Welcome to another week of Head2Head Baseball! I am currently in a dogfight in Week 4, but hoping to pull out my matchup. My Angels pitching staff has not been a very good call and is currently down 20 to my opponent's Orioles pitching staff. The O's do play their last 2 games in Yankee Stadium while the Angels get two home games vs. the Twins so I am hoping that head to head battle flips before the week is out. I managed to nail a huge play this week in Edwin Encarnacion, who has 34 points through Sunday night, but subpar weeks from Derek Jeter, Matt Wieters and Cameron Maybin have put my perfect season in jeopardy. Nelson Cruz has been the biggest sucker play for me this week with a grand total of four points in a slew of home games. Nellie still has two in Toronto and he owes me, but he looks lost at the dish right now. It has definitely been an up and down week, but still two full days to go.
Now that we are about a month into the season, I decided to step back and run some overall stats to see who is doing the best using our scoring system. I didn't calculate sacrifices and HBP, but they are fairly immaterial to the overall points scored by the top players. I ran everyone who had more than 50 AB's to see what it taught me.
To no one's surprise the top two guys in scoring are Matt Kemp (128 points) and Josh Hamilton (116 points). These are the two dudes who will win player of the month honors in their respective leagues. As we dig a little deeper though, we find some surprises. Evan Longoria comes in 4th overall, which surprised me as I thought he was just fairing ok so far, but the 15 walks help his cause a bunch. At #6 overall is my boy Edwin Encarnacion and that was even before his big game Sunday. Another surprise is at #11 overall with Chase Headley of the Padres. Somehow, Headley is tied with Joey Votto for the most walks in the league; pretty sure I never would have guessed that. Other surprise names in the Top 30 so far were Adam Laroche, Yadier Molina, Austin Jackson, J.D. Martinez, Jose Altuve and Mike Aviles. It is a good idea to step back and take a look at overall stats every one in a while with your scoring system to see how it plays out. We all get so into who is hot that day or that week and don't realize what nice months some guys are putting together. Keep these above names in mind when you are looking for places to save cap each week.
I also wanted to see what supposed studs were struggling so far in the Head2Head scoring system. Of course the first guy I looked for in that regard was Albert Pujols and he currently ranks 146th right behind the mighty Kyle Seager. Wow, has El Hombre been awful with 43 total points in 19 games and 84 AB's. He has to get red hot at some point right? Timing him correctly could be a huge payoff and I sure would be trying to deal for him in draft leagues. Other big names that were highly drafted who are struggling early that are outside the Top 100 overall in total points are Shin Soo Choo (48 points), Asdrubal Cabrera (48 points), Ryan Zimmernan (45 points), Jose Reyes (43 points), Justin Upton (43 points), Jimmy Rollins (41 points), Ike Davis (36 points) and Giancarlo Stanton (35 points). If you are in a draft league, these are guys you want to target in trades or if you have them, leave them in, but here, there is no reason to not keep an eye on them, but wait to use them until they heat up. It is always dangerous to try and time such good players, but very important to note just how bad they have been and how much they have hurt your team at high price tags.
Anyways, on to Week 5, I just thought it would be a helpful practice to take an overall look at where we stand after four full weeks of Head2Head. Looking at Week 5 schedules, we only have one team with five games, my Oakland A's, which is easy because we don't have any good players on offense to pick anyway. First of all, we have to notice that the Indians and White Sox each play eight games this week due to a doubleheader scheduled Monday from a previous rainout. If you like anyone on either of these two teams, this is a nice week to play them. This is a bit of a different week in that none of the teams we focus on who play in nice hitter's parks have excellent schedules this week. In the AL, Toronto, New York and Texas all have six with a majority on the road and in the NL, Colorado has a split week with three in Petco, Arizona is on the road all week and Cincy plays a majority of their games away from the Great American Ballpark. It looks like it will have to be position by position this week.
Catcher: I was initially leaning towards saving a move here and leaving Matt Wieters in even with a six game week. Catchers never play a full seven anyways and he gets one at the Yankees, three at Fenway and then two at home vs. Texas, but he does draw Jon Lester and Josh Beckett in Fenway. Looking at other top catchers, Yadier Molina has been great so far this year and gets seven games this period with a favorable schedule. He gets two home vs. Pittsburgh and then goes on the road against Houston and Arizona, which are nice indoor spots to hit with staffs that do not scare me, aside from maybe Ian Kennedy. Now that I look at it, switching to Yadier might be worth it. Carlos Santana has been a bust so far this year, but he has an eight game week, so he is also an intriguing option. So far, he is not earning the bump in salary up from Wieters and Molina though, but I cannot pass up the eight game-week (hoping he plays seven); hopefully the Santana breakout we all know is coming. I would not argue with anyone using Molina this week though.
First Base: Eric Hosmer is just not getting it done for me, but he does get seven this week, with six of those at home. He does get five righties, but one of them is Justin Verlander and one of the lefties is CC Sabathia. 1B is tough, all the elite guys are priced that way and almost all of them (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira, Joey Votto) are not performing up to par so far. I think I am going to swap to Freddie Freeman this week. He is a little bit cheaper than Hosmer, has outperformed him and gets seven games this week including three at Coors where I am kind of thinking they forgot to turn on the Humidor this year. I wouldn't argue if you think Sunday's four RBI get Votto going and you want to play him for seven games or if you want to gamble that Pujols finally catches fire for his seven, but I am going to save some coin and go with Freddie.
