Sunday, June 30, 2013

Waiver Wire Catchers

posted by Jon Williams


By Ben Hargrove
The following catchers are still available in some season-long, daily and weekly fantasy baseball leagues.                

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Boston Red Sox
A red-hot start to June raised Saltalamacchia’s batting average to .262 and OPS to .781 as of the end of the month. Saltalamacchia, now 28, has not hit above .235 since 2008 and has never had an OPS above .750. Saltalamacchia’s 31 RBI and 25 runs are almost halfway to his career highs.  He has eight homers.  His numbers make him a top choice as a waiver wire catcher. Saltalamacchia hit 25 homers in 2012 but also had a .222 batting average.  

Saltalamcchia, a switch-hitter, has an OPS against righties of .841 as opposed to .589 against lefties. His career mark against lefties is .587. Saltalamacchia’s OPS at home is .912 vs. .632 on the road, but those splits were more even in his previous years in Boston.  Saltalamacchia’s 2013 BABIP is .395.

Jason Castro, Houston Astros
Castro, the tenth pick in the 2008 amateur draft, has been hampered by injuries in his career. Finally healthy in 2013, he has taken over the number 3 spot in the Astros lineup and has been DH 10 times as the Astros try to keep him active when he is not catching. Castro hit .292 in May with six homers and 13 RBI. Though he struggled in early June, Castro was hitting .269 with 11 homers, 27 RBI and 33 runs as of press time, making him a decent choice if you are looking for a catcher.
 
The left-handed Castro’s OPS against righties is .847 as opposed to only .638 against lefties. (His career mark against lefties is even lower - .413.) Castro has a home OPS of .900 as opposed to .700 on the road. 

Yan Gomes, Cleveland Indians
One would not think that a team with Carlos Santana would find plenty of at bats for their backup catcher. But with Santana playing more than a third of his games at first base or DH, Gomes made 13 starts in May, during which he hit .370. On May 20, Gomes hit two homers against Seattle, including the game-winner in the tenth inning, and followed that up with two hits and another homer the following day against Detroit. 

After that , Gomes began to see more time in the starting lineup. Through the end of June, Gomes had caught 11 games in the month and served as DH once  Even after a slow start in June, Gomes was hitting .268 with six homers in 112 at bats and an .806 OPS. Gomes may be a good choice in daily fantasy baseball leagues.  

Ben Hargrove writes on a variety of season-long, daily and weekly fantasy baseball topics for DraftStreet.          

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Anthony Rendon Living Up to the Hype

posted by Jon Williams
As fantasy leaguers we often find ourselves looking at the minor leaguers that could make an impact. No matter how long or short the list - the vast majority fail to make that impact. Anthony Rendon was on a lot of lists due to his outstanding talent but there was doubt around him due to his difficulty staying healthy and on the field. I do not mean to jinx him but there has been little to worry about since his call-up. Through his first 107 plate appearances the rookie is batting an astounding .354/.402/.485 with 12 runs, one homer, one stolen base and six RBI batting near the front of the lineup. He should be near the top of the second base ranks at the end of the year if he keeps it up.

A great piece on Rendon his owners will enjoy reading:

"He's swung the bat like a veteran," manager Davey Johnson said. "He's hit every pitch that's thrown up there at him. He's got a quick bat. And he's aggressive. He hits all types of pitches. Just a good-looking young hitter."

There really isn't much to find fault with Rendon's offensive game. Still 23, with only 105 games of professional experience (26 in the majors) under his belt, he displays the kind of maturity and advanced hitting approach you'd expect from a 10-year vet.

Rendon drives the ball to center and right fields with regularity, has the bat control to be able to foul off a tough pitch and isn't afraid to hit when behind in the count.

"Since we drafted him, and since we've heard about him and watched him play in the minors, you can kind of tell when a guy is going to be able to hit," Zimmerman said. "He was one of those guys. It's fun to watch him go up there. He stays with his plan. He's very disciplined for a young hitter. It's pretty impressive."

So impressive that Johnson may have no choice to keep Rendon near the top of his lineup on a permanent basis, placing him right before Bryce Harper after the latter returns from the DL in the next few days.

