Posts tagged ‘Cory Schwartz’

Wednesday: 05.18.2011

We’re Going Streaking!

Carlos Pena is in the midst of one of his famous Pena Power Pushes with five home runs in his last 12 games.  He has a .368/.490/.789 line during the stretch with 9 R, 11 RBI and 10 BB.  I’m sure many of his fantasy league owners didn’t get all of or any of this stretch as they were frustrated by the .157/.286/.171 line prior to the run.

Of course if you know anything about Pena then you know you have to sit through these kind of slumps so if you draft him then the onus is on you to practice extreme levels of patience.  Since emerging as a prolific and consistent power hitter in 2007, he has been possibly the streakiest home run hitter in the game.

  • He had 10 streaks of 10+ games without a home run from 2007-2010:
    • 10 – 3 times
    • 11 – 2 times
    • 12 – 2 times
    • 13 – 1 time
    • 18 – 1 time
    • 19 – 1 time
  • He had 12 streaks of 5+ home runs where he hit at least one every other game:
    • 5 in 6 games
    • 5 in 10 games
    • 5 in 11 games
    • 6 in 5 games
    • 6 in 8 games
    • 6 in 10 games
    • 6 in 10 games (followed by an 18-game cold streak, his longest of ’08)
    • 6 in 11 games
    • 7 in 6 games
    • 7 in 13 games (followed by an 11-game cold streak, his longest of ’09)
    • 7 in 13 games (preceded by a 13-game cold streak, his longest of ’07)
    • 9 in 11 games

The 21-game homer-less streak he started this season with is his longest since his rise to prominence, but it was also injury-related as he was dealing with a thumb injury so that only compounded things for a guy who is naturally inconsistent.  Morale of the story: if you are willing to take the risk of drafting him, set it and forget it.  Secondary morale: NEVER draft him in a H2H week.  He will kill you three weeks at a time before finally winning one by himself.

Carl Crawford is hitting .290 in 62 May at-bats notching a hit in 13 of his 15 games.  There hasn’t really been much else yet (2 SB, 4 RBI, 7 R), but considering the fact that he hit .155 for entire month of April his owners will take any glimmer of hope that their first round (or second round at latest) pick is ready to perform like one.

Drew Stubbs has reached base in his last 10 games posting a very strong .349/.440/.535 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 SB, 7 BB and 9 R in 43 at-bats.  He was a target sleeper for many, namely Matthew Berry of ESPN and Cory Schwartz of, being tabbed as potentially this year’s Carlos Gonzalez.  So far he has lived up to the billing pacing for a season of .279 batting average with 27 home runs, 77 RBIs, 123 runs scored and 54 stolen bases which would no doubt make him one of the best fantasy players in all of baseball.  He is currently rated 5th on ESPN’s Player Rater and checks in 8th overall in Yahoo!’s ranking.

Before hitting the disabled list with an injury, Victor Martinez had a .250/.292/.417 line and hadn’t hit a home run in 12 games as the Tigers were an underwhelming 8-9.  He has torched the place since coming back from injury hitting .415/.489/.683 with 7 XBH (including 2 HR), 14 RBI, 9 R and 6 BB in 41 at-bats.  His surge places him 3rd among catchers on ESPN’s Player Rater behind teammate Alex Avila.

Martin Prado has reached base in 20 straight games dating back to April 26th including hits in 19 of them.  He was hitting .240 before the run, but going .360/.394/.551 w/4 HR, 17 RBI, 13 R, 5 BB, 3 CS in 89 AB has brought him to .296/.338/.450 which is just a tick below his career marks while his 117 OPS+ is right in line with his career 116 given the down hitting environment of 2011.

Perhaps Alberto Callaspo is the oasis you are looking for in the third base wasteland.  It was pretty weak before the season started and a rash of injuries might have taken it past shortstop as the worst fantasy position on the diamond.  He is available in a lot of leagues, too: CBS: 60%, ESPN: 49%, Y!: 32%.  In his last 12 games he is hitting .391/.404/.522 w/11 RBI.  Only 2 R and 0 HR & 0 SB, but again, it’s awful at third base so beggars can’t be choosy.  He is hitting .309 on the season and on pace for 75 RBI.

