Friday, 30 September 2011

Lessons Learned: Fantasy Baseball 2011 and Fantasy Baseball 2012

As the 2011 major league baseball regular season comes to a close, we are left to look back at the fantasy baseball season which just ended. However, it is also never too early to look ahead at the coming fantasy baseball 2012 season either. There are several lessons to be taken from this season and several which we can apply to coming years as well. I was lucky enough to have won my fantasy baseball league title in the final game on the final day of the 2011 season on a Jemile Weeks single. This proves one thing for sure: in fantasy baseball, you are never out of it.

Keeping in mind that you are always in the hunt for your league championship, it is never too early to look back on ‘the season that was’ in order to learn some lessons for next year. Here are some lessons we learned from 2011:

Never Give Up
The major league wild card race in both leagues took until the final day of the season to decide. In fact, it could be argued that the final day of the 2011 season was the most exciting night of baseball in decades. In regard to the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays, their fate came down to the final at bat of the 9th inning. The lesson to be learned? It is never too late to be out of the championship, so keep battling right until your final at bat. In daily leagues, keep making changes all the way until the last day and never give up.

Shoulder a Grudge
When it comes to choosing pitchers for your fantasy baseball roster, do not shy away from pitchers coming off of recent Tommy John elbow surgery. Stephen Strasburg proved that a full recovery from the procedure is possible. However, when it comes to shoulder issues, you should not be so optimistic. The Texas Rangers signed Brandon Webb to help shore up their perennial pitching woes. Coming off a shoulder injury, Webb did not throw a big league pitch in 2011 (and hasn’t thrown one since April 2009). Josh Johnson came into 2011 having missed the latter part of the previous season with shoulder issues. After starting 2011 strongly, Johnson did not throw a pitch after May 16th. The lesson to be learned? Be very wary of pitchers with shoulder problems.

Young Guns
When it comes to dynamic pitching performances, young arms led the charge in 2011. Time after time this season, we saw rookies coming up big and making fantasy owners jump for joy. Craig Kimbrel, Cory Luebke, Jeremy Hellickson, Michael Pineda, Josh Collmenter and Brandon Beachy all seemed to come out of nowhere in 2011 and surprise with outstanding statistics. The lesson to be learned? Keep an eye out for good young talent in 2012, as a pitcher like Matt Moore may have more value than bigger name veterans.


There’s No Such Thing as a Sure Thing
Coming into the 2011 season, there were 3 sure things: death, taxes and Adam Dunn’s offensive statistics. Dunn was the epitome of a ‘sure thing’. His home run totals from 2005-2010 read like clockwork: 40, 40, 40, 38, 38. Likewise, his RBI totals were also machinelike in their regularity and predictability: 102, 101, 106, 100, 105, 103. Then, came the summer of 2011.  Dunn finished with 11 HR and 42 RBI and set a major league record with a .159 BA. He also ended up with 18 more strikeouts than points on his batting average, beating Mark Reynolds mark of 13 more Ks than BA points. Somewhere, Rob Deer is smiling. The lesson to be learned? Never draft a player and consider it money in the bank.

The 2011 season was one for the ages, to be sure. The lesson to be learned? Baseball is truly magical.
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Sunday, 25 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball: Who's Running Hot & Cold - September 25, 2011

HOT

Allen Craig (STL)
With Matt Holliday down with injury, Craig has seen a spike in his playing time and has made the most of things, going 8-for-23 over the past week. He has also put up 6 R, 3 HR and 6 RBI over that span. 

It's been a season of ups and downs for "Espy" but he has been hot as of late. After hitting 16 HR in the first half, he has cooled since the break with only 5 long balls. However, over the past 7 days, the Nationals second baseman has 7 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI and 1 SB.

Ben Revere (MIN)
The speedy Twins outfielder has been on a tear recently, going 17 for his last 37 AB (.459). Over the past week, Revere has come through with 3 R, 3 RBI and 4 SB (9 SB in September).

COLD

Colby Rasmus (TOR)
Maybe Tony La Russa was onto something. With Toronto, Rasmus has put up a horrible slash line of .185/.216/.336 and has been particularly bad over the past week. He is only 2-26 with 1 R in the past 7 days.

