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Name value is one of the trickiest nuances of fantasy baseball. Owners are finicky and will often dismiss a player’s solid production because it is less than what was expected. This is especially dangerous in a 162 game season where we constantly see incredibly different first- and second-half production. While we can bemoan Albert Pujols’ .254 batting average, it’s important to forget all the negativity you see and read about his massive contract, the Angels’ overall struggles, and anything else that isn’t actually relevant in fantasy. Let’s take a look at some fantasy relevant stats for three guys whose ADP was considerably higher than their numbers.
Cole Hamels: 1-7, 4.45 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 57 K/24 BB
On the surface, Hamels’ seven losses are tough to swallow and made even tougher by the fact that he’s allowed over three runs in just three of his 10 starts. Even his increased walk totals are the result of three games in which he walked a total of 15 batters. In other words, he’s probably helping a lot more in weekly head-to-head leagues than in overall roto leagues. The numbers really aren’t as bad as they seem and this will even out over the course of the season. If you remove Hamels’ first two starts of the season, he has a 3.12 ERA, .211 BAA, and 50 K in 52 IP. Don’t knock a guy on the basis of a few starts or his team’s inability to win games when he’s on the mound, Hamels is going to finish the year just fine.
Fearless Prediction: 12-12, 3.15 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 195 K
Ian Kennedy: 2-3, 4.70 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 50 K/23 BB
While Hamels has been hampered by a few bad starts, Kennedy has now given up three runs or more in six of his 10 starts. He had already significantly declined last season, dropping from 21-4, 2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 198 K to 15-12, 4.02 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 187 K. This season he continues to slide toward fantasy irrelevance. His K/9 is down from 8.1 last season to 7.3 this season while his BB/9 is up from 2.4 to 3.4. His K/BB is way down from 3.40 last season to 2.17 this season. He leads the leagues in hit batters (as he did last season) and has also thrown five wild pitches. We are seeing a wilder, consistently mediocre Kennedy this season and I don’t know how many more opportunities I’d give him if he was on my team.
Fearless Prediction: 11-11, 4.40 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 170 K
Albert Pujols: .254/.327/.432, 8 HR, 29 RBI, 26 R
The rumors of Albert Pujols’ demise are highly exaggerated. In the real-life world, the contract that Pujols got will undoubtedly prove to be disastrous. In the fantasy world, Albert Pujols is a good buy-low candidate with decent numbers for anyone not named Albert Pujols. Lower batting average aside, Pujols is on pace to hit 28 home runs, 100 RBI, and 90 R. That’s a pace that he will likely exceed given the fact that we have seen him turn it up in the second half and the fact that he’s been slowed by a foot injury that would send most guys to the disabled list for most of the season.
Last season, Pujols batted just .268 with 14 HR, 51 RBI, and 44 R through the first 85 games. In the 69 that followed, he batted .305 with 16 HR, 54 RBI, and 41 R. Even before coming to the Angels, Pujols had better second halves. In 2011, Pujols batted .280 with 18 HR, 50 RBI, and 54 R in his first 78 games. In the next 68, he batted .319 with 19 HR, 49 RBI, and 51 R. There are many owners out there who wanted more from Pujols and would be willing to sell a guy who even at his current “disappointing” pace is still a 30 HR, 100 RBI guy. Buy now.
Fearless Prediction: .280, 28 HR, 96 RBI, 85 R
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