Articles by Dalton Del Don

A listing of all the articles written by Dalton Del Don for the RotoWire Blog.

MLB Notes

I picked up Colby Rasmus about a month ago in the Yahoo Friends & Family league only to drop him shortly thereafter. Apparently, that was a big mistake, as he’s been on a tear ever since. He entered Sunday with a .306/.359/.612 line in June and has hit 10 homers over his past 25 games. Rasmus remains helpless against left-handers, and there hasn’t been a noticeable difference in his plate discipline, so maybe this is just a hot streak. Hitters with his profile – high K|PERCENT| and high FB|PERCENT| – are more prone to running hot and cold. Still, his 21.1 LD|PERCENT| is a career best, and it’s worth remembering he’s just 25 years old. Expect an average in the .255 range, but Rasmus is primed to set a career high in home runs this season and once again finally resembles the exciting young player he looked like back in 2010.

This maniac who took cops on a high-speed chase for more than an hour sure does give a great interview. Here’s more from the man with swag.

Angry father gives his underage daughter’s adult boyfriend an option of either a severe beating or a spanking. He chose the latter.

While a 3.51 ERA might not reflect it, Colby Lewis is in the midst of a fantastic year, posting a 90:12 K:BB ratio and a 1.08 WHIP over 100.0 innings. Of course, as an extreme flyball pitcher who calls one of the most HR friendly parks in all of baseball home, Lewis’ current ERA won’t necessarily come crashing down. Still, his 7.5 K:BB ratio leads MLB by a wide margin, and pitching for Texas should lead to more wins moving forward. Lewis will continue to be homer prone, but with a strong K rate and a low BABIP thanks to all those flyballs, many will be solo – a combination that will likely continue to produce a strong WHIP. He has a 43:4 K:BB ratio over his last seven starts. If Lewis pitched in the National League, he’d likely be a top-10 fantasy starter.

China news confuses sex toy for special mushroom.

Epic Shake Weight Prank.

This footage of a truck crash caught on a highway is absolutely brutal. 

I thought Eric Hosmer was getting drafted too high in March (having said that, I aggressively drafted Desmond Jennings), but I certainly didn’t see this coming either. He has three extra-base hits in 74 at-bats versus lefties. With eight homers and six steals, he actually hasn’t been a total disaster in fantasy leagues, despite an ugly .213/.281/.360 line. Hosmer’s 33:24 K:BB ratio over 253 ABs suggests he hasn’t been totally overwhelmed at the plate, which is encouraging. His .216 BABIP is the third lowest in baseball, which is difficult to do when you consider he’s hit nearly twice as many groundballs as flyballs (1.97 GB/FB). Hosmer plays in a park that’s tough on left-handed hitters, and while it’s clear he’s suffered some misfortune so far, he’s also likely simply not hitting the ball hard and deserves plenty of blame himself. Still, it’s probably best to bet on his talent winning out in the end, and his K|PERCENT| and BB|PERCENT| really do reflect much better things to come. Remain patient (or go try to trade for him).

Crazy drivers:
Insane bus drifting dangerously on purposeThree accidents in less than 50 feetSUV drives into motorbikeA 64 Impala has got nothing on this vanIce cream truck wars in the UK.

I bought into the Chris Sale can’t last as a starter with his mechanics chatter before the season, owning him in zero leagues, obviously to my detriment. Who knows, maybe that will ultimately prove true, but his arm could fall off tomorrow, and his fantasy owners would still have made a profit from his 2012 season. He has an 89:23 K:BB ratio with a 2.24 ERA and 0.96 WHIP over 88.1 innings (with eight wins to boot). Despite his velocity being down across the board since entering the rotation, his fastball, slider and changeup have all been well above average this season, according to Fangraphs’ Pitch Values. Of course, there’s some concern he’ll be on an innings limit, but the White Sox being right in the middle of a pennant race works in his fantasy owners’ favor. Sale has likely been lucky allowing just four homers this season while pitching in the most homer-friendly park in baseball over the past three years, according to The Bill James Handbook, but you don’t need me to tell you a 2.24 ERA is unsustainable. Despite my lack of shares, for the sake of the game I hope he can stay healthy, because Sale sure does look special.

