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Circling the Bases: Weeks vs. Zobrist

Ray Flowers

Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: M-F at 5-8 PM EDT), Ray Flowers has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. You can follow Ray on Twitter (@BaseballGuys), he never sleeps, and you can also find more of his musings at BaseballGuys.com.

ADP TALK

Rickie Weeks or Ben Zobrist?

According to ADP information from Mock Draft Central, in 5x5 leagues Weeks is being taken with the 40th overall pick, Zobrist the 126th.

First off, my disclaimer.

I find it fascinating that so many people are willing to overlook the fact that only three times in a six year career has Rickie Weeks appeared in 100 games. I mean, J.D. Drew has appeared in 100 games each of the past five years. Weeks is by no means a lock to appear in 130 games, a total he has reached just once in his career, or two fewer times than Nick Johnson. I'm just saying.

Given the nearly 90 selection difference between these two second base eligible players, it's pretty surprising to look at their totals last season and attempt to understand why the gap at the draft table is so large.

Weeks' average was .031 points better than Zobrist (.269 to .238)

Weeks had eight more RBI than Zobrist (83 to 75).

Weeks OBP was .020 points better (.366 to .346).

Weeks hit 19 more homers (29 to 10), but at the same time Zobrist stole 13 more bases (24 to 11), which pretty much wipes out the homer difference.

Weeks did score a ton more runs – 112 to 77 – but in terms of fantasy value last season there really wasn't a massive difference between the two. Add in the fact that Zobrist will qualify at 2B and the outfield this season, and potentially first base, I'd have to think the gap between the two would close even more in terms of their perceived value for 2011.

How about we go back three years and compare the two players. Instead of looking just at raw numbers, how about we level the playing field. From 2008-10, per 500 at-bats, here are the 5x5 numbers of each of these performers.

Weeks: .256-20-60-90-13
Zobrist: .265-20-79-81-18

I'm just saying.

Curtis Granderson or Drew Stubbs?

According to ADP information from Mock Draft Central, in 5x5 leagues Granderson is being taken with the 71st overall pick, Stubbs the 156th.

Is this all about the Yankee factor? It makes you wonder when you compare the two players, 2010 performance to one another.

Granderson: .255/.329/.444
D. Stubbs: .247/.324/.468

Do you see a difference there that I'm missing?

Granderson: 24 homers, 67 RBI
D. Stubbs: 22 homers, 77 RBI

Do you see a difference there that I'm missing?

Granderson: seven triples, 17 doubles
D. Stubbs: six triples, 19 doubles

Do you see a difference there I'm missing?

Granderson: 76 runs, 12 steals
D. Stubbs: 91 runs, 30 steals

I see a huge difference here, and it favors the guy in Cincinnati.

Obviously if we look at their 2010 efforts it's a slam dunk that Stubbs was the superior fantasy option.

At the same time, both players have some serious concerns.

(1) Both strike out far too frequently meaning the chance that either will be a batting average booster is low. Granderson had a K-rate of 24.9 percent last year, just slightly above his 24.1 percent mark. Stubbs was even worse at 32.7 percent (career 31.3 percent). Striking out in a third of your at-bats is a pitiful mark and one that not many can sustain long-term success with. Stubbs' Kryptonite is the strikeout.

(2) Stubbs was all over the map month to month hitting under .215 twice while failing to hit more than two homers in a month three times (April, June and August). Granderson hit three or fewer homers in three months, though to be fair he only had 15 at-bats in May. He too struggled with his average failing to hit .230 in two months.

(3) Granderson is a poor hitter against left-handed pitching despite some improvement last year. When you post a slash line of .234/.292/.354 against lefties and that is an “improvement” you know how poor you are at that aspect of the game (career: .215/.274/.346). Granderson's Kryptonite is left-handed pitching.

There is certainly reason to recommend both as solid fantasy selections in 2011, but I have a hard time justifying that Granderson should be taken 85 selections before Stubbs. Is it because he is on the Yankees or perhaps it's because people can't let go of the 2007 season when Granderson hit 23 homers, stole 26 bases and scored 122 runs?

BREAKING DOWN: Ted Lilly, Dodgers
Current ADP: 210th overall, 56th starting pitcher

Is Ted Lilly the Rodney Dangerfield of pitchers, a guy who gets no respect? It's not like people don't know who Lilly is, but they always seem to undervalue is performance when it comes to calling out his name on draft day. Here are the facts.

(1) Lilly has won at least 10 games each of the last eight years. There are only three other left-handers in the game that can match that run: CC Sabathia, Mark Buehrle and Johan Santana.

(2) Despite being known as a somewhat injury prone hurler, Lilly has thrown at least 175 innings in seven of the past eight years. Sabathia, Buehrle and Barry Zito are the only lefties who have tossed 175 in each of the past eight years.

(3) Since 2003, Lilly leads all left-handers with seven seasons of at least 175 innings pitched and a K/9 rate of 7.40.

