Post-hype sleepers 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.
Gordon Beckham: Gordon Beckham hit leadoff for the pale hose on Friday. This is notable because the southsiders are looking for any spark they can find. So far, the 26 year old Beckhman is carrying his weight. As of Friday, Gordon was hitting .305 with 5 runs scored in 10 games since coming off the disabled list. Is Beckham going to lead your team to victory? No. Can he substantially out-produce his very modest price tag? Yes. Roto lesson – when players make the big leagues at a very tender age, they tend to struggle and often seem to plateau at a level far below their hype. However, those players made the show early for a reason – they are very talented. So, when they hit year 4 or 5 (like Beckham), the average roto player has all but given up on getting solid performance. It is then that savvy roto players (or readers of this column) or both can pounce and take a profit. Beckham is exactly that kind of guy. Last year, Beckham hit 16 HR in just over 500 AB but all people see is the .234 average. However, upon closer inspection you see that Beckham hit into bad luck last year. Despite walking more and making substantially more contact, his BABIP was 30 points BELOW his career average. That will correct. Buy and a profit you will get.
Rick Porcello: Another post-hyper, Rick Porcello, was great Friday, tossing 7 scoreless frames against the big Ranger bats. Over his last four starts, Porcello has a 1.33 ERA, 0.70 WHIP and 29/4 K/BB ratio over 27 innings. Rick, like Gordon, made the majors at a very young age. At 24, in his 5th year in the show, he appears to have arrived. Call up the Porcello owner in your league, harp on the weak showing of years past and roster yourself a sure profit. Post-hype sleepers are a key to fantasy success!
Mike Zunino: Mike Zunino went yard for the first time in his big league career Friday. Through Saturday, the Mariner backstop is holding his own at .286. What to expect this year from big Z? Well, that is a tough one. In 2012, he raked in the minors to the tune of .373 in A ball and .313 in AA. Then in 2013 in AAA, he fell to earth, batting a mere .238 (though I think a below his ability contact rate and a below normal BABIP have suppressed those stats a bit). He is a big time prospect who should get you counting numbers as he will play. In AL-only and keeper leagues, buy. Others should wait and see more.
Josh Rutledge: Josh Rutledge returned from the minors and proceeded to go yard Friday in the Rockies’ loss to the Phillies. Rutledge will see a lot of playing time with Tulo on the shelf (yeah, who would have thought?). The question is: which Rutledge will appear this time? Will it be the guy who hit .274 with 8 HR and 7 SB in less than half of a season in 2012 or the guy who hit only .232 in 2013? Hmmm, good question. My answer – I think the demotion did him some good. He could have pouted, but instead, he went down and did the job. Not only did he rake at a .348 clip (good even for PCL), but he showed patience and selectivity with only 11K against 8BB. There is a buying opportunity here. Over the last 60% of the season, 15-15 is a very real possibility. Buy!
Eric Stults: Eric Stults tossed a gem Friday, going the distance in a 2-1 win over the snakes. He is hot. It is that simple. In his last 4 starts, Stults has allowed just one walk in 31 innings (yes, just one walk!) Pitching half of his games in Petco, Stults makes a nice add in NL-only leagues and mixed leagues alike. Thus far, he has a 3.28 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and a 3.3 K/BB – all sweet ratios. Add in the fact that the 33 year old left was similarly successful last year and you have no reason to think he will fall off the shelf. Don’t break the bank but don’t hesitate to add if he is on the waiver wire.
Trevor Plouffe: Trevor Plouffe returned from the DL a new man. After hitting just .254 with four homers and 17 RBI through his first 37 games, Plouffe went 3-3 Saturday with a HR, 3 RBI and 2 runs. Trevor is never going to help your team batting average but he could provide a huge power burst the rest of the way. In 2012, the Twins 3B hit 24 HR in 422 AB. Similar production the rest of the way can take a spot in my lineup any day (and will as Rick Wolf and I own him in LABR AL and Tout AL). Invest.
Jay Bruce: Jay Bruce is coming on. The Reds sluggers blasted a walkoff dinger Friday. Thus far this year, Bruce has 11 homers and 46 RBI. The buy low window after an abysmal start is closing fast. At age 26 and in his 6th major league season, the next level is there for Bruce to reach. I would not be surprised if he finishes the 2013 campaign with 40+ HR and 115+ RBI. Buy if you can afford the likely .255 batting average.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “An old movie cliché, usually involved with Clint Eastwood or Bruce Willis, involves a young, brash rookie with newfangled technology and modern ways of thinking coming into the grizzled veterans world with the intention of shaking up the status quo and sending our beloved protagonist out to pasture. We all know how this movie turns out: the kid's inexperience and naiveté are glaring faults and the old hands come in like the cavalry to save the day with their wizened smarts and old-fashioned courage. Unless it's Trouble With The Curve, which hinges as much on identifying whether a prospect can handle a curve as it does on whether Eastwood can handle change (oooh deep), the picture usually ends with Willis or Clint standing over a mountain of corpses and taunting the youngster for their foolish hubris.
In the rush to acquire the hottest phenom or the bonus-est of babies, roto-owners tend to forget the value of players that simply know how the game is played. Those looking for the hot new thing have surely bought in early on Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Jackie Bradley Jr., Lonnie Chisenhall and, if you took Schultz' advice from a couple weeks back, Michael Wacha (humility, a valid human quality). Sometimes, the missing pieces to the roto-puzzle are the ones that have been on the table for a long time.
Once you're done making jokes that begin with "Big Fat" and involve the magical properties of his fat cells, you might want to start talking about the dominant 2013 force that is 40-year-old Bartolo Colon. Returning from his suspension (that may or may not have been related to those "fat cells"), Colon has put up a 2.92 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 8-2 record. Over his recent 5 game winning streak, Colon has put up a .75 ERA and held that 1.09 WHIP. As been typical of Colon over the last couple years, there are stretches when he simply doesn't throw a ball out of the strike zone. Out west, 41-year-old Raul Ibanez is another veteran that has been receiving scant attention. The Yankees post-season hero hasn't been hitting for average (only .233) but his 13 HRs and 33 RBIs exceed pre-injury Matt Kemp, BJ Upton and Jacoby Ellsbury (though Ibanez doesn't run).
This doesn't mean Jamie Moyer is worth signing when some team lets him pitch a game in his 50s as a publicity stunt or that you should avoid making wise investments in the future. However, you would be wise not to forget the contributions that can be made by those that know how to play the game.”
Response: Gotta love “Big Fat” Bartolo! Got him in the NFBC and in the FSTA expert league and am rooting hard for him (when he doesn’t pitch against the Yankees of course).
Personal Note: Thanks to everyone who attended the Fantasy Sports Trade Association conference this week in Chicago for making it such a special event. I am truly humbled and honored to be inducted into the FSTA Hall of Fame. It was a great conference highlighted by a special night and induction ceremony. Now that the conference is over and life returns to normal, I cannot wait to dive into the advance copy of Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Life I received at the conference (see fantasylifethebook.com). I have no doubt that the book, which as Matthew is quick to remind, is coming out on July 16, will be as entertaining, funny and compelling as we have come to expect from such a gifted writer, analyst and entertainer.