Transaction Scripts: HanRam and Panda in Beantown

HanRam bring his high OPS back to where he started in Boston for five years at 90 million dollars.
HanRam bring his high OPS back to where it all began for him

What does $190 million dollars over five years buy nowadays? If you are the Boston Red Sox, it appears that it will be a 28 year old third baseman nicknamed Panda and a 30 year old metrically challenged shortstop prone to injuries and a somewhat mercurial clubhouse personality with great offensive prowess. With conflicting reports swirling this morning, Pablo Sandoval (5 years, 100 million) and Hanley Ramirez (5 years, 90 million) have agreed to contracts with the Red Sox. While nothing is official yet the fantasy ripples of these moves are interesting. Where will Hanley play? Rumor has it that the Sox signed him to play left field. However, he’s only played 10 career games in the outfield and learning the Green Monster is difficult even for good outfielders. Oh yeah, and they also already have Yoenis Cespedes out there. What happens to he and Xander Bogaerts?

It is not a stretch to say that Boston needs to add some pitching for the upcoming season since right now the projected starters are Clay Buchholz, Joe Kelly and Allen Webster along with whoever else they add going forward. Since their farm system is well stocked, it stands to reason that if the Red Sox do not get Jon Lester via free agency, they would be big players in the Cole Hamels trade market along with other pitchers on the block. This is a work in progress to say the least but the Red Sox are positioning themselves for a very eventful winter. As for the players they obtained today, here are their 2014 seasons first:

Pablo Sandoval 2014: 157 G, 68 R, 16 HR, 73 RBI .279/.324/.415
Hanley Ramirez 2014:
128 G, 64 R, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 14 SB .283/.369/.448

Not bad lines to be sure and even though Hanley was limited by injuries, his production in home runs and stolen bases with shortstop eligibility keeps him on our radars. But like Troy Tulowitzki, his inability to stay healthy (124 G average last three years) gives us caution for reaching on HanRam too soon in drafts. As for Pablo Sandoval, his consistency is clouded by the fact that people want him to be a power-hitting third baseman. But since his 2011 season with 23 home runs and a career high 16% HR/FB rate, his three season since have leveled out. He has averaged 14 home runs per year over that span. His HR/FB% the last three years are 9.5, 8.3, 8.6, which are solid but not spectacular. Sandoval’s career HR/FB% is 10.3 and is buoyed by his 2009 and 2011 seasons. With about 38-million per year for the two players combined here are their three year averages to see what the Red Sox are buying:

Pablo Sandoval 3 year average: 135 G, 60 R, 14 HR, 72 RBI .280/.335/.424
Hanley Ramirez 3 year average:
124 G, 68 R, 19 HR, 73 RBI, 15 SB .299/.368/.506

Sandoval's fantasy power numbers should see a jump but do not pay for over 20 HR's
Sandoval’s power numbers should see a jump, but don’t get too excited

Whether you are a Red Sox fan or an interested fantasy owner, the biggest concern here has to be the games played per season for each player. Yes Sandoval’s games played have increased over the last three years while HanRam’s have been a yo-yo but given his propensity to streakiness, how will Panda react to the Boston media surge when he is in the throes of a slump? Ramirez should be more acclimated to the media crush after his time in Los Angeles but Red Sox Nation is nothing if not demanding. What will happen the first time Ramirez doesn’t run a ball out or is pouting about whatever he pouts about? Both players have talent and the ability to thrive in Boston if healthy.

For Sandoval, the Green Monster may become his best friend from both sides of the plate, San Francisco depresses power numbers but this is an area that should increase for Panda moving forward. Here is Sandoval’s slugging zone profile from last year:

