Fantasy Baseball Insider Trading: Grady Sizemore, Mike Morse

by Rich Arleo on June 30, 2011 @ 15:17:00 PDT


Some batters and pitchers on the other teams in your fantasy baseball league are becoming real drags. A few MLB players on your fantasy baseball team are performing better than you expected. Is it time to move in?'s Fantasy Baseball Insider Trading series is your accomplice when it's time to do shady business in your rotisserie or head-to-head baseball game.


Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians

The fall from grace for Sizemore was just as quick as his rise to stardom. In his first full season as a 23-year-old in 2005, Sizemore burst on to the fantasy scene with 22 home runs, 22 steals and a .289 average. He followed that up with three All-Star seasons, topping out in 2008 with a 33-38 season. Since then, however, Sizemore has struggled with injuries and had microfracture surgery on his left knee that had him miss most of 2010 and the first 14 games of 2011.

Washington Nationals 1B Mike Morse
Have faith in Morse

When he came back on April 17, he was hitting very well and for power, with six home runs in 18 games, before a contusion in his right knee put him back on the 15-day DL in May. Since returning, he's been struggling. He has just two multi-hit games and is hitting just .196 with one home run in June.

Sizemore's swinging strike percentage is 13.4, about two percentage points greater than career-worst rate - set last season - and about 5.5 percentage points greater than his lifetime rate. His overall swing percentage is the highest of his career, at 48.0.

Manager Manny Acta says he's healthy, and recently told that Sizemore is working with hitting coach Bruce Fields on not swinging across his body, trying to use the whole field. "He was stepping into the plate a little too much, which he normally does, but not as pronounced... Guys get into those type of problems of chasing and expanding the zone," Acta said.

It's encouraging that Acta and Fields have diagnosed this problem, as is the confirmation that Sizemore is healthy. Another issue, however, is the clear lack of speed. While he may be "healthy," it looks as though Sizemore's knee injuries have taken a toll on his speed; he's run just twice this year and was caught both times. Sizemore's stolen base rate has been in decline since 2009, when he was caught eight times in 21 tries in a season in which he dealt with elbow and abdominal injuries. He has just four steals in eight tries and 80 games the past two seasons.

You have to come to grips with two things. You can't expect steals from Sizemore, at least for the rest of this season. You can, however, find hope in the fact that the Indians realize he's expanding the zone.

There's nothing egregious in Sizemore's batted ball statistics, and his increased K rate and drop in walks is likely tied to his wild swings. As mentioned, Sizemore was hot at the end of April and into May, and he could be one mechanical fix away from producing. Remember, the speed isn't there, but you should target Sizemore while his value is low. You could be rewarded with solid outfield production for the rest of the season.


Mike Morse, Washington Nationals

The 29-year-old Morse became a popular sleeper pick heading into 2011 after hitting 11 home runs with a .282 average after the 2010 All-Star break. The excitement continued to grow when he led the Grapefruit League with nine home runs this past spring. The excitement, however, dwindled when he hit .211 with one home run in April. He was likely dropped en masse, but he resurrected himself with 14 home runs over the past two months.

The question now: Who is the real Morse? Is he the guy who hit home runs in bunches in spring and the past two months? Or is he the guy who languished in the Seattle Mariners' farm system for four years and couldn't hit a lick in April?

Morse's BABIP rings in at .341 and was .323 last season, but it looks as though he's hitting the ball harder than he did last year, increasing his line drive percentage to 18.1 this season around his lifetime rate. He's also making contact 77.2 percent of the time - not anything more than acceptable, but notably better than in any other season.

Morse swings a lot and relies on a high BABIP and power to produce. It's highly unlikely that he'll finish with a .300 average, but there's no reason that Morse can't expand on his first-half performance in the power categories. What would someone be willing to give you for him, though? If you were lucky enough to snag Morse for cheap, hold on to him and continue to benefit.

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About Rich Arleo

Rich Arleo is a Marist College alum who has been playing fantasy sports since he was 14 years old. He is a local editor with AOL's and became a staff writer with Bruno Boys Fantasy Football in 2010 and a contributor to KFFL in 2011.

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