While the Giants flounder further from contention, the Diamondbacks continue to rise, largely thanks to their record against losing teams.
Through September 4, Arizona leads the division by seven games with 22 remaining. Although the Diamondbacks have earned their success by playing better than everyone else in the division for an extended period of time—Jay Jaffe has extolled the team's considerable virtues—they also have taken advantage of weaker opponents in a way that the Giants have not.
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As the calendar turns to September, Michael digs deep for corner infield options that will help your fantasy team in the stretch run.
Except for unexpected call-ups, September usually holds few fantasy surprises on the waiver wire, but there are still a few undiscovered gems available out there, including one of the top prospects in the game. Whether you’re in contention or not, remember what your mamma always told you: quitters never win, and winners never quit (assuming your mamma was Vince Lombardi).
How the Diamondbacks have managed to exceed expectations and set themselves up for a playoff run.
When I last checked in on the NL West race two weeks ago, the Giants had fallen three-and-a-half games behind the Diamondbacks, though they still held a 62.8 percent chance of reaching the playoffs according to BP’s odds. As if on cue, the Snakes immediately fell into a six-game losing streak that trimmed the division lead to a single game, but they soon turned around and peeled off a nine-game winning streak, rebuilding their lead to six games. Going into a three-game weekend series against the Giants, Playoff Odds report now puts Arizona's chances of winning the division at 82.9 percent with the defending world champions knocked down to 17 percent. In a year with vanishingly few races, this too is on the verge of fading from sight.
The Milwaukee Brewers' hot streak can be attributed to multiple factors.
On the morning of July 26, the Milwaukee Brewers awoke after a day off to find they had slipped out of first place. The Pirates and Cardinals, with whom they had been tied with the night before, had each won their games while the Brewers sat idle, slipping Milwaukee a half-game behind.
One month later, the Brewers awoke on the morning of August 26, again after a night off, alone in first place. The second-place Cardinals had taken advantage of the Brew Crew’s idleness, beating the Pirates. This moved St. Louis to 9.5 games back of Milwaukee. The Pirates had fallen even further, sitting in fourth place and 16 games back. This drastic change in the structure of the National League Central was due almost entirely to the Brewers' stellar month-long run, in which they went 24-5 in 29 games. That .828 winning percentage was just too much for any team to compete with.
A look at some players whose overall lines look okay but who have had roller coaster seasons.
Yesterday, Dayton Moore gave Jeff Francouer a two-year extension and R.J. Anderson did a good job of breaking that down on the Transaction Analysis Blog. The afternoon on Twitter was fun as different pundits threw out numbers for Francoeur at different points this season, comparing them to what Frenchy has done at other points in his 2011 season and in his career to show how the dollar figures in the deal probably were not the best idea around.
The Pirates' continuing struggles at Miller Park might help make the Brewers' season.
On Sunday, the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates for their 70th win of the season. The game dropped the formerly feisty Pirates to 56-63, thirteen games behind the division-leading Brewers. Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh's biggest success story of the season, started the game on Sunday and seemed to have the win in the bank. After extending his scoreless inning streak to 24 with 7.1 innings of four-hit, no-run ball, Morton left the game with a runner on second, one out, and a one-run lead. After Jose Veras got the second out in the inning, closer Joel Hanrahan came in for the four-out save. Hanrahan struck out Nyjer Morgan to end the eighth, but the ball got away from catcher Michael McKenry, and Morgan streaked to first. Ryan Braun made good on the free opportunity two pitches later, and the game was tied. Milwaukee would go on to win it in the tenth inning on a sacrifice fly from Morgan, wasting the great start from Morton and securing the sweep.
The game also marked Pittsburgh's 34th loss in 36 games at Miller Park, a streak dating back to May 2007. At that time, Jason Bay was hitting cleanup in a lineup that featured Jose Bautista as the starting third baseman and a right-field platoon of Xavier Nady and Ryan Doumit. The Pirates had come into Milwaukee for a four-game series sitting on a 12-14 record. Tom Gorzelanny earned the win in the first game, when Bay, Bautista, and others combined for a four-run seventh-inning en route to a 4-2 victory. The next night, the Brewers pounded Pittsburgh's pitching by scoring one run in four of the first five innings before erupting for six more in the sixth and seventh innings. The 10-0 loss was harsh, but no one knew it meant anything more than that. Milwaukee finished out that early-May series with a convincing 6-3 victory on Saturday and a tight 6-4 victory on Sunday, when Pittsburgh tied it up at four in the seventh before giving it up again in the eighth.
Michael graduates two VPs, welcomes two back, and looks at players accumulating the all-important fantasy stat: playing time.
In the stretch between the non-waiver trade deadline and September call-ups, new talent is thin, and fantasy decisions depend more than ever on the simple metric of playing time. It’s hard to budge ratios much one way or the other, but guys can still help your counting stats if they’re getting chances to hit. As such, this week will look at some guys who could be—or already are—picking up plate appearances vital to your fantasy success.
A look at the two players at each position that have been the most valuable to their teams since the All-Star Break.
Over the past week, Justin Upton has launched about 1,300 feet worth of home runs into the stratosphere while helping the Diamondbacks reel off six straight wins against the Astros and the Mets to take over first place in the NL West. The 23-year-old slugger has 10 homers since the All-Star break, tied for third in the majors, while the Snakes' overtaking of the Giants stands as the only major upheaval to the standings since the Midsummer Classic. At that recess, four of the divisions (all three in the AL plus the NL Central) featured leads of one game or less, with the widest division lead at 3.5 games and the NL Wild Card gap at four games. Now, just three races are closer than four games, and one Wild Card is practically sewn up, while the other is no closer than it was before.
The D-Train makes an appearance on BP in addition to a Seattle starter you probably hadn't heard of before a few months ago.
Newcomers Dontrelle Willis, Cincinnati Reds (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 3%, CBS 20%) The fantasy baseball world has been rocked with two great redemption stories this season: one by Ryan Vogelsong and another by the D-Train himself. After a blazing-hot start to his career in 2003, which included winning the NL Rookie of the Year award and a World Series ring, his last three seasons have been a trainwreck. From 2008-10, the lefty has logged only 123.1 innings with a K/9 below 6.0 and a BB/9 approaching 8.7. No, that’s not a typo: 8.7.
In this new column, BP's fantasy expert discusses the rookie middle-infield crop and the values of various players on the trade market.
Today, I’m proud to announce a brand new BP Fantasy column that has been in the works for quite a while that I’m incredibly excited about. Trading Post will offer insight heretofore unavailable to fantasy baseball players. Using a unique combination of PECOTA rest-of-season projections and CBS’ archive of every fantasy baseball trade that every player has been involved in this season, Trading Post will delve into the value you can expect to receive via trade for the players on your fantasy squad. It will also be able to tell you which players are being undervalued on the trade market and make for good targets. While some fantasy analysis will look at a player’s cold streak and slap a “Buy Low” tag on him, Trading Post will be able to say whether you can actually buy the player low and, if so, will be able to quantify just how “low” he can be bought.
Trading Post Card Explanation
Each player discussed in Trading Post will receive a “Trading Post Card.” This card will be jam-packed with useful information about each player’s trading profile. It will list information about the player himself, look at every trade the player has been involved in over the past two weeks and every player he’s been traded for, and give information about the average player he’s been traded for. Hopefully these cards will be self-explanatory, but if you’re not sure what anything means, here’s an explanation of everything: