Tag:Player Spot Light
Posted on: April 25, 2009 4:54 pm

AL Only Player Spot Light- Justin Verlander

Ok so the name alone probably makes you cringe, as there are few pitchers off to worse starts then the one that Justin Verlander is enjoying so far this season.  For those of you don't know, or have been living under a rock, this is current 2009 stat line.

2009- 0-2, 9.00era, 1.71whip, 25k, 9bb, 10.74K/9, 3.857BB/9

Very....poor. Ah hell, lets just come right out and say it, Verlander sucks.

So you may be wondering what's point of this blog, am I going to rip on Verlander the whole time?

But I am going to show you that, there are causes for both concern and optimism, which ever route you choose is entirely up to you.

Now I stole this blog idea from a post I made on a Verlander thread over at www.mastersball.com, and here was my response.

"Bad signs-

Increasing fly ball rate - We know (or just accept) that Comerica Park is a pitchers park, but it's not relly a good thing, (pitcher park or not)              when you're flyball rate increase, and with that comes the correlation that his ground ball rates have decreased.

2006-2009,( Fly ball) 35.2%, 39.8%, 42.4%, 46.9%
2006-2009 (Ground ball) 41.7%, 41.1%, 39.9%, 28.1%

Increased Reliance on the Fastball - Much like Francisco Liriano, Justin Verlander is over relying on his fast ball this season. While dropping the usage of his change up, and upping the curveballs thrown. In the case of Liriano it's easy to understand, you don't want to throw too many sliders when you've had Tommy John, I'm not sure what Verlanders problem is.

2006-2009(Fastball) - 66.7%, 62.3%, 63.6%, 68.7%,
2006-2009 (change up) 17.2%, 18.8%, 15.2% 7.4%,
2006-2009 (Curve ball) 16.1%, 18.9%, 20.5%, 23.9%

Abysmal Strand Rate- 39.6%. That's the only number you need to see, that Verlander has been, he hasn't been leaving any men on base.

Babip - Once again you only need one stat. .412 Babip. Consider that the league norm is .300, and one would quickly assume that he's do for an improvement.

BB/9 - It's actually down a tick from last season 3.90-3.86, but it's still a full walk higher then his elite seasons 2.90-2.99.

Good Signs

K/9 & K/BB Rates Are Up - K/9 increase over last season from 7.30-10.71

K/BB ratio has improved too 1.87-2.78.
What's all this mean? Batters are missing more of his pitchers, they're just connecting when there are runners on the base paths, put there via the walks.

Contact Rates - Batters contact rates are at a career low 75.1%, down from 81.4% last season. First pitch strike rate is also up 60.4% up from 57.8%.
Hitters are swinging at more pitchers outside the zone (24.5%-26.6%), and making less contact (66.7%-65.3%), while swinging at less pitches inside the zone (68%-66.7%), and making less contact (86.8%, 78.9%)

FIP - His Fielding Independant Pitching thus far calculates that his ERA should be 4.09, not the horrid 9.00 he sports now.
Even his Expected ERA is lower, still bad but lower at 6.06.

It truly is puzzling but seems that by looking at the number Verlander's worst enemy is the increased walk rate, and when hitters make contact men are on base.

Right now Verlander is a guy that I'm avoiding (though I do own him), your best bet is to bench him until he figures things out, but who know if that will happen. 2008, could very well be the norm for Verlander, and his 2006-2007 seasons may be the outliers."

It's pretty fair to say that, unless Verlander improves his control, he won't be an effective pitcher this season. The dominance is there, at a high rate, but the inability to command the strike zone and limit the damage when he does have men on the will ultimately determine his fantasy value this season.
Posted on: April 24, 2009 5:23 pm

NL Only PLayer Spot Light- Nyjer Morgan

How about them Pittsburgh Pirates? Off to a tremendous start, sweeping the Florida Marlins, putting up four shut outs in eight outtings. As of this post, sitting pretty with a 9-6 record, third in the division behind the St.Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs err Cincinnati Reds.

Leading this tremendous turn around is none other then base stealing extrordinare. The highly entertaining the consumate professional, Nyjer Morgan.

Ok that may be a bit much, considering the season is still in it's infancy , and let's face it, these are the Pittsburgh Pirates, but it's fun to watch a bad team play well. As for Morgan, he's been great.

Let's flash back to draft day, in your standard 12 team league Nyjer Morgan was either a 23rd round flier or he may have even gone undrafted.
Fast forward to day, and you're looking at the most fearsome stolen base threat....in the world! Well not really, but he is off to a fine start.

Lets compare this hot streak to his previous performances and see if his numbers are legit.

