The Week That Was: August 29, 2016

A self-critical look at our advice about players moving at the trade deadline highlight this week’s Week That Was.

Eduardo Nunez:  On August 1, we wrote “Well, Minnesota is not a great park in which to hit and neither is SF so no great change there.  While no one saw Nunez coming this year, there is no question that he arrived.  He will now play every day for a Giants team trying to win for the 4th time in the last 7 years.  Thus far, Nuney has been money to the tune of a .295 average, 12 dingers and 28 SB.  We know the speed is real.  The advanced metrics say the average is real (neither contact rate nor BABIP is out of line) and those of us who saw him take Verlander yard in the ALCS a few years ago when Justin was Cy Verlander know the power is real.   Those in NL only leagues should open their FAAB wallets!”  Over the last two weeks his average is poor but the counting numbers are nice – 4 SB, 10 runs, 7 RBI and a dinger.  To put that in perspective, on a yearlong scale, that is 52 SB, 130 runs, 91 RBI.  Yeah, Nunez is producing in SF.  If there is a Nuney owner in your league focused on the average, make an offer and make it quick!

Ivan Nova:  On August 1, we wrote “Could this be the latest Ray Searage reclamation project?  Remember what Ray did for former Nova teammate A.J. Burnett?  I think he can do the same for Nova. Why?  First, Nova’s velocity is back to pre-TJS form.  Second, Pittsburgh is not in the AL East.  The park is friendlier and so are the opponents (it is not fun pitching in Baltimore, Boston or Toronto).  Third, Nova already throws those grounders that Searage loves as his 54+% GB rate this year attests.  Finally, when the 21% HR/FB goes down as it should now that Nova has escaped the AL East, you could have a bargain on your hands.  Invest now while you can.”  Sunday Nova went 6 innings of 1 run ball while walking none and striking out 4.  I hope you invested!  Since joining the Pirates, Nova has 4 of 5 quality starts and a ridiculous 22-1 K/BB ratio.  Assuming the hamstring is ok, you want in on the Nova-Searage partnership!

Jay Bruce:  On August 1 we wrote: “Hmmm, I have a lot of friends who are Mets fan so I hope this works out but I am not so sure.  First, his .265 average is way above what he has done the last two years.  If he starts to press with his new team, that average could plummet back to the .220s.  Second, Bruce has hit only .230 or so over the last 30 days.  That does not bode well.  Finally, Cincy is a much better hitters’ park than Citi so some of those dingers may not leave the yard.  In all, I think Bruce will help the Mets more than he helps your fantasy team if you have to blow your whole FAAB budget to get him.  Proceed with caution.”  In the last two weeks, Bruce has hit a paltry .143 with no dingers and 1 RBI.  With one hit in the last week, thing are hardly looking better.  I hope you exercised that caution.

Andrew MillerOn August 1, we wrote “The only lefty nastier than Miller is his former teammate Aroldis Chapman.  Miller’s stats are sick:  77K in 45 innings with a miniscule 0.77 WHIP.  When you get down the advanced stats, the numbers are equally scary:  16+% swinging strike rate and a GB rate approaching 53%.  Move over Cody Allen – you are good but not this good.  Invest with complete confidence.”  Well we got that one wrong.  Miller has pitched well – posting 7 innings of one hit, .043 WHIP ball over the last two weeks – but has not gotten the predicted saves.  Without the saves, Miller probably has not returned the FAAB investment. 

Jonathan LucroyOn August 1, we wrote “Texas scored big with one of the best catchers in baseball.  After a down year last year, Lucroy has returned to prominence with a .299 average, 13 HR and 50 RBI.  My only concern is that it is tough for a catcher to learn new pitchers, new opposing hitters and concentrate on his offense all at the same time.  I like Lucroy much better for 2017 than I do for the last two months of 2016.  That said, if you are in an AL-only league, there is no doubt Lucroy will be an upgrade for your team.”  Well, in the last two weeks, the Texas backstop has hit under .250 but his OBP is around .350 over that span and he has added 3 dingers and 8 RBI.   The promised upgrade occurred but some offensive struggle has manifested – as predicted – likely because of the adjustment to learning the new pitchers and having to call games in a new league.    

Josh Reddick: On August 1, we wrote, “Reddick is a player I have liked for a long time.  He has now overcome injury and evolved as a hitter as his .290+ average and 10+% walk rate indicate.  Indeed, despite all the distraction of trade talks, Reddick has stayed focused and hit .333 over the last week.  Oh, and when you add in that any park is better for a hitter than Oakland, you have a potential nice add for those in NL only leagues.  I like Nunez better this year but Reddick makes a nice prize too.”  Reddick has been anything but a prize.  Translation – we blew this one.  Over the last two weeks, Reddick has hit .167 with no HR and no RBI.  It just makes you wonder how long they can keep Yasiel Puig on the farm.   

Matt Kemp:  On August 1, we wrote: “Wow, out of the frying pan and into the fire.  San Diego is a dumpster fire and so is Atlanta.   Given that Kemp has not changed leagues, his fantasy FAAB value is not nearly that of some of the others above.  Yes, he has hit for power but a sub .300 OBP and a nearly 7-1 K/BB ratio says the cliff is near and he could easily fall off in the wasteland that will be Atlanta August baseball.  Be careful.”  Kemp has actually been what he was before the trade.  The power is still there but the OBP over the last month is more in the .330 range than below .300.  If I am honest, I would have to say we missed this one. 

And now the moment you well, may or may not be waiting for, the Baron of Bottom of the Page pontificates -- a/k/a Schultz says: “One of the biggest stories of the past couple weeks has been the emergence of Gary Sanchez as the Yankees modern day version of Kevin Maas. (Schultz will leave it to The Overlord, a devout Yankees fan, to explain how Schultz just threw shade and hopefully, Bobby Colton will be around to define throwing shade for him). In just three weeks, Sanchez has racked up 11 home runs, 21 RBIs while hitting .400. To put that in perspective, despite playing for 5 times as long, Brian McCann, the presumptive Yankee backstop has hit 16 home runs, driven in 50 and hit .234.  From a roto-perspective, there's little advice to give here. If he's on your team, you're happy; if he's not, you're not going to get him. Even though Sanchez' pace is unsustainable, he's a keeper, both in real and roto-life.

In lieu of providing useful roto-advice, we do like to entertain here in the basement of The Week That Was. In that vein, perhaps, you will find some of these facts amusing. While trying to keep pace with Sanchez, former Yankee Russell Martin has hit 6 home runs, driven in 16 and hit .405 over the past two weeks. After coming out of the gates at a leisurely pace, Astros' uber-prospect Alex Bregman has hit 5 home runs and hit .333 since the ides of August. Over that same period, Brandon Moss - the roto-afterthought - has also slugged 5 homers and hit .326.

Probably also worth noting that Trea Turner's 17 steals and .341 average since being called up should make people question whether Dusty Baker's predilection for veterans requires an intervention. Finally, who was August's best starting pitcher? Danny Duffy, who went 5-1 with a 2.51 ERA, .98 WHIP and 39 strikeouts over 43 innings. Like Sanchez, you aren't getting him if you don't already have him. If you have him, congratulations for having your chips down when the roulette wheel finally stopped on Duffy's number.”

Response:  Cool stuff in many ways!