Draft Scripts: Using NFBC ADP’s to evaluate Outfield

In anticipation of the FSTA draft this week, I continue my early look at NFBC ADP’s, concentrating on the top 200 in money drafts. While the names continue to shuffle others stay the same. Outfield will be about trust, mixing some power with guys who can steal some bases and catching that bargain that others either overlooked or were burned by last year. It is evident in the ADP information that it will take due diligence and maybe a little luck to hit on the breakouts this year. Due the fact there are forty nine names to digest I made one chart and took the liberty of splitting up their strengths by color:

Red – 20+ HR, 8 < SB (Power); Green – 10 < HR, 20+ SB (Speed); Blue – 10+ HR, 10+ SB (Blends)

Here is how the outfield stacks up. I listed their draft rank below and also inserted their average ADP’s in the NFBC drafts to give an early indicator of their value prior to Thursday’s FSTA draft.

OF NFBC Avg ADP Chart Update 2

Keeping with the format, I have processed each player drafted in the top 200 in charts with their respective Steamer Projections courtesy of Fangraphs.com. After each group I will give some thoughts about how the outfielders stack up and then move to the next one. The first two charts will be in groups of seventeen then the last group will round out to the 49 outfielders according to the ADP numbers.

Group One – 4 Power, 1 Speed and 12 Blends

OF NFBC Projection Chart 1-17

I mean the first seventeen at most positions should be rock solid and for the most part the outfielders are. I have sort of clumped some highlights into categories since the Golden Globes just happened, so here goes. By the way I am not scared of either Matt Kemp or Justin Upton in San Diego but I wrote about that already here.
Safety in numbers: Adam Jones, Baltimore
He is not flashy and is always a regression candidate and he just keeps producing. It is like you do not feel great drafting him at his ADP but he is consistent while not flashy, which in the first round is not so bad.
Bounce Back: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
I was warning drafters last year to avoid Ryan, but I am back. Since his ADP is trending down, his health may be up and guys who produce 28 home runs and 12 steals are dwindling with a batting average near .300, so I am here with open arms.
Trust Issues: Michael Brantley, Cleveland; Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado
While I am intrigued by the price on Carlos Gonzalez, his checkered health past, last year makes him a very risky option this early. But he could deliver a season like Michael Brantley did last year. Let that marinate a minute. Brantley broke through for a strong 2014, are you feeling lucky paying for a repeat? If you are the cost may alarm you.
Wild Cards: Bryce Harper, Washington; George Springer, Houston
Two guys who could determine how teams finish. I mean there is a 25 home run and 15 steal season while hitting .290 just waiting for Harper who people seem to forget is only 22 years old. With batting averages dropping across baseball again, a guy who could hit 30 home runs and if his legs stay healthy, steal 20 is tolerable if he hits .240, but the .240 could be iffy. If Springer gets his average to .250, then he is a potential top 10 outfielder. There, I said it.
Upside Play: Starling Marte, Pittsburgh
At the same cost as Carlos Gonzalez who may strain a pinkie or Billy Hamilton I can get a poor man’s Jacoby Ellsbury who is younger with more upside? Twenty picks later? Absolutely.
Group Two – 6 Power, 2 Speed, 9 Blends

OF NFBC Projection Chart 18-34

Safety in numbers: Nelson Cruz, Seattle
It is clear that Nelson Cruz’s huge 2014 netted him the Mariners contract which is twofold, first he will protect Robinson Cano and second he adds a power right handed bat that they have craved. While I am not saying to invest heavily in a repeat, he can still hit 25 home runs and you know what you are getting with Cruz.
Bounce Back: Jay Bruce, Cincinnati
At a time when power hitters are craved a strong return by Jay Bruce at a deflated cost would be huge for his fantasy value. We know he can hit for power, or at least should, but will his batting average return to respectability? Or does the shift have another victim?
Trust Issues: Charlie Blackburn, Colorado; J.D. Martinez, Detroit
One had a career year in Coors field and the other was an outcast from the Astros and found success in Motown? If I had to pick from the two, I think a repeat in power by Martinez is possible with some losses in batting average but his Steamer projection supports a solid season. I think Blackburn is a nice story but to invest in him this early when there are other options available late is a tough pick to justify.
Wild Cards: Rusney Castillo, Boston; Jorge Soler, Chicaco Cubs
A Cuban theme here in the wild card section so all kidding aside, they both have immense ability. If Castillo can translate his winter season statistics to the major leagues then the Red Sox have an even deeper outfield and should be dealing Allen Craig sooner than later. Not to kill the theme, but a power hitting outfielder is becoming rarer and rarer, so Jorge Soler has to be on radars. Since he could hit more home runs without destroying a team’s batting average I may venture to gamble on him since he can develop over say a Jay Bruce….the shift….
Upside Play: Jason Heyward, St. Louis
On my tombstone it will read, he trusted in in Jason Heyward. He has not hit left-handed pitching, well, at all lately and even though I sang his praises from the rooftops last year Heyward was replaced in Atlanta by Nick Markakis? Yes, that Nick Markakis. I am not saying that 20/20 is a guarantee but would it surprise anyone that being a Cardinal unlocked his potential? Would not be the first guy to have that happen.
Group Three: 3 Power, 4 Speed, 7 Blends, Melky Cabrera

OF NFBC Projection Chart 35-49

Safety in numbers: There is not really safety out here….

Bounce Back: Shin-Soo Choo, Texas
With health, it is hard to imagine a prohibitive top twenty outfielder in 2014 draft preps has fallen so precipitously, but Choo has. How many owners did he upset? In NFBC formats this means he is a tenth round pick and chance well worth taking. Unless the curse of Kinsler is real.
Trust Issues: Same as the safety problem, there are going to be trust issues here as well. Just look at the ADP’s of Alex Rios and the aforementioned Choo.
Wild Cards: Avisail Garcia, Chicago White Sox; Yasmany Tomas, Arizona
It takes some stones to invest in players out here in drafts and when you see the pitching options you will see why I am going to get power and hitters early and try to target pitching later. But I will take a chance on Avisail Garcia here since he could have a ceiling of 20 home runs with ten steals at an ADP of 172 on average. All day every day. The White Sox are going to score some runs. Yasmany Tomas will come with some hype especially with the breakout that Jose Abreu had last year but I fear that Tomas will resemble a different White Sox teammate, Dayan Viciedo. Tread lightly here….
Upside: Gregory Polanco, Pittsburgh
There are all kinds of terms, post-hype sleeper for example, whatever you want to say I think Polanco had a tough go after his promotion last year but he is talented. After watching him in person I was a fan and he has presence. Though his ceiling in 2015 is probably 13 home runs and 25 stolen bases that is a bargain where he is going.
It is getting late so I am going to offer up one more chart with player that are beyond the top 200 in each category for outfield with their projections included. When you speak of me, please speak nicely.

OF NFBC Undrafted Chart with Projections Updated

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.go.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/DKf0LS

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!

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Transaction Scripts: Yankees in Transition

Headley enjoyed his stint in NY so much he took less to stay. Let that marinate with his 4 year 52 million dollar deal.
Headley enjoyed his stint in NY so much he took less to stay.

It seems strange to be breaking down New York’s offseason moves to this point without commenting on a free agent that they overspent on. Well, with the exception of Chase Headley. However, he may have left money on the table to sign with New York. Wait, what? In flurry of moves during the Winter Meetings, teams like San Diego, Los Angeles and Miami were wheeling and dealing. Within the division, Toronto has strengthened their team defense and lineup by signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. The Red Sox have been busy hoarding number three starters to go along with the signings of Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval. Tampa is being Tampa and making under the radar deals and stockpiling arms. The biggest news in Baltimore is that Chris Davis can (legally) take Adderall this year. Phew!