sandoval slugging zone profile
A friend of mine asked me to research his home runs from the last three seasons in relation to Fenway and only one of his home runs would have been lost but I venture that he has more to gain in Boston. Here is his home run tracker from last year with the Fenway overlay:
Sandoval 2014
As for Hanley Ramirez, his OPS over the last three years is .874 with Miami and Los Angeles as his home ballparks. The key here is not only keeping Hanley on the field, but keeping him happy. These signings are a clear message to the rest of the American League that Boston is once again going for it in 2015. It should be fun to see what moves come next, not only for Boston but for the rest of the American League, including the East. As for their respective fantasy numbers, both should see bumps in production hitting in a potent Boston lineup. I’d be comfortable paying for a Pablo Sandoval that hits 20 homers and .285+. It’s all about the health with Hanley, when he is on the field he produces at a high level. Averaging 19 homers and 15 steals over the last three seasons in only 124 games Ramirez can be fantasy gold when active. But predicting how many games he will play is the problem. If he can play 130 games this year then Ramirez can be worth the second round price tag. But that value will drop if he loses shortstop eligibility as he moves forward unless his production in Boston across all categories sees a huge jump. Feeling lucky?

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, ESPN.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/qPVZex (Ramirez), http://goo.gl/hhYxFA (Sandoval)

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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

Transaction Scripts: Adam LaRoche to the White Sox

LaRoche replaces Dunn in Chicago and could be in line for a career year
LaRoche replaces Adam Dunn in Chicago and could be in line for a career year

How does a new hitting environment change a slugger’s value? When it was rumored that Adam LaRoche received a two year twenty-million dollar contract I started researching his stats in case he signed. Washington is neutral in terms of ballpark effect, so it was going to be interesting to see where LaRoche would land. It’s been confirmed that he signed with the White Sox and should slot in to bat right behind Rookie of the Year Jose Abreau and ahead of Avisail Garcia. Then I followed up on Fangraphs.com to see how their ballpark effect rated the “Cell”, and saw that it was tied for third for home runs. Entering drafts in 2014, Adam LaRoche had an average draft position of 270 and was the 39th first baseman taken. At a time where fantasy owners are craving home runs, how does a player that has averaged 26 home runs over the last three years fall so far? Easy. LaRoche, while being a solid ballplayer is not sexy name. Due to our incessant pursuit of the next big thing, players like LaRoche fall below the value they provide. In fact, here is the average LaRochian season over the last three years:

Adam LaRoche last 3-year average: 140 G, 73 R, 26 HR, 92 RBI, 3 SB .259/.362/.455

His statistics are not overwhelming but you can set your watch to them. Moving to a hitter’s environment has to grow his home run numbers over 30 this year. Here is his map featuring his home runs in 2014 with an overlay of the Cell:

laroche chicago overlay
In 2014, LaRoche’s average standard distance for a home run was 396.7 feet with average speed off the bat of 103.8 MPH. Chicago used sixteen hitters in the clean-up position last year. While they were not unproductive, it does give a hint as to what Adam LaRoche’s ceiling could be:

White Sox “4” hitters 2014: 162 G, 76 R, 35 HR, 94 RBI, 4 SB .242/.307/.462

I am not going out on a limb here when I say that LaRoche will be a big upgrade over Adam Dunn. What intrigues me the most will be if LaRoche goes from under-rated to over-rated in upcoming fantasy drafts. Similar to Brian McCann moving to the American League, LaRoche will have to use the opposite field more to be successful. Teams will be shifting him to try and take hits away. Here is his spray chart from this season:

laroche spray chart 2014
My favorite is his zone profile. While you can shift a player, he really hurts mistakes middle-in and middle-low. You can shift a hitter all you want but you cannot keep the ball in the park. Inside pitches at the Cell will be souvenirs in 2015:

laroche zone profile slugging
With a look to the future I am comfortable paying for Adam LaRoche to hit 30-35 home runs and even exceed that total if he is comfortable in his adjustment to the American League and the designated position. This is also a huge signing for the White Sox to keep Jose Abreu fresh as he had leg problems last year. Adam Eaton should also see a bump in value as runs scored will be aplenty. However, this is a team that needs an upgrade in pitching and the bullpen if they wish to contend. I applaud the signing of LaRoche and this signals that the American League Central will be fun to watch. Sometimes steady can be sexy. welcome to the Chicago Adam LaRoche!

Statistical credits: ESPN.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, Baseball-Reference.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/usnmSl

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!

