Oracle Report: The Grab Bag
AL pitchers of note, two third sackers who are hot, an always overlooked second sacker and questions about the Brewers' starting rotation headline this article.
Ryan Howard is moving his hands in his stance. Will it matter in terms of his production? When will the Brewers call up the streaking Jimmy Nelson? How is Casey McGehee doing what he's doing? Is Howie Kendrick a fantasy superstar? Is there an AL starting pitcher for the Twins that you should be paying closer attention to? And what about hot performers like Suzuki, Infante, Pearce and Calhoun?Posts
NOT WHAT HE USED TO BE BUT...
Ryan Howard has decided to change his stance by dropping his hands. “I guess my hands have crept up over the years," said Howard. "I think when I first came up, they were lower. It’s a weird feeling but, you know, I’m trying something new. I’m trying to get my hands in the zone faster and keep them in the zone." The change obviously wont allow him to return to his salad days – the guy hit at least 45 homers with 136 or more RBIs each year from 2006-09 – but he's still a decent run producer (this season, in 87 games, he's hit 14 homers with 52 RBIs). Problems. (1) He's failed to appear in 81 games the past two seasons so there are durability issues. (2) He's batting just .231. Will this adjustment with his hands lead to a rise in batting average? Certainly possible, but it should also be noted that over his last 390 games played he's hit .244. He's a decent corner infield option in mixed leagues with the understanding that his batting average isn't likely to be anything other than league average in a best case scenario.
BREWERS STARTING ROTATION
Jimmy Nelson has pushed his scoreless streak up to 21.2 innings. I wrote about Nelson recently in his Player Profile. The guy is ready for the bigs, no doubt. But where is his spot? Marco Estrada is a pitching machine at times, and he's the one who would have to be removed from the Brewers' rotation. Estrada has a 4.96 ERA. That's poor. He's allowed an unfathomable 27 homers in 18 starts. His HR/9 mark is asinine at 2.27. It just has to come down. His career mark is 1.50 per nine. That's still terrible. Still, it's light years better than where it is right now. However, it's not all terrible with Estrada. In his last three starts he's allowed three, two and two runs. Second he has seven wins. That's the same total as Stephen Strasburg, Tim Hudson, Doug Fister, Gerrit Cole, Shelby Miller etc. Third, his WHIP is 1.27. That's not only better than the league average it's better than guys like C.J. Wilson (1.28), James Shields (1.29), and Estrada's teammate Wily Peralta (1.30). The point is that it's not at all obvious when the Brewers will decide to call up Nelson despite his stuff/performance dictating he should be starting in the big leagues.
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HOW IS THIS HAPPNEING?
Casey McGehee couldn't get a big league offer he liked last season so he played in Japan where he hit .292 with 28 homers and 93 RBIs over 513 at-bats. He came back to the States and joined the Marlins for '14. No one cared (including me). After all McGehee was extremely impressive in 2010 hitting .285 with 23 homers and 104 RBIs, but over his next 269 big league games he hit 22 homers with 108 RBIs as he batted .220 – leading to his move to Japan. He clearly just wasn't very good. Whoops. Through 88 games he's batting an absurd .322. This guy is a career .267 hitter. Say thank you to the BABIP gods (.373). The batting average will come down. He has 53 RBIs as well. Hard to think that he will be able to continue along at that pace either. Realize he knocked in 41 runs in 318 at-bats in 2012 and 67 in 546 at-bats in 2011. He has 53 in 342 at-bats this season. Think of it. McGehee has a .322 average and 53 RBIs. How many players can say they belong to that group? The answer is three: McG, Michael Brantley and Victor Martinez. If you own McGehee you're getting so much production you almost don't care he has only one homer. He's in the running for best waiver-wire addition of the year at the midpoint of the season.
Howie Kendrick is Mr. Anonymous. He goes out, performs, and no one seems to take note. It's even worse when he struggles as he was of late. Still, he's cranked things up the last week with 14 hits in 26 at-bats. Hitting .538 over a week helps out your effort does it not? On the year Kendrick is now batting .289. What's his career batting average? Uh, try .292. He's also stolen 10 bases. This makes it six years out of seven with double-digit thefts. He's also got 40 RBIs and 48 runs scored. So let me ask you... how many second sackers can match the following 5x5 line of .289-4-40-48-10? The answer is three: Ian Kinsler, Chase Utley and Mr. Kendrick.
Chase Headley had four hits Monday. He had four hits on July 4th. He's totaled 12 hits during a six game hitting streak to boost his average up to, ugly time, .229. He also has only six homers on the year including none since June 14th. Best thing that could happen to him would be a trade. Still, after hitting 31 homers with 115 RBIs while batting .286 in 2012 he's appeared in 209 games batting .243 with 19 homers and 77 RBIs the past two seasons. Can't trust him right now unless you're playing in an NL-only league.
HOW LONG WILL IT LAST
In AL LABR this week there was hot and heavy breathing as the owners in the league salivated over the like of Jeff Samardzija ($68), Jason Hammel ($57) and Brandon McCarthy ($17). What did SiriusXM – aka Ray Flowers – do? I bid on all three of those guys, but I also tossed a $9 spot to add Kevin Correia who, honestly, isn't any different than at least McCarthy at this point (for the full bidding check out the article at Mastersball). OK, McCarthy gets more strikeouts, but really, the lines are fairly close.
K.Correia: 4-11, 4.79 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 49 Ks
McCarthy: 3-10, 5.01 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 93 Ks
So why was I fine with Correia being my option? First off he cost only half as much as McCarthy. Secondly, who is pitching better right now? It's Correia. Though he's 2-4 in his last six games, he's gone at least six innings each time out, has five quality starts (his worst effort was four runs against), and he's lowered his ERA from 6.11 to 4.79. Tough to consider him as anything more than a spot starter in mixed leagues, but he's a solid option in AL-only leagues if he's on the waiver-wire given how well he's pitching right now.
LAST 30 DAYS
Jose Altuve is batting .400. that's preposterous.
Cole Calhoun has appeared in 24 games for the Angels and he's not only hit .390 but he's scored 24 times. Batting atop the Angels' lineup, I cannot fathom how I'm getting questions from folks about whether or not they should add him to their roster. Even in 10 team mixed leagues he's a must add right now.
Kurt Suzuki is batting .321. He has no homers, only six RBIs and only six runs scored the past 30 days, but he keeps on hitting. After failing to hit .240 in each of the last three seasons, Suzuki is currently batting .305 on the year. Hell, the last time he hit .250 was 2009 and he's never finished a season with a mark better than .279. Checking the old BABIP we find a .325 mark. His career rate is .273 and he's failed to reach .270 the past four seasons. At the same time he has produced a 22.3 percent line drive rate since the start of last season, well above his 19.1 percent career mark, but there it is. From 2009-11 he hit at least 13 homers every season. He's hit a total of 13 bombs the past 285 games. The power ain’t there, but the average could end up hanging around enough to be a play the rest of the way, albeit with a slow fade nearly certain to occur.
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