Jon Jay (STL)
Rasmus' full time replacement in St. Louis, Jay has been equally inept at the dish of late. Over the past week, Jay has gone 3-for-24 with no counting stats.

The Athletics' surprising big bopper has been punchless at the plate over the past week. With only 2 hits in 20 AB and producing a lobe RBI, Willingham is ending the season with a whimper.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 24, 2011

Guillermo Moscoso (OAK) at LAA -

Moscoso has given up only 5 ER over his last 4 starts. He is playing for a spot in a big league rotation next year and is making a very strong case for himself. Against the Angels this season, he is 1-0 with a 2.53 ERA and has held Halo batters to a 2.00 BA. In his last 26.1 IP, Moscoso has fashioned a nifty 2-1 record with a 2.71 ERA. Stream with confidence.

Friday, 23 September 2011

You Snooze, You Lose: Fantasy Baseball Sleepers 2012



A fantasy baseball sleeper can be defined in a number of different ways. What it really comes down to is the ability to draft a player at a lower position than they should be selected. In other words, a fantasy baseball sleeper is any player who will perform significantly better than other players drafted in or around the same round.

So, how does a player slip past the other fantasy baseball owners on draft day? Generally, if a player has a significantly poor season statistically, or if they experience a serious injury, then that player may be deemed to have decreased in perceived value. Sometimes, a player has in fact dropped in value. Other times however, a player may have simply had an ‘off year’ or may be able to bounce back from injury to perform at previous levels. The key is to identify who these players are and which may in fact be ‘sleepers’ heading into next year.

Here are some candidates who may be some nice fantasy baseball sleepers in 2012. In other words, your fellow owners may devalue them enough to allow these baseball players to slip in the draft and be picked up by you, the enlightened drafter:

Ubaldo Jimenez (CLE)
A little over a year ago, Jimenez was the talk of the baseball world. He entered the All Star break in 2010 with a record of 15-1, 2.20 ERA and was limiting opposing hitters to a .198 BA. He regressed slightly in the second half of that season but still ended up with a great season. In 2011, he didn’t fare
Quite as well and a move out of Colorado didn’t help as much as expected. Although he has seen a dip in his velocity, it hasn’t been an alarming drop so he should rebound with an off season of adjustments. Chalk it up to a poor year and expect him to drop to a favorable position at the draft table in 2012.

Adam Wainwright (STL)
Entering 2011, Wainwright was one of the top 5 pitchers in all of baseball. However, an early season elbow injury required ‘Tommy John’ surgery and ended his year. There is a long list of pitchers who have recovered nicely from the procedure (Tim Hudson, Billy Wagner, John Smoltz) and Wainwright’s prospects for beginning the 2012 season look promising. The average recovery period for the surgery is approximately 12 months putting Wainwright in a position to be a nice sleeper in 2012.

Adam Dunn (CWS)
Prior to 2011, there was no power hitter more consistent than Dunn in all of the major leagues. From 2005-2010 Dunn put up home run totals of 40, 40, 40, 40, 38 and 38. Then, he fell apart with only 11 HR and a BA of .164. That type of historic decline will sour even the most optimistic of fantasy owners. Despite the rock solid consistency, Dunn is a human being (not a robot) and as such is susceptible to ups and downs. Keep an eye on him in the off season and spring training. He may slip so far in most fantasy owners’ minds that he may just be the sleeper of the year in 2012.

Shin-Soo Choo (CLE)
There is nothing more appealing to fantasy owners than a player who offers both power and speed. Toss in the fact that Choo also hits for a .300 average and he was being drafted among the top 20 outfielders in most fantasy leagues. The 2011 season was one of major problems both on and off the field for the Indians slugger. Even when he returned late in the season, he was able to stick around for the grand total of 1 at bat before injuring himself again. Having burned several fantasy owners (and scaring many more in the process) should allow Choo to slip to a draft position worthy of serious consideration in 2012.

Aaron Hill (TOR)
Middle infielders with power are a rare breed and highly valued in fantasy circles. After setting a Blue Jays second baseman record with 36 HR in 2009 (with 108 RBI), he slipped to 26 HR the following year and a paltry 6 HR in 2011. This led Hill to be reviled by fans and team management alike and saw him shipped out of town to Arizona, where he put up a .300 BA. A free agent, Hill won’t be returning to Toronto in 2012 and just may be a late-round steal at the draft table next season.

