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Circling the Bases: Better or Worse?

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.

Circling the Bases: Better or Worse

Which players have performed better than you thought? Which guys might have the name or the fame but are lacking a little but of the game?

BETTER THAN YOU THINK.

A.J. Burnett has missed time with injury and he's also 4-6. That dings a guys value. However there is a lot of good going on here. Burnett has a 3.06 ERA that is less than a tenth of a run behind Stephen Strasburg (2.99). Burnett has a 1.17 WHIP which is 0.04 behind Strasburg. Burnett is the proud owner of a 9.90 K/9 mark and 2.68 K/BB ratio. Strasburg you ask (you're getting the hang of it)? Strasburg has a 9.06 K/9 mark an a 2.95 K/BB ratio. Burnett has a 0.72 HR/9 mark. Strasburg is at 0.75. Burnett has a 2.07 GB/FB ratio. Strasburg has a 1.58 mark. Hell, Strasburg only has only one more victory at 5-7. Do I really need to write more?

A.J. Griffin pitches for the A's and he's often overlooked. He really shouldn't be. Griffin has a better ERA than Justin Masterson (3.68 to 3.72). Griffin has a 1.12 WHIP, an elite number, and one that leaves many a luminary in the dust: CC Sabathia (1.23), James Shields (1.23), Justin Verlander (1.34) to name a few. Hell, he's only 0.02 behind King Felix. Griffin has 94 punchouts in 122.1 innings. That means his K total is higher than guys like Doug Fister (93) and John Lackey (93). Griffin has a blah 6.92 K/9 mark but he doesn't beat himself barely walking two guys per nine innings. He's also thrown a lot of innings at 122.1, the 13th best mark in the AL. When you have ratios as good as he does, especially that WHIP, it's huge to be able to throw that many innings.

Mike Leake was almost run out of the building a few months ago when the fantasy universe tried to burn him at the stake when he was left in the rotation the expense of Tony Cingrani. Leake has pitched extremely well since that point, and his overall numbers are impressive, especially those ratios (2.69 ERA and 1.12 WHIP). Leake is way more of a pitcher than fantasy force, his K/9 rate of 5.46 is poor, and it's more about ground balls with him (51 percent of batted balls). He's not an ace, his ERA should likely be at least a run higher than it currently is, and he's a poor bet to keep this up in the second half. Still, he's been a great value to this point of the season. By the way, Leake is 8-4 with a 2.69 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. Tony Cingrani is 3-1 with a 3.23 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

James Loney is hitting .315, tied with Chris Davis for the AL lead among first basemen. He has nine homers, the same total as Freddie Freeman. He's driven in 43 runs, one more than Joey Votto. He's scored 39 times which is two more times than Adrian Gonzalez has crossed home plate. Loney has a .832 OPS which is .012 points higher than Prince Fielder. Nuff said.

Kyle Seager has had a great fantasy season. Not only is he third base eligible in all leagues some also consider him a second base option as well (18 games last season at second, 14 as a starter), and that's a huge bonus. No matter what position he qualifies at, his production is impressive. Seager has gone deep 15 times with 44 RBIs, 54 runs scored and is hitting .293 with a .846 OPS. That OPS mark is higher than Pedro Alvarez (.828), Manny Machado (.807) and Ryan Zimmerman (.804). Seager is also one of nine players in the game who is hitting .290 with 15 homers, 40 RBIs, 50 runs scored and an OPS of .840. Here are the others, and they are some of the titans of the game: Adrian Beltre, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto and Chris Davis.

WORSE THAN YOU THINK.

Jhoulys Chacin is 9-4 and people are all pumped up. I'm not going to take away from him in the sense that he's been a strong performer given that he hurls for the Rockies. The 3.50 ERA and 1.26 WHIP are solid, but if he was 7-6 would you care? Chacin has 68 punchouts in 113 innings leading to a 5.42 K/9 mark. That's awful considering the league average this season is just a tick above 7.50 per nine. His mark is also a five year low. Now he's also working on a five year low in the walk rate at 2.87 walks per nine, but his 1.89 K/BB ratio is no different than his career mark (1.82). He's also giving up a ton of line drives 924.4 percent), to also have a .289 BABIP an a .251 BAA. It won't take much for his fantasy value to evaporate pretty quickly.

