Rookie Showdown: OF Hunter Pence vs. 3B Ryan Braun

July 12, 2007

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 With rookies hitters, you expect them to struggle at some point but at the halfway mark of the 2007 season, neither Pence or Braun is slowing down. In this blurb, we will compare and contrast the youngsters and tell you who should steal the NL-ROY award.

Let’s start with Pence, CF for the Houston Astros:

Current Numbers: 275 AB, 11 HR, .342 AVG, 42 RBI, 39 R, 7 SB. 

Pro’s :

Brings a solid average to the plate with the ability to push balls over the fence. Seemingly adjusts on the fly to any spot in the lineup but is seen most in the two-hole. Currently riding an 8 game hitting streak.

Con’s :

Despite not striking out too often for a rook, his plate discipline could be improved since he has only drawn 10 walks. This will only improve with experience.

And for Braun, 3B- Milwaukee Brewers..

Current Numbers: 163 AB, 11 HR, .350 BA, 32 RBI, 36 R, 8 SB

Pro’s:

Has the advantage of placement in a very underrated Brewers offense. Has collected 104 hits in just 163 at bats for an average of  .350 (which almost beats his minor league totals).  Immense power hitter with 11 homers. Like Pence, a clepto on the base paths with 8 steals.

Con’s:

Strikes out often (37)  With experience will become a better hitter against Righties. His OBP is nearly double vs south paws (.600) compared to righties (.310).

While both rookies are having sensational seasons thus far, we believe the NL Rookie of the Year will ultimately go to Braun provided both players stay healthy. If Pence contributed on a better team offensively, then analyzing these two would be a painstaking process.

The Bottom line: Whoever grabbed either of these guys in fantasy leagues is reaping in the rewards. Both players will be fantasy forces for years to come and to think that this is merely the beggining for the young sluggers makes it that much more exciting.


2nd Half Preview: Fantasy Studs Revived

July 10, 2007

Ah yes, the All-Star Break.  Some of us love hearing Chris Berman quack his famous “back back back back back back” during the Home Run Derby, while others could care less and just want to see those homers count for some serious fantasy points. So no matter if you’re hanging on to dear fantasy-life in your league, or standing pretty with a playoff spot all but locked up, you will benefit from this extensive 2nd half preview: Enjoy!

 Batters

Jason Bay – Pirates – Listen carefully to this advice: Do NOT give up on Bay. The Pirates slugger is far too good of a hitter not to salvage a poor 1st half by his standards. Currently hindered by a high strikeout total, Bay will right the ship that you should be sailing on. Look out for a refocused Bay in the 2nd Half. We believe he will finish with a .295 batting average and 30 bombs when it’s all said and done.

Travis Hafner – Indians - Like Bay, Pronk continually swung the stick in the first half, but solid results never followed. Especially concerning is the fact that the Tribe often led the majors in runs scored and Hafner hasn’t made the big splash that fantasy owners had hoped for. Still, Hafner is riding a 10-game hit streak and those who own the beast can count on a resurgence in the 2nd half. He might not hit 46 homers like in 2006, but his career average of 26 long balls is a given.

Andruw Jones – Braves -  This atlanta brave was not living up to the name that his team represents. He often looked scared, weak, cowardly and sometimes defeated at the plate. Inexperienced pitchers facing Andruw in the first half looked like geniuses. Still, the numbers will be there in the end. Jones is on pace for 100 RBI’s, which would be a goal for some up-and-coming sluggers. But that’s just it: AJ has some experience under his belt and that is precisley what will help him get back on track for a more consistent second half. The .211 average is ugly, but you don’t want to be the guy/girl who sells low on him do you?

Derrek Lee – Cubs -  With a batting average of .330, it’s not like D-Lee can’t hit the ball this year. The problem is the lack of pop in his bat (6 homers). Perhaps you can attribute the meager home run totals to a broken wrist that Lee suffered just a year ago. He doesn’t appear tentative with his power swing, but seems tough enough to ignore a potential serious injury (just speculating).