Alex Rios (CWS)
This isn’t the first time Rios has disappointed. In 2009, the Blue Jays were so frustrated with Rios’ that they essentially waived him to the White Sox with no return. Although he has disappointed in 2011, the problem with the outfielder seems to be less about production then it has to do with effort. Rios often gives the impression that he is ‘dogging it’ when really he is seemingly just very low-key. A player with his prominent skills tends to leave managers (and fantasy owners) wanting more. Take him for what he is: a player with power, speed and the ability to drive in runs. So long as you do not over-value him, you will be pleased with his production. He has started to show some signs of life late in the season as well as a willingness to work on his game in the off-season. Let him drop in the rankings and grab him late.

If it’s fantasy baseball sleepers in 2012 that you are looking for, there are plenty of candidates. If you allow other fantasy baseball owners to react to recent events, they might just miss the opportunity to grab a bargain next year.

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* Adam Wainwright photo by shgmom56 on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "DSC03127") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Adam Dunn Photo by Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as "Adam Dunn") [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Alex Rios photo by keith011764 on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 23, 2011

Drew Pomeranz (COL) at HOU -

Don't expect him to go deep into the game but expect 5 innings against a team which is dead last in September runs scored. Houston is hitting a combined OPS of .632 for the month presenting fantasy owners with a decent play on Pomeranz.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 22, 2011

Blake Beavan (SEA) at MIN -

The Seattle rookie has thrown 4 quality starts in his last 5 outings. He has also won 2 straight starts (including an 8 inning, 4-hit, no-run game against Texas on September 16th.). Although not a source of consistent strikeouts, Beavan is a solid play facing a Twins team decimated by injuries and currently resembling a Double-A squad.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Late Bloomers: Turning a Strong Second Half in 2011 into 2012 Success

There are those who subscribe to the idea that when a baseball player has a strong second half in one season, it means that they are in line to put up good numbers the following season. This can particularly hold true for a player that may have struggled in previous seasons, one who has finally gotten a chance with additional playing time or even a younger player that is starting to put everything together. A good example of this recently was Jose Bautista. In 2010 he seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the major leagues with 54 home runs. However, to the observant fantasy baseball enthusiast, this was foreshadowed by a late-season surge in 2009. 

By taking a close look at some baseball players who became upstarts in the second half of 2011, we may get a glimpse as to what may portend for 2012. As we know, finding those ‘diamonds in the rough’ at next year’s draft table can certainly help your chances in the world of fantasy baseball.

Lucas Duda (NYM)
Sometimes it’s all about opportunity. When the Mets’ regular first baseman Ike Davis went down with an ankle injury, the door was opened for Duda. With a particularly strong second half of 2011 and Carlos Beltran traded away, Duda may have secured himself a spot as the everyday RF in 2012. His second half has included 30 R, 10 HR, 37 RBI and a slash line of .322/.404/.545. It looks like he has seized his opportunity in the big leagues.

Josh Willingham (OAK)
The power has always been there (career average of 24 HR per 150 GP), but playing time has not been consistent for Willingham. With a strong second half in 2011 including 16 HR, 48 RBI, .369 OBP, .558 SLG and a nifty .925 OPS, Willingham enters 2012 as a free agent likely to find a regular gig patrolling LF and providing power in the middle of a line up.

James Loney (LAD)
Sure, he has disappointed fantasy owners who felt his power would develop but Loney contributes in 2 important categories (AVG and RBI) on a consistent basis. He also has put together a nice second half this season with a slash line of .312/.379/.532. He has also walked 20 times against only 25 K so his skills as a decent hitter are legit.

J. J. Hardy (BAL)
Hardy’s 15 second half home runs have led all major league shortstops. Throw in 41 RBI and you have a power hitter at a very weak position. It has always been about staying healthy for Hardy who has eclipsed his previous career high of 26 HR (set in 2007 while with the Brewers). As a free agent in 2012, he could be a nice fantasy option at SS.

Mike Napoli (TEX)
After a first half in which he hit for only a .232 BA, Napoli turned on the afterburners after the All Star break. He led all catchers (min. 175 PA) in the second half in HR (14), BA (.385), OBP (.468) with a major league best 1.158 OPS. This portends well for a catcher position in 2012 which will once again be shallow. Considering his eligibility at 1B as well his ability to pick up AB as the DH, Napoli may very well enter 2012 as a top 2 fantasy catcher.

