Alright, I’ll admit it. I was one of those people last April/May screaming that Ortiz was done. Many of us wanted to stick a fork in him, but he parried our relentless stabbing attempts and finished the season fairly strong. He’s been a slow starter over the course of his entire career, and age is giving us all a better excuse to explain his poor performance so far. But take a look at this:
Before May 20th: 14 R, 0 HR, 15 RBI, .203/.317/.293 rates
After May 20th: 63 R, 28 HR, 84 RBI, .250/.337/.517 rates
After turning on the light switch in ‘09, Ortiz mashed at a 40 HR/119 RBI clip. The .250 AVG may be a bit tough to stomach, but the discriminating fantasy owner can taste the succulent upside that Big Papi brings to the table. Don’t expect a steakhouse, but it’s not out of the question to get an IHOP meal for Taco Bell prices.
Perceived value: 19th round
Carlos Zambrano: His Opening Day start has clearly left the mother of all bitter tastes in Sweet Lou Piniella’s mouth. After that nightmare, Big Z has put up two good starts and one not-so-good one. And yet, to much fanfare, he was demoted to the bullpen last week. Guys who notch 26 strikeouts in 19.1 IP with a manageable walk rate don’t normally get torched for a .323 BAA. One can’t help but wonder whether his performance this year (for good or for bad) has to do with his drastically different pitch selection. And if you scroll just a bit down, you’ll see that batters are swinging at more outside pitches and making less contact overall than ever before in his career. So in short, he’s missing more bats but he’s allowing more hits? Zambrano has been the victim of terrible, terrible batted ball luck this year, with a .435 BABIP and a 21.1% HR/FB rate. Once Silva and Gorzelanny show their true colors, Big Z will be back with a vengeance.
Perceived value: 22nd round
Adam Wainwright: Probably the best curveball in the game, coming off a Cy Young contending 19-win season, absolutely dealing so far in ’10. However, his .228 BABIP and 3.7% HR/FB tell a slightly different story. His season last year was a little lucky as is (80.4% LOB, 8.3% HR/FB, 3.36 xFIP vs. 2.63 ERA) and his strikeouts have regressed halfway to his pre-’09 rates which weren’t all that impressive. His breaking stuff is and always will be awesome but there’s only so much you can do with an average to below-average fastball. He’s showing less and less confidence in that heater (in his case, is it a cooler?) and I’m afraid that may catch up to him. I’d still consider him among the top of that second tier of pitchers but not in Lince/Halladay/Felix/Greinke territory.
Perceived value: 2nd-3rd round
Max Scherzer: Something’s going on with Mad Max. From a cursory glance, it appears he’s taken a big step forward; his ERA is down to 2.63 and his WHIP has fallen to 1.17, well below the 4.12/1.34 ratios last year. But at the same time, his K’s have dried up and his fastball has lost some zip. His seven-punchout Friday has him pointed in the right direction, but the overall problem remains. Until August of ’09, he was sitting comfortably in the 93.5 to 95 mph range, but then his velocity started tailing off to 91.5-ish mph. That drop has carried over to 2010, and with it he’s losing his intimidating presence on the mound. He’s never been a control pitcher, instead relying on his vicious fastball/slider combo to blow batters away. So goes the heat, so goes my faith in Max Scherzer.
Perceived value: 9th-10th round
Fowler Watch 2010
SB - D Fowler (28, 4th base off U Unknown/J Baker).
André Walker is Ubaldo's Smirking Revenge. His alter ego Neato Torpedo is Hawpe's Well Below Average Glove.
Want to write for the Cafe? Check out the Cafe's Pencil & Paper section!