Immanuel Kant, one of the craziest thinkers I’ve ever encounter (I hate the Critique of Pure Reason), created something called the categorical imperative. Basically, it was one tenet that would govern all actions. When you boil it down, Kant thought a person should only do something that everyone should be allowed to do, or in his words: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.”
This got Kant into some sticky trouble when it comes to lying to save a life. The example goes: say someone runs into your house with a murderer hot on their heels. The polite murderer rings your doorbell and asks if the intended victim is inside. According to Kant’s morality, you have to respond that the person is inside because an act is moral not because of its consequences, but in and of itself. If you were to lie in this circumstance that would mean it was okay to lie in every instance of this circumstance, and, thusly, the soon-to-be murderer would know you were lying.
I’m not a big categorical imperative fan. I believe the outcome of actions should have a bearing on morality (and our rule of law, haphazard as it might be, somewhat reflects this, i.e., if you drive drunk and kill someone you get a higher penalty than simply driving drunk).
In my view, outcomes matter, I’m not as worried about how you get there. The same goes for fantasy baseball, especially head-to-head. All you have to do is win, it really doesn’t matter how. I routinely win h2h leagues with teams, that if it had been roto, would have finished in the middle of the pack.
At about this point in the year/week, you know what categories you are strong in. If Morneau zapped your power and there isn’t much to be had on the wire, it’s time to switch tactics. Look to gobble up speed demons – field an outfield of Jose Tabata, Juan Pierre and Michael Bourn and assure yourself of certain categories early in the week, and then try to focus on those you remain close in. If you go out to an early 8-2 lead in wins, it’s time to load up on relievers to massage those ratios and turn in some saves.
In short, don’t keep running out a power hitter if you are losing HRs by 5. This means that, in some cases, Prince Fielder will not be as valuable as Brett Gardner. With this lens in mind, let’s look at some guys who might help you steal a category or two over the weekend – otherwise known as “why Katy created the Hot ‘N’ Cold All-stars.”
Freddie Freeman – I trade Freeman in an NL-only keeper league, and he punishes me for the next seven days (6/17 with three HRs). Is it time to jump on the 27% owned young first baseman? I don’t quite think so. I still think he is a rich man’s James Loney, in that he’ll struggle to hit 20 bombs, but should end up in the 15-17 range. Hitting in what should have been (and probably will be) a dynamic braves line-up, 100 RBIs are not out of the question, but I’m thinking he is more likely to knock in 80-90. I like Freeman and didn’t trade him because I thought it was hopeless – but if I’m choosing between him and Gaby Sanchez, I’m taking Sanchez.
Freddy Sanchez – Welcome to the all Freddy Katy Perry All-stars. I also own Sanchez in my NL-only league – he was my Utley insurance and what an insurance plan it was. Over the last seven days, Sanchez went 11/27 with six runs. Only once in the last seven seasons has Sanchez had a batting average below .300 (and that was .288). Sure, he won’t steal or hit double digit homeruns, but he’ll hit .300, post a .340 OBP and score 80 runs. That’ll play in a lot of places
Chris Denorfia – As the fourth outfielder for a crummy team, Denorfia wouldn’t usually draw Katy’s attention. In the 15 at bats he was given over the last seven days, Denorfia collected eight hits and two homeruns. In limited duty last year, Denorfia hit .271 with nine HRs and eight SBs. Basically, with full playing time, we’d be looking at a 10-10 guy with upside. He has to get at bats going forward given the lack of actual talent in San Diego. I’m scooping him in NL-only leagues right now.
Danny Espinosa – I have talked about Espinosa on the radio and in ranking previews and he even made a KP All-star squad last year. Over the last seven days (6/23 with one HRs and eight RBIs), he has made me look real good. Listen, he’ll never hit that well and the eight RBIs are flukey, but he is putting in work. Espinosa is a legit 20 HR candidate. Unfortunately, that will be paired with a .240-.250 average at best. The big question mark with Espinosa is speed. He was touted as a 20-20 threat. While the power has been there, he is 0/1 in stolen base attempts. He will struggle to put up an OBP above .310, so maybe the steals won’t be there. Still, there is a chance he could be a 20-15 guy.