Javier Vazquez (FLA)
After a first half in which he was given up for dead (5.23 ERA, 6.2 K/9), Vazquez regained velocity on his fast ball and has put up an incredible second half this season. His numbers after the break: 2.35 ERA, .93 WHIP, 9.1 K/9. Most notably, Vazquez has improved his strikeout/walk rate from 1.94 in the first half to 5.40 in the second. He could be a very interesting pick entering 2012.

Although hardly a slouch in the first half (3.87 ERA, 7.9 K/9), Bumgarner has emerged as ‘ace’ material since the break. His record before the All Star game was 4-9, since the break it has been 8-3. Wins and losses have not been a true indication of talent in San Francisco this year due to paltry offensive support, however. With second-half stats of 2.43 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 4.68 K/BB and 9.0 K/9 Bumgarner is poised as the co-ace of the Giants. Consider him serious keeper material heading out of 2011.

Keeping a close eye on 2011 second half statistical performance may just translate into strong numbers for 2012. Let’s hope these late bloomers help your fantasy baseball team prosper into next year and beyond.

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* Lucas Duda photo by slgckgc on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 
* J.J. Hardy Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr: J.J. Hardy) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Madison Bumgarner photo by X Wad (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 20, 2011

Randall Delgado (ATL) at FLA -

He may not be going deep into ballgames yet but the 21-year old Braves rookie has gone at least 5 innings in all 3 of his September starts and faces a Marlins squad which he held to 1 ER in 5 IP on September 14. For the year, he has put up a 3.24 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and held opposing hitters to a .204 BA. He's worth a spot start here.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball: Who's Running Hot & Cold - September 19, 2011

HOT

The highly-regarded Royals' rookie third baseman has been showing what all the hype is about with a recent offensive surge. Moustakas has gone 11-21 with 7 R, 3 HR and 7 RBI over the past week. He also chipped in his 1st stolen base.

Erick Aybar (LAA)
After a brutal August in which he hit .156, The light-hitting Angels shortstop has been on a tear recently, including a 4-4 effort against Baltimore in which he hit 2 HR (his 1st multi-HR game of his career) while scoring 5 R (tying a team record).

James Loney (LAD)
Loney has quietly been putting together a nice second half for himself and had another good week at the dish, going 9-for-25 (.360) with 5 R, 2 HR and 10 RBI.



COLD

Casey McGehee (MIL)
After hitting 23 HR and 104 RBI in 2010, McGehee has regressed markedly in 2011 and this past week was no different. The Brewers' 3rd sacker managed a lone double in 18 AB this past week.

Hideki Matsui (OAK)
Matsui's struggles (including 1-for-19 last week) have contributed to him losing AB at the DH position to players like Josh Willingham and Chris Carter recently.

Jonathan Lucroy (MIL)
Not one to offer huge fantasy value anyway (a paltry .670 OPS post-All Star break), Lucroy has struggled recently managing only 1 single and a run scored the past 7 days.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

There’s Always Next Year: Preparing for the Fantasy Baseball 2012 Season

With the fantasy baseball playoffs started, you may find yourself on the outside looking in, or perhaps in danger of losing in the first or second round. Either way, you will no doubt be looking ahead to next year. Even if you are moving on in the 2011 fantasy baseball playoffs, you will soon be considering your options for next year. You will need to decide which players will be keepers for 2012 and which players will not. You will need to assess which draft position you will be selecting from in 2012 as well as which drafting strategies to employ next season. Some key areas of interest to keep in mind:
Keepers for 2012 –
When deciding upon your keepers for 2012, you will need to choose wisely. Try to concentrate on players which are entering (or in) their prime as opposed to players who are aging. It makes much more sense to keep a player like Melky Cabrera, who is on the rise and entering his prime than it does to keep a player on the downside of his career like Todd Helton, for example. Do not forget to consider position scarcity either. Valuable players at catcher (Brian McCann, Victor Martinez) are much more valuable than a power hitting first baseman like Ryan Howard or Carlos Pena. Other positions with a shallow talent pool include second base and third base. If you have a good player at one of these positions, they may be more valuable than an outfielder with better overall statistics.
Draft Position
Know where you will be drafting in 2012 (based upon your overall finish in 2011). Get a list of the keepers from your league (if any) as well. This will help you determine which player you will take in your first round. This will often be a player to build around so being prepared will help you make the right choice. Some fantasy owners like to pre-rank just about every player in the big leagues (and some from the minors) in order to get the edge. Knowing where you rank in a snake draft helps determine some key players to target from your list.
Offseason Player Moves
Be sure to keep a close eye on any free agent movement in the offseason as well as any players traded. A lot of activity seems to happen around the baseball winter meetings so keep an eye on the proceedings when they occur. If a particular player changes leagues, ball parks or divisions it may have a huge impact on his fantasy performance.
Spring Training
Sure it seems like a long way away (and it is!), but spring training is where a lot of key battles for jobs and jockeying for positions takes place. Keeping a close eye on offseason talk can help predict what some of those key spring training battles may be.

