Monday, June 10, 2013

Buy Low, Sell High

We spend so much time prepping for that sacred Draft Day…and then it all becomes useless as soon as the first pitch of the season is thrown. While the draft is the single most important part of our fantasy baseball season, you can still turn your fortune around, either helping or ruining it, by how you maintain your squad.  “Know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.” Or, if you are not as savvy as the character known by Kenny Rogers as “The Gambler,” then just read my articles and do as I say. Well, unless you would rather be the Houston Astros of fantasy baseball.

Buy Low:

Jay Bruce: Act fast because he has already starting picking up his game after a slow start. As one of the best young power hitters in baseball, Bruce has quietly improved his HR total in every season since his rookie year in 2008. Bruce has been a streaky hitter in his short, promising career and therefore his total of 1 HR in the month of April has all signs pointing up from here on out.

Jason Heyward: After a fluke stint on the DL (appendectomy), Heyward is starting to show us signs of the mega prospect he was 3 short spring trainings ago. While there isn’t a stat to prove it, Heyward’s bat speed is starting to pick up as shown (and heard) by the menacing force behind every ball that leaves his bat. Over his career, Jason has a batting average of 30 points higher over the second half of the season. The J-Hey kid will bring up his average in no time, so act now before it becomes obvious.

Zack Greinke: Fluky injuries are becoming the theme of this article, and none were more unpredictable than Zack and his collarbone. After a torrid start, Greinke was sidetracked by a DL stint which is surely scaring owners who have paid attention to his last 3 subpar starts. Look at these outings as rehab starts and go grab Greinke before he reverts to his opening season form.
Other Options: Matt Kemp, Giancarlo Stanton, David Price

Sell High:

Starling Marte: If you were smart enough to grab him in the later rounds of your drafts, I know it is going to be even harder to let him go because you just KNEW he was going to be good. That’s why you took him, right? Well, at least that’s what we are going to tell our friends while conveniently not mentioning the draft picks that didn’t work out. With a high K rate, low walk rate and not much plate discipline, look for his average to revert more towards the .263 that he batted in the month of May.

Josh Donaldson: Wait, who??? You can thank me later for saving you a google search. Through my research, it was evident that Josh was the least known player on this list and that may be the only speed bump when trying to trade him. As a 27 year old with minimal major league experience we are going to have to expect some regression from the waiver wire star. Here is another helpful link that will help you sell Josh… Every time you hear the word “quick chop” just replace it with “Josh Donaldson” and replace every type of food with the word “baseball.”

Nate McLouth: Compared to the Nate we have come to know in recent years, this McLouth is playing like one of the all time greats. McLouth has been all over the map during his inconsistent career and this is where the Buck Showalter magic ends. Get what you can and even if it doesn’t work out, you will be happy that he won't be on your team to destroy your team batting average come playoff time.

Other options: Patrick Corbin, Vernon Wells, Dexter Fowler

Shock Value: A Look at This Seasons Draft Steals

Shock Value
Zach Friedland

            When the fantasy baseball owners prepare for their draft, they go straight to the top for players to carry their squads.  Typically first round values like Joey Votto or Miguel Cabrera lead your team to victory, while you scour the late rounds for some talent to contribute to push your team over the top.  These five players were late round steals, who have more than outperformed their average draft position (ADP) spots.

Player/Team/Position/Average Draft Position/Average Draft Round (Yahoo Sports)

Chris Davis Baltimore 1B/OF 138.7 12.9
Davis, a power-hitting player with eligibility at two positions has long been known as a boom or bust prospect.  He entered the year following a successful campaign with concern only with his 169 strikeouts.  Despite still averaging about a strikeout per game, Davis leads the Majors in home runs with 20 and is second in the bigs in RBI’s.  Don’t expect to his split line to stay as high as his current .357/.440/.754 as his strikeouts should continue to push his average down closer to .310.  As a 13’Th round pick, Chris Davis projects as an immediate keeper for next season.

Jean Segura Milwaukee SS 246 22.2
            Segura was projected at a late round pick to undrafted free agent, but the Brewers rising star has done more than be a handy waiver-wire pickup.  The speedy shortstop is making headlines no one would’ve expected from a 23 year old undrafted prospect straight from the Dominican Republic.  Segura has erupted in his first chance in a starting role batting behind emerging star, Norichika Aoki.  In the two hole, Segura has produced 8 homers with 23 RBI’s and 31 runs to go along with 15 stolen bases.  This is highlighted by his absurd .344/.382/.541 split line and 6 triples.  Expect Segura to surge to a top 5 season among ML shortstops, so trade for him before the value is too high to acquire him.