These headlines really tell the story: Woman becomes pregnant in the mouth with baby squid after eating calamariMan claims leprechauns beat him up for dancingMan stuck inside another man’s wife.

Jed Lowrie, who leads all shortstops with 13 home runs, has been a fantasy revelation this season. He has shown flashes before, posting a .907 OPS (in 171 ABs) as a rookie in Boston just two years ago, but injuries have previously prevented him from ever reaching his potential. Durability remains a concern, but it’s hard to argue with his production at the plate. In fact, Lowrie has by far the lowest GB/FB ratio (0.54) in all of baseball, so there’s every bit of reason to think he can hit 25-30 homers if he stays healthy. The switch-hitter struggles against left-handers, plays in a lineup that won’t help his counting stats and likely won’t hit better than .270, but that kind of power potential from a shortstop is extremely valuable.

Police Blotter: Burglar cuts self on broken window, is found dead on floor…More Zombie attacks: Man gets naked, bites off chunk of man’s arm…Pretty insane story about two suspects and a victim (who was brutally beaten yet was wanted on charges of doing the same thing in a separate incident that occurred just weeks earlier) all getting arrested after video of a road rage incident went viral.

Hoops talk: I get that most hate LeBron James, but it’s tough not to be impressed with just how good he was during this postseason. His epic Game 6 performance in the Conference Finals in Boston, his rebounding when Chris Bosh was out, his defense in general, his ridiculous passing in the Finals’ clincher – so many impressive things to point out. Despite the gaudy numbers (he became just the third player in NBA history to lead his team in ppg, rpg and apg in the Finals, although it’s also pretty crazy that Game 5 was his only triple-double of the entire season), I’d argue James is worth more than stats can show. He’s easily the most valuable commodity in sports right now (this is acknowledging that basketball is the least “team” sport out there. I’d probably rank five quarterbacks next on my list)…It’s Mike Miller’s world, and the rest of us are just passing through…I’m not saying the Thunder shouldn’t have been favored to win the series with home-court advantage, but I still can’t figure out why Vegas consistently had OKC favored a few points higher at home compared to when the Heat were…Congratulations to Eddy Curry and The Fab Five – this first ring was a long time coming!…Pretty cool speech by Scott Brooks.

I’m a big fan of Fiona Apple’s new album, her first in seven years. I highly recommend it. This terrific profile of her will also be this week’s long read.

I followed the Jerry Sandusky trial about as closely as possible, and thankfully justice was served. Pretty telling not one of his six adopted kids were willing to testify on his behalf (and another who just recently came forward as a victim was the only reason Jerry didn’t testify himself). What a monster (Yahoo did a tremendous job reporting throughout this case). I hope Jeffrey Dahmer’s treatment in prison looks tame in comparison.

Max Scherzer might be the most enigmatic pitcher in the game right now. Hurlers with an 11.42 K/9 rate (best in the American League) aren’t supposed to have a 5.12 ERA and 1.46 WHIP. His 3.20 BB/9 ratio isn’t great, but it’s also not that bad. Part of Scherzer’s inconsistency can be blamed on his unorthodox mechanics, and he’s mostly at fault for allowing 14 homers already, but it’s easy to say he’s been unlucky when looking at his MLB-high .366 BABIP. While that’s certainly true, and his ERA will come down moving forward, unless he’s traded (it’s too bad he left the Senior Circuit, as he has a 34:2 K:BB ratio over 21.0 innings against the National League this season), it’s not like we shouldn’t expect an abnormally high hit rate to continue with such a poor defense behind him. The second highest BABIP in MLB is teammate Rick Porcello, and that’s not a coincidence. Unsurprisingly, the Tigers rank dead last in all of baseball with a -32.2 UZR. Their team BABIP is a whopping 24 points higher than the league average in 2012. Scherzer’s ERA will no doubt drop, and while he personally has been unlucky, that misfortune should continue (albeit at a lesser level) over the rest of the year considering the defense playing behind him.

