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Fantasy Baseball Round Table: Second-half sleepers and busts

By: Todd Zola, MastersBall.com, KFFL.com

What pre-ASB surprise(s) do you most expect to fall back post break?

OF Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
Fade to Blackmon?

Perry Van Hook

a) Charlie Blackmon, OF, COL - although not to the extent that many predict - he will still lead off most games but the BA is the stat that will fall the most

b) Derek Norris, C, OAK - with the three catcher rotation in effect and the power dropping I don't see Norris having as much 2nd half value

Greg Morgan

a) Josh Beckett - some regression should have been expected anyway, and the torn labrum has to give fantasy owners some concern.

b) Jason Vargas - coming back from an appendectomy is harder than most people think. Just ask Adam Dunn.

c) Mark Buehrle - he's not Greg Maddux.

d) Alfredo Simon - 2.76 ERA, 3.96 xFIP, and he pitches in GABP.

Tim Heaney

Mark Buehrle, but not to the harsh degree everyone thinks. Derek Norris. Alfredo Simon. Josh Beckett. Garrett Richards, marginally. Jake Arrieta, more notably.

Lawr Michaels

I have already noted Buehrle, in several articles, but like Tim I just think the correction will fall close to his career mean, which is still ok. But, i think the world has caught up with Rick Porcello, too, along with Alfredo Simon.

Todd Zola

This is like waiting for everyone else to hit the buffet before grabbing your plate, all that's left is the stuff no one wanted. My colleagues picked the ranks clean but did leave me Lonnie Chisenhall as a hitter and Danny Duffy as a pitcher to choose. Chisenhall got hot at the right time (when it looked as though moving Carlos Santana to third wasn't the best idea) and has played fairly regularly since. The regression has already kicked in but when you're the last in line, you take what you are left. While I like Duffy's future a lot, his whiff rate is pedestrian (but should improve) so when some good batted ball fortune disappears, there will be more runners hence runs.

What pre-ASB disappointment(s) do you must expect to finish strong?

Perry Van Hook

Chris Davis, 1B, BAL - any small uptick will seem like improvement but with the Orioles in contention I think Davis will at least deliver some HR and RBI.

Greg Morgan

a) Chase Headley - now healthy and reverting back to his old grip, Headley will swing from the left side against right handed pitchers in Yankee stadium and put up better numbers.

b) Brandon McCarthy - throwing his cutter again with better results.

Tim Heaney

Carlos Gonzalez should have a big two-month finish. Chris Davis. Headley and McCarthy -- nice buy-lows from the Yankees. Francisco Liriano is turning things around. Justin Verlander's Monday adjustment should be a reason to believe in him. We should see better things from Alex Cobb, too.

Lawr Michaels

 I think Jedd Gyorko will come back from his injury, and be put back to third (with the Headley trade), his natural position, and finish well. Similarly, Nick Swisher, who has picked it up, will get back to his norm.  I also think Tim Lincecum has figured out his path back to the land of strong starters.

Todd Zola

Now that he's settled and not catching or playing the hot corner, I expect Carlos Santana's power to return though with a low average. But he's still a force in on-base leagues. Granted, injuries played a part with his subpar first half, but I expect Kole Calhoun to really rack up the runs down the stretch.

Lord Zola's Wrap-up

The advantage to waiting to hit the buffet is sometimes the server restocks the choices, often with something not originally offered the first time. Well, I'm not only the eater, I'm also the server so I'll change the question just a little and throw a couple more names out for consideration.

While I except the averages of both Shin-Soo Choo and Dustin Pedroia to climb, their counting stats should continue to wane as it's pretty apparent both are fighting through injuries that are affecting their power and speed.

Jay Bruce is fanning a bunch and hasn't hit more than 4 homers in a month since June of last season. I'm not counting on Mr. Streaky to have one of those months down the stretch.

I'm a bit concerned about Adam Wainwright's drop in strikeouts. His velocity is down which could be a result of a lot of pitches on an arm that has also been part of a couple of deep playoff runs. Wainwright's strikeout rate was already below that of most aces but he bullied up the whiffs due to tossing more innings than just about anyone (save Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez). If he throws fewer innings, not only will he not total as many strikeouts, but his ratios won't have the same impact.

About the author:

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.

MastersBall.com Fantasy Baseball


Fantasy baseball closer depth charts: Huston Street trade shakes up Angels, Padres

By: Tim Heaney, KFFL.com

Assessing all the fantasy baseball closers....