NFL Pick ‘Em; Bovada Bets for Week 12

Over the course of the last two football seasons I have played with some pocket change on Bovada.lv. It’s a website where you can bet on the lines of NFL games to MLB games to The Oscars (seriously). Over time I have had a lot of fun making bets. I usually partake in betting on straight lines, but I’ve also been known to get involved in other kinds, including sweetheart teasers.

What is a sweetheart teaser?

A sweetheart teaser for the most part plays out the same way as a regular teaser, except a sweetheart gives the bettors even more points. You can shift the line by 10 to 13 points in football (that’s nearly two touchdowns). There are a couple of differences. While regular teasers can include up to 10 teams, a sweetheart can include only three or four teams. Also, if any of your selections push on a sweetheart, you lose the entire bet.

Also, check out this link to gain a better understanding of the NFL spread betting.

As you can see, sometimes the gamble can be quite large when betting a teaser. Who doesn’t like a good risk once in a while? From this week forward, I am going to outline some of the bets I love, hate and my sweetheart teaser of the week!

Week 11 Recap:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers +7 (-105): I was a huge fan of this bet and it paid off handsomely. The Bucs jumped out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, winning 27-7.

Cincinnati Bengals + 7 ½ (-115): The Saints haven’t been good at football all season. The Bengals were coming off some recent struggles but the line was too high for a team that just wasn’t playing well either. The Bengals took it to ‘em and cleared another great bet.

San Diego Chargers – 10 ½:  This is a bet I was avoiding, but the Chargers came through and helped me make it a 3 for 3 week.

Sweetheart Teaser: This played out exactly how I anticipated. The Seahawks at +7, Raiders at +16 ½ and the Patriots at +9. I love betting sweetheart teasers, especially in weeks like this where they cleared completely.

Overall, I was 4-0 in my bets last week and look to carry that success into week 12!

As of this writing there are no lines on the Bengals/Texans, Dolphins/Chargers, Bills/Jets or Broncos/Dolphins.

Week 12 bets I love:

San Francisco 49ers -9 (-115)

Gut call here. Washington is God awful as we saw last week against Tampa. The 49ers defense is much better and they should smoke the ‘Skins in week 12. Always go with your gut!

Seattle Seahawks +7 (+110)

The other side of this line is being bet on heavily, as the -7 for Arizona is at -130 now. It’s understandable, as Seattle clearly isn’t the team it was a season ago. The Cardinals have been fantastic all season long. However, I don’t expect them to go into Seattle and beat the Seahawks with Drew Stanton at the helm. After a tough loss to Kansas City last week, I think Marshawn Lynch and company blow out the birds.

Ravens +3 ½

Yep, I’m picking on the Saints again this week. They are a 3 and a half point favorite against a better Ravens squad. It’s the dome factor, obviously. If the line was right at 3, I would not be as excited to jump on this bet. However, if the Saints do pull off a win, I think it’s by a field goal.

Week 12 bets I’m avoiding:

Indianapolis Colts -14 (-115)

There’s always a chance this game won’t be a blowout. I don’t like the bet. I’m not telling you not to make it, just not one I’m investing in this week.

My sweetheart teaser lock of the week:

teaser

We’ve already talked about the Seattle bet, and getting it at -1 is even sexier.

The Lions face a red-hot Patriots team in New England this weekend. The line is large because it will take place in chilly Foxboro. However, the Lions defense is legit and they can really rush the passer. If they can get to Brady, they have a shot to win. Even if they don’t though, I can’t see them losing by two touchdowns. I love the 13 ½ I’m getting. Sign me up.

The Buccaneers showed up last week and shut down the Redskins, but they have a tougher task in week 12, and that’s the Chicago Bears. The Bucs are also 4-1 against the spread on the road this season. Chicago is going to win this game but I can’t see them just destroying Tampa. With that, they are the third team in my teaser.

Ricky is a co-owner, fantasy sports writer and gambling man at The Sports Script. Follow him on the Twitter machine @rickygangster!