The Washington Nationals continue to build a very interesting team with an amazing core of young but top tier talent. Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Tyler Moore, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman are players that could find a place on any team in the league.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

A Winner's Guide to Betting on Baseball

posted by Jon Williams
Yasiel Puig remains Smokin' Hot!
Betting on baseball can be difficult without the right knowledge base. You cannot just bet on the better team because even the worst teams will beat the best teams sometimes. Baseball betting is considered more risky than football bets by some but this is because evaluating baseball teams and players is tougher than in football. Developing the skills to properly evaluate baseball teams and players is not difficult. There are great information sources that provide all the information you need.Once you have an understanding of the most predictive skills and statistics betting on baseball becomes a whole lot easier. With great information in hand you only need to follow a few simple steps to pick a winner.

Great Starting Pitching

The first and most important tip for anyone wants to know how to bet on baseball is to base your pick on a strong starting pitcher. The starter you choose should have a strong track record of success on a team that is performing well. Your pitcher should also have a strong strikeout rate, great control and command and preferably be a groundball pitcher. When considering your starter you may also want to consider the stadium's park factors. Is it a hitter's park like Coors Field (notoriously tough for even the best starters) or a pitcher's park like Petco Field, where even mediocre starters will often experience success? It also helps to pick a pitcher with a strong defense behind him. Choosing the right starting pitcher in a favorable situation is half the battle for winning baseball bets.

A Well Rested Bullpen

Starting pitchers rarely finish games these days. This means that your starter depends on a strong bullpen performance to bring home the win. It is very important to check the last week or so of box scores to examine how often the key members of the bullpen have been used and whether their appearances have been of the extended variety. If the closer and other key parts of the bullpen have been used more than the usual innings or several days in a row you will want to consider picking a starter with a more rested bullpen. Nothing hurts more than having your starter pitch great only to lose your bet because the bullpen blew the save.

The Right Opponent

Even the best starter in a great environment can be beaten if he faces a great lineup that also happens to be smoking hot. Try to pick a starter facing a team that is not clicking on all cylinders. This does not necessarily mean the team with the worst overall record. You want an opponent whose lineup is not scoring many runs and whose starting starting pitcher lacks the skills you want to see in yours. An opponent with a lousy defense will often beat itself even if your pitcher does not have his best performance. Stack the odds in your favor by picking an opponent that is easy to bet against.
Once you have developed solid baseball evaluation skills you will win much more often.








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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Football: Michael Floyd 2013 Sleeper?

posted by Jon Williams
I do not have much to add this morning but I thought I would share a cool article I read about wide receiver Michael Floyd this morning. He's been working closely with Larry Fitzgerald and could be developing into a nice mid-to-late round sleeper.


Michael Floyd's Hunger to Improve

His best game of the season came in the finale, an eight-catch, 166-yard performance in San Francisco that flashed his strengths. It underscored another belief of Floyd around the Cardinals, that he may be the type of receiver that gets better the more he is fed the ball.

Floyd shrugs his shoulders at this notion. “The more I got reps, the better I got (last year),” Floyd said, before adding with another smile, “It doesn’t matter how many catches, although the more you get sure helps the confidence.”

Floyd ended up with 45 catches for 562 yards and two touchdowns in 2012. He may not double the receptions, but there is definitely a hope he can join Fitzgerald as a 1,000-yard receiver. Floyd isn’t going to make any grand proclamations, although he points out “B.A. gives you a lot of opportunities to be that wide receiver.”

“I am really happy with him,” Arians said. “I see him making leaps and bounds getting better. He’s very serious about what he does. He doesn’t like to make mistakes. He’s totally bought in and if he just continues to improve his fundamentals he’s another guy who can have a breakout year.”

The progress he has made has been significant and noticeable. He seems light years beyond a year ago, when Fitzgerald playfully – although pointedly – jabbed him through Twitter when Floyd didn’t attend one of Fitzgerald’s Minnesota workouts even though Floyd was 10 minutes away.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Lenny Melnick and Tony Cincotta Move to RotoExperts.com

posted by Jon Williams

With Lenny Melnick moving to my former home at RotoExperts.com (along with Tony Cincotta) I thought it might be interesting to move this into view again.


