We’re back for another look into the hottest pickups and stay-aways in fantasy baseball in week two. I haven’t looked at the numbers yet as I write this, but if Jarrod Parker who burned me the 1st two weeks of the season isn’t here, I’m going to be sad.
Week Two Pops
Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves, C: ESPN +81.6%
El Oso Blanco isn’t messing around. He’s not just a great story, but he sure can hit. Gattis became just the 42nd player since 1916 to have 10 RBI’s in their first nine career games. He has four home runs and is playing everyday between catcher and first base with Freddie Freeman on the DL. Things will become iffy for Gattis’ playing time when Freeman and Brian McCann come back, but for now, the clean-up hitter on one of the better lineups is a must-own at catcher. I’ll also give some love to last weeks pop John Buck who was added in another 70% of ESPN leagues this week. Buck has been amazing for the Mets offense.
Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves, SP: ESPN +52%
One of my predicted pops from last week, Maholm hasn’t given up a run yet this season. Since that’s not going to continue, I hope you snagged him and can sell high to help you elsewhere, go right ahead.
Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers, RP: ESPN +81.3%, CBS +27%
John Axford is out of the closer’s role for now. If you didn’t pay for saves, snap up Henderson if he’s still out there. It’s better than trying to catch fire with the Cubs bullpen that is without Kyuji Fujikawa and won’t give the job back to Carlos Marmol. If I had to own on Cubs reliever, it’d be James Russell. Same goes for the Tigers bullpen, but at least they have a pitcher the manager says will get the 9th inning work in Joaquin Benoit.
Chris Carter, Houston Astros, 1B: ESPN +30.3%, CBS +28%
Don’t be afraid of the words “Houston Astros”, their players can help your fantasy team too. Carter has pop (four home runs in 2013, 16 in 2012 in just 218 at-bats) if you’re looking for power, Carter can help you at a corner infielder or utility spot. He’s still available in a lot of leagues.
Predicting next week’s pops: Tommy Milone, Athletics, SP, Joaquin Benoit, Tigers, RP, Daniel Nava, Red Sox, OF, Tony Cingrani, Reds, SP, Emilio Bonifacio, Blue Jays, OF, and yes I still like Chris Johnson, Braves 3B/1B
Week Two Drops
Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics, SP: ESPN -45.4% CBS -20%
Man, has Parker been frustrating. He was supposed to have a two-start week in week one that got changed into one start. He then proceeds to get rocked in his actual two-start week against the Angels and the Tigers. He’s gone from a must-start to spot-starter in two weeks.
Jackie Bradley Jr., Boston Red Sox, OF: ESPN -43.9%, CBS -17%
One of the best players in spring training hasn’t carried it over to the regular season. Bradley could be on the verge of a ticket back to the minors for some more seasoning. His defense might be what saves him from that fate, but defense doesn’t count in fantasy baseball.
Jonathan Lucroy, Milwaukee Brewers, C: ESPN -40.9%
Jesus Montero, Seattle Mariners, C: ESPN -40.5%, CBS -10%
For Gattis and Buck to be added in the amount of leagues they have, someone needs to take the fall and it’s Lucroy and Montero for now. I would definitely throw them on to a watch list and at the sign of them heating up, pick them back up. The walk-off home run for Lucroy on Sunday against the Cardinals, could be that turning point.
Predicting next week’s drops: Franklin Gutirrez, Mariners, OF, Ben Revere, Phillies, OF, J.P. Arencibia, Blue Jays, C
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
After the Houston Astros dis–hey…stop laughing…it really happened–dismantled the Texas Rangers last night at Minute Maid Park, we had our first full day of baseball today.
Naturally, ESPN kicked it off with proof that they are extremely stubborn as a network, pitting C.C. Sabathia and the hobbled Yankees versus Jon Lester and the completely average Red Sox.
There were so many amazing moments in a long day of ball that it was hard to narrow down to just five. But here is our best shot at it. This is what we do at Three Up, Three Down. We write stuff on baseball-related activities for your enjoyment. So, enjoy!