Domonic Brown Philadelphia OF 245 22.1
            Brown has gotten a chance the previous two seasons in limited roles with an influx of injuries to Phillies teammates.  While he has not made the most of his chances in those two seasons, his performance was good enough to warrant a starting nod this year.  With job security, Brown has exploded onto the scene with 17 homers and 42 RBI’s.  His OBP has not jumped tremendously, but his average and slugging percentage have due to his power surge and a sense of responsibility with an otherwise anemic Phillies lineup with numerous injuries.  While the going is hot, jump on Domonic Brown.

Clay Bucholz Boston SP 215 19.7

            Bucholz is a starter that has always shown signs of extreme talent and confidence.  A steady starter for the Red Sox since 2007, the gangly Texan has exceeded expectations for a starter going between the 19’Th and 20’Th rounds of standard drafts.  Coming off a subpar season with a 4.56 ERA, .263 BAA, and 6.1 K/9, Bucholz has settled down this season.  He holds a 8.9 K/9, but don’t expect that to hold up as his history shows a regression to more of a 6-7 K/9 rate.  His ERA has plummeted to a stingy 1.62 and has dropped his WHIP from 1.33 to 1.02.  As a result, he has started the season 8-0 in his first 11 starts and teamed with Jon Lester to re-form to one of the top 1-2 punches in the Majors.  The Red Sox are 10-1 in his 11 starts and as a result, has fueled the team to a 35-23 record and a 2.5 game lead over the Orioles and Yankees.  

From Now to the All Star Break: Top Players

The month of June is Joyous time of the year, School is finishing up, summer vacations are just around the corner and the baseball season is already a third of the way through With the All Star Break only a month away. It is this time of year when we have a clearer view of what may be in store for the remainder of the season and are more realistic than optimistic for certain fantasy players’ production. So for June, I ask you to fire up the barbecue, grab a cold drink, dust off the patio furniture and enjoy my top players to start on any given day leading up to the All Star break.  

Dominic Brown OF, Philadelphia Phillies

Mentioned prior to the season as one of the top fantasy sleepers heading into 2013, Brown enjoyed a productive spring training followed by a relatively slow April with a line of 8 R, 3 HR, 11 RBI,0 SB, .233 AVG. Unlike prior seasons, the Phillies organizations stuck with him and he rewarded their faith by posting stellar numbers (17 R, 12 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB, .303 AVG) while earning N.L player of the month honours. His success has continued into June and his recent production can no longer be considered a hot streak rather, expected numbers of a legitimate MVP candidate. The power and the tools are real and were main reasons why Brown was tagged a sleeper over seasons prior but now will remain a top 5 outfielder for the foreseeable future.

Carlos Gonzalez OF, Colorado Rockies

The top outfielder over the course this season, “CARGO” has been a model of consistency posting solid fantasy numbers month to month. A lot of critics will make excuses for his production based on Colorado’s thin air home advantage that causes the ball to explode off of bats into orbit turning average players into fantasy studs. Cargo however, is actually hitting better away from Coors Field much better in fact as he has 11 HR away and only 6 HR at home with a batting average 80 points above his home average. Typically as the season heads deeper into summer, the warm air at Coors provides a boost to hitters so I expect Cargo’s numbers to continue while hitting away and improve even more as the summer drags on which will make him the top outfielder in the game over the remainder of the season and is a must start in all contests leading up to the All-Star break.

Miguel Cabrera 3B, Detroit Tigers

I keep waiting for this mammoth perennial MVP and last year’s Triple Crown Winner to suffer an Albert Pujols like slump but he continues to show no signs of slowing down ever. Leading the Majors with 67 RBI and over the course of his 10 year career his split stats show more than 50 home runs in each month which suggest the production will remain and consider him the top infield and corner option play on any given day.

Jean Segura SS, Milwaukee Brewers

An unknown prior to the start of the season, Segura has proven to be Milwaukee’s best kept secret as he is the #2 Short stop in the majors in 2013 only behind Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki. In his first full season, Segura has been a .342 hitter and on pace for 30 HR and 40 SB. Over the last 30 days Segura has posted better fantasy numbers than Tulowitzki and while Troy offers better power than Segura, Segura can do more on the base baths and for our Amped Fantasy daily contests is a safer bet for points on any given day.

