The Week That Was: “He is Swish-a-licious After All”

Nick Swisher starting the second half hot and the All-Schultz teams highlight this week’s Week That Was.

Nick Swisher:   Nick Swisher went 2-for-5 with 3 RBI and a run scored against the Tigers on Friday to pick up right where he left off.  Last Saturday we wrote: “Swish has hit at least 22 HR in 9 straight years.  Do not be surprised if he reaches or exceeds that number again this year.  If he does, it will be a big second half.  I believe it will happen.  The price is low now.  Act now.”  Did you?  I hope so.  In the two games played since we posted last week and urged you to get Swish-a-licious, Nick has gone 4-9 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI.  No more delay! Consistency is critical in sports whether real or fantasy.  Nick has been one of the most consistent performers.  Ok, you get the point.  Next . . . .

Michael Brantley:  Sticking with the Indians, Nick Swisher’s teammate Michael Brantley had an even better game to start the second half, going 4-5 with two runs scored and a stolen base.  Like all writers, there are plenty of times when I am wrong.  However, I nailed this one.  Right here on Fantasy Alarm, I reviewed my pick of Brantley in an experts NFBC style 15 pre-season team mock draft:  “Brantley is the Rodney Dangerfield of fantasy baseball - he just gets no respect. He is only entering his age 27 season and has been productive. For example, last year, he posted 10 HR, 15 SB a solid .284 with 65+ runs and rbi.  This pick is not sabermetric based.  Rather, it is based on eyeball.  Here is a good player who has room to grow and should this year.  However, even if he does not grow at all, he will provide at least the round 16 price I paid.”  Well, he is now hitting .322 with 15HR, 63 Runs and RBI, and 11 stolen bases.  He surely has filled out that room to grow.  File this away for next year – guys who have solid stat lines at peak ages with room to grow are exactly who you want in fantasy baseball – low risk/high reward.

Eric HosmerEric Hosmer started the second half right going 3-5 with 2 RBI and a run scored against the Red Sox on Friday.  Hosmer’s .268 with 6 HR is hardly what fantasy owners were hoping for when the season started.  The good news is that the Hosmer owner in your league could be frustrated and ready to sell below value.  Seize the buying opportunity!  In the last 14 days, Hos is hitting .412 with a ridiculous OPS of 1,110.  I am throwing the numbers away on this one.  I am going to ignore the lower walk rate and higher K rate and focus instead on talent.  Hosmer has it and will show it in the second half.  Buy. 

Derek Jeter:  Well, you know I have to write about the Yankees somewhere right?  Derek Jeter started the second half in style, going 2-4 with two hits and two runs scored.  Those looking for production from the MI spots this year should look at Jeter.  He has too much pride to do anything but go out in style.  He will leave it all on the field.  In the last 14 days, the Captain has posted 4 runs, 5 RBI and 2 SB.  Those are good counting numbers in the middle infield in fantasy baseball and exactly the type of production that can put you over the top.   This recommendation is based on my eyes and human nature but if you are looking for advanced statistical support, DJ has been a little unlucky with a BABIP 36 points below his career average.  I am buying.

Zach PutnamZach Putnam nailed down the save making a statement striking out two Friday night.  The pale hose bullpen has been a mess all year.  Someone has to step up and take control.  Why not the Zach Attack?  [that one is for you Ray Flowers!].  His K rate, WHIP and ERA are all serviceable.  All he needs is opportunity and could well get it while the Sox play out the string in the dog days of August and while viewers in Chicago tune to football in September.

Emilio Bonifacio:    Emilio Bonifacio is continuing his rehab at AA.   While that does not seem much of a story, consider this – if Bonifacio can get back and start producing, the Cubs will look to move him by July 31 or even by August 31.  Those in AL-only leagues who have the need, the need for speed, should keep a few FAAB bucks in reserve as help could be on the way.  It is worth watching.

Arismendy AlcantaraArismendy Alcantara continued producing for the Cubs and for his fantasy owners, swiping two bags and scoring a run despite not getting a hit.  The Cubs rookie continues to make the case to hang around.  Given that he can play 2b (where the very replaceable Darwin Barney now plays and Javier Baez is not ready to play) and the OF (where the Cubs have mixed and matched placeholder parts all year), Alcantara should play.  Given his 52 minor league SB in the last year and a half, there is serious speed value there.  Buy.

