The Oracle: Preseason Misses
Sometimes I'm right and I look like a genius. Other times I'm wrong and, well, I don't look too smart. Never afraid to honestly assess myself and my opinions, here are some of my biggest first half misses in fantasy baseball for 2014. There's still plenty of time left for the fellas to turn things around, but they are gong to have to get on their horses to make it happen.
Joe Mauer (#1 at C): Ugh. Moving to first base he was supposed to stay healthier, and with his body being in better shape he would not only play more games but likely produce at least as well, if not better, than in the past. Seventy six games into the season he's batting .271. He's a career .320 hitter. He's no homer bat but two big flies? Come on. His OBP, .401 for his career, is also in the dumps at .342. On the DL with an oblique issue at the moment.
No chance to reach expectations. None. GRADE: F
Carlos Santana (#3): He's hitting just .207 and was missing in action for a large portion of the year. Still, he has the most homers of any AL backstop (14), has more RBIs than Wilin Rosario (37 to 35) and he's scored 39 times, tied with Salvador Perez for most by an AL catcher.
By seasons end I bet no one will be worried about his preseason cost. GRADE: C
Prince Fielder (#2 at 1B): Here are his game played totals from 2006-13: 157, 1058, 159, 162, 161, 162, 162 and 162. He never missed games... until this season. He'll end the year with 42 games played with a neck issue that forced him to the shelf. He hit .247 with three homers and 16 RBIs. Awful.
No one saw this failure coming. GRADE: F
Joey Votto (#3): Can't stay healthy as the lower body injuries continue to pile up. If he had 581 at-bats, his total from last year, and kept up his current pace he would finish at .255-16-61-85. In 581 at-bats last year he hit .305-24-73-101. He's been so bad that his current SLG of .409 is below his career OBP (.414).
Another year of physical woes. Value is totally up in the air. GRADE: F
Jason Kipnis (#1 at 2B): He's finally back at it with five steals and eight hits in his last six games. Still, three homers, 24 RBIs an a .682 OPS are just awful for a guy who was at 17, 84 and .818 last year.
Injuries, slow start, but heating as break hits. GRADE: D+
Aaron Hill (#6): He's played nearly every day with painfully pedestrian totals. His .241 average stinks, as does his steal total (one). The seven homers and 45 RBIs aren't awful but that is an adjective you could use to describe his runs scored total (29).
Just blah virtually all year long. GRADE: D
Evan Longoria (#4 at 3B): He hasn't been awful like many others, but .257-11-44-51 is certainly below expectations. Guess we have to face facts with Longo. He's very good but he'll never be great.
Solid as usual, but he's supposed to be better than that. GRADE: B
Ryan Zimmerman (#7): He's hitting .273 with a .340 OBP. He hit .275 with a .344 OBP last year. His SLG this year is also just .022 points off his pace last year. Appeared in only 48 games but with outfield eligibility gained in many leagues he's been able to offer something when on the field.
Hitting when healthy. He's just always beat up. GRADE: D
Elvis Andrus (#4 at SS): Has 50 runs scored which puts him on pace for another 85 run season. He's also swiped 20 bags. Good stuff. The .265 average is disappointing as is his poor total of 22 RBIs.
Still has time to salvage a down first half. GRADE: C+
Everth Cabrera (#9): I told everyonenot to trust the bat, but I didn't downgrade him enough in my rankings. At this point he's stolen 13 bags with a .218/.256/.290 slash line in 80 games. Hideous.
Trust your gut Ray. Should have been five spots lower in rankings. GRADE: F
Carlos Gonzalez (#3 at OF): Injuries are always an issue, but this season performance has been too. Through 55 games he's hit .258 with eight homers and two steals. Vexing effort for a guy who has gone 20-20 the last four seasons despite averaging just 129 games played.
Could still be elite in the second half. GRADE: D
Ryan Braun (#4): If Brewers had only told us about his thumb issue being a lingering thing. They didn't. Seems like that, and other physical issues, are continuing to hold him back. Still, give him 150 games played at his current level and we would be looking at a .298-22-104-94-16 season. That would play very nicely – though he's not going to appear in 150 games this season (only 73 to date).
