For all of you fantasy nuts out there, we present to you this first installment of “Fantasy by the Numbers,” a new feature by Bleacher Seats columnist Corey Blaine. Put together with Preston Barclay’s MLB Power Rankings, this means that Monday is now officially Baseball Day here on Hoya Paranoia. Or, you know, something more creative/catchy.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s Corey’s weekly roundup of who to snag and who to stay away from right now on the fantasy baseball market.
Unfortunately for most compulsive fantasy baseball players (myself included), your team’s position at the All-Star Break is statistically speaking about where you’ll end up at the end of the season. It hurts to think of it that way, as these teams are our pride and joy, our source of summer entertainment in the mornings before work, and a reflection of our status amongst our friends. However, like rooting for a 15 seed to beat Duke in the NCAA tournament, we have almost a blind faith that our teams can make the jump to claim the championship. With that in mind, here are some of my players to watch as the season inches closer to its halfway mark.
Players to Add:
At the beginning of the season, the prevailing knowledge in fantasy baseball was that there was a wealth of great pitching. Sincethe beginning of the season, however, this has turned into a nightmare year for pitchers with fantasy studs like Roy Halladay, Mariano Rivera, and Jered Weaver all spending time on the DL. Tommy John has claimed numerous victims this season, including Braves sensation Brandon Beachy. Short of injury, some of the “safer” bets for pitchers, Cliff Lee and Jon Lester, can’t find a win anywhere. How crazy has this season been for pitching? The only two teams to have used the same five starting pitchers all season are the Cincinnati Reds and Miami Marlins.
With that being said, it’s time to buy low on Tim Lincecum. “The Freak” has been struggling mightily this season with an ERA above 6 and a 2-8 record. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. With a FIP (Fielding-Independent Pitching) of only 3.78, it’s safe to say that a lot of Lincecum’s problems can be attributed to bad luck. In fact, everyone’s favorite unorthodox hurler has actually been averaging more strikeouts per 9 innings than the last two seasons. With a strong start this past week, I think Timmy’s on his way back to Cy Young form—or at least much better than his 2-8 record indicates. It’s worth trading for him now while you can get him for a major discount: Lincecum’s on his way to a strong second half.
Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks
The Kevin Youkilis of 2012 has been significantly different than the “Greek God of Walks” of old. He’s posted his lowest BB% of his career, which combined with having his highest K% as well, shows the mess Youkilis has been at the plate. I can’t claim all of these problems are from his spats with Bobby Valentine, but getting out of Boston certainly will help eliminate the distractions and get his On Base Percentage back to where we all were expecting for him this season. Youk’s only owned in 57.8% of ESPN.com leagues as well, so you may not even have to trade to get him.
Similarly, look for potential breakout player Will Middlebrooks to pick up significant playing time with Youkilis gone. He’s not going to post Mike Trout numbers, but let’s be honest, nobody will this season. However, he is available in 43% of leagues and has put up solid numbers with limited playing time, so he’s worth a pickup if you need help at the hot corner.
Players to Avoid:
This is nothing against Bryce, who is as talented of a young player as I’ve had the chance to see in person, but he’s overvalued at the moment. In a keeper league, he’s worth holding on to, but his trade value compared to his actual value makes him worth dealing if you currently own the young superstar. His 5-strikeout performance against the Yankees and his maturity issues have me leery for a second-half collapse when the fatigue sets in and he has to deal with his first big league slump.
Any Rockies Pitcher
Bad news came out of Denver this past week for anyone who owns a Colorado Rockies starting pitcher (which should be very few people to begin with). The Rockies announced that they will go with a 4-pitcher starting rotation and limit pitch counts to 80 pitches per starts. If you owned or were thinking of owning a Rockies starter, this might be a good time to turn your attention out of Colorado and onto places where the pitching rotation isn’t a disaster.