The Oracle: Preseason Hits
How did Ray Flowers do with his preseason predictions? He grades himself out as the 2014 season hits the All-Star Break by looking at his success stories.
I poked fun at myself for all the mistakes I made in my Preseason Misses piece. Now it's time for me to gloat about the correct calls I made. Well, that's not the right position to take either. It's too early to gloat. There is still a second half of games left to play. Let's just say that I feel pretty good about the calls that I made which resulted in the below list of “hits” for the first half of the 2014 season.
*** For Ray's preseason rankings and the updates that come out the first of every month see the 2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings page.
Jonathan Lucroy (#5 at C): The best hitter going who wears the tools of ignorance. Lucroy is batting .315 with nine homers, 44 RBIs and 45 runs scored. Those are all-star caliber numbers regardless of which position they come from.
The best hitting catcher in baseball right now. GRADE: A
Miguel Montero (#11): He disappeared last season but he's rebounded to his previous level of excellence. Hitting .262 with 11 homers, were you aware that Montero led all catchers in baseball with 52 runs batted in?
Others left him for dead. I didn't. GRADE: A
Justin Morneau (#15 at 1B): The power hasn't been breathtaking with 13 homers, but the .312 average, .846 OPS and 60 RBIs are impressive. Despite all the success he's only scored 38 times. Still he's been remarkably healthy appearing in 89 games, and that has led to the success at the dish.
The move to Coors has rejuvenated him. GRADE: A-
Adam LaRoche (#18): Always overlooked, always productive. In 76 games played he's hit .279 with 12 homers, 47 RBIs and 39 runs scored. He's also walked 47 times leading to an impressive .383 OBP. He's gotta do something about that beard though. Just a hideous look.
Boring and you always look past his name, but predictably productive. GRADE: B
Chase Utley (#8 at 2B): Often overlooked cause of age an injury, Utley has been remarkably productive for the Phillies. Utley is batting .293 with eight bombs, 46 RBIs and 51 runs scored in a resurgent season. He's appeared in 91 of the Phillies 95 games.
And you thought he was washed up. GRADE: A-
Howie Kendrick (#10): Kendrick is batting .290 with four homers, 43 RBIs, 52 runs scored and 11 steals. How many other second sackers can match all five of those numbers? The answer is two. Ian Kinsler and Daniel Murphy.
Why doesn't anyone realize how effective a contributor this guy is? GRADE: A-
Todd Frazier (#13 at 3B): Frazier is batting .290. That's better than David Wright (.285). Frazier has 19 homers. That's more than Miguel Cabrera (14). Frazier has 53 RBIs. That's more than Adrian Beltre (51). Frazier has scored 57 runs. That's more than Evan Longoria (51). Any questions?
Exploded in the first half vying for top honors at the position. GRADE: A-
Chris Johnson (#18): The Braves' third sacker has been killing it of late (he hit three big flies, drove in seven runs and scored five times the final two games before the All-Star break). He's still batting a mere .277 with six homers, 36 RBIs, 28 runs scored an a .679 OPS.
As bad a I thought he would be. GRADE: A-
Starlin Castro (#8 at SS): Castro has just three thefts on the bases but he's batting .276 and has been one of the best run producers at the position not named Tulo. Castro has gone deep 11 times with 52 RBIs and 43 runs scored for the Cubbies.
Steals aren't there, but rest of game is. GRADE: A-
Dee Gordon (#17): The NL leader with 43 steals, Gordon has hit .292 and scored 52 runs. Just like I predicted in the preseason, Gordon was the much better draft day target compared to Billy Hamilton (see Who to Draft Fantasy Baseball 2014: Shortstop).
Can't give myself an “A” since I didn't have him ranked high enough as it turns out. GRADE: B
Curtis Granderson (#29 at OF): Terrible at the start but much better of late. The last 30 days his OPS is .864 which is better than Adam Jones (.857). Moreover, check out his last 156 plate appearances: .292/.391/.538 with eight homers, 17 RBIS, eight homers and five steals. He's rolling.