Honorable Mentions: Vernon Wells, Adam LaRoche, Grady Sizemore

Pitchers

Dave Bush – Brewers – Bush was one of our favorite sleepers going into the 2007 season but all he has done for fantsy teams and the Brewers is add more foam to the mix. That’s not to say that he isn’t on the verge of turning things around though. He has won 4 out of his last 5 apperances included a 2-inning relief win against Houston on June 27th. Expect less foam and a rejuvinated Dave Bush in the 2nd half of the season.

Barry Zito – Giants – Zito is notorious for starting seasons off slow. Let’s hope that’s all it is because he currently holds a 6-9 record and a dangerously poor ERA of 4.90. For someone making $126 million, the intense pressure will be on the lefty to improve – or else.

Dontrelle Willis – Marlins - The D-train has been derailed several times this year and fantasy owners are thinking about better modes of transportation. A 7-7 record and 4.72 ERA is forcing fantasy owners in a frenzy about what to do with the lefty for the Marlins. We think the all-star break will benefit D-train the most, since most of his mistakes appear to be mentaly induced.

Joe Nathan – Twins -  The Twins are up to their old tricks again. It seems like the club either blows out teams (cough cough: White Sox) or barely lose. This primarily affects stud closer Joe Nathan, who is on pace for a measly 29 saves. A similar situation occured last year when the Twinkies couldn’t buy a win and Nathan’s arm was rested too much. Expect Joe to be very active in the 2nd half of 2007 however as the Twins fight to once again become the top team in the AL Central – the most impressive of divisions.

Honorable Mentions: Mariano Rivera, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, Bronson Arroyo


Wait a SECOND – Latest news at second base

July 3, 2007

Last week we informed you on the latest happenings at first base. Now we shift our attention to second base with news about Chase Utley, Dan Uggla and the rest of hot hitters in the two-base crew.

Chase Utley – Many draftees of #26 hoped that Utley could continue his dominance at second base in the year 2007. Not only has he lived up to the hype, but he may even be surpassing it. A top voice on the issue of global warming (betcha didn’t know that) is Utley, who also knows a thing or two about playing baseball – evident from his line of 10-25, 5 1b, 2B, 3B, 3 HR, 8 RBI, 7 RUNS, 2 SB, 5 BB just last week. The guy is a monster who should stay hot through the All-Star break and beyond.

Dan Uggla – We’ve raved about him before, but Uggla continues to amaze despite a high strikeout rate and mediocre batting average. While it’s doubtful that he doubles his current total of 17 long balls by season’s end, we can at least have faith that he’ll remain a productive 2B the rest of the way out. 30 total home runs is reasonable for Uggla, who makes each hit count.

Brian Roberts – Raise your hand if you’ve checked B-Rob’s stats at least once this year. Didn’t think so. But the truth is, Roberts is having another productive year for the orange birds. Roberts is mashing to the tune of a .327 BA and 5 home runs. What is more, he has stolen 25 bags. His “name value” seems a bit low after a poor season (by his standars) a year ago so try acquiring him via trade.

Brandon Phillips – Phillips is one of those players that won’t throw you off your lazy boy when it comes to production, but he’ll never piss you off either. Runs have also been friendly to Philips as he has crossed the plate 51 times for the Reds.

Kelly Johnson – KJ has the benefit of the doubt because Braves skipper Bobby Cox seems to love him. And fantasy owner’s probably feel the same way; here is a guy who likely went undrafted even in larger leagues only to hit 8 long jacks, score 50 runs and mantain a respectable .281 batting average. You can tell he is a patient hitter since he will draw around 100 walks this year.

Orlando Hudson - Like all of you intelligent fantasy ‘ballers know, a sleeper is a player that surpasses the radar of many fantasy owners, only for someone to give him a chance to shine. It’s not that people were sleeping on Hudson, they were flat out in a coma with the guy. Most impressive is his consistent production across the board. Judging from his fantasy trend bar graphs (as displayed on cbs sportsline) he is anything but a roller coast ride of fantasy production. He is all-around this year with 7 HR, .302 BA, 46 RBI, 38 Runs and 3 SB.

Honorable Mentions: Ian Kinsler, Placido Polanco, Aaron Hill, Jeff Kent, Ty Wiggington.


A burst at First

June 30, 2007

It’s time to examine the latest with players manning the first bag.