5. Justin Jacks One
Welcome to Atlanta, where the playa’s play and Upton hits bombs like every day. No disrespect to Freddie Freeman, who also went mammo today, but this Justin Upton blast was put in orbit. And it’s not just a top moment because of the distance–the Braves outfield is the most freakish in baseball, and this is just the first sampling. The Braves faithful have been waiting for this moment since the original trade was made, and the little bro definitely didn’t disappoint.
4. Brewers Bailed Out
One of KP’s least favorite memories of the 2012 season was any blown save by John Axford and Co. If you see our tallest group member, give him a hug. Because Axford was at it again on Opening Day, giving up a no-doubter with two outs in the ninth to the Rockies’ Dexter Fowler, which tied the game. Fortunately for Milwaukee and the home fans, the Rockies pitching staff is deplorable and Jonathan Lucroy was able to score a walk-off sac fly and bail the bullpen out.
3. Bryce Decides Twice is Nice
If there was any debate that last year’s NL Rookie of the Year would suffer from a sophomore slump, he killed it quick. In his first two at-bats of the 2013 season, Bryce Harper absolutely crushed two Ricky Nolasco pitches and put them in the right field bleachers. I’m not buying that his second one has landed yet. In fact, it might currently be traveling over the Atlantic Ocean. Keep an eye out for it. The 20-year-old phenom is on pace for 324 jacks this year.
The late Cardinals legend and Hall of Famer Stan Musial is being honored by the team with a cool, classy patch (pictured to the right) on their left sleeves in 2013. But the Arizona Diamondbacks, who hosted the Cards on Opening Day, pulled off a fantastic move by paying homage with a video tribute to Musial between innings. Unfortunately, I don’t have video for you, but the gesture itself was a true act of sportsmanship and remembrance of one of the greatest hitters and humans the world has ever seen.
1. Kershaw Goes Krazy
Let me set the stage: The defending champions travel to their heated rival’s new stadium and face their fancy new team in a battle between two of the best pitchers in the league. A pitcher’s duel turns into a one-man show as Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw not only throws a complete game, four-hit shutout, but hits a go-ahead home run that breaks a scoreless tie in the eighth inning. Unbelievable. And in a game that began with a well-choreographed first pitch skit from Dodgers heroes Sandy Koufax and Orel Hershiser. I have to take a second to brag, as humbly as possible. I tweeted THIS about five minutes before magic occurred. Of course it was a coincidence but it makes me believe in fairy tale endings, and reinforces our love of this magical sport.
Buckle up, baseball fans. This was just day one. Only 161 more regular season games to go! Vote below on which one of these moments should have been in the top five, or comment about any moments we missed!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)
The World Baseball Classic returns for the 3rd time starting March 2nd. Fellow blogger Jeremy Dorn gave his rankings of every team in the WBC last week. (I haven’t figured out how he has South Korea 11th either) I wanted to delve more into team USA’s chances and how the roster stacks up.
