Post Break Preview: Shortstop

Best in fantasy at SS over the last year, feeling lucky this second half?

“Tulo” has been the best SS in the game over the past year. Feeling lucky, punk?

The shortstop position had shown distinct tiers for drafters in the preseason. Playing the injury prediction game with friends Troy Tulowitzki, HanRam and Jose Reyes was the. So investing in one of these players came with a caveat. For those who had faith in Tulowitzki, you have been rewarded. Jose Reyes has spent time on the disabled list already and Hanley Ramirez seems to have a different ailment each week, or is it daily lately? There have been some surprises at the position, as Alexei Ramirez, Erick Aybar, Jimmy Rollins and Starlin Castro who have provided great value in the first half. Disappointments that come to mind are Brad Miller, Jean Segura (though his regression is not a surprise) and J.J. Hardy. Where are the homers? Anyway, the season’s 2nd half may show that further shakeups are in order. Here are the top 20 Shortstops according to ESPN’s player rater along with their last 365 day stats as of the All-Star Break:

1. Troy Tulowitzki – 152 G, 102 R, 30 HR, 82 RBI, 2 SB 320/411/549
2. Alexei Ramirez – 164 G, 78 R, 13 HR, 69 RBI, 26 SB 284/318/406
3. Hanley Ramirez – 132 G, 81 R, 23 HR, 81 RBI, 18 SB 289/369/513
4. Jimmy Rollins – 158 G, 76 R, 13 HR, 48 RBI, 32 SB 243/347/349
5. Erick Aybar – 161 G, 84 R, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 19 SB 270/309/397
6. Jose Reyes – 146 G, 93 R, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 25 SB 279/337/412
7. Alcides Escobar – 164 G, 61 R, 3 HR, 49 RBI, 32 SB 256/285/336
8. Ian Desmond – 157 G, 71 R, 21 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB 259/312/412
9. Starlin Castro – 165 G, 58 R, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 5 SB 265/312/399
10. Elvis Andrus – 160 G, 92 R, 6 HR, 58 RBI, 43 SB 282/334/361
11. Asdrubal Cabrera – 156 G, 76 R, 15 HR, 68 RBI, 11 SB 245/302/391
12. Jhonny Peralta – 113 G, 48 R, 18 HR, 55 RBI, 2 SB 265/332/473
13. Jean Segura – 63 R, 5 HR, 36 RBI, 30 SB 236/267/322
14. Chris Owings* – 92 G, 31 R, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 9 SB 280/323/444
15. Andrelton Simmons – 159 G, 61 R, 15 HR, 60 RBI, 4 SB 261/312/411
16. Derek Jeter – 99 G, 38 R, 3 HR, 31 RBI, 6 SB 259/277/359
17. Brandon Crawford – 153 G, 51 R, 11 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB 226/302/372
18. Jonathan Villar* - 129 G, 53 R, 7 HR, 30 RBI, 32 SB 221/287/331
19. Danny Santana – 40 G, 20 R, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 6 SB 313/348/429
20. J.J. Hardy – 151 G, 61 R, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 1 SB 280/315/393
*Chris Owings is on the the DL and Jonathan Villar is in the minors

I find it amazing how much J.J. Hardy’s value is impacted without the long balls. It may be a trend based on his past statistical year, Hardy is a hot streak away from increased value so the second half will tell us if this is who he really is. It’s safe to say that the league has caught up with Jean Segura, but that was to be expected, but he maintains value with his speed and sets himself up as a fantasy bargain next year. If the Brewers are going to stay in contention, they need him to step up. As much as I see people bash Andrelton Simmons, his stats over the past calender year are not all that different than Starlin Castro’s. Here are their ZiPS projections with leaders in each fantasy category:

ZiPS ROS Projected Leaders:

Runs:
1. Elvis Andrus 33
2. Troy Tulowitzki 32
3. Brad Miller 31
4. Jose Reyes 30
5. Asdrubal Cabrera 30
6. Erick Aybar 30
7. Ian Desmond 29
8. Starlin Castro 29
9. Jimmy Rollins 29
10. Hanley Ramirez 28

Home Runs:
1. Troy Tulowitzki 11
2. Ian Desmond 9
3. Hanley Ramirez 8
4. J.J. Hardy 7
5. Jhonny Peralta 6
6. Xander Bogaerts 6
7. Starlin Castro 6
8. Asdrubal Cabrera 6
9. Jimmy Rollins 6
10. Brad Miller 5

RBI:
1. Ian Desmond 34
2. Troy Tulowitzki 32
3. Hanley Ramirez 28
4. Starlin Castro 28
5. Asdrubal Cabrera 28
6. Jhonny Peralta 26
7. J.J. Hardy 25
8. Erick Aybar 25
9. Alexei Ramirez 23
10. Brad Miller 23

Stolen Bases:
1. Elvis Andrus 13
2. Jean Segura 12
3. Jose Reyes 11
4. Alcides Escobar 11
5. Jimmy Rollins 9
6. Ian Desmond 8
7. Alexei Ramirez 8
8. Hanley Ramirez 7
9. Erick Aybar 7
10. Danny Santana 7

Batting Average:
1. Troy Tulowitzki .311
2. Jose Reyes .283
3. Starlin Castro .278
4. Erick Aybar .278
5. Hanley Ramirez .275
6. Josh Rutledge .274
7. Alexei Ramirez .272
8. Elvis Andrus .271
9. J.J. Hardy .269
10. Jean Segura .269

Some players that have upside, albeit with some risk are Brad Miller, Xander Bogaerts and Danny Santana. The ZiPS projections seem to favor Miller but if he continues to bat at the bottom of Seattle’s order it will be hard to get to the runs and RBI predicted above, but he is worth a flier in the second half. I find it hard to believe that Xander Bogaerts will not rebound and even if the Red Sox become sellers, this is an offense that can provide runs. Danny Santana made his debut and took on the look of Jean Segura from a year ago with his fantasy splash. However, he has struggled since his return and learning to hit the ball to the opposite field will be a key in his development, but if he hits leadoff for the Twins he can still provide value moving forward. As of today, Tulowitzki and Ramirez are on the mend so their rankings going forward are tenuous and dependent upon health, but isn’t that always the case?

