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Advice from the Fantasy Baseball King: April 26 Mailbag

alex rios fantasy baseballEditor’s Note: Every week during the fantasy baseball season, Fantasy Baseball Dugout is proud to provide leading fantasy baseball advice from Brian Smith, aka the “Fantasy Baseball King.” You can find him freely giving advice on some of the leading fantasy baseball forums and on his blog, Fantasy Baseball King (a Blogspot blog). If you have any questions for the King or for the editors of Fantasy Baseball Dugout, please email fantasybaseballdugout [at] gmail [dot] com. Now, on to this week’s advice, starting with a comparison of Adam Jones and Alex Rios.

Fantasy Baseball Question 1:

Why is Alex Rios ranked #34 on your OF rankings? He has limited injury history, should get plenty of at-bats, plays in a productive lineup, and is only 30 years old. If you look at his stat line over the past 3 seasons and compare it to, say, Adam Jones (ranked #14), it is hard for me to see much of a difference other than that Rios is arguably a bit more productive. I agree with most of your other rankings, so I felt compelled to write in and ask. I’m just curious, and look forward to learning your valued opinion.

Thanks!

Adam Jones fantasy baseballThe Fantasy Baseball King’s Response:
Nick, thanks for the question. Rankings are always so interesting to look at and, in a way, are a little bit subjective. After all, it all comes down to an individual team’s needs, right? To start the comparison, let’s take a look at their careers through today:

  • Alex Rios: .279/.329/.441 with a 162-game average of 17 HR, 79 RBI, and 24 SB
  • Adam Jones: .272/.317/.426 with a 162-game average of 18 HR, 72 RBI, and 11 SB

Wow Nick, I don’t think you could have chosen two more similar players! You actually noted the main difference, however. Rios is already 30 years old, whereas Jones won’t turn 26 until August. Considering Adam Jones increased his dash line to .296/.355/.426 in the 2nd half of the 2010 season, while Alex Rios actually plummeted to .258/.301/.383, I think the feeling was that Rios was starting to decline as Jones was starting to climb.

Thus far this season, I can’t say the rankings were wrong. Although Jones only is hitting .229, he have 4 HR’s already, whereas Rios is batting an even worse .165 without having hit a single homer yet. While I think they’ll both end the season with decent numbers, I think Adam Jones is on his way toward stardom, and Alex Rios may only have another couple of decent seasons left. Remember also that Rios peaked with 24 homers and a dash line of .297/.354/.498 back in 2007. He hasn’t come close to repeating that yet, and I wouldn’t bet the house that he will. For further analysis on Adam Jones, read the rest of this Q&A session.

Hope that helps you understand our thought process, and good luck during your season!

Signed,
The Fantasy Baseball King

Fantasy Baseball Question 2:

Hey King,

I’m struggling right now, my team is in 11th place in a 12-team league, and I need RBIs and HR’s. My pitching right now is horrendous but I think I just need to give it some time (might consider dropping Pavano soon though). I have been adding some players that have been getting hot but I can’t do this all season as we have a max 15 add/drop limit. Is there anyone out there right now that you think could maybe help me and looks like they might be legitimate solid options for the entire year? (Francouer comes to mind on this because he apparently always rakes in April)

The list of currently available batters is: Jeff Francouer, Travis Snider, Adam Jones, Marlon Byrd, Brennan Boesch, Ryan Roberts, Seth Smith, Jose Lopez, Nick Hundley, and Wilson Betemit, Dexter Fowler. Does anyone stand out to you?

My roster is as follows:

  • C Geovany Soto
  • 1B Ryan Howard
  • 2B Brandon Phillips
  • 3B Casey McGehee
  • SS Jimmy Rollins
  • OF Alex Rios
  • OF Chris Young
  • OF Vladimir Guererro
  • Util Maicier Izturis
  • BN Sam Fuld
  • BN Jed Lowrie
  • SP Roy Halladay
  • SP Chris Carpenter
  • SP Ryan Dempster
  • RP Jordan Walden
  • RP Mitchell Boggs
  • P Carl Pavano
  • P Tim Hudson
  • P Brandon McCarthy
  • P Carlos Zambrano
  • P Aroldis Chapman
  • P Brandon League

Thanks for your help!!

The Fantasy Baseball King’s Response:

Thanks for the post!