Chris Davis 1B/OF, Baltimore Orioles

Who is the top first baseman in the first 2 months of 2013? If you read the name above this line you may well be surprised that it’s not a familiar household name (Pujols, Fielder, Votto) but that of Baltimore’s Chris Davis, a once promising prospect who fizzled out in Texas and its hitter park of all places.
Texas is a distant memory for Davis however, who enjoyed a career year last year with 33 HR and 85 RBI in his second year with Baltimore. This year Davis already has 20 HR and 52 RBI which puts him on pace to almost double his previous career year. Although he is unlikely to hit over 60 home runs, his split stats show that he is a better hitter prior to the All-Star break than post so start him with confidence until then and expect slightly less but still solid production following the break.

Joe Mauer Catcher, Minnesota Twins

Minnesota has remained relevant over the course of what was expected to be a down year for them with aging or injured veterans and few prospects. Through this, Mauer has continued to be a consistent offensive centerpiece for them and while avoiding the injury bug so far and is a top 3 Catcher. Over the course of his career, the often injured Mauer has been a better pre-All Star hitter than post and in contests that require a catcher; Mauer is a top choice you can hardly find fault with. Mauer is a catcher that often receives starts at 1B and DH to keep him fresh as the season progresses so he is always less likely to be given a random day off.

Justin Sperdakes

Fantasy Expert

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Top Perfomers: May

April can be the cruelest of months, just ask Josh Hamilton, Matt Kemp or any other underperforming high profile player who have battled to find their groove through the first month of Baseball. Their views might not be shared by the players listed below however, who have all had great starts to their season and more importantly helped many of our contestants win their daily matchups. To help provide you some winning insight, below I have named my top picks to help you win your matchups this weekend.


Carlos Santana, Cleveland
Carlos has been on fire at the plat recently, after a relatively slow start in April. Carlos offers you plenty of pop this weekend as he faces off against division rival Minnesota Twins at home. Hitting the most homeruns of his short career against Minnesota, and drawing a pitching staff that currently sports a 4.45 ERA on the road this year should allow Carlos to continue his “evil ways” (Santana, 1969) which has seen him go 9 for 18 at the plate with 3 runs, 1 homerun and 4 RBI in the last 7 days while also chipping in 1 stolen base for good measure. Viva Carlos Santana.


Miguel Cabrera, Detroit
Miggy is an obvious choice here, as last years’ Triple Crown winner and annual MVP candidate, you can’t really argue with this choice on any given day. Cementing him as the top Corner infield play this weekend is the result of a road trip to Houston and their hitter friendly ball park and generous pitching staff. The Thursday to Sunday set should be batting practice for Cabrera, and is the safest play this week as the top corner player.
Note* if you are looking for an under the radar player for this spot only one player has been hotter in the past 7 days than Miggy and that is Edwin Encarnacion, of the Toronto Blue Jays with 8 runs, 6 homeruns and 9 RBI.


Jean Segura, Milwaukee
Our top rated Short Stop after April, Segura is a 5 tool player, that consistently provides fantasy points through his base running and hitting. A relatively unknown prior to the season, this Dominican Republic born player may soon be mentioned among the Reyes and Ramirez’s of his fellow country. For the season Segura is hitting over .300 with 13 runs, 3 homeruns, 9 RBI and 7 stolen bases.  He plays at home against St. Louis this week but all of his homeruns have been in Milwaukee and he is simply the best short stop play right now but may still be under the radar which could win you some contests this weekend.


Nate McLouth
The journeyman outfielder currently with Baltimore has had a career rival so far this year at the plate. A hitter that often struggled with his average over his career batted .346 in April and is the highest scoring fantasy outfielder over the last week. Baltimore has been on a dreaded west coast trip that concludes with a series against the struggling Los Angeles Angels and its bottom 3 pitchers but McLouth is a road warrior who is posting better fantasy points away than at home this year. Currently McLouth is batting .593 this with 11 runs, 7 RBI, 2 homeruns and 4 stolen bases over the last 7 games and is a good bet to continue dominating against a weak Angels pitching staff.