Be sure to keep an eye on several of these things in the offseason. If you didn’t win it all this season, there’s always next year. One thing to know for sure is that fantasy baseball doesn’t end just because the baseball season has come to a close.
For those of us that love the game, this is great news indeed.
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Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 15, 2011

Brandon McCarthy (OAK) vs. DET

Injuries have plagued McCarthy in the past but he has stayed healthy since the start of July and has shown signs of being one of the best starters the Athletics have trotted out in 2011. He has pitched well against the Tigers this season, putting up a 3.09 ERA with 11 K in 11.2 IP. He has also fared well at home in 2011 with a 2.92 ERA in 11 starts.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 14, 2011

Randall Delgado (ATL) vs. FLA
He walks too many batters (9 BB in 20 IP) and doesn’t strike out as many as you would like to see (5.85 K/9) but with only 15 hits allowed, Delgado seems to get the job done. The Marlins have not fared well against the Braves in 2011 with the team putting up a slash line of only .208/.295/.308. Although he may not stick in the rotation after this start, he is an interesting play today.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 13, 2011

Guillermo Moscoso (OAK) vs. LAA -


Moscoso held Kansas City hitless into the 8th inning on September 7th. He also set an Oakland franchise record by retiring 30 consecutive batters over 2 starts (against the Mariners and Royals). His career stats against the Angels are limited but a 0.85 WHIP is a good sign.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 12, 2011

Aaron Harang (SD) at SF -

Harang's last outing was on Sept. 7th against the Giants where he allowed only 1 ER and 4 hits in 7 IP in collecting his 13th victory of 2011. The Giants continue to struggle offensively in September and that bodes well for Harang who owns a career 3.03 ERA and 7.3 K/9 vs. San Francisco. Stream with confidence.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball: Who's Running Hot & Cold - September 11, 2011

HOT

Shelley Duncan (CLE)
The Indians DH/1B/OF has been scorching of late in going 9-for-25 with 8 R and 10 RBI over the past 7 games. 5 of his 9 HR on the season have come in the past week (including a pair of 2-run shots off AL Cy Young favorite Justin Verlander). Now that is a hot streak.

Eric Hosmer (KC)
The Royals rookie has continued his hot hitting of late (he made this list last week as well). He has kept up the hot hitting by going 11-for-30 (.367 BA) with 7 R, 2 HR, 8 RBI and 2 SB to boot. Is a late run at the AL Rookie of the Year a possibility here?

Jason Bay (NYM)
The embattled Mets outfielder has been on a nice little offensive run of late in going 13-for-27 (.481) with 4 R, 2 HR, 10 RBI and 1 SB over his past 7 GP. By Bays' recent standards, this is amazing.

COLD

Dustin Pedroia (BOS)
A recent 3-for-31 drought (.097 BA) with 2 R and no counting stats may have cost the Red Sox second baseman some votes in a tight AL MVP race.

Kelly Johnson (TOR)
With only 2 hits in his past 25 AB, Johnson is not living up to his reputation as a player who delivers in September. He will most likely be playing elsewhere in 2012.

Adam Lind (TOR)
An up-and-down season for Lind is playing out on a down note for the Jays' first baseman. With only 3 hits in 15 AB over the past 7 days, Lind has not impressed at the plate with 0 R, 0 HR and 0 RBI.