And last and but not least, this from the Baron of the Bottom of the Page.  Schultz says: “With the exception of an All Star Game that saw Adam Wainwright singlehandedly implant the word “groove” into the American Zeitgeist, there really wasn’t much that went on this past week. During these lulls in the action, Schultz remembers that Americans not only love baseball, they love lists. Lots and lots of lists. We here at The Week That Was are nothing if not responsive to our readers (I optimistically use the plural). Continuing this self-proclaimed and self-titled tradition in our new home, here are the 2014 MID SEASON ALL-SCHULTZ TEAMS.

THE MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST TEAM. Nothing is worse than lofty expectations going unmet. This team has left its roto-owners sorely wanting in the first half of 2014.

C:  Joe Mauer (MIN) – There is nothing better than a roto-catcher that doesn’t catch. Unless it’s a former batting champion hitting .271 with only 2 HR and 28 RBI. Then, almost any option is better.

1B: Chris Davis (BAL) – In following up a Triple Crown campaign with a weak .200, 15 HR and 48 RBI, we are all reminded why we were surprised to be talking about Davis and Miguel Cabrera in the same sentence. We may have elevated Davis too soon.

2B: Jason Kipnis (CLE) – In his vaunted “Age 27” year, .257, 5 HR, 28 RBI and 13 steals is highly underwhelming for the so-called roto stud of second base.

SS: J.J. Hardy (BAL) – A perennial source for middle infield power, Hardy has followed up his 25 HR 2013 season by hitting just 3 in the first half. One more home run than periods in his first name.

3B: David Wright (NYM) – Perhaps it’s time we all have a roto-intervention in which we all admit that Wright hasn’t been roto-relevant since 2010. Exhibit A – his present .282 with 8 HR.

OF: Allen Craig (SYL) – After blossoming as a full time player in 2012 and 2013, Craig’s stats have fallen precipitously (.244, 7 HR) and he may unable to avoid being a casualty to the emergence of Oscar Taveras

OF: Will Venable (SD) – Followed up a remarkable 20/20 season with a .202, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 5 SB first half. Cover-your-eyes ugly.

OF: Shin-Soo Choo (TEX) – After reestablishing himself as one of the league’s preeminent lead-off hitters, Choo has languished in the hitters paradise of Arlington (as has everyone not named Beltre) to the tune of .239, 9 HR and 3 steals.

SP: Justin Verlander (DET) – 4.88 ERA. 1.46 WHIP, 8 wins and 96 Ks. Nothing more needs to be said.

RP: Jason Grilli (PIT/LAA) – For a guy whose most appealing feature was his ability to make grilled cheese sandwiches, the former Pirates closer had a pretty good run.

THE BERNIE MADOFF TEAM. Everyone on this team was a good investment. The returns that being given are almost too good to be true.

C:  Jonathan Lucroy (MIL) – Always a solid hitter, his .314, 9 HR, 44 RBI gives a claim to being roto-elite in the shallow pool of catchers.

1B: Jose Abreu (CHW) – It appears that all concerns as to whether the Cuban slugger could handle American pitching were voiced by idiots. Just hand the AL Rookie of the Year to the presumptive home run leader now.

2B: Dee Gordon (LA) – Reluctantly handed 2B, his 43 steals and blistering start at the plate (since cooled) reminded everyone that Gordon was once an elite prospect.

SS: Troy Tulowitzki (COL) – Instead of getting injured and missing half the season, he hit .342 with 21 HR, 52 RBI and established 1 MVP candidacy.

3B: Todd Frazier (CIN) – He put up his average yearly power numbers in half a season while reminding everyone why he received some votes over Bryce Harper for Rookie of The Year in 2012.

OF: Nelson Cruz (BAL) – At 34 and coming off a steroid suspension, a resurgent, injury-free .283, 28 HR and 74 RBI first half was highly unexpected

OF: Michael Brantley (CLE) – The Tribe’s MVP, his .329, 15 HR, 63 RBI, 11 SB and 65 R make him one of the game’s true 5 category roto-studs.