Peter Bourjos – I’ve talked far and wide about my disbelief that Bourjos could ever get on base enough to make his speed a valuable commodity on offense. He has proved me wrong over the last seven days: 10/24. Of course he doesn’t have a steal in that period and he still isnt walking (6.8%) and is striking out a ton (32.3%). Basically, he has a .395 BABip and a 13.3% infield hit percentage. I’m still not buying Bourjos. If you want to ride the hot streak go ahead, but look at what has happened to Austin Jackson – and he’s a much better player.
Mitch Moreland – How can I have some more land if I don’t have any land? Get it? Bad joke? Worst joke ever? You know what isn’t a joke? Five straight sentences ending with a question mark. But also Moreland’s last seven days: 5/17 with a homerun. He still isn’t getting full time at bats, but that doesn’t really concern me. There are many leagues where it is not only useful but beneficial to have the lefty portion of a platoon. This maintains the player’s high average, makes it easy to know when to start him, and allows you to pair him with another player to create a super player. Moreland will hit 15+ HRs with a .270 average in just 580 at bats or so. I think that’s darn valuable.
Ryan Ludwick – People should know that I like Ryan Ludwick by now. People should also know that Ludwick went 8/25 with a homerun over the last seven days. Remember all that talk about the crappy Padres? Well it sort of only applies to Will Venable and non-Headley infielders. I like Ludwick and think he’s the cheapest 20 HRs you’ll find.
Felipe Lopez – I should have paired this with Adam Kennedy as the most surprising clean-up hitters in all of baseball. Lopez, who qualifies at every infield position that isn’t deep, went 7/28 with a homerun over the last seven days. In 2009, he posted an impressive .310/.383/.427 line, albeit with the highest BABip of his career. You could do worse finding a spot starter in the infield.
Daisuke Matsuzaka – Just when I finally gave up on Matsuzaka, he throws a gem against the Blue Jays: seven innings, one hit, one walk. You’d have to add up his last two starts to get seven innings for the man. However, I’m not buying it. For his career, he’s somehow owned the Jays – let’s see if it continues against the Angels.
Eduardo Sanchez – I talked a little about him on the radio this week, but man has he been impressive. Over the last seven days, he threw three innings and struck out five. I’m not sure he is first, second or third in line for saves in St. Louis, but most leagues honor the value of having a pitcher racking up two Ks every inning. In capped leagues, he’s an all-star.
Daniel Hudson – If it’s not Ian Kennedy, it’s Daniel Hudson who is being questioned on Twitter a lot. This isn’t without good reason, as Hudson’s two-start last seven days resulted in only 11.1 IPs, a 8.74 ERA and 1.59 WHIP. Clearly not good – he was hit hard at home by the Giants and on the road at Cincinnati. Still, he did amass 13 Ks and has a 9.62 K/9 rate this year – which is delicious. I’m not backing off my early projections for Hudson. He is a sub-4.00 ERA guy with 175 Ks. If anyone drops him, grab him. If someone wants to trade him, jump on the opportunity.
JA Happ – I don’t remember writing much about Happ ever. Yet, when I do a Google search, a few articles come up and none of them are flattering to Mr. J.A. Over the last seven days, Happ posted a 7.71 ERA and 1.37 WHIP over 11.2 innings. He didn’t strike out many batters and hasn’t been K-ing anyone this year (just 5.79/9 this year). He isn’t as bad as he has been, but he isn’t much better (think 4.75 ERA and 115 Ks). Even at just 12%, his ownership levels are way too high – I mean he doesn’t actually get to face the Astros all year.
Jeremy Guthrie – It’s no secret, I’ve sort of been sweet on Guthrie for awhile as a cheap useful pitching option. Well, he hasn’t been useful: 6.00 ERA, 1.50 WHIP and just six Ks over his last 12 innings. Most of the damage came against the offensive juggernaut Cleveland Indians, so I’m not overly concerned. However, he needs to get his K-rate back over five to be any sort of valuable fantasy contributor. I think he can get back there, but I’m not sure he provides as much value as I thought in the preseason. I’m thinking a 4.50 ERA with 125 Ks looks like Guthrie’s 2011 line. You be the judge if that helps you.
