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The State of Your Team
by Ray Flowers
June 14, 2004

As mid-season nears you huddle with your crystal ball, or eight ball for some of you, and try to determine how you can pull your team out of the gutter or remain in your position at the top of the mountain. In this two-part article we will attempt to give you some tips on how to do just that. PART I deals with those players who we feel you should SELL. PART II consists of those players we would recommend you BUY. 

One other note. In this discussion we are NOT concerned with what each players overall totals will be, that matters not in the world of fantasy baseball. We are merely concerned with what each player will do from this point forward. Keep that in mind as you read our recommendations.  

PART I- SELL
Stats through June 17, 2004. 

C- Johhny Estrada
2004 Stats- .332 AVG,4 HR,38 RBI,29 Runs ,0 SB, .886 OPS
Career stats 2001-03
- .231,8,41,28,0 in 351 AB.

28 years old and just becoming a regular, that has to tell you something doesn’t it? Sure he was traded for Kevin Millwood, but there are lots of guys with potential…AND he’s a catcher. Rule #1 to remember, do NOT count on a catcher to lead your team in anything, especially the power categories. That summer is looooong and hot, especially in Hot-Lanta, and catchers are especially susceptible to the slow fade. Nothing to recommend here, and just like Casey below, he was a free agent in your league at the start of the season for a reason. 

1B- Sean Casey
2004 Stats- .364,13,49,51,1,1.031
3 Year Avg.-
.289,11,70,65,3,.761

So you’re sitting there saying, Ray, what are you smoking? Well hear me out. Casey’s career highs in the triple crown categories are: .332, 25,99 (during his 99’ season). Now look at his last three year average…see our point? He hasn’t been remotely close to those numbers since 99’. For arguments sake lets say he does match those 99’ numbers which would mean that from this point on he will hit: .308,12,50,52,0. Not that that is a bad total, but really for a guy who was probably NOT even drafted in your league at the start of the season, your comfortable with him for the long haul? You want another sign? In all three months this year his AVG., OBP., SLG an OPS. have gone down. Hell, his OPS is .761 the last three years, that’s barely acceptable for a 2B let alone a 1B. Sell him now. 

2B- Todd Walker
2004 Stats- .280,10,26,41,0,.861
3 Year Avg.-
.293,14,75,88,3,.787

Slim pickings here at second base, so we will pick the guy who will be battling for playing time in the second half (with Mark Grudzielanek coming back from injury). Walker really hasn’t done anything wrong, but he hasn’t done anything that well either. Combine that with the fact that his fielding has always cost him playing time, and Dusty Baker is loyal to his players (Grudzielanek), we see Walker’s stats going down merely because he will lose playing time. 

3B- Vinny Castilla
2004 Stats- .281,16,53,38,0,.926
3 Year Avg.-
.256,20,76,65,2,.718

Look at those three year totals…they mirror erstwhile underachiever Adrian Beltre stats. Frankly his stats this year are totally Coors Field inflated. Check out his 2004 splits: HOME .358,11,41,26,0,1.169 / AWAY .196,5,12,12,0,.657…pathetic. Couple that with the fact that in all three months this year his AVG., OBP., SLG an OPS. have gone down, and the writing is on the wall. Sure he’ll probably get 30 HR and 100 RBI, but a .267 season batting average, you could probably do without and remember, it doesn’t matter what his overall stats will be, it’s how he will do from this point on that counts in this discussion.  

SS- Jack Wilson
2004 Stats- .344,6,26,35,5,.873
3 Year Avg.-
.246,5,45,60,4,.619

The signs abound with this guy. At this point his average is .083 above his career avg., his OBP is .060 above his career avg., and his slugging is .153 above his career avg. Read that sentence again. NOTHING predicted this serge, and without something you gotta move this guy. Once last clue: even though his stats are still really strong at this point, his AVG., OBP. an OPS. have all gone down each month. The only SS who ever hit like this are named Arod, Nomar, Tejada and Renteria…and Wilson aint them. 

OF- Carlos Lee
2004 Stats- .305,6,36,36,5,.820
3 Year Avg.-
.276,27,92,86,12,.819

Huge hitting streak…not much else. Even with the streak he is on pace for 16 HR 94 RBI and 94 runs, numbers that are right around his three year average. On top of that, doesn’t a OF with a career OPS of .813 scare you a bit? We could just as easily see a streak of 0 for 28 as we saw that 28 game hit streak with this guy. Remember this as well, he was hitting .239 when the streak started, so all it really did was bring him back in line with what you would expect from him. Sell him to someone enamored with the streak, and be happy about it.  

