Four players will be the focus of today's article. Brian Roberts has finally returned from his concussion woes and inquiring minds want to know – what should we expect from the former fantasy star? There's a hitter out there that has numbers that should blow your socks off, so why is no one impressed? Alex Rios is a five category option in the fantasy game as he's rebounded from a down 2011 to return to his previously impressive levels. Brandon Morrow is hurt, and I'm ticked off about that. Finally, an I bet you are wondering, why on earth is Lil' Kim referenced in the title of this piece? Read on to find out how she connects with the FSTA event that was just held in San Francisco.
How Good Am I?
Brian Roberts returned to action Tuesday racking up three hits and an RBI for the Orioles in his first big league game of 2012. All of a sudden I'm being flooded by questions about Roberts and who should be dropped to add him. Obviously that is a nuanced question based upon your roster makeup, your league size etc., so let's review Roberts and determine what his value is before deciding if he should be rostered in your league.
From 2004-2009 Roberts scored at least 85 runs each season and averaged 100 runs a year (he hit triple digits four times in those six years).
From 2004-09 Roberts stole a total of 212 bases with a high of 50 and an average of 35 per season.
From 2004-09 Roberts hit .290, and impressive total for a guy with so much speed. The last five years he hit .283 or better each season with a high of .314.
From 2004-09 Roberts averaged 12 homers a season.
From 2004-09 Roberts averaged 62 RBIs in a season and never produced fewer than 53 in any season.
From 2004-09 Roberts hit 278 doubles, an average of 46 per season. Moreover, he hit at least 34 doubles each season which is the third longest streak by any second sacker in league history (Jeff Kent pulled off the trick for 9-straight years from 1997-2005 while Robinson Cano is working on a stretch of 7-straight).
Put that all together and Roberts average fantasy line over those six seasons was .283-12-62-100-35.
So why on earth wouldn't you be scrambling to add him to your fantasy squad? You did notice that all the numbers I ran through were from 2004-09 meaning I simply left out the last two an a half years, right? Concussion woes have simply killed Roberts. After appearing in 59 games in 2010, Roberts was limited to just 39 games last season. Clearly he wasn't anywhere near 100 percent either and his performance showed it as he hit .221 with a .604 OPS and six steals.
At 34 years of age, and coming off two lost seasons, is it reasonable to expect Roberts to return to his previous all-star levels of production? In my mind the answer is no. If you're in an AL-only league or a 15 team mixed league, Roberts is well worth the risk though. I might even be able to sign off on adding him in 12 team mixed leagues if you squad is strong and you aren't dropping someone who is helping you right now or if you are desperate at second base, but in 10 teamers I would stay away. Given his age, and the fact that he has missed so much game action the past 2+ years, I'm suggesting that Mr. Roberts he has to prove to me, all over again, that he is worth counting on heavily in the fantasy game.
How Good Am I? Part II
I have a better batting average than Starlin Castro who is hitting .302.
I have more homers than Joey Votto who has 11.
I have more RBI than... well I don't have many RBIs (25), but no one is perfect.
I have a better OBP than Carlos Gonzalez who has a .384 mark.
I have a better SLG than David Wright who has a .576 mark.
I have a better OPS than Andrew McCutchen who has a .941 mark.
Who am I?
I'm Bryan LaHair of the Cubs. Seriously. Check it out.
Add all that up and LaHair is on pace for a season of .300 with 30 homers. Now we've certainly seen a major regression after his insane month of April (.390/.471/.780), and it's certainly an open debate that he will sniff either .300 or 30, but it's not like he's been awful his last 33 games hitting .259 with seven homers an a .814 OPS. With a 30 percent K-rate an a still far too high .392 BABIP pm the year there is likely more regression coming, but let's hope that it's more of a soft landing than a thud, though I still have my concerns – the same ones I have been expressing for weeks.