2007-15r, 1hr, 7rbi, .299ba, 7sb, 9bb, 19k .359obp, .430slg, .789ops

2008- 26r, 0hr, 7rbi, .294ba, 9sb, 10bb, 32k, .345obp, .375slg, .720ops

2009- 10r, 0hr, 9rbi, .323ba, 6sb, 4bb, 10k, .371obp, .415slg, .786ops

I know those numbers don't seem overly impressive, but lets take it into context that Morgan has only made 332 MLB AB. Resulting in 22sb, and a very tidy .301ba (to date).

A closer look at his minor league numbers is a much better way to paint the picture. Over 3 seasons in the minors in 4 different levels, Morgan compiled 129sb in 166 attempts for a 77.71% success rate. Combine that with a very solid .304 minor league batting average and you've got yourself a player.
What else do you need to know?

1- High Ground Ball Rate- For speed guys like Morgan and company having a hit ground ball rate is conducive to good contact. Putting the ball in the air is generally not a good plan as he lacks the pop to hit many home runs. Slapping the ball, and running it out for base hits is his best approach. Combine a slighlty declining GB% (57.%, 49.6%, 43.1%) with a rising LD% (15.9%, 24.8%, 26.4%), and we may be seeing an offensive break through.

2- Low BB/K Rate- .40BB/1k Not something to want to see from your lead off man, your ace most definately, but when you're lead off man is sent back to the dugout after being rung up at a 2.5K/BB rate, something is not right, and he's not likely to remain your lead off guy for long.

3- .367 Babip- I know that seems almost outer worldly but Morgan has always maintained a high Babip. Consider that a .333 is his lowest minor league total, and a very impressive  .356 his is lowest MLB totals.  Bear in mind of course that he's never made more then 322Ab at any one level in one season.

4- 27- Morgan has reached that mythical age that allows all players to break out of their mediocre exsistance to become superstars.  Well it may not happen like that all the time, but for what it's worth it bears mentioning. In a weak line up Morgan will get AB.

If you've got Nyjer Morgan on your team get him in your line up for cheap stolen bases. Play the matchups, and you'll be fine, just don't be expecting to see anything under the HR category.

Posted on: April 20, 2009 6:48 pm

AL Only Player Spot Light- Akinora Iwamura


Quickly folks how many American League second baseman scored more runs then the Tampa Bay Rays Akinora Iwamura? Just three, and they are the three best second baggers in the league, Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kinsler, and Brian Roberts, scoring 118, 107, 102, 91 respectively.

Coming into the season, Iwamura was regarded as a late round MI/bench player. There was little doubt that he would score a ton of runs in that potent Rays lineup. Give you a solid batting average and chip in a few home runs and a rbi.

Much hoopla was made about Iwamura upon his arrival from Japan, where he was a highly regarded power hitting 3b. Unfortunately like many Japanese transfers his power did not successfully make the move across the ocean.

Over the last two seasons in the big league Iwamura has posted these stats.


2007- 82r, 7hr, 34rbi, 12sb, .285ba, 58bb, 114k, .359obp, .411slg, .770ops

2008- 91, 6hr, 48rbi, 8sb, .274ba, 70bb, 131k, .349obp, .380slg, .729ops

2009- 7r, 0hr, 4rbi, 4sb, .302ba, 6bb, 11k, .388obp, .419slg, .870ops


Well right now his power numbers seem to be right inline with this previous seasons but the speed, boy howdy if he keeps that up 30sb is not of the question. So here we go.

1- Runs Scored- Hitting ahead of Crawford, Pena, Longoria, etc will get his fair share aka 100+ runs this season.

2- Combine These- 100+ runs is always possible when a lead of type hitter gives you good plate discipline with a 10% walk rate, and an acceptable 20.9% strike out rate, you know what you're going to get at the end of the season.

3- Contact Rate- Unfortunately Iwamura doesn't possess a great contact rate. 76.78%, 79.10% in the previous two seasons. Slightly above the league average but not overwhelming for fantasy owners. So far this year, do the 11 strike outs he's posted a 74.41% mark.

4- Batters Eye- In order to become a more dangerous lead off threat Iwamura must improve his batters eye. Posting a mediocre .5087, .5343 marks in 2007-8, and a .5454 mark so far this season, indicate that what we're seeing so far this season may not quite continue.


Given a deeper break down we can find that Iwamura is a nice player, a good Monday, Thursday option in standard mixed leagues, but hold much more value in AL only leagues. If he can continue his hot start on the base paths then his value will increase dramatically.


Posted on: April 15, 2009 12:28 am

NL Only Player Spot Light- Javier Vazquez


Steve walks warily down the street,
With the brim pulled way down low
Ain't no sound but the sound of his feet,
Machine guns ready to go
Are you ready, Are you ready for this
Are you hanging on the edge of your seat
Out of the doorway the bullets rip
To the sound of the beat

Another one bites the dust
Another one bites the dust
And another one gone, and another one gone
Another one bites the dust
Hey, I'm gonna get you too
Another one bites the dust......


