Some players never get their due, but when you look up at the end of the year the production is there. You know, those guys who produce solid numbers year after year but for some reason, be it their team, a lack of publicity, or a deficiency in their game, never quite get the respect that they are owed. We'll profile one of those guys at the top of this report. We'll then discuss surging pitchers (Cobb, Guthrie), struggling hurlers (Garza, Saito), injured batters (Grandal, Ortiz), a slumping hitter (Suzuki) and one that is en fuego (Jay).
I Can't Get Any Respect
I have more homers (14) than Adrian Gonzalez (13).
I have more RBIs (36) than Desmond Jennings (34).
I've scored more runs (66) than Josh Reddick (64)
I have the same amount of steals as Shane Victorino (27).
The last month I've been one of the top-10 outfielders in fantasy baseball as I've hit five homers, scored 24 runs and stolen nine bases.
No one has noticed, but I'm on pace to hit 19 homers, knock in 50 runs, score 90 times and to steal 35 bases. Since 2000 only six men have reached all four of those totals in a season more than one time – Carlos Beltran (3 times), Alfonso Soriano (3), Jimmy Rollins (2), Vladimir Guerrero (2), Hanley Ramirez (2) and Bobby Abreu (2).
WHO AM I?
I'm the Reds' Drew Stubbs.
Sure Stubbs is hitting .229 on the year, and you have to have a plan to combat the sinking of your team average that he brings, but I would posit that he brings as much value to a fantasy club as Adam Dunn and his .208 average, it's just in a different manner. Continually overlooked because of what he doesn't do (hit for average), people don't give Stubbs credit for what he does do well. Consider this. How many players in the big leagues have 14 homers, 65 runs scored and 25 steals this season? The answer is two – Stubbs and Mike Trout. Read that last line again before you consider dumping Stubbs.
Hot or Not?
Alex Cobb mania is hitting a fever pitch as I've been getting a ton of questions about him this week. Apparently three straight wins, allowing one run each time out, generate a lot of attention. While that mini run of success obviously should engender notice, it's not fair to any player to judge them merely on a handful of games. If we go a bit further back in his record we end up with a 2.70 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over his last six starts, now I'm starting to be impressed, but if we go back the start of July, a span covering eight starts, those numbers leap to 3.83 and 1.28. Guess what his numbers are for the year? How about 4.08 and 1.26. Cobb doesn't get a lot of Ks, his 6.7 per nine is below the league average, and though he does a decent job with the walks (2.59 per nine), his lack of Ks leaves him with a K/BB ratio that is only about 0.2 better than the league average at 2.58. What he does do extremely well is induce grounders, his 58.5 percent ground ball rate and 2.87 GB/FB ratio are elite, but they still don't point him out as someone likely to lead you to fantasy championship. If he keeps the ball diving in the zone he's going to have a lot of success, but with wins being variable (he's 7-8 despite winning his last three outings), and the lack of punchouts, he's not a world beater in 5x5 mixed leagues.
Matt Garza is likely done for the year because of a stress reaction in his right elbow according to manager Dale Sveum. "To be honest with you, I’d be surprised if he pitches again this season," said Sveum. If he has thrown his last pitch for 2013 Garza's effort will go down as a disappointing one given that he has made only 18 starts and that he went 5-7 for the Cubs. At the same time there was still plenty of good in Garza's effort including: (1) His 3.91 ERA was right on his 3.84 career mark and the third time in four year that mark was in the 3.90's (it was 3.32 in 2011). (2) His 1.18 WHIP would be a career best after 4-straight years in the 1.24-1.26 range (remarkable his consistency). (3) His 8.33 K/9 would be less than his 8.95 mark from last season but still substantially better than his career 7.58 mark. (4) His 3.00 K/BB ratio would be the second best mark of his career and only the second time he ever finished a year with a mark over 2.40. (5) A career 1.06 GB/FB arm, his 1.42 mark would tie his 1.42 mark from 2011 as a career best (only once previous to the last two years had he posted a mark over 1.05). If healthy to start the 2013 season Garza should be viewed as he always is – a notch below the elite but an impressive/consistent performer that you can count on when on the field.
