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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Should we believe the Trevor Bauer hype?

Long term, the answer to the above question is easy.

The Diamondbacks' 21-year-old super prospect is a combined 11-1 with a 2.23 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 93 innings in Double- and Triple-A this season.

He entered the year as Baseball America's No. 9 prospect, and his stock has only climbed since.

Yes, Trevor Bauer is legit, especially in the fantasy world in which we leave -- one that loves power arms and low earned-run averages.

Bauer's value strictly for this season is a much more difficult subject to tackle.

The right-hander will make his big-league debut Thursday at Atlanta. In deeper leagues, he would seem to be a must-start. Even if Bauer struggles some, he should be an adequate source of strikeouts.

In 10- and 12-team mixed leagues in which you might only start a handful of pitchers per week, Bauer should only be an option -- at least until he proves otherwise -- when the matchups are favorable.

As ridiculous as his 2012 numbers are, there is one glaring red flag, at least when it comes to his short-term value.

Bauer walked a combined 46 batters in 93 innings in the minors this season. In his brief career since he was selected third overall by Arizona in 2011, he has averaged 4.6 walks per nine innings down on the farm.

Yes, he's raw. Yes, he can be lights-out.

But as we've seen over and over, pitching at the big-league level is a much different animal, and Bauer's walk numbers suggest he is far from a finished product.

If you're in a daily league and have already acquired Bauer on the waiver wire, I'd play him.

For him to have significant value the rest of the season, he might have to be very good, very soon, since Arizona's starting rotation is pretty deep.

Trevor Cahill (6-5, 3.47 ERA), Ian Kennedy (a 21-game winner in 2011 who has struggled some this season) and Wade Miley (9-3, 2.19 ERA) aren't going anywhere.

For Bauer to remain in the rotation all season, he would have to take the place of Joe Saunders (4-5, 3.44 ERA), whose shoulder injury allowed Bauer to get the call from Triple-A, or Daniel Hudson, a 16-game winner last season who has been awful for much of 2012. Hudson left Tuesday's game with tightness in his forearm.

Combine Hudson's latest ailment with Saunders' shoulder injury, and Bauer might not be going anywhere this year.

In keeper leagues, he's a gem.

In leagues in which all that matters is this year, Bauer's role is much more unclear -- though it's always better to err with a flame-thrower than a Josh Tomlin.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Fantasy football: We'll miss you, L.T.

If you played fantasy football for most of the 1990s and 2000s, two running backs likely come to mind: LaDainian Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk.

The news this week that Tomlinson was retiring likely made many of us flash back to huge seasons gone by -- years we will see fewer and fewer of now that football is much more reliant on the pass.

If you ignore Tomlinson's two seasons with the Jets in 2010 and '11 (please do) and focus solely on his nine years with the Chargers, the following numbers were part of an average season for L.T.:

-- 1,388 rushing yards

-- 15 rushing touchdowns

-- 59 receptions for 439 yards

-- Two receiving touchdowns

In his years with San Diego, Tomlinson played in 141 of a possible 144 games.

He rushed for at least 10 touchdowns in each of the nine seasons, and he had at least 15 total TDs (rushing and receiving) in six consecutive seasons (2002-07).

Tomlinson led the NFL in rushing touchdowns three times with San Diego, and he led the league in rushing twice.

Then there was 2006 -- his signature season. That year, Tomlinson rushed for 1,815 yards, scored a league-record 31 TDs (28 rushing) and had 56 catches for 508 yards.

If you think Faulk -- at least the Rams version -- was better, consider this:

In 2000, Faulk's best season -- when he rushed for 1,359 yards and 18 TDs, and caught 81 passes for 830 yards and eight scores -- Tomlinson had five more total TDs, 134 more total yards and 25 fewer receptions in his best season (2006). Advantage, L.T.

Faulk had four huge years (check out his pro football reference bio) -- 1998, his last year with the Colts, and 1999 to 2001, his first three seasons with the Rams.

L.T. had six -- 2002-07, a span in which he never rushed for fewer than 1,335 yards, he averaged 20 total TDs and he caught at least 51 passes each year.

Again: Advantage, L.T.

Happy retirement to the best fantasy football running back many of us will ever see.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Don't overvalue Brian Roberts

On May 23, Brian Roberts played for Double-A Bowie.

It was the Orioles second baseman's first game since he suffered a concussion more than a year ago.

Tuesday, Roberts was 3-for-4 with an RBI in his 2012 Baltimore debut. The next night, he was 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts.

What to make of a player who hasn't had more than 230 at-bats in a season since 2009?

The quick answer: Not too much.

Roberts is 34. Prior to Thursday night, he was batting .256 with 46 runs, seven homers, 35 RBI and 18 stolen bases in a combined 402 at-bats since 2010.

From 2005-09, Roberts was a must-start in fantasy. In that span, he averaged 13 homers, 64 RBI, 37 steals and 99 runs.