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 11, 2011

Freddy Garcia (NYY) at LAA -

Garcia owns a career 2.42 ERA, 1.059, 6.40 K/9 and a record of 15-3 against the Angels, including going 8-1 at Angel Stadium. Garcia also matches up well in regard to his opposing pitcher as Ervin Santana has struggled against the Yankees throughout his career (5.37 ERA, 1.546 WHIP).

Friday, 9 September 2011

Stream Weaver: Fantasy Baseball Spot Starter Split Stats

Now that the fantasy baseball playoffs are upon us, a good number of fantasy owners turn to the practice of streaming pitchers in the hopes of increasing their edge in the pitching statistical categories. This can be risky business however. By using spot starters in and out of your fantasy line up, you increase the chance of amassing counting stats (wins and strikeouts) but you could be placing the ratio categories in jeopardy. Let’s face it, starting pitchers would not be available on the waiver wire if they were top-notch talents, so you will find yourself picking over lower-tier pitchers when considering spot starters for your fantasy roster.

The most important thing to remember is the fact that baseball players are human beings, not robots. They will not perform exactly the same in every situation. They are prone to ups and downs, good days and bad days, just like the rest of us. Not to worry though, with a little research you can determine which waiver wire pitchers are more likely to succeed than others and getting the edge is what fantasy baseball is all about. Here are some things to consider when looking for spot starters:
Home/Road Split Stats
Try to pay close attention to a pitcher’s statistics when pitching at home as opposed to their road statistics. It could be the rousing cheer of a home crowd. It could be home cooking. It could be a good night’s sleep in their own bed. Whatever the reason, some pitchers simply pitch better at home than on the road (and vice versa). A good example is Mike Pelfrey (NYM). His home ERA from 2008-2010 was 3.16. On the road during that span it was 5.47. The same holds true for 2011, when at home he sports a 3.86 ERA as opposed to on the road where he has put up a 5.36 ERA. Take a look at a pitcher’s split stats and if there are noticeable splits, use them to your advantage!

Day/Night Split Stats
This is often less prominent than home/road splits since the majority of games are played at night, however, it is worth noting. A majority of games on weekends are played during the day so it certainly holds true for games on Saturdays and Sundays. Some pitchers struggle under the sun and some struggle under the lights. As an example, Matt Garza (CHC) has pitched better this year during the day (2.96 ERA) than he has at night (4.03 ERA). Find out the stats on the pitchers on your current waiver wire and claim them accordingly.

Stats vs. Opponent
Some pitchers simply have great success against certain teams. It may be a bizarre quirk, but there are examples of pitchers who simply have more success when pitching against particular foes. For an example, if you are looking to stream Bronson Arroyo into your line up, since 2008 against Pittsburgh he owns a 1.93 ERA and the Pirates hitters have only managed a .198 BA against him. In the same time frame against Atlanta, he has put up a 7.29 ERA while allowing the Braves batters to hit him to the tune of a .310 BA. When looking at particular waiver wire pitchers, make sure and check their past numbers (both for the current season, 3 year trends or career stats) against the team they are currently facing.

Hot & Cold Streaks
Sometimes if a particular pitcher is on a hot (or cold) streak, he can defy recent trends and put up a decent spot start. For example, if there is a pitcher available on the waiver wire who has traditionally put up poor stats against a particular team you may at first consider passing on him as a spot start option. However, if you notice his past 5 starts have been outstanding, that pitcher may have made a mechanical change, tweaked their delivery or even added an additional pitch to their arsenal. Sometimes, a player gets on a hot streak and defies their previous tendencies.

Park Factors
Much like the fact that a pitcher may fare better against a particular opponent, a hurler may also show great success (or failure) at a particular ball park. Also keep in mind park factors as well. Watch this closely as the results may not always be obvious. For example, Rockies starter Juan Nicasio pitches markedly better AT Coors Field even though it is statistically the worst ball park to pitch in.

