Mailbag: May 10, 2012
Each week I'll be here answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.
What do you do as a Tim Lincecum owner? I have him on 2 teams... extremely frustrated! – @phillyflash19
This is a results driven game, I get that, but I keep preaching patience with Lincecum and hope that people heed my advice. Has Lincecum (2-3, 5.89 ERA, 1.58 WHIP) been a huge disappointment? 100 percent the answer is yes. At the same time, he is coming around, and there are a myriad of data points that support that contention. Though he allowed four runs in five innings Thursday night his fastball was routinely hitting 93 mph while his change up was darting all over the place. He struck out Matt Kemp three times. Five of the first six outs he recorded were by the strikeout. He had a solid night. On the season he's been more up and down than a tugboat on the open seas. Still, over his last four starts he has a 3.13 ERA. That's improvement. Now he's still throwing too many pitches and walking far too many batters (5.9 per nine over his last four starts), but hang your hat on this. (1) His current 10.06 K/9 mark is better than his career average (9.87). (2) His 1.75 GB/FB rate would be a career best (career 1.40). (3) His 7.1 percent HR/F ratio is blow his career average (7.4 percent). (4) The first five years of his career his line drive rate was never higher than 20.8 percent. You really think he's going to post a 26.0 percent mark for the season? Moreover, his BABIP is sitting at .349. The guy owns a career mark of .295 and has never surrendered a mark above .310 for a season. Think that is going to continue as well?
Brighter times are ahead for The Freak.
Ervin Santana or Ross Detwiler ROTW? – @Sllab33
(ROTW = Rest of the Way)
Santana always allows homers but he's been beaten around like a pinata at a seven year old's birthday party this year. After allowing between 23-27 homers each of the past five years he's already permitted 12 in seven outings. There's no way that continues. Other than the homers, has he actually pitched that badly? If we turn to xFIP to help normalize that home run rate we find that Santana has a 4.10 ERA which would not only better his career xFIP mark of 4.29, it would also be the third best mark of his eight year career. He's just not pitching as badly as his 1-6 record and 5.09 ERA would suggest. In fact, he's working on a stretch of 3-straight “quality starts” in which he has lasted at least seven innings each outing while posting an ERA of 2.82. Heck, for the year his WHIP is 1.30 which is better than the marks of Jeremy Hellickson (1.31), Dan Haren (1.33) and Jon Lester (1.36).
Detwiler has stepped into the void created when Chien Ming Wang (hamstring) was injured. On the cusp of returning from that leg injury, the Nats have a decision to make – do they slot Wang back into the starting rotation as they planned to or send him to the bullpen because Detwiler has been so impressive with his 2.10 ERA and 1.02 WHIP over six starts?
I'd take Santana. Not only does he have the obvious historical advantage over Detwiler, the truth is, even if the fantasy numbers don't show it right now, that Santana is a more highly skilled pitcher than the younger Nationals arm. Add into the mix the lurking presence of C-M Wang in Washington and that's enough for me to prefer the Angels hurler.
12 team mixed roto keeper I get Mark Reynolds and Jose Tabata for Emilio Bonifacio. Advise please? – @rogerchoate
Poor Mr. Reynolds. The guy has major holes in his game, there's no way that I'm going to try and pull some hocus pocus to make you think otherwise, and when he's slumping he's about an ugly a batter as you could possibly have in your fantasy lineup. At the same time, and I keep telling everyone this, the past three years (2009-11) he is top-3 among third basemen in homers, RBI and runs scored. During those three years an “average” Reynolds season has led to 38 homers, 91 RBI and 87 runs scored. It's a bumpy ride, but he always produces. I know he's hitting .193 with two homers through 25 games, and that's awful, but he has started to produce in May for those of you who haven't noticed as he's hit .350 with two homers, six RBI, a 1.300 OPS and he's tossed in a steal in six games.