Who’s In: Joe Mauer-Twins, J.P. Arencibia-Blue Jays, and Jonathan Lucroy-Brewers
Who’s Out: Buster Posey-Giants and Brian McCann-Braves
Interesting that the deepest offensive position with three players is at catcher. They clearly want to rotate these guys so they don’t get too banged up before the MLB season begins. Not being able to score the defending NL MVP in Buster Posey is a tough blow to team USA, but having hitting machine and former AL MVP Joe Mauer lessens the blow. He could even be the designated hitter option, when Arencibia or Lucroy are behind the plate. Arencibia’s inclusion seems to coincide with R.A. Dickey’s appearance on the roster. The two are now teammates in Toronto and have been working together to have knuckleball success. I’m sure the Blue Jays will be pleased with them getting reps together in high pressure situations. Lucroy had his best season at the plate last year, but was hampered by injuries. He’ll be a solid offensive piece down the lineup. Getting Posey on board would’ve made this an easy A, but alas. Grade: B+
Who’s In: Mark Teixeira-Yankees
Who’s Out: Prince Fielder-Tigers, Paul Konerko-White Sox, Adam LaRoche-Nationals, and Freddie Freeman-Braves
I would’ve much preferred the bat of Prince Fielder, but I have no qualms with Teixiera joining team USA for the 2nd time. He’s not the hitter he once was, but does have pop, will provide for some interesting decisions with his switch-hitting ability, and is one of the best defensive first baseman in the game. He’s going to get a lot of work in as the only true first baseman on the roster, but could get spelled by Mauer and maybe even Ben Zobrist. Grade: B-
Who’s In: Brandon Phillips-Reds and Ben Zobrist-Rays
Who’s Out: Dustin Pedroia-Red Sox, Ian Kinsler-Rangers, and Aaron Hill-Diamondbacks
Pedroia and Kinsler are probably better hitters than Zobrist, but the Zorilla’s ability to play mulitple positions makes him a suitable choice. I don’t think we’d see any of the other possibilities manning right field or shortstop the way Zobrist does for the Rays. Brandon Phillips will get the majority of time at second base and the three-time Gold Glove winner will flash plenty of leather for the red, white, and blue. The only better second baseman in the tournament is Robinson Cano for the Dominican Republic. Grade: B+
Who’s In: Jimmy Rollins-Phllies and Willie Bloomquist-Diamondbacks
Who’s Out: Derek Jeter-Yankees, Troy Tulowitzki-Rockies, and Ian Desmond-Nationals
One would have to believe that Rollins is on the roster over Desmond just based on experience and leadership ability. Jeter’s ankle may not be 100% in time for the WBC and with Tulo’s injury history it was clear he wouldn’t risk it. Rollins is the defending NL Gold Glove winner at the position and played in the last WBC for USA. He’s not the hitter we once was, but can provide speed atop the lineup. Bloomquist is the questionable pick for the roster, but he’s a clear utility player and can play numerous positions in case of injury. When compared to the players team USA could’ve had if healthy, I can’t give out a great grade. Grade: C
Who’s In: David Wright-Mets
Who’s Out: Chase Headley-Padres, Ryan Zimmerman-Nationals, and David Freese-Cardinals
This was the easiest call for team USA. Wright is the best third baseman in America right now. The only problem for the Stars & Stripes is that Venezuela (Miguel Cabrera) and the Dominican Republic (Adrian Beltre) have better options at the position. Grade: A-
Who’s In: Ryan Braun-Brewers, Adam Jones-Orioles, Giancarlo Stanton-Marlins, and Shane Victorino-Red Sox
Who’s Out: Mike Trout-Angels, Bryce Harper-Nationals, Andrew McCutchen-Pirates, Josh Hamilton-Angels, and Matt Holliday-Cardinals
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. Even without Trout and McCutchen, I love this outfield. Braun is the best left fielder in the game and a perennial MVP candidate. Jones is a budding superstar that helped turned the Orioles around and is one of the best defensive center fielders in the game. Stanton is a straight masher that you can’t pitch around in middle of the lineup. Victorino doesn’t have the name of some of the other players that aren’t playing, but his ability to play all three oufield positions, while filling in as pinch-runner and possibly designated hitter is good enough. I know Mike Trout wanted to have a traditional spring training entering his 2nd full season, but I think that he’s going to come to regret not being around this talented group. Grade: A
Who’s In: R.A. Dickey-Blue Jays, Kris Medlen-Braves, Ryan Vogelsong-Giants, Derek Holland-Rangers