Senator Reid is the man

Crane lifting a crane fail

Jimmy Kimmel lie detector test

Quick hits: Zack Greinke hasn’t lost a start at home since joining Milwaukee…Over 12 starts, Cliff Lee has a 5.1 K:BB ratio (third best in MLB), pitching at least 6.0 innings in every outing. He has zero wins…Since returning from having his hamate bone removed (he has none left now, so no worries for 2013!), Pablo Sandoval has just one extra-base hit over 51 at-bats…If I’m a Matt Garza owner, despite the poor run support, the only way I’m rooting for a trade is if he stays in the National League…Stephen Strasburg will be a top-five fantasy pick in 2013.

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MLB Notes

Over his last two outings, R.A. Dickey has thrown back-to-back one-hit shutouts, striking out 25 batters over that span. Over his last seven starts, he’s posted a remarkable 71:6 K:BB ratio over 54.2 innings. Dickey also hasn’t allowed an earned run over his past 43.0 innings during one of the best stretches any starter has had in the history of baseball. He currently sports an 11-1 record with a 2.00 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. He’s been a sneaky good pitcher over the past two seasons, with ERAs of 2.84 and 3.28, but few could have predicted such marked improvement in both his K and walk rates at age 37. It’s been a terrific story, only held back by me personally not owning him in any of my fantasy leagues. Entering Monday’s start, Dickey’s 11.6 HR/FB|PERCENT| was actually his highest since 2005, and no one should be calling his hit rate lucky since knuckleball pitchers typically have a BABIP around .270 historically. He also entered Monday with a 12.6 SwStr|PERCENT| that tied for the lead among all starters in baseball. Dickey has been nothing short of sensational this year, and he’s suddenly become a legitimate Cy Young contender.

As far as pranks go, the floating cup isn’t anything special. As far as reactions to pranks, it’s among the best ever. 

Here’s another prank involving holding unsuspecting peoples’ hands.

One final funny prank, this time by Pine Sol, an ad in which a friend of mine’s wife worked personally on the concept, so check it out.

With a .287/.347/.498 line in the PCL last season, Mike Moustakas wasn’t overwhelming, but as a 22-year-old he was still viewed as one of the better prospects in the game. He struggled badly after getting a chance with Kansas City, batting .231 with just one homer over his first 286 at-bats in the big leagues. He ended strong, however, clubbing four homers over his final 52 at-bats, finishing with a .960 OPS in September. He’s carried that over into 2012, as he’s hit 10 homers with a solid .278/.346/.480 line. Moustakas struggles mightily against lefties, but it’s a good thing for his development he’s at least getting to face southpaws, which should pay dividends down the road. It’s too bad Kauffman Stadium destroys power for left-handers (over the past three years, according to The Bill James Handbook, only Petco Park has suppressed HRs for LHBs more), but Moustakas has a bright future regardless.

I’m normally not a huge fan of re-cut trailers, but this one of “Mrs. Doubtfire” (such a great movie! And I’m not being facetious) is too good not to pass along.

I had a good time at the FSTA convention last week in San Francisco. And judging by the photos SiriusXM posted on Facebook during the morning radio show Tuesday, it may have been TOO good of a time, but I digress. Anyway, my main takeaway of the trip was that the popular House of Nanking was a bit overrated, while San Tung was among the better Chinese restaurants I’ve been to and is worth making the trip to the less ideal location in the city. Best chicken wings I’ve ever had.

The Pacquiao/Bradley decision was one of the worst injustices I’ve ever seen in sports, but I can’t say I was complaining at the time.