Desmond's power/speed combo makes him a second half stud

Desmond’s power/speed combo makes him a second half stud

My Second Half Ranks:

1. Troy Tulowitzki – He is the gold standard at SS, injuries are always the key
2. Ian Desmond – There are flashier, and higher batting averages, but his steadiness is the key (21 HR, 21 SB) in his last statistical year.
3. Hanley Ramirez – Maybe the most frustrating player to own in fantasy (or is it his teammate Puig?). Always is nicked up, leaving early and now hit on the wrist with a pitch. May be a good time to sell if you can
4. Jose Reyes – As stated above, if healthy he is an elite shortstop, a pennant push will keep him motivated to stay on the field
5. Starlin Castro – What a difference a year makes, hitting behind Anthony Rizzo and an evolving Cubs lineup makes him worth speculating on
6. Alexei Ramirez – Similar to Desmond, he is under-appreciated in fantasy but he fills the stat columns. Can be streaky but he is emerging from a slump and may finish strong
7. Erick Aybar – His value fluctuates but the Angels offense is potent and Aybar is in the middle of it. He’s also a sneaky source of RBI (70 over the last year)
8. Elvis Andrus – Elvis relies on his speed  for fantasy value. While the Rangers are struggling, this offense has to improve in the second half, right?
9. Jimmy Rollins – I had him too low entering the season as he and Chase Utley continue to put up stats. A trade to a contender may be just the right juice to squeeze out another fantasy-driven second half
10. Alcides Escobar – Has quietly been emerging this year and is only 27 years old
11. Jhonny Peralta – If the Cardinals are going to win the NL Central again this year he will need to provide more pop in the second half. With Allen Craig struggling, he is moving up in the order
12. Jean Segura – The loss of his child has to be a distraction but there is still time to turn around his season
13. J.J. Hardy – He could vault up this list with more power, this second half will tell us more about his fantasy value in the future
14. Brad Miller – I still believe. ZiPS agrees, hope we are correct
15. Jordy Mercer – Jordy goes virtually unnoticed but has been a key part of their success following the promotion of Gregory Polanco. Over his last 28 days he is hitting .325 with 12 RBI and a stolen base
16. Asdrubal Cabrera – I feel like I am always downgrading him but he left last night’s game with back spasms. He’s a free agent at the end of the year and Francisco Lindor was promoted to AAA. None are good signs to me
17. Jed Lowrie – What a difference a year makes. He has hit 12 home runs over the last 365 days but only 4 in the first half this year. The A’s could use a rebound from him
18. Xander Bogaerts – The potential is there, a nice second half would alleviate some of the worries about next year. May have been a year early on “X”
19. Stephen Drew – I do love him and he is probably safer than Bogaerts moving forward but I think the Red Sox wasted money on him (Editor’s note: Yes, yes they did)
20. Derek Jeter – Not really a fantasy factor anymore but I just wanted to recognize him as a team player who always hustled (on and off the field. Have you seen the women he has been with?), and a player baseball will miss. #RE2PECT

A couple of players who just missed include the Diamondbacks duo of Chris Owings (presently on the DL) and Didi Gregorious. Either may be a good trade chip in the off-season and both are improving this year. Danny Santana is another wild card but his minor league track record suggests his hot streak is going to be hard to maintain. If the Twins leave him at lead-off he will be a cheap source for runs and stolen bases. Shortstop is a position in transition with some big minor league talent on the way. It will be interesting to see how soon some of them will make their debuts.

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ZiPS Projections, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/0NrPDC (Tulo), http://goo.gl/r1w7A4 (Desmond)

Top DFS plays for 07/23/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Alexei Ramirez vs. James Shields - hitting .417 (20/48) with a 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI and 3 walks

Jonathan Lucroy vs. Mike Leake - hitting .350 (7/20) with a 2B, HR, 2 RBI and 2 walks

Robinson Cano vs. Bartolo Colon - hitting .400 (6/15) with 2 2B, a HR, 2 RBI and 2 walks

Andrew McCutchen vs. Dan Haren - hitting .333 (4/12) with a 2B, 2 Hs, 4 RBI and a walk
Haren has a road ERA of 5.11 this season.

Jason Heyward vs. Nathan Eovaldi - hitting .455 (10/22) with 2 2B, a 3B, 2 RBI and a walk
LHH are hitting .303 with 8 HR and 37 RBI against Eovaldi in ’14.

Top DFS pitcher for today:

Madison Bumgarner vs. Philadelphia Phillies - Even though he has struggled over his last few starts, Bumgarner has a 1.94 ERA on the road and the Phillies, well, just aren’t very good at baseball.

Movie of the day: Lucy - I got a chance to see this last night and you know what? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but wait until it comes out on DVD until you check it out.

Follow Ricky on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Trade Scripts: Headley to the Bronx

Headley move to NY a year too late for San Diego to cash in

The Headley trade to NYY is a year too late, as the Padres were unable to cash in on his breakout 2012

It is surreal when real life imitates fantasy and the Chase Headley trade is a sure sign of it. Coming off a career year in 2012, Headley was rumored to be on the move for what seemed like the entire 2013 season. But the Padres committed a classic mistake and held on to him too long. There was a time in 2013 that a bidding war could have ensued between the Yankees, Blue Jays and Indians to name just a few teams. According to Craig Calcaterra, Headley was discussed in trades with the Diamondbacks for Justin Upton. When you hold a chip and the franchise is struggling, sometimes a deal like this can get you back on track, but hold on too long and look what happens. The Padres dealt Chase Headley to the Yankees but at a bargain rate as compared to last year. They have sent Headley along with a million dollars to the Yankees for Yangervis Solarte (a minor league free-agent) and pitcher Rafael DePaula. Timing is everything, right?