Oh yeah, one last thing. The black cloud that is Alex Rodriguez is hanging over the 2015 Yankees.

Brian Cashman is trying to look to the future and shed some of the mistakes of contract’s past. Now that the Derek Jeter retirement tour has ended and the “Core Four” have all retired, the time has come to try and rebuild on the fly. A total reclamation project is not in the offing for a franchise that prides itself with headlines, winning and most importantly, championships. But one of the reasons they have been quiet this winter is because the cupboard is kind of bare on the farm. Because the Yankees are devoid of the prospects that other teams desire, they have taken a new course. I was surprised about the backlash on Twitter from Yankee fans after they traded Martin Prado and David Phelps to Miami for Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones and prospect Domingo German. Prado is nice and all but his ceiling is limited and pitchers who repeatedly throw 95 MPH do not fall off trees. Adding the Marlins number 8 prospect in German was great as well. He is not overpowering but throws strikes.

So what have the Yankees done this winter?

Yankee Acquisitions: Andrew Miller, Didi Gregorius, Nathan Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, Domingo German, Gonzalez Germen, Chase Headley, Chris Young
Yankee Losses: David Robertson, Shane Greene, Martin Prado, David Phelps, Brandon McCarthy

Starting with the infield, it appears for now that the Yankees are going to bring in Didi Gregorius and his strong defense to platoon with Brendan Ryan at shortstop. While it makes sense to be strong up the middle, what does Sir Didi offer as he tries to replace a Yankee Legend? According to ESPN Statistical Analysis, Gregorius made 41 good plays at shortstop in 2014 in 580 innings while the best total at the position was 71 good plays per 1,000 innings. I am not a math wizard but this implies that Gregorius was on pace to make more good plays per 1,000 innings than the leader in baseball. While this will not mean anything to Gregorius’ production on offense, if he helps save runs that may have more worth than anything he would do offensively. On a positive note, here is another list, courtesy of Mark Simon, noting the players with the highest hard hit rate in 2014:

Hard Hit Rate Mark Simon

It is only one statistic, but Gregorius is nestled in between Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout. I’m not sure how this happened but Didi is a candidate for a platoon. His career slash lines against left-handed pitching are a paltry .184/.257/.233 while his numbers improve against righties to the tune of .262/.332/.411. It is hard to say that a move to Yankee stadium will improve his numbers since Arizona is a hitter’s ballpark as well but the short porch in right is enticing to lefties. Gregorius has hit all 13 of his career homers off of right-handed pitchers so it really makes sense to platoon him with Brendan Ryan not only to shield him from the New York fans and writers but to allow him to gain confidence. This is could be a tough sell as Bob McManaman wrote about for the Arizona Republic:

“…this was a scout’s take on Gregorius in a text message to the New York Daily News: He’s OK. Solid defender, bat is light-long swing. Good athlete. Nervous type, not sure he can handle NY. If Gregorius is batting around .220 in May, Yankees fans and the New York tabloids alike will be screaming at Cashman for not trading for Troy Tulowitzki or Elvis Andrus or making a run at Hanley Ramirez before he bolted to the rival Red Sox.”

This will be Didi’s third team in the last three years. Replacing Derek Jeter is a tall order on its own, starting in New York as a platoon player at best whose best quality is defense, may be too tough for Gregorius to handle. In the 81 games Steamer projects out of him, he’ll produce 34 runs, 6 home runs, 32 RBI and 2 stolen bases while hitting .248/.310/.366. That does not look great but in comparison to Derek Jeter’s 2014 of 145 games, 47 runs, 4 home runs, 50 RBI, 10 stolen bases and .256/.304/.313 it doesn’t look so bad. I think Yankee fans are smarter than people give them credit for (Editor’s note: Greg is a Yankees fan). Gregorius may not light it up in fantasy, but if he saves runs for their patchwork pitching staff then he will be worth his spot in the platoon.

When the Yankees traded for Chase Headley in 2014 it seemed like a reach for a team that could not realistically make the playoffs. I remember watching a game near the end of the year and hearing that Headley was surprised about how much he enjoyed being a Yankee and that playing there may have changed his mind about his pending free agency. It really did not register with me at the time but while I am reading reports that his 4 year 52-million dollar contract was below other offers, I was surprised. Taking out his outlier 2012, his high in home runs for a season is 13 (which he has done each of the last two years). If the Yankees had any plans to give Alex Rodriguez playing time at third base would they have given Headley a four year contract? As congruent as Headley’s statistics have been over the last two years in which he has averaged 138 games, 57 runs, 13 home runs, 50 RBI, 8 SB and a .246/.338/.387 slash line, his power peripherals are very intriguing. First, here are Headley’s home runs from 2014 with an overlay of Yankee Stadium. Now he did hit 6 of his 13 homers with the Yankees, but notice the distances in comparison to the overlay:

Chase Headley Yankee Overaly 2014

What makes even less sense is how his supporting statistics match up over the last three years. I charted them below and you may find it as perplexing as I did:

Headley HR Chart

It would appear that Headley is regaining strength in his thumb with the increased bat velocities the last two seasons and while a return to his 31 home run spike from 2012 is very unlikely, I am willing to buy into Headley increasing his home run totals in 2015. Ballpark, plus increased HR/FB%, plus increased ball speed off the bat could translate into a bump in not only Headley’s home run totals, but his fantasy stats overall. Steamer seems to agree:

Chase Headley 2015: 138 G, 69 R, 17 HR, 68 RBI, 8 SB, .259/.343/.413

That is a solid portrayal for Headley going forward and although I was not enamored with his contract for the Yankees, it is a boon for his fantasy value. By no means does this propel him to the top of any 3B rankings but it makes him relevant again. If he can hold on to the distances that he exhibited in 2014, I could see him hitting 20 – 23 long balls next year:

2014 Longest HR by AVG Distance

Although it seems that the Yankees are stockpiling designated hitters with Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez already on the roster, they picked up Garrett Jones from the Marlins. Jones is not a particularly strong fielder in right or at first base so if he plays it will be for his bat. But if Jones is going to be a part of a platoon at DH, the Yankees may be on to something. Similar to Gregorius, Jones does his best work against right-handed pitchers, hitting 101 of his 117 career home runs off of them. His career slash lines against right-handers is .267/.333/.479, which, in New York is something to take note of. Once again, just like Headley, Jones’ power spike in 2012 has been followed up by back to back 15 homer campaigns. Unlike Headley, Jones’ peripheral numbers do not portend a serious jump in power due to his arrival in New York. First here is his home run overlay with Yankee stadium using his 2014 home runs:

Garrett Jones Yankee Overlay 2014

While Headley had supporting stats to say an increase in power is due to happen, Jones will have to rely on the short porch in right field for a power jump. But Jones averages a home run every 21.9 at bats against right-handed pitching for his career so if he can garner 450 at bats with the Yankees his career numbers dictate that he could hit 21 home runs at his peak. Using Jones’ Steamer projection of 81 games, he’s due to produce 41 runs, 14 home runs, 45 RBI and a .250/.311/.448 slash line. Jones’ value will be determined not only by how he is used but by how many at bats he gets. He is a sneaky cheap power play in AL-only leagues.

