Trolling the Wire Pickup
Russell Branyan, 1B, Cleveland Indians – With pitching seemingly popping up out of nowhere throughout the year every season and speed such a niche category that can be heavily impacted with one big trade, the one scarcity on the wire usually ends up being power production. That leads me to today’s Trolling the Wire pickup and it’s Russell Branyan. He of the 174
420 career home runs after cranking his 10th of the season on Tuesday night. I incorrectly said 420 on the show, but that is his RBI total. Apologies for that and thanks to commenter Nick for the clarification.
Most impressive about his double-digit home runs is that he missed the first 21 games of the season and it still took him just 48 games to get there. After hitting 24 home runs in 378 at-bats, Branyan went six seasons with 241 or fewer at-bats. Injuries played a role, but it really seemed that teams were hung up on his poor batting average and focused more on that than his incredible 30-home run power.
Last year Seattle was committed to giving him 500 plate appearances come hell or high water. He played just 116 games, but broke the 500-mark by five plate appearances and delivered as expected with 31 home runs, 76 RBIs and a .251 average. Though he proved the Mariners brass right with their investment, he wasn’t brought back and thus he landed in Cleveland.
He is actually 3 at-bats off of last year’s AB/HR rate of 14, but he is still on pace for 29 in 458 at-bats. Like I said, power is usually tough to come by and yet fantasy owners continue to ignore him. He is owned in just 22% of CBS leagues, 6% of Y! leagues and a paltry 3% of ESPN leagues. Of course that is mainly because ESPN’s standard league is a 4-team mixed league.
But seriously, you’re not going to find any guys on the wire with 20 homer capability from here on out. His batting average isn’t going to help you on any level, but any team can take on ONE of these guys. If you’ve got three or four big time batting average slugs, that is when you start to get in big trouble. If you need power, Branyan should be on your radar.
Articles of the Day
Chris Heisey: Sleeper – Jason Grey (sub. req.)
Prospectus Q&A: Dan Haren – David Laurila
How to Catch Up in ERA in Fantasy Baseball – by Eriq Gardner
Bleacher Report Interview w/Sean Forman of Baseball-Reference.com – by Cliff Eastham (yes, something from Bleacher Report that doesn’t suck!)
2010 Futures Game Rosters – MLB.com
By the Numbers: Rangers Making Their Pitch – by Al Melchior
Baseball’s Best GM – Tom Van Riper
Morgan Ensberg’s Blog – Morgan Ensberg
Jay Bruce Showing Improvement Against Lefties – Joe Pawlikowski
More Nonsense on Time of Game – by Dave Cameron
Bet of the Day
Yikes! I think I might have jinxed Justin Verlander. And since he plays for my favorite team, I might have to avoid putting the Tigers in the Bet of the Day for a while. Actually it was rookie Jay Sborz who totally crapped the bed and let that game get out of hand. Either way, it’s a loss for me. At least Tim Lincecum held up his end of the bargain dominating the Astros giving me a 1-1 record for the day, but I still lost $35 pushing me back into the red at -$19.
By the way, to give you some context on why I chose Verlander at -135 and Lincecum at -140, let’s look at a few games for today. Stephen Strasburg faces the lowly Kansas City Royals and he is at -265. Now, it helps that he is facing Brian Bannister instead of Roy Oswalt like Lincecum did, but Lincecum is better than Strasburg and the Giants are better than the Nationals so I’m jumping on that price every single time.
Furthering the point, Ubaldo Jimenez is at -190 against John Lackey and the Red Sox. That leads me to my pick for today. I’m going to go against Jimenez and take the Red Sox +160. Now I respect how great Jimenez has been this year, but getting one of the top 5 teams in baseball at +160 with a pitcher as accomplished on the mound as Lackey is something you have to do every single day and twice on Sundays.
There are certain teams worth taking any time they are dogs just because they are good enough to beat anyone on any given night and the Boston Red Sox are most certainly one of those clubs. Right now, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are probably the only other two. The Philadelphia Phillies were there early in the year, but their stagnant offense has taken them out of that mix. So there’s my pick, I’m going against the grain taking the Boston Red Sox +160 against Ubaldo Jimenez and the Colorado Rockies.
Red Sox +160
Record: 4-4, -$19
I have to pick on Pittsburgh again after having success with Tommy Hunter against the Buccos on Tuesday. Scott Feldman closes out the series against Jeff Karstens on Thursday and I think he can stay hot. He is 2-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 16 Ks in 18.2 innings in his last three starts. The Rangers on a big time roll so I might as well stay with the hot hand… or arm as it was.