After giving up seven runs over four innings in another disappointing start Monday, owners of Mat Latos have to be extremely frustrated, as he sports a 5.20 ERA and 1.41 WHIP on the year. It comes as no surprise leaving Petco Park for Cincinnati has led to more homers, but it’s been extreme so far. Still, I’d consider targeting him in trade talks. Oddly, entering Monday’s start, he had allowed 11 of his 13 home runs at home, yet his ERA there was 3.91 compared to 6.12 on the road. Moreover, according to Park Factors, Great American Ball Park easily leads baseball with a 1.919 HR rating. GAB will remain a place that is conducive to home runs, but that’s the highest mark by a wide margin over the past 10 years, so some regression is likely in store. Latos’ velocity remains the same if not better across the board this year compared to last, and while it may mean nothing, it might be worth mentioning he’s always been a slow starter (his career April ERA is 5.73). A flyball pitcher in GAB obviously isn’t ideal, but Latos has a 2.7:1 K:BB ratio and could represent a true buy-low opportunity to fed up owners right now.

This bus driver who gave his life to save passengers is the man. 

Speaking of being the man, I absolutely love this guy’s reaction to child abuse.

I assume most have seen this by now, but if not, David Stern’s recent interview with Jim Rome was one of the most contentious in recent memory.

What’s the deal with Howie Kendrick? He hasn’t homered since May 2, and for someone who many (including me) thought could one day win a batting title, is also hitting just .268 with a .301 OBP. He’s been caught stealing as many times as he’s been successful (four) and has a 51:12 K:BB ratio. Kendrick hits so few balls in the air (23.2 FB|PERCENT|, 2.4 IFFB|PERCENT|), it’s hard to figure why his average is so low, but I guess his 20.6 K|PERCENT| can explain some of that. Entering the year, I thought he could easily surpass 100 runs scored hitting in front of Albert Pujols, but the slow start has dropped him in the order, as Kendrick continues to fail to live up to his previous hype. Teammate Erick Aybar (.235/.270/.322) has actually been an even bigger disaster.

These headlines really tell the story: Man finds out he’s a woman during hospital visit for kidney stoneMan put Icy Hot on wife’s vibrator, divorce pendingCasino robbery suspect was sleepwalking, lawyer says.

I have no idea what to make of Ryan Vogelsong, who has a 2.29 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with a poor 58:32 K:BB ratio over 82.2 innings. You don’t need me to tell you he’s due for some regression with a .246 BABIP, 5.3 HR/FB|PERCENT| and the highest LOB|PERCENT| (83.7) in baseball. But he’s produced a quality start in 11 of his 12 starts (the other he allowed four runs over six innings) this season and now has a 2.57 ERA over 262.1 innings since joining San Francisco last season, and the Giants are well known for suppressing home runs for more than a decade now, and the team’s BABIP is just .279 in 2012 (no thanks to Tim Lincecum). There’s no question Vogelsong has been fortunate, and there’s little to no doubt his 2.29 ERA will soon rise, but in his situation, he can maintain plenty of fantasy value despite not having dominant (or even above average) peripherals.

Animal Antics: Giant squid attacked by sharkMan turns favorite pet cat into helicopter…To all Seinfeld fans, apparently a dingo really can eat your baby.

Long read: A strong Q & A with Bill Murray.

The NBA has a ton of faults, but man have these playoffs been fantastic. I bet on the Heat to win it all before the season and love rooting for LeBron James (does this make me a follower or a contrarian? James seems to be the most polarizing superstar since Barry Bonds), so I’ve been extra intense. Good stuff either way.

Speaking of: TV anchor reports Heat/Celtics game ended in a tie.

Since joining the Angels, Ernesto Frieri has 35 strikeouts over 19.1 innings. He’s yet to allow a run and has a .051 BAA. On the season, the righty has faced 55 left-handed batters and struck out 31 of them. His 15.39 K/9 rate ranks second only to Aroldis Chapman. I like the idea of the Padres trading relievers, with Petco Park artificially inflating values, but what a terrific acquisition by the Angels. Frieri should be considered a top-five fantasy closer right now.

Police Blotter: Man allegedly driving drunk – in a wheelchairHouston mom inadvertently takes off in bank bandits’ getaway car…Wanted: Suspect with ‘Vampire Teeth’Woman hoarding 64 cats was planning feline stew.