Ryan Howard – Phillies – Early in the season, Howard’s fantasy owners had their jaws hanging to the floor, but for the wrong reason. Howard looked more and more putrid after every strikeout. Then, right when it seemed like his value could only rise, he strains his quad and lands on the DL. But if you don’t know already the man beast in Howard is back, evident from consecutive homers on the 26th and 27th. Okay so he might not hit 53 homers this year, big whoop. Enjoy his gaudy production.

Albert Pujols – Cardinals – Pujols simply is not sending enough balls out. You can certainly point your fingers at a pathetic Cardinals team (that is certainly an acceptable action). Or you can ride the “storm,” and be patient with Pujols who should have a tremendous second half. That Pujols is only on pace for a career low 33 homers is disturbing, no doubt about it. But there is no way that Albert will continue his home run drought for an extended period of time. He is way too talented for that.

Jason Giambi – Jason Giambi has agreed to discuss his steroids admission, although fantasy owners only care about when he is coming back. Well, the latest on Giambi is that he’s strutting around in a boot which is never a good sign. Don’t expect him back until Mid August at the earliest. The possibility still exists that he could kiss 2007 goodbye.

Adrian Gonzalez – Padres – One of the most underrated first basemen is mired in a mild cold spell. But like the city he plays in, he’ll heat up in no time. The thing about Gonzo hitting in a pitchers park is that he really needs his teammates to step up in order to rake in the RBI’s, which hasn’t been the case. Catcher Michael Barrett is still adjusting to the Padres, and Mike Cameron – who bats behind Gonzo – is streaky to begin with. Now might be the best time to nap Adrian from an impatient owner in all fantasy leagues.

Carlos Delgado – Mets – What’s the cause for Delgado’s poor showing thus far?  Is it age? Probably, but that hasn’t stopped teammate Julio Franco from rolling his old bones into the batter’s box on occasion. Delgado will still deposit a homer into the seats on occasion, but his owners need to see it happen on a more regular basis. The .223 batting average is nauseating, but I don’t think Delgado is ready to drop from fantasy prominence just yet. Expect him to successfully regroup for the second half.

Prince Fielder – Brewers – If Fielder was a steak he’d be well done, because this guy is cooking! He’s now on pace for an astonishing 56 home runs, 3 more than Ryan Howard belted last year. What more, his 130 RBI is pace should prompt owners to use a second round selection on Prince for next year’s draft.

Derrek Lee – Cubs – This has been a strange season for #25. He’s hitting for a solid .346 average but the home run totals are weak (6) and uncharacteristically, he was involved in a fight. Since he appealed his suspension, he’ll remain in the lineup on a daily basis. You won’t see him belting 46 long ones as he did in 2005. Even so, he has the talent to prosper as one of the best 1B in the game.

Richie Sexson – Mariners – Don’t look now but the 6’8 power slugger is binging on the long balls. Sexson now has four home runs in his last 7 games and finally looks healthy. Start him in all leagues with confidence while he’s hot.


Did You Know? Inside the numbers

June 18, 2007

Welcome to the first installment of “Did You Know,” a blog post that will test your knowledge on some of the craziest stat lines in fantasy baseball.

Did you know:

Mets SS Jose Reyes is on pace for 89 steals? Talk about a clepto on the base paths.

After a torrid start, A-rod spent a trio of weeks back to reality. Well, the insanity has returned as he is warming up to the tune of a 67 homer, 181 RBI pace. Wow!

On average, less than 2 no-hitters occur per season. This year, Detroit SP Justin Verlander and White Sox’ Mark Buehrle have done it, and there is plenty more baseball left.

Pirates OF Jason Bay only has 1 steal on the year. In the last two years combined he swiped 32 bags.

Rangers slugger Sammy Sosa needs only 1 more long ball to reach 600 for his career.

After a dissapointing 2006, SS Jhonny Peralta is on pace for career highs across the board. Most notably, 28 homers.

Twins closer Joe Nathan is on pace for a meager 33 saves. (They will come)

Giant potential but even worse luck. Matt Cain has an era of 3.15, but his record stands at a paltry 2-7.

And finally Chris Young of the Padres is scheduled to square off with Derrek Lee in a boxing match to see who is actually the nicer guy. Just Kidding.