Manny Machado is batting .310, has scored 57 times, and has 39 doubles giving him a shot at the all-time record of 67 set by Earl Webb. So how in the world can he be listed as worse than you think? Here are a few data points. His total of seven homers is one less than Martin Prado. His total of 45 RBI is the same as Matt Dominguez. His .337 OBP is less than David Freese (.342). His .470 SLG is less than the .497 mark of Matt Carpenter. His total of six steals, with four caught stealing by the way, leaves him with one less theft than Mike Aviles. Does that paint Machado as the fantasy superstar some think he is? How about this one final comparison – Machado vs. Josh Donaldson.

Machado: .310/.337/.470 with seven homers, 45 RBIs, 57 runs and 6 SBs.
Donaldson: .310/.379/.522 with 16 homers, 61 RBIs, 50 runs, 2 SBs

Josh Donaldson has outperformed Manny Machado this season.

Matt Moore is an All-Star and he can thank his 13-3 record for that (it doesn't hurt that he has a win in his last five outings either). Here's what I see. (1) Moore has 55 walks, a terrible total, leading to walk rate of 4.61 per nine. That's an horrific mark (compare to the league average of 3.05). As a result of all the walks his WHIP is 1.29. The league average right now is 1.30. League average is not All-Star material. (2) Because he throws so many pitches each time out, he's not often gone deep into games which makes his record even more deceiving. Moore has made 19 starts this season. Only four times has he gone seven innings. Seven times he's failed to go six innings. Basically, he throws six innings each time out. Guess that's where we are in today's game. (3) Though his ERA is 3.44 he really doesn't deserve that mark. Just take a look at some of the other measures that take a look past ERA: DIPS (3.81), xFIP (4.26) and SIERA (4.18). Once that W-L record evens out Moore's performance could become fairly average in the fantasy game even with his strikeout per inning, filthy stuff.

Marco Scutaro is a 2B/SS eligible player who hit .306 last year and is batting .316 this season. That makes him a fantastic NL-only option, but does it make him a terrific mixed league option? Scutaro is pretty much a one trick pony. That batting average is wonderful, especially if you are rolling out the Adam Dunn's of the world. But the rest of his fantasy line is pretty terrible. Scutaro has no power, so it's hardly a massive shock to see him hit the All-Star break with two homers. Still, Munenroi Kawasaki doubled that mark in his time with the Blue Jays hitting four. Scutaro has 22 RBI. Folks, Mark DeRosa has 24 RBI. Scutaro has scored 37 runs. Carlos Pena, the guy hitting .212 with a .679 OPS, has scored 38 runs. As for the speed element, Scutaro hasn't even attempted a steal. Carlos Peguero stole a base this season an he's only had six at-bats. Dual position eligibility and batting average Scutaro can bring. The rest of his game? Not good.

Chris Tillman is 11-3, and that record does a ton to make a guy look like he's a champ. I'll give him credit for the victories because he's been pretty consistent (over his last 10 outings he's allowed more than three earned runs just twice). He usually gives the Orioles a chance to win, and that's a hurler's main job. However, that's all that he's done to stand out. His ERA is 3.95. The major league average is 3.95. His WHIP is 1.35. The league average is 1.30. Tillman has a 7.17 K/9 mark. The league average is 7.53. Tillman has a 3.30 BB/9 mark. The league average is 2.99. Tillman has a 2.17 K/BB ratio. The league average is 2.52. Tillman has a 0.96 GB/FB ratio. The league average is about 1.30. Tillman has a 1.61 HR/9 mark. The league average is 1.00. Get my drift?

Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday. Ray's analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.