I know you will be disappointed, but there is no Lil Kim in this week's article (but there is still last weeks Rounding the Bases if you need another look at Queen B). Instead, this piece will focus on a superstars groin (Tulowitzki), the NL ERA leaders elbow (Beachy), a guy on a 30-100-100 pace in Houston (Maxwell), another on pace to almost reach those numbers in Toronto (Rasmus), and the tale of the tape with two relievers going in opposite directions (Valverde and Wilhelmsen).
My Kingdom for Some Health
Tory Tulowitzki is one of the elite players in the game. A Gold Glover on defense, Tulo also packs the punch of a power hitting outfielder from the shortstop position. It's why he is a perennial first round selection in fantasy games. However, despite the well deserved accolades, I have never drafted Troy to be a member of my club. Am I stupid? Have I spent too much time surfing the internet for locations to look at beautiful ladies (when is the last time you looked – there are a few sites out there)? No, the reason I never draft Tulowitzki is simple – I can't trust him to stay healthy so therefore I'm not going to spend a top-10 pick on him no matter how talented he is. Just look at his games played totals since he cracked the starting lineup in 2007
2007: 155 games
2012: 47 out of 66 games (max 143 games played)
Obviously Tulo isn't going to appear in 143 games this year, and in fact, it might be way below that level. Could it even be that his season ends with 47 games on the back of his ball card?
Currently on the DL with a groin issue, the Rockies seems a bit flummoxed as to what is going on with their star shortstop though there is a belief that he has a sports hernia situation which could knock him out of the lineup for at least an additional 4-6 weeks, and if he does indeed need surgery it's possible that he could miss the remainder of the 2012 season. "My spirits aren't good. I don't know what's going on. We haven't figured it out yet," Tulowitzki said. Yet another serious of tests is set to be run Wednesday, another MRI is scheduled (he's already had two), as the team attempts to discern what the best course of action is. Question for you – what possible reason could there be for Tulo to get three MRI's? My guess, with no inside knowledge, is that they are seeing some sore of irregularity that is leading them to think he would benefit from surgery, but that the issue isn't clear cut so they are hoping against hope that they will be able to come up with another possible course of action with Tulo's season hanging in the balance.
Just my guess, but you had better have a darn solid option to turn to as shortstop just in case.
Do Pro Athletes Ever Have to Wait?
Apparently they do.
The Braves' Brandon Beachy, you know the guy who leads baseball with a 2.00 ERA (tied with R.A. Dickey), has an injured elbow which is horrible news. Initial diagnosis pointed toward a partially torn UCL (ulnar collateral ligament). In plan English, when you tear that ligament significantly you nearly always need Tommy John surgery. Some pitchers are able to work their way back through rehab if the tear isn't significant, and that's obviously what Beachy and the Braves are hoping for. In order to make the final determination, Beachy was sent to see “the” doctor these matters, Dr. James Andrews Wednesday. So when will we have word on a potential course of treatment for Beachy? Probably not until late in the day. Why? Is it because Beachy's case is unique and will take a lot of study and consultation to decide a course of action? Nope. It's because he will have to wait in the waiting room with the sick people for his turn. This is from the Atlanta Journal Constitutions' Twitter page.
Beachy is last patient that Andrews is seeing today, which means we probably won't know anything until tonight.
Obviously this situation has a lot to do with the fact that everyone wants to see Doc Andrews, but doesn't it seem odd that a professional baseball player would have to wait to see the doctor?
At the end of the day, hopefully this day, we'll have some clarity on the Beachy situation. For now, if you're an owner, you had better hold your breath cause it seems like the winds are suggesting that Beachy could miss a significant amount of time.
* NOTE: Brandon Beachy will indeed need Tommy John surgery, and it will occur on Thursday. He is out for the remainder of the 2012 season and he will most likely miss the first couple of months next season as well.
NL-only Outfield Help
Do you know the name Justin Maxwell? At this point he's pretty much in a platoon with Jordan Schafer in CF for the Astros and Maxwell is on the wrong side facing mostly lefties (on the plus side he's also seeing time in LF and RF, so he's not strictly in a platoon situation). Still, he continues to impress after a slow start to the season and in 118 at-bats he has eight homers, 24 RBI and 22 runs scored. Prorated for a 500 at-bat season that would equate to 34 homers, 101 RBI and 93 runs scored. Yeah that's right, that's flipping impressive. Given that Schafer seems to pick up a new injury every 38 hours, may be you should be paying more attention to Maxwell? Let's take a look at the skills behind the production.
