Blogs > N-H Fantasy Sports

News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Should you start Desmond Jennings?

The obvious answer seems to be yes.

Entering Tampa Bay's late game Tuesday night at Oakland, in his first three games since the Rays promoted him from Triple-A, Jennings has ...

-- Two hits in each contest.

-- One steal in each game.

-- Batted .547 with two runs scored, two RBI, three steals and a 1.667 OPS.

So he's a slam-dunk, no-doubt-about-it, Jay-Bilas-would-love-to-tell-you-about-his-upside choice as a fantasy starter, right?


Jennings is 24 and, by most accounts, could be a very good major-leaguer for a long time. But there is a reason he was dropped from No. 6 on Baseball America's list of the top prospects in the game entering 2010 to No. 22 prior to this season.

In a combined 737 at-bats in Triple-A in 2010 and '11, Jennings batted .277 with 150 runs, 15 homers, 75 RBI and 54 steals.

The steals and runs scored totals are outstanding. The other three are mediocre for an outfielder, which makes me wonder if Jennings is being overrated in fantasy because: 1. He's a big name in the minor-league ranks; and 2. His terrific start with the Rays.

When he received the call from Class AAA Durham, Jennings was leading the International League in runs scored with 68 in 89 games. His other numbers, aside from steals, were pedestrian -- .275, 12 homers, 39 RBI and 17 steals. In 1,919 at-bats overall in the minors, Jennings hit .294 with 382 runs, 41 homers, 200 RBI, 188 steals and an .822 OPS.

I could be wrong, and Jennings could be excellent for the majority of the last two months of the major-league season.

Or the lessons we've learned thus far from five of the biggest position player prospects in the game could be a sign that Jennings will cool down considerably and might produce decent stats at best in his first extended action with Tampa.

To wit:

-- Entering Tuesday, Tribe third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall was batting .246 with two homers and four RBI in 61 at-bats as a rookie.

-- Phillies outfielder Domonic Brown was batting .247 with five homers, 17 RBI, three steals and a .743 OPS.

-- Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas was hitting .202 with one homer, eight RBI and a .515 OPS.

-- Angels phenom Mike Trout was batting .179 with a .546 OPS.

-- The only rookie position player and top-20 prospect who seems to be enjoying consistent success is Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer. The 21-year-old entered Tuesday batting .283 with nine homers and 40 RBI in 283 at-bats.

Jennings could prove me wrong. He'd be far from the first to accomplish that task, which, if you ask my wife, is among the most simple.

But I wouldn't anoint him as The Next Big Thing.

Heck, I wouldn't even start him unless I was in an AL-only league and needed some help in steals and/or runs scored.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Jeff Keppinger analysis

Because he was traded from the worst team in baseball to the reigning World Series champions, Jeff Keppinger will be much more popular on the waiver wire in the coming days.

Keppinger, who was sent from the Astros to the Giants for two prospects on Tuesday, is batting .307 in 163 at-bats since May 27, when he made his season debut following foot surgery. Keppinger is owned in 3.5 percent of the leagues on, but that number likely will double or triple by the end of the week.

If you're looking for help at second base, Keppinger can provide a batting average boost. Aside from that, however, he isn't much of an asset.

Keppinger has four homers, 20 RBI, 22 runs and a .755 OPS this season. In 514 at-bats with Houston in 2010, he hit .288 with 62 runs, six homers, 59 RBI, four steals and a .744 OPS. In 2008 and '09, he batted .266 and .256, respectively (though he is a .284 career hitter).

Entering San Francisco's late game Tuesday night, Keppinger had two home runs in his last three games -- a number that is more deceiving than LeBron James' collection of MVP trophies.

The 31-year-old Keppinger's career highs are as follows: seven homers, 59 RBI, four steals and 62 runs.

Translation: Acquire him only if you play in a category league and need to improve your team's batting average.

A name to remember following the Houston-San Francisco trade (but likely not this season): Jose Altuve.

Altuve, 21, will take over at second base for the Astros. He's a .327 career hitter in the minor leagues. In 1,466 at-bats -- never above Class AA -- he has 30 homers, 208 RBI, 117 steals and 276 runs.

This season, Altuve batted a combined .389 in Class A and AA.

Could he be a fantasy fixture? Absolutely, but it's unlikely Altuve will do so in 2011 after never getting an at-bat in Triple-A.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Is this the end for Grady Sizemore?

One of the most unfortunate aspects of Grady Sizemore's latest injury is he had started hitting again.

Since July 9, he was 8-for-20 (a .400 average for the mathematically challenged) with five runs scored, two home runs and four RBI. A sure sign he was going well: Sizemore struck out "only" four times in that span.

The latter number is a far cry from his outrageous season average of one K per 3.1 at-bats (75 strikeouts in 232 at-bats).

Yes, we know Sizemore strikes out too much, but it should never be this much. In 2008 -- when he batted .268 with 33 homers, 90 RBI and 38 steals -- he fanned 130 times in 634 at-bats, a much more manageable rate of one K per 4.9 at-bats.

In addition to the Ks, a sure sign Sizemore hasn't been right physically for a while is his stolen-base total.

This season, he has none, giving the Indians outfielder four in 94 games since 2010. In that span, he is a .228 hitter who has 110 Ks in 360 at-bats (one per 3.3 at-bats).

Now he's back in Cleveland for more tests on his injured right knee. He told reporters the ailment fees similar to the left knee injury he suffered in 2010 -- the one that led to microfracture surgery.