As to the trade itself, the Yankees are dire need of more production at 3B with the disappointing Kelly Johnson and the likes of Zelous Wheeler filling in. Acquiring a “professional” hitter like Headley will help lengthen their aging lineup. Headley is not a savior by any means, but he is definitely an upgrade over what the Yankees are rolling out there now. Of interest will be if Headley can finish strong in a contract year and make himself relevant to the fantasy community once more. Not taking into account his new home, here are his rest of the season stats from two projections per Fangraphs.com:

Chase Headley ZiPS Projection (ROS): 54 G, 25 R, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 4 SB 243/331/372
Chase Headley Steamer Projection (R): 54 G, 26 R, 6 HR, 25 RBI, 3 SB 252/335/398

Headley’s counting numbers should see an uptick simply because his situation has improved. Ballpark factors aside, even though the Yankees are not what they once were offensively, they are still an upgrade over the Padres. Using the home run tracker overlay, here is how his six home runs this season would have traveled in New York:

headley home run yankee overlay

Also, here is a look at his current spray chart for 2014 according to BrooksBaseball.net, there are at least four outs on there that could have been more in a different ballpark:

headley spray chart 2014

Over the course of his career Headley has had some interesting splits. First, I will compare them in 2014 and then his career numbers:

2014 home: 39 G, 2 HR, 18 RBI .250/.303/.357
2014 away: 38 G, 5 HR, 15 RBI .209/.290/.353
Career home: 454 G, 35 HR, 181 RBI .243/.331/.372
Career away: 451 G, 52 HR, 220 RBI .286/.360/.444

Usually a trade like this has a way of revitalizing a player; remember the 2013 version of Alfonso Soriano? With the benefit of a better hitting environment, surrounding cast and a pennant race, Headley is primed for a rebound to finish the year. But overpaying for that will be a mistake. If you are bidding on 8-10 home runs (ballpark inflation) and a slash line of .270/.330/.400 then you will not be disappointed. Times like this are perfect for selling him on what he may do as opposed to what he will. Learn from San Diego’s mistake and flip him now if you can. In AL only leagues I can see him being a 30-40% budget bid but breaking the bank on Headley is not advised unless you are desperate for a corner infielder. In mixed leagues he is worth speculating on but at a discounted bid.

San Diego Padres:

After netting a nice return for Huston Street (you can see my reaction here) the Padres have to be disappointed in their haul for Chase Headley. Yangervis Solarte is a minor league free agent from Texas that the Yankees caught lightning in a bottle with and now he is going to play in San Diego in a utility role. Rafael DePaula has appeared on prospect lists but was slipping in the Yankee ranks. He went from Baseball America’s #10 Yankee prospect in 2012 to #15 in 2013. Here are their chances going forward:

Yangervis Solarte 2014 ZiPS (ROS): 51 G, 21 R, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 1 SB .262/.312/.377

Steamer (R): 38 G, 17 R, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB .261/.315/.373

While I do not believe that Solarte is relevant to fantasy players going forward, he may be able to get to the Steamer rest of the season projection. He is a nice story, but with a role as a utility infielder his ceiling is severely limited.

Rafael DePaula 2014 Stats A+ Tampa Stats: 6 W, 89 IP, 104/38 K/BB, 4.15 ERA, 1.42 WHIP

DePaula’s numbers are not staggering and the Padres will probably let him get to at least AA before transitioning him to their pen. With his spotty command/ 94 MPH fastball and slider combo he profiles better in a relief role in the future. With the acquisition of R.J. Alvarez in the Huston Street deal, San Diego may have gotten two arms that will slot nicely in the 8th (DePaula) and 9th (Alvarez) in the future.
As for the Padres going forward, this probably means that Taylor Lindsey will get a long look at 2B next spring with Jedd Gyorko returning to 3B as a part of their rebuild. This will hurt Gyorko’s fantasy value but if he can return to his power hitting ways, owners may be able to get him at a deep discount in 2015.

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, MiLB.com, Steamer Projections, BrooksBaseball.net, Baseball-Reference.com, ESPN Home Run Tracker
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/DOdnYO

Post Break Preview: 2B

Altuve steals his way into fantasy owner's hearts

Jose Altuve has stolen his way into the hearts of gamers

While there seemed to be safety in getting one of the “big three” in pre-season drafts (Cano, Kipnis, Pedroia), there has been upheaval thus far at the position with none of the top-tier appearing in the top five on the player rater. As of this writing, not only is Jose Altuve the top option at the position, but he is the top rated player in fantasy. This is a precipitous climb for someone who is listed at 5’ 5”. Because of his hot first half and the stolen base accomplishments of Dee Gordon, they not only lead the majors in stolen bases, but assume the top two spots at second base. In an effort to streamline the data, I have listed the top 20 second basemen on the player rater below along with their stats from the last 365 days to underscore what they have done. The results may surprise you:

1. Jose Altuve – 159 G, 77 R, 4 HR, 51 RBI, 55 SB 315/349/410
2. Dee Gordon – 110 G, 55 R, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 48 SB 297/348/397
3. Ian Kinsler – 160 G, 110 R, 15 HR, 87 RBI, 21 SB 287/330/432
4. Brian Dozier – 160 G, 104 R, 28 HR, 77 RBI, 22 SB 246/327/439
5. Anthony Rendon – 145 G, 85 R, 16 HR, 75 RBI, 8 SB 270/332/442
6. Robinson Cano – 158 G, 77 R, 13 HR, 101 RBI, 8 SB 333/388/474
7. Daniel Murphy –164 G, 97 R, 14 HR, 77 RBI, 25 SB 298/340/492
8. Howie Kendrick – 124 G, 67 R, 6 HR, 57 RBI, 11 SB 287/336/385
9. Chase Utley – 158 G, 85 R, 15 HR, 85 RBI, 6 SB 293/354/447
10. Scooter Gennett –136 G, 65 R, 12 HR, 49 RBI, 7 SB 325/359/492
11. Neil Walker –142 G, 72 R, 23 HR, 70 RBI, 2 SB 266/33/449
12. Josh Harrison – 125 G, 46 R, 8 HR, 42 RBI, 13 SB 291/330/448
13. Dustin Pedroia-159 G, 83 R, 7 HR, 49 RBI, 6 SB 280/343/382
14. DJ LeMahieu –148 G, 66 R, 4 HR, 41 RBI, 15 SB 282/321/354
15. Omar Infante –114 G, 47 R, 9 HR, 70 RBI, 5 SB 297/330/408
16. Brandon Phillips – 152 G, 68 R, 13 HR, 72 RBI, 5 SB 264/303/384
17. Jason Kipnis – 135 G, 69 R, 7 HR, 54 RBI, 23 SB 265/344/368
18. Ben Zobrist – 150 G, 72 R, 12 HR, 47 RBI, 10 SB 275/354/407
19. Martin Prado –158 G, 70 R, 10 HR, 82 RBI, 4 SB 291/328/412
20. Kolten Wong – 85 G, 28 R, 6 HR, 24 RBI, 15 SB 220/274/339

It appears the concern over Dustin Pedroia’s power numbers in decline are more than people bargained for. With only seven home runs since last July it looks like this is who he is moving forward. It will be hard to list him in the top five next year. If you laughed at guys riding a Scooter, the one in Milwaukee has proven to be a fantasy factor off the waiver wire displacing Rickie Weeks and hitting in the top two of the Brewers lineup. A player in the midst of breakout is Anthony Rendon but he seems to be overshadowed in Washington due to the angst and attention that Bryce Harper commands. But his numbers from the last year have been rock solid and he is only getting better. One of the biggest questions has been where Robinson Cano’s power has gone. With only 13 home runs over the last year, this may be who he is going forward but like a struggling Chris Davis, Cano can hit them in bunches if he gets hot. Injuries have limited Jason Kipnis in the first half and his second half struggles have been well documented. Feeling lucky? Like Cano, his power numbers have been in a steep decline with only seven in his last 135 games. With all this in mind, here are the ZiPS ROS projections according to Fangraphs to see how player are thought to finish the season:

ZiPS ROS Projections:

Runs:
1. Ian Kinsler 38
2. Brian Dozier 35
3. Robinson Cano 32
4. Jason Kipnis
5. Dustin Pedroia 31
6. Jose Altuve 31
7. Daniel Murphy 31
8. Anthony Rendon 30
9. Ben Zobrist 30
10. Neil Walker/Howie Kendrick 29

Home Runs:
1. Robinson Cano, Ian Kinsler, Neil Walker, Brian Dozier, Dan Uggla 7
2. Anthony Rendon, Chase Utley, Jason Kipnis, Kelly Johnson, Jonathan Schoop 6

RBI:
1. Robinson Cano 35
2. Ian Kinsler 31
3. Neil Walker 29
4. Jason Kipnis 29
5. Dustin Pedroia 28
6. Anthony Rendon 27
7. Howie Kendrick 27
8. Daniel Murphy 27
9. Aaron Hill 26
10. Brian Dozier 26

Stolen Bases:
1. Dee Gordon 19
2. Jose Altuve 17
3. Emilio Bonifacio 11
4. Jason Kipnis 9
5. Leury Garcia 9
6. Arismendy Alcanatara 8
7. Ian Kinsler 7
8. Brian Dozier 7
9. Josh Harrison, Howie Kendrick, Daniel Murphy, Roughned Odor 6

Batting Average:
1. Jose Altuve .301
2. Robinson Cano .300
3. Daniel Murphy .284
4. Scooter Gennett .284
5. DJ LeMahieu .284
6. Dustin Pedroia .281
7. Marco Scutero .281
8. Tommy LaStella .281
9. Ian Kinsler .279

Mark it down Rendon is a top 5 second baseman in the second half and going forward

Book it: Anthony Rendon is a top five option at 2B

While these projections are far from perfect, it does give fantasy owners an idea of how players could finish out the season. It also helps to predict how they will finish the year in the rankings. Going forward, here are my top 20 fantasy second baseman for the season’s second half:

1. Jose Altuve – Never thought I would type this but why can’t he keep the top spot all year? He is going to hit for average, will steal bases and the Astros can score runs
2. Ian Kinsler – I underestimated him in the preseason and his motivation to show the Rangers they made a mistake has definitely made a difference. The surrounding offense doesn’t hurt, either
3. Robinson Cano – He is still a top option but the first round is a reach next year
4. Anthony Rendon – I am all in with him and next year he may bust out even further
5. Dee Gordon – Stolen bases provide huge value and he is still providing them, the average will regress but the speed is here to stay
6. Brian Dozier – His average can be a drain but the power and speed combo are too hard to ignore
7. Daniel Murphy – Unlike David Wright, he is undervalued at his position
8. Jason Kipnis – The talent is there but his plate discipline and lack of power in the last calender year are concerning
9. Chase Utley – Could a trade really boost his value in the second half? Absolutely
10. Ben Zobrist – See Utley above, he is warming up
11. Scooter Gennett – Hits at the top of the lineup against righties and helps in all five categories
12. Neil Walker – Still has power and will be in play as the Pirates push for the playoffs
13. Howie Kendrick – Has been healthy and solid
14. Dustin Pedroia – As I am typing this he is 0 for 4 in a game that Boston has scored 14 runs. I love his heart and hustle, but his name buoyed his draft position. Look at his last 365 stats above
15. Kolten Wong – Upside late and he could leapfrog a couple of the names above him if he can stay healthy. Has stolen base and runs upside
16. Arismendy Alcanatara – Why not? He has been solid in his debut and if the Cubs leave him in the second spot in the lineup he can provide double digit steals in the second half
17. Aaron Hill – He has to get better this year. Just in case though, I am leaving him here
18. Martin Prado – Does a little bit of everything but like Aaron Hill, he’s been a disappointment
19. Rougned Odor – Again, upside play and this kid plays older than his age but the Rangers are burying him by hitting him last. Move him up please, Ron
20. Josh Harrison – Has eligibility in leagues and he is a spark plug in this offense