Well, on first impression I’d agree that your team’s strength is definitely in your pitching. You have a solid core of starters in Halladay, Carpenter, Dempster, Hudson, and (surprisingly) McCarthy, and although your relievers may struggle to provide ample saves, they should do a great deal of help for your ratios while providing holds (if that counts in your league), and K’s. I don’t think you need Pavano, and depending on who is available would definitely consider dropping him. He just isn’t very good…I know that’s not an in-depth sabermetrical analysis, but hell, it’s the truth! Plus, with Zambrano thrown in, you have enough starters anyway. They are too talented for you NOT to do well in that category. If you have a P spot open each night, consider dropping Pavano (and, depending on how Zambrano continues to fare over the next few weeks, perhaps him as well) for a nice setup guy who can continue to boost your ratios.

As for the current bats available….

Jeff Francouer: aahhhh, yuck! Avoid like the plague! “Why?” you may ask. Well, I’ll enlighten you on good ‘ole Frenchy. He’s pulled these April “Fool’s Gold” shenanigans before; in April 2010, he mashed to an OPS of .886, and in April 2007 he did it with an OPS of .908. It’s no a Lost-style mystery as to why Francouer always tails off…he simply doesn’t (and, more importantly refuses) to take a walk. 2011 hasn’t been any different in this area, even in April. While he’s gotten his BB% up from his career average (surprise!), it’s still only 7.6%. His BABIP, meanwhile, is a rocket-fueled .343 (43 points above his career rate of .300). So while Jeff is a nice guy, sports a cannon of an arm in RF, and was once dubbed “The Natural” by Sports Illustrated, he simply isn’t a good hitter. He’ll regress, probably sooner than later, and end the season with a state line around .270/.320/.430 with 15 HR’s or so. In short- not what you want or need on your team.

Travis Snider: He’s actually not performing as poorly as some think. He already has 5 stolen bases, and is suffering from a dirt poor BABIP of .226. Meanwhile, he’s shown increased maturity at the plate, bringing his BB% above 10% for only the 2nd time in his MLB career. He’ll pick it up and should provide at least 20 homers, and I wouldn’t bet against him coming close to 30. One important thing to remember about Snider is that he’s STILL only 23 years old. If he were in Triple-A, we’d be talking about him as a Top-10 prospect.

Adam Jones: Love the guy, but he may never be reliable source for a good batting average, as he’s nearing 26 years old but still only has a .272 career batting average. Still, he should continue to hit homers (4 thus far) and steal a handful of bases (2 as of now). He’s always had untapped speed potential, and never really showed his ability to rack up SB numbers. While he may never truly do this, he’s a great candidated to go 25/15 this season, and I think his future includes even more homers.

Marlon Byrd: Meh, boring, right? He fooled us with 20 homers in 2009, but has batted .298, .283, .293 from 2008-2010, so he’s reliable in the batting average category. While I I’d bet my first-born on his finishing the year with a batting average around .285-.295, I doubt hell eclipse 10-12 homers. He does have a scary .360 BABIP right now, but has survived throughout his career with a .326 mark, so it seems he’s able to get on base regardless. Nice, scrappy little player, and a great play for deep leagues…but NOT for you.

Brennan Boesch: What an interesting character this man is! He came out of nowhere last season and did his best Albert Pujols impression until the All-Star break came and then, as suddenly as he first appeared, he disappeared. But he’s back at it again this year, hitting to a clip of .348/.427/.493. While he’s only managed 1 HR thus far, he still manages to generate runs; he currently has 12 RBI’s and 14 runs scored. But the question remains– Will he be able to sustain his success in the 2nd half this time? His minor league numbers gave no sign of him becoming the type of hitter he’s appeared to be in the 1st half. While I AM a baseball analyst, I’m NOT a soothsayer, so I can’t provide an answer here. Watch how he produces; may be a good guy to keep for the remainder of the 1st half and trade in June before a possible collapse.

Ryan Roberts: This well-travelled utility-man is finally “getting his chance,” Roberts may actually provide some decent pop should he continue to get playing time. Now, pop aside, there’s not a chance in hell he maintains current production–not with that wonderfully helpful .370 BABIP of his. But I can see him hitting 10-15 homers and driving in 60 or so runs…IF he gets playing time. Consider him a more risky version of Marlon Byrd, with less homers…hmm..maybe he’s the bastard child of Jeff Francouer and Marlon Byrd’s last night out? You could never be sure….

