Fantasy Baseball Insider Trading: Sergio Santos, Gordon Beckham
by Rich Arleo
on July 28, 2011 @ 15:11:33
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? KFFL.com'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.
For those scrounging the waiver wire for saves earlier in the year, Santos has been a gift this season, saving 21 games since taking over the closer's role at the end of April. Santos, whose splits heavily favor his work against righty sticks, is still officially the closer, but he now finds himself being shielded against tough left-handed batters and receiving extra ninth-inning help.
Southpaws Chris Sale and Matt Thornton have recently started the ninth inning of save opps - mainly, but not exclusively, versus left-handed bats - to give Santos a one- or two-out head start. Santos has totaled just 2 1/3 innings pitched in his last six appearances, has four saves in five opportunities in July and has totaled just 5 1/3 innings in nine appearances for the month.
The fact that Santos is still getting the saves means he still has value, and maybe this arrangement helps keep his top-notch statistical profile intact. Those aforementioned last six appearances have all been shutout performances.
But you own Santos for saves. Guillen's mixing and matching will probably cost him the occasional closure under the statistic's rules. We saw an example of this Monday, when with a three-run lead Guillen went with Chris Sale to start the inning before Santos finished it. You must pitch the entire frame to record a save with a three-run lead.
Plus, though Chicago's best option by far this season, Santos doesn't have an unlimited leash, so what happens if he starts to struggle against righties and blows a save here and there? It's not realistic to expect Guillen, with the options he has in the bullpen, to stick with Santos through any serious struggles.
If you need as many saves as possible, then by all means, stick with him. However, if you're confident in your other closers and your standing in the category, and could look to improve elsewhere, shop Santos while his value is still relatively safe.
After a solid final few months in 2010 made many buyers of the young second baseman, Beckham has been a disappointment with just 30 RBIs, a .249 average and a .351 slugging percentage this year.
Last year, Beckham's batting average was 94 points higher in the second half, and he drastically raised his OBP and slugging percentage as well thanks to an adjustment in his timing. He showed a quick fix could make all the difference, and he has hit .299 in July thus far, so could he be worth targeting for the last two months of the season?
The improvement in average is nice, but he's still not hitting for power. While he's been hitting more fly balls and line drives than in 2010, his ground-ball rate has increased. His fly-ball percentage has decreased for two straight months now, and that, coupled with more ground balls, doesn't bode well for Beckham's power potential.
It's encouraging that he's cut down on the strikeouts big-time since May, but his swinging-strike percentage for the season is at a career-high 11.7, and he's also drawn just one walk this entire month. Oh, and his contact rate has dipped more than three points from 2010 (80.6 to 77.5); with his impatient batting profile, he needs to make frequent contact to be successful.
He's swinging at 53.9 percent of pitches, the 12th highest rate in the league - up there with notorious swingers like Robinson Cano, Adam L. Jones and, of course, Vladimir Guerrero. His outside-the-zone swing percentage is at 39.4 - almost eight points more than his career average.
Lately, this approach has paid off. His May (.303) and July (.299) batting averages and BABIPs (.404 and .364, respectively) can be justified by high line-drive percentages (29.6, 21.8). A batter squaring on the ball better is typically a solid sign of improvement, but the results haven't come so far.
It's still reasonable to expect a drop-off of his in-play luck, though, and his poor judgment of the strike zone has proven to be a hindrance in his bad streaks. Plus, he's hitting ninth in an offense that has struggled all season long; he doesn't attempt many steals, and he isn't getting driven in often.
Sure, you can take a chance that he goes on a more productive hot streak, but if you're looking for second base help, you can probably find the average that Beckham is offering on the waiver wire for less with the likes of Omar Infante and Mark Ellis. Plus, someone who's still clinging to Beckham in a deep league might value him more because of his recent run and could inflate the value of what they'd accept in return.
It seems as though Beckham is still going through some adjustments, and even if he can get it together, it doesn't look like that will happen quickly enough to significantly help owners this season.
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 Patch.com and became a staff writer with Bruno Boys Fantasy Football in 2010 and a contributor to KFFL in 2011.
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