Ricky’s Week 12 5-Pack Fantasy Sleepers

Each week, Ricky Valero will unleash his 5-pack of fantasy sleepers for the upcoming week. These players are going to make for great value plays while you construct your weekly DFS lineups.

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Be sure to tune in to The Sports’s Scripts two weekly fantasy football shows as well! The Fantasy Forecatser: Football is live on Tuesday at 10 PM EST and Sunday morning before kickoff at 11:30 AM EST! You can stream live or subscribe here.

For season-long fantasy football chatter, follow Ricky on Twitter @rickygangster!

Fantasy Football Boom Or Bust: Week 12

Shady McCoy
Fantasy owners will need a big day out of Shady McCoy and he has the matchup to do it

Boom:

Jay Cutler: As bad a season as the Bears have had, Jay Cutler has actually been a top-ten fantasy option. He has passed for 2+ touchdowns in 7 games and has accounted for all but 3 of Chicago’s offensive touchdowns. This week, the Bears have a home game against the Bucs who have allowed every quarterback they’ve faced to throw for 200+ yards and 5 to throw for 300 yards. Another plus for Cutler is that his defense is absolutely terrible so there will never be a lack of opportunity to sling the ball around.

Joe Flacco: The Ravens come out of their bye with a trip to New Orleans. Every quarterback that has traveled to New Orleans has thrown for at least 200 yards. The quarterbacks who have done this are Mike Glennon, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton, Teddy Bridgewater and Aaron Rodgers. The only top-tier quarterback in this group, Rodgers, torched the Saints for 425 yards and 3 touchdowns. Expect the Saints and Ravens to have a good ol’ fashion shootout.

LeSean McCoy: The Titans have now allowed teams to rush for 220, 204, 200, 174 and 153 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. With McCoy having 20+ carries in 7 games this year, I see no reason why he can’t slice and dice the Titan’s for a big day.

Shane Vereen: Detroit has allowed 100 yards on the ground only once and just 4 rushing touchdowns all year. These are all terrible numbers for a running back, right? Good thing Shane Vereen does most of his damage via the passing game. The Lions are allowing 50 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs on average. In the 5 games when Vereen received 12 or more touches this year, he averages 85 yards and has 4 total touchdowns. Look for Vereen to be the featured back in New England’s offense this week.

Denard Robinson: Since he has been named the starter, Robinson is averaging 97 yards on the ground and a touchdown per game. His opponent this week, the Colts, are coming off a game where they allowed a 200-yard rusher. Expect the Jags to take advantage of the Colts’ bottom-5 run defense that is allowing 4.6 yards a carry and more than a touchdown a game to opposing run games.

Steve Smith: This game has all the makings for Steve Smith to show he still has something left in the tank. He is coming off a bye and 4 sub-par games. I don’t think Keenan Lewis will shadow Smith, which should greatly benefit him. The Saints have surrendered an average of 186 yards to receiving corps and a whopping 12.8 yards per catch. If Flacco has a big game, as I suspect he will, then Smith will too.

Roddy White: Wide receiver is a quarterback dependent position. This week, the Falcons are at home, which bodes well for Roddy. Matt Ryan has thrown for 10 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in the Georgia Dome compared to 7 touchdowns and 6 interceptions on the road. White has been very consistent over the last 4 games totaling 3 touchdowns and 312 yards. Expect Matty Ice to look Roddy’s way often with Julio Jones having Joe Hayden stuck to his hip all day.

Kenny Stills: With Brandin Cooks going on IR, opportunity has come a knockin on Stills’ door. Before Cooks got hurt, Stills was averaging 4 catches a game for 58 yards. Now that Stills has been thrust into the number 2 receiver position, he should be an even bigger contributor to the Saints pass-heavy offense. The Raven’s pass defense has been average this year and will have their hands full with Jimmy Graham, opening up some 1-on-1 opportunities for Kenny.

Larry Donnell: In his first meeting with Dallas, Donnell hauled in 7 balls for 90 yards. Look for an even better game against a Cowboy defense that has allowed 8 touchdowns and 4 100 yard games to tight ends this year.