Second Base: In the Top 10 of scoring, there is only one middle infielder and that is Ian Kinsler. So far, he is the dominant second baseman and I see no reason to move off of him this week even with six games. He is on the road, but there are no SP's on Baltimore or Cleveland that scare me to any degree. Among other options if you wanted to fade Kins, Dan Uggla could be intriguing with the Braves schedule, but if I were to go elsewhere, it would be to save cap with Jason Kipnis for his eight-game week.
Third Base: Priced at only $6.8, Edwin Encarnacion is probably the best value in the game on offense so far. His schedule is not great this week with six games in West Coast parks, but he is so hot right now and in the middle of a very good lineup, there is no way I am swapping him out at the price. If you think Hanley Ramirez gets it going a little bit, I could see risking him for his seven games this week, but if I were to go away from Ency this week, I would suggest using seven game weeks from either Pablo Sandoval or World Series hero David Freese who appears to still be riding the World Series high.
Shortstop: Derek Jeter has been very good to us so far (and leads all SS's in total points), but he is cooling a little bit and with only six games this week (four on the road), I wanted to look to use someone else for a week. My initial thought was to jump on Starlin Castro for his seven- game week, but while he is hitting well, the pop has not been there so far. Jose Reyes has seven also, but they are in tough parks and he has been terrible so far. None of the seven game (or eight) guys jumped out to me, so I ended up sticking with Jeter for another week.
Outfield: As you will see below, I am going cheaper on pitching this week, so I do not need a cheap outfielder. If I needed one, I had decided to swap out Cameron Maybin for Nolan Reimold. Reimold has been solid when healthy this year and gets games in better parks and is even a little cheaper than Cam. My first thought when I saw the schedule was to play Shin-Soo Choo for eight games, but he is still dealing with a tweaked hammy, so he likely won't play anywhere near eight games this period as they won't push him even if he is back. For my first spot, I am going to leave Adam Jones in. He has been great this year and even though he only has six games, I like his matchups, so I will just save that move and leave him in. For my second spot, I am going to ride the hot Jay Bruce for seven games. He is on the road for five of the games, but he is swinging it so well right now and faces righties in six of his seven games. For my last OF spot, I am going back to an old favorite who is priced well in Carlos Beltran. He has seven games and has looked like the Beltran we haven't seen for a few years, even swiping some bases. Some other good OF options with seven games are Justin Upton, Jason Heyward (note: Heyward tweaked his side and may miss some time), Giancarlo Stanton (if you think Sunday's HR maybe starts a hot streak, but he is in Petco and AT&T for five of his seven) or Hunter Pence. If you were looking to save some coin in the OF, uber-cheap Emilio Bonifacio has been pretty decent and gets seven games (and bad parks don't matter much to him) and Jon Jay also has seven and is currently hitting second in the strong St Louis lineup.
Flex: Nick Swisher has been great, but he tweaked a hammy on Saturday so I have to swap him out. I am going to play a huge hunch here that goes against the first four weeks and use Pujols for seven games. He is the best hitter in baseball the last 10 years and I have the cap space this week, so I going to take a huge swing and pay his price tag with the thought that he breaks out huge once May starts. It's a risk and a lot of cap, but sometimes you have to play the hunch and if you are going to, no better guy to do it with than Albert.
Pitching: The first thing I did here was look at the eight game weeks and then rapidly decided to pass on each one. The White Sox get Cleveland on the front and back end and also three at Detroit. The two starts are from Philip Humber and John Danks, which does not excite me unless they are facing Seattle. The Indians face Texas in their series between the White Sox, which I want no part of. Among the seven-game weeks, the initial one that jumps out to me is to use the Angels for another week as if you do, you get two starts from both Jered Weaver and Dan Haren. The four games against Toronto could be tough, but at least they are at Disneyland and the other three are versus the weak hitting Twins. It is going to be hard to turn that one down, even at their inflated tag. Miami is also an interesting choice based on the fact that they face all weak hitting teams and five of their games are in Petco and AT&T. You also get two starts from Anibal Sanchez who just struck out 14 Diamondbacks in his last start. At $18.7, they present a sizeable savings from the Angels that we could use towards offense for the week. The Phillies with seven games are always interesting and you get two from Roy Halladay, but Cliff Lee is still up in the air and if I am going high rent, it will be with the Angels. I also looked at the Giants with seven, but the two steps are from Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong, so I like the Marlins more in that price range. I could play St Louis with seven and two from red-hot Lance Lynn, but after comparing them and Miami, I decided to play a schedule hunch and use Petco and the horrible Astros offense to my advantage and play the Marlins. It's a risk to not play the obvious Angels, but I am taking it for the cap savings. I just hope Heath Bell stays off the mound.
So in summary, here is where I am at for Week 5:
C: Carlos Santana ($9.2)
1B: Freddie Freeman ($8.6)
2B: Ian Kinsler ($9.0)
3B: Edwin Encarnacion ($6.8)
SS: Derek Jeter ($9.0)
OF: Jay Bruce ($9.6)
OF: Adam Jones ($9.5)
OF: Carlos Beltran ($7.6)
Flex: Albert Pujols ($11.6)
P: Miami Marlins ($18.7)