Francisco Liriano: I kind of wanted to list him as “Fransucko Liriano”, after the unflattering nickname given to him by so many disgruntled Twins fans and fantasy owners. After a fantastic start to the season (0.93 ERA, 27 K in 29 April innings), his 5.28 ERA and .313 BAA in six May starts is evidence that he’s been regressing back to his ’08-’09 form. Or is it? In April, he struck out 8.38 and walked 3.10 per nine, and in May, he improved both to the tune of 9.39 and 2.64 per nine. His peripherals are good for a 2.84 FIP this last month. And why is he such a good buy low? Anyone who has the capability of clicking on his career stats will see his mediocre to pathetic performance the two previous years. The key difference is his velocity. Though we’re not being treated to the 2006 Liriano who averaged almost 95 mph on his fastball, a slightly tamer 94.1 mph is still a far cry from his 90.0 mph average in 2008. And it’s not like he was softly lobbing the ball in May, he’s actually been throwing harder of late. His last three starts have been against AL East powerhouses New York and Boston, and his next two figure to be against the powder puffs Seattle and Oakland, followed by a decent Atlanta team. So go ahead and exploit the recency effect to win your league.
Perceived value: 13th-14th round
Aaron Hill: Wow. A league-low .148 BABIP says it all. But I guess for the sake of filling space, I guess I’ll write more. While his strikeout rate has increased by 35%, his walk rate has increased by 112%, showing his improved plate discipline. The main problem he’s been having this year is his 8.6% LD rate. Over his career, he’s been squarely average with his line drive rate, so we can expect some regression to the norm. And in his 165 AB so far, he’s already hit 8 home runs. If his FB% drops 7-10 points to his career norm, that number may be down to 7, but that’s still a 31 HR pace over 158 games. Owners are probably frustrated by the 17 games he’s missed to injury so far this year on top of his struggles at the plate, but as time moves farther away from the original injury, he’ll be more confident to swing and run like normal. With that, success will come. Also, don’t forget the crazy low BABIP.
Perceived value: 8th round
Alfonso Soriano: He’s been dodging more forks than David Ortiz the last couple seasons. Like Ortiz, he’s having a renaissance year, batting .307 with 9 longballs and 27 each of runs and RBI. However, the reality is a lot closer to his poor 2009 than any other year. I have no idea where those 27 runs are coming from, since he’s batting 6th every day in front of famous sluggers (cough, cough) like Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker, Xavier Nady, and Tyler Colvin. His BABIP is .352 (.377 in May) and like Morneau last week he’s a fly ball hitter. With a slightly above league average LD rate of 22.2% and a high 51.3% FB rate, there is no way he should be hitting for such a high average. Using a rudimentary expected BABIP formula based on weighted hit type BABIP:
…he should be putting up a .292 figure. That would bring his AVG down to .260 or so. Many fantasy owners have short memories, so sell him to your league’s goldfish and reap the profits.
Perceived value: 7th-8th round
Matt Cain: In May, a 1.81 ERA and 0.92 WHIP. Coming off a one-hit, no-walk shutout. Highly touted #2 man to Lincecum’s #1. 2.50/1.01 ratios overall. What’s not to like? Oh, I got a couple things. He’s been crazy lucky in May, getting a .195 BABIP and 1.7% HR/FB rate in his favor. He’s made a career out of keeping those fly balls out of the park (career 7% HR/FB rate prior to 2010), but it’s pretty darn hard to keep it as low as he has been. A couple concerning trends that have been following Cain the last few years are decreasing velocity and decreasing K rates. He was averaging 93.4 mph with his heater in 2006, but this year it’s down to 90.7 mph. With the exception of 2008, his K rates have gone down significantly every full year in the majors. In ’06 he was striking out 8.45 per nine, and that’s down to a lukewarm 6.72 this year. He’s been missing fewer bats, as is evident by his shrinking swinging strike percentage and ballooning contact rate. His FIP for the year is 3.23 and his xFIP is 4.38. Because of his consistently low HR/FB rate, I’d put his expected production between those. A 3.70/1.25 pitcher is still useful, but with the diminishing K’s, he’s lost a good part of his value in my eyes.
Perceived value: 5th-6th round
Fowler Watch 2010
Only one start in Week 8. 2% started in Yahoo. The Dexter Fowler era ends for The 98mph Screwballs, where I unceremoniously dumped him for J.J. Putz in the last remaining league where I owned him. Unfortunately, none of my leagues count comedic glory as a stat category. Till we meet again, Mr. Fowler.
André Walker is Ubaldo's Smirking Revenge. His alter ego Neato Torpedo is Hawpe's Well Below Average Glove.
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