Photo Credit: Keith Allison
It’s getting to the point of the fantasy baseball season where your boy Daddy Starbucks starts to grow listless with writing about the sport. Don’t get it twisted, I still plan on winning all my leagues and will follow the game closely, but posts from me on fantasy baseball will begin to become more infrequent. The reason? There’s just not that much cool shit to write about that the smart readers of this website won’t already know.
I thought about doing an MLB Real Talk post on Joe Blanton for fuck’s sake. Look, I like the Philly Blant enough to trust him as a spot starter (or a solid SP in deep leagues), but when suckas like this start gracing the covers of Starbonell posts, it’s quite clear that there isn’t that much cool shit to talk about that hasn’t already been discussed on a million other sites. Here at Sons of Roto, we value outside-the-box analysis on players people may be overlooking. But we have to draw the line somewhere. Joe Blanton is that line.
Worry not fantasy baseball heads. “Stream Pies” will make its triumphant return around Memorial Day and that series will run until the end of the season. MLB Real Talk will also rear its head whenever an underappreciated commodity deserves a shout-out. And I’m sure “Lying, Whoring Numbers” will crop up when overzealous stat-wads get overexcited about a player. Still, we have to be realistic. Fantasy football is rapidly approaching and more time needs to be spent pimping what will be the greatest draft guide ever.
Don’t think of this as goodbye, for when the cool summer night settles down upon you, it will be my name you hear on the wind... “Sssstarbonell....”
More after the jump:
The statistic: 54.0 FB%
The player: Phil Hughes
Hughes owns the highest FB% in the bigs, and his reputation in the fantasy community is not very positive. He is known as a talented, yet inconsistent hurler with a knack for having more bombs launched against him than Dresden (1,000,004 points for best comedic use of a heinous historical event). Hughes gives up a lot of fly balls. In fact, he leads the league in FB%. You know what they say about fly ball pitchers. They are unreliable because more fly balls equal more chances for home runs. Except if you are Matt Cain. Or Ted Lilly. Or Jered Weaver. Or Colby Lewis. Or Johan Santana.
You get the point. Fly balls can be bad for business, but it’s possible to mine fantasy value from pitchers who give them up. Admittedly, Hughes doesn’t have a whole lot other than potential. Even in his 18-win “breakout” season in 2010, he had a 4.15 ERA. His 8.1 SwStr% does not scream strikeout upside, but Hughes has shown an ability to rack up strikeouts without missing bats. He had a solid 7.45 K/9 in 2010 with an 8.6 SwStr%, and he has an 8.50 K/9 this year. Hughes’ pitches have shown a lot of life this year, even though he’s been rocked a few times due to location. He’s coming off two strong starts, albeit against the Mariners and Royals. Hughes doesn’t warrant universal ownership, but if I were in a league hurting for SPs, I’d snatch him on a speculative basis. Again, I’m basing this mostly on potential, but for a cheap flier, it’s worth it. If he sucks, big deal; you can just drop him and move on to the next one.
The statistic: 29.9 LD%
The player: Ryan Dempster
Ryan “The Dempster” Droece owns a tidy 1.78 ERA. Yes, that low ERA will not hold, but don’t let the LD% trick you into thinking that he’ll return to the tomfoolery of his 4.80 ERA last year. Yes, giving up line drives at such a rate isn’t “good,” but Dempster’s career LD% checks in at just under 20 percent (19.9 to be exact), so he’s used to taking a few lasers. Instead of focusing how much hard contact he’s surrendering, fantasy owners should be paying closer attention to how many bats he’s missing. Dempster’s 11.4 SwStr% is the best mark he’s had since 2008. Not only is he inducing swings-and-misses, Dempster is also displaying the best strike-zone command of his career. His 61.5 F-Strike% and 2.40 BB/9 are career-best marks, and bode very well for his ratios going forward. Yeah he’ll get rocked from time-to-time as he does give up his share of hard contact, but the Cubs SP will still be taking a “Demp” on everyone who thought he was done prior to 2012.
The statistic: .402 BA
The player: Josh Hamilton
It seems like sacrilege to say anything bad about the God-fearing, ball-destroying Hamilton. He’s been the best hitter in baseball this year, so how can I possibly find anything wrong with his game? Well, it’s safe to say that he won’t be hitting .400 this year, but let me be the first to say that he may not sit at .300 by the time the season is done. Hamilton owns an astounding 17.8 SwStr%, which means he swings-and-misses more times than Yoenis Cespedes, Dan Uggla, Giancarlo Stanton, and, well, every other hitter in baseball. That’s right, Hamilton has the worst SwStr% in the league, and it’s not even that close. Danny Espinosa’s 16.1 mark is over 1.5 points lower than Hamilton’s. When Hamilton does make contact, great things happen. Yet even the most optimistic owners can’t expect his torrid pace to continue. Hamilton’s chief source of his value (aside from the unsustainable BA) is his power, and the odds of him socking bombs at this rate for the duration of the season are skinnier than an insect’s dick. Hamilton is sitting on a 42.9 HR/FB. 42.9 percent! That means half of the fly balls he hits are going over the fence. Even Barry Bonds has never reached the 30 percent mark in a season. Say what you want about Hamilton’s virtues, but even this crazy pace is modest compared to Bonds in his hey day.
Going back to his BA, one can make the argument that Hamilton can hit above .300 since his career-mark is .313. That may be true, but he also has never whiffed at such an epic pace before. Plus, just because he will finish at .300 doesn’t mean he’ll hit for a high BA the rest of the way. You know where I’m going with this.
Hamilton is an intriguing sell-high candidate right now based on the numbers, and that’s not even including the fact that he’s injury-prone. It’s true that Hamilton could win the MVP award, but he plays at a position loaded with talent and finding replacement options won’t be as hard as you think. If you can get a king’s ransom in return for him, make it happen.