Buy Low Candidates highlight this week’s edition.
Before I get started, just a quick note to remind you to tune in to hear Rick Wolf and me on Colton and the Wolfman on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio (Sirius 210 XM 87) Tuesday nights from 8pm-11pm ET – all the fantasy baseball news as it is happening and the strategy tidbits you cannot get anywhere else.
Adrian Beltre: Adrian Beltre went yard for his 4th dinger Friday and seems to be coming out of his early season funk. At only .231, Beltre represents a major buying opportunity. Over the last three years since escaping Seattle, Beltre has hit .321 twice (.296 the other year) and averaged 32 HR and 100+ RBI. Hitting in a great hitters’ park, the 34 year old will rebound and out produce his numbers thus far. Call the Beltre owner in your league, talk about how he often gets nicked up and pick up one of the best 3B in the game. Buy!
Anthony Rizzo: Anthony Rizzo blasted two homers Friday to help the Cubbies beat the Fish. On the night, Rizzo was 3-4 with 2 runs 4 RBI and an SB to go with the HRs (essentially the kind of night about which fantasy owners dream). Rizzo is a star in the making. The window to buy low is crashing down and almost sealed shut. Right now Rizzo has that ugly .195 average that distracts attention from his 8 HR and 18 RBI (pretty good power numbers considering that April is not even in the books). The power will stay but the average will climb. In 2011 and 2012, Rizzo hit .331 and .342 in AAA (and .285 in the majors in 2012). Obviously, he is not a .195 hitter – not even close. Buy low if you still can!
David Phelps: David Phelps came to the Yankees rescue Friday, mowing down 9 Jays in just four innings of relief work. With the injury to Ivan Nova, Phelps will finally get the defined role he deserves – a member of the rotation. Phelps, who has already struck out 22 in just 17 innings, will start against the hapless Astros this week. Harp and carp about the 5.42 ERA and 1.47 WHIP and conveniently ignore that those inflated numbers are the result of messing with the kid and not giving him a role. He is a bulldog with big time K potential. In his two 4 inning outings, Phelps has given up just 3 hits and 2BB combined while striking out 15. Those numbers scream future success as a starter this year and beyond. Get while the getting is good.
Kyle Kendrick: Kyle Kendrick shutout the Mets Friday, giving up just 3 singles and one BB. So far this year, Kendrick has a sweet 2.41 ERA and gets what the Wolfman would call a “tasty matchup” against the Marlins next week. Looking at the raw full year stats from 2012 does not tell the full story of Kyle Kendrick. When the former spot starter/long reliever finally got a full time gig in the rotation, he perfected the change and used that pitch to get lefties out (something he previously could not do very well). Buy low while you still can.
C.J. Wilson: C.J. Wilson struck out 9 Friday. That is the good news. The bad news is that he has a bloated 1.53 WHIP and 5.22 BB/9 to go with a pedestrian 4.30 ERA. Bottom line here is that pitchers coming off of elbow or shoulder surgery are always at risk of underperforming in the early going. If you paid full value for CJ believing that he will be at full strength all year, you violated a crucial rule of engagement – do not pay full price for players coming off of injury!
Francisco Cervelli In news that completely bums out yours truly, Francisco Cervelli broke his right hand Friday. Cervelli, who had been such a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners this year, will miss at least 6 weeks. Chris Stewart and Austin Romine will take over but are not Cisco. We know Stewart can field but cannot hit. The question is whether Romine’s early season success at the dish (rather than behind it) in AAA is real. Time will tell but I would not invest too heavily in either NY backstop unless you are in a keeper league and can reserve Romine for future years.
Jordan Zimmermann: Last week, I wrote “loyal readers and listeners know that Zimmermann is my pick for NL Cy Young, so it will not surprise you that I think he is still undervalued and can be had at 80 cents on the dollar if you move fast. Point to the low strikeout rate (4.5/9) so far this year, don’t mention the excellent k/bb, whip and era and get yourself a horse you can ride all season long. BUY!” After losing to the Mets last Sunday, Zimm rebounded to toss a 1 hit shutout – the second time this year he has pitched a complete game with fewer than 100 pitches. After 5 starts, JZimm has 4 wins to go with a sweet stat line: 0.86 WHIP, 2.00 ERA and a K/BB > 2.5. Pay full value if anyone in your league is foolish enough to deal JZimm.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “Roto-pundits that rely on mathematics love talking about sample sizes and whether they have enough data to support their statistical prognostications. The engineering degree hanging on my wall requires me to give the qualifications and caveats of statistical analysis the nod of approval. However, the baseball fan inside me tends to eschew densely collected data in favor of watching the movement on a pitcher's curveball, the mechanics of a hitter's swing and the intellect in which a runner takes his lead off first while eyeing second base. This philosophical roto-debate is the nature/nurture argument of the fantasy sports world only Rotoworld has never tested it out on their own Billy Ray Valentine and Louis Winthorpe III.
Regardless on where you stand on the debate, it can surely be said that late April is far too early to begin making definitive pronouncements about the prospects of your fantasy baseball squad. While we are past the point where league standings fluctuate wildly on a daily basis, with 85% of the season remaining, there's little reason to think that your league leader is entrenched there for the duration or that the team in last will take on ballast and anchor the daily standings. However, after one month, there's good reason to take stock and assess whether your place atop the roto-standings is sustainable or whether your poor start is an aberration brought about by poor starts and abysmal weather.
Teams based around Jason Kipnis, Matt Kemp, Anthony Rizzo, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, Giancarlo Stanton, BJ Upton, David Price, Matt Cain and Cole Hamels are likely not off to rousing starts with little return being seen on significant investments. On the other hand, small investments on Chris Davis, Dexter Fowler, Coco Crisp, Mark Reynolds, Jed Lowrie, Vernon Wells and Brandon Crawford are reaping huge rewards. Prudent owners at the top of the standings should start assessing whether their good fortune is based upon good luck as opposed to reasonable and sustainable production. Conversely, judicious owners at the bottom of the standings should take stock as to why they are there. If the poor showing out of the gate is due to dismal performances by players that are likely to reverse the trend over time, perhaps the time is not right to hit the panic button."
Response: Good stuff – don’t panic!
Personal Note: This week I learned that along with Paul Charchian and John Hunt, I will be inducted into the Fantasy Sports Trade Association Hall of Fame. I am humbled by this honor and have so many to thank. However, I will save the long speech and list of thanks for the ceremony in June. However, I will take this opportunity to thank all of my loyal readers and listeners – without you none of this would have been possible!