Finishing up the infield preview, it appears that a spring training battle at second base is brewing between Robert Refsnyder and Jose Pirela. At a time when Yankee fans are looking for a prospect to break through and contribute to this team, Refsnyder has been growing in the minor leagues. Their numbers in the minors last year are strikingly familiar:

Robert Refsnyder AA/AAA: 137 G, 82 R, 14 HR, 63 RBI, 9 SB, .318/.387/.497
Jose Pirela AAA: 130 G, 87 R, 10 HR, 60 RBI, 15 SB, .305/.351/.441

Pirela is on the active 40-man roster and would appear to have the inside track as the season opens, but a strong spring could push Refsnyder into the position earlier than anticipated. Defense could be the deciding factor, as Refsnyder is still a work in progress at second base and could use a bit more seasoning at AAA. Steamer seems to think that the Yankees will start with Pirela at the position:

Jose Pirela Steamer: 57 G, 24 R, 4 HR, 23 RBI, 5 SB, .259/.307/.381
Robert Refsnyder Steamer: 97 G, 45 R, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 9 SB, .262/.328/.390

Even though I think Refsnyder is the best for second base in the long run it may take him until June to win the job. But once he is there it may be his for some time which would make Yankee fans happy to see players come through the system again.
As to the pitching pieces in this deal, it starts with Nathan Eovaldi coming over from the Marlins. Like Chase Headley, he is a tough player to project for 2015 as he has enticing positives like his live arm and improving FIP but he has his warts. Courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net, here is repertoire:

Eovaldi MPH and Movement 2014

Fangraphs.com’s Eno Sarris has a couple of interesting tweets regarding Eovaldi:

To say that Eovaldi could be the next Garrett Richards is high praise indeed, but may be a work in progress. His pitches with batting averages against show the problems that Eovaldi has with his changeup:

Eovaldi 2014 Results against

There are reports that Eovaldi is working on a split finger fastball this offseason, so it will remain to be seen what he can do in a ballpark like Yankee Stadium. But with his velocity and youth, it is a risk worth taking for the Yankees.

The other piece in the Marlins trade was pitcher Domingo German who was the eighth rated Marlins prospect and immediately jumped one spot in the Yankee ranking to number 7 after the trade. German is a very good young pitcher who struck out 113 in 2014 against only 25 walks. His fastball is reported to be in the low 90’s with an average changeup and a developing slider. In his first full season in class A, German had a tidy 2.48 ERA. His fastball does have sink which is a plus as teams are looking for power pitchers who generate groundballs.

I have already written up Andrew Miller here and how he provides insurance in the bullpen as the Dellin Betances era may begin in New York. Having been fortunate enough to get him in the reserve draft in my AL-only league next year I look forward to Betances transitioning in to take over at closer for his mentor and hero Mariano Rivera. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees can stay the course and hold on to their prospects like Luis Severino, a live-armed righty who throws an easy fastball and allow AFL star Aaron Judge to develop instead of flipping him for an aging veteran. The times are changing in New York and I am curious to see how Brian Cashman sheds contracts before trying to make a splash in the 2016 free agent class. These are not the Yankees of years past, at least at the moment.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, ESPN.com, MiLB.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/mGs6bU

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!

Transaction Scripts: Marlins add Gordon, Morse, Latos

In an effort to provide Giancarlo Stanton more chances to win, the Marlins added Dee Gordon, Martin Prado to bat in front of him and Michael Morse for power behind, but will it work?
The Marlins added Dee Gordon, Martin Prado and Michael Morse so far this winter

When the Marlins signed Giancarlo Stanton to an extension it changed the direction of their offseason. Instead of playing for the future the Marlins are going for it, as echoed by quotes from Stanton, courtesy of USA Today:

“Stanton told USA TODAY Sports that he was always willing to listen about a long-term extension, but simply wanted assurances that the team is committed to winning.
‘Winning,” Stanton said, “has a way of curing a whole lot of things.’’

Indeed, winning is the cure. This has happened before with the Marlins as they seem to build with youth to contend, win and then sell off the parts before they become too expensive. There is an opt-out clause in Stanton’s contract that the team feels he will take so the window to win has been shortened even with the agreement in place. In an effort to fill gaps within the pitching staff until Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John Surgery, Miami added Jared Cosart last August along with the following changes this offseason:

Players Acquired by Miami: Dee Gordon, Michael Morse, Martin Prado, Dan Haren, Mat Latos, David Phelps, Kendry Flores, Luis Castillo, Andre Rienzo, Miguel Rojas

Players Traded by Miami: Casey McGehee, Nate Eovaldi, Garrett Jones, Domingo German, Dan Jennings, Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, Enrique Hernandez, Austin Barnes, Anthony DeSclafani, Chad Wallach

On the surface this is about improving the infield and the offense. Even though Stanton hit 37 home runs prior to his season-ending injury, the Marlins as a team only hit 122 in 2014. Unlike the Padres, the Marlins have a strong base to build around in the outfield which is why they turned their focus to veteran pitching depth and improving their lineup. Here is a chart showing what each spot in the lineup produced in 2014. These spots will likely be filled by the aforementioned Prado and Morse:

Marlins 2014 2 & 4 hitters

While the counting statistics will likely be the same for Prado, his career slash lines of .291/.340/.429 are an improvement over what the Marlins had there last year. Hitting in front of Stanton is an enviable place to occupy in any lineup. In Prado’s career he has hit .297 against fastballs and figures to see plenty of them if he hits second. As for the cleanup spot, Stanton had Casey McGehee hitting behind him for most of 2014 and still produced 37 dingers, so this is more about Michael Morse hitting in a better spot in the lineup. Which Dee Gordon are the Marlins getting? Considering that they stole only 58 bases as a team last season, Gordon figures to give them a new dimension even if there is regression in his on base numbers.

Can Latos recapture his 2013 7.9 K/9 or is he ticketed for more elbow problems? His 2014 velocities raise concern
Is Latos healthy? His elbow is a concern for fantasy owners

As for the pitching side, the Marlins did give up the second-rated left-handed pitching prospect in the minors when they moved Andrew Heaney to the Dodgers in the Gordon/Haren trade. This is a high risk, high reward scenario for them because there is no guarantee Dan Haren pitches in 2015. Not only that, but they dealt Anthony DeSclafani to the Reds in return for Mat Latos who is coming off of a disappointing and injury filled 2014. If Latos cannot regain his fastball velocity and ends up needing further elbow surgery, then this could all blow up.

Here’s a look at what Gordon, Prado and Morse have done over the past two years, (for Gordon I used 2012 and 2014 due to his limited 2013) along with their Steamer projections, courtesy of Fangraphs:

marlins batters last two years plus steamer

I think that Prado is capable of scoring more runs since the number two hitters in 2014 were able to cross the plate 82 times. Gordon will regress towards the slash lines but I still think he is capable of 90+ runs and 60 stolen bases. The only question with Morse is health. If he can stay off the DL, there is a buy-low opportunity there. I can see a stat line of 20 home runs and 70 RBI this year if he can play 130 or more games.