Quick hits: Kurt Suzuki has hit 71 flyballs this season, and zero have gone over the fence. Making it even crazier, among the 40 players with the lowest HR/FB ratios, his 44.1 FB|PERCENT| is by far the highest…Alex Rodriguez has faced the highest average fastball velocity (92.6 mph) from opposing pitchers this season, but before we make anything of that, realize four Yankees are in the top-10…According to Fangraphs, Michael Brantley has been the best baserunner so far this season, while Yonder Alonso has been the absolute worst, costing his team an almost unfathomable 5.2 runs…Anthony Rizzo has been stashed in the majority of my leagues for some time now, but if Bryan LaHair playing the outfield Monday truly was a sign Rizzo will be called up soon, run, don’t walk to add him if he’s somehow available on your free agent wire.

Man tells reporter he won’t take orders from women.

Conversely, man saves woman’s life after she was pushed onto train tracks.

One more Zombie attack joke.

Quick hits, part deux: Johan Santana has allowed the third-highest line drive percentage in MLB this season yet sports a .263 BABIP, likely because he currently has the lowest groundball rate in all of baseball…Of Gio Gonzalez’s 56 flyballs allowed, just one has left the park…According to Fangraphs, Jake Peavy’s fastball has been the single most effective pitch in all of baseball this season…Good article by Dave Cameron regarding Tim Lincecum. He uses the tiniest of samples to illustrate it, but as someone who’s watched a lot of Lincecum’s starts this season, I agree with Cameron’s general point. Lincecum has the second biggest discrepancy between his ERA and FIP in MLB but also a sky-high LD|PERCENT|, and his main problem has been location, especially out of the stretch. Lincecum’s last six starts: 6.75 ERA, 1.59 WHIP. Felix Hernandez’s last six starts: 6.36 ERA, 1.86 WHIP (h/t Henry Schulman).

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Catchers Are Overrated

The value of the catcher position varies depending on format, as it increases if your league uses two spots in the starting lineup. However, even in 2-C formats, few catchers are drafted highly because of a couple factors: 1) The taxing physical demand playing the position limits their plate appearances, reducing their upside simply through lack of volume and 2) Over the past 10 seasons, just eight catchers have finished with more than 10 steals, revealing a position that inherently helps you in four categories at best.

While these in-season issues rightfully knock down catchers’ ADP, year-to-year consistency is also often a problem. According to Baseball Monster, over the past five years, just five catchers have finished with top-five fantasy value in multiple seasons, so there’s not a lot of overlap. Getting a negative return investing in the catcher position has been highlighted greatly so far in 2012, which is best illustrated when comparing Yahoo’s “O-Rank” – an overall player rank based on current and prior seasons that gives a good idea how they were valued before the 2012 season started – versus their “Rank,” which applies only to the stats from the current season.

Carlos Santana: O-Rank 44 vs. Rank 411 – Judging from the O-Rank and ADP, Santana likely cost fantasy owners a third or fourth round pick, but Yahoo says there have been 410 more valuable fantasy assets so far in 2012. ESPN’s Player Rater has him similarly low, at No. 342. This doesn’t take position scarcity into account, but it’s hard to argue those who selected Santana have taken a huge loss. A career .290 hitter in the minors, Santana has hit just .240 over 896 at-bats in the major leagues despite a strong 208:173 K:BB ratio. His drop in power is likely a fluke, and Santana will surely be better from here on out, but with a career BABIP of .266, it looks like BA will remain a problem.

Mike Napoli: O-Rank 55 vs. Rank 200 – The 11 homers are nice, but last year’s .320 batting average will almost certainly go down as a career high for Napoli. Despite playing for a loaded Texas lineup, the counting stats are lacking with just 32 RBI and 29 runs scored, really limiting his overall value.

Brian McCann: O-Rank 72 vs. Rank 307 – McCann has stayed healthy, and while his BA is down, he’s hit nine homers. Still, the problem remains with the counting categories. McCann might be one of the most underrated players in real baseball, but he’s averaged just 59.5 runs scored and 3.2 steals over the past six seasons, which makes him overrated in fantasy terms.