Huston Street stayed in SoCal as the San Diego Padres traded him to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He'll remain closer and bump Joe Smith from mixed-league fantasy relevance -- unless you're keeping a handcuff, which isn't a terrible idea.

RP Huston Street, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
New address for Street

As for the Fathers, Joaquin Benoit slides into closing. Of course, San Diego may trade him, as well, so it's necessary to look behind him for some. Dale Thayer has done the job before and should again in this hypothetical. Kevin Quackenbush and Nick Vincent are merely NL-only dice rolls until further notice.

... Steve Cishek might leave town, too, though the Miami Marlins are more so in contention than in recent years. Mike Dunn and A.J. Ramos are the two to choose from; it's risky, though, because they could platoon. Dunn is a lefty, which works against him on paper, but his control and K/9 has been better, so he's the tentative favorite.

... Casey Janssen was sick over the weekend with a stomach virus, so on Saturday, Aaron Loup filled in with a scoreless frame and a save. The Toronto Blue Jays' closer got in trouble during non-save work Sunday, so Loup cleaned up the mess for a one-out wrap-up. Looks like Loup

... Addison Reed has rattled off three straight scoreless appearances, all successful save conversions. He's doing his best to fend off critics as the Arizona Diamondbacks come closer to the trade deadline. Brad Ziegler, if you're so inclined, is the stab at saves should Reed move.

... More Joe Nathan woes. Wonder if the Detroit Tigers search for a trade-market alternative at least for part-time work, or if they simply rope in Joba Chamberlain (maybe Joel Hanrahan if his elbow recovery can be quick).


Closer Depth Charts

Job Security (JS):
1 (unstable)
to
5 (untouchable)
Health Outlook (HO):
1 (fragile)
to
5 (durable)
: Up
 
+: Added
 
INJ: Injured
: Down
 
M: Minors
 
DL: Disabled List

AL East

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Baltimore Orioles
3
5
Zach Britton Darren O'Day Tommy Hunter
Boston Red Sox
5
4
Junichi Tazawa Andrew Miller
New York Yankees
5
5
David Robertson Dellin Betances
Shawn Kelley
Adam Warren
Tampa Bay Rays
N/A
N/A
Committee Jake McGee
Juan Oviedo
Grant Balfour  
Joel Peralta INJ
Brad Boxberger
Toronto Blue Jays
5
3
Casey Janssen Aaron Loup
Dustin McGowan
Sergio Santos
Brett Cecil

 

AL Central

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Chicago White Sox
N/A
N/A
Matt Lindstrom DL Zach Putnam
Jake Petricka
Javy Guerra  
Daniel Webb
Cleveland Indians
3
5
Cody Allen John Axford Bryan Shaw
Detroit Tigers
3
4
Joe Nathan Joba Chamberlain Ian Krol
Joel Hanrahan DL +
Kansas City Royals
5
5
Greg Holland Wade Davis Kelvin Herrera
Jason Frasor +
Minnesota Twins
5
5
Glen Perkins Casey Fien Jared Burton

 

AL West

Team
JS
HO
Closer
Understudy/Fill-in
Lurker(s)
Houston Astros
3
5
Chad Qualls Jose Veras
Jesse Crain DL
Tony Sipp
Josh Fields
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
5
3
Huston Street + Joe Smith Jason Grilli
Oakland Athletics
4
5
Sean Doolittle Luke Gregerson Dan Otero
Jim Johnson
Ryan Cook
Seattle Mariners
4
5
Fernando Rodney Danny Farquhar Tom Wilhelmsen
Texas Rangers
4
3
Joakim Soria Neal Cotts
Neftali Feliz
Alexi Ogando DL

About the author:

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


Fantasy Baseball's Tumbling Dice: Tout Wars Peyton Place

By: Lawr Michaels, MastersBall.com, KFFL.com

My partner Diane Walsh and I could not have grown up under more divergent circumstances.

She was raised working class Catholic in Chicago. Me? I came through upper-middle class Jewish in Berkeley. Somehow, though, via the wonder of DNA, our wiring seems to be almost identical, which is a kick.

RP Sean Doolittle, Oakland Athletics
A's The World Turns?

Still, the touch points of our respective childhood heredity and environments don't always cross over. She does like the Cubs, and now Athletics, but would much rather take the dogs for a hike in the hills than watch Sonny Gray do his thing.

