So I was watching the latest Glee* episode and I was struck by how important everything is in high school.
*Before you start, I began watching Glee with my girlfriend. She gave up on the show. I grew up on MTV. I love music videos. Santana is hot. There is really no excuse.
When you’re in your teens, you have a very short conscious experience timeframe. If you think about it, most people don’t have real memories from before they were five or six.
So, as a teenager, you have about eight – 14 years of experiences to draw upon. Things that seem life-altering and serious to you at 17 would be laughed at by 47-year-old you who has dealt with three economic collapses, four home purchases/refinances, two children and a puppy.
Watching the show, I was struck by what a big deal everything was to the Glee characters. For one, being prom king/queen was incredibly important. They simply couldn’t conceive of a world where everything didn’t go their way.
This is like the first month of the fantasy baseball season. We have very little data and games, so everyone overreacts to the samples we do have. We’ll call April the teenage stage of the fantasy baseball season, during which people throw fits over a 0-4 game with three Ks and glorify a 3-4 game with two steals. Things will plateau, trust me.
That is why Katy created the Hot ‘N’ Cold All-stars.
Jack Hannahan – Hannahan, the 89th ranked Yahoo player to date, put up an impressive last seven days (7/16 with two HRs and one stolen base). He is well on his way to surpassing his highest yearly HR total ever (9). Or is he? The only time Hannahan played anywhere near a full season was in 2008 with the Oakland Athletics when he was 28. He appeared in 143 games and put up a .218/.305/.342 line with nine dingers. His 162-game average is 10 HRs and a .229/.315/.360 line. Essentially, he’ll give you that in 2011 with a couple more HRs and a slightly better batting average. He’s not an option for any league really.
Carlos Gomez – Gomez continued to put distance between himself and the impeccable Nyjer Morgan. Over the last seven days, Gomez went 10/26 with two steals. Even with that week, his season line is .250/.283/.326. That’s worse than his 2010 and his career line, so I don’t think Gomez is really much of an option outside of NL-only leagues. I wouldn’t be shocked if he ended up with 25-30 steals, but you’re going to pay the price in an average around .250, an OBP around .300 and no power.
Darwin Barney – The fly in my Jeff Baker ointment, Barney has played so well that he’s stealing a lot of at bats. Over the last seven days, the pesky middle infielder went 9/25 with one HR, one SB and seven RBIs. What the heck? Barney, just 24 years old, made his major league debut last year and had 85 plate appearances (he has 86 this year). Last year he went .241/.294/.291. Still, in 2010, when he repeated AAA, he went .299/.333/.378. In the minors, he stole double digit bases just once and never tallied more than three dingers in a year. At most, we’re looking at a .290 hitter with no OBP, power or speed upside. If he gets continued playing time, he should score 70 runs, but that’s the only category he’ll really help in.
Miguel Olivo – Olivo flashed some power over the last seven days (two dingers) and posted a nifty average (.368). However, Olivo has never hit for a good average and never will. His one asset is power and that is hurt by his home ballpark. I can’t think of many formats that will make him worth owning. He’ll hit .230 at best and that will destroy any value in his mid-teens HRs.
Juan Rivera – I really thought the move toToronto would be beneficial for Rivera. To date, that hasn’t really been the case as he’s been awful. However, he did show signs over the last seven days: 10/26 with two HRs. Not too long ago, Rivera smacked 25 HRs and followed it up with a 15-HR season in just 124 games. With the rosiest of glasses on, I could see him hitting .270 with 20 HRs. It’s more likely he’ll hit in the .260-.265 range with 15 HRs, though. Still, I like him in deeper formats.
Adam Jones – As much as it pains me to write about Nick Markakis, it hurts even more to talk about Adam Jones…except when we get stretches like the last seven days: 4/15 with two HRs. Sure the average is nothing special, but his isolated power has been showing some promise. This could be the year that he eclipses the “mythical” 20-HR plateau. He’ll be borderline useless in OBP leagues and the speed has never developed, but a 25 HR, 10 SB campaign is within sight. He might fall a tad short in the power department, but he is showing some promise at the ripe old age of 24.