Miami felt it needed to add a veteran pitching presence and has taken a chance on two pitchers who are coming off of mediocre years and declining velocities. Haren is dealing with the velocity decline with success, although he is prone to blowing up on occasion. According to BrooksBaseball.net, Haren has lost 2 MPH on his fastball and has moved to using his cutter more, especially near the end of 2014:

Haren Pitches 2014Haren Career Pitches VelocityHaren 2014

Latos had a 2014 that he probably would like to forget. Coming off of an elbow procedure to clean up bone chips and promote bone growth, he also had a knee problem. It’s blatantly obvious that Latos was never comfortable last year. What is more disturbing is the drop in his 2014 K/9 (6.5) and the loss of velocity in his pitches. Again, here are Latos’ career velocity charts along with the same pitches and speeds from 2014 (courtesy of BrooksBaseball.net):

Brooksbaseball-Chart

If Latos cannot regain his fastball speeds in 2015, it may be a long one for the fantasy owners who are buying a return to form. The following charts illustrate how important it is for Latos to use his slider, curve and split finger. His fastball and sinker are too hittable for him to pitch effectively without using his full arsenal:

Latos Career Pitches and Averages AgainstLatos 2014 Pitches and average against

I find it remarkable how similar the two players Steamer projections are for 2015 considering one is 27 and the other is 34:

Mat Latos Steamer Projection: 10 W, 30 G, 182 IP, 133/53 K/BB, 4.12 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 4.04 FIP
Dan Haren Steamer Projection: 10 W, 28 G, 163 IP, 123/35 K/BB, 3.93 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 3.91 FIP

Ultimately, Latos’ elbow health and velocity in Spring Training may determine his worth for 2015. As of this writing, the Marlins definitely took risks to keep their franchise player happy. A lot will have to go right for the Marlins to make the playoffs in 2015, although with the turmoil surrounding the Phillies, Mets and Braves, they have given themselves a shot at the Wild Card. If Haren decides to walk away from his contract or Jose Fernandez has any sort of a setback, the Marlins could be in tough shape.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/HdJkLW (Stanton), http://goo.gl/GrzT28 (Latos)

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!

Transaction Scripts: Dee Gordon to Miami; Andrew Heaney to Angels; Howie Kendrick to Dodgers

Moving to Miami are the Marlins hoping for Juan Pierre 2K15?
Are the Marlins hoping Dee Gordon can be their Juan Pierre 2K15?

In a move that may be vetoed in a dynasty league, the Dodgers and Marlins agreed to a 4 for 2 trade involving an All-Star second baseman who stole 64 bases along with an aging starting pitcher who has stated he will not pitch outside of California for 4 prospects. That prospect is prized left-handed starting pitcher Andrew Heaney. Heaney is presently ranked as the 18th overall prospect by MLB.com and the second best left-handed pitcher in the minors.

This tweet is true because there are many factors in play. While the Marlins get a spark plug at the top of their lineup who single-handedly stole more bases last year than the Marlins did as a franchise (64-58), they are giving up a good young pitcher who can impact the Dodger rotation this year.

With Jon Lester already getting $155 million from the Cubs and Max Scherzer hoping for a $200 million dollar offer, having a young arm like Heaney is a great chip to possess. Given the popularity of Dee Gordon in Los Angeles, this will be a tough trade initially for some of the fan base to accept, but most of the baseball community is already impressed by the Dodgers Andrew Friedman.

Not only is this an interesting baseball trade, but there are some fantasy ramifications that will come from it. I will start by looking at the impact that Dee Gordon may have in Miami. As I was researching this another twist occurred. I felt more and more like this:

Basically the Dodgers traded Dee Gordon for prospects, and flipped one of those prospects, Andrew Heaney, for Howie Kendrick and agreed in principle to sign Brandon McCarthy to bolster their staff and replace Dan Haren. I will do my best to fit all of this in, starting with the Marlins gamble on Gordon building upon his growth in 2014.

Dee Gordon flies South for the season

One of the most popular players in the Marlins franchise history has to be Juan Pierre. His speed and smile made him likeable. Since his departure, the Marlins franchise has struggled to develop or acquire a legitimate leadoff hitter. Sure, Emilio Bonifacio had 30 steals out of that spot in 2012, but fizzled out shortly after. There are going to be comparisons between Pierre and Gordon, not only for their speed, but the fact that Gordon plays the game the same way, hard and with a smile. One of the reasons for Gordon’s improved on base percentage last year is due to his diligence in learning how to bunt. Since being patient is not a forte of either player, being able to get on base by bunting is a must.

Juan Pierre had a bunt hit (BUH%) percentage of 34% over the course of his career. In 2013, Gordon was only successful getting on base 27.3% of the time via the bunt. In 2014 though, that rate jumped to 42.6%, raising not only his batting average but his OBP. Both speedsters were very impatient at the plate with Juan Pierre only walking 5.6% in his career and Gordon sitting presently at 5.2%. The difference lies in their strikeouts. Pierre owned a very low career whiff rate (5.8%) but Gordon strikes out nearly 3 times as much (16.5%).

What is encouraging is that even though Gordon strikes out much more, he did show some growth last year. The not so good news is that he only drew 4 walks in the season’s second half. Four. However, Gordon’s halves weren’t all that different on average. Warning signs do remain in regards to his OBP and slugging percentage:

1H: .292/.344/.398
2H: .284/.300/.348.

Gordon’s career slash line is .272/.314/.345 over 329 games so regression should be expected in 2015. Not leaving the theme of the Pierre and Gordon comparison though, here are each of their respective age 26 seasons:

Dee Gordon 2014: 148 G, 92 R, 24 2B, 12 3B, 2 HR, 34 RBI, 64 SB, .289/.326/.378
Juan Pierre 2004:
162 G, 100 R, 22 2B, 12 3B, 3 HR, 49 RBI, 45 SB, .326/.374/.407

To try and project Gordon’s 2015 I looked at his Steamer projection and Juan Pierre’s 2005 season for historical comparison:

Dee Gordon 2015 Steamer: 136 G, 67 R, 3 HR, 40 RBI, 50 SB, .256/.307/.331
Juan Pierre 2005:
162 G, 19 2B, 13 3B, 2 HR, 47 RBI, 57 SB, .276/.326/.354

Without sounding like a debbie downer, Gordon should take a step back this year. His inflated BABIP from a season ago should come back to earth, hurting his batting average. He’ll lose a little luster, but if he hits leadoff or between Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton, he should still be an appealing commodity for fantasy owners. The reason Miami wanted Gordon was to add an additional element (that of speed) to their lineup. Trading 4 young prospects for Dee Gordon and Dan Haren tells us that the speedster will be a fixture at the top of the Miami order on Opening Day.

As for Haren, there have been reports that he would retire if he didn’t have the chance to pitch for a team in California. If that’s really the case, maybe Miami flips him to another club in the near future. If they don’t, there’s a chance that he walks away, leaving 10 million bucks on the table.

Andrew Heaney to the Angels?

Heaney is moving to LA but is now an Angel and will compete to be the 5th starter
Heaney should slot in as the #5 in a solid Angels rotation

In an era of dominant pitching, teams are jumping at the thought of being able to land a top left-handed pitching prospect. The Dodgers essentially traded Dee Gordon for Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, Kike Hernandez and Austin Barnes. Like the White Sox adding Jeff Samardzija for Marcus Semien, LA is trading from a position of strength. However, the Dodgers intent was not to use Heaney, but to trade him to the Angels for veteran second baseman Howie Kendrick.

Starting with Heaney, the Angels have gained a 23-year old Major League ready lefty with a 3-pitch arsenal as described by Eno Sarris of Fangraphs above. Heaney throws a fastball in the low 90’s that can touch 95 along with a plus slider and good changeup. Here are his number from 2014:

Andrew Heaney Minors (2 Levels): 9 W, 137.1 IP, 143/36 K/BB, 3.28 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
Andrew Heaney Miami:
3 L, 29.1 IP, 20/7 K/BB, 5.83 ERA, 1.33 WHIP

There may be some growing pains but I think he has sleeper potential for fantasy teams in the late rounds. Take note in deepe mixed and AL-only leagues.

