While Ryan Braun dominated the news the past Monday, there were several other items that will have a major fantasy impact. I asked the Knights to help sort it out, quick-hit style.
Mark Melancon or Brad Ziegler?
Mark of a closer?
Ryan Carey: Mark Melancon -- Wow, I didn't think I would be putting the whammy on Jason Grilli by tabbing him last week as the pitcher I thought would regress. I cited the injury history, and it sure looks like an elbow injury, which we all know could mean season-ending injury. (Ed. Note: Diagnosis wound up being a strained forearm.) Melancon is having a great season and has less competition for the job than Ziegler does, so I think that's the play here.
Perry Van Hook: Melancon clearly has the job in Pittsburgh (obviously the Pirates could trade for someone, but with the bullpen success this year I don't see that), while I still think we will see more of J.J. Putz this year (as well as Heath Bell).
Tim Heaney: I believe in Ziegler more than most others do. Managers don't always follow the profile for tabbing saviors that we fantasy analysts set, and if a pitcher is effective at a certain skill, he can trump the preconceived notions we set. Ziegler leads all RPs in GB% over the last one-plus seasons; if there's any extreme offbeat trait that could help him overcome not throwing 95, that's it. That being said, Melancon has a slightly better track on the job IF the Buccos don't seek outside help with Grilli on the DL and he remains sidelined indefinitely. Plus, J.J. Putz should make a push for the role again come September; they may end up wanting a familiar face in there heading to the postseason. I'll play it safe with the circumstances provided to me now and say Melancon, but it's closer than most are making it out to be.
Lawr Michaels: Ziegler because he keeps the ball down.
Todd Zola: I agree with the sentiment that Ziegler is a better pitcher than some may perceive, but I don't like the sound of the Grilli situation thus will roll the dice that Melancon has an extended stint at closer.
Jake Marisnick or Christian Yelich?
RC: Christian Yelich has the better pedigree, and I think he will make the smoother and quicker transition to the big leagues. Marisnick is the lay if you need a speed boost, but I think will find himself platooning more often out of the two for the Marlins.
PVH: I like Yelich more long-term but would take Marisnick this year for the power-speed blend. Both will play every day with Marcell Ozuna sent down IF they adapt well.
TH: I speculated on Yelich this past weekend in mixed Tout, so I'm wont to say him. Marisnick is further along in his growth ladder but doesn't have the tools Yelich has to make an impact. Marisnick depends more on PT and, as Ryan noted, could suffer there.
LM: Yelich because how could you not?
TZ: I'll offer Lawr a reason why Marisnick may be the better option for this season, though I'm with Perry and like Yelich more long term. Long story short is Marisnick displayed superior contact skills in Double-A, and while anything can happen in the short term, I'll take the player more likely to put the ball in play. Marisnick has a similar power-speed profile so the upside is there as well. For those that want to point at the wonderful debut of Yelich, I have two words for you: Nolan Arenado.
Brandon Beachy or Michael Pineda?
RC: I will go with Beachy over enigmatic Pineda. Recovery from elbow injuries tend to go more smoothly than those to the shoulder. I'll give Beachy another point just for being in the NL. Pineda also will have a lot more pressure to justify the big trade that brought him over, and we have plenty of examples of pitchers who have wilted under the NY media microscope. My expectations for Pineda's success this season are much lower than Beachy's.
PVH: Beachy up sooner and with more impact (assuming the Braves move Kris Medlen back to the bullpen which seems likely).
TH: If Atlanta opens up a spot, Beachy. Not sure the Yanks will call on Pineda as a SP, especially if David Phelps can return and they can't trade Phil Hughes, as they might want Pineda to get back in shape on the farm in low-pressure spots. I typically side with the NL guy if circumstances are nearly equal.
LM: Ugh. Do I have too? Beachy.
TZ: I'll be the contrarian here and say Pineda mainly because I am leaning to the scenario where Atlanta puts Beachy in the 'pen and the Yankees are forced to use Pineda in the rotation. That said, I'm with Lawr -– ugh.
Mixed League - Junior Lake or Henry Urrutia?
Most prefer Kemp
RC: Junior Lake, though I haven't really seen either guy play, and both could be merely stop-gaps for their teams, so I will go with the guy with the clearer path to potential everyday playing time, and that for me is Lake. He can play multiple positions and the Cubs will be selling at the trade deadline, and all it will take is an Alfonso Soriano or Nate Schierholtz trade to get Lake regular at bats.
PVH: To me this is first a question of AB which favor Lake and then category contributions which again favor Junior.
TH: Urrutia could see more competition for AB in Baltimore and doesn't have much upside outside of BA, maybe SB. The Cubs want to see what Lake can offer as they make long-term plans. Give me Lake. It has to be a deep league for me to consider either, though.
LM: Lake, since he's hot, thus more likely to stick.
TZ: I'll make it a consensus. I like Lake's shortstop eligibility as well as the path to playing time.
More likely to draft in the first round next season -- Matt Kemp or Ryan Braun?
RC: Ryan Braun - Both players will be risks, but even post-PEDs I think I would rather gamble on Braun staying healthy and providing first-round value.
PVH: Pretty sure it will be Kemp as players view the ultimate upside, plus some will have Braun on their do not draft list after being burned this year.
TH: Ask me this question again in November, but for now I'll say Braun. We can't be certain about how long he was taking supplements, and we can guess that with the mountain of evidence MLB has on him, he has had to wean himself off the stuff and allow enough time for his body to adjust to a down cycle. It's not like this is Alex Sanchez trying to beat the system; Braun's still a heckuva hitter. Of course, a strong finish by Kemp to this season will propel the Dodger ahead of him. Both are late-first- or early-second-round considerations for me, at best, on July 23.
LM: Kemp. Damn you Ryan Braun! Destroyer of my NFBC team.
TZ: What Lawr fails to mention is he wanted Kemp but, due to a glitch, he got Braun. I, on the other hand was of sound mind and body when I made Braun the second overall pick in my National Fantasy Baseball Championship league, but I am not cursing him, at least not too loudly as I have managed to keep the team afloat and am in strong contention for the lead.
I don't regret the decision and am not falling into the "What if I drafted Mike Trout?" trap that no doubt is being uttered by those of us that bypassed Trout for Braun. Fact is, if I took Trout instead, it isn't fair to just add on the difference in stats and say "this is where I would be if I drafted Trout" because the entire draft flow would have been different and I may have picked 22 different players. Say I took Trout. What does the team with the third pick do? What if they took Cano? They now have a second baseman instead of Trout, so their team construction could be different. The team taking Cano has to take a different player, and this snowballs down the line.
OK, enough. I'm procrastinating answering my own question.
I'm going to say Kemp mainly because Braun's acceptance back to an MLB clubhouse is going to be an issue. I know winning cures all that ails and if Jeffrey Dahmer could throw a 95 mph fastball he'd have an eating disorder (credit to ex NFLer Fred Smerlas for that line), but there is something personal about being lied to that makes this different.
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.