In 337 career at-bats Maxwell has hit .214 with a .322 OBP and .737 OPS. Nothing there should cause you to take a second look. However, Maxwell is an impressive athlete who, as they say, can do some things. Maxwell has hit 17 homers while stealing 12 bags in those 337 at-bats, but you have to wonder why he's only accrued 337 at-bats since the start of the 2007 season, don't you? Teams don't normally leave guys in the minors if they think they can be regulars contributors, and it's not like the Nationals teams of the past were exactly juggernauts (he appeared with the Nats in 2007, 2009 and 2010). If you pay close attention to those numbers you would also realize that I left 2008 and 2011 out. Why? Because he didn't have a single big league at-bat in either season. My biggest concern with Maxwell though is the prolific K-rate, one that would almost make Adam Dunn blush. A 33.2 career K-rate kinda guy, that number is up to 35.6 percent this year as he has 48 Ks in 135 plate appearances, a simply hideous number.
Maxwell is an impressive NL-only weapon at this point, but even given his current pace this season it's a stretch to think he will be a mixed league weapon the rest of the way.
Mixed League Outfield Help
The year was 2010 and I hit 23 homers, knocked in 66 runs, scored 85 times and stole 12 bags in my second full big league season. People had visions of me running off a decade of similar, if not better, efforts. Given that, I was a huge disappointment hitting a mere .225-14-53-75-5 in 2011, a season that saw me dealt from the Cardinals to the Blue Jays. When I hit .232 with three homers in April, and then followed it up by hitting .237 with three homers in May, the die seemed cast on my tombstone – talented but under performing yet again.
Then the calendar flipped to June.
In 17 games in June I'm hitting .319 with power – six homers leading to a .625 SLG and .989 SLG. I've also been a massive run producer with 14 runs scored and 14 RBI in those 17 games. All of a sudden everyone has mad love for me.
I'm Colby Rasmus.
So to answer the question that I've literally received about 65 times the past two weeks – is Rasmus for real?
What do you mean by that? If by “for real” are you asking me if he can repeat his 2010 effort then there is no doubt the answer is yes. If by “for real” are you asking me if he is going to be a 30 homer, 90 RBI, 90 run guy this season my answer would be – not likely. Not only has been been this streaky player for most of his young career, it's not like he has a reputation off the field for being stable and studious (it always seems like Rasmus and his father somehow get embroiled in some drama). There are also the skills to assess.
(1) He is hitting .206 with a .585 OPS against lefties this year and it's no aberration as he has hit .215-11-51-36 with a .646 OPS against lefties in 419 career at-bats.
(2) Though he has cut his K-rate a fair amount he's also walking less than normal leading to a 0.39 BB/K mark, right on his career rate of 0.41.
(3) Even with his hot streak of late, Rasmus still has a slash line that is rather blah and barely better than his career rate.
(4) The only thing that really stands out right now is hit 21.5 percent line drive rate. He's the owner of a career mark of 19 percent, and his season best mark is 19.6 percent. Can he hold on to the games he has shown thus far? He had better because he is hitting five percent fewer fly balls than normal (41 percent) which is going to make keeping up his recent home run pace nearly impossible.
Still, at the end of the day he's on pace to hit .259-27-80-80, numbers that don't loo much different at all from his 2010 production. Rasmus is a fine add if he's on waivers in your league, but there are still plenty of holes in his game that suggest a true breakout is likely not at hand.
Closing in Impressive and Non-Impressive Fashion: Tom Wilhelmsen vs. Jose Valverde
One fella is coming off one of the greatest seasons ever by a reliever, after all Jose Valverde did convert all 49 of his save chances for the Tigers, while the other has five career saves. So why is it an open argument right now as to which reliever you would want on your fantasy squad?
Jose Valverde has been awful of late allowing seven runs in his last two outings. He's also struck out 19 batters this season while walking 17, a horrendous ratio of 1.12. And the strikeouts and walks are what REALLY concern me with Valverde.
After posting a 12.59 K/9 rate it 2006 Valverde's K/9 rate has gone down every season since – every one. His current mark is 6.11, less than half of his peak from 2006.
After posting a 2.88 BB/9 rate in 2008 check out what that number has looked like since: 3.50, 4.57, 4.23 and currently 5.46.
I could continue to break things down but I think you get the point. The multi year trends should disturb you to the point of borderline panic if you are a Valverde owner (he's also dealing with a sprained wrist that could knock him out of action for a while).
On the flip side is Tom Wilhelmsen who has allowed four hits and three walks over his last 10 outings (12.2 innings). Wilhelmsen has also struck out 15 batters in that time while picking up two wins and five saves. While the Mariners keep talking about Brandon League reclaiming the closers role – if for no other reason than to try and build up League's value on the trade market – there's no reason for the club to make a move as Tom has been dynamite since taking over the 9th. Moreover, he's been pretty special over the course of the season as well with a 4.00 K/BB ratio thanks to an 11.00 K/9 mark.
Valverde has a long leash in Detroit after last years success, and Wilhelmsen has League lurking over his shoulder and no history of working the 9th inning, but I'm not at all certain if the guy you likely drafted to be your top closer (against my recommendation of course – I had Valverde 16th at RP coming into the year) is going to finish 2012 with more value than the guy who was on waiver-wire's two weeks ago.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday, 5-8 PM EDT. You can follow Ray at BaseballGuys.com and in the Twitterverse at the BaseballGuys' Twitter Page.
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