Dodgers retool and add Kendrick

LA replaces Flash with Howie as they strengthen their lineup for a World Series run
The Angels replace Gordon with Howie in hopes of giving their lineup more balance

Before we could publish a column detailing the trade between the Dodgers and Marlins, a wrinkle was added. The Dodgers flipped Andrew Heany to the cross-town Angels for Kendrick. Heaney was traded twice within 8 hours to two teams in the same city.

What does this do for Howie Kendrick’s fantasy value? Depending on where he hits in the lineup it can certainly have a positive impact. Kendrick finished the 2014 campaign as the #8 ranked second baseman on ESPN’s Player Rater. In fact, he was a top 75 overall fake player. Fantasy owners have finally given up on hopes that Kendrick will ever win a batting title, but he has settled in quite nicely as a consistent option at second base. I averaged out his last 3 years. Here’s what you get:

Howie Kendrick 3 Year Avg: 142 G, 66 R, 9 HR, 65 RBI, 11 SB, .292/.336/.410

Not spectacular by any means, but slow and steady wins the race. His boost in RBI last season can be attributed to his spot in the Angel batting order. Kendrick hit cleanup 39 times and fifth 57 times. An improved Angel offense helped him tie a career high with 75 RBI while coming close to a career best with 85 runs. Adding another veteran presence just seems to signal that the Dodgers are going all in on 2015. As for Kendrick’s fantasy outlook, much will depend on where he hits in the lineup. But if you are paying for 10-12 home runs and 10-12 steals with his career slash line, you will not be disappointed.

In an effort to beef up their bullpen, the Dodgers also acquired relief pitcher Chris Hatcher. He’s already 29 but had a solid season with the Marlins in 2014. He actually threw five different pitches last year using a 96 MPH fastball, 88 MPH split-finger fastball, a 91 MPH cutter, 95 MPH sinker and an 87 MPH slider. 9 of the 10 home runs he gave up in 2014 were against his fastball so it could be savvy of the Dodgers to encourage him to throw more sinkers along with his split-finger and slider. Opponents only hit .205 against his sinker, .208 versus his split and .250 off the slider. The best part of Hatcher is that he throws strikes and in 2014 had a K/9 of 9.6.

One of the trademarks of the Tampa Bay Rays under Friedman’s guidance was the presence of players with versatility. This speaks to the other two players to come to Los Angeles in this deal. Austin Barnes played second base and catcher in AA last year and has caught scout’s eyes:

What is in his bat was impressive 2014 across two levels. Even though he bounced around the diamond, he was able to stay consistent at the plate and made strides as a catcher. Here are his statistics from last year:

Austin Barnes (2 Levels): 122 G, 80 R, 13 HR, 57 RBI, 11 SB, .304/.398/.472

The last player to come over in the trade is Enrique (Kike) Hernandez who split time between the Astros and Marlins last year. He appeared in the outfield, second base and shortstop in games. Are you seeing a theme here? A big league ready arm, a bullpen piece and two versatile players that could contribute at the Major League level at various positions for a speedy second baseman and a near-retired pitcher. As for Hernandez, his numbers are intriguing from the minors last year as a 22-year old utility player:

Kike Hernandez Minors AAA: 98 G, 58 R, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 6 SB, .319/.372/.484
Kike Hernandez Majors 2 Teams:
42 G, 13 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, .248/.321/.421

Again, with the emergence of Alex Guerrero in the minors last year, I think that Hernandez was targeted to be a utility player for the Dodgers. Jimmy Rollins gives Corey Seager a year to develop and only costs the Dodgers two minor league arms and some money. With Dee Gordon out of the picture, I am most intrigued by Guerrero and his power potential at third base:

Alex Guerrero Minors 2014: 77 G, 47 R, 17 HR, 57 RBI, 4 SB, .333/.373/.621

Even though he lost developmental time due to losing part of his ear in an awkward dugout altercation with Miguel Olivo, it appears that second base is Guerrero’s job to lose this spring. Look at that glorious .994 OPS! What happens next with the Dodgers is going to be interesting but if I were a Giants fan, I would be nervous about what the Dodgers are building for in 2015.

Statistical credits: Baseball-Reference.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net, MiLB.com, MLB.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/Hu6D7w (Gordon), http://goo.gl/jllWoX (Heaney)

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!

Script Profile: Matt Kemp

Kemp has flexed his muscle in the 2H and you should believe in it
Kemp has flexed his muscle in the 2nd half and you should believe

Evaluating a player’s performance as the season draws to a close is always interesting. I am not afraid to admit that I was very worried about Matt Kemp entering 2014 and owned zero shares of him this season. The risk/reward factor that was attached to taking him seemed a bit too steep, similar to Ryan Braun. After a sluggish first half, Kemp is gaining momentum not only for the Dodgers in the throes of a pennant race, but also for hardcore fantasy owners who are still paying attention.

Entering the 2014 season, Kemp was on average the 44th player selected in live drafts according to Fantasy Pros cumulative statistics and was taken at pick 55.6. On ESPN’s player rater today, Matt Kemp oddly enough ranks 44th overall with four games remaining in the regular season. Even though Kemp has been an MVP candidate, he seemed to be valued almost dead on by drafters this year. With an eye on the future, it is going to be interesting not only to see where he goes in early drafts for 2015, but how his projection for next year will be.

First, here is how his season looks so far:

Matt Kemp 2014: 148 G, 75 R, 24 HR, 86 RBI, 8 SB, 284/343/498

If I took his name off of here and put say, Yoenis Cespedes, the only surprise would be the batting average. This is a solid season but not one that would make owners reach in drafts for the next season. But this is Matt Kemp and his name still means something in fantasy. If you are still paying attention to baseball, you would realize that his first and second half splits tell an interesting story:

Matt Kemp 1H: 86 G, 38 R, 8 HR, 35 RBI, 5 SB, 269/330/430
Matt Kemp 2H: 62 G, 37 R, 16 HR, 51 RBI, 3 SB, 303/360/589

What really catches my eye is the difference in production between the first and second halves. Not only is there is a jump in Kemp’s slugging percentage, but more importantly in his OBP, home runs and RBI. Being realistic, it is hard to imagine Kemp ever stealing more than twenty bases in a season again. Since his career year in 2011 with 40 steals, he has not played over 140 games until this year and the stolen bases seem to be the one area he is declining. However, if his power numbers continue to surge with health, I think this is a tradeoff that fantasy owners will palate due to the dearth of power in baseball across the board. As important as the splits above are, can they be sustained?

Kemp’s 1H: ISO – .161, BABIP – .349, wRC+ – 117, wOBA – .336
Kemp’s 2H: ISO – .286, BABIP – .335, wRC+ – 164, wOBA – .404
Kemp’s Career: ISO – .203, BABIP – .351, wRC+ – 127, wOBA – .361

Here is where things get a bit more interesting. It appears that Kemp could even improve a bit in his average for 2015 with his BABIP being a bit under his career numbers; not that .284 is a number to be disappointed in. What I want to see is how his jump in ISO (isolated power) over the second half can be projected for next year. Less running should keep Kemp healthier and allow him to blossom as a power hitter moving forward. It will be hard to determine if the second half is an outlier or a sneak preview of things to come as Kemp evolves as a player. For perspective, Kemp’s HR/FB % in 2014 is 19.4, while his career number is 16.5%. He’s reached as high as 21.4% and 21.7% in 2010 and 2011 respectively, however. Knowing he was not healthy the past season and a half may make Kemp a player that can be bought at a reasonable price in 2015. That is the rub. Where will Kemp be valued for next year? If he is being taken in the third round then he will provide great value like Giancarlo Stanton this year, but if Kemp makes his way into the early second round, then some of that value is mitigated.