OF- Steve Finley
2004 Stats- .294,17,36,44,7,.904
3 Year Avg.- .283,20,77,77,14,.832

Finley is about as consistent as they come, at least the last three years, but no one this side of Barry Bonds has this type of seasons at age 39. His career high in homers is 35, and with Richie Sexson out for the rest of the season, and Luis Gonzalez possibly shutting it down at some point to have an operation on his elbow, you should be wary of this fleet CF. In fact, the only category where he is on pace to exceed his career high is HR, so don’t be swayed by the big fly.  

OF- Craig Wilson
2004 Stats- .318,15,41,41,2,.994
3 Year Avg.-
.272,16,46,41,3,.833

Though these stats seem low, realize that in the past three years Wilson has averaged only 278 at bats. So is this an example of a guy succeeding just because of his playing time? Honestly at this point we don’t know, but we do have a hard time thinking he’s going to hit 40 HR with 100 RBI while batting over .300 (Mike Piazza he sure isn’t). On the flip side he does qualify at C so its tempting to keep him...don’t be tempted. In June he’s hit .189,3,7, with a .668 OPS in 53 AB. The slide has started. Regardless, its hard to trade a guy who looks like he could show up drunk at the bowling alley wearing a t-shirt with a chili stain on Friday night isn’t it? 

SP- Roger Clemens
2004 Stats- 9-1,2.46 ERA,94 K,1.17 WHIP, .71 SWIP
3 Year Avg.-
17-6,3.90, 198, 1.26, 0.66

Have we lost our minds! NO we haven’t. Do you really believe he’s going to go 22-2 with a 2.46 ERA this year? NO chance for that. We still think that his three year average is right about where he’s gonna be in the end, which mean from this point he would have the following stats: 8-5, 4.88. Now you might say your crazy, but look at those three year averages again…wouldn’t you have taken that at the start of the season especially since at the time some leagues drafted he may have been retired? We say trade him now before he becomes the pitcher he has been the last few years…or before his 42 year old body finally breaks  

SP- Carlos Zambrano
2004 Stats- 7-2,2.32,81,1.11,.57
2 Year Avg.- 8-10, 3.29, 130, 1.36, .32

Another one of those off your rocker picks right? A couple of reasons we say sell. (1) He has pitched a lot of innings, and more importantly thrown a ton of pitches the last couple years (he was 7th in the NL last year in pitches per start, and 7th in batters faced). (2) His delivery and aggressive/intense demeanor just make us think that when it goes bad, it’s really going to go bad. (3) With Wood and Prior having injury problems are the Cubs jinxed, or is it something about their pitching routine that makes them susceptible to injuries? We don’t see a total collapse in Zambrano’s future, but problems or injury may rear their head with this fireballer.  

RP- Kolb
2004 Stats- 0-0,1.05 ERA ,0.86 WHIP,19 Sv, SWIP.16
1 Year Avg.- 1-3,1.96, 1.29, 21, .48

Being that we focus on SWIP around these parts, especially for relief pitchers, you have to be down right disturbed at Kolb’s totals. Last year his SWIP of .48 placed him 18 out of the 33 closers we surveyed. This years SWIP of .16, well, that’s scarier than a playmate without her make-up. 8 K in 25.2 IP for a man who throws 92-95 mph…something is seriously wrong here. BEWARE, he might pick up saves, but his overall success will not last.  

One last BLASPEHMOUS NOTE…would it be insane to TRADE BARRY BONDS? Yes it would if your league counted OPS, OBP or SLG. But if your league doesn’t count those categories, would you really be stupid to trade him considering the bounty you would get in return? Sure he’s hitting .377, but even if he maintains that pace he’s only looking at 341 AB, so that average just wont impact your team as much as it should (see: http://www.drafthelp.com/MLB_Guest_KnowingRules.htm). He’s also on pace for 44 HR and 96 RBI, and while those HR are nice, there are 25 players in the NL who are on pace for more RBI than that. As dumb as it sounds, perhaps the return on Bonds would be worth at least considering trading him. 

RAYS NOTES

Do you know who became the 6th man in history to have career averages of .300 BA, .400 OBA, and 300 HR, 500 2B and 1,000 walks in his career (joining: Ruth, Williams, Hornsby, Musial and Gehrig)? Give up? No its not Frank Thomas… its Edgar Martinez.  

Ray Flowers can be reached with comments/questions or suggestions at: ray@drafthelp.com

You can also visit Rays’ blog at www.wildpitch.blogspot.com for a full review of all of his recent article and other interesting stuff. 


 


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