Injury Strikes a Topflight Arm
The dream is dead. This offseason I talked up Brandon Morrow to no end, and in my final rankings at BaseballGuys.com I had Morrow listed 21st amongst all starting pitchers – higher than any other ranking that I saw. Morrow was exceeding that with a top-15 ranking at the starting pitcher position thanks to an 8-3 record, 3.0-1 ERA and 1.00 WHIP through 77.2 innings, so why is the dream dead? His left oblique. Morrow suffered an injury the last time he was on the hill he injured his left side and the result is a stint on the DL that could very well last longer than 15 days. Besides worrying about the length of stay on the DL, you have to wonder how he will perform once he returns? Will he lose the mojo that enabled him to continue to beat down the free passes? Just look at how impressive he's been at doing just that in the BB/9 column the past three years: 5.68, 4.06, 3.46 and 2.78 this year. Oh Mr. Morrow, you were so on your way to making me look like a genius.
How Good Am I? Part III
I wrote of how I was pushing hard for people to add Morrow to their starting staff. In the outfield the player I pushed hard, even though most thought I was nuts, was Alex Rios who I had ranked 23rd at the outfield position (no one else had him that high). After a week of game action Rios was hitting .190 and I was looking like a fool. Now? In my modest opinion I'm looking pretty darn smart.
On the season Rios is batting .293, and he's been particularly hot in June hitting .341 in the first 10 games of the month. Rios is also starting to go deep. After just one long ball in April he's proceeded to go deep five times in his last 18 games. He's also pushed his RBI total up to 32 and his runs are climbing as well with 29 (he's scored eight times in his last nine games). None of his numbers jump off the page, but they rarely do with Rios. It's not about him excelling in any one area in the fantasy game because he rarely does. It's about his complete five category game, that's what should pique your interest. If Rios were to maintain his current pace he'd finish the year with a line something like .290-15-85-75-20. Stop me if those numbers sound familiar since he's already posted two nearly identical seasons previously.
What about the other “down years” he's had? I gotta tell ya, other than last season when he hit .227 with 13 homers and 11 steals, he's always been a solid fantasy performer. In fact, from 2006-10 the average Rios season would have netted you a .284 average, 19 homers, 81 RBIs, 85 runs and 24 steals. That five year average is something that Andrew McCutchen has yet to do in a season (he seems a lock to get there this year). That five year average is something Shane Victorino has never done once. That five year average is Shin-Soo Choo has never done once.
Perhaps it's time that we give Rios his due?
FSTA WRAP UP
This past weekend I attended the FSTA Event in San Francisco. It was a wild time. Here are some of the highlights.
(1) A special thanks to the owners of Fantasy Alarm for paying for me to stay two nights in San Francisco. It's much appreciated fellas.
(2) A shout out to Ted Schuster and Jeff Mans who allowed me to stay in their room. Now I was on a cot, neither one of them offered me their comfy beds, but it was still classy of them to let me crash. Unfortunately housekeeping didn't quite do their part as my cot ended up having... wait for it... what appeared to be a bloodstain on the comforter and the two sheets below it (yes, it went all the way through all the linens). The hotel made up for it though – they brought me a new bed and two mints the next night. Wait, that's not quite enough is it? I mean I could have picked up some communicable disease an all I got was a raspberry mint?
(3) Howard Bender, who's articles you read on nearly a daily basis in the Rounding the Bases column, hooked us up. His wife manages a club in the city where Lil' Kim was performing. So what happened to Mr. Flowers and the fellas from Fantasy Alarm? We not only found our way into the concert, for free, but we also were treated to a VIP booth with free table service. The Bender's you are amazing, thanks so much. Oh yeah, I think I also fell in love with a waitress who looked like Olivia Wilde (and she did Jeff, I don't care what you say).
(4) For those that know me this won't sound so odd, but why on earth do I always end up hitting on hookers? It's not what you think either. I'm not going up a gal with her breasts falling out of her dress with her pimp standing next to her, I'm just talking to attractive women --- who always end up being hookers. Maybe I have some latent skill to find ladies of the night in a crowd like a drug dog can smell out weed in someones luggage at the airport.
(5) Once again, Vodka & Red Bull didn't let me down. Oh sweet nectar of the gods.
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