(4) Over the past three years Lilly has a WHIP of 1.12, the third best mark in baseball amongst qualifiers behind only Roy Halladay (1.07) and Cliff Lee (1.12).

So in Lilly we have a fairly durable, strikeout producing, base runner adverse hurler who, somehow, isn't even being drafted in the top-50 at his position. How does that make any sense? It clearly doesn't, especially when you factor in that he will be pitching his home games in Dodger Stadium, a park that favors the hurler. The last three years Dodger Stadium is 12th in the NL in terms of preventing runs scored according to Park Indices, and even more importantly its neutral when it comes to the homer (it is 9th in the NL) – an excellent situation for a decidedly fly ball hurler like Lilly was has had to pitch the past three years at Wrigley, the 5th best homer park. When I say that Lilly is a fly ball pitcher, he is in the extreme, so it was imperative for him to switch home ball parks if he wants to remain effective as his career moves into its later stages. To place his fly ball-centric ways into context it should be pointed out that not once in the past past nine years has his GB/FB ratio been even 0.90, and each of the past four years it hasn't even reached 0.76.

To sum up Lilly, here is what he has going for him.

First, his career K-rate of 7.72 per nine innings is strong, and it's been at least 7.57 each of the past five years.

Second, he has kept the walks down in recent seasons helping lead to his wonderful WHIP. Only once in the past four years has his BB/9 mark been over 2.40 and it was still a solid 2.81 in 2008.

Three, batters have a hard time squaring up the ball against Lilly leading to a string of poor batting averages (.243 for his career).

Four, as extreme a fly ball hurler as you will find, Lilly is finally in a home park in which that tendency doesn't figure to harm him too much.

Add that all up and it sure seems like Lilly should be going off the board earlier than he is this year.

WHO AM I?

I led the American League with 93 walks last season.

I won 15 games, just one less than Tim Lincecum and Chris Carpenter.

I had 170 punchouts, more than Shaun Marcum (165), John Danks (162), Gavin Floyd (151) and Matt Garza (150).

I posted an ERA of 3.35 which was better than such luminaries as Justin Verlander (3.37), Tim Lincecum (3.43), Chad Billingsley (3.57), Wandy Rodriguez (3.60) and Francisco Liriano (3.62).

I had a 1.25 WHIP, better than Francisco Liriano (1.26), Dan Haren (1.27) and Tim Lincecum (1.27).

For those of you keeping score at home, add that all up and you end up coming to the realization that I had one less win than Tim Lincecum, two fewer loses, a better ERA and a better WHIP.

Oh yeah, I also finished sixth in the game with a batting average against of .217.

BY THE NUMBERS

0: The amount of Cy Young awards that this scribe owns. It also happens to be the number of steals that Jonathon Niese permitted last year over 173.2 innings, an astounding factoid. Only four steals were even attempted when he was on the hill. The next best hurler at shutting down the running game was Chris Carpenter who allowed only three steals in 12 attempts, good enough for a 75 percent caught stealing rate. If you wanted to run, the best guy to take off against was Ted Lilly who allowed 20 steals while only one attempt ended in an out (a mere five percent caught stealing mark).

.255: The league leading OBP against mark of Cliff Lee. The AL leader was Jered Weaver at .267. However, neither hurler was in the top-20 in SLG against. Ubaldo Jimenez led the way with a .311 mark, the same total as C.J. Wilson. That duo was followed closely by Clay Buchholz and Felix Hernandez at .312. In case you were wondering, Weaver had a mark of .355, Lee .363.

3: The number of first basemen who went 10/10 last year (Joey Votto, Albert Pujols and James Loney). There wasn't a single catcher who pulled off the trick – Jason Kendall was the only one at the position in double-digit steals with 12. There were only two catchers who even went 10/5 – Miguel Olivo 14 HR, 7 SB), Brian McCann (21 and 5).

4: The number of pitchers who threw at least 40-innings last season and limited batters to less than a .160 batting average against. Two of the hurlers were left-handed and three pitched in the NL – Hong-Chih Kuo (.139), Joaquin Benoit (.147), Carlos Marmol (.147) and Billy Wagner (.159). Of that group one hurler limited batters to an OBP under .200 and that was Benoit at .189. Only one of the trio posted an OPS of .500 and that was Marmol at exactly .500.

455: The numbers of ground balls generated by Tim Hudson last year, the highest mark in the game. No other hurler had more than 396 (Carl Pavano). Hudson's number was nine more than Joel Pineiro's league leading total from 2009 and eight more than Brandon Webb's league leading total of 447 from 2008. Hudson is no stranger to the ground ball either as he generated 428 in 2006 and 459 in 2007.

I AM...

The Rangers' C.J. Wilson.

What was even more impressive about Wilson's effort was the fact that he did that all (a) pitching in a hitter's ballpark and (b) despite the fact that he had never tossed more than 75-innings in any of his five previous big league seasons.

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive, 5-8 PM Eastern, on Sirius 211 and XM 147. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.

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