Jerry Sands – Elite has been on the Sands bandwagon for awhile. In 20 at bats over the past seven days, Sands recorded seven hits and two steals. By now, you know he torched AAA this year and AA/A last year. Given his minor league K-rate and the fact that he’s striking out 29% in the majors so far, it’s hard to predict a great average for Sands. Still, he could hit 15 bombs and steal 10 bases. There are places where that will be useful even if it comes with a .250 average.
Daniel Murphy – The most important thing about Daniel Murphy? He qualifies at second base. As the lefty hitting part of the Mets’ second base platoon, he’ll see the most at bats – and, over the last seven days, he’s been making the most of the opportunity: 7/22 with a homer. He still doesn’t walk much and strikes out a bit more than you’d like, but his 2011 .293/.359/.500 line isn’t completely out of whack. Sure, he’ll probably go .285/.345/.450 at best with 10 HRs, but that’s not awful for a second baseman – especially in deeper leagues.
Todd Helton – Todd Helton was my first fantasy baseball selection ever. He was also on the first championship team I ever had (sure I made a swindle of a deal: Kevin Millwood for Troy Percival and Miguel Cabrera (early in the season the year after the Marlins won the World Series). So I have a soft spot for the bearded batsman. That’s why I’m stoked to see him put up a 4/15, two-HR seven day stretch. Currently, his isolated power is double what it was last year and the highest it has been since 2004, so that won’t continue. Still, he’s posting a sublime OBP and average and should end up with double digit HRs. That’s not great from a first baseman in most leagues, but he has some value – certainly more than James Loney. He ain’t dead yet.
Erik Bedard – I really thought Bedard would be a similar catalyzing force for the Orioles that Glenn Davis was for the national league in the mid-90s. While Bedard has lived up to his end of the bargain by suffering injury after injury, Chris Tillman, Adam Jones, and Josh Bell aka George Sherrill have not become Pete Harnish, Curt Schilling and Steve Finley…yet. Still, Bedard showed some life over the last seven days, going seven strong innings and posting a 1.29 ERA and 0.71 WHIP. He has a 5.96 ERA this season but a 4.54 xFIP. He’s been giving up a lot more HRs than he usually does and posting only seven Ks per nine innings – which would easily be the lowest of his career. I don’t see a ton of upside with Bedard – certainly less than at the start of the year and he’s healthy. It doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on him though – he does pitch in a favorable park with a favorable defense.
James McDonald – McDonald has been off to a horrendous start. Like the old saying goes, what goes down must go up, right? Gravity and all that. Well, in his last start, he went six innings without allowing a run. Sure it was against the Giants JV line-up, but it counts. A guy I owned most places and slowly dropped, is McDonald back on the radar? Well, so far his K-rate is nowhere near where it needs to be or has been at any point in his career. Not surprising, he’s also not getting as many swinging strikes and allowing more contact than ever. McDonald had, so far, been good at keeping the ball in play, yet his HR/FB rate has jumped about 10% this year over last year. McDonald will get better, but I can’t see him matching his 8.54 K/9 rate of last year. At this point, he’s a match-ups guy (i.e. when he pitches against the Astros) in super deep leagues.
Jason Hammel – Like McDonald, Hammel was one of my cheap pitchers coming into this year. Also like McDonald, he hasn’t been all that good, yet turned in a good outing in his last start (1.35 ERA and 1.20 WHIP). Unfortunately, his K-rate, like McDonald’s, is resting in the 5s when it had rarely been that low in the past. Unlike McDonald, Hammel is getting more swinging strikes and batters are making less contact against him than last year. However, when they make contact they have an improved line drive and ground ball rate. Also, while his fly ball rate has fallen considerably, his HR/FB rate is considerably higher than it ever has been. Unlike McDonald, I see a decent bounce back for Hammel. He should right the K-rate and bring the ERA into the low-4.00s with a chance to go under that line. I like Hammel.