Seth Smith: Oh Seth, how long we’ve waited for you to get your shot! For years the Rockies have fooled around with you, making you platoon with a varied crew of schmucks. But you just continued to hit and hit so they had no choice this year but to let you play. Periperhals-wise, he’s doing OK, but certainly is benefiting from a BABIP over .360. But in 2009 he had managed a .293 year-end batting average with a BABIP of .324, so he’s shown the ability to get on base once he makes contact. He’s a gritty player, and has some sneaky speed (he stole 11 bases back in 2008 while in Triple-A, in only 68 games), so I can see BABIP having less an impact on him than it does on some other players. If this playing time continues, I see no reason Smith can’t hit close to .300 with around 20 homers…figure Nick Markakis-type numbers…that is, when Nick Markakis was Nick Markakis….still with me?

Jose Lopez: wan’t he supposed to hit a ton of homers in Colorado? Being overshadowed by Jonathan Herrera’s hot start, Lopez simply hasn’t performed….but he’s been unlucky also, sporting a sickly .143 BABIP. Still, walking only 1.6% of the time isn’t going to encourage faith, so I’m not sure what to think regarding his future. He’s always had talent, has sometimes delivered, but seems to be an every-other year type guy. Remember Tim Salmon from 1998-2003? But Lopez is nowhere near the player Salmon was, of course, so just keep that as a nice tidbit to Google. Anyway, since his last good season was 2009, I’m betting he turns it around later this year and does approach 20 homers…just don’t expect him to hit above .270. It may even be as low as .250. He’s a nice guy to have on the bench because of his middle-infield eligibility, but shouldn’t be your starter.

Nick Hundley: Nice player, who oddly enough, has no relation whatsoever to formed catching slugger Tood Hundley. Weird. Anyway, Nick got off to a fast start for sure, and although he wasn’t a Top-100 prospect, did display decent power in the minors, and appeared on several San Diego Padres Top-10 prospect lists. So I think he has a nice career ahead of him, but you already have Geovany Soto who WILL come around (I promise!). I see Hundley finishing with Chris Snyder-type numbers- .250, 18 HR, 65 RBI’s. But there’s not much of a reason to carry a 2nd catcher if he isn’t going to provide the impact stats you’re looking for in the long-run.

Wilson Betemit: He’s actually had a pretty good hitting career, considering how hyped he was (Baseball America’s #8 overall prospect in 2002), and how he’s been viewed by many as a “disappointment.” A career .788 OPS is actually pretty decent. Worthy of a starting fantasy role’? No, but worth a shot as a bench/role player for sure. His current production is supported by an eye-popping .463 BABIP. I won’t even bother explaining what I think of THAT, but he should finish the year with a batting average around .280 and 10-15 homers. Considering his multiple-position ability, he’s fairly useful. But that’s really the highest adjective phrase I’d use to describe him.

Dexter Fowler: I’m not a believer until he actually produces. How does a guy this fast only steal 13 bases in 2010? Although his walk rate has increased to 14.7%, his strikeout rate has increased to 34.1%, so it’s basically been one step forward, one step backward.. Meanwhile, while his batting average of .282 may look decent, it’s heavily supported by a simply ridiculous .421 BABIP. Now, I’ve been talking A LOT about BABIP’s in this column, but please realize it’s really a player-specific stat. Fast players can get by with a scary-high BABIP (last year Fowler hit .260 but had a BABIP of .328), but it’s definitely not a sign that things are headed in the right direction. Unless Fowler’s baseball smarts start to increase, he’s headed toward the dreaded “bust” label. I mean, come on…2…TWO stolen bases? He stole 20-40 in the minors.

So finally, to get to your question….

  • Dump Pavano and, if you have an extra P spot, pick up a nice setup guy.
  • Consider doing the same with Zambrano. But considering his K and BB rates have been pretty good again, give him a few more starts to get settled before jumping ship.
  • Try to capitalize on Maicier Izturis’ hot start and trade him. Perhaps packaging him with Casey McGehee could net you a better 3B.

Doing the above 2-for-1 deal would open up a roster spot, which I would dedicate to either Travis Snider or Brennan Boesch. Right now, your OF is not strong enough to win a championship. Figure Snider will get more HR’s, but Boesch should have a better batting average and could score more runs. If you DO pick up Boesch, however, be on red-alert to trade him while he’s at a peak (possibly) at the All-Star break.

Hope that helps! Come back with any follow up questions you may have, and most importantly, good luck

Signed,
The Fantasy Baseball King

Remember to check out The Fantasy Baseball King’s website at http://thefantasybaseballking.blogspot.com. He’ll be back again next week with more Q&A sessions. Please e-mail your inquiries to fantasybaseballdugout [at] gmail [dot] com!

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