Who’s Out (for now): Justin Verlander-Tigers, David Price-Rays, Jered Weaver-Angels, Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Cliff Lee-Phillies, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw-Dodgers, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner-Giants
It’s pretty easy too look at those two lists and get a lump in your throat. There is one spot still open for a starting pitcher that’d presumably would go to Verlander if he wants it. Let’s look at what is definite right now. Team USA sports the defending NL Cy Young winner in Dickey, who’s knuckleball will give batters fits seeing it for the first time this season. Medlen was arguably (and I’d argue was) the best pitcher in the 2nd half last season. When he’s on his game, he’s unhittable. Vogelsong is a fantastic story since returning to MLB from Japan and can be useful as he might have some inside knowledge on the Japanese hitters. Holland is a decent southpaw, great in the clubhouse, and let’s be honest we’re all secretly hoping he faces the Netherlands. If Joe Torre has a sense of humor, it’ll happen. It’s not the best, but it’s certainly not the worst. Grade: B-
Who’s In: Jeremy Affeldt-Giants, Tim Collins-Royals, and Glen Perkins-Twins
Who’s Out: Sean Marshall-Reds, Eric O’ Flaherty and Jonny Venters-Braves, Darren Oliver-Blue Jays, and Sean Burnett-Angels
No offense to Tim Collins, but I’d rather have all five pitchers in the “Who’s out” list than him. Affeldt is a great big-game pitcher as he proved in the 2012 postseason. He’ll have to come through in big spots as the best of this bunch. Perkins has become a solid lefty. He’s climbed his way up the ranks to become the Twins closer. Seeing a lot of quality lefties staying in their spring training homes is a little disheartening though. Grade: C+
Who’s In: Heath Bell-Diamonbacks, Mitchell Boggs-Cardinals, Steve Cishek-Marlins, Luke Gregerson-Padres, Craig Kimbrel-Braves, Chris Perez, and Vinnie Pestano-Indians
Who’s Out: Jim Johnson-Orioles, Jason Motte-Cardinals, Jonathan Papelbon-Phillies, Joel Hanrahan-Red Sox
As long as the words “Heath Bell in a high pressure situation” aren’t used I really like the bullpen that Greg Maddux has to work with. Craig Kimbrel is the best relief pitcher in the world right now and should lock down any game in the 9th inning. Perez and Pestano work well together in Cleveland. Boggs was a revelation in St. Louis this past season. Cishek will be a change of pace reliever with his submarine delivery. Cishek did really well filling in as the Marlins closer when Heath Bell fell apart last season. Gregerson is one of the leagues most underrated relievers because he pitches in San Diego and has never had an ERA over 3.24 in his four seasons. Having Kimbrel on the roster is such a boon for this bullpen. Grade: A-
Final Thoughts: Team USA will have a real shot at knocking Japan off the top of the WBC mountain. The coaching staff with Joe Torre, Greg Maddux, Dale Murphy, Gerald Perry, Larry Bowa, Willie Randolph, and Marcel Lachemann is top notch. The only real question marks are at shortstop and left-handed pitching to me. I believe that if the starters can get a lead to the bullpen though, USA will be dangerous. I expect at least another run to the semi-finals and a trip to San Francisco. Every team at that level is so talented, it’s going to come down to the little things to decide the champion.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Three Up, Three Down comes back this week to recap the big news in baseball. We also touch on our biggest surprises and disappointments this far in the season. It also wouldn’t be a “Three Up, Three Down” without our 3U3D Fantasy segment, which has brought you quite a few winners over the last few weeks. Sit down, grab your favorite beer, and take a listen to this week’s episode. Thanks for listening!!
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Each year, 68 Major League Baseball players (34 from each league) descend upon a pre-determined city to wear tacky uniforms and watch their friends and teammates hit ridiculous home runs. This year, it is Kansas City’s turn to host the All-Star Game.
And as with every year, there are more than 68 deserving players. Even more intriguing sometimes than the players who do make it to the All-Star Game are the ones who got snubbed.
With the game determining home-field advantage for the World Series (one of the worst rules ever created in any game anywhere…ever), stakes have been raised in recent years. Still, with fan vote factoring in and the inevitable, biased manager’s choices to fill out the rosters, players are going to get snubbed.