After some great Twitter debate last night, I am comfortable projecting Kemp for between 32-35 home runs next year with 10-12 stolen bases. You cannot always get great value but if Kemp can maintain the power gains that he has shown in a healthy second half for next year, there may be a different MVP debate in 2015 between Kemp and Stanton instead of a pitcher. That would be nice. As I said in a tweet, I am more confident investing in Kemp 2K15 than I was Braun 2K14.

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, Baseball-Reference.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/SiGjS5

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

Be sure to check for our articles and more at FantasyRundown.com, your one stop shop for the best fantasy content from around the web!

Top DFS Plays for 09/02/14

*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:

Torri Hunter vs. Carlos Carrasco – hitting .500 (6/12) with a 2B, a 3B, 2 HRs, 4 RBIs & a BB

Justin Upton, Chris Johnson & Freddie Freeman vs. Kyle Kendrick – Wouldn’t be mad if all three guys were in the lineup today.

Giancarlo Stanton vs. Jonathon Niese – hitting .375 (9/24) with 2 HRs, 5 RBIs & 2 BBs

Gregor Blanco vs. Jordan Lyles – hitting .500 (2/4) with a HR, 2 RBIs & a BB
Blanco took Lyles deep in their 1st head to head matchup, can he do it again?

Russell Martin vs. Adam Wainwright – hitting .370 (10/27) with 2 2Bs, 2 RBIs & 4 BBs

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Giancarlo Stanton

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Clayton Kershaw vs. Washington Nationals – I don’t care who this guy is facing if he is on the mound, I am starting him.

Movie of the Day – Hot Rod – This movie is one of my all-time favorites!!!!!!!! If you haven’t seen this, you need to change that tonight.

Follow me on Twitter @Rickygangster!

Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank OF vs RHP

Reddick is more than a "careless whisper" but has his swagger back slashing 307/356/560 vs RHP
Reddick is more than a “careless whisper” but has his swagger back, slashing .307/.356/.560 vs RHP

There were some great outfielders to target in the Splits series against left-handed pitching, but as I turn my attention to which ones to target against right-handed pitchers, it becomes a little riskier. Whereas nine outfielders have an OPS above 1.000 against southpaws, only Yasiel Puig and J.D. Martinez have the same success against right-handed pitchers. Of course this can be due to volume of at bats, but it is something to observe when constructing daily lineups. Targeting weak left-handed pitchers may be easier to predict as opposed to righties. This is one of the reasons that the Colorado pitching staff is one to target when possible due to their volume of left-handed pitchers. Of course Chris Sale and David Price are exceptions to this rule, it is food for thought. However, this is a look at how outfielder’s splits against right handed pitchers. Again, here are the parameters I am using to judge the outfielders using the following variables:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

Because sites require three outfielders to be active, I will list the top twenty in each category before I rank them based on the average finish across all categories.

Outfielders versus right-handed Pitching (minimum 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Yasiel Puig .437
2. J.D. Martinez .429
3. Michael Brantley .422
4. Mike Trout .418
5. Andrew McCutchen .416
6. Corey Dickerson .410
7. A.J. Pollock .410
8. Kevin Kiermaier .400
9. Josh Reddick .396
10. Seth Smith .390
11. David Peralta .385
12. Danny Santana .383
13. Brett Gardner .382
14. Matt Kemp .381
15. Jose Bautista .379
16. Carlos Gomez .375
17. Ryan Braun .375
18. Jason Heyward .373
19. Giancarlo Stanton .370
20. Melky Cabrera .370

There are some interesting names to note here. Intriguing targets are emerging, one of them being Josh Reddick. The A’s outfielder has been red hot since his return from the disabled list. Another player who is making his way back from injury is A.J. Pollock. Kevin Kiermaier has also been quietly emerging in Tampa Bay. Even though Kiermaier has been hitting ninth, he provides great value in daily lineups against right-handed pitchers. The last player I will highlight in this list is David Peralta of the Diamondbacks who is not only a great story, but a favorite of longtime scout Bernie Pleskoff. With all of the injuries in Arizona, he may be a great player to target for teams who are pending the loss of Andrew McCutchen.

ISO:
1. Mike Trout .278
2. J.D. Martinez .269
3. Nelson Cruz .263
4. Yasiel Puig .259
5. Corey Dickerson .256
6. Josh Reddick .253
7. George Springer .251
8. Colby Rasmus .243
9. Kevin Kiermaier .242
10. Giancarlo Stanton .240
11. Brett Gardner .234
12. Andrew McCutchen .226
13. Brandon Barnes .221
14. Carlos Beltran .221
15. Ryan Braun .219
16. A.J. Pollock .216
17. Seth Smith .215
18. Michael Brantley .215
19. Oswaldo Arcia .204
20. Justin Upton .201

While it is no surprise to see Mike Trout at the top of the list, how about taking some time to recognize how good Brett Gardner has been this year? It was discussed on our podcast if he could hit 20 home runs this year, I said yes. Will he do it again next year? I am not willing to pay for it but it has happened before with a one-year power spike. Two boom or bust plays are on this list in Colby Rasmus and Oswaldo Arcia. Both have great power and in tournament play are interesting chances to take against a weak right handed pitcher.

OPS:
1. Yasiel Puig 1.014
2. J.D. Martinez 1.000
3. Mike Trout .979
4. Michael Brantley .971
5. Andrew McCutchen .967
6. Corey Dickerson .960
7. A.J. Pollock .941
8. Kevin Kiermaier .928
9. Josh Reddick .916
10. Seth Smith .895
11. David Peralta .884
12. Danny Santana .882
13. Brett Gardner .879
14. Matt Kemp .871
15. Giancarlo Stanton .870
16. Jose Bautista .867
17. Ryan Braun .864
18. Carlos Gomez .853
19. Melky Cabrera .843
20. Jason Heyward .841

I understand why some baseball people can be turned off by Yasiel Puig, but he has been proving he is no fluke. Love him or hate him, he is one of the only two with a 1.000+ OPS against righties along with surprise J.D. Martinez. It will be interesting to rank J.D. next year. He has tailed off some from his hot start after being promoted and his sustainability will be questioned.

AB/HR:
1. George Springer 13.9
2. Giancarlo Stanton 16.7
3. Colby Rasmus 16.8
4. Mike Trout 17.8
5. J.D. Martinez 17.8
6. Josh Reddick 18.8
7. Corey Dickerson 19.5
8. Josh Willingham 20.3
9. Carlos Gonzalez 20.6
10. Brett Gardner 21.4
11. Kevin Kiermaier 21.9
12. Jose Bautista 22.8
13. Kole Calhoun 23.3
14. Marlon Byrd 23.4
15. Matt Kemp 23.4
16. Travis Snider 23.9
17. Michael Brantley 24.1
18. Justin Upton 24.4
19. Torii Hunter 24.5
20. Seth Smith 25

In the boom or bust section are George Springer and Colby Rasmus. They appear in the power lists as they can run into a fastball at any time and hit one out. However, to rely on them on a day-to-day basis is tough due to their propensity to strike out or not make solid contact. With the injury to Andrew McCutchen, Travis Snider may see an uptick in his playing time against right-handed pitchers which coincides with his recent hot streak. Kole Calhoun and Michael Brantley are two players that represent a high floor against right-handed pitchers and are nice players to target on a daily basis.

wRC+:
1. Yasiel Puig 188
2. Michael Brantley 175
3. J.D. Martinez 174
4. Mike Trout 174
5. Andrew McCutchen 172
6. Kevin Kiermaier 162
7. A.J. Pollock 161
8. Josh Reddick 157
9. Seth Smith 155
10. Corey Dickerson 149
11. Matt Kemp 149
12. Danny Santana 146
13. David Peralta 144
14. Brett Gardner 142
15. Jason Heyward 140
16. Jose Bautista 139
17. Kole Calhoun 139
18. Carlos Gomez 139
19. Ryan Braun 138
20. Giancarlo Stanton 137

Although there are many familiar suspects, one player I have yet to highlight is Corey Dickerson who is having a great season in Colorado. He and Seth Smith represent great plays when they are at home against right-handed pitching.