If you are going to practice the art of streaming starting pitchers for the playoffs, make sure and do a little homework. Being prepared will go a long way to making wise decisions when picking over the waiver wire in your fantasy baseball league.
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* Pitcher photo by Dru Bloomfield - At Home in Scottsdale on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Safeco Field photo by User:DVD R W (Photo taken by me at Safeco Field.) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
 

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 9, 2011

Brandon McCarthy (OAK) at TEX -

Which McCarthy will make an appearance for today's spot start? If it's the pitcher that has struck out 10 batters in each of his past 2 starts, you are in for a gem. If it's the pitcher who has barely struck out half a batter an inning against Texas with a 5.28 ERA in 2011, it could be ugly. Take a gamble on the hot hand and expect better results against the Rangers this time out.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 8, 2011

Luke Hochevar (KC) at SEA

Hochevar has pitched at least 6 innings in 9 of his last 10 starts, including a gem against Cleveland. He held the Indians to 1 ER on 3 hits in 8 IP, including 8 Ks against only 1 BB. Pitching against the Seattle offense this time out in SAFECO Field only increases his value as a spot starter. He's a decent option off the waiver wire today.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 7, 2011

Aaron Harang (SD) vs. SF

After putting up a 2.37 ERA in his past 3 starts (including 15 Ks against only 1 BB in his past 2), Harang looks to be a good option against San Francisco. His career ERA against the Giants is a nifty 3.15 and San Francisco's offense is at an aenemic low point recently. Pitching in spacious PETCO Park only makes him a more appealing streaming option.

Monday, 5 September 2011

September’s Heroes: Fantasy Baseball Players with Strong September Statistics

They’re here. The fantasy baseball playoffs have now begun for many fantasy baseball leagues. That means you will be looking for any edge you can get to give yourself a little extra push to the finish line. Especially true for head-to-head leagues, each and every advantage you can squeeze out of your line up will make a difference. 

Knowing which players have had success in the month of September is a good place to start. After all, anything a player has done in the past, he is capable of doing again in the future. Considering also the fact that some players tend to play better in certain months (or even just down the stretch), if you can determine which players have shown success in September, you might just get the edge over your fantasy baseball competition.

Here are a few players to consider for your playoff run:

Jim Thome (CLE)
It’s been quite a year for Thome. He reached the incredible career milestone of 600 HR this season and is now back with the Tribe, the team for which he toiled from 1991-2001. He swatted 25 HR in only 276 AB with Minnesota last year including 7 in September alone. He also put up a .357 BA during the final month of the 2010 season with an eye-popping 1.399 OPS. Thome would no doubt like to end his career on a high note and he is in a position to do some damage with the lumber in September 2011.

The Giants somehow find themselves in the middle of a pennant race with little-to-no offense. If one of their players can step up with the bat in September, it may be enough to put them past the Diamondbacks in the NL West. Last season, Beltran hit 5 HR, 13 RBI over the final month of the season with a slash line of .321/.365/.603. That was nothing new to Beltran as he went .344/.440/.645 with 6 HR and 19 RBI in September 2008. He is in a position to contribute down the stretch in San Francisco this year as well.

Randy Wolf (MIL)
Inconsistency has plagued Wolf for years. However, he always seems to step up his game a notch in September. Last year, he put up 28 K to go with a .82 WHIP and 1.47 ERA. His WHIP in September 2009 was a very similar .87. In the final month of 2008, Wolf had a 1.05 WHIP and 2.23 ERA. Let’s hope the trend continues in 2011.

During his rookie campaign in 2010, Bumgarner finished strong, putting up a K/9 rate of 9 to go with a 1.09 WHIP and 1.13 ERA. After an up-and-down first half, the Giants lefty has pitched very well in the second half of this season and should thrive again in another fall pennant race.

Jayson Werth (WAS)
Sure, he’s not in Philadelphia anymore and has delivered a poor fantasy season thus far in the nation’s capital but Werth seems to save his best until season’s end. September 2010: 8 HR, 20 RBI with a .920 OPS. September 2009: 6 HR, 18 RBI with a .947 OPS. For good measure, in 2008 he swiped 7 bases in the final month. If history is any lesson, expect some decent fantasy numbers over the final 4 weeks of 2011.

Derrek Lee (PIT)
Atlanta’s gun-for-hire in 2010, Lee fills that role for the Pirates this season. He had a September to remember in 2009 while with the Cubs, putting up a slash line of .386/.500/.795. He also launched 9 home runs and 23 RBI while walking 19 times vs. 13 strikeouts. He has hit well since the trade that sent him to Pittsburgh, going 11-for-27 with 3 HR (including 2 HR in his debut). The big man might just have enough in the tank for another late-season surge.