While not every catcher has been a total bust when comparing preseason perceived value to now, and others like Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz have made huge profits, there are many others who’ve followed this same path so far in 2012: Matt Wieters (O-Rank 93 vs. Rank 220), Miguel Montero (104 vs. 285), Alex Avila (109 vs. 674), Jesus Montero (131 vs. 288), J.P. Arencibia (176 vs. 360) and Geovany Soto (179 vs. 1,054), among others.

While catchers typically aren’t taken really high, and position scarcity needs to be factored in, it’s clear they were routinely drafted far too early before the season, something that doesn’t appear to be an aberration. Remember that next year, when you shouldn’t consider drafting a catcher until at least 100 picks are off the board and likely far more than that.

MLB Notes

Over his last six starts, Phil Hughes has a 3.60 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He was bombed during one outing, allowing seven runs to the Angels but gave up three runs or fewer in the other five games. Hughes has allowed at least one home run in all of his 11 starts this season, and while he’s been a bit unlucky with his HR/FB rate, as a right-hander who calls Yankee Stadium home, long balls are likely to remain a part of his profile, especially as an extreme flyball pitcher. Still, there’s a lot to be encouraged about the former top prospect, who quietly sports a highly impressive 57:16 K:BB ratio over 61.2 innings. Hughes is throwing his changeup more than twice as often as ever before, helping him become deadly against left-handers (.197/.266/.328). With strong run support, wins should be an asset as well. Hughes has shown increased velocity and improved his control greatly so far in 2012, so don’t let his horrible start that still brings down his overall numbers change the fact he currently looks like someone who should really help your fantasy team moving forward.

In honor of Richard Dawson, who just died and was brilliant, here’s a funny clip of the Family Feud.

In honor of the recent Spelling Bee, I give you this clip of the greatest troll in the event ever.

This is the most harrowing Judge Judy case of all-time. (Ignore the obnoxious laugh randomly placed in the middle). 

I had never owned Ryan Zimmerman in any of my myriad fantasy teams before this year. I’m guessing we all have our personal biases against (and toward) certain players, and for whatever reason, Zimmerman just wasn’t one of my guys. Until this year, which was purely happenstance. I picked late in the first round in the majority of my leagues, often by choice. And Zimmerman was frequently available either late third (in deeper leagues) or early fourth (David Wright never was), so I found myself taking the plunge (trying to be as agnostic as possible). After all, Zimmerman went .292-33-110-106 in 2009 and was one season removed from a .307-25-85-85 campaign. He’s also terrific defensively (not that it matters to fantasy owners). Gene McCaffrey, whom I respect as much as anyone in the fantasy community, called him a strong “longshot MVP bet” before the season. But the guy’s been an absolute bum so far (Zimmerman, not McCaffrey), posting an ugly .233/.314/.333 line over 150 at-bats, with a 1.51 GB/FB ratio. Sure, he’s battling a clearly debilitating shoulder injury, but Zimmerman has missed more than 55 games in two of the previous four seasons (and 20 in another) entering 2012, so I blame myself.

These headlines really tell the story: Wannabe Incredible Hulk Covers Himself In Green Paint. And Then Discovers It Won’t Come Off…Drunken Alberta Man Survives After He’s Run Over By 26 Rail CarsManhattan Student Who Bedded Teacher Scores $400 In Wager With Buddies.

A.J. Burnett has allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his eight starts this season (he’s given up zero in three of them). He was tattooed for 12 earned runs in the other, and while that counts just the same, it came in St. Louis against a Cardinals team that probably has the best offense in the National League (Colorado has scored more runs, but they benefit from playing in Coors Field, which has been ridiculous so far in 2012. The Rockies have scored 192 runs at home this season, 47 more than the second most. They’ve scored 86 on the road, which is the second lowest in MLB). If you remove that one outing, Burnett would have a 1.52 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. His 42:14 K:BB ratio over 50.0 innings is impressive regardless, which is accompanied by a 57.9 GB|PERCENT| that would rank fifth best in all of baseball if he qualified. Burnett has won each of his last three outings, but wins could be a problem moving forward with a historically bad offense (the Pirates current wRC+66 might be the worst of all-time. I only say “might” because I got tired of looking further back than 30 years. You see, I’m lazy). Still, the move back to the National League has done wonders to Burnett’s value, which is an awful lot higher than I bet most fantasy players realize.

