From The Fantasy Oracle 2016 MLB Draft Guide Is Here! 

Black Monday – The Day After

It's the day after the Super Bowl, so it's as good a time as any to start your 2014 fantasy basaeball draft prep. Here are some thoughts to help you do just that.

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 How was your weekend? Have a good time watching the Super Bowl or did you drown your sorrows in beer, nachos and wings (you might have eaten the same foods to excess even if your team won)? No mater how your Sunday went it should now be full on baseball mode for you with the NFL season in the rear view. Let's get you caught up on some recent news on the diamond as well and some of the random anecdotes that I so love to share with you all.

Norichika Aoki has scored 80 runs, while stealing at least 20 bases the last two years. Toss in a .285 average both seasons and you have one of only four men in the game to go reach all three of those marks in both 2012 and 2013. Three of them are pretty obvious – Carlos Gonzalez, Andrew McCutchen  and Mike Trout. Who is #4? He is an outfielder. He hasn't hit one home run the past two years. In fact, he hasn't hit a homer in his career. Still, he's swiped 62 bases the past two years and has hit .294 and .305. He is Ben Revere of the Phillies.

Why aren't more people talking about Freddie Freeman? Do folks realize he went .319-23-109-89 with a .396 OBP last season? Sure the average might come down, that BABIP was high last year, but he's still a young vet just entering his prime years.

Tim Hudson is on the Giants for those of you that forgot, and with his ankle responding as expected it seems very likely that he will be ready for Week 1 of the season. In three of his last four seasons he won 16 games, and in each of the past three years his WHIP has been 1.21 or lower. Just saying.

Reed Johnson as an NL-only option now that he's signed with the Marlins? Perhaps. Dude flat out mashes against lefties, and for his career that slash line is something (.311/.366/.456). Allen Craig was pretty good last year, right? Here's Craig's overall slash line: .315/.373/.457. See what I'm saying about Johnson?

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You see the other day that James McDonald signed with the Cubs? He seems more likely to fill a spot in the pen than the rotation but after the Cubs top-3 of Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson there ain't much of note. Jake Arrieta probably grabs the 4th spot leaving the 5th to Chris Rusin, Justin Grimm, Jason Hammel or McDonald. James throws a nice fastball that has led to a 7.76 K/9 mark in his career, though a 4.06 BB/9 rate has helped to elevate his WHIP into danger territory at 1.40. A nice arm does McDonald have, but he's a long way from being someone to target in NL-only drafts. As for Jason Hammel, who was also signed last week, he had a strong 20 start effort in 2012 with a 3.43 ERA, 1.24 WHIP an a 8.62 K/9 mark, but all those numbers regressed in 2013 (4.97 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.20 K/9). Hammel is a solidly skilled arm even though nothing stands out. There's also the fact that he's never thrown 180 innings in a big league season and that he's failed to record 140 innings the past two years. Like Jackson he's hard to recommend, even at the moment, in NL-only leagues.

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Which pitcher would you rather have? Here are the duo's numbers from 2013.

Pitcher A: 17 wins, 3.39 ERA, 188 Ks, 1.34 WHIP in 212.1 IP
Pitcher B: 13 wins, 3.46 ERA, 217 Ks, 1.31 WHIP in 218.1 IP

Do you know who those two guys are?

Pitcher A is C.J. Wilson
Pitcher B is Justin Verlander

As I've long maintained, Wilson is continually passed over in the minds of many when he shouldn't be. He's solid, consistent, durable. Not saying I would draft him over Verlander, I'm not going to go that far, but there's no doubt that the better value on draft day is the lefty, not the righty who owns the hardware.

Bash Billy Butler all you want. I think you're wrong. The last five years the worst numbers he's posted are .289-15-78. Great? No. An MVP candidate? No. Solid as all get out? Yes. Butler has hit at least .289 the past five years an is a career .298 batter. He's also extremely durable playing at least 158 games in each of the past three years. It's too bad he's only DH eligible, but there is still a spot on my team for him if the opportunity arises for me to add him to team Flowers.

Torii Hunter is a career .279 hitter who had never batted .300 in a season, that is not until the last two years when he has hit .313 and .304. To put that effort into perspective let's compare the two phases of his career. Over the first 15 seasons of his career he batted .274. Over the last two seasons he's batted .308, at 36 and 37 years old. Makes about as much sense as me not being on the cover of Muscle and Fitness Magazine. I mean, have you seen my guns? Welcome to the Gun Show.

Hisashi Iwakuma had a 2.66 ERA last season (3rd best in the AL). I've seen some drafts where people totally pass over Hisashi until the middle rounds which I don't completely understand. Sure there is an innings issue, he went from 125.1 innings to 219.2, but it's not like he is a kid who has never thrown the ball before (he's 33). A pullback? Certainly. A tank job? Can't see that happening.

You know, sometimes life just doesn't go well no matter how hard you try. I'm kind of in one of those funks right now. Not work wise, that is going fantastic, but everything else? Not so much. Bet everyone reading this knows what I'm talking about.

I know that Matt Wieters has been deemed a failure by some who were expecting him to rip off a series of .280-30-90 seasons. He hasn't come close to doing that. Still, he's been very productive the past three years hitting at least 22 homers with 68 RBIs and 59 or more runs scored each season. Moreover, Wieters leads catchers in homers the last three years (he has 67, two more than Carlos Santana). Wieters has one more RBI than Santana to lead all backstops in ribbies the last three campaigns with 230. Heck, the guy is second at the position in runs scored trailing only Santana (231 to 198). Maybe it's time that we cut Wieters a break? He's not been a HOF offensive producer by any means, but he's consistently been very effective, and there is certain value in that.


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