On this special day in our nations history – by the way it might be more applicable for us to celebrate on July 2nd and not the 4th (see my report on why) – I'd like to extend my thanks to everyone who has ever fought for our freedoms be it with a sword, a cannon, a gun, a voice or the pen. Thanks you for giving us the freedom to do things like play fantasy baseball. Oh yeah, there's also some baseball stuff in this article too – though there really is no rhythm or reason today. I'm going to mention young hitters – guys like Brandon Belt and Ike Davis – I'll talk young callups on the hill like Chris Tillman and Trevor Bauer, and I'll also mention old guys like R.A. Dickey. Hey, what do you expect from a guy who is already four beers deep at 11 AM?
Alfredo Aceves was awful in April with a 10.29 ERA and 2.00 WHIP. I told everyone to run for the hills. He was impressive in May (2.89 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and June was pretty much the same (3.14 ERA, 0.91 WHIP). I still warned people not to get overly excited. Why? Try this on for size (and this is likely way more negative in a points league that gives negative points than in a standard roto setup). Aceves not only has four blown saves in 23 chances, he's also gone 0-6 for the Red Sox. That's not exactly impressive pitching now is it? His 40 Ks and 13 walks in 41.2 innings give him way more impressive numbers than I thought he would produce, but all those blown games still make me leery of Aceves, especially since Andrew Bailey is working his way back to the big leagues after having surgery on his thumb.
Yonder Alonso went deep Tuesday night, and for the fourth time in nine games he had two hits. That's the extent of the excitement with Yonder. Yonder is hitting .257 with three, one-two-three, homers this season. His OBP is .338. His SLG is .355. That's embarrassing.
Trevor Bauer dominated in the minors this season like no ones business, and as a result there was an outright love fest, I mean like hippies in 1969 in a commune in San Francisco, for his services. Did any of you listen to me when I suggested caution? Of course not, but I'm used to that when it comes to youngsters. As I've said over an over again, for every Mike Trout or Bryce Harper there are like 75 guys who struggled to make their mark initially (see Anthony Rizzo last year). It's of course not fair to judge any player off of 7.1 innings, but the early returns with Bauer suggest that he may not even be long for the big leagues right now, not with Joe Saunders pronouncing himself fit after an extensive simulated game Tuesday. Bauer has been lit up in his two outings for 11 hits, a 9.82 ERA an a 2.45 WHIP. What has been his biggest issue? Well what do you know – walks. I suggested to everyone that a fella who is walking four an a half batters per nine innings in the minors might see that number grow a tad in the bigs. To this point the outgrowth is like a pandemic of the Bubonic Plague. Bauer has walked seven batters in 7.1 innings, and that's just not going to get it done at any level. His future is as bright as any young arm in the game, but the youngster still has a lot to learn before he fully realizes his potential.
Brandon Belt is hitting .267 with four home runs and 30 RBIs for the Giants, middling numbers to be sure. However, he had an impressive June hitting .296 with a .400 OBP and .563 SLG. Shame on the Giants for plating him only nine times given those marks. Belt hit four homers, drove in 15 runners and stole two bags in the month. Looks like somehow has finally found their sea legs.
Ike Davis is hitting .199 on the season with a sickly .656 OPS. Still, he's been mighty effective given those horrible numbers as he's gone deep 11 times leading to 45 RBIs. He produced half of those numbers, six homers and 24 RBI, in the 27 games he played in the month of June. He's an example of a player who is currently performing much better than it would appear if you just looked at his overall numbers. Still, 74 Ks in 76 games doesn't offer a ton of hope that he's going to hit much better than the .264 he flashed in June.
R.A. Dickey has been one of the five best pitchers in baseball this season. According to a report by Buster Olney, we'll get a chance to see Dickey more often moving forward. Olney is reporting that at some point in the next month the Mets will implement a plan to get Dickey more work. That likely means that they may allow Dickey to pitch on three days rest (he could also work out of the bullpen one would assume). Given that Dickey throws his knuckler 86 percent of the time, that seems like a solid option for the Metropolitans.
Shelley Duncan is a name you need to know if you're in an AL-only league, and if you're in a mixed league he might be worth a look as well. Why on earth would I write that about a fella who is hitting .219 with 19 RBIs this season? Because he's white hot of late. Not only is Duncan hitting .391 over his last seven games, but he's also gone deep three times, hit four doubles, and knocked in six runs. That's worth noting. Amazingly, what he has done pales in comparison to his teammate, Jose Lopez. Over his last four games Lopez has produced 10 hits in 17 at-bats, that's a .588 batting average, which has lifted his season long mark from .230 to .270. That's some short-term production from two forgotten players is it not?
Hey, didn't you used to be Todd Helton? A bad back has sapped him of his pop, the last time he hit 20 homers was 2005, but the guy can still hit (he batted .302 with 14 homers and 69 RBIs last season). Or can he? Helton is “hitting” a mere .243 with seven homers and 34 RBIs in 214 at-bats this season. Things have gotten so bad that he's barely a usable piece in NL-only leagues. Think of it. A .419 career OBP fella, Helton currently has a mark of .339. Not only has he never had a season under .362 in his career, and that number has never been lower than .380 in a season of more than 400 at-bats, he actually hit .372 in 2000, .358 in 2003 and .347 in 2004. Speaking of his .372 batting average... were you playing fantasy baseball way back in 2002? If so you got one of the greatest seasons in recent memory from Helton who hit .372 with 42 homers, 147 RBIs, 138 runs scored an a 1.162 OPS. Ah, those were the days.
Chris Tillman was called up by the Orioles and will make his first start of the year Wednesday against the Mariners. It appears like a great matchup on paper. Still, I'd hesitate to trust Tillman in that outing, or any moving forward, until he proves himself. Tillman has had success this year in Triple-A with a 3.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP and 9.27 K/9 mark, but we've seen too many struggles from Tillman in the big leagues to simply turn a blind eye and focus solely on his minor league work. What has he done with the Orioles you ask? In 36 starts Tillman is 7-15 with a 5.58 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and 1.84 K/BB ratio. You really want that in your rotation? I certainly don't.
Happy July 4th all... have a beer on FantasyAlarm, and if you want to look forward to the second half of the season, here's a link to my ROTW Rankings.
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. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com, and you can follow his musings at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account as well.
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