Tabata is a bit of an enigma. After bursting onto the scene as a rookie in 2010, his production has tanked. Hitting just .230 with one homer and 10 runs scored in 26 games this year, the frustration level is pretty high amongst Tabata owners. But let's take a step back here. If we extrapolate Tabata's lifetime production over 219 games into a 150 game season the numbers don't look all that bad: .278-6-42-85-27. Given his age and his pedigree, I'm willing to write off his poor start this season at to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Bonifacio is a great fantasy weapon because of his versatility, but as I warned everyone all preseason, expecting him to hit .296 again, as he did last year, was a pretty tall order. Currently batting .238, people need to realize that in over 1,500 big league at-bats that Emilio has hit a mere .266. We all know he has no power at all, just six homers in his career, and he has just two RBI this season to give him 91 in 443 career games. Oh sure he'll steal plenty of bases, he has 15 this year in 31 games, but you're paying a massive price for those steals right now given his utter lack of homers, RBI and batting average. If I'm being totally honest, an I always am, I'm not certain Bonifacio is actually capable of being an every day player in the big leagues.
This is an easy answer. Add the duo of Reynolds and Tabata and enjoy the bounty.
Trade Derek Jeter for Starling Castro? – @jamespmack
I love it when the deals are simple. None of this 4-for-3 junk with draft picks and dollar amounts. Just down and dirty 1-for-1. Let's compare them straight up.
Jeter: .388-5-15-23-1 Castro: .347-1-19-15-11
While Jeter has a substantial advantage in average, homers and runs scored, would it surprise you to learn that learn that in terms of fantasy value that Castro is the equal of Jeter? How is that possible? It's all about the massive steal advantage that Castro has. So if they are equal right now in terms of their fantasy output, who do I want moving forward? Both players have huge pluses and significant minuses (right now at Fleaflicker Jeter is being slightly favored over Castro).
Jeter is a .314 career hitter who has failed to bat .300 the past two years. Even if we give him a .314 average this season to match his career rate, that means he will hit in the .290's the rest of the way. Is that possible after he hit .270 and .297 the last two years? Certainly it is, but it just goes to the point that you should expect the “normal” 38 year old Jeter the rest of the way and not the out of control one we've seen so far. That includes a major step back in the homer category as I'm pretty sure he's not going to hit 30 homers for the first time as he gets within shouting distance of his 40th b-day (Jeter hasn't hit 20 homers since 2004). Jeter has also hit 20 steals only once in his last five years, and his total of one this season in 30 games might signal that even 15 could be pushing it this year.
Castro looks like a Jeter clone in many respects. All the 22 year old Castro does is hit, and over his 1,261 big league at bats we're looking at a .308 hitter. He's yet to show a power stroke with only 14 career homers, but this guy should develop into a 15-20 homer bat. He's not likely to hit .347, but given his age and talent level there would appear to be little threat that he will be able to at least match Jeter the ROTW in batting average. The lack of power dings Castro's run producing ability, but both men serve more as table setters than dynamic middle of the order thumpers anyway. The real key for Castro is will he continue to run at this rate? A speedster who stole on 10 bases as a rookie, Castro upped that mark to 22 last year. The Cubs have stated that they want to test defenses this year on the base paths, and that has led to Castro's 11 thefts in 31 games putting him on pace to push 50 this season. Three points. (1) Fifty is a big number. Only one man reached it last season (Michael Bourn). (2) Is it reasonable to expect a guy who stole 32 bases in his first 283 games to push that mark to 50 in 162 contests? (3) Castro has 11 thefts and four caught stealing this year continuing his poor stolen base percentage rate. In his career Castro has stolen 43 bases in 64 attempts, a mere 67 percent success rate. Studies have shown that to be the break even point, and by that I mean that if a runner is under 67 percent with his steal success rate that he is actually hindering, versus helping, his teams ability to score runs. In essence, Castro is merely spinning his wheels on the base paths.
I'm often charged with being an ageist since I usually avoid youngsters for more established players. In this case I'm flipping that position on it's ear and suggesting that you make this deal to add the youngster from Chicago.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday.
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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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