By Dalton Del Don
It wouldn’t be a total shock if Dee Gordon struggled at the plate to the point of being demoted this season, but his ability to steal bases also gives him a ton of upside in fantasy leagues. Over the last three seasons at ages 21-23, he’s totaled 182 steals throughout the minors and majors. For what it’s worth, he also has eight steals over 15 games in spring training. Gordon will hurt you in HR and RBI but so will Elvis Andrus, whose ADP is 92 spots higher. Don’t get me wrong, Andrus is definitely safer, but his speed can’t match Gordon’s. In fact, ZiPS projects Gordon to finish with 55 stolen bases this season – the second-most in all of baseball, and that’s including minor leaguers. I’d take Gordon ahead of Asdrubal Cabrera and Jimmy Rollins and wouldn’t be surprised if he finished with more fantasy value than Andrus and Starlin Castro.
No need to give my opinion on the recent verdict of Dharun Ravi, but either way, this story about what led to the tragedy was illuminating and well worth reading.
This Apache helicopter crash in Afghanistan by a pilot showing off didn’t result in any deaths, but it was rather costly and will almost certainly lead to criminal charges.
Jordan Zimmermann’s 6.92 K/9 last year wasn’t overly impressive, but it was brought down by a poor April when he still wasn’t that far removed from Tommy John surgery. Over the final five months, he posted a much more respectable 7.5 K/9 rate. Zimmermann’s 4:1 K:BB ratio ranked 11th best in all of baseball, and he’s just 25 years old with fewer than 300.0 major league innings under his belt, so there’s room for growth. He threw his fastball and slider harder than ever last season, and he’s now a year further removed from surgery and will finally be without an innings limit. He’s a borderline top-25 fantasy starter on my draft board.
The end of wheel chairs? This invention looks potentially amazing.
This year seems like the time to buy Alex Rios. Here’s a really strong piece regarding targeting players based on regression by Jonah Keri, and I couldn’t agree more. According to Yahoo’s season end rankings, Rios was the 27th most valuable fantasy player in 2010, so use last year to your advantage, as his current ADP is 216 (although I’d imagine in your league, he won’t come THAT cheap). Rios just turned 31 years old, is a career .275 hitter and plays in a home park that has been the most favorable in all of baseball for RHB when it comes to home runs over the past three years. I could see a lot of winning fantasy teams having Rios as their fourth or fifth outfielder in 2012.
I saw “The Hunger Games” this weekend and thought it was OK. Hadn’t read any of the books and despite it being the biggest grossing movie of all-time during an opening weekend by a non-sequel, I didn’t have extremely high expectations. It was good enough entertainment.
Asdrubal Cabrera is one of the tougher players to gauge entering 2012. He was nothing short of fantastic last season, ranking as the 29th most valuable hitter according to Baseball Monster, and that’s not taking position scarcity into account. His age is when power often fully develops, but it’s worth noting his previous season-high was six homers (admittedly he had never appeared in more than 131 games) before going yard 25 times last year. He had also stolen more than six bases in a year just once before matching his career-high with 17 bags in 2011. While he hit better before the All-Star break than after, his power remained remarkably consistent, as here were his HR numbers from each month: 5, 5, 3, 4, 4, 4, so it wasn’t some hot streak that skewed his numbers. Still, even during Cabrera’s breakout campaign last year, he finished with just a .332 OBP. From most drafts I’ve been in, he’s not being selected with the expectation of matching last season, as most seem to see some regression coming, so he’s not someone I’m recommending to fully avoid, but some caution should be exercised. A quick side note: this won’t affect Cabrera as much, since he’s a switch-hitter, but according to The Bill James Handbook, Cleveland’s Progressive Field has suppressed home runs for RHB by far the most of any park in baseball over the past three years.
Man bursts into flames after accidentally drinking gasoline, lighting cigarette.