Player Spotlight: What’s that Snell?

June 14, 2007

Before you look at your dog, brother, sister or dad, check out the box score to find out what that snell was; chances are it’s probably reaking of Ian Snell’s last gem.  Tonight it read complete game, 7 hits, 7 strikeouts and zero earned runs, lowering his national league’s top 10 era to just 2.63. He has also punched out 78 batters in just 90 innings of work.  That’s not bad for a guy who most likely went undrafted in most leagues this season.  Ian Snell doesn’t get much recognition because of the uniform he happens to wear, which everyone would agree is the equivilent of being an Oakland Raider jersey from last year, but keep your eye on this guy in the 2nd half. He might be cheap right now in most fantasy leagues out there, so try trading for the 2nd year star before its too late.

(This player spotlight is brought to you as a special contribution by the late, great Aaron aka. Shorty from Athens, GA.)

 

 


Speedy Thieves and Power Houses

June 14, 2007

As baseball fans, we are treated to a handful of mind-blowing performances every year. Hitters blasting 400 foot homers, pitchers tossin’ no-hitters (cough cough Verlander) and let’s not forget about the rare feat of stealing home plate. All three scenarios have occured  in 2007 and we haven’t even reached the halfway mark.

Baseball is heading down the avenue of more homers and less stolen bases. This diagram from wikipedia illustrates such a dramatic trend. Obviously, one can attribute steroid use as the dominant cause for a sharp surge in long bombs, but what happened to the wheels? Oh trust thee, they’re there – and we’ll help you find ‘em.

Power Houses

Albert Pujols – Pujols himself told you to ignore his struggles, so who listened? Fact is, Albert is punishing the ball lately. Not only has he gotten his average up to a respectable .298, but the homers that we’re so used to seeing have returned as he now has 15 for the year. For your own sake, we hope you didn’t give up on him.

Alex Rodriguez – A-Rod has endured his share of criticism in the Bronx. But all it took was a new year for the bitter heckling to morph into profound cheers for the future hall-of-fame third baseman. On Wednesday, A-rod sent another souvenier into the crowd, boosting his season total to a league-leading 25 “see ya laters.”

Prince Fielder – Many baseball enthusiasts probably envisioned a solid year out of the 2nd year first baseman. But it would have taken a reputable pyschic to count on seeing 23 homers fly off the bat of Prince Fielder at this stage of his career. Assuming he keeps this pace, it wouldn’t be unfathomable to see him go as early as 2nd round in fantasy drafts for 2008.

Adam Dunn – Dunn started the season off strong but has put on the brakes as far as the long balls go. He’s not gettin’ it dunn in that department considering his pace for a “meager” 37 home runs. Most hitters would love to smack that many, but the homers are shadowed by a low batting average and high strike out total.

Justin Morneau – Morneau is the poster boy for power. His swing is both natural and dangerous. Pitchers who don’t locate their pitches properly might as well say toodles, as the Canadian will make ‘em pay the price. His home run total stands at 17. You can expect 120 rbi’s as well.

Base Thieves

Chone Figgins – Figgins is making up for lost time on the base paths. Truth is, locking down 13 steals is impressive for missing a month of playing time; the feat has been overshadowed by Chone’s recent hitting surge.

Rafael Furcal/Juan Pierre – You can blame Furcal’s bothersome knee for the lack of steals but sharing a lineup with fellow basestealer Juan Pierre doesn’t help either. The two simply cannot duplicate their gaudy stolen base totals in that dodger lineup. Currently Furcal has only 7 with Pierre at 20. Although 20 steals for Juan is good, you likely won’t get much along with it.

Hanley Ramirez- Han Ram is a beast in all categories, but steals tend to be his top craft. With 21 pilferings, Han-Ram should end the year with a healthy 53 at year’s end. For those of you who own him, enjoy the consistent speed from the SS.

Jose Reyes – On pace for 83 steals?  No way, JOSE!  Ohh, believe it. Reyes is a machine on the base paths, and listing him way down here is completely arbitrary. Although we doubt he will snatch 83 bases, topping 70 is a sure bet. Be glad you have him – if you do.


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