If you're desperate for help at second base, Roberts should be considered a low-level starter in deep mixed leagues -- at best. In AL-only formats, he's a decent starter, but still not among the top five or six at his position.

Roberts shouldn't hurt you in batting average (he entered Thursday with a career norm of .281), but don't expect anything close to the player who had 16 homers, 79 RBI and 30 steals in 2009.

If you need help -- as I did in a mixed league in which I've been playing Arizona's Aaron Hill at second base until Chase Utley returns from his everlasting knee injury -- Roberts is worth a flier.

But he is by no means a middle-infield savior. Fringe starters never are.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fantasy baseball: The dreaded desperation trade

Have you ever made a trade offer in fantasy, had the opposing owner accept it almost immediately, then wondered, "What the heck did I just do?"

Yeah, that was me this week.

In a 14-team, head-to-head mixed league in which I compete, my catcher is Alex Avila, who went on the disabled list last week with a hamstring injury. Even when he was playing, Avila wasn't helping much, batting .250 with five homers, 20 RBI and a .766 OPS.

Early in the season, my backup was the Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy, whom, you might remember, was injured when a suitcase fell and broke his right hand.

I gave up on Lucroy long before he went on a tear, and long before he went on the DL.

Thus, this past weekend, as a new week approached and I was faced with the prospects of acquiring the likes of Gerald Laird (Avila's backup) on the waiver wire, I offered Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz for Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario to an owner who had the latter languishing on his bench behind Carlos Santana.

As I wrote Sunday night, I like Rosario. But after my trade offer was accepted without a counter offer, I began to second-guess myself.

Then came Tuesday night, when Buchholz won his third consecutive start to improve to 7-2.

Granted, his record is more deceiving than Albert Pujols' slow start, but Buchholz has been very good of late. On the season, he has a 5.38 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. At one point a few weeks ago, Buchholz was 4-2 -- with a 7.84 ERA.

In his last three starts, however, he is 3-0 with a 1.13 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. He has struck out 22 in 24 innings -- an uncharacteristically high total for a pitcher who averaged 6.2 Ks per nine innings in his breakout 2010 season (17-7, 2.33 ERA). In his first nine starts this season, Buchholz had 24 Ks in 49 1/3 innings.

Has he turned his season around? After a back injury ruined his 2011 season, has he returned to the 17-game winner he was two years ago? Did I just make a terrible desperation trade for an unproven catcher with pop?

That remains to be seen.

If Rosario continues at his current home-run pace and Avila, once healthy, continues to hit .250 with so-so power, I'll feel much better about my rushed decision. (In my defense, my starting pitching in that league is very good, so much so Buchholz isn't the best starting pitcher on my bench.)

As it stands now, I can't get past the fact I made a trade offer because I didn't like the possibility of starting a bad waiver-wire pickup behind the plate for a couple of weeks.

The lesson, as always: Be patient.

And at least make your opponent counter your trade offer.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Week 10 waiver-wire picks (batters)

If you compete in a head-to-head league with a three-week postseason, your league is approaching the halfway point of the regular season.

As usual, the waiver wire at times has been more prolific than Kanye West, but often more dangerous and frustrating than Kim Kardashian. (Beware, Kanye. Beware.)

Regardless, we are back (belatedly) with more waiver-wire picks if you're looking for hitting help. As always, the following players are available in more than half of the leagues on This week's batch is available in more than 85 percent of the ESPN formats.

-- Wilin Rosario, C, Rockies (owned in 14.7 percent of the ESPN leagues): The 23-year-old rookie is batting only .233, and he's a strikeout waiting to happen (35 Ks in 120 at-bats). But he also has some Coors Field-aided pop. Rosario has nine homers, 18 runs and 25 RBI -- a 600 at-bat pace of 45 homers, 90 runs and 125 RBI. OK, he'll probably never hit 45 homers or drive in 125 runs, but Rosario was productive in the minor leagues. Again, his average was an issue (.267), but he racked up 61 homers, 216 RBI, 198 runs and a whopping 354 Ks in 1,469 at-bats. At catcher, you can overlook the poor batting average and big strikeout numbers when that much power is included.

-- Juan Pierre, OF, Phillies (11.1 percent): At 34, Pierre has been much better in his first season in Philadelphia than he was in 2010 and '11 with the White Sox (when he batted .275 and .279, respectively). He's hitting .322 with 23 runs and 11 steals in 180 at-bats. Since May 25, Pierre is batting .377 with 10 runs and five steals in 53 at-bats. You know he won't provide any power (16 homers in 7,003 at-bats), but if you need to improve your team's batting average and/or stolen-base numbers, Pierre might be the best option on the wire.