Colts D/ST: Every defense that has gone against the Jags has recorded at least 8 fantasy points. Last time the Colts played Jacksonville they put up great defensive numbers, recording 2 interceptions, 1 fumble, 4 sacks and a touchdown. Don’t be surprised if you see a repeat performance out of a reeling Colt defense.

Bust:

Matthew Stafford: On the year, Stafford has 15 total touchdowns and 9 interceptions for an average of 12 to 16 fantasy points per game (depending on your settings). He has been consistently average, having only two 300 yard games. He’s also yet to throw for more than 2 scores in a single game. I see the Patriots putting a beatdown on the Lions, so Stafford could get lucky with some garbage time points, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Mark Ingram: The Ravens are the league’s number-1 fantasy run defense, but they have the 26th ranked pass defense. I see Brees and Payton putting together a game plan that exploits the Raven’s weakness rather than trying to score against a defense that has only surrendered 3 rushing scores all season. With the Saints’ pass defense being just one spot behind Baltimore’s, I think we will be in for a Monday night shootout.

Golden Tate: With a healthy Calvin Johnson opposite of him in week 11, Tate only had 2 targets. This week, the Lions will head into New England to face the Patriots’ number-4 pass defense. Last week the Pats’ secondary decided to double-team the dynamic T.Y. Hilton while Darrelle Revis blanketed Reggie Wayne. I expect we will see the bigger Brandon Browner shadowing Johnson with safety help while Revis follows Tate around like a lost puppy. Belichick is known for making offenses beat him with their secondary weapons, which in the Lions’ case is their run game.

DeAndre Hopkins: Lets not overreact to Ryan Mallet’s performance last week. Mallet is still an unproven, inexperienced quarterback. The Texans have a tough passing matchup against the Bengals’ 6th ranked pass defense in week 12. With a healthy Arian Foster and an emerging Alfred Blue, expect the Texans to try and pound the ball on the ground, which will limit Hopkins’ opportunities. Cincinnati has also only allowed 6 touchdowns to receivers and over 200 yards once all year.

Antonio Gates: Gates has been the definition of boom or bust this year. He has not gone over 61 yards since week 2 and has 3 or less receptions in 6 games. St. Louis has given up only 2 touchdowns to tight ends all year and hasn’t allowed any of them to break 70 yards. This week will be tough sledding for Gates and the struggling San Diego offense.

Jacob Tamme: If Julius Thomas misses any time Tamme will be the one to fill his place, but those of you who are expecting a Thomas-like performance out of him will be disappointed. In his last 2 games, Tamme has received 15 targets and has only been able to turn 5 of them into catches. Tamme’s workload will definitely increase, but his production won’t. The Dolphins haven’t let a tight end touch pay dirt in any of their last 5 games.

Lions D/ST: New England’s’ offense is red hot right now, which makes the Lions a very risky play. In their last 3 games the Pats have scored 136 points and are averaging 36 points a game at home on the year. I would hold onto the Lions for some upcoming matchups, but it would be wise to stream a defense this week so you don’t cost your team points.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/8MexyK

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Payton is the newest fantasy football contributor to The Sports Script. Be on the lookout for more of his work in the coming weeks and follow him on Twitter @PaySand!

Eight In The Box: IDP Waiver Wire Week 12

Chandler Jones is on the mend.
New England’s Chandler Jones may be nearing a return

IDP Injuries of note:

  • Phil Taylor (CLE DL): Taylor has been placed on IR and is out for the year. He is safe to drop in all leagues.
  • Ian Williams (SF DL): Williams has been placed on IR with a broken leg. Taking his place will be Glenn Dorsey, who has been activated from the PUP list after injuring his bicep in training camp. Dorsey is a nice speculative add in DT-required leagues.
  • Chandler Jones (NE DL): Jones has been out for five weeks now. The original estimate was 4-6 weeks, so his return may be nearing. There’s nothing to do right now until there is new information. This is New England, so we may not get anything new. Hold tight for now.
  • Karlos Dansby (CLE LB): Dansby sprained his knee and is likely out about a month. This will be a blow to the Browns defense, but look to Christian Kirksey to get a boost in value.
  • Jabaal Sheard (CLE LB): Sheard was originally thought to have a serious foot injury that could require surgery. After further review, it looks a lot better and he may only miss a week or two.
  • Ahmad Brooks (SF LB): Brooks had his feelings hurt since the coaching staff wasn’t using him as he thought they should. Because of his bruised pride (which can be debilitating) he missed the second half (self-imposed) when he took off his cleats and pouted on the sideline.
  • Trent Murphy (WAS LB): Murphy injured his knee and may have a slight tear of the PCL. It looks like he will try and play through it but he isn’t a tremendous talent so he is probably safe to drop.
  • NaVorro Bowman (SF LB): Bowman appears to have been cleared to return to practice. I wouldn’t hold out too much hope of an impact for your fantasy squad this year. Let someone else use the roster spot.
  • Keenan Lewis (NO DB): Lewis played last week but totaled only 11 snaps. He wasn’t himself and it showed. I would keep him on the bench for a couple weeks until he is fully healthy. This probably hurts the NFL Saints more than your fantasy team.
  • Jason Verrett (SD DB): Verrett sees his rookie season end with shoulder surgery. He was impressive early and is someone to look at for next year in leagues that require the use of a corner.
  • Leodis McKelvin (BUF DB): McKelvin broke his ankle and was placed on IR. He was good this year and should recover from the injury in time for the 2015 season.

Who to use (or not):

DL:

  • Clinton McDonald (TB DL): McDonald has been solid as an under the radar defensive tackle this year. If you are in a DT-required league, he is worth the pickup as he has continued his strong play all season. Obviously it helps when Gerald McCoy is getting all the attention, but putting up 3 sacks, 25 solos and an interception is solid regardless.
  • Mario Williams (BUF DL): Williams is coming off a huge 3.5 sack game last week and gets the Jets in week 12. The chances of another sack and continuing his string of at least a half sack in 7-straight games should continue. There’s only been one game this season where he didn’t put up at least a partial sack, and in that game he had 4 solo tackles. Consistency is what we have here.
  • Rob Ninkovich (NE DL): Some leagues may have Ninkovich as a linebacker and some as a defensive end. Either way, I expect him to put some pressure on Stafford this week and pick up a sack.
  • Robert Quinn (STL DL): You are probably thinking, of course I should play Quinn, but I am saying he gets at least 2 sacks this week against a hobbled Philip Rivers.

LB:

  • Aldon Smith (SF LB): Last week I cautioned about using Smith in his first game back. It turned out to be a good call as he put up a goose egg. Although, he was putting pressure on the quarterback and I expect him to get one or two sacks this week against RG3. Get him in your lineup.
  • Jamie Collins & Dont’e Hightower (NE LB): I expect big things from the Patriot defense this week against the Lions. Both of these guys should be in your lineups.
  • Justin Houston (KC LB): The NFL’s sack leader hasn’t brought down a quarterback in two weeks. Surprisingly, the Raiders haven’t given up a ton of sacks this year (probably because their defense can’t get off the field) but I have a feeling Houston is going to beast in this game. His sacks come in bunches and I see 2+ on the horizon.

DB:

  • Reshad Jones (MIA DB): Jones will get a lot of opportunities going against the Broncos this week. He will be up to the task and should be fantasy gold in week 12.
  • Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (GB DB): Ha Ha has put up a solid floor due to high tackle numbers. He is locked into playing every down and I have a hunch he gets his first pick since week 3. He put up 5 solo tackles in his last game against the Vikings. He should do that again this week.
  • Michael Griffin (TEN DB): Griffin gets the safety dream matchup against the Eagles; big game coming.

Photo cred: http://goo.gl/kw4BG8

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Shane Gallimore is a fantasy football contributor and co-host of the live Sunday edition of The Fantasy Forecaster for The Sports Script. Follow him on Twitter @Gally4!