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ZiPS Projections
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/nnHCNt (Altuve), http://goo.gl/90NPMB (Rendon)

Top DFS Plays for 07/22/14 (Happy Birthday Mum)

Today is my Mum’s birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Chris Johnson vs. Jacob Turner - hitting .250 (3/12) with 2 2B, a HR and 4 RBI

Giancarlo Stanton vs. Mike Minor - hitting .263 (5/19) with 4 HR, 6 RBI and 8 walks
Minor has given up 12 HR to RHH this season. 5 Hits, 4 HR for Stanton against Minor. Stanton will go yard tonight, book it!

Dayan Viciedo vs. Bruce Chen - hitting .344 (11/32) with 3 HR, 7 RBI and a walk

Brian Dozier vs. Danny Salazar - hitting .625 (5/8) with 2 2B, a HR and 2 RBI
RHH are hitting .341 with 6 HRs and 15 RBIs. Dozier has 12 HRs against RHP this season.

Brewers Stack against Homer Bailey - Davis, Weeks, Braun & Gennett all hitting above .320 against Homer

Top DFS pitcher for today:

Scott Kazmir vs. Houston Astros
There are several reasons why I like this matchup:
Kaz is 6-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 43 strikeouts in 8 home starts, 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA and 12 K in 14 innings against the ‘Stros this season and he is 2-0 with a 0.64 ERA and a 17:3 K:BB in July.

Movie of the Day: Life Itself - The documentary is about the life of Roger Ebert. It’s a fantastic look inside the life of one of the biggest movie figures of all-time.

Follow Ricky on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Post Break Preview: 1B

Jose Abreu is #1 on the Player Rate at the break and a top tier option going forward

Jose Abreu is #1 on the Player Rate rat the break and a top-tier option going forward

Entering 2014 first base was a position that had a myriad of question marks. However, as we enter the season’s second half, some of those questions have been answered. It calls to mind one of my Dad’s favorite movies, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” For the good, Paul Goldschmidt has not disappointed as one of the top fantasy options not only at first, but overall. Even with some injury concerns Edwin Encarnacion has stamped his claim as a top flight fantasy producer with one of the all-time best fantasy months every recorded. Another year has passed and people still doubt what Brandon Moss can do but his return compared to his ADP (131 overall) has provided big time profit. Anthony Rizzo and Jose Abreu are breaking out before our eyes and their ADP’s (100 for Rizzo, 102 for Abreu) will not be in the triple digits next year. The bad can be reflected in the number of injuries that have ravaged the position. Prince Fielder was lost for the season, Joey Votto will be out five more weeks and maybe the rest of the season, Mark Trumbo just returned from another foot injury and the aforementioned Encarnacion is working his way back from the infirmary. Chris Davis has created a chasm for the owners who drafted him in the first round and even a big second half may not save his season. Here is how the position rankings on the ESPN Player Rater stacked up at the break:

1. Jose Abreu
2. Paul Goldschmidt
3. Edwin Encarnacion
4. Victor Martinez
5. Albert Pujols
6. Miguel Cabrera
7. Anthony Rizzo
8. Brandon Moss
9. Freddie Freeman
10. Justin Morneau
11. Matt Adams
12. Adrian Gonzalez
13. Casey McGehee
14. Adam LaRoche
15. Lucas Duda

Before I take a look at the position’s last statistical year, here are a couple of blind profiles based on what each player has done over the last 365 days from July 13, 2013 to July 13, 2014:

Player A: 143 G, 54 R, 24 HR, 62 RBI, 1 SB 229/349/421
Player B: 145 G, 74 R, 33 HR, 98 RBI, 6 SB 223/325/461

One of the players above was taken as high as the first round in drafts for 2014. Here is one more for fun:

Player C: 129 G, 62 R, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB 265/389/478
Player D: 120 G, 49 R, 18 HR, 54 RBI, 2 SB 241/351/450

I think the first one is pretty clear in regards to Player B (Chris Davis) but a player that is widely avoided in fantasy circles because of the drain he creates on batting average is an interesting comparison, Player A is Adam Dunn. Player C was a world champion last year and gained notoriety for walking around with his shirt off, Mike Napoli. His blind double is the first baseman forNew York; not Teixeira, but Lucas Duda. Using WAR offense as my guide, here are the top 15 first baseman from the past year:

1. Paul Goldschmidt: 163 G, 109 R, 31 HR, 109 RBI, 14 SB 299/402/543
2. Edwin Encarnacion: 141 G, 89 R, 38 HR, 105 RBI, 6 SB 280/380/573
3. Freddie Freeman: 162 G, 104 R, 27 HR, 100 RBI, 1 SB 309/391/511
4. Brandon Moss: 149 G, 78 R, 35 HR, 109 RBI, 3 SB 277/357/558
5. Miguel Cabrera: 147 G, 88 R, 28 HR, 117 RBI 309/383/542
6. Joey Votto: 131 G, 69 R, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 4 SB 270/417/440
7. Mike Napoli: 129 G, 62 R, 22 HR, 68 RBI, 2 SB 265/389/478
8. Jose Abreu: 82 G, 49 R, 29 HR, 73 RBI, 1 SB 292/342/630
9. Brandon Belt: 107 G, 56 R, 18 HR, 54 RBI, 4 SB 294/357/504
10. Matt Adams: 136 G, 61 R, 21 HR, 67 RBI, 3 SB 306/335/508
11. Adam Lind: 127 G, 61 R, 16 HR, 58 RBI 292/370/483
12. Anthony Rizzo: 163 G, 88 R, 30 HR, 75 RBI, 3 SB 250/353/447
13. Lucas Duda: 120 G, 49 R, 18 HR, 59 RBI, 2 SB 241/351/450
14. Albert Pujols: 102 G, 61 R, 22 HR, 71 RBI, 4 SB 282/327/489
15. Chris Davis: 145 G, 74 R, 33 HR, 98 RBI, 6 SB 223/325/461

There are a couple of surprises here. One is how amazing Jose Abreu’s first half has been that he places eighth on this list with only 82 games played. Another is how underrated Brandon Belt is and if he could ever stay healthy. If that ever happens. it would be a lot easier to guage what his ceiling is. Anthony Rizzo is weighed down by his low batting average last year but he may be a top five first baseman going forward. Another player I am going to rate higher than most is Matt Adams, with the complete collapse of teammate Allen Craig, first base is his moving forward and his power is legit. It is hard to ignore what Chris Davis has done over the last year, I can buy that his power numbers will probably improve in the second half, but that average drain may be here to stay. This also illustrates that WAR is only one measure of a player as solid professionals like Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer and Justin Morneau missed on this list but all is not lost. Here is how ZiPS sees the top 10 by fantasy category using its ROS stats:

Runs:
1. Paul Goldschmidt 39
2. Freddie Freeman 38
3. Anthony Rizzo 36
4. Edwin Encarnacion 33
5. Eric Hosmer 33
6. Jose Abreu 32
7. Chris Davis 32
8. Albert Pujols 32
9. Adrian Gonzalez 30
10. Brandon Moss 29

Home Runs:
1. Chris Davis 15
2. Edwin Encarnacion 14
3. Jose Abreu 13
4. Paul Goldschmidt 12
5. Anthony Rizzo 12
6. Brandon Moss 12
7. Chris Carter 12
8. Mark Trumbo 11
9. Albert Pujols 11
10. Adam Dunn 11

RBI:
1. Paul Goldschmidt 44
2. Chris Davis 41
3. Freddie Freeman 40
4. Edwin Encarnacion 39
5. Anthony Rizzo 39
6. Adrian Gonzalez 39
7. Albert Pujols 37
8. Brandon Moss 36
9. Mark Trumbo 35
10. Jose Abreu/Justin Morneau 33

Batting Average:
1. Justin Morneau .292
2. Eric Hosmer .289
3. Matt Adams .288
4. Freddie Freeman .288
5. Joe Mauer .285
6. Paul Goldschmidt .283
7. Jose Abreu .279
8. Albert Pujols .277
9. Edwin Encarnacion .277
10. Casey McGehee .275

Need power in the 2H? Adams will be a catalyst going forward

Need power in the 2nd half? Big City may be the place to visit

There are interesting names above with Freddie Freeman who just missed on home runs with 10 projected and is that a Casey McGeee sighting? Joey Votto was on more than one list but with the chance he misses extended time it may be wise to move on from him for this year. Here are my top 20 options for the remainder of the season:

1. Paul Goldschmidt – Diamondbacks – Rock solid and safest 1B for the 2nd half
2. Jose Abreu – White Sox – Crazy to put him ahead of Miggy? Maybe. Even with regression coming he’s real and he’s spectacular
3. Miguel Cabrera – Tigers – Not sure if there is an injury but he got our attention back in the All-Star game with that line drive dinger
4. Edwin Encarnacion – Blue Jays – His presently being on the DL limits his upside but a chance at the AL East title should keep him motivated when he returns
5. Anthony Rizzo – Cubs – I believe. The power is for real and with more support around him he could be elite
6. Freddie Freeman – Braves – Hits in the heart of the order and is insanely consistent
7. Brandon Moss – A’s – Not a household name and may never be but he provides power, is improving against left-handed pitching and is vastly under appreciated
8. Matt Adams – Cardinals – I say at least 10 more home runs in the second half for this Slippery Rock alum
9. Victor Martinez – Tigers – If he is eligible in your format at 1B he has been an absolute steal this year
10. Adrian Gonzalez – Dodgers – Another player who is not beloved by fantasy players but like Freeman is consistent and drives in runs
11. Justin Morneau – Rockies – After leaving Minnesota for a hitter’s haven in Colorado, he has experienced a rebirth
12. Adam LaRoche – Nationals – Usually a second half monster but he has hit well all year. Has been hitting cleanup and loves the 2H, go get him
13. Chris Davis – Orioles – I own zero shares of him this year and I think he can hit the 15 home runs that ZiPS projects, but it will have an effect on your team’s batting average
14. Eric Hosmer – Royals – He has not been worth his price tag thus far but over the last month he has slashed 345/415/488. May be a good buy low
15. Lucas Duda – Mets – Has been atop of Mark Simon of ESPN’s hardest hit ball lists for the last month. We may not have seen the best of him yet
16. Mike Napoli – Red Sox – I have flipped them from the blind numbers above and for good reason, Duda may be better
17. Brandon Belt – Giants – It pains me to put him this low but this may be a jinxed year with a broken thumb and now the concussion. I still believe but he is making it hard
18. Ryan Howard – Phillies – Nothing flashy and I think he is empty home runs, but with all the injuries he still makes the list
19. Mark Teixeira – Yankees – Like Howard, Teix is streaky but the wrist still concerns me. If the Yankees fall out of the race he could be shut down
20. Steve Pearce – Orioles – He has been hitting second for the Orioles, a prime place to bat, and regression screams his name but what is to say he cannot produce for the 2H? Buck has a way of finding these guys

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com, ZiPS Projections
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/U4LkWA

Stephen Vogt Has My Vote

Can Vogt power your team in the second half?