Adrian Gonzalez is positively destroying the competition in his last 10 games to the tune of a .386/.429/.932(!) line with 7 HR, 16 RBI and 12 R in 44 at-bats.  He was hitting .250 exactly a month ago; he is hitting .327 now.

Rajai Davis has surged since returning from injury with 10 stolen bases and 10 runs scored in 15 games.

Mike Trout is living up to the prospect hype following his 2010 breakout, especially in his last 10 games: .357/.417/.643 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 2 SB, 5 BB in 42 AB.  Of course, he has been raking all year long hitting .315/.400/.569 with 6 HR, 17 XBH, 17 RBI, 17 BB so he is almost making it difficult on himself to have a stretch that actually stands out.

The Kansas City Royals have already called up two of their best prospects in Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy, who makes his major league debut on Wednesday night.  Could Mike Moustakas be next?  There isn’t quite the natural opening that there was for both Hosmer and Duffy as Mike Aviles is playing well and even if you were to suggest moving him to second base, they still have Wilson Betemit.  That hasn’t stopped Mous from letting his bat make a bid for a call up as he has posted a .394/.474/.909 line in his last nine games with 9 XBH (4 HR), 12 RBI, 10 R, 1 SB, 5 BB and just 3 K (24 in his other 26 games) in 33 at-bats.  Man, perhaps even Dayton Moore can’t mess this up.  What a ridiculous crop of talent.

Dustin Ackley is also making a strong bid to get called up, but unlike with Moustakas in KC, the Mariners can definitely use his bat… and how.  Ackley is white-hot in his last 10 going .463/.540/.707 with 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R, 8 BB, 5 K in 41 AB.  During the streak he has one 0-fer and seven multi-hit games.  His season line is now up to .280/.399(!)/.445.  He has 33 walks against just 25 strikeouts.  Given their anemic offense and his brilliant control of the strike zone, it might be time to speculate on Ackley in leagues where he is available and would be useful (this wouldn’t include 10 team mixed leagues) such as any AL-Only league and deeper mixed leagues with a bench.  I would definitely speculate in any OBP league that fits these size criteria because at the very least he will draw walks as soon as he reaches the bigs.

Next time, I will look at some pitchers in the midst of a hot streaks.

Sunday: 04.17.2011

Trolling the Wire: Week 3 Monday-Friday

Spotty internet access as I awaited my setup to be transferred from my old apartment made for a spotty and abbreviated version of what I intend to become a weekly staple with the spot starter recommendations.  In a moment, I will unveil the list of week three recommendations as well as how the week two pickups performed, but first a bit more about the goal behind these recommendations.

The idea is that there is enough useful pitching on the waiver wire of a large swath of leagues (generally, 10-14 team mixers) that you can play the matchups with one or two spots in the backend of your rotation and get some very quality work out the spots instead of sticking it out with a run of the mill third or fourth starter.

Cory Schwartz and Mike Siano over’s Fantasy 411 popularized the phrase “pitch or ditch” for this strategy.  You will also hear it called streaming or spot starting.  I am not for a second pretending like I created this strategy, I am merely offering my solutions on the best way to maximize it.  Let’s see how last week’s picks worked out:

Not too bad on the whole as only one of the nine gave up more than three runs (Brandon Beachy) and he softened the blow by striking out eight.  Of course he had to make up for Jeff Francis’ lame one strikeout in six and a third innings of work.  If there is one thing that sticks out as less than desirable, it’s the two wins in nine starts, but you can’t chase wins and a lot of these are available because they aren’t on the high profile teams that would generally be more conducive to wins.

Who’s on tap for week 3?


Chris Tillman (BAL v. MIN) – He has had an uneven start to the season with a dominating six inning no-hit effort against Tampa Bay followed by two poundings at the hands of the Tigers and Yankees.  The best medicine is a shot against the league’s worst offense in the midst of getting used to being without their best player.  They weren’t very good with Joe Mauer and it would be quite a shock if they were without him.