I want to thanks the hundreds of people who voted in the Favorite Fantasy Baseball Expert Poll. If I had to do it again (and I think I will do it again, next year) I would do it a bit differently. First, I would use Poll Software that allowed me to list more candidates. As many different popular experts were excluded. Second, I would make it more of a tournament by splitting the various experts into different categories and make it a series of polls that would culminate in the one true favorite fantasy baseball expert. Third, I would be certain to contact all of the various contenders (before posting) to allow them the opportunity to send their fans to vote.

As it is I think we did pretty well. It should not be shocking that the largest vote-getters come from the most popular (and biggest) websites. Those are the sites that I expected to get many of the votes. More surprising was the huge support for a couple of smaller sites (in Mass Media Appeal I mean). Razzball.com was an early favorite and they were not even listed on the poll. But many voters chose "other" and wrote them in via the comments section.

Just like your fantasy league we pay out to the TOP SIX spots. Considering the hundreds of fantasy experts out there this is a pretty exclusive group.



The Winners

First Place: Lenny Melnick of Fantasy Pros 911 - I should have an interview with Lenny posted in the next few days. Lenny Melnick is old school. He and his partner Irwin Zwilling were in the original ToutWars expert league and they are former NL-only champions and two-time LABR winners. Lenny is not only knowledgeable but his podcasts and radio shows re some of the most entertaining options on BlogTalkRadio. He is always willing to lend a hand to any of his listeners, if they will only ask him for it.


Second Place: Cory Schwartz of MLB.com - I think it is very interesting that our top two vote getters are most known for their podcasts and radioshows. I think that gives us an indication of where the industry is going. Fantasy owners haven't had to scour the newsstands and bookstores to find information in a long time. But now they don't even need to read. They can just login to blogtalkradio or MLB.com's podcasts and find whatever information they need. Cory Schwartz is the Director of Statistics for MLB.com. His Fantasy 411 blog and podcast is extremely popular. It may be the most popular fantasy podcast on the net.

Third Place : Ron Shandler of BaseballHQ.com - Ron Shandler introduced many fantasy baseball participants to sabermetrics and more advanced fantasy baseball methods. Baseball HQ is also responsible for bringing many baseball fans into the fantasy sports industry. Shandler has led the campaign to make other industries take the fantasy sports industry seriously. He is the inventor of the LIMA Plan and the founder of ToutWars.

Fourth Place: Matt Berry of ESPN - Matthew Berry is one of the funniest fantasy sports writers out there. No surprise that he comes to the Fantasy Sports Industry from Hollywood. Some people love him, some hate him, but everyone reads his LOVE/HATE articles along with the tons of fantastic fantasy content available at ESPN. Before Berry took over much of the content at ESPN/fantasy was considered a joke. But now they are a site to be respected and even emulated. I probably wouldn't be writing this blog if not for Matthew Berry giving me a chance at thetalentedmrroto.com. Now, he just needs to do something about his horrible fantasy draft shows on ESPN. Call me, I have a better plan for you...

Fifth Place: Jason Grey of ESPN - Anyone who reads this site on a regular basis knows that Jason Grey is my personal favorite expert. He is trained as a baseball scout and that ability gives his great columns and blog posts a unique and valuable edge.

Sixth Place: Eric Mack of CBSportsline.com - Eric Mack is an award winning sports writer. He has been playing fantasy sports since the 80's and is one of the newer members of ToutWars. He has been with CBS Sports for 11 years and the senior fantasy sports writer for the last six years.

The Honorable Mentions: Rudy and Grey of Razzball.com, Jason Collette of Fanball.com, Jeff Erickson of Rotowire, Alex Patton of Pattonandco.com, Todd ZolaMastersball.com of , and Lawr Michaels of Creative Sports.