Can Vogt power your team in the second half?

Through the years the fantasy “Moby Dick” has always been owners trying to get a catcher who could provide offense while playing another position. While forward thinking gamers tried out Brandon Inge of the Tigers playing third base with catcher eligibility and most recently Ryan Doumit when he had catcher eligibility while playing in the outfield, another option is emerging in Oakland. With owners lamenting the losses of Matt Wieters and Yadier Molina, Stephen Vogt (48% owned on ESPN, 36% Yahoo, 57% CBS) deserves your attention. According to the ESPN player rater, Vogt is the third ranked catcher over the last statistical month behind only Devin Mesoraco and Salvador Perez. Here are his numbers over the last 30:

• 25 G, 10 R, 3 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB .375/.414/.563

Because of his most recent promotion, his season long numbers are not much different. But with Oakland’s propensity to exploit matchups by using the platoon, Vogt is a player to speculate on. In the last five games prior to the All-Star break he batted in the two-hole in. If that is a sign of things to come then my interest in him is even more piqued. Batting second is a prime spot in the lineup and could provide a bump in runs, which for catchers is a rare stat. Remember another minor league castoff that has blossomed in Oakland, Brandon Moss? By no means is he another potential Moss because he does not have the power upside, but could Vogt provide 5 or more home runs in the second half without hurting a team’s batting average? Absolutely, here are his minor league slash lines:

• Minor League career averages: .305/.367/.467
• Career AAA averages: .302/.367/.498

Along with the nice batting averages, Vogt has displayed some pop in the minors with 29 home runs in 857 at bats. Even though he does not possess a high walk rate (4.3%), his strikeout rate has improved by three to (11.2%) in 2014. So a better command of the strike zone, a patient approach and an improved ISO (isolated power) tell us that Vogt is either on a heater or breaking through. His charts on BrooksBaseball.net are also encouraging. Here is his 2014 spray chart:

vogt spray chartAnd his zone profile shows he can handle pitches across different levels of the strike zone:

vogt zone profile
Vogt is 29 so this is probably not a keeper league decision but rather a potential year-long filler option. Often it is a small move like taking a chance on a player such as Stephen Vogt that gives you a quiet push up the standings. If you missed out on the breakouts by Mesoraco or Perez, take a look at Vogt. Fantasy owners never know when a player will finally reach his potential in the majors, those who believed in his teammate Brandon Moss may profit again by adding Vogt before it is too late.

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com and BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/0J6ep6

 

 

Top DFS Plays for 07/20/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

New to Daily Fantasy? Head over to FanDuel.com and use Promo Code SCRIPT and get 100% match on your first deposit!

Top DFS hitters for today:

Adrian Beltre vs. Mark Buehrle - hitting .333 (12/36) with 2 2B, a HR and 4 RBI

Freddie Freeman vs. Kyle Kendrick - hitting .364 (8/22) with 2 2B, a HR, 6 RBI and 4 walks
Kendrick is 2-4 with a 5.12 ERA and lefties are hitting .323 with 7 HR against him this season.

Michael Brantley vs. Drew Smyly - hitting .500 (5/10) with 2 2B, a 3B, 2 RBI and 2 walks
Brantley is hot at the plate and is hitting .382 against Detroit this season.

Carlos Santana vs. Drew Smyly - hitting .300 (3/10) with 2 2Bs, a RBI & 3 BBs
I fully expect Santana to hit right-handed as righties have had big time success against Smyly this season.

Andrew McCutchen vs. Tyler Matzek - no previous matchup history
Matzek struggles against righties as they are hitting .305 with 3 HR & 17 RBI on the season. I expect ‘Cutch’ to welcome the young man to the show on Sunday.

Top DFS picther for today:

Tim Lincecum vs. Miami Marlins - Big Time Timmy Jim is 4-0 in his last 4 starts. I’m looking past his road ERA near 6 on the season

TV show of the day: Rookie Blue - I have been following this show for 5 seasons now and I really enjoy it. It’s a pretty good summer show to get attached too. Check it out.

Follow Ricky on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Trade Scripts: Huston Street to the Angels

Angels trade for a Street with a known name

Angels trade for a Street with a known name

As the trade deadline approaches there seems to be a changing of the guard. While the American League East has been relatively quiet on the trade front, the West is starting to take on the look of an old fashioned arms race. Oakland fired the first salvo in taking two of the top starting pitching options off the table when they acquired both Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. In response, the Angels have been stocking up on bullpen arms by adding Joe Thatcher from the Diamondbacks and Jason Grilli from the Pirates. And to be fair, Joe Smith has really stepped up his game since the Angels traded veritable gas can Ernesto Frieri to the Pirates. But seeing an aging lineup and a barren minor league system, the Angels have moved their chips all in on 2014 by acquiring Huston Street from the Padres.

In the deal the Padres acquired three of the top prospects in the Angels farm system. Not only did they get the Angels #1 ranked prospect second baseman Taylor Lindsey, but they received a very projectable bullpen arm in R.J. Alvarez along with shortstop Jose Rondon who is fresh off an appearance in the MiLB Futures Game. Given that teams fall in love with prospects, at first glance the Padres appear to have fleeced the Angels. But, just like in fantasy, if the Angels win a title this year, those flags do fly forever.