Same with TV shows on occasion, for it took her a while to get Family Guy, and after buying DVDs of the first two seasons of Downton Abbey, it still took another year to get her to start watching the fun BBC series.

However, after a couple of episodes, she was indeed hooked, although after one evening of watching Diane noted, "I like this, but I don't see what the big deal is? It's just a soap opera."

“Yes," I replied, "but there are a couple of things to remember. First, no one does soap like the Brits. Second, whether we like it or not, life is a soap opera. If it wasn't we would not be so fascinated with watching the machinations of the lives of others.”

Which brings me to my AL Tout Wars team, currently holding its own in a solid third place, but unfortunately, 20 points behind Rick Wolf and Glenn Colton, who simply hit every string with the right pluck so far this year.

I guess I can start this with Stephen Vogt, a $1 Tout catcher I bought auction day. I figured that Vogt would make the Athletics as a third catcher on a team where the incumbent backstops -- Derek Norris and John Jaso -- DH and play some first.

But, the team dropped Vogt down as a late cut, keeping Daric Barton instead.

So I too dumped Vogt and wound up and tried to negotiate with Andy Behrens to get J.P. Arencibia, a reserve pick of his, to fill the empty Vogt slot.

Andy and I could not work out a deal, mostly because he needed Arencibia to fill an injury hole, but then Arencibia proved feckless replacing Geovany Soto was hurt, so Andy let go like the Rangers.

The Rangers brought up Robinson Chirinos. Mike Podhorzer had tried his hand with the Texas catcher, and dropped him back into the free agent pile, and then Rob Leibowitz tried his hand with Chirinos and he dropped him back into the pool

So I grabbed the Ranger to fill the slot originally voided by Vogt, who had now returned to The Show, and thus was grabbed by Larry Schechter for three bucks (who three weeks later grabbed Arencibia for his second catcher slot).

Still, Andy did manage to get Sean Doolittle for his pen.

It was I who bought Doolittle, for $3 during the auction late March, but I grew impatient after a couple of early season blown saves, so I cut him (bad mistake), and Chris Liss jumped on the soon-to-be Oakland closer for $8, and then swapped him to Andy.

I dropped Doolittle and I picked up Aaron Crow, who I then dropped to get Dustin McGowan. But then I dropped McGowan and Jason Collette picked him up, and so I got Crow back.

And, well, back to Chirinos: when Mike dropped him, he grabbed Danny Valencia.

That would be the same Danny Valencia that I also bought for a buck during the auction and dropped when he wasn't getting any playing time, and ultimately replaced with Steve Pearce.

But before I got Pearce, Steve Moyer picked him out of the FAAB pile in the middle of May and then dropped him, making him available to my team.

In fact, it is the same Pearce that I offered to Mike along with Glen Perkins in exchange for Kole Calhoun, a deal that never happened, but in the process of looking at his team, I did think maybe I could get Valencia back as a throw-in.

You got all that? Need a flow chart? A Venn Diagram?

Or just a scorecard, because you can't tell a player -- or owner -- without one. And, who knows what the BBC could make of this?

You can get the Mastersball Player Projections as well as our Top 250 Prospects as part of our Platinum package, with more information at Mastersball Platinum Package. Mastersball Platinum is the edge that supported four of the top five finishers in the NFBC in 2012. You can get the same insights and analysis that helped Dave Potts with the $100,000 grand prize last year by subscribing to Mastersball at Mastersball Platinum Package.

About the author:

Lawr Michaels has been a player in the fantasy baseball industry since he began writing for John Benson in 1993. He has written for STATS, Inc, was the first fantasy columnist for CBS Sportsline, and has appeared in numerous journals and on websites. In 1996, he founded CREATiVESPORTS, a staple for serious fantasy players, which he merged into Mastersball in 2010.

Over the years, Lawr has participated in a wide variety of playing formats and won numerous titles, including AL Tout Wars crowns in 2001 and 2009. Along with his Mastersball duties, Lawr works for MLB.com as a statistician.

MastersBall.com Fantasy Baseball


Top 5 Fantasy Baseball Pickups: Joaquin Benoit closing

By: Tim Heaney, KFFL.com

The most popular additions in polled fantasy baseball games from this past weekend, listed in order of demand but not necessarily the best moves

About the author:

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.


For additional free fantasy baseball news, rankings, cheat sheets, sleepers and more, please visit KFFL Fantasy Baseball today!