By the Numbers: One last pitch

The season is drawing to a close, and many owners seem to think that the batters, at least those in the National League, have already packed up for a winter of golf. Five of the six most added players are pitchers, and that's not even including Takashi Saito , who is not included in these rankings because he was on the disabled list prior to this week. Owners have chosen well, at least from a skills standpoint. One favorite, Max Scherzer , is a strikeout maniac, whiffing nearly 11 batters every nine innings, while another, Jamie Moyer , has somehow found a way to keep fewer balls from leaving Citizens Bank Park.

This is Week 26, so you can practically throw those stats out the window. With most starters having just one game left, it's all about the matchups. Scherzer faces the Cardinals, who strike out less than any other team in the NL. He also faces a tough opponent in Adam Wainwright , so a win is far from guaranteed. Moyer draws Odalis Perez and the light-hitting Nationals, so he could easily be a better pickup than Scherzer.

More guys in demand

Chad Qualls , RP, Arizona
Week 25 Ownership:
6 percent
Week 26 Ownership: 27 percent
Rank in NL Most Added: 1st
The Skinny: Just a few short weeks ago, Bob Melvin announced he was going to stick with Brandon Lyon as his closer. Fantasy owners aren't too upset with Melvin's change of heart, as his installation of Qualls as the ninth-inning guy has worked out well for those looking to move up in saves during the final week. It sure beats having to rely on the likes of Luis Ayala , Jensen Lewis and Fernando Rodney , who have been among the most added players in recent weeks. With a closer-worthy skill set and upcoming series against the struggling Cards and Rockies, Qualls has an opportunity to pick up two or three saves and give owners a low ERA and WHIP in the process. He is also highly available, as he is still unclaimed in almost three out of every four Fantasy leagues on CBSSports.com.

Year Team BB/9 K/9 HR/9 H/BIP ERC
2006 Houston 2.8 5.7 1.0 27% 3.36
2007 Houston 2.7 8.5 1.1 34% 4.07
2008 Arizona 2.2 8.5 0.5 30% 2.59

Matt Lindstrom , RP, Florida
Week 25 Ownership:
10 percent
Week 26 Ownership: 18 percent
Rank in NL Most Added: 3rd
The Skinny: Lindstrom is another Week 26 saves source, having inherited the Marlins' closer job from Kevin Gregg . Even though the Marlins are on a roll right now, Lindstrom is an inferior choice compared with Qualls. With series against the Nationals and a make-up game with the Reds on the schedule, he could pick up saves, but with a 1.6 K-to-BB ratio, he is a poor bet to equal Qualls in strikeouts, ERA and WHIP. If these categories aren't critical for you, but you need a couple of saves, Lindstrom is a decent option for NL-only owners.

Year Team BB/9 K/9 HR/9 H/BIP ERC
2006 Binghamton (Double-A) 3.1 11.9 0.4 N/A N/A
2007 Florida 2.8 8.3 0.3 33% 3.26
2008 Florida 4.2 6.6 0.2 34% 3.95

Others drawing interest

Rank Player Week 25 ownership Week 26 ownership Percentage change
2 Max Scherzer , RP, Arizona 35% 45% 10%
4 Jamie Moyer , SP, Philadelphia 56% 63% 7%
5 Pablo Sandoval , C, San Francisco 25% 31% 6%
5 James R. Parr , SP, Atlanta 4% 10% 6%

Guys Dropping Like Flies

Kevin Gregg , RP, Florida
Week 25 Ownership:
72 percent
Week 26 Ownership: 68 percent
Rank in NL Most Dropped: 6th (tied)
The Skinny: Gregg is probably finished as a saves source for this year, but setup and middle relievers can be more valuable this time of year, especially for teams that are settled in the standings for wins and saves. He has been pulled from active rosters in more than one-third of our Fantasy leagues over the past four weeks, but owners unconcerned with saves might be tempted to take him back. After all, Gregg had a tidy 2.72 ERA and 1.24 WHIP prior to his late August meltdown. Don't discount those two disastrous performances, but rather consider them a market correction. Gregg was a permanent resident of the "Lucky Pitchers" list this season. Those two brutal appearances dragged his H/BIP from an unrealistic 24 percent to a more believable 26 percent. His current 3.66 ERA and 1.33 WHIP are more indicative of what to expect from Gregg in any given week.

Year Team BB/9 K/9 HR/9 H/BIP ERC
2006 L.A. Angels 2.4 8.2 1.2 34% 4.51
2007 Florida 4.3 9.3 0.8 26% 3.15
2008 Florida 4.9 7.3 0.4 26% 3.14

Others wearing roster repellant

Rank Player Week 25 ownership Week 26 ownership Percentage change
1 Brandon Lyon , RP, Arizona 78% 68% - 10%
2 Manny Parra , SP, Milwaukee 77% 70% - 7%
3 Yadier Molina , C, St. Louis 73% 67% - 6%
3 Yusmeiro Petit , SP, Arizona 24% 18% - 6%
Glossary
Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27) -- An estimate of how many runs a lineup would produce per 27 outs if a particular player occupied each spot in the order; ex. the RC/27 for Miguel Cabrera would predict the productivity of a lineup where Cabrera (or his statistical equal) batted in all nine spots; created by Bill James
Component ERA (ERC) -- An estimate of a what a pitcher's ERA would be if it were based solely on actual pitching performance; created by Bill James
Base Hits per Balls in Play (H/BIP) -- The percentage of balls in play (at bats minus strikeouts and home runs) that are base hits; research by Voros McCracken and others has established that this rate is largely random and has a norm of approximately 30%
Isolated Power -- The difference between slugging percentage and batting average; created by Branch Rickey and Allan Roth
Walk Rate -- Walks / (at bats + walks)
Whiff Rate -- Strikeouts / at bats

Al Melchior was recently a Fantasy columnist and data analyst for Baseball HQ and will be providing advice columns for CBSSports.com. Click here to send him a question. Please put "Melchior" in the subject field.

Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

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