Travis Wood (CIN v. PIT)Wood’s skills have remained intact from last year which is to say they are pretty good and facing the anemic Pirates should only accentuate them.  The fly in his ointment remains a severe flyball rate in a terrible park for such an affliction.  He was extremely lucky when it came to home runs last year (6.3 HR/FB) and he’s been even luckier this year (4.5%) so while I like him in this favorable matchup, I wouldn’t stick with him beyond that.


Jonathon Niese (NYM v. HOU) – A 3.0 strikeout-to-walk ratio powered by nearly eight strikeouts per game coupled with a 51% groundball rate is enough for me to remain optimistic in Niese despite a 6.88 ERA.  He is getting tagged by a 56% LOB% and 14% HR/FB rate so a date with the lowly Astros is welcomed by Niese and owners of his services.  Depending on who you cut for him, this may be someone to hang onto going forward.

Phil Coke (DET @ SEA) – Through two starts totaling 13.7 innings, Coke has allowed just two runs.  The six hits allowed are definitely a plus while the six walks are neither good nor bad.  In his debut start against Kansas City, he struck out seven, but followed that up with just two in seven innings against Oakland.  So we are left wondering what kind of strikeout capability he will offer as a starter.  The Mariners strikeout 2nd-most in the American League, but they are also tied for the most walks in baseball.  It’s a terrible lineup in a favorable park, so Coke should be a nice play here (and in his next start when he draws the Mariners at home).


Bud Norris (HOU @ NYM) – He worked out well last week so let’s hit the well again.  He has improved start to start and posted strikeout totals of 7-6-7 in the process.  This is a very talented young arm who could become a permanent asset for fantasy owners sooner than later.

Philip Humber (CHW @ TB) – Picking on the Rays again who Humber already thwarted back on April 9th allowing a run in six innings with four strikeouts en route to a win.  This is purely a hot streak/matchup play as I don’t like Humber much going forward.


Brandon McCarthy (OAK @ SEA) – To drive home the point about not chasing wins, the A’s will face Felix Hernandez during this start, but I still really like McCarthy.  Like Norris, he has improved start to start (all of which came against teams much better than Seattle) yet his ownership rate remains very low.  He could definitely become a long-term hold going forward so you might want to his secure his services sooner than later if you have the spot available.

Chris Capuano (NYM v. HOU) – He just can’t stay this unlucky, especially against a bad team like the Astros.  He’s getting groundballs and strikeouts while limiting walks, but his BABIP is nearly .400 (.385) and over 20% of his flyballs have left the yard leaving him with an ugly 61% LOB%.  Those numbers begin their correction with this start.


Fausto Carmona (CLE @ MIN) – Many of you may know that I’m not a fan of Carmona at all, but he’s done some impressive work in his last two starts (v. BAL, @LA) against better teams than the Twins including 11 strikeouts over 14.7 innings which is high for him.  He’s still inducing a crapton of groundballs, too.  He gets hot in stretches and after a horrific Opening Day starts (10 ER in 3 IP) he’s allowed four runs in 21.7 innings (the other start was against BOS), so ride the wave.

Jo-Jo Reyes (TOR v. TB)Even with a small sample size, his .438 BABIP is kind of unbelievable.  It has definitely fueled his 6.75 ERA, but I like that he’s still striking out nearly a batter per inning (12 in 13.3 IP) and maintaining a 1:1 groundball/flyball ratio.  I hate to keep picking on Tampa Bay, but until they get Evan Longoria back and/or sort out their lineup woes, it will continue to happen.

I will give out the Saturday and Sunday picks midweek as those are going to be the repeat starters and I’d like to see the first starts of those guys before making another decision on them.   Plus it guards against injury that may occur in those initial starts.