Ryan Dempster – Dempster was having a bad week before last night’s utter debacle. For the week, in two starts, Dempster managed just 6 total innings and added a 21.00 ERA and 3.33 WHIP. Horrendous. Right now he is giving up a ton of homeruns. He has a 23.7% HR/FB rate – more than double his career line. However, he isn’t giving up any more FBs than he did last year, although the percentage is about four points higher than his career line – perhaps a disturbing trend. He is giving up a few more line drives and getting a few less ground balls, resulting in a .344 BABip on the year. He is also pairing that with a criminal 53.9% strand rate. When you add everything up, his xFIP is 4.26. Now, his swinging strike percentage is in the single digits for the first time since 2003 and batters are making more contact. However, his K-rate isn’t any worse than his career. Basically, he is getting killed on his slider so far– leaving a lot of hangers, Sarge. So, what do you do going forward? I really think he is 175 Ks in the bank. That ERA though, not sure. I wouldn’t be shocked with anything between 4.00-5.50. I really think it should settle into the 4.60 range at worst, which will play with the Ks. It’s hard to hold the fort, I know, but I think you have to, while avoiding any starts in homer-unfriendly parks (Arizona,Cincinnati, etc.).
Edwin Jackson – Is Edwin Jackson the devil? He seems to be oh-so-tempting and then pulls of his mask to reveal Beelzebub. Over the last seven days, in two starts, he lasted just 9.2 innings and decimated your ratios (12.10 ERA and 2.59 WHIP). He got hit hard on the road by the Tigers and the Yankees. For what it’s worth, at US Cellular Field last year, Jackson had a 5.67 K:BB rate, a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, while battling a .344 BABip – he was dismal on the road. For his career, however, he hasn’t demonstrated such a wide home/away split. In fact, in about the same starts, his ERA is better on the road and the WHIPs are identical. At the moment, you have to be careful withJackson. However, I wouldn’t cut bait as there is a chance he has become like Wandy Rodriguez circa 2008 – great at home, horrible on the road. That kind of pitcher is useful.
Yovani Gallardo – I covered Gallardo before his latest debacle. It doesn’t change my opinion: “I wouldn’t push the panic button or move him for $0.70 on the dollar. However, if I got an offer worth 80% of his draft day value, I might pull the trigger.”
Derek Holland – It’s clear that I love Holland, however there will be two-start weeks with ERAs above 10 and near 2.00 WHIPs. At least he added 11 Ks. I’m not concerned at all about the dude. He’ll post a 7.50 K/9 rate with a 4.60 ERA at worse. I see significant upside to the ERA as well. I like the dude.
Matt Wieters – I want so badly for Matt Wieters to just keep hitting and never stop. That might be too much to ask. Sure his last seven days (3/16) were not like Johnny Bench, but his 2011 line isn’t unpromising (.250/.329/.441). I’m comfortable saying Wieters will hit .270 with 17 HRs – or at least close. I still believe and his ISO looks good.
Carlos Gonzalez – CarGo did not see a week like the past seven days (0/14) all last year. The big problem is that CarGo isn’t seeing as many fast balls as he did last year. He is seeing way more sliders and changes. Not surprisingly, his swinging strike percentage is high and his contact rate is down. Still, when he makes contact, he is hitting line drives at the same rate as 2010. Unfortunately, he is also hitting more ground balls. So, what do you do with him? Nothing. He has only played nine home games this year, compared to 13 games away. His line in the home games: .314/.385/.400. He is what he is: .290 hitter with a chance to hit 25 bombs and steal 25 bases.
Alex Rios – Not much has gone right for the White Sox line-up this year – Rios is no exception and quite possibly the exclamation point. Over the last seven days, Rios went 2/21. On the year, he is hitting .158 with no homers. Still he is striking out slightly less and walking more and he does have three SBs to go along with a dismal .245 on base percentage. He is swinging and missing less and making better contact. He is hitting a handful more ground balls but not at the expense of line drives. He has a .188 BABip compared to a .314 career number. I just can’t find any reason to give up on Rios. At the end of the year, I’m betting on a 15 HR, 25 steal campaign with a .250 average. That does mean he’ll hit pretty well going forward.