Here are some of the many comments in praise of their favorites...
jintman1 said...
I think everyone has that 1st guy that they read or listened too that got them up to speed on how to play Fantasy at a higher level. For me it was Cory Schwartz,the way he communicates his opinions and analysis made sense to me. But I still read and respect all of the other guys out there as well.
SRM said...
Grey at Razzball as well. Probably the only column i'd consider reading even if i didn't play fantasy baseball. Good fantasy advice and the site has a collaborative and informed comments section which Grey takes his time to be a key part of.
aleast91 said...
As I said my first year of Tout, it's always an honor to get my ass kicked by people like Ron Shandler, Jason Grey and Lawr Michaels (among others, all of whom are very talented and good people). But this list is incomplete without Jason Collette, too.

Thanks,
Cory
Patrick DiCaprio said...
there is no one funnier on a daily basis than Lenny Melnick and that is what separates him from the rest-they all know their stuff!
REDRUM said...
I'll also add that Lenny Melnick is the most ACCESSIBLE and Interactive Expert...
Ive been able to talk to him on the phone, via email, and on his live shows... Some of these other guys dont make them self as available as Lenny does....

Lenny is a born comedian as well check this link at the 25 min mark..

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Lenny-Melnick/2009/05/08/Fantasy-Baseball-With-Lenny-Melnick
Scott said...
Shandler gives you a unique approach to fantasy approach with his hordes of stat research. Schwartz is excellent and he does a fine job of keeping the info only relevant with mixed leagues, which suits his primary audience at Mlb.com. Lenny gives you the most up to date info of fantasy relevance, but he spends HOURS reading and tracking box scores, line-up changes, and making sure he reads 3 or 4 newspapers per team a day. If you want to miss a week of fantasy baseball for any reason, just keep track of Lenny's daily podcasts. Lenny's best attribute is his experience, but he has a tendency to fall in love with certain qualities in players, which is a bad attribute, but if you can weed this out your fine. Mathew Berry is funny and his buddy Nate Ravitz, including his hot sisters, are funny and their info is tried and tested. Berry's columns are very funny and also includes some pop culture references. Berry told me over and over again to stay away from J.D. Drew...good year or not he is bad news. Berry is also good with evaluating injury time, but I doubt he realizes his own accuracy. He sure loves the spotlight, but would you blame him. He turned his fantasy baseball fanaticism to a big fortune. I read zola and listened to him online...one of the best. Erickson has the best roto site bar none with Rotowire. BaseballHQ is the next best. That would be a great poll....What website do you visit for comprehensive news and advice. Eric Mack doesn't do much, but spews out information that we all already know. His website or maybe it is him, do a good job with prospect hunting, but anybody can do it and his articles unveal my hidden gems, which means he is probably doing his job and I hat him in spite of it. I don't subscribe to the other sites, but I know Lawr Michaels from interviews and he is kind of a clone of Lenny, so I'm sure he can give you some well-rounded advice.
Scott said...
Redrum, you are very right about Lenny being funny. He sometimes loses focus in the middle of his podcasts and you never know what he's going to sing or joke about. Some of the best humor is when he talks to the audience, but he is really talking to himself and that my friends can make for some funny radio. Cory is Yoda-like. He has the most applicable info in his head and to me is one of the best because he has the best of all talents. He has experience mixed in with a great stats background. He is the brains of MLB.com. Siano has definitely picked his brain enough to become a much better fantasy press participant. Siano would choose a fantasy team of Yankees rather draft a winning fantasy franchise. Just ask him.
josefbreuer said...
among things i like about melnick, is that he doesn't try to be objective. like the one reader here remarked, you need to listen to melnick critically. still, his ability to make consistently reasonable and sound assessments is his strength. he's also down-to-earth and accessible. i'm still pretty green in FBB and have only this year been introduced to razzball.com. -- terrific collection of great minds complemented by ascerbic wit. i think jason grey's analyses are outstanding: thorough and comprehensive. i'm glad to have gotten an explanation about what limited the choices on this ballot, and would like to add kudos to mike podhorzer at fantasypros911. his leaders and laggards column is brilliant and his preseason rankings, on which i relied a lot this season, have proven very reliable.
Jason Collette said...
That's an extremely tough vote. They're all smart as hell but each has their own unique characteristic. Razzball guys are funny as hell, Melnick talks to anyone, and Schwartz is very personable, etc.
Anonymous said...
Grey & Rudy is cool, so is you Jon!

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