Archive for August 12th, 2009

Wednesday: 08.12.2009

Boxscore Blast 8/11/09

I’m trying something out today. Essentially, I’ll go around the league pulling the most interesting tidbits from all of the boxscores. In other words, I scan all of the pertinent info and put it all in one place for you. This is a test run to see how it’s received so in the interest of time it won’t have every game included.

Adam Kennedy hit his 10th home run last night putting him on pace for a career high 16. Who would have thought that Kennedy would have a career year at age 33 and in Oakland no less?! He also has stolen 14 bases putting him on pace to match his career high of 22.

When Nolan Reimold first came up, his power was on display with nine home runs in his first two months (spanning 135 at-bats). That power stroke has disappeared with just one in 111 at-bats since, but he did his seventh base of the season last night. All of them have come in that 111 at-bat sample. He has clearly hit a rookie wall (.243 since July 1st), but the speed has given him some value while he works through it.

There is no doubting that Nick Markakis has had a good season. He had two more hits last night to bring his average up to .300 and he’s on pace for 112 runs batted in. But he is on pace for 19 home runs, which would fall just short of his 2008 output (20). Meanwhile, he has pretty much stopped running altogether, a development that doesn’t surprise me in the least. While I did project a 30-home run season in ’09, I did also believe that 2008’s 10 stolen bases would be his ceiling. He’s well short of that with just two right now. He is a middle of the lineup producer that will soon be hitting 25+ HRs regularly, but you can bank on the stolen base numbers staying down.

Lost in all of the Brian Matusz & Chris Tillman shuffle is David Hernandez’s strong 2009 debut. Hernandez went six-plus innings allowing two runs and striking out six with just one walk to even his record at 4-4 last night. His ERA is down to 3.81. The WHIP is sky high at 1.49, but you have to like the progress the 24-year old rookie is showing. He’s been up and down by month with a 1.59 ERA in May, 5.27 in June, 2.46 in July and 5.79 in August. With a strong offense already in place, the group of young arms that Baltimore is assembling has to be pleasing their fans.

Former top prospect Dustin Nippert faltered once last night against the Indians. It was in the third inning and it was costly. Nippert yielded five runs and it was good enough for Cleveland as Aaron Laffey shutout the Rangers for the 5-0 win. Nippert still managed to go six innings striking out 10 while allowing six hits and walking two. The five runs raised his ERA from 2.73 to 3.62, but there are still some things from the outing. Meanwhile his counterpart, Laffey, threw six and two-thirds shutout innings allowing six hits while walking three and striking out a pair. Laffey has been brilliant in five starts since the All-Star Break with a 1.99 ERA and 3-1 record in 32 innings of work. The measly 5.3 K/9 rate is troubling and leaves him susceptible to implosions here and there so be careful when you look at the 3.25 ERA and think he’s an easy pick up.

Shin-Soo Choo picked up his 17th stolen base continuing his excellent breakout season. Many that “discovered” him this year or late last probably don’t realize he was a heralded prospect that rated in Seattle’s top 10 for five straight seasons from 2002 to 2006. He is on pace for 19 HR-89 RBI-95 R-25 SB line in his first full season of play at age 27. He has been one of the few bright spots in a dismal season for Cleveland.

The dispatching of Alex Rios to the Chicago White Sox via waivers was expected to open the door for Travis Snider, who has been raking in AAA-Las Vegas. It hasn’t played out that way yet and Snider might not make his way back to Canada until September. Randy Ruiz was called up to DH and Joe Inglett was sent to the outfield in Rios’s place. Ruiz hit a home run in his debut on Tuesday, but he’s not a long-term option for the Jays. He’s a 31-year old journeyman who was hitting very well at AAA-Las Vegas, but is in his second tour of duty in the bigs with all of 62 at-bats under his belt. Ruiz might be a worthy speculative play in AL-Only leagues as he was hitting .320 with 25 home runs and 106 RBIs in the very hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but it could also be a very short lived callup.