Admittedly I’ve always been a Francisco Liriano fan, so feel free to take this with a giant grain of salt. After all, he’s finished with an ERA above 5.0 in two of the past three years and ranked as the 860th most valuable player according to Yahoo last season, when he was one of fantasy baseball’s biggest busts. Smart people will tell you to ignore all spring stats, but I just can’t help but get excited about Liriano’s 23:3 K:BB ratio over 18.0 innings. That’s accompanied by a 2.00 ERA and 0.72 WHIP. He claims a shoulder injury suffered last spring contributed to his woes in 2011 and that he’s back to 100 percent now. Who knows if there’s anything to that, but I do know this – no starting pitcher can approach Liriano’s upside compared to when he’s typically going in drafts. He’s just one year removed from posting an American League best 2.95 xFIP and pitches in baseball’s toughest park to homer in. It ultimately comes down to Liriano’s fastball and location, because his slider is absolutely nasty.
Corey Maggette is on my fantasy team, but I must admit he got a bit careless with this pass.
This is awesome. “Borat’s” national anthem is accidentally played for Kazakh athlete.
Dan Uggla hit just .233 during his first year in Atlanta last season, but he still managed a career-high 36 homers despite entering July 27 batting .199. Over his six-year career, he’s averaged 32 home runs, 98 runs scored and 91 RBI. With power down throughout baseball, it’s pretty valuable getting someone who could approach 40 homers, especially when they play a thin position such as second base. Uggla is a career .258 hitter, which isn’t a total killer, so he becomes highly enticing at any point past the third round of fantasy drafts.
I’m having a tough time deciding whom to draft first between Matt Wieters and Joe Mauer. Wieters obviously has more power potential, as while it’s taken the former top prospect longer than expected to hit major league pitching, the light may have finally turned on down the stretch last season, as he hit 12 of his 22 home runs over the final six weeks of the year. Wieters also comes with less health concerns and is younger, although surprisingly by only three years. Mauer, meanwhile, has hit just 12 homers over the past two seasons, with one total at home since Target Field opened. Still, he’s 28 years old with a career .323 batting average and would easily be the favorite to lead all catchers in runs scored if healthy. He might even get more time at first base when not catching this year, which his fantasy owners would welcome. After Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli, Mauer is the next catcher on my board, but I can certainly see the argument against it.
I’m not a huge “punk” fan (although I do like Social Distortion), but I’ve been pretty obsessed with this song over the past couple of weeks.
Michael Cuddyer hit .284 with 20 homers and 11 stolen bases last season while playing in fewer than 140 games. He’ll need to learn a new set of pitchers, but he’s moving away from a home park in Target Field that has a HR Park Index of 83 for RHB since its inception to one in Coors Field with a 121 rating over the past three years, which is a significant difference. As if the change in parks wasn’t enough, Cuddyer is eligible at second base in Yahoo leagues, which means he really needs to be bumped up cheat sheets in those formats. In fact, in NL-only leagues, I’d only rank Dan Uggla ahead of Cuddyer among second basemen.
Cars sliding and crashing. At times pretty captivating, actually.
Funny bit on Kimmel: Cousin Sal Customer Returns.
During his fourth boxing match, Kimbo Slice was down on all the cards facing an opponent who was a last minute injury replacement also extremely undersized until this “knockout” happened with 3.3 seconds left. You be the judge.
Aroldis Chapman’s velocity has reportedly been a bit down this spring (although he apparently was clocked at 98 mph during his last outing), but with a 12:2 K:BB ratio over 12.0 innings, that might be considered a good thing, as he’s still regularly in the mid-90s and appears to be trading some velo for better control. Chapman has a career 6.54 BB/9 in the big leagues…with a 3.27 ERA. Actually, his 1.25 WHIP is even more impressive considering that walk rate. These combinations are unheard of and reveal just how difficult he is to hit. Since he’s thrown so many pitches outside the strike zone, there’s little doubting his career .263 BABIP will eventually rise, but I’d argue his true talent level will settle around the .280 range with his stuff. Homer Bailey is out of options, and Bronson Arroyo has a big contract, but the Reds are truly insane sending Chapman back to the pen. If they follow through with this plan, they will finish 2012 halfway through his six-year, $30 million deal getting around 125 innings total from him. Injuries happen, so I’d still consider taking a flier on Chapman in mixed leagues after 50 or so starters are off the board, but his presence in Cincinnati’s pen is the only reason I’d keep Sean Marshall outside the top-10 closers after Ryan Madson was lost for the year.