ACL during fielding practice. The A's tried replacing Sizemore with various options, including Brandon Inge, yet when August rolled around they turned to Josh Donaldson. Donaldson's prospects of success were limited. He started the season as part of a third-base platoon but his poor play precipitated Luke Hughes' short-lived tenure in green and gold. Donaldson failed to capture Oakland's imagination during a later fill-in stint for Inge as well, though he made good on a third try, and played well enough to earn the third-base gig outright. 

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Did Bryce Harper see reason, or has he misplaced his magic necklace? With an update on the DiSars!

These are simply three unrelated items that should be in the public record somewhere.

1. Monday, I wrote about Bryce Harper’s toughest at-bats. One was against Kenley Jansen, in late April, and another was against Jonny Venters, in late May. In the first one, Bryce Harper was wearing a Phiten magic necklace, and in the second one he was not. Somewhere between late April and late May, Bryce Harper either realized magic necklaces aren’t real, or he decided that they are real but they don’t work on his particular body chemistry, or he lost his. Magic necklaces obviously are real, and they obviously do work, no duh, or else why would all these athletes (and bat boys, and managers, and fans) wear them? I know what you’re probably going to say, but let me reiterate: Uh no duh.

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