Every Yankee starter got a hit last night except one: Alex Rodriguez. I’m sure there is at least one story in a New York newspaper today how big of a loser he is and how he should probably be let go the way Alex Rios was… except nobody would take that contract. And not because he’s a bad player, just because it’s absolutely insane. Anyway, the Yanks didn’t need him to chip in as they held on for the 7-5 win.

Hideki Matsui has quietly put together a very formidable comeback season. His 17th homer of the season on Tuesday put him on pace for 25, the same figure he hit the last time he played a full season back in 2007. Of course that came in 547 at-bats, this year he is on pace for just 454 at-bats. He’s been a great value for fantasy players this season.

The Minnesota Twins got destroyed by the Kansas City Royals 14-6, but superstar Joe Mauer still managed a 3-for-4 night raising his average to .369. He is in line for his 2nd straight batting title and third in four years. The most impressive thing about his power boost is that he’s remained an excellent batting average asset. I do believe he will continue to be a legitimate power asset and as such I put him in my 2010 first round. The precedent that suggests Mauer might slip back down in power is Wade Boggs. In 1987, he went from eight home runs to 24 while keeping his average very high at .363. He was back down to five again in 1988.

Miguel Olivo went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and his 16th home run of the season for the Royals. For a $1 catcher, Olivo’s been excellent. He’s on pace for 26 home runs, but only 67 RBIs. Who cares if he’s batting .246 with a .279 on-base percentage??

Nick Blackburn was one of four pitchers ripped by the Royals. He posted a 3.07 ERA with eight wins before the All-Star Break, but did so with a 4.0 K/9 rate suggesting that trouble was on the way. And trouble has hit and hit hard. Since the break, he’s 0-3 with an 8.87 ERA and 2.13 WHIP in five starts. His K/9 rate is a dismal 2.3 during that time, too.

How lucky have the Twins been? This is now their third series against the Royals and they have yet to face ace Zack Greinke. He will go Friday against the Detroit Tigers.

Ervin Santana is an idiot. OK, that might be harsh, but I’m very upset with him. I held him on my AL-Only team for a month or two and took shellacking after shellacking until I just couldn’t do it anymore. During my league’s last free agent pickup period, I cut him. So OF COURSE he’d throw a 3-hit complete game shutout. Why wouldn’t he? Thanks Erv… for nothing.

It should be noted that Santana’s counterpart, Tampa Bay’s David Price was dealing through four in that game, but just imploded in the subsequent two innings allowing six runs to even his record at 5-5. I’m not going to kill Price for his .500 record and 5.13 ERA this year. I’d be more inclined to blow up the idiots that overrated the daylights out of him for fantasy baseball coming into the season. The expectations on him were enormous and he simply hasn’t lived up to them. Part of me is happy about that because he will be an excellent value in 2010.

John Danks threw eight strong against Seattle allowing just one run on seven hits and one walk while striking out eight netting his 10th win of the season in the process. With a 4.04 ERA, it feels like Danks has struggled this year, but in actuality he’s had three excellent months, one blow up (May) and he’s been mediocre to below average so far this month. He can absolutely pitch well enough in the final 10-11 starts and end up with an ERA around 3.70. And that wouldn’t require he pitch out of his mind from here on out, either. He would just need to be sharp and avoid any real implosions.

When is season that is on pace for 22 HR, 79 RBI, 86 R and a .294 average considered average at best? When it’s on the record of Hall of Famer Chipper Jones. The last time he was below .324 was 2005 during which he had a similar season: 21 HR, 72 RBI, 66 R and a .296 average. That came in 109 games though so the low totals had a built in excuse. This year he’s on pace for 147 games, his highest total since 2003. If I had told you he was going to play 147 games this year, first off you would have called me crazy, but after that you would expect 25-100 easily from Jones. Jones smacked his 15th HR of the year on Tuesday night and he’s hitting .393 so far in August (11-for-28), but he’ll need to keep a torrid pace to end the season anywhere near where many have come to expect his numbers.