If you were born anytime within the last 20 years you'll have surely heard this Queen classic Another One Bites the Dust . To me it's a great anthem, it's a song that ought to be played at all big sporting events (boxing, mixed martial arts, football, basketball, hockey, baseball, curling, bowling you name it) but of all things it should be reserved for ace pitchers, lets take it a step further it should be reserved for strike out artists.

A mocking exit for the hitter and a forboding message for the man on deck....you don't mess with this.

Every time I watch the Atlanta Braves new K-Master Javier Vazquez take the mound, I start singing this song. I just can't help myself. Nothing excites me more then watching a pitcher mow through the lineup whilst picking up 9-12 strike outs in the process. Sure I know that it leads to high pitch counts and early exits yadda yadda, but I can't help it. I'm a slave to the strike out.

That is the one facet of the game that Javy excels in, check these out.

2006- 11-12, 4.84era, 1.29whip, 184k, 56bb, 8.17K/9, 3.29K/BB

2007- 15-8, 3.74era, 1.14whip, 213k, 50bb, 8.85K/9, 4.26K/BB

2008- 12-16, 4.76era, 1.32whip, 200k, 61bb, 8.64K/9, 3.28K/BB

2009- 0-1, 4.50era, 1.25whip, 17k, 5bb, 12.64K/BB, 3.40K/BB

From those stats we can see a few trends thathave true through out Javy's career. A- He's not going to be a huge 20 win starter, or much better then a .500 guy for that matter (127-129 life time), so counting on him for more then 12 wins is a bit much. B- His ERA and Whip, could both be better but's a career spanning stat so expect improvement, and finally, though not displayed a propensity to serve up the long ball. Surrendering  23, 29, 25 in the previous three seasons it at least indicative that he's creative. So with these knocks against why do I like him?

1-K/9 Ratio- Anything higher then 7K/9 amongst starters is a great, 8+K/9 is fantastic. So you know that no matter what you're going to get a bunch of strike outs each outting.

2- Very good control- A base line for starters is a 2/1 K/BB ration, when a guy boasted a career 3.32K/BB ratio you know he's pretty good.

3- A Pitcher Park- After years of pitching in hitters havens Yankees Stadium, Chase Field and US Cellular, Javy is moving into a pitchers park, which should help knock down the 1.19HR/9 ration he's sported over his career.

4- Durability- Not to many pitchers can say that they've averaged 208.2 innings over the last 3 seasons. Combine that with an average of 199 strike outs, and you've got yourself a war horse.


In your drafts this year if you took Javier Vazquez as your ace, unfortunately you're going to be disappointed but if you made him your number 2-3 knowing that what you see is what you get then you'll get your money's worth. There may be a new breed of strike out artists on the horizon, but as long as this horse is still over powering hitters, he'll remain a favourite of mine, and on my fantasy rosters.

Posted on: April 13, 2009 3:37 pm

Al Only Player Spot Light- Aaron Hill

 Last week I profiled the Oakland Athletics second basemen Mark Ellis, whom I like alot, unfortunately this week hasn't been that stud that I've made him out to be. I still like Mark Ellis, but there is another second baseman that I like even more, blame it on country homerism, or the fact that he's far exceeded his draft slot so far but the Toronto Blue Jays Aaron Hill is this week's subject.

After posting an impressive line in 2007, Hill was primed for a huge 2008, unfortunately he missed the majority of 2008 due to a concussion after a collision with former Jays short stop David Eckstein, Hill has returned to his 2007 form and continued to push himself toward the front of the second base rankings.

Check out his numbers-

2006- 70r, 6hr, 50rbi, .291ba, 5sb, 42bb, 66k, .349obp, .386slg .735ops

2007- 87r, 17hr, 78rbi, .291ba, 4sb, 41bb, 102k, .333obp .459slg,  792ops

2008- 19r, 2hr, 20rbi, .263ba, 4sb, 16bb, 31k, .324obp, .361slg, .685ops

2009- 5r, 2hr, 8rbi, .300ba, 1bb, 7k, .313obp, .600slg .913ops

What's amazing is that after only 30ab his 2009 ratios are better then his 2008 stats. But in reality it's not so amazing when you realize that he was struggling to produce even before his injury.

So why do I like Hill this season?

1- A BABIP rebound- After posting solid BABIPS in 2006-2007 of .323 and .327 his .302 in 2008 was partially to blame for his decline. Expect that to rebound. Right now he's sitting at  .318. That could still go up.

2- Batting Order- Hitting behind Marco Scutaro and ahead of Alex Rios and Vernon Wells is bound to give you a few rbi and plenty of run chances.

3- Increased Fly Ball Rate- 34.6%, 38.9%, 47.4% increase over the past three seasons. Can only lead to a few more home runs.


So if you're looking for a cheap option at second base, you may want to snap up Hill now.


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com