Took a while to get going but a big second half is likely ahead. GRADE: B
Michael Brantley (#41): How good has one of my favorites been? As of right now he has a higher batting average (.322 to .309), more homers (15 to 12), more RBIs (63 to 52), more runs scored (63 to 53) and more steals (10 to 7) than... Yasiel Puig.
Always been a fan, but even I had no idea this was coming. GRADE: A-
Rajai Davis (#49): Not only does he have the expected steals (24) but the guy has been a relative beast at the dish too where he's hit .296 with a .770 OPS, not bad numbers at all for a guy has hit .271 with a .700 OPS over his 849 game big league career.
Everyone was all excited about every other speedster but the old guy still getting it done. GRADE: B
Johnny Cueto (#20 at SP): Cueto is third in the NL with a 2.13 ERA, tied for third in wins (10), is second in strikeouts (141), second in WHIP (0.89) and leads the Senior Circuit in innings pitched (143.2). He will be in the battle for the Cy Young award if he can stay healthy which has always been an issue.
I was made fun of, on air, for making Cueto my first SP in the SiriusXM Experts League. You can all suck on it. GRADE: A+
Corey Kluber (#32): He's been a stud. Kluber has thrown the third most innings in the AL (131.2) as he's struck out 142 batters, the 4th most in the AL. He's also the owner of a 3.01 ERA that is better than David Price (3.23) while his 1.20 WHIP is a hundredth better than Yu Darvish. In fact, Kluber has been a better fantasy option to this point that Darvish.
I was pushing him when no one even knew who he was. Took him in the 11th round in the FSTA draft back in January to the sound of crickets. GRADE: A+
Chris Archer (#44): He started slowly but has been nails of late. In 19 starts we're looking at a youngster who has a 3.41 ERA and 1.31 WHIP with 101 Ks in 113.1 innings. He hasn't taken the next step per se, but the strikeouts are growing.
Didn't get as much love this offseason as he should have. GRADE: A-
Tyson Ross (#53): Everyone loves Zack Greinke, right? Check it. Ross has four fewer wins (7 to 11), but his ERA (2.85 to 2.73), WHIP (1.18 to 1.17) and strikeout totals (126 to 127) are nearly identical. Ross has been phenomenal given the draft day cost.
Been everything anyone could have hoped for. GRADE: A
Wily Peralta (#60): Remove his outing on July 8th in which he allowed nine runs and you would be looking at a guy with a 3.15 ERA over 18 starts. Peralta has been solid with 89 strikeouts and 31 walks over 188.2 innings leading to a 1.29 WHIP. While others are scrambling at the end of their rotations Peralta just keeps taking the ball effectively.
Not great, but stable and as your 6/7 SP in a mixed league. GRADE: B+
David Robertson (#6 at RP): Heresy perhaps, but Robertson is pitching as well as Marino Rivera. Robertson has converted 23 of 25 save chances and has a 2.76 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He's also doing something remarkable. In 32.2 innings he's struck out 59 batters. That's a 16.26 K/9 rate folks.
Huge arm having success in first go round as full-time closer. GRADE: A-
Joakim Soria (#23): When the bullpen fell apart in spring Soria stepped forward and he hasn't looked back. In 32 appearances he's sporting a solid 2.67 ERA and an elite 0.79 WHIP. He's also dominated batters to the tune of an 11.87 K/9 and 1.19 BB/9 leading to a save percentage of 94.1 (10-for-17).
Stepped up and has dominated for Rangers. GRADE: A
Mark Melancon (#26): He setup, then closed, then went back to the setup role. Now that Jason Grilli has been dealt to the Angels Melancon is back closing and showing no cracks in the foundation. It would be great if he could up the 7.99 K/9 mark a bit, but the 1.30 walk rate, 2.38 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and 2.17 GB/FB ratio are all elite level stuff.
The second best middle reliever in the preseason rankings in the NL (Joaquin Benoit was first). GRADE: A