July 11, 2013 posted by Matthew Dewoskin

Fantasy Baseball Lies, Damn Lies and Advanced Metrics: Fantasy Baseball All-Star Edition, Part Two

Fantasy Baseball Lies, Damn Lies and Advanced Metrics: Fantasy Baseball All-Star Edition, Part Two
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This is one All-star team that Jonathan Papelbon might actually like. Sorry, Dodgers fans, but Yasiel Puig won’t crack the starting lineup on this team and there won’t be a chance to vote him in for the Final Vote. He’s been fun to watch and he could very well help a lot of teams win titles in fantasy baseball leagues, but he hasn’t meant as much to fantasy teams as guys who have twice as many at bats.

You saw our fantasy baseball All-star infield last week and it’s time for the outfielders and pitchers this week. The question on the minds of fantasy GMs shouldn’t be, “What have these guys done,” but rather “What will they do in the next few months?” It’s time to sell high and buy high on a few of these guys as the curtain falls on the first half and raises for the sprint to the title.

All Mike Trout has done this year is gone out and proven everyone wrong and he’s the starting left fielder on the 2013 fantasy baseball all-stars. Fantasy baseball pundits (mostly Ron Shandler) doubted every number he put up in 2012 and Trout is basically repeating the season he had last year. They said a player who weighed over 240 lbs. couldn’t steal 20 bases. Well, Trout is over 240 and he’s stolen 21 bases this year. They said the .383 BABIP would come down and it has. Trout owns a .357 BABIP, but his batting average is still .320. They said the 21.6% HR:FB ratio would come down and it has (currently 15.6%), but Trout still has 15 homers.

What’s really impressive about Mike Trout’s 2013 season is that his first half of 2013 GB/FB/LD splits are almost identical to his 2012 GB/FB/LD splits. He posted a 1.35 GB:FB ratio with a 22.6% LD %. This year, he owns a 1.38 GB:FB ratio with a 22.7 LD%. Mike Trout is fantasy baseball royalty and he’s proving that his rookie season wasn’t a fluke. Would anyone be surprised to see Shandler have Trout on his team next year?

Carlos Gomez is the starting center fielder on the 2013 fantasy All-stars. Wait. That sentence looks wrong. A case could be made for Andrew McCutchen, but Gomez has the same batting average as McCutchen (.303), but is ahead of The Dread Pirate in homers (13 for Gomez, nine for McCutchen) and steals (21 for Gomez and 18 for McCutchen).

The difference is that McCutchen is much more likely to continue to produce at an elite level in the second half while Gomez is likely to regress. Gomez is having this ridiculous year with a .361 BABIP. That’s 50 points above his .311 career average.

Plate discipline is still an issue for Gomez, but he’s managed to hit over it so far this year. He’s walking at a 4.3% clip which is his lowest since 2008. His career average K % is 22.3%. His K % this year? Exactly 22.3%.

Gomez apparently decided that he’s a power hitter in 2011. He’s posted a fly ball % over 40.0% for each of the past two seasons and his fly ball % currently sits at 39.0%. Gomez best asset is his legs and he’s choosing to openly ignore them. Gomez isn’t getting lucky on fly balls. He’s posted double digit HR:FB ratios each of the last two seasons and currently sits at a 14.1%. He could very well maintain that ratio for the rest of the season. The power will likely continue, but there are so many red flags with Gomez that the risks outweigh whatever power he might produce. Gomez was a sell-high about a month ago and it’s getting past the time to cash in on him.

As loaded as left and center field are, right field is barren. The league leader in WOBA among right fielders is Michael Cuddyer. He’s the pick for the best fantasy right fielder for the first half of 2013. Cuddyer is a near lock for the 2013 A.J. Pierzynski Award for the past his prime veteran who inexplicably puts up a career year.

He does appear to enjoy hitting at home. Cuddyer owns a 1.068 OPS at Coors and a .894 OPS on the road, but regression can and will strike anywhere, even in Coors.

Cuddyer is hitting .337 with a .374 BABIP. Cuddyer has been in the league since 2001 and he’s never posted a batting average over .290 for a full season. His career BABIP is .309 and he looks like a solid regression candidate. His GB:FB ratio is 1.35. His career average…is exactly 1.35. His 20.4% line drive % is exactly the same as his 2012 line drive %. Cuddyer is basically the same guy he’s always been. Even his swing metrics are all within a standard deviation of his career averages. Cuddyer just happens to be enjoying a career half season due to statistical variance. He’s a solid bet to regress even if he does play half his games in Coors.

Rumbling to the bump for the 2013 fantasy baseball All-stars is Adam Wainwright. A case could be made for Matt Harvey or Max Scherzer, but Wainwright has done something more impressive than 13-0 the first half.

He owns a competent 8.06 K/9. It’s not an elite 10.00+ like Scherzer or Harvey have posted, but Wainwright has a 0.90 BB/9. That’s a guy who can save a WHIP. He’s made five more starts (19) than walks allowed (14). He’s posting a 2.30 actual ERA with a 2.69 xFIP. Wainwright is elite and he has virtually zero red flags heading into the second half.

Wainwright is getting more swinging strikes (10.4%) than he ever has. More first pitch strikes (65.6%) than he ever has. He’s also getting more swings at pitches outside the zone (38.2%) than he ever has. Wainwright should be an acquire for a team willing to make a big move in the hopes of winning a league title.

Ever wonder how random relief pitching is? Jesse Crain is leading all relievers with a 2.0 WAR in the 2013 season. He’s been more effective than Jason Grilli, Mariano Rivera or Joe Nathan, but he’s not coming in for Wainwright in the ninth inning for this team.

Greg Holland got off to a bad start and almost lost the closer’s job in Kansas City. He remembered how to throw strikes and racked up 22 saves. He also owns the highest K/9 (15.43) among all relievers. That’s higher than Aroldis Chapman (15.22) and Holland isn’t addicted to Cuban pastries. He’s also only walking 2.83 batters per nine and he owns a 1.39 xFIP with a 1.80 actual ERA. Holland is elite and it’s a shame he won’t get to showcase his talents in New York next week. A convincing case could be made that Holland is the best closer in all of baseball right now.


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