Nelson Cruz
A solid outfielder and focal point of Texas’ offense, Cruz has been outstanding in Texas making Josh Hamilton a distant memory for Rangers fans. Cruz has always been a top fantasy outfielder that has been prone to injury and streakiness but this career .260 hitter is batting .306 after the first month and has contributed 20 RBI which is the third highest total among outfielders. Cruz, like all Texas players is assisted by a solid hitters park where he is a career .300 hitter. Against Boston this weekend at home, Cruz should continue to have success against Boston’s pitching staff as he is batting .529 against Jon Lester over 17 at-bats and has also had success against Felix Doubront and John Lackey and as a whole, Boston pitching struggled mightily from 2010-2012 in Texas. Play Nelson this weekend and you will “Cruz” to a payoff.

Amped Fantasy Guru
Justin Sperdakes

Updated Rankings: Top 20 at each position!

Position Name Team Rank
1B/DH Chris Davis Bal 1
1B/DH Prince Fielder Det 2
1B/DH Joey Votto Cin 3
1B/DH Paul Goldschmidt Ari 4
1B/DH Mark Reynolds Cle 5
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion Tor 6
1B/DH Anthony Rizzo ChC 7
1B/DH Albert Pujols LAA 8
1B/DH Michael Cuddyer Col 9
1B/DH Allen Craig StL 10
1B/DH Mike Napoli Bos 11
1B/DH Billy Butler KC 12
1B/DH Adrian Gonzalez LAD 13
1B/DH James Loney TB 14
1B/DH Yonder Alonso SD 15
1B/DH Ryan Howard Phi 16
1B/DH Mitch Moreland Tex 17
1B/DH Justin Moreneau Min 18
1B/DH Kendrys Morales Sea 19
1B/DH Freddie Freeman Atl 20

Find the rest of the rankings after the jump!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Top MLB Storylines to Follow in 2013

By: Justin Sperdakes

Each baseball season begins with a new series of storylines to follow throughout the season. This “buzz” is usually generated by a combination of spring training performance, offseason transactions and injuries. Below are the top five “fantasy relevant” storylines heading into a season full of them. 

The Replacements
The New York Yankees, long known for their perennial courtship of World Series Championships begin their season in a peculiar situation. They have the high-paid star sluggers as per usual, but the spring has not been kind to the likes of Curtis Granderson and Mark Texiera, uniting the star sluggers on the disabled list (DL) with legends Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees brought in Kevin Youkilis, Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner to provide some offensive power until their stars return from the DL. All of these “replacements” are shadows of their former selves but if either Wells or Youkilis have a strong April/May, they should continue to receive considerable playing time throughout the season and produce valuable fantasy stats.

Power Surge in the West
Considered a division with great pitching and pitcher-friendly parks with the exception of the Texas Rangers Ball Park in Arlington, the former four- team AL West has undergone a facelift that should produce more offense than in past seasons. For starters, a fifth team was added by moving the Houston Astros and their hitter-friendly park from the NL Central. Playing in Houston nine games a year while also hosting their weak pitching staff nine times should provide extra offense to Texas, Seattle, Los Angeles and Oakland. The second factor that should result in an overall increase in offense are the changes made to Seattle’s ball park(SAFECO) over the offseason in which they reduced their Left field distance by twelve feet and reduced overall fence height by nine feet. Seattle also added some power to the lineup in the offseason with Kendrys Morales, Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay and Michael Morse. Hitters from Seattle and Oakland could have increased fantasy relevance this year, while Texas and Los Angeles should continue to pad their stats.

Fading Aces
Once dominant front-line starts, Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum experienced down years in 2012 with each posting ERA’s above 4.40. Through spring, indications are that these two former flame throwers have lost some zip on their fastballs and thus reducing the effects of their secondary pitches. A common occurrence with starting pitchers and particularly power pitchers, once they lose “it”, they do not get “it” back. Some of them will re-invent themselves as finesse pitchers but the dominant “stuff” that once made them unhittable and fantasy studs are gone and therefore should be avoided for fantasy purposes unless they begin to dominate early in the season or come at a decent value.

Sophomore Slumps
Two first-year hitters posted spectacular seasons, living up to their hype and top prospect status. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout exceeded expectations, posting valuable offensive numbers despite their ripe ages below twenty-two.  This early success is not typical of a major leaguer and usually a player so young requires more minor league experience.  There is always talk about sophomore slumps in every sport, some experience it(A-ROD) and some don’t(Griffey) but it wouldn’t be entirely unexpected if either of these two players experienced extended struggles this season as pitchers and teams learn more about their tendencies. Mike Trout is a safer pick for continued success as the Angels added more protection in the lineup in the form of Josh Hamilton (and Pujols last year) which should reduce Trout’s pressure and allow him to see more quality pitches without being walked. Harper is another story, playing for a team (Washington) that lead the majors in wins last with 98, faces increased expectations with less protection than trout. Washington’s most notable addition is Denard Span, which is good but will not keep Harper from Pressing at times and putting too much of the teams weight on his shoulders. Bottom line with these two players is that right now Trout is the better and safer player, but Harper is still a top 10 value at Outfield and within a couple years could be the top slugger in all of baseball.

