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The Week That Was: “Baez Arrives With A Bang Bang Bang”
Javier Baez going boom and boom and boom highlights this week’s Week That Was.
Javier Baez: Javier Baez arrived in style this week, including his 3-4, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 2 Run game Thursday. This is exactly what people (including me) saw in spring training – a very quick bat and tremendous power. He is the real deal. Those in keeper leagues do not need me to tell them to grab Baez. Those still in it for this year however, do need me to tell them to be careful. Yes, the power will be there. Yes, there will be those huge games like Thursday. However, he will have growing pains and is unlikely to hit for a high average or post a solid OBP this year. Is he worth it for the power at MI in fantasy? Heck yeah. Just know that games like Friday where he strikes out 4 times will happen as well. [Bottom line – fantasy is supposed to be fun and it is just fun to watch Baez hit. It just is].
Kolten Wong: My name sake (spelled differently) Kolten Wong had a huge day Thursday going 3-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 Runs and a SB. The batting average and OBP have not lived up to expectations but with 9 HR and 17 SB in 255 AB in the middle infield, Kolten has provided significant value. The question now is whether he will be a net positive for the rest of the drive for fantasy nirvana. The answer is that it is really not clear. On the one hand, the depressed BABIP means that he should see the average rise. However, the BB rate is down and K rate up and that rarely equates to success. Bottom line is I think you will get more of the same – some power, good speed and an average/OBP that hurts but does not kill.
Collin McHugh: Collin McHugh continued his surprising success Thursday giving up just one run on five hits with no walks while striking out eight over seven innings. On the year, the Astro hurler has a 3.18 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a sweet 115/35 K/BB ratio over 102 innings. Can this continue? Well, I do like him next week against the Twins. What about after that? Well, I still like him. The velocity is up, the Ks are up, the HR are down – all good signs that this success can continue. Invest. Given the ugly 4-9 record, some may not recognize the hidden value and you may be able to get a steal!
Daniel Murphy: Daniel Murphy continues to show that 2013 was not a fluke. Thursday, the Met 2B went 3-6 with a double and an RBI. On the year, Murph is hitting .305 with nine homers, 49 RBI, 66 runs scored and a dozen swipes. This is a guy who continues to fly under the radar but continues to produce very solid numbers from a weak position. Those in pennant races and those rebuilding for next year should invest. Not only has he kept on producing, he has reduced his Ks, increased his walks and maintained his very strong 86% contact rate. Again, invest!
J.A. Happ: A long time Colton and the Wolfman favorite back from his Phillie days, J.A. Happ pitched well again Thursday giving up just two runs on five hits and a walk while mowing down 12 (yes 12) over eight innings. On the year, the 4.09 ERA and 1.39 do not impress. However, over the last two weeks, those numbers are 2.21 ERA, .84 WHIP and better than a K per inning. With the velo and Ks up and the BB down, there is every reason to believe Happ will make his owner Happ-y down the stretch. Buy!
Caleb Joseph: Caleb Joseph went yard Saturday against the Cardinals. That dinger marked the fifth game in a row in which has played in which he has left the park. Will he homer every day? Of course not. However, with offense hard to find behind the plate, Joseph has become a real find. Over the last 14 days, Joseph is hitting over .300 with those 5 homers. Given how often he strikes out, the average will likely come back down from this last two weeks. However, the power seems real given his 22 HR at AA last year. Do not break the bank but if you need pop, Joseph will give it to you at a weak position.
Jon Lester: Jon Lester is paying dividends for the A’s as he tossed a complete game shutout of the Twins Thursday allowing three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. He is now 2-0 with a 1.78 ERA in Oakland. There is every reason to believe his success will continue. Lester’s K rate is up from last year, his BB rate is down and he is now pitching in a far better pitchers’ park. Moreover, when he goes on the road in September, he goes to the caverns in Seattle and Anaheim rather than the bandboxes in New York and Baltimore. Buy! Oh, and for those in keeper leagues, just imagine if this lefty ended up in the NL next year as a free agent. Yeah!
And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page. Schultz says: “Wise roto-players know that acquiring superstars guaranteed to put up big numbers will greatly increase the chances of finishing near the top of the standings. Since known roto-quantities never come at a bargain, wiser roto-players know that the key to finishing at the top of the standings is finding the unheralded, undervalued players to fill out the roster. Andrew McCutchen (injury aside) will keep you competitive but it’s his overachieving teammate Josh Harrison that may put you over the top.
For the last two months of the season, the slight advantage towards winning your league can be found in determining who is going to be playing meaningful games in September. With the rosters expanding, teams that are playing out the string will be more apt towards seeing what their youngsters can do. Boston won't be playing in the post-season and knows very well what Yoenis Cespedes and Allen Craig (injury aside) can do in 2015. They are going to be much more inclined to explore whether Jackie Bradley Jr. will be able to join them. It may be fun to speculate with Javier Baez and Jorge Soler in Chicago but the Cubs have no plans to do anything more than get them some experience. (That doesn't mean they should be avoided in keeper leagues should the cost be right).
The expanded wild card race has resulted in many more teams playing hard until the end. The Indians aren't rushing to bring up Francisco Lindor to replace Asdrubal Cabrera because they are still in the post-season hunt (although, quite frankly, they do not look like a playoff team). If you need to search the waiver wire and are confronted with a toss-up between a player whose team envisions the post-season and another whose team is waiting til next year, go for the former. That small difference may be all it takes to be the cream that rises to the top.”
Response: I love the idea of looking ahead to who will play in September but I disagree that September call-ups on bad teams who get to play everyday should be ignored. Guys like Javier Baez who will provide stats at a weak position could be exactly what helps you rise to the top of the fantasy standings.
It’s Never Too Early For Football: I know that while you read this column for fantasy baseball, you are also starting to get ready for your fantasy football drafts next month. Without the truly amazing Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Football Draft Guide, well … wait, draft without the guide? Who would do that? Get the draft guide here: fantasyalarm.com/draftguide.php