OF: Billy Hamilton (CIN) – With .282, 5 HR and 38 RBIs to go with his 38 steals, everyone who said that Hamilton couldn’t hit can take their crow and humble pie and start feasting.

SP: Mark Buehrle (TOR) – Although he is starting to remember that he’s Mark Buehrle, he spent the first half of 2014 pretending to be the American League’s most dominant pitcher.

RP: Francisco Rodriguez (MIL) – In April, K-Rod was a nice stopgap until Jim Henderson was ready to resume the closer role. Instead, it’s been a renaissance for the once and future dominant closer.

U:  Victor Martinez (DET) – Fully healthy after suffering a torn ACL two years ago, the Tigers DH put up a .330, 21 HR and 55 RBI line. Who cares that he’s no longer catcher eligible.

THE MALAYSIA AIRLINES FLIGHT 370 TEAM: This team was nowhere on anyone’s radar in April. Now, they are roto-household names.

C:  Devin Mesoraco (CIN) – So many power-hitting catching prospects fail to prosper that everyone assumed Mesoraco would join the likes of Charles Johnson, Ramon Hernandez and Ben Davis in roto-ignominy. After a .299, 16 HR and 46 RBI first half, that won’t happen.

1B:  Justin Morneau (COL) – Roto-irrelevant since 2009, the former AL MVP has resurrected himself in the thin air of Colorado. His .312, 13 HR, 60 RBI first half revived memories of greater days.

2B: Brian Dozier (MIN) – Never one to hit for average, he nearly went 20/20 in the first half alone.

SS: Erick Aybar (LAA) – The Angels’ shortstop occasionally flirts with roto-relevancy but not to the extent that he ever rises into the sleeper range. His .283, 50 RBI and 11 SB are marvelous numbers to grab off the waiver wire.

3B: Lonnie Chisenhall (CLE) – The first year that the Indians don’t attempt to hand Chisenhall 3B is the year that he takes it. Overshadowed by his 3 HR 9 RBI game against Texas, he has flirted with the AL batting average lead all spring.

OF: Charlie Blackmon (COL) – His insanely hot start propelled him to a first half line of .306, 14 HR and 52 RBI. Astounding numbers for someone that wasn’t projected to get much starting time.

OF: Brock Holt (BOS) – Other than his mother, no one took much notice when Holt quietly became a starter in Boston. After a .326, 3 HR and 22 RBI with 6 steals and 37 runs in 62 games, he’s a burgeoning Boston legend.

OF: Brandon Moss (OAK) – Once thought of as simply a platoon player, his 21 HR and 66 RBI are as big a reason as Oakland’s pitching for why people are calling this Billy Beane’s best team in years.

SP: Alfredo Simon (CIN) – The same Alfredo Simon that is 12-3 with a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP is the same Alfredo Simon that languished as a middle reliever in Baltimore and has a lifetime 3.74 ERA and 1.28 WHIP. Stop lying if you are telling people you saw this coming.

RP: Sean Doolittle (OAK) – Not even thought of as plan B to a Jim Johnson implosion, Doolittle sports a 63/2 strikeout to walk ratio and has cemented his position as the closer on the winningest team in baseball.

THE ALL-SECOND HALF TEAM. In the second half, you don’t get credit for the games that already happened, you get credit for the ones that are yet to come. Forget first half numbers, these are good investments for the homestretch of a championship run.

C:   Travis d’Arnaud (NYM)

1B: Eric Hosmer (KC)

2B: Kolten Wong (STL)

SS: Derek Jeter (NYY)

3B: Pablo Sandoval (SF)

OF: Nick Swisher (CLE)

OF: Lorenzo Cain (KC)

OF: Carlos Gonzalez (COL)

SP: Danny Salazar (CLE)

RP: Joaquin Benoit (SD)

You may remember that a couple weeks back I said that hanging on to Salazar was the equivalent of hanging onto a lottery ticket. Well, keep in mind, Cleveland wins lotteries.”

Response:  I love the Schultz lists all delivered in the third person!  Well done.  I especially like that we write at separate times and yet both love Nick Swisher for the second half.  Note that!