Thursday: 03.3.2011

Daily Dose – March 3rd

I feel like days should extend to 26 or 27 hours in late February then into March as there is just so much going on.  I’ve got nearly 30 hours of podcasts to catch up on and the oldest one is about a week old so it’s not like I’ve let it accumulate.  My Read It Later app is bubbling over with content.  My “to do” writing list has plenty to take care of on it.  My book list is growing (and adding another next week when Jonah Keri’s Extra 2% comes out).  The release of MLB 2K11 is next week.  Plus I’ve got a 30 Clubs in 30 Days (Kansas City) on the DVR as well as some Spring Training baseball I’d like to check out.

And all that is before fantasy draft prep which will begin in earnest next week as keeper lists start to roll in.  Jeez.  So much to do and so little time.  Especially when you factor in my regular job and sleeping.  Oh well, no need to complain.  It’s better than being bored out of your mind.   February to Opening Day is one of my favorite times of the year despite the fact that I hate winter weather.  It’s not really that bad in Texas plus it’s usually done by the beginning of March.

Ian Casselberry has a very perceptive post on willful ignorance and how it is oftentimes downright annoying.  I deal with the dismissiveness of Twitter a lot when discussing sports with people.  They always say some derivation of “I don’t care who’s eating a sandwich on their couch” as if that’s all you can find on Twitter.  Yes, it started as essentially a place of Facebook statuses, but it’s become SO MUCH more.

Yet despite how often they dismiss it as useless, they come to me just as often for news on trade deadline action and various other breaking news because they know I’ll read about it on Twitter well before it’s up on  For some of the dissenters, I’ve watched them morph from Twitter hater to Twitter user.  Instead of rubbing it in, I just nod to myself quietly.  As Ian says, it’s not for everybody, but anyone dismissing it as useless out of hand has no idea what they are talking about and comes across as pretty stupid.

Are you trying to curb your enthusiasm for your baseball team, but struggling to do so as you read countless glowing and optimistic reports about them from Spring Training?  Grey Papke does the dirty work for you with his “Why Your Baseball Team Sucks” piece.  It’s a perfect dose of reality to temper your expectations for the upcoming season.

After reading up more on the Zach Sanders piece I shared yesterday on Fantasy Value Above Replacement, I realized it is essentially an extension of something our friends at FB Junkie threw out earlier last month with “Why Not Fantasy VORP?”.  So if you read FB Junkie’s piece back on February 1st, use Sanders’ as a fleshing out of their notion behind fantasy value.

Justin Bopp of Beyond the Boxscore has put together an easy to use Baseball Stat Acronym Pronunciation Guide.  I disagree with the BABIP as I just say it like a work “Ba-bip”, but otherwise he’s pretty spot on.

Sticking at BtB for a moment, Chris Spurlock has offered a great article covering in detail the changes to the bats in college baseball and making it easily digestible whether you’re a math novice or hardcore mathlete.  As mentioned in the article, this should be good news for MLB, primarily from a scouting angle.  While it would suck if it really hurt the college game which is a niche sport already, I am glad it is an improvement for MLB.  Prospect scouting will still be an inexact science rife with failure even at the high end of the draft, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.  Plus I’ve always been someone who enjoys a 3-2 game, so a lowered offensive output in the college game won’t keep me away from following my Longhorns and watching them live a couple times a year.

Ray Guilfoyle of FakeTeams released his catcher rankings today and there were some surprises to be sure.  Regardless of whether or not you agree with his ranking of the top guys, one thing remains clear to me: catcher has some depth to it.  Sure there are still stars at the top, but if you miss out on the Mauers and Poseys, you’re not toast.

Mike Fast from Baseball Prospectus has a cool piece up (for free) looking at the accuracy of Baseball Info Solutions pitch locations.  If you like second, third and even fourth level baseball analysis, in other words really detailed stuff, then you’ll love Fast’s work.  This particular piece has a stunning revelation about the data and specifically it’s usage at FanGraphs.

The San Diego Padres are going to have a tough time replicating their 2010 success (success being relative here as they fell short of the NL West crown on the last day of the season despite leading for quite some time throughout the season) with the loss of their one great hitter Adrian Gonzalez, but there is reason for optimism in the future.  John Sickels breaks down their top two pitching prospects, Simon Castro and Casey Kelly (acquired in the Gonzalez trade), in his Prospect Smackdown series.