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages (2014 Stats vs. RHP included):
1. J.D. Martinez – 160 AB, 24 R, 9 HR, 32 RBI, 2 SB, 350/382/619
2. Mike Trout – 302 AB, 51 R, 17 HR, 63 RBI, 11 SB, 311/389/589
3. Yasiel Puig – 301 AB, 51 R, 1 HR, 48 RBI, 7 SB, 339/416/598
4. Corey Dickerson – 215 AB, 37 R, 11 HR, 32 RBI, 6 SB, 321/383/577
5. Josh Reddick – 150 AB, 28 R, 8 HR, 26 RBI, SB, 307/356/560
6. Kevin Kiermaier – 153 AB, 20 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 4 SB, 314/373/556
7. Michael Brantley – 289 AB, 51 R, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 10 SB, 353/403/567
8. Andrew McCutchen – 337 AB, 49 R, 13 HR, 56 RBI, 16 SB, 323/418/549
9. A.J. Pollock – 139 AB, 19 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 6 SB, 338/389/554
10. Brett Gardner – 278 AB, 54 R, 13 HR, 41 RBI, 14 SB, 281/364/514
11. Seth Smith – 275 AB, 40 R, 11 HR, 26 RBI, SB, 295/386/509
12. Giancarlo Stanton – 334 AB, 55 R, 20 HR, 62 RBI, 8 SB, 266/364/506
13. George Springer – 233 AB, 33 R, 16 HR, 38 RBI, 3 SB, 242/315/493
14. Matt Kemp – 257 AB, 34 R, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 5 SB, 304/369/502
15. Colby Rasmus – 202 AB, 27 R, 12 HR, 28 RBI, 2 SB, 233/276/475
16. David Peralta 151 AB, 22 R, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 3 SB, 331/361/523
17. Danny Santana – 140 AB, 22 R, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 3 SB, 336/361/521
18. Jose Bautista – 296 AB, 52 R, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 5 SB, 274/397/470
19. Ryan Braun – 256 AB, 38 R, 10 HR, 50 RBI, 2 SB, 293/352/512
20. Carlos Gomez – 327 AB, 53 R, 11 HR, 40 RBI, 20 SB, 303/364/489

Bonus Plays:
1. Jason Heyward – 306 AB, 43 R, 7 HR, 34 RBI, 9 SB, 304/397/444
2. Melky Cabrera – 335 AB, 55 R, 9 HR, 40 RBI, 5 SB, 322/368/475
3. Adam Eaton – 261 AB, 40 R, HR, 21 RBI, 9 SB, 299/363/410

Do not let David Peralta slip under your radar. He is an undervalued source of HR/SB & will play in Arizona
Do not let David Peralta slip under your radar. He is an undervalued source of HR/SB and will play in Arizona

Even though J.D. Martinez made it to the top of the list based on the overall rankings averaged out, I am hesitant to roster him going forward. The league has adjusted to him and now it is up to him to adjust back. In the bonus plays section, Melky Cabrera plays in a high-octane offense and when Edwin Encarnacion comes back hitting second is really beneficial to him. Adam “Spanky” Eaton has been on fire lately and like Cabrera, hitting ahead of Jose Abreu has proven to be valuable as Eaton will score runs and steal bases ahead of him. These are great guys to have in case you are playing a Colby Rasmus or George Springer type with the hope of a home run as they provide a solid base of points with runs and hits. Many targets have been talked about so there are plenty of good plays in this group. With Yasiel Puig and Mike Trout’s price points, it is tough to get them with top pitching plays in daily fantasy so knowing who the bargains (David Peralta, Josh Reddick, Kevin Kiermaier) are allow for roster flexibility.

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/UrV6Li (Reddick), http://goo.gl/BDjtqD (Peralta)

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

Script Splits: Using Advanced Stats to Rank OF versus LHP

Scary to think Stanton is slugging .713 vs. LHP & at 24 is just entering his peak power years
It is scary to think Stanton is slugging .713 vs. LHP and at 24 is just entering his peak power years

While working on the Script Splits articles, sometimes perception does meet reality. However, this is an imperfect process. One of the hardest things when playing daily matchups is not only recognizing what hitter has the optimal opportunity, but also maximizing that decision. Even when you play the splits correctly, it can go wrong. Once again I have tried to compile a list of the outfielders who have the best split advantages. Because of the high number of players, I have divided this over two columns with this article highlighting the best against left-handed pitching. There are some obvious choices, but as always there are some surprises. At the end I will try to tier them by the aggregate averages and will include three bonus plays. Here are the categories in which I investigated with:

wOBA: Weighted On Base Average represents all the ways a player gets on base (HBP counts in this metric). It is used to measure a player’s overall offensive value.

ISO: Isolated Power  is simply a player’s slugging percentage minus his batting average.

OPS: On base plus Slugging is exactly what it’s surname suggests, adding together both statistics (OBP and SLG%). In the daily game being getting on base via the extra base hit is preferred.

AB/HR: A simple stat. How many homers does a player hit between each at bat? The fewer the better.

wRC+: Weighted Runs Created Plus A measure of how many runs a player creates. The “+” accounts for differing ballpark factors. So a player who’s home park is Coors is weighted to equal one in Citi Field, for example.

Since many of the daily sites refer to wOBA and wRC+, I thought these were two great target starts to dive into. First I will list the top 20 outfielders in each of the five categories above and then show the top 20 on average with their 2014 statistics versus left-handed pitching included at the end.

Outfielders versus left-handed Pitching (minimum 100 plate appearances):

wOBA:
1. Giancarlo Stanton .505
2. Jose Bautista .483
3. Adam Jones .477
4. Scott Van Slyke .461
5. Emilio Bonifacio .448
6. Drew Stubbs .447
7. Justin Upton .434
8. Alex Rios .434
9. Nelson Cruz .424
10. Rajai Davis .422
11. Mike Trout .422
12. Khris Davis .414
13. Jayson Werth .412
14. Dexter Fowler .400
15. JD Martinez .394
16. Josh Willingham .390
17. Josh Hamilton .390
18. Desmond Jennings .382
19. Brandon Guyer .382
20. Andrew McCutchen .379

ISO:
1. Scott Van Slyke .400
2. Giancarlo Stanton .325
3. JD Martinez .320
4. Jose Bautista .313
5. Adam Jones .303
6. Mike Trout .294
7. Justin Upton .286
8. Khris Davis .286
9. Mike Morse .261
10. Jay Bruce .259
11. Alex Rios .258
12. Drew Stubbs .247
13. Desmond Jennings .242
14. Nelson Cruz .234
15. Marlon Byrd .233
16. Andrew McCutchen .227
17. Marcell Ozuna .222
18. Yoenis Cespedes .222
19. Ryan Braun .218
20. Josh Willingham .217

