Jason examines whether McLouth's adjustments at the plate can stand the test of time, and his fantasy value in the event that they don't.
The start to Nate McLouth’s 2013 is one of the more surprising stories in the season’s opening month. The 31-year-old outfielder has a .351/.451/.486 triple-slash line and has already amassed eight stolen bases. That is a stark difference from a guy with a .251/.339/.423 career slash line who has never stolen more than 23 bases in any season. McLouth was a productive fantasy player from ages 25 to 27 before falling into a tailspin in 2010 that continued into 2012. Since landing in Baltimore, McLouth has hit .290/.373/.449 in 325 plate appearances, once again becoming a relevant fantasy option in all formats.
How has he gone from a spare part to a vital cog of a major-league offense?
Ibanez, Reddick, and Dyson get the VP label this week
There was a common perception that Jayson Werth is injury prone, but he went almost four years between stints on the disabled list (his previous being May 23, 2008). His loss hurts fantasy owners, though not nearly as much as it is likely to hurt the on-base-challenged Nationals. Meanwhile, mixed-league afterthought Rick Ankiel becomes a much better risk; the team really needs his power, even if he brings little else to the table offensively. In the fantasy realm, however, owners can do a lot better when searching for a replacement in most league formats, which is where Value Picks comes in...
Two teams that took interesting rides to the postseason meet in the first round.
Those of you who root for chaos and the eventual heat death of the universe were no doubt disappointed that the season did not end with a series of one-game playoffs. To the Braves and the Giants, however, the outcomes of Sunday’s games were more than welcome. Their starters will receive an additional day of rest each, and they won’t entirely foreclose the possibility of pitching their Game One starters on short rest in Game Four. The condensed schedule of this series (potentially five games in seven days, rather than the eight allotted to the other NLDS) means Bobby Cox and Bruce Bochy will have tough decisions to make should the series go to four or five games.
Activated OF-LNate McLouth from the 15-day DL; optioned OF-S Gregor Blanco to Gwinnett (Triple-A). [7/21]
Optioned OF-L Nate McLouth to Gwinnett; activated OF-RBrent Clevlen from the 15-day DL; signed C-R Dave Ross to a two-year, $3.25 million contract extension through 2012. [7/27]
The Braves have a few injured players returning to assist in the outfield--what you should know about them before they come back.
The Braves have been mentioned as being in the market for a power-hitting outfielder, but the current National League East leaders may be content to just sit and let their injured players come back instead. Jason Heyward and Nate McLouth are both expected to return soon—Heyward could be back for the Braves next series, while McLouth is currently in Triple-A working his way back to the majors. Each of these players should matter to you in the second half.
Jason Heyward needs little introduction, given the hype that surrounded him before he even registered an at-bat in the majors, but his career in the big leagues does merit some explanation despite its brevity. Heyward exploded onto the scene, blasting a homer in his first plate appearance, and was on a torrid pace for weeks to open the season. From the start of the season through the end of May, Heyward put together a line of .292/.410/.578, and struck out 22 percent of his at-bats.
Braves center fielder Nate McLouth is suffering through a historically rare offensive collapse.
Entering the season, expectations were high for the Atlanta Braves. After four consecutive seasons sans playoff baseball, the team appeared to have built a legitimate contender capable of dethroning the incumbent division champion Phillies. The rotation was lauded all throughout the offseason despite Javier Vazquez being traded to the Yankees and and the bullpen was built in a high-risk but high-reward fashion with the likes of Billy Wagner and Takashi Saito being signed as free agents. On the offensive side, the team was set to mix up-and-coming sparksters like Jason Heyward and Martin Prado with stability in the form of Brian McCann and hopeful bounceback seasons from Chipper Jones and Troy Glaus.
Rob McQuown analyzes the fallout of having a Heyward-sized bomb dropped into the Atlanta outfield, and also who will play in St. Louis and Washington.
With many thanks to Kevin Goldstein, we already have an idea how good Jason Heyward will be in 2010. The player who isn't being hurt by the Heyward decision is Melky Cabrera, assuming he keeps outhitting Nate McLouth. McLouth's struggles at the dish this spring have already dropped him in the batting order (Melky has been leading off). Poor Matt Diaz went on a fitness rampage last year, and had a 13/12 season (HR/SB) in just 425 PA, while continuing his career-long .300-plus batting. But he's hit only .276/.334/.387 in his career vs. righty pitchers (that's -46 in Scoresheet, due to his annihilation of lefties), limiting him to platoon duty. Expect Bobby Cox to keep using him in situations where he can thrive, at least, so his rate stats should again be excellent. This makes him a nice player to have in sim games such as Scoresheet or Strat-O-Matic, but frustrating for fantasy owners.