This one is nearly a month old, but it got put on the back-burner once I went into full SP guide mode there in early-to-mid February, so in case you missed Jon Weisman’s look at the upcoming “Moneyball” movie, I suggest you take a read.  I have been in the minority with him in that I have been very excited about the movie from the moment I heard it was being made.  It’s gone through a lot, but I think it can be good.  I hadn’t thought of the links to a very popular 2010 movie that Weisman mentions in the piece.  I’d love to see it emulate the success of that film, but even if it doesn’t I think it can be a success in its own right.

One of the best guys over at CBS as far as I’m concerned is Al Melchior.  He’s definitely a stats-heavy guy which is something I inherently lean toward (though he favors taking pitching relatively early so we disagree heavily there), but also the interactive graphics used in his pieces at CBS are fantastic.  The latest is one on positional scarcity and it has a really fun chart to play with at the bottom.  Al is part of the CBS podcasts, too and they just recently finished their positional previews.  They have moved onto Sleepers and Breakouts.  I’d presume that a Busts episode is next as each of the positional podcasts had a Sleepers, Breakouts and Busts portion within it.

One of my favorite things of the fantasy preseason is articles where industry members participate in a mock and then do a write up on their team with the thought process behind each pick.  I find them more helpful than just seeing a list of where everyone went.  In fact, I find the latter next to useless as the flow of a draft, while not as dynamic as that of an auction, is still dynamic nonetheless and it’s hard to get a feel for why things happened without some commentary.  Cory Schwartz participated in a mock picking from the 9-spot and breaks down his draft for us.

Come Chat Tonight: I am still planning on a hosting a chat here at soon, but tonight I will be chatting at Rotojunkie at 7 PM Eastern.  It will have a pitcher tilt to it of course, but as with my first chat here at the site, I will answer anything fantasy baseball-related.

Baseball Apps: Need to get your iPhone and iPad baseball ready for the season?  Take a look at these baseball apps that should get you well equipped to enjoy the season on the go.

You’ve No Doubt Seen This: But just in case, the baseball fan flowchart is a funny image floating around the blogosphere and Twitterverse.

Remember When…Lance Johnson was a triples machine?  From 1991-1996, Johnson led the league in triples for five of six seasons and hit 12 in the off year (1995, when he had an absurd power surge with 10 HR after never topping 3 before).  I was upset when he left the AL before the 1996 season (10 team AL-Only league) because he had a career year including 50 stolen bases, 117 runs scored, .333 average and 69 RBIs, all career highs.  His nine homers were close to a career high.

It’s purely coincidental that the first two of these segments happen to be about Chicago White Sox, but “One Dog” was a key cog of my early fantasy teams (probably explains why I didn’t win any titles as a kid) and again because I watched a lot of WGN when the Tigers weren’t on, I was very familiar with Johnson and the Sox.

Despite playing three fewer seasons, Johnson has one more career triple than Kenny Lofton (117 to 116).  I found that pretty surprising, but Lofton only had two double-digit seasons in triples and they were 11 years apart (league-high 13 in ’95 and then 12 in ’06).  Of course Lofton has nearly twice as many stolen bases (622/327), nearly four times as many home runs (130/34) and had a significantly higher success rate on the base paths (80%/76%), though both were really good.

Knowledge Bomb: Here is an absurd statistic from Mike Axisa about Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.  Absurd might even be an understatement.  It’s just unfathomably great.  Are you ready for this?  You may have already seen it, but it resonates even on second and third viewing:


As Scott Van Pelt & Ryen Russillo say on their radio show, “let that soak in your mentals for a minute”.  That’s so amazing.  Only another 160 saw a 2-0 count.  Maddux was just not a fan of getting behind.  He only retired in 2008 so he is still a few years from getting on the Hall of Fame ballot and while it’s already a joke, the HoF voters would thoroughly embarrass themselves yet again if they made Maddux sit through another round of voting instead of putting him in on the first ballot.