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. PS – Our intrepid producer is working on a major surprise for this week’s show! It promises to be a don’t miss moment!
Permit me one more diversion – I finished Matthew Berry’s Fantasy Life during my travels this week (www.fantasylifethebook.com). Great fantasy sports tales brilliantly intertwined with the history and development of fantasy sports connected throughout by a heartfelt, revealing, sometimes humorous, and sometimes serious autobiography that tracks the author’s journey through the trials and tribulations of life. You know you thoroughly enjoyed a book when you were sorry to see it end. I am already waiting for the next book and this one doesn’t officially hit the shelves until July 16.
Ok, now really back to business . . .
Eric Hosmer: Eric Hosmer had the day his fantasy owners dreamed of when they drafted him back in March. Hosmer went 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 R, and 3 RBI. Overall this year, Hos is hitting .274 with six homers, 32 RBI and 7 SB. The real story is that most of that damage has come in the last week in which Hosmer has 4 HR, 6 R and 6 RBI. Hosmer is the classic make the majors early and get judged too harshly type of player. He has the talent and now, entering the 2d half of his third year in the show, that talent should take over. Buy now before it is too late.
Matt Harvey: If you didn’t see this coming, shame on you. According to reports, Mets manager Terry Collins suggested that Matt Harvey could be placed on an innings limit. Really? You thought the Mets would burn out their future in hopes of finishing 4th instead of 5th? The real question is what this means for fantasy owners this year. Easy call – hold him in keeper leagues. In redraft leagues, if you can get a solid starter who will likely pitch 3 months instead of 2 the rest of the way, you should seriously consider it (of course, if you can hold Harvey until late July and still trade him in that re-draft league, that would be a home run).
Delmon Young: Delmon Young raked and raked some more last night, going 3-6 with a double and six RBI. Now recovered from his injury and settled in with the Phils, Delmon is crushing. In his last three games, he is 9-17 with a homer and eight RBI. Has the guy been a disappointment? Yes. Has he shown to have an attitude problem? Yes. However, here are two fantasy baseball realities that you should not ignore. First, attitude problem players are the most likely to have big years and big second halves in their contract years. Second, players that make the show early often blossom after owners run out of patience. While it may seem Delmon has been around forever, he is still just 27 years old. If you cannot tell yet, I will say it outright – target Delmon if you need offense. He could easily have the type of second half he had for Detroit in 2011. Buy!
Joe Kelly: Joe Kelly was dealing last night after taking over for Shelby Miller on a rare night where Miller just did not have it. Kelly gave up just one run in 5 1/3 innings. Kelly represents a serious buying opportunity, especially for those in NL leagues. While he has not started a game yet, Kelly will get the ball on July 6 and be a member of the Cardinal rotation. Kelly had a 3.53 ERA in 107 innings for the Cards last year at 24 years old. Last night’s start-type outing just shows that he has the potential to repeat that performance and get you some wins along the way in 2013. Oh, and did I mention he is averaging over 95 MPH on his fastball in the bigs this year?
Josh Johnson: Josh Johnson was bad Friday, giving up 5 runs in just 3 and 1/3 innings against the Red Sox. The preseason optimism is fading fast. Thus far, JJ has a 5.29 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP – one number uglier than the next. So, what should we expect for the second half? Well, there is some reason for optimism as his BABIP is very inflated (.378 as compared to a career average of .307) and his FIP of 3.97 confirms what the BABIP is saying. On the other side of the coin, his velocity is down for the 5th straight year, Toronto is a much tougher park in which to pitch, and the AL East if far more daunting than the NL East. Overall, I think JJ will be better than he has been but given the negatives and his health issues, he is hardly someone to chase.
Rajai Davis: Rajai Davis did what Rajai does Friday, going 2-4 with two stolen bases and a run scored. With the Melkman on the shelf, Rajai is going to play and when he plays, he steals bases and scores runs. Despite averaging just 425 AB per year over the last 4 years, he has averaged almost 44 SB per year over that period. Clearly, he will steal bases and with E5 and Joey Bats around, will score a good number of runs. Buy.
Kevin Gausman: Kevin Gausman saved the Orioles bacon last night, tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of surprise starter T.J. McFarland. Why TJ started over Gausman is a mystery to me but no matter, Gausman will be back in the rotation before too long. All signs point to a strong second half. So far, Gausman has a high BABIP, low strand rate, K/BB of over 4:1 and an average fastball of over 95 MPH. Buy for keeper and redraft leagues alike. This guy will be a star.
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page -- Schultz says: “Invariably, in any league that has any type of consistency with respect to team ownership, certain players always end up on an owner's team. Schultz isn't referring to the keepers in keeper leagues - if so, this would fall in the "duh" group of observations - but rather to those players that regardless of cost or draft status always seem to reappear on the same roster year after year.
Most often, the attachment to certain players has as much to do with a genuine appreciation for their real life skills as it does with their chance to bring home a roto-Championship. No matter which league Schultz is in, Cliff Lee and Jason Kipnis have homes if given the opportunity. For others though, the familiarity helps breed success as an owner can only know the habits of a finite number of players.
Longtime owners of Johan Santana, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira always knew the smart play was to sit them in April. Matt Garza owners know to sit the Cubs hurler when he pitches against the Reds much like Ricky Romero owners knew to sit him against the Red Sox before the prevailing wisdom became "sit him if he's pitching to other humans."
Knowing what players are streaky and which ones are traditionally slow starters can make for some crafty gamesmanship once the All Star break passes. Rajai Davis has always been a strong summer player and now has a starting job with Melky Cabrera injured. It's probably good to know that Anthony Rizzo hits in streaks lest you err and trade him during a downswing. Should Kevin Youkilis ever come back, it may be helpful to know he historically fades as the season goes on. When the words "exploratory MRI" and Travis Hafner are in the same sentence: run . . . quickly.
Study your players like anthropologists study beasts in the wild. Knowing a player's habits will help you know the player.”
Response: Quality analysis from Schultz but if he was being honest, he would say that anyone who dons or has donned an Indians or Browns jersey has a home at a Schultz owned fantasy franchise.