'Jeff Samardzija' photo (c) 2012, Mike LaChance - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ Each week I'll be answering questions that have been sent to me at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account in my never ending attempt to replace myself by explaining to everyone how I evaluate players thereby making myself obsolete.

Keeper for next season in 20th of 25 rounds, Jeff Samardzija or Brett Anderson? – @Valen007

Very interesting question since both will represent tremendous values at that cost.

Anderson has dominated in four starts this season allowing a total of three runs (two earned) leading to a 0.69 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. Please tell me every one of you reading this understands that this is just one of those short runs pitchers with strong skills run into from time to time. Anderson is not the new Roy Halladay folks. After all he did have a 4.00 ERA and 1.33 ERA last season before injuring his elbow. What he is though, without question, is a very solid major league hurler. Take a look at his career numbers.

3.76 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 7.35 K/9, 2.68 K/BB

Wait a second, those aren't Anderson's numbers those are the numbers of a pitcher that I think profiles very similarly to Anderson in terms of their expected fantasy output – the Brewers' Shaun Marcum. Here are Anderson's career numbers.

3.47 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 6.91 K/9, 3.21 K/BB

Anderson should be a very solid option in 2013, but his skills, despite what he has been doing for the last month, are nowhere near elite, though I do love that 54 percent career ground ball rate which does set him up to be an arm that could have some impressive runs with his diving, darting pitches.

Samardzija was recently shut down after he threw as many innings this season as he had his previous four years at the big league level (he actually tossed five more innings this season). Samardzija finished his first full season as a starter on a high note throwing a complete game as he lowered his ERA to 3.81 and his WHIP to 1.22. Those ratios are a fair match for the career rates of Anderson, but Samardzija owns one skill that Anderson will never posses – he can strike out batters with the best of them. Over the last two seasons he's struck out a batter per inning including 180 in 174.2 innings this season. That dominance resulted in a 9.27 K/9 mark which when coupled with a massive reduction in his walk rate allowed JS to post a 3.21 K/BB ratio – an exact match for the career rate of Anderson. That's the key with Jeff. Is he the guy we've seen for most of his career as a reliever, the one who averaged 5.20 walks per nine, or is he the arm that stamped out the free passes as a starter averaging 2.89 per nine innings this year? If he can keep that walk rate down he should be on his way to continuing to post numbers that rival if not surpass his 2012 effort in coming seasons.

I'd frame the answer this way. Do you want a “safe” play or an “upside” play? Anderson is more likely to be the stable/solid play next year, especially since I'm not sold on the drastic walk reduction that Samardzija offered this year. The A's also recently announced that Anderson will not be on an inning pitched count next year so he should be free to let her rip (the Athletics are not the Nationals). Samardzija is likely to produce a substantially higher amount of Ks, like an entire dominating reliever more, so that right arm of his shouldn't be discounted one bit. Given the fact that neither is going to be your ace in 2013, I'd favor the power righty from Chicago.

With Adam Dunn down, who is the best option for the rest of the season: Mark Reynolds, Justin Morneau, Garrett Jones? – @JohnnyCrashMLB

Dunn cannot get over that oblique issue he is dealing with as the White Sox try to hold off the Tigers for the AL Central title (they are leading by one game). Dunn is also sitting on the cusp of season season long milestones with 38 homers, 88 RBIs and 79 runs scored, oh and he has 194 Ks too. If you're a Dunn owner you've been without your slugger for a week now, and that time on the shelf may be extended. So who do you target to add to your club?

Reynolds has been stroking it for a while now. The last three weeks he has gone deep nine times with 17 RBIs, 14 runs scored an a 1.157 OPS.  Don't forget that he also brings some positional flexibility with his first and third base qualification. Taking things back a bit further, let's go to the start of August, he's gone deep 13 times with 27 RBIs, 24 runs scored an a .271 batting average over 36 games. We all know how streaky he can be, but right now the streaking is a good thing as he's making it happen in the power categories while doing something odd – not hurting you in the batting average category.

Morneau may not be all the way back, but he's close, and that's great news for a guy who has been battling it for so long. One homer from returning to the 20 HR plateau, Justin is hitting .278 with 75 RBIs in 119 games for the Twins. He hasn't had any success, like none, against lefties (.231-2-19 with a .575 OPS in 173 ABs), but he has mashed righties (.307-17-56 with a .952 OPS in 280 ABs). He's also been on the top of his game since the All-Star break hitting .318 with eight homers and 37 RBIs in 54 games.

Jones, like Reynolds, also qualifies at two spots (1B and OF). Of course, this decision is more about the power bat that the players are wielding than it is about positional flexibility (more on that below). Jones has hit 23 homers, a career best, and is two runs (he has 62) and 11 RBIs (75) from tying his career bests. He's also sporting a .283 batting average after failing to reach .250 in either of the past two seasons. Like Morneau he is a total waste against lefties (.210/.250/.339 in 62 ABs), and like Morneau and Reynolds he's been very sharp of late. Over his last 39 games Jones has hit .316 with seven homers, 26 RBIs and 22 runs scored providing those that have been playing him with some near elite level hitting.

Honestly, there is no wrong answer here. In truth, all three men have actually been better fantasy performers in the second half of the season than Dunn who has hit .207 with 13 homers and 27 RBIs. At this point of the season there's little chance that even a .300 hitter for the final 20 games is going to move the needle on your team batting average since you'll have so many at-bats piled up on your squad (not to mention that you've been saddled with that .208 deadweight that is Dunn's batting average this year). There's also no real speed to speak of with this group either, so we can forget about steals. Morneau and Jones are pretty useless against lefties, so that dings them. Given that Jones qualifies at two spots he would be my selection over Morneau (you never know when you might need that flexibility so I'll let it be the tipping point between those two). So it's Jones versus Reynolds for me. Given that I'm  operating under the assumption that batting average isn't a real concern here I'd roster Reynolds and hope his power/run producing ways continue to impress the final couple of weeks of 2012 (over at Fleaflicker Reynolds isn't owned in as many leagues as I would think he would be).

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 at 7 PM EDT, Monday through Thursday, and Friday's from 9-12 PM EDT.


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About Ray Flowers

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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