The former fantasy stud missed nine games total from 2005 to '08. Since 2009, he has played 200 games in three years, and we shouldn't be surprised if that total doesn't increase at all in 2011.

If you own Sizemore in fantasy, you'll be lucky if he helps you even a little the rest of the season.

At this point, we have to wonder if he'll ever be a quality fantasy starter again, even at 28.

Considering the Indians hold an $8.5 million option on Sizemore's contract in 2012, he also might have played his last game for the Tribe.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fantasy baseball: Updated pitcher rankings

Before we get to the second of our two sets of position rankings, here are a few links:

-- The updated batters rankings we published last week can be found here.

-- Our late May batter rankings can be found here, and the pitching rankings from five weeks ago are here.

Got all that? Then it's on to the starting pitchers and closers.

As we have explained, players on the disabled list at the time of the rankings are not considered. Players are ranked at each position at which they are eligible, according to's criteria.

On to the rankings ...

1. Roy Halladay, Phillies
2. Justin Verlander, Tigers
3. Jered Weaver, Angels
4. Cliff Lee, Phillies
5. CC Sabathia, Yankees
6. Cole Hamels, Phillies
7. James Shields, Rays
8. Jair Jurrjens, Braves
9. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
10. Dan Haren, Angels
11. Tommy Hanson, Braves
12. Josh Beckett, Red Sox
13. Tim Lincecum, Giants
14. Michael Pineda, Mariners
15. Gio Gonzalez, Athletics
16. Jaime Garcia, Cardinals
17. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
18. C.J. Wilson, Rangers
19. David Price, Rays
20. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks
21. Ryan Vogelsong, Giants
22. Anibal Sanchez, Marlins
23. Alexi Ogando, Rangers
24. Matt Cain, Giants
25. Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies
26. Trevor Cahill, Athletics
27. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays
28. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers
29. Shaun Marcum, Brewers
30. Kyle Lohse, Cardinals
31. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays
32. Daniel Hudson, Diamondbacks
33. Josh Tomlin, Indians
34. Philip Humber, White Sox
35. Bartolo Colon, Yankees
36. Jason Vargas, Mariners
37. Max Scherzer, Tigers
38. Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
39. Johnny Cueto, Reds
40. Wandy Rodriguez, Astros
41. Zack Greinke, Brewers
42. Colby Lewis, Rangers
43. Jeff Karstens, Pirates
44. Dillon Gee, Mets
45. Justin Masterson, Indians
46. Scott Baker, Twins
47. Ricky Nolasco, Marlins
48. Madison Bumgarner, Giants
49. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies
50. Chad Billingsley, Dodgers
Last ones out: Carlos Carrasco, Indians; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers; Jonathon Niese, Mets; Tim Stauffer, Padres; Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals

Disabled list: Jon Lester, Red Sox; Brett Anderson, Athletics; Clay Buchholz, Red Sox; Roy Oswalt, Astros; Jonathan Sanchez, Giants; Josh Johnson, Marlins; Jorge De La Rosa, Rockies; Johan Santana, Mets; Carlos Zambrano, Cubs; Aaron Harang, Padres; Erik Bedard, Mariners

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves
2. Heath Bell, Padres
3. Joel Hanrahan, Pirates
4. Brian Wilson, Giants
5. Mariano Rivera, Yankees
6. Drew Storen, Nationals
7. John Axford, Brewers
8. Huston Street, Rockies
9. Jonathan Papelbon, Red Sox
10. Sergio Santos, White Sox
11. Neftali Feliz, Rangers
12. Carlos Marmol, Cubs
13. Jordan Walden, Angels
14. Fernando Salas, Cardinals
15. Chris Perez, Indians
16. Kyle Farnsworth, Rays
17. Jose Valverde, Tigers
18. Joakim Soria, Royals
19. Leo Nunez, Marlins
20. Francisco Cordero, Reds
21. Andrew Bailey, Athletics
22. Francisco Rodriguez, Mets
23. Brandon League, Mariners
24. Antonio Bastardo, Phillies
25. David Hernandez, Diamondbacks
Last ones out: Kevin Gregg, Orioles; Frank Francisco, Blue Jays; Joe Nathan, Twins

Disabled list:
J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks; Ryan Madson, Phillies; Jonathan Broxton, Dodgers; David Aardsma, Mariners; Brad Lidge, Phillies; Vicente Padilla, Dodgers; Brandon Lyon, Astros

Labels: ,

Fantasy baseball: Admiring Albert Pujols

A reader emailed two weeks ago saying she had been offered Albert Pujols and Ichiro Suzuki in a proposed trade.

She was being asked to give back Carl Crawford and Jhoulys Chacin. At the time, she was in last place in her rotisserie-style league.

At the time, both Pujols and Crawford were on the disabled list, only Pujols was four days into what was expected to be at least a six-week absence because of a broken left wrist.

Since she was in last place, I told her she probably couldn't afford to wait on Sir Albert.

We entered Wednesday with Pujols back in the Cardinals' lineup -- and Crawford still on the DL.

Pujols missed all of 17 days with the injury. Crawford, who has a hamstring injury, hasn't even gone on a rehab assignment yet.

To her, I say: Oops. My bad.

None of us could have foreseen this, not even the ESPN producers behind this commercial.

Before his injury, Pujols was batting .317 with eight home runs, 14 RBI, 19 runs and a 1.197 OPS in 63 at-bats in June.

Wednesday night, he was 1-for-6 with an RBI in his return.

He really is a machine.

I should have realized that two weeks ago.

Labels: , ,