Every offseason includes teams making headlining trades or free agent signings in hopes of contenting for a championship.  Offensively, the teams that made the biggest noise were Atlanta, Los Angeles Angels and Toronto. Atlanta added both BJ and Justin Upton to a lineup that already included stud sluggers, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman. Toronto added Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio and Melky Cabrera and the Los Angeles Angels added Josh Hamilton. Josh should produce right away and continue to post top 5 fantasy stats for an outfielder. Toronto and Atlanta may struggle early with chemistry but should have many more run-producing opportunities from their new teammates.  For a more in-depth analysis of players that have switched teams this season, check out this post by one of our fantasy experts, Anthony.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Change of Scenery

By: Anthony Mulvihill

“This is a new year. A new beginning. And things will change.” ― Taylor Swift

Yup, I just used a Taylor Swift quote to start out a fantasy baseball article. What does Taylor Swift know about fantasy baseball? Well, maybe more than we think. In recent years we have seen many instances where a player has rejuvenated, thrived, or even saved their careers with a minor change in scenery. And now that I have captured my 13 year old female audience, lets take a look at how we can use her theory to help us win your league.

Jose Bautista made a minor alteration to his swing and led the league in HRs. AJ Burnett is a good example of how a change can help and hurt a player, from completely crashing and burning in New York and then saving his stock with a good season in small market Pittsburgh. Since it is impossible to find a constant trend when it comes to players switching teams, I have taken the liberty of breaking down the top 3 changes and how it should effect your rankings.

Justin and BJ Upton, Atlanta Braves - The brothers Upton were the topic of many conversations during this jam packed offseason. First, BJ signed an Atlanta franchise record for a free agent contract at 5 years, $75 million. Shortly after, Justin chose the Braves as one of the few teams he would waive his no trade clause for in order to play in the OF with his brother and Jason Heyward (Up, Up and JHey). There is surely something to be said about both players choosing to come to Atlanta and joining one of the most potent lineups in the National League. With both players scheduled to bat in the middle of the order, expect each to improve their RBI and HR totals of a year ago unless Andrelton Simmons struggles and BJ is moved to the leadoff spot, which will result in more runs and SBs. Either way, I see a major win-win for the Uptons and anyone who drafts them this spring.

RA Dickey, Toronto Blue Jays - Dickey has been a tremendous success story, going from career journeyman to Cy Young winner at the ripe young age of 38. Unfortunately, this is where the story takes a Vernon Wells-esque turn for the worse. The aging Dickey moves from the NL to the AL to one of the best hitters parks in the league and will be facing the lineups of a much stronger AL East division. In the words of fantasy analyst Taylor Swift, “It's hard to fight when the fight ain't fair.” Well there you have it folks, let somebody else overpay for his inevitable downfall.

Josh Hamilton, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim - We all know how talented Josh Hamilton can be. Between injuries, addictions and relapses, its scary to think about how much potential Josh has wasted. Hamilton reported to camp in the best shape of his life, 25 pounds lighter and consuming less caffeine than usual. His new diet has led to a much cleaner lifestyle and will be key in maintaining his health throughout the course of the year. You are what you eat, which makes Josh fresh, healthy and...chicken? Hmmm...draft him safely in the first round and reap the benefits of a top 3 player.

Here are some other changes that will prove to be successful:
Jose Reyes, TOR - Batting at the top of the order for a very dangerous lineup
James Shields, KC - Workhorse with high K rate. Disclaimer: he is a much better second half pitcher.
Joel Hanrahan, BOS - Better team  = more save opportunities
Shin-Soo Choo, CIN - Moving to a hitters ballpark

Downgrade these offseason movers:
Zack Greinke, LAD - Injuries, inconsistency and social disorder... all bad for a big market team.
Melky Cabrera, TOR - Was nothing more than a 4th OF before PED scandal.
Michael Bourn, CLE - Speed has already begun to decline, leaving him with not much to work with.

By: Anthony Mulvihill