With the recent emergence of Kevin Jepsen who has been dealing of late, the Angels now have the ability to shorten games with a lead. Huston Street gives them a veteran presence at the back end of the bullpen and Joe Smith now slots to the eighth inning, a role he has thrived in before. Although the Angels say they are done dealing, a smaller move to pick up one more left-handed specialist may be in order with Thatcher being the only lefty in the pen as of this writing. Here are the breakdowns of the pieces moving in the trade:

Los Angeles Angels:
Huston Street 2014 Stats
– 1 W, 24 S, 33 IP, 34/7 K/BB, 1.09 ERA, 0.76 WHIP
Due to his injuries in the past, Street was not only passed over in pre-season drafts by fantasy owners, but he is under-appreciated in baseball. Huston has not only converted 107 of his last 117 save opportunities but he has also had a surge in his strikeout rate this year. Street has increased his K/9 from 7.31 in 2013 to 9.27 in 2014 and his K/BB rate of 4.86 is a reason for his great success this year. For fantasy purposes, AL only players will be bidding very high this weekend to procure his services. Given the heavy price tag that the Angels paid to get him, it is very likely that the Angels will pick up his team option for 2015 as well giving them a season and a half of Street in the American League.

The Angels also received minor league relief pitcher Trevor Gott from the Padres. He has split time this year between A and AA with a combined ERA of 3.56 to go along with 2 wins and 16 saves. Gott is a player for AL only players to track but should not be a factor this year in fantasy.

San Diego Padres:
At first glance, it appears that the Street trade not only gives the Padres farm system a boost, but it will allow for future trades going forward. With the rumors of Chase Headley being on the trading block, acquiring Taylor Lindsey allows the Padres to move Jedd Gyorko back to his original position of third base with Lindsey probably moving up in September to cut his teeth at second base in the majors. For years the Padres have tried to stockpile high upside arms for the bullpen and getting R.J. Alvarez in the deal stays in line with this. Alvarez could be a future closer for San Diego and maybe the best player in the deal in the long term. Jose Rondon is still developing his offense and while his arm at shortstop has been questioned, he did appear in the Futures Game and is worth following as he develops on San Diego’s farm.

Padres future 2B and combo meal prospect

Padres future 2B and combo meal prospect

Taylor Lindsey AAA Stats – 75 G, 50 R, 8 HR, 30 RBI, 7 SB 247/323/400

As the Angels number one rated prospect, Lindsey didn’t match the upside that Angel’s fans had hoped for but he was still their prized possession. Despite not being the “left-handed” Howie Kendrick, Lindsey still possesses some upside. This season he has improved his BB% and lowered his K%. After suffering a concussion in June, he has returned with a vengeance hitting 292/320/500 over his last 20 games. Not only that, here are his last 10 games from MiLB.com:

Taylor Lindsey Last 10 – 7 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 SB 351/368/541

Knowing that the PCL is a hitters league these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt, but the Kendrick comparisons are not bad as Lindsey could be a double-digit home run and steals player in the future for the Padres at second base.

R.J. Alvarez AA Stats – 1 Save, 21 G, 27 IP, 38/10 K/BB, 0.33 ERA, 0.85 WHIP

Alvarez features a 95 MPH hearer and this year has scrapped his curveb for an 84 MPH slider with great success. He did miss some time this year with elbow discomfort but if he can stay healthy could be a future closer for the Padres. With a K/9 of 12.67 and K/BB of 3.8 he deserves your attention.

Jose Rondon A+ Stats – 72 G, 40 R, 0 HR, 24 RBI, 8 SB 327/362/418

Rondon is still developing his power and though his arm strength is in question, provides the Padres with a possible shortstop of the future.

The biggest winners in the short term are the Joaquin Benoit owners. Although it may be advisable to sell him now while his value is highest. San Diego has expressed concern about trading both Benoit and Street, but if the fire sale is going to happen, he may be moved as well. Even though Benoit gave up a run in the ninth against the Mets last night for the loss, he has closed effectively in the past and should have the job in the interim, especially if the Padres are showcasing him for a trade. Here is how Steamer projects Benoit’s rest of the season:

Joaquin Benoit ROS Stats – 2 W, 13 S, 26 IP, 31/8 K/BB, 2.59 ERA, 1.08 WHIP

So to sum this trade up, drop Joe Smith for Joaquin Benoit. AL owners will be opening their FAAB budgets for Huston Street, especially if they need saves. NL only owners will be targeting Taylor Lindsey for future middle infield help but do not forget R.J. Alvarez.

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, MiLB.com, Steamer Projections, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/yIVonn

Top DFS Plays for 07/19/14

*Top hitters and pitchers highlight exceptional matchups that may include stars, lesser-known players and those on your waiver wires.

When I put together my top hitters and pitchers I factor in several things. First, prior matchup history, whether the hitter is hot and the pitcher’s history against that type of batter. Also, these matchups are normally released in the morning so make sure that you double-check the weather leading up to games in case they were postponed or the player got the day off.

Top DFS hitters for today:

Miguel Cabrera vs. Corey Kluber - hitting .500 (12/24) with a 2B, 3 HR and 7 RBI

Mike Trout vs. Felix Hernandez - hitting .386 (17/44) with 2 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 11 RBI and 3 BB
Trout is 3 for 7 with a HR and 2 RBI this season against King Felix.

Mark Teixeria vs. Alfred Simon - hitting .545 (6/11) with a 2B, a HR and 3 RBI
One of those gut feeling plays for today.

Pablo Sandoval vs. Henderson Alvarez - hitting .500 (3/6) with 2 2B and 2 RBI
Panda is hot over the last week and is hitting .304 against RHP this season. Must play today.

Nick Markakis vs. Jason Hammel - hitting .429 (6/14) with a HR & 5 RBIs

Top DFS pichter for today:

Dallas Keuchel vs. Chicago White Sox - Keuchel is 7-2 with a 3.13 ERA and 53 K on the road this season

Movie of the day: Let’s Be Cops - I saw an advance screener of this on Thursday night and it was fantastic! It comes out on August 13th and I would recommend that you check it out.

Follow Ricky on Twitter @Rickygangster!