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 17, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Francisco Rodriguez's value soars

K-Rod is back.

OK, he's probably not back to being the pitcher who averaged 42 saves from 2005 to 2010 and struck out a combined 496 batters in 401 1/3 innings in that span.

But Francisco Rodriguez has returned to the closer's role.

Tuesday, the Brewers replaced John Axford with Rodriguez in the ninth-inning role, a day after the former blew his sixth save since May 11.

Since that date, Axford is 10-for-16 in save chances and has a 5.27 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Before that blown save, he had converted 49 consecutive save opportunities and was coming off a fantastic 2011 season in which he was 46-for-48 in saves, had a 1.95 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 86 strikeouts in 73 2/3 innings.

Prior to Tuesday, Rodriguez was available in more than 97 percent of the leagues on If he's available in a category league in which you compete, you should acquire him even if you don't need a closer. (Think trade bait.)

Rodriguez has been pretty ordinary in a setup role this season for Milwaukee. He has a 3.67 ERA, 1.42 WHIP and 39 Ks in 41 2/3 innings.

He was very effective last season, though, posting a 2.64 ERA and 79 Ks in 71 2/3 innings with the Mets and Brewers.

If you're worried about using a roster spot on Rodriguez and then watching as Axford gets his former job back in two weeks, don't.

There are rumors Rodriguez will be traded to a closer-needy team before the July 31 deadline. One rumor that gained steam recently was a Rodriguez reunion with the Mets. (And what fun that could be.)

And what better way to raise his trade value than to have him save a handful of games in the next two weeks?

If Rodriguez is traded, you might also get lucky and have him go to a team such as the Mets, who have had 22 saves in their 46 victories and have Frank Francisco and his 4.97 ERA on the disabled list.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Analyzing the value of Jacoby Ellsbury

The All-Star break is ending, and you might be getting your first-round draft pick back.

Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who hasn't played since April 13 because of a shoulder injury, is expected to be activated from the disabled list Friday.

Your first reaction might be to start Ellsbury immediately. Depending on your roster, that could be the right move.

My first reaction, especially in weekly leagues in which you have to commit to starting a player for seven straight days -- or in the case of the All-Star break in many leagues, 10, since this week and next week count as one game -- is to sit Ellsbury and give him time to prove to us that he will be healthy enough to stay in the lineup.

Last season, Ellsbury was phenomenal, batting .321 with 32 homers, 105 RBI, 39 steals, 119 runs and a .928 OPS.

In 2010, he was limited to 78 at-bats by injury, and he didn't hit a homer.

In 2009, Ellsbury batted .301 with 70 stolen bases and 94 runs, but he wasn't of much help in the power departments (eight homers and 60 RBI).

Ellsbury is a career .299 hitter, but his 2011 home-run total doesn't mesh with his past performance.

Ellsbury averaged one homer per 20.6 at-bats last season. Prior to 2011, he had 20 homers in 1,398 at-bats -- one per 69.9 at-bats.

Is he a power hitter? I'd say no, but he can still be very productive in every other area, especially steals, runs and batting average.

In two of the leagues in which I participate, I drafted late in the first round of a 12- and 14-team mixed league. I was (un)lucky enough to get Ellsbury in both leagues.

In both leagues, I was fortunate to acquire very good outfielders in Ellsbury's place -- the Cardinals' Allen Craig (waiver wire) in the 12-team league and the White Sox's Alex Rios (draft) in the 14-team league.

In the 14-team league, I also have Josh Hamilton and Jason Heyward in the outfield, which made my decision to bench Ellsbury (I have David Ortiz in the utility spot) pretty easy.

In the 12-team league, I have Hamilton and Desmond Jennings in the outfield. Considering Jennings is batting .231 with five homers, I could have started Ellsbury and not given it much thought, but again, I preferred to wait.

When released its second-half fantasy rankings this week, they ranked Ellsbury 21st in the outfield -- one behind Heyward and 11 ahead of the woefully underrated Rios (.318, 50 runs, 12 homers, 49 RBI and 13 steals).