OPS:
1. Giancarlo Stanton 1.202
2. Jose Bautista 1.139
3. Adam Jones 1.112
4. Scott Van Slyke 1.085
5. Drew Stubbs 1.036
6. Alex Rios 1.033
7. Emilio Bonifacio 1.025
8. Justin Upton 1.009
9. Nelson Cruz .997
10. Rajai Davis .974
11. Mike Trout .970
12. Khris Davis .962
13. Jayson Werth .930
14. JD Martinez .920
15. Dexter Fowler .907
16. Josh Willingham .905
17. Josh Hamilton .903
18. Desmond Jennings .879
19. Andrew McCutchen .860
20. Brandon Guyer .850

AB/HR:
1. Scott Van Slyke 10
2. Jose Bautista 10.4
3. J.D. Martinez 12.5
4. Justin Upton 12.8
5. Giancarlo Stanton 13.3
6. Jay Bruce 13.5
7. Mike Trout 13.6
8. Marlon Byrd 14.7
9. Khris Davis 15.2
10. Adam Jones 15.6
11. Marcell Ozuna 16.2
12. Mike Morse 16.4
13. Yoenis Cespedes 16.5
14. Curtis Granderson 17.2
15. George Springer 18
16. Drew Stubbs 18.6
17. Andrew McCutchen 18.8
18. Torii Hunter 20.6
19. Carlos Gomez 22.3
20. Desmond Jennings 23.8

wRC+:
1. Giancarlo Stanton 229
2. Jose Bautista 211
3. Adam Jones 209
4. Scott Van Slyke 204
5. Emilio Bonifacio 189
6. Justin Upton 182
7. Mike Trout 177
8. Drew Stubbs 175
9. Alex Rios 174
10. Nelson Cruz 172
11. Rajai Davis 170
12. Jayson Werth 166
13. Khris Davis 165
14. Dexter Fowler 157
15. Josh Hamilton 155
16. Desmond Jennings 150
17. Josh Willingham 150
18. J.D. Martinez 150
19. Brandon Guyer 150
20. Andrew McCutchen 146

There were some surprises on all of the lists but I was really shocked at players like Andrew McCutchen and Hunter Pence not being higher on the lists. It shows how the daily game is changing the landscape of fantasy baseball as a player like Brandon Guyer who is priced appreciably lower than a former MVP provides value. Again, which pitchers the batters are facing are of the utmost importance and maximizing those matchups is the key. With that in mind, here is the top 20 overall based on the five categories.

Overall Rankings Based on Aggregate Averages Above:
1. Giancarlo Stanton – 15 R, 6 HR, 12 RBI, 2 SB, 388/490/713
2. Jose Bautista – 17 R, 8 HR, 14 RBI, 361/465/675
3. Scott Van Slyke – 16 R, 7 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, 271/414/671
4. Adam Jones – 23 R, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 376/433/679
5. Justin Upton – 17 R, 6 HR, 13 RBI, 312/411/597
6. Mike Trout – 25 R, 8 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 275/402/569
7. Drew Stubbs – 16 R, 5 HR, 12 RBI, 7 SB, 366/423/613
8. Alex Rios – 14 R, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 371/404/629
9. Khris Davis – 18 R, 6 HR, 20 RBI, 1 SB, 319/357/604
10. J.D. Martinez – 10 R, 6 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 256/322/564
11. Emilio Bonifacio – 19 R, 2 HR, 9 RBI, 4 SB, 403/442/583
12. Nelson Cruz – 10 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 1 SB, 370/400/574
13. Rajai Davis – 16 R, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 8 SB, 370/400/574
14. Jayson Werth – 16 R, 3 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 351/430/500
15. Mike Morse – 14 R, 7 HR, 13 RBI, 235/302/496
16. Marlon Byrd – 17 R, 7 HR, 14 RBI, 1 SB, 282/321/515
17. Desmond Jennings – 16 R, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 274/364/516
18. Dexter Fowler – 16 R, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1 SB, 333/426/481
19. Andrew McCutchen – 15 R, 4 HR, 11 RBI, 1 SB, 253/380/480
20. Marcell Ozuna – 12 R, 5 HR, 15 RBI, 272/314/494

Three Bonus Plays:
1. Jonny Gomes – 12 R, 4 HR, 21 RBI, 303/359/429
2. Brandon Guyer – 11 R, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 348/411/439
3. Hunter Pence – 22 R, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 4 SB, 312/368/456

Stubbs power/speed combo with 5 HR & 7 SB vs. LHP makes him a great daily play
Stubbs’ power/speed combo with 5 HR and 7 SB vs. LHP makes him a great daily option

I used the underlined players to create tiers above. In tier one they are all fantastic against left-handed pitching but I would use Scott Van Slyke more in GPP contests rather than cash games like 50/50 or head-to-head. His supporting numbers are strong, but his boom or bust ability makes him a risky play. Tier-two has options, as you can go with power like Nelson Cruz, Justin Upton and Khris Davis, or opt for a speed guy with pop like Rajai Davis, Emilio Bonifacio and Drew Stubbs. With the trade of Austin Jackson, Rajai Davis should hit leadoff against all lefties increasing his stock in the weeks ahead. One has to think that the Braves would give Bonifacio a look at the top of their lineup over B.J. Upton, but Fredi Gonzalez’s batting orders leave much to be desired. The third tier consists of solid players who you can target when they are hot. Jayson Werth is a prime example, right now he is a middling daily player, but his price jumps when he goes on a homer binge, the key is pouncing on him at the right time. Drew Stubbs is a player I like to use against southpaws, especially at home. His ability to not only hit home runs, but steal bases provides a nice baseline of points when building an optimal lineup. All of the bonus plays are great fillers to a lineup and names to keep in mind when they face a left-handed pitcher and can provide salary relief depending on the site. Not only can Major League teams exploit split advantages, daily fantasy and leagues with daily lineups can as well. Baseball is unpredictable, but advanced metrics help identify who to target.

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

Statistical credits: Fangraphs.com, ESPN.com
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/avjaLT (Stanton), http://goo.gl/nnY9xw (Stubbs)

Top DFS Plays for 08/07/14

*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.

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Top DFS hitters for today:

Daniel Murphy vs. Jordan Zimmerman – hitting .317 (13/41) with 4 2Bs, 3 HRs, 7 RBIs & a BB

Jacoby Ellsbury vs. Rick Porcello – hitting .700 (7/10) with a 2B, 2 HRs, 2 RBIs & a BB

Todd Frazier vs. T.J. House – no previous history
RHH are hitting .322 with 5 HRs & 14 RBIs against House

Giancarlo Stanton vs. Edinson Volquez – hitting .500 (4/8) with 2 2Bs, a HR & 2 RBIs

Brandon Moss vs. Yohan Pino – no previous Matchup history.
No better matchup than this for Moss to break out of his slump. Pino is letting LHH batters hit .313 against him and Pino also has a 6.28 ERA on the road this season.

Ricky’s HR Guarantee: Giancarlo Stanton

Top DFS Pitcher for today:

Jon Lester vs. Minnesota Twins – In Lester’s last outing against the Twins he went 6 1/3, 4 hits, 1 run, 6 Ks and 1 BB

Movie of the Day – Notebook – It’s a great love story and yes I am a guy and I admit to liking this movie, get over it.