Moreland faltering, Fister flying high and other extremes highlights this week’s Week That Was.
Mitch Moreland: Mitch Moreland went took the collar again on Friday to continue what has just been a miserable second half. The overall numbers don’t look that bad (.262 with 16 dingers) but Moreland will need to get hot just to reach the Mendoza line this month (.184). The bottom line here is that you just cannot count on Moreland if you are in a fantasy pennant race. Texas is too deep with guys like Napoli, Murphy, Chavez, etc. all waiting for at bats, for them to continue to run Moreland out in their own pennant race. Look elsewhere. Or, better yet, if you league allows trading, talk up the 16 dingers and the hitters haven that is Texas and see if someone failed to read Week That Was and is willing to make a deal. Cant hurt to try!
Doug Fister: Doug Fister continued to make the Detroit front office look brilliant Friday night. Fister gave up just one run on three hits over 8 to get the win. Obviously, if you have Fister, ride him into the playoffs. The fantasy lesson worth repeating however is that the T in SMART stands for Team. Fister is 6-1 in nine starts for first place Detroit after going a sorry 3-12 for the hapless Mariners. The T for Team principle is simple. Players on better teams get more wins, more RBI chances, etc. Stated another way, the odds of a good season are better for players on a better team. [Note - for those of you thinking that closers on bad teams get a lot of saves too, that is true. However, closers on bad teams can get traded into set up roles and in the process destroy a fantasy team -- see Wood, Kerry 2010].
Ryan Braun: Ryan Braun continued his awesome year, hitting dinger number 30 and swiping base number 31. Add in his .330 average and you have a strong contender for fantasy MVP. What fantasy lesson can I glean from this you ask. Good question. Well, I would urge you all to watch what happens in preseason expert fantasy drafts and auctions. The “experts” are not always right, but they are experts for a reason. Those who were paying attention to the FSTA expert fantasy draft (on Sirius XM and in which yours truly and Rick Wolf play) would have seen one of the best there is in our business, Ron Shandler, pick Ryan Braun with the second pick. If someone as smart and as analytical and successful as Ron jumps a player way above where he is expected to go, pay attention and up his value. That sure would have paid off in 2011.
Alexi Ogando: The Rangers announced that Alexi Ogando will not start again until next Saturday (Sept 24). This is big news for those counting on Ogando to help them in what are likely tight W and K categories. In point of fact, Texas is doing you a favor if you own Ogando. He has a bloated 4.70 ERA in the second half (hidden by the 3.58 overall) and has gone 6 innings only once in his last 6 starts). The fantasy lesson here is also simple: first year major league starting pitchers are likely to run out of gas in the dog days of August. Good for you if you had Ogando cheap. Not so good if you were counting on him to carry you in September.
Joe Mauer: Joe Mauer’s forgettable season is over. According to reports, Mauer has pneumonia. Those who invested big in Mauer because he was a catcher and has such a huge name, shame on you. First, coming into this season, Mauer had over 13 dingers just once in his six full seasons as a regular. Second, Mauer has never managed more that 536 AB in any year. Thus, he gets 100 fewer AB (even in his healthiest season) than the other big money players you passed up if you bid on Mauer. Third, early draft picks and big money auction buys are not places where you can win your league. You can only lose there. So, why take such a big risk. Remember that next year when you are considering an injury prone player or one with way too much hype.
Luke Hochevar: Kansas City has closed the book on a very strong season for former number one overall Luke Hochevar. The final numbers are: 4.68 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP and 2/1 K/BB. However, it is the second half performance that makes Luke a target for 2012 -- 3.52 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Hochever will not win a ton of games in KC, but with that big park and an improving team, he can be a solid middle of the rotation guy whose value will be depressed from years of underperforming. Jot that down in your notebook for 2012.
Salvador Perez: Salvador Perez went 3-4 with a double and a triple Thursday adding further ammunition to his argument that he should be the starting catcher in 2012. His .310 average doesn’t mean he will hit .310 for you next year, but it gives hope that he can be a productive catcher in AL only leagues who will not kill your batting average like a Jeff Mathis or Drew Butera.