Been very good per game, but injuries will keep down his overall numbers. GRADE: C+
Bryce Harper (#5): Time on the DL has crushed his season. He's appeared in only 34 games hitting two homers with a .244/.316/.366 line. That wouldn't be acceptable if he was the 75th outfielder drafted.
Injuries & simply hasn't taken the next step – yet. GRADE: D
Cliff Lee (#1 at SP): Lee is on the cusp of returning to action but injury has limited him to just 10 starts. He's been effective with a 3.18 ERA, 1.28 WHIP with an 8.07 K/9 and 6.78 K/BB ratio. The ERA/WHIP are a bit high, and the 10 starts have limited him to just four victories.
Because of having him ranked #1 the grade is well deserved. GRADE: D
Justin Verlander (#9): A total mess. Disaster level given his draft day cost. No healthy pitcher has been a bigger disappointment. Through 20 starts his ERA is a run higher than the league average (4.88) and his WHIP of 1.46 is disastrous. After finishing each of the previous five seasons with a K/9 rate of at least 8.79 he's currently at, wait for it, 6.70. His resultant 2.09 K/BB ratio is also light years removed from his 2009-13 average (3.66).
I think I was lower on him than everyone else, but not low enough. Should have trusted my gut more. GRADE: C+
Gerrit Cole (#18): On the DL yet again as we hit the break. When healthy he's been the definition of a league average performer: 3.78 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 3.05 BB/9, .307 BABIP. He's upped the Ks a bit to 8.19 per nine and his GB/FB ratio is once again impressive at 1.80, but overall, he's just been unable to gain anything resembling traction.
Moral of the story... never rank 2nd year pitchers in the top-20. GRADE: D-
Shelby Miller (#23): Disaster. Continues to take the ball but performing like he's hurt. He's made 19 starts with a 7-8 record, 4.29 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. Throw into the mix a 6.03 K/9 rate an a 4.46 BB/9 rate and the regression is complete, from all-star caliber performer to someone you don't even want on your mixed league roster.
A woeful first half follow up to a breakout '13 campaign. GRADE: F
Danny Salazar (#26): His raw stuff is elite and the envy of about 98 percent of the pitchers in the big leagues. He has no idea where it's going however. He whiffed 47 batters over 40.2 innings but he also walked 3.76 per nine and lasted an average of just five innings per start.
Moral of the story... never rank 2nd year pitchers in the top-30 if they have control issues. GRADE: D-
Joe Nathan (#4 at RP): The Tigers remain committed to the veteran, and he does have 19 saves. However, he's blow five saves, has a 5.61 ERA an a 1.51 WHIP bringing back memories of Jose Mesa.
Still getting the saves but it's bee ugly. GRADE: C-
Ernesto Frieri (#8): Compare his 2013 (12.84 K/9, 3.93 BB/9, 3.27 K/BB, 0.40 GB/FB) to 2014 (10.29 K/9, 2.83 BB.9, 3.64 K/BB, 0.78 GB/FB). Nothing in there explains why his ERA has doubled to 7.20 or why his WHIP has risen to Jimenezian levels at 1.51 (it was 1.24 last year). Blame the homers which have skyrocketed from 1.44 per nine last year to 2.31 this season.
Pitching same as always, but can't offer any consistency. GRADE: D-
Jim Johnson (#13): Johnson saved 50 games in back-to-back seasons. The only other man to ever do that is Eric Gagne. Johnson moved to the Athletics to continue working the 9th. He failed and will not get the job back with Sean Doolittle blazing it up (63 Ks, two BBs). Johnson has a 6.18 ERA and 1.96 WHIP. He has been hideous with a 5.03 BB/9 rate. Check out his walk number the last four seasons: 1.71, 2.08, 1.97 and 2.30. Yeah, makes no sense.
Trust yourself Ray. Poor skills eventually caught up to two time 50 save man. GRADE: F
Brian H - I should have trusted myself like I wrote... i've been speaking against the guy for years. I was right... just took 330 games to prove my point. ;-)
With Johnson, you definitely get a a pass given that Billy Beane made the same mistake, to the tune of $10 mil...
Aw Ray you are too hard on yourself. You're a big help. Now how did Liss do on his preseason?
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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