The Extra Attacker: Sin Bin Love

We the fantasy hockey players have a thing called sin bin love. Pugilists are people too and some of them can actually play the game of hockey! Most, if not all, fantasy hockey leagues include penalty minutes to some degree. I’ve played in various league formats with regards to PIM’s, and they are a valuable part of any team’s success. Drafting a player who can pot 15-20 goals and register 100 or so penalty minutes is fantasy gold. In the 2013-14 season, of the 32 players with 100 penalty minutes, there were only three who scored 20 or more goals. Those players were David Backes, Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell. So you drafted your team, and now you realize you need some heavy sandpaper to compliment your turtleneck wearing softies (here’s looking at you, Tomas Plekanec). Backes was drafted on average in Yahoo! Leagues at 50, Simmonds at 59, and Hartnell at 92. Now what? Let’s take a look at two players who could very well still be available in your league, and will certainly help you with your “sin bin love”:

Antoine Roussel, Dallas Stars: Roussel was third in the NHL last season with 209 PIM’s. Conversely, he chipped in offensively with 29 points. At present, Roussel is owned in just 24% of Y! leagues. He is on pace to not only best his PIM’s from last year, but with 5 goals and 5 assists, he’s looking at rarified air for fighters: 40 points! Watching some Dallas games this year, Roussel has seen some power play time (he currently has 2 assists on the man advantage), making him even more valuable. If you’ve got the room, add him now. If that’s not enough, here’s a scrap from Sunday, where Roussel and Chicago’s Andrew Shaw go at it. This may in fact be the scrap of the year so far.

Steve Downie, Pittsburgh Penguins: Downie is no stranger to this category, as we’ve seen flashes of fantasy brilliance from him for a few years with different teams. There are two factors that make him more valuable this year with his new team. First, the Pens have never really had a player like Downie, who can both protect the team’s stars and contribute offensively (Matt Cooke doesn’t count). The second biggest factor is Pittsburgh’s new assistant coach, Rick Tocchet (a fighting legend in his time). Tocchet was with a young Downie in Tampa Bay, and the two have a great connection. So what does this mean for fantasy owners? Tocchet is responsible for running the Penguins power play and Downie is averaging 1:35 minutes per game on the man advantage. Downie is presently the NHL’s leader in PIM’s with 60, and with 9 points in 17 games, he is on pace for 42 points and 288 minutes. Currently only owned in 29% of Y! Leagues, he makes for an even better add than Roussel. Grab him, quickly! Here’s a recent Downie fight. Would why anyone ever want this out of hockey?

Just for fun, I did a statistical breakdown of what my all-time favorite fighter Bob Probert’s 1987-88 season would have looked like from a fantasy perspective. Awesome is the only word to describe it!

74 GP, 29 goals, 33 assists, 15 power play goals, +16 and 398 PIM’s!

Using standard points league settings, he would have scored a ridiculous 306.5 points. He would have outscored Sidney Crosby (2013) by 148 fantasy points!

“Give blood, fight Probie”

Statistical credits: Hockeyfights.com, TSN.com, ESPN.com, NHL.com

Check out FantasyRundown.com for all of our latest articles and other great fantasy content.

Derek is The Sports Script’s resident fantasy hockey guru. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @Sons_of_Fuller!

The Fantasy Forecaster: Week 12 Start/Sit

Ricky was joined by fellow TSS writer Doug Moore and they discussed their Must Start/Must Sit for week 12.

Here is the short version of the show just telling who we picked.

You can also subscribe/download on iTunes here. Leave a rating, don’t be shy!

Make sure to follow Ricky (@rickygangster) and Doug (@DMM0822) on Twitter!

The guys will be back next week (November 25th)! Get your questions in on Twitter using the #TSS tag.

Transaction Scripts: Billy Butler to Oakland

Country Breakfast takes his bat to Oakland for 30 million dollars.
Country Breakfast is taking his talents to the Bay Area

It’s hard to admit mistakes. I was confused when Oakland traded Yoenis Cespedes to the Red Sox for Jon Lester during last season’s trade deadline since it took their best right-handed power bat out of the lineup. Having great pitching in the post-season can be a weapon but if you do not get past the play-in game it does not matter. Cespedes is under contract through the end of 2015 for nine million dollars. Presently, Jon Lester is a free agent who has no intention of staying in Oakland.