Nyjer please!! Washington Nationals outfielder Nyjer Morgan swiped two more bags giving him 38 on the season and putting him on pace for 55. He’s been excellent since being traded from Pittsburgh posting a .366 average and .409 on-base percentage in 142 at-bats. At 29 years old, this is more of an “it’s about time!” situation than anything else. With regular playing time, he will continue to be a prime source of stolen bases. As a career .303 hitter, his 2009 average of .307 is certainly not out of place.

One esteemed rookie hurler who has lived up to his billing has been Atlanta’s Tommy Hanson. His 3.05 ERA has led to a nice 7-2 record after dominating the Nats for 6+ on Tuesday night. That said, his peripheral numbers haven’t necessarily matched up with the ERA thus far. He is striking out just 6.7 batters per nine innings, a rate that isn’t too bad on its own, but when coupled with his 3.5 BB/9 it suggests that trouble might be on the way. I wouldn’t be averse to trading him away in a non-keeper league.

Yadier Molina is very well known for his excellent defensive work behind the dish, but he has quietly emerged into a solid if unspectacular fantasy catcher, too. You can’t expect much more than six or seven home runs and an RBI total in the 50s, but he is hitting .290 after three hits on Tuesday night and hit a healthy .304 last year.

Matt Holliday had three more hits on Tuesday night giving him 31 in a Cardinals uniform in just 66 at-bats (.470). Rumors of his demise have been greatly overstated. Granted, we haven’t heard from those that buried since the May and he did leave the cavernous Oakland in the harder American League, but still. This performance is Manny-like circa 2008. If Holliday stays on or near this pace, he will carry many teams to victory.

Alex Gonzalez sucks so bad that a 4-hit night moves him up to .217. To put that into context, Holliday’s average would go from .316 to .321 with a 4-for-5 night.

Both Michael Bourn and Miguel Tejada have shunned the naysayers and stayed on fire all season long. Bourn’s average is up 56 points his two steals on Tuesday night put him one ahead of his 2008 total. A total a managed in 50 more at-bats than he has so far this season. Tejada, meanwhile, was buried further below the ground than Holliday (at least as far as being anything near elite) was and all he has done is hit .323 for the season including three hits on Tuesday night.

Hunter Pence is on pace for a measly 66 RBIs despite a .290 average and a pace nearing 600 at-bats. The reason is because he has been horrible at getting runners in even when they’re on 2nd or 3rd. Of the top 200 RBI totals w/RISP, Pence ranks 198th in RBI/AB at .28. Only Russell Martin (.26) and Rafael Furcal (.25) are worse. The leader, unsurprisingly, is Albert Pujols at .77. Jim Thome (.69) and Joe Mauer (.65) round out the top 3.

The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Chicago Cubs with just three hits. That’s what happens when Carlos Marmol walks three in 2/3rds of an inning and Kevin Gregg serves one up to Ben Francisco. The Cubs were set to have a dynamite bullpen thanks to that 1-2 punch, but the only punching has been in the face of Cubs fans.

How many people have noticed how great Jimmy Rollins has been since the break? After an absolutely brutal 349 at-bats before the Midsummer Classic (7 HR, .229 AVG, .642 OPS), Rollins has bounced back to become one of the best options at shortstop in all of baseball. He is hitting .291 with seven home runs (16 extra base hits in all) 20 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 110 at-bats. Even if continues to hit .290 from here on out, he can raise his average to .260 meaning he is unlikely to completely fix the damage to his value for 2010. That’d be three great months and I’d be plenty willing to take him in the 2nd or 3rd round based on his previous production and the fact that he’s a 35 stolen base guy in his sleep.

Who would have thought that a Rich Harden on pace for 162 innings, his most since 2004, would be carrying a 4.30 ERA and 1.30 WHIP? If I had promised you 162 innings and maybe more from Harden at the beginning of the season, you would have undoubtedly taken quite high as compared to his pitching counterparts alas he finally stays somewhat healthy and lays an egg with his ratios. The strikeouts are still there in massive quantities with a rate of 10.5 per nine innings. When you strike out that many, you can afford a walk rate nearing four such as Harden’s 3.8.