Jeremy Guthrie has a 1.15 WHIP through five starts with the Royals. Better yet, he has won each of his last two outings while allowing nary a run over 15 innings. Rather amazingly he's also struck out 14 batters while walking just two. AL-only leaguers may want to pounce and hope that he can extend the good times, though be careful not to expect too much.
Yasmani Grandal will begin a minor league rehab assignment Wednesday night at High-A as he attempts to work his way back from an oblique issue that has kept him out of action since July 30th – a pretty short time frame actually for an injury that often takes 4-6 weeks to heal up. If things go well there's a chance Grandal could return to the Padres this weekend, a nice boost to those that have been waiting to deploy Grandal as their #2 catcher in mixed leagues. Grandal who hit .330 with six bombs in 56 games in Triple-A to earn his promotion to the bigs kept on bashing with the Padres as he was off to a great start hitting .312 with five homers, 15 RBIs and 14 runs scored in just 24 contests. It's not reasonable to expect him to continue along those lines of production, but if he truly is over the oblique issue it would be wise not to underestimate the level of offense he could provide the rest of the way.
John Jay was hitting a solid .284 on August 5th. Now he's batting .315. How has be accomplished such an impressive feat? Hit after hit after hit. In his last eight games he's produced at least two hits six times, and overall he has 17 hits in 32 at-bats (.531). There isn't a hotter hitter going right now. Jay hit .300 in 2010, .297 last year and his .315 mark this year gives him a .302 career average in 996 at-bats.
David Ortiz (Achilles) still doesn't have a target date to return to action. He received an injection last week in the hopes that it would help to speed up the recovery process. It hasn't helped. At this point we're in a total holding pattern with Big Papi which is too bad because I was really interested in how the 36 year old was going to finish off what was shaping up to be his best effort since 2007 as he is hitting .316 with 23 homers, a .414 OBP and 1.024 OPS in just 89 games.
Takashi Saito was once again placed on the DL, this time for a hamstring issue. He's thrown all of 7.1 innings this year, his first with the D'backs, and has obviously been a massive disappointment. Dating back to the start of last season he's thrown 34 innings, which when coupled with his age (42 years old), makes you wonder if his career is at an end. If it is he will leave behind some excellent career numbers including a 2.27 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 10.61 K/9 and 3.71 K/BB ratio over 333.1 innings.
Kurt Suzuki finally showed some signs of life Monday as he had three hits and four RBIs for the Nationals. Even with that great effort he's only hitting .222 with the Nationals through seven games, this after he hit .218 for the Athletics in 75 games before he was dealt to the NL. This is the same guy who hit .279 and .274 in 2008 and 2009. So why on earth has he hit .235 since the start of the 2010 season? First, his .290 BABIP has fallen to .245 and .244 the past two years (it's slightly up at .265 this year). He's also upped his fly ball rate. After posting a 36 percent rate in 2008-09 that number has gone to 41 percent, 44 percent and 43 percent this year. Still, that's not a massive shift. His plate discipline remained similar. In 2008-09 he struck out once every 8.67 at-bats, a strong total for today's game. Since the start of the 2010 season that number has shrunk to one every 7.36, still a solid mark. So why has his average tanked this year? It's the lack of homers. After hitting 15, 13 and 14 the past three years he has one homer in 289 at-bats. That's ridiculous. As a result a guy who has had a HR/F mark of 8.0, 7.1 and 8.0 the past three years has seen that number dip to 1.0 percent. Add in seven homers to his current batting line, to match his rate of long balls the past three years, and that batting average would go from .218 to .242 and all of a sudden things would look just like we expected. It's a fine line between success and failure.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday, 7-10 PM EDT. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and on his Twitter account @BaseballGuys.
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