Melky Cabrera: Melky Cabrera has always been one of my favorite players. I admit it. I hated to see him leave the Yankees and would root for him even if he was not on two of my fantasy teams. However, my bias aside, there is no doubt that Melky has paid huge dividends for his owners this year. Thursday, the Melkman delivered by going 4-5 upping his average to .303. What is the fantasy lesson here. Well, it is one I preach all the time. Players who make the majors and play full time at 21 or 22 (like Cabrera) often are labeled disappointments too quickly. Then, like Melky, when they reach 26 or 27, they bust out. Be on the lookout for those guys in 2012.
Brandon McCarthy: Brandon McCarthy continued to defy the odds, tossing seven innings of one run ball to beat Detroit on Thursday. Not only has McCarthy continued to stay strong in his first full season in the rotation in forever, he has gotten stronger: 33 strikeouts in his last four starts. If you can, grab him for the remainder of the year. As for next year, there is a big question as to whether he will be Chris Carpenter (who has been a workhorse after injuries) or one who breaks down after his first 200 inning season. Time will tell.
Pablo Sandoval: Loyal readers know I just love to write about the guy with the best nickname in the game. Pablo “Kung Fu Panda” Sandoval went 4-4 and hit for the cycle on Thursday. After a dreadful 2010 in which he was out of shape and pretty darn bad, the Panda has come back with a vengeance hitting 314 with 12 homers in the second half and a .308 average with 20 dingers overall (numbers that would likely be much stronger had he not gotten hurt earlier in the year). Fantasy lesson: Not all news of players getting into great shape are worth relying upon. However, when you see a player out of shape one year and return to physical form the next, a rebound is much more likely. Think about that next year when reading the spring news. If you had done that this year, you would own the Panda and be very happy.
And last and but not least, Schultz says: “Apparently, Major League Baseball didn't like my proclamation in last week's column that the wild card races were essentially a fait accompli. The Atlanta Braves, once a source of dependable starting pitching, seem hell bent on keeping the St. Louis Cardinals in the playoff hunt and Boston, with their typical flair for historical drama, may be on the verge of a monumental collapse (to the chagrin of his owners, there's been a month between save opportunities for Jonathan Papelbon). What does this mean for roto-owners? More teams involved in meaningful games which provides the fuel for a late season charge. In the last 10 days of the season, especially in leagues with weekly transactions, you need to lose the long term memory and make the hard choice of benching the players that may be integral to your place in the standings. Ryan Howard won't be hitting home runs while resting his bursitis-afflicted foot, Chase Utley's various maladies aren't going to heal if he's avoiding a hard slide at second base, the Tigers and Brewers (who have sorely overlooked as World Series contenders) are going to make sure that Justin Verlander, Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke are rested and ready to carry a serious October load and despite the Nolan Ryan edict to toughen up the pitching staff, youngsters like Alexi Ogando and Matt Harrison are going to be kept fresh for the post-season.
On the other hand, teams like the Minnesota Twins are already packing up for the winter and looking ahead for 2012. Like hobbled horses, they are mercifully calling an end to the 2011 campaigns of Joe Mauer, Jason Kubel and Tsuyoshi Nishioka with decisions to officially shut down Justin Morneau and Francisco Liriano likely coming shortly. The Orioles seem to be following suit - it's unlikely that they will jeopardize Adam Jones' future by trotting him out with a wonky wrist - as are the Royals, who seem likely to set up a La Z Boy and ottoman for Joakim Soria. While the Indians are surely awestruck by the Juan Gonzalezish return of Shin-Soo Choo, they do seem inclined to let Travis Hafner tough out the rest of the season on a bad leg.
Benched players accrue no meaningful roto-stats so keep a fervent eye on what players are going to finish strong and what others are going to coast to the finish line.”
Response: You know how much I hate it when Schultz is right, but this week he is right on.
Final notes: Dear Tony Romo, you know I am a huge fan and a constant supporter. I also cannot criticize the occasional bad throw or even bad read. However, please, please, please learn a simple lesson. When your team is in chip shot field goal range, do not screw around. Watch your primary receiver make his break. If he gets separation, hit him. If he does not, toss the ball into the third row and take the three points. Had you done that last week, you would be 1-0. Think about it