Gavin Floyd – Over the last seven days, Floyd pitched 12 innings and struck-out 10 with a 6.00 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. Of course, most of the damage came in a start against the Angels, as he threw a gem against the Rays recently. Nevertheless, I see Floyd’s ownership levels dropping. I’m not quite sure why. He is striking out more batters and walking less than last year – albeit small ticks in either direction. I think his April has actually been promising as he starts every year slow. In April and May, his ERA is over 5.45; in every other month it is a point lower or more. Floyd will post an ERA around 4.00 with 160 Ks. Trust me. He is someone to acquire right now.
Mike Napoli –Napoli saw just nine at bats over the last seven days. Indeed, he has only 27 on the season, yet remains a top performer at catcher. I’m advising people to hold the fort on him. He will force his way to more at bats, get hot, and run off a good amount of homeruns over the summer. If you can drop him without someone picking him up, go ahead. But be ready to pounce once he starts getting more playing time.
Alexei Ramirez – I liked Alexei more than most coming into the season. Still, I’m not overly shocked at his last seven days: 5/25 with just an RBI for his troubles. Ramirez puts a lot of balls in play – he doesn’t walk or strike out a lot. So he is incredibly dependent on his BABip. Right now that rests at .246 – his career mark is .292. He isn’t swinging and missing anymore than normal; however, he is hitting more fly balls. While this trend might cause him to lose a bit of average, the value should make up for itself in homeruns. I think we’re looking at him underperforming his BABip (given the increased fly balls and home runs), but also outperforming his HRs. At the moment, I see Ramirez as a .270 hitter with 20 bombs. That sounds pretty nice, don’t it?
Jimmy Rollins – Rollins was part of the Freddie Freeman trade. I made no bones about my dislike of Rollins’ prospects for 2011, but even I expected more than what he has done recently. He is 3/23 with a stolen base over the last seven days. He is perched in the catbird seat in a decent line-up but hasn’t taken advantage of it. If you thought Rollins would hit much over .260, you’d be wrong. What’s more, he isn’t hitting the ball in the air at all (just 25.4% of the time, continuing a three year downturn). At this point, double digit homeruns might not happen for Rollins. He still is a 25-30 SB threat, so he isn’t worthless, but if someone is buying based on 20 HRs, I’d shuffle up and deal.
Derek Jeter – Speaking of all ground ball shortstops, Jeter went 4/21 over the last seven days to bring his average down to .219. He isn’t striking out at all, which is nice, but he has a 13.6% line drive rate and 13.6% fly ball rate. Shockingly, 72.9% of the balls he puts in play are on the ground. I’m not saying he’s done, I’m just saying he isn’t his 2009 self. Jeter has value given his line-up slot and team. However, expecting anything more than a .265 average with 10 HRs and 12 SBs is fooling yourself. He should add 80 runs or so though.
Bobby Abreu – My favorite fantasy player, Bobby Abreu has been dreadful lately. He’s been so bad it was better to own Tony Abreu (who hasn’t played) over him over the last seven days (B. Abreu went 1/23). Even though his average has plummeted to .246, his OBP is an amazing .402. He has a 20.7% walk rate and just 24.6% K-rate. The walk rate is far better than his career line while the K-rate is in line with recent history. I expect, at a certain point, for Abreu to walk less and hit more. In short, his average will go up, but his OBP will go down. When the dust settles, Abreu will look a lot like the 2010 version. He’ll hit .260 with 17 HRs and 20 SBs. I’d acquire him in all leagues, especially ones that count OBP/walks.
Alex Rios – Rios had one more hit than Abreu over the last seven days, but he only has 13 hits on the year. He has no homeruns, and a .176/.274/.230 slash line. That’s so bad I kept inverting the slugging numbers when I tried to type it. He is actually walking a lot more than normal while not striking out much more. He has a .213 BABip compared to a career number of .315. He has more line drives and ground balls and less fly balls than his career numbers. I’m actually not that worried about Rios. Some hits will start to fall and he’ll get his average close to .270. He’ll start muscling up a bit and hit 17 HRs and, when he gets on base, he’ll steal 25 bags. I’m confident in him going forward if he’s healthy.