Around the Diamond – 5.25.09

A look around most of the diamond for this Memorial Day, 2009 –

FIRST BASE
Is it just me or is Ryan Howard quietly having a very nice season? With 2 HR on Monday, he is now on pace for 45 with 124 RBI and 113 runs scored—essentially a carbon copy of 2008 without the slow start that caused many to overreact and like sell him for pennies on the dollar. He is headed for a fourth straight 40-HR year and I see no reason to believe he won’t make it. In my latest piece at Owner’s Edge, I talked about trying to determine what stats a player has a left and using that to make decisions about whether or not to trade for him. In Howard’s case, he probably has about 30-33 HRs left as he will likely reach the low to mid 40s. He hasn’t hit 10 HR in either month yet, but he has 6 such months in the past two years meaning at least one is likely coming. He won’t come at any discount as he’s performing rather well, but if you need power you should definitely inquire about Howard.

SECOND BASE
Freddy Sanchez
had an extraordinary game tonight against the Chicago Cubs rapping out six hits in six at-bats and falling a triple shy of the season’s 5th cycle. He moved his batting average 23 points with the performance up to .320. He was a nice value in many leagues this year because he was judged off of his composite batting average from 2008 of .271. He no doubt earned that average, but a closer look at his splits showed how much he improved after a horrible first half in which he hit .233. He was likely still recovering from his 2007 shoulder surgery and he appeared to be back at full health during a second half in which he hit a more Freddy Sanchez-like .321 in 243 ABs. His fantasy value is often underrated because it is tied primarily to the batting average. Last year was no doubt a disappointment, but if you made it through his tough first half, then he was a major asset down the stretch.

SHORTSTOP
Don’t look now, but here comes the Cuban Missile, Alexei Ramirez. He extended his hit streak to four games with a blistering 4-for-7 performance, all of which were singles, along with 3 RBI and 3 runs scored. His .243 average is new high point for the season; in fact the .226 he had coming into today was a high point, as well. The 4-for-7 probably drew his owner’s attention, but you could still get him at a nice discount and now is the prime time to buy. Well, yesterday or three days ago was the prime time to buy, but today still works well.

PITCHER
Wandy Rodriguez
owners got away with one today. He got pretty beat up allowing 12 base runners in just 4 innings, but all six runs he allowed were unearned. Tom Seaver has said that in a given season with 30 starts, a pitcher will have their best start for 10 starts, mediocre stuff for 10 and then they just won’t have it for the other 10. It’s how they get through the starts without their best stuff that will determine their season. Wa-Rod escaped one of his bad starts with a no decision and it didn’t even impact his impact is ERA negatively. In fact, he IMPROVED his ERA w/4 clean innings.

On the other hand, Rodriguez’s counterpart, Aaron Harang, was recently profiled in a fantasy article at CBS about how his brilliant complete game 3-hitter against Pittsburgh has held down his WHIP and perhaps deceived those that own him and those looking into possibly owning him. The author, Al Melchoir, went through a series of starters and pinpointed how one good or bad start was drastically impacting their numbers and likely leading to a skewed view of that player. All starts combined Harang had a 1.23 WHIP, but when you lift the complete game 3-hitter, he shoots up to 1.39. Melchoir suggested that those nine starts are likely more predictive of what’s to come and wouldn’t you know it he put on 11 in five innings of work. He managed the win thanks to Houston’s defensive deficiencies, but there is reason for caution with a 9.7 H/9 rate. The ERA is still strong and he has netted 5 wins, so he will probably still draw a fair return, but I do think it might be a nice time to entertain moving him.

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