Enter Billy Butler, a free agent after Kansas City’s great run to the World Series. Those same Royals had Jeremy Guthrie and Jason Vargas start games in the Fall Classic, which sort of underscores the theme above about Lester. It is clear that Oakland miscalculated in their attempt to win the title. In an effort to provide more balance to their lineup, they have reportedly signed Billy Butler to a three-year, thirty million dollar contract. Butler is a year younger than Cespedes, though it may not feel that way. I was surprised to find out that Butler was only 28 years young. I think this signing may speak to clubhouse presence more than ability since there are already reports surfacing about Cespedes wearing out his welcome in Boston. As for Butler, is he a good fit in Oakland?

Billy Butler 2014: 151 G, 57 R, 9 HR, 66 RBI .271/.323/.379

For an organization that has prided itself upon being ahead of the analytics game, this signing is a bit of a head scratcher. This is especially strange since Butler is coming off the worst season of his career. There are some disturbing trends over the last three years with Butler as well:

Each stat will be listed in order to reflect 2012, 2013, 2014

ISO (Isolated Power): .197, .124, .107
Average:
.313, .289, .271
wOBA (Weighted On Base Average):
.377, .345, .311
wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created):
139, 117, 97 (League average 100)
HR/FB% (Home Runs/Fly Ball):
19.9, 11.7, 6.9
SwStr% (Swinging Strike):
7.4, 6.7, 8.3

I cannot just throw a bunch of numbers at you without investigating their effects. Starting with ISO, this can be a tough statistic since many power hitters bat for low average, making their slugging minus average number appear larger. Butler has reversed the trend as he hit for his highest ISO during the 2012 season which coincided with his highest batting average. That is rare but can be seen in his HR/FB% drop which hit an all-time low in 2014. In fact, he swung at and missed more pitches but the result in his approach was fewer home runs, marking the first time since 2007 that he hit fewer than 10. Can this trend be reversed?

First I looked at his home run tracker stats from the same three seasons, focusing on his average standard distance for home runs and speed off the bat. The results were very interesting. Starting with how many home runs he hit and then the stats will follow:

Billy Butler Home Runs: 2012 – 29, 2013 – 15, 2014 – 9
Average Standard Distance:
2012 – 402.2 feet, 2013 – 394.5 feet, 2014 – 411.7 feet
Average Speed off the Bat:
2012 – 104.3 MPH, 2013 – 101.7 MPH, 2014 – 106.9 MPH

So here is the confusing part, Butler actually hit the ball further, on average, and faster in 2014 on his homers than in the two previous seasons. However, his line drive, ground ball and fly ball ratios have no crazy variances to explain what happened. I used Butler’s 2013 season and did an overlay to Oakland’s ball park to see how much of an effect the move may have on his power:

Butler 2013 HR Overlay Oakland

When he pulls the ball with power, he will have no problem. Butler would lose one in this chart to right center, but a fresh start may be what he needs. A look at his zone profile from last year suggests he was hitting the ball very well in the strike zone, especially on pitches that were middle in:

butler zone profile
Butler can hit the ball to all fields and could bounce back this year. I would have to assume that even though Oakland loves to play matchups that Butler will be their full time designated hitter while seeing spot starts at first base. His career numbers do not suggest he needs a platoon split against left-handed pitching, so this provides Oakland with flexibility:

Billy Butler vs. LHP: .314/.393/.519
Billy Butler vs. RHP: .288/.347/.424

Yes there is a drop in slugging percentage, but he is more than capable of playing every day as either the designated hitter or first baseman for the Athletics. In fact, Oakland is depending on it. This move could be a stroke of genius, getting a professional hitter and good clubhouse guy to benefit the lineup or it will end badly as they overpaid for a designated hitter at a time when cheaper options are available. As for my fantasy thoughts, I say he can hit .290 in Oakland and bounce back to his 15 home run days, but let someone else chase his 2012 season. Solid, but not spectacular. Just like a country breakfast.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/QvEwPO

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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!