Fausto Carmona (CLE)
The Tribe’s nominal ace to begin the 2011 season, Carmona was shelled for 10 ER in just 3 IP on opening day and it has been an up-and-down ride ever since. However, with Ubaldo Jimenez’ inconsistency since being acquired by the Indians, Carmona needs to step up and lead the team. In 2010, he did put up a .98 WHIP and 1.82 ERA in September so it should be an interesting final month.

Kelly Johnson (TOR)
Already starting to show some pop with the bat in Toronto, Johnson is now hitting .300 with his new club (and new league). Last year, he hit 7 HR in September and put up a slash line of .337/.396/.609. After a bumpy 2011 season, he’s got something to prove and will be looking to end the year with a flourish.

Good luck in the fantasy baseball playoffs. Hopefully a few of these players can produce in September as they have in the past. If they do, you could be in for a very nice playoff run.

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* Jim Thome photo by furnstein on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Madison Bumgarner photo by X Wad (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
* Kelly Johnson photo by Keith Allison (Flickr: Kelly Johnson) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher - September 4, 2011

Randall Delgado (ATL) vs. LAD -

Atlanta has a way of extracting solid pitching performances out of their arms and Delgado is no exception. He performed brilliantly during his previous spot start giving up only 1 hit in 6 IP. Granted, that start was against an anemic Giants offense but he'll draw the Dodgers this time out and their bats are not much better. Look for a decent start off the waiver wire today.

Fantasy Baseball: Who's Running Hot & Cold - September 4, 2011

HOT

Austin Jackson (DET)
Although Curtis Granderson is an MVP candidate, Jackson (involved in the 2010 trade which sent Granderson to the Yankees) hasn't exactly been a slouch either, especially in recent days. He has hit a nifty .500 (16-for-32) over the past week with 10 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 SB. He has also been a big part of back-to-back Tigers come-from-behind wins recently, including a 4/4 effort which included 3 R scored and a 3-R triple.

Eric Hosmer (KC)
Once the talk of the fantasy baseball world when he was called up earlier in 2011 before cooling off, Hosmer has been on a nice run of late. He has hit .400 (10/25) with 7 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI and a stolen base in the last 7 days in which he pummeled Tigers' pitching during a series in Detroit.

Luke Hughes (MIN)
Subbing for the injured Joe Mauer at first base, the Aussie has displayed some nice power recently. Although he hasn't delivered hits at a scorching rate recently (6-for-23), he has made the most of them by delivering 6 R, 3 HR and 9 RBI in the past 7 days. If he continues to see playing time, he could be a nice fantasy option. His eligibility at multiple positions (1B, 2B, 3B) only enhances his value.


COLD

Casper Wells (SEA)
After showing so much promise by hitting 6 HR after getting called up by the Mariners, Wells has been ice cold recently. A 1-for-22 stretch in the past week dropped his season slash line to .251/.329/.461. Add to that a K rate of 28.6% and it gets pretty ugly.

The Brewers shortstop has had a cold bat recently to match his seemingly always cold glove. He followed up a recent 3-for-17 spell by leaving a game against the Astros after getting plunked on his elbow.

John Buck (FLA)
The Marlins backstop has endured a cold spell of late with a 2-for-17 performance at the dish over the past 7 days. Never one to deliver a high average, if Buck isn't hitting home runs, he doesn't deliver much fantasy value.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher, September 3, 2011

Dillon Gee (NYM) at WAS -

Don't let his overall numbers scare you. At first glance, Gee walks way too many batters (especially in recent outings) to be considered for a fantasy baseball spot start. However, it is his opponent that adds the streaming value. He is 2-0 with a 1.26 ERA and .128 opponents BA against the Nationals in 2011. That makes him definitely worth a look.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire Pitcher, September 1, 2011

Luis Perez (TOR) at BAL -

Invigorated by the performance of his good friend, Henderson Alvarez (who dissected the Orioles hitters on Wednesday night), Perez is looking for a stellar outing of his own. If he continues his propensity for inducing ground balls against the likes of Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy, Perez is a nice spot start option. Grab him early because the teams play at 12:35pm today on a getaway day.