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The Proof Is In The Peripherals: August 1-7

Good news, everyone!  I'm not going to be leaving Roto Authority at the trade deadline.  The RA general manager tried to work out a deal to move me to Yahoo! Sports for cash considerations, two minor leaguers and a UFC writer to be named later, but I scuttled the deal with my no-trade clause.  I'd only be willing to discuss waiving the clause if I could somehow be traded to Old Hoss Radbourn's Twitter feed, www.creedthoughts.gov.wwwcreedthoughts and any cat-related Tumblr page.

Onto this week's look at the advanced metrics...

Bourn Ultimatum.  Basically, my ultimatum boils down to, "Hey Michael Bourn!  What happened to your so-called speed?  Start stealing more bases or else!"  *shakes fist*  Bourn has a mere 13 steals this season (and been caught eight times), a big disappointment to fantasy owners expecting the player who averaged 51 swipes a year from 2008-12.  Bourn has suffered big drops according to Fangraphs' baserunning statistics (speed score and Ultimate Base Running) and in terms of weighted stolen base runs, Bourn is actually costing the Indians runs this season with his -0.8 number.

The plain fact about Bourn is that if he isn't stealing bases, he has very little fantasy value.  He'll score runs atop a good Tribe lineup, but his decent .284 average is propped up by a .368 BABIP and his power numbers (four homers, 32 RBIs) are nothing special.  In one of my shallower fantasy leagues with 20-player rosters, Bourn even recently popped up on the waiver wire.  I don't know if Bourn is finding stolen bases harder to come by in the American League or if he's starting to lose his wheels at age 30, but whatever the case, the Bourn era in Cleveland has been about as blah as The Bourne Legacy.

Starting To Simmer.  This week's "better than you'd think" guy is kind of an odd candidate since his overall batting line (.249/.287/.373 heading into Tuesday's action) is atrocious.  That said, Andrelton Simmons has quietly been on a roll this month, posting an .820 OPS in July and making himself into a stealth pickup if you're looking for help at a thin shortstop position.  I wouldn't suggest picking him up and then feeling comfortable enough to trade your more established starting shortstop, but if you're hurting at SS or, say, if you're Jhonny Peralta owner worried about a Biogenesis suspension, then the Drel is your man!  Have we settled on "The Drel" as Simmons' nickname yet?  No?  Ok, just checking.

After hitting .299/.352/.397 in 1092 minor league plate appearances (none above Double-A), Simmons hasn't matched that kind of hitting prowess in the bigs but he does have 11 homers.  That's pretty decent for any shortstop but it's jaw-dropping for Simmons himself, who had nine professional homers total coming into this season.  Since Fredi Gonzalez inexplicably keeps putting a guy with a sub-.300 OBP in the leadoff spot, Simmons is also a solid run-scorer, notching 54 touches of home plate.  Simmons doesn't walk much (5.1 BB%) but he also rarely strikes out -- his 7.6% strikeout rate is the fourth-lowest of any player in baseball this season.  Combine this with a .247 BABIP and it could suggest that Simmons will post something closer to his July numbers the rest of the way rather than the .609 OPS he posted over the first three months. 

Across The Sea.  Speaking of infielders who are on fire in July, Simmons can't hold a candle to Kyle Seager, whose .384/.455/.605 line has made him a strong Player Of The Month candidate.  Seager put up good numbers in 2012 and has taken another step forward this year to become one of the better third basemen in baseball, hitting .293/.356/.481 with 16 homers, 48 RBI and 59 runs over the course of the full season.  Seager has comfortably turned himself into a top-10 fantasy third baseman for 2014 and might even crack the top five if he keeps swinging the hot bat.

Mariners fans, you've suffered through a tough few seasons now with a lot of losses, historically-poor hitting and a lot of underachieving hitting prospects.  The good news is that Seager looks like he may be a keeper, as his 2013 stats bear a strong resemblance to his 2010-11 minor league numbers, so while there was no question he has hitting ability, it was just a question of if he (unlike so many others) could handle Safeco Field.  Seager's contact, walk, line drive and HR/FB rates are all up from 2012 and while his BABIP is .318, that's not too crazy a number.  The only drawback is a lack of success against left-handed pitching, as the left-handed hitting Seager has just a .680 OPS against southpaws.  Still, if you have another third base option on days when the Mariners face a lefty, Seager has undoubtedly been a boon for his fantasy owners.

Time To Get Off The BART.  I've been hesitant to even bring up this whole Bartolo Colon thing since it seems like it's beyond statistical understanding.  This living affront to advanced metric analysis has been one of baseball's best pitchers is 12-1 with a 1.53 ERA over his last 13 starts, and for the season has a 2.54 ERA and a 4.28 K/BB ratio that is buoyed by an AL-low 1.14 BB/9.  All of this at age 40 and getting by on one pitch --- 84.8% of Colon's pitches this year have been fastballs, by far the most any pitcher in the game relies on their heater, and "heater" is a relative term given Colon's 90.1 mph average speed.

So you have a guy who barely strikes anyone out, plus he's allowing homers and walks at less than half his career rates.  Colon has a 3.25 FIP, 4.02 xFIP and 4.25 SIERA, not to mention a below-average BABIP (.280) and an abover-average strand rate (81.6%).  Since he likely isn't facing a Biogenesis suspension, my suggestion would be for Colon owners to sell high as soon as you can....yet geez, isn't fantasy baseball fun when you have a guy on your roster who's outperformed all possible expectations?  Errrrgh, no!  No, Mark!  Stop being romantic!  This is a factual, logic-based column only, darn it!  Check your heart at the door!



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