Here are five guaranteed snubs of this year’s All-Star Game from each league, ten in total:
1. A.J. Ellis, C, Los Angeles Dodgers
Ellis has handled the Majors’ 2nd-best pitching staff flawlessly to this point in the season, and has kept his average fluttering around .330. The most impressive stat that the National League squad will miss out on is his ability to get to 1st base. As of play today, Ellis has racked up an astounding .444 on-base percentage.
The crop of deserving N.L. catchers is just too large this season. You have to think Yadier Molina (St. Louis) and Buster Posey (San Francisco) will make it on fan vote alone. And I can’t see Carlos Ruiz of Philadelphia being snubbed, which leaves no room for the quietest great catcher of the season. Lucroy’s line right now: .343/5/29/.386.
3. James McDonald, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Erik Bedard is getting a ton of credit for his comeback performance in the rotation this season, and deservedly so. But the guy nobody is talking about is the electric righty who has finally put all his talent together into one unhittable package. One that won’t be making the All-Star Game, despite a 2.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and .198 batting average against.
4. Anthony Bass, SP, San Diego Padres
Three Up, Three Down’s first MLB player to join the podcast has been stellar since joining the rotation in San Diego. Aside from two hiccups, he’s allowed 3 ER or less in all of his starts in 2012. In 54.1 innings as a starter in 2012, Bass has given up just 22 earned runs. Unfortunately, his run support hasn’t been all that great, so his record doesn’t reflect his performance.
5. Bryan LaHair, 1B, Chicago Cubs
LaHair was a sight to behold for the first month of this season. He’s cooled off considerably, which won’t help him get to Kansas City. Not only is the poor guy going to miss the All-Star Game even with a .301/10/21/.397 line, but he’ll probably lose his starting spot to Anthony Rizzo as soon as the Cubs call him up. I hope LaHair can play outfield!
1. Fernando Rodney, RP, Tampa Bay Rays
David Price is going to get the Rays’ guaranteed All-Star bid, and James Shields might sneak in as well. That leaves the most dominant closer in baseball to this point (you read that right), wondering what he could have done better to get to K.C. It’s a popularity contest, and there just won’t be room for poor Fernando and his 15 saves or 0.38 ERA.
2. Jason Hammel, SP, Baltimore Orioles
I can’t imagine anyone besides Jim Johnson and Adam Jones (who are absolute locks) going to the All-Star Game from the first-place O’s. Despite a ridiculously hot start to the season, Hammel is going to be squeezed out by pitchers like C.C. Sabathia, Yu Darvish and Felix Hernandez. Poor guy. His 6-1 record and 2.78 ERA is going to waste.
3. Derek Lowe, SP, Cleveland Indians
How about D-Lowe this year? The old man still has some nasty sinkerballs in him, and he’s showing it. Lowe has been the veteran anchor on a first-place Cleveland staff, but we all know this kind of success won’t last; ask a Braves fan. Just because we know it’s a fluke, doesn’t mean Lowe and his 6-2 record and 2.15 ERA are any less deserving of a spot.
This may be the biggest snub of them all, but nobody knows who Cook is outside of Oakland. His 0.00 ERA so far in 22.2 innings is incredible, as is his 21 K’s, 4 hits allowed and 0.78 WHIP. But how is Cook going to be selected over Jim Johnson, Jonathan Broxton and Chris Perez for the bullpen? This may be the first time ever a pitcher who hasn’t allowed a first-half run gets snubbed.
5. Billy Butler, 1B, Kansas City Royals
Sigh. What a shame. Playing in his team’s stadium, no less. But you’ve got to understand that the American League DH spot is going to David Ortiz, and the first baseman slots will be filled by Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder and Adrian Gonzalez. Don’t forget, this is still a popularity contest. Butler has been the best of the bunch at .292/9/32, but he may need the Final Vote to get the spot he deserves.
Who else do you think will be snubbed? Let me know in the comments below! Also, is the home-field advantage rule stupid? Comment away!
– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)