-- Jerry Hairston Jr., 2B, Dodgers (7.7 percent): He's batting .356 with two homers, 15 RBI and a .938 OPS in 104 at-bats. Since May 27, the 36-year-old is hitting .391 with 10 RBI in 46 at-bats. Since a knee injury will keep regular second baseman Mark Ellis out until at least late July, Hairston will continue to get plenty of at-bats. He's likely to suffer a hefty drop in batting average (his career norm is .261), but he has the potential to steal 20 bases, and his recent play makes him worth considering in the infield. In ESPN leagues, Hairston is also eligible at third base and the outfield, though I would only start him at the latter position in NL-only formats.

-- Trevor Plouffe, 3B, Twins (7.1 percent): His average (.217) won't get your attention, but his power will (nine homers and 17 RBI in 129 at-bats). In 456 at-bats in the majors, Plouffe has 19 homers and 54 RBI. Those numbers are an improvement when compared to his minor-league track record (15 homers and 73 RBI per 600 at-bats), but Plouffe is certainly worth a look in deeper mixed leagues. In June, he is batting .387 with four homers, seven runs and nine RBI in 31 at-bats. In ESPN formats, he's also eligible at shortstop (where his pop should be a welcome addition) and the outfield.

-- Ben Revere, OF, Twins (4.4 percent): Since he was recalled from Triple-A in mid-May, Revere has had a hit in 16 of his 20 appearances. This month, he's batting .368 with nine runs and five steals in 38 at-bats. On the season, he's hitting .327 with nine steals in 101 at-bats, and he stole 34 bags as a rookie in 2011 (when he hit .267). Don't be surprised if Revere keeps his average above .300 -- he is a career .326 hitter in the minors -- and with his speed, he can start in most formats. If you need to add power to your outfield, you'll have to look elsewhere, though. Revere has yet to hit a home run in 579 career at-bats in the big leagues.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Don't get too excited about Carlos Quentin

Any time a player is activated from the disabled list and hits five home runs in his first eight games with his new team, we take notice.

OK, we take notice of a lot of meaningless stuff, but five home runs in eight games to start a season, as Carlos Quentin has done with the Padres, really gets the attention of a fantasy owner.

As you can tell by the headline of this blog, however, I'm not firmly aboard the Quentin bandwagon. I was one of its founding members in 2008, but jumped off at some point during Quentin's last three uneventful seasons.

In 2008, Quentin seemingly came out of nowhere to bat .288 with 36 homers, 100 RBI, 96 runs and a .965 OPS for the White Sox.

The next three seasons, he averaged 24 homers, but he hit .236, .243 and .254, and had norms of 58 runs and 73 RBI.

This season, Quentin had surgery on his right knee in March, which delayed his San Diego debut until May 28.

Then there's the fact Quentin now calls Petco Park -- traditionally one of baseball's best pitchers' parks -- home. In 34 games this season through Thursday, the Padres have hit 14 home runs at home.

If Quentin isn't racking up home runs, he's not of much value, since he's a .255 career hitter with 16 stolen bases in 624 games.

You might have guessed by now that I'm not a big believer in Quentin's early numbers (.481 average, five homers, nine RBI and nine runs in 27 at-bats).

I wouldn't play him in most mixed leagues (if you're in a 14- to 16-team league, maybe), but he can help you in NL-only formats.

If you do play him, know what you're getting: A player who can hit 20 homers, but likely won't help you at all in batting average, runs and steals.

Labels: ,

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Analyzing Justin Masterson's value

If you drafted Justin Masterson, it could have been as a No. 3 or No. 4 starter in a mixed league.

After his loss Sunday, Masterson's fifth in seven decisions this season, you likely are very frustrated with your draft-day investment (which might pale in comparison to the feelings of the most ardent Tribe fans).

Is it time to bench Masterson, if you haven't done so already?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is to play the matchup game with him from here on out, and play him in weeks in which he is starting twice, assuming he is still producing at least at his current rate (which isn't as bad as you might think).

Masterson is 2-5 with a 5.09 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. He has struck out 53 in 74 1/3 innings.

As I tweeted tonight, the difference in the 2011 Masterson (the one who was 12-10 with a 3.21 ERA and 1.28 WHIP) and the 2012 version is his high walk rate.

This season, Masterson has walked one batter every two innings (4.5 per nine frames). Last year, he walked 2.7 batters per nine innings. His hits allowed per nine innings (9.1 in 2012 and 8.8 in 2011) and strikeouts per nine (6.4 this season and 6.6 last season) are pretty similar.

Will he pull it together? You're guess is as good as mine.

What I can tell you is Masterson has allowed three runs or fewer in six of his last eight starts. I would continue to play him most weeks -- but this isn't one of those instances.

On Saturday, the Indians will play at St. Louis, and Masterson is scheduled to pitch against the Cardinals' Kyle Lohse (5-1, 3.36 ERA). In 24 home games this season, the Cardinals have batted .297 and averaged 5.9 runs per contest. In that span, they have hit 32 home runs and have a very impressive .853 OPS.

Translation: Bad matchup for a guy who's having a bad year.

Labels: ,