The ranking on Ellsbury seems about right.

I would view him as a No. 2 outfielder in a 12-team mixed league.

That's quite a few notches below where you and I drafted him, but, considering Ellsbury's totals in 2010 and '12, maybe we should just be happy he is healthy.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Royals catcher Salvador Perez is underrated gem

Salvador Perez entered Wednesday owned in 42.2 percent of the leagues on

Granted, the Royals catcher has all of 47 at-bats this season.

Look a little further, though, and you'll see the 22-year-old has batted .344 in 195 career at-bats. Since being called up to the big leagues in 2011, Perez has seven homers, 29 RBI and an .894 OPS.

This season, Perez began the year on the disabled list because of a torn knee ligament.

Since he was activated June 22, Perez is hitting .383 with nine runs, four homers, eight RBI, a 1.085 OPS and only two strikeouts in 47 at-bats.

If he's available in a league in which you compete, you should consider him an immediate starter at a very weak position.

At the All-Star break, only two catchers -- the Red Sox's Jarrod Saltalamacchia (17) and the White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski (16) -- had more than 14 home runs. Saltalamacchia is batting .235 with 72 strikeouts, and Pierzynski is already within two of his career high in homers.

The leader in RBI: Pierzynski with 49 -- one more than he had all of last season.

Perez should be considered a top-10 catcher because of his ability to hit for average, drive in runs and help you in runs scored.

He was a .287 hitter in the minor leagues, but that's deceiving when you consider he was playing rookie ball in 2007 at age 17.

Since 2010, Perez has batted .290, .283, .333 and .340 in stints at Class A, AA and AAA.

One area he didn't excel in down on the farm was home runs (one in 98 combined Triple-A at-bats in 2011 and '12, and 20 in 1,278 career minor-league at-bats).

Perez's big-league numbers indicate he could be a late bloomer (if it's possible to be such a thing at age 22) in that category going forward.

All of which is an encouraging development for a position with its share of struggling stars (we're looking at you, Carlos Santana. You, too, Alex Avila, Mike Napoli and Russell Martin).

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Is Anthony Rizzo a starter?

It's too soon to know if the Cubs first baseman is another Matt LaPorta.

You know, the type of player who mashes in the minor leagues but can't seem to get it going in the majors.

(It's OK, Indians fans. LaPorta will represent the International League on Monday in the Triple-A home run derby. I'm sure it's a career highlight.)

What is encouraging about Rizzo's first six games with the Cubs isn't his .304 average, two homers and five RBI. It's not his .985 OPS, either.

It's this: Rizzo has struck out three times in 23 at-bats.

No big deal, you say?

Maybe, but consider this: In 2011 with the Padres, Rizzo -- the key piece in San Diego's trade of Adrian Gonzalez to Boston that year -- fanned 46 times in 128 at-bats. He also hit .141 with one homer, nine RBI and a .523 OPS in the hitters' hell known as Petco Park.

Even in Triple-A, Rizzo was a strikeout machine, fanning a combined 141 times in 613 at-bats in 2011 and '12. In that span, he was terrific in plenty of other areas -- a .336 average with 112 runs scored, 49 homers and 163 RBI.

In 2012 with Class AAA Iowa, Rizzo was phenomenal, hitting .342 with 23 homers, 62 RBI and a 1.101 OPS in 257 at-bats.

There aren't as many stud first basemen in fantasy this season, which makes Rizzo a starter in many leagues.

I would consider him a must-start in NL-only leagues until the strikeouts start piling up and the batting average plummets.

In mixed leagues, Rizzo should be a starting option if you're lacking in the power departments.

If you're playing him, continue to monitor his strikeouts.

One K per four to five at-bats isn't unheard of for a power hitter. If Rizzo goes back to his San Diego days of one K per three at-bats, he shouldn't be a fantasy starter.

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