This toddler riding through heavy traffic in China doesn’t seem too worried about it

Baseball quick links: Cool trick pickoff playGreat license plate…I’m actually a big Jeff Samardzija fan, but I can’t get behind him as the 26th most valuable commodity in baseball right now. 

It’s safe to say few (and by few I mean no one) expected Josh Reddick to have 14 home runs and six steals entering June 4. His pace for 99 runs scored and 88 RBI is a borderline miracle when you consider Oakland’s team .209/.288/.331 batting line as well. Reddick posted an .841 OPS in Triple-A as a 24-year-old last season and held his own after joining the Red Sox, but little suggested this breakout, especially since Oakland has killed LHB when it comes to home runs (over the past three years, it has a 73 Index according to The Bill James Handbook, which is the fifth worst in baseball). It’s easy to call Reddick a sell high, but most of your league members likely remain skeptical. While his 18.4 HR/FB|PERCENT| will come down, it’s worth noting Reddick hits a ton of flyballs (his 0.62 GB/FB ratio is third highest in all of baseball), so his power production won’t necessarily come crashing down.

Animal Antics: Demanding monkey has bad itchHamster get shots and pretends to be deadMonkey riding a goat that’s walking a tight rope…Cow hit by train, remains walking and fine despite missing face

It seems odd to talk about two Pirates pitchers in the same article, but James McDonald deserves plenty of credit for his season as well, as he’s yet to allow more than three runs in a game (remarkably, he’s given up one run or fewer in seven of his past nine outings). One could point out how he’s getting lucky with a low HR/FB|PERCENT| (although PNC Park suppresses homers) and LOB|PERCENT|, but no pitcher has a 2.14 ERA with underlying peripherals that wouldn’t be considered fortunate. With a 71:20 K:BB ratio over 71.1 innings, McDonald deserves a ton of praise, as his sudden introduction of a slider (he had never used it until last year, and he’s throwing it four times as often this season) has made a major impact. I definitely didn’t see this type of leap coming, but this is another huge knock on Ned Colletti, who traded McDonald for 18.2 innings of Octavio Dotel. I struggle with who’s the worse GM, the protégé (Colletti) or the mentor (Brian Sabean). Both are among worst in baseball, but I’m going with Sabean as of now, mainly because Zack Wheeler looks like a future ace.

Guys hide a fake treasure chest on Venice Beach, fool a bunch of onlookers the next day.

Tipper leaves just their “two cents,” both literally and figuratively.

Can you answer this question from an eighth-grade reading exam?

I’ve never owned Mark Reynolds, but he was available in my NFBC money league, and despite not needing a CI, I bid $72, which won by $70. I guess that reflects poorly on me, but Reynolds is known as a poor starter (career .218/.314/.433 line in April, for what it’s worth), and while the BA risk is obvious, he’s averaged 38 homers and 91 RBI over the past three years. This power shouldn’t be ignored in today’s game. Oriole Park at Camden Yards (what a ridiculous name) is one of the most conducive for homers in the majors, and Reynolds’ current HR/FB rate (7.1|PERCENT|) is well below his career average (20.5|PERCENT|), so he’s someone to target right now.

Police Blotter: Man ticketed for dropping money on the ground…Cage fighter rips out still beating heart of training partner after fearing he was possessed by the devil…Police arrest woman in “cleaning fairy” burglary.

Long read: Is one hacker behind many of the “revenge porn” photos that were posted on a popular site? Tell me you aren’t compelled after reading the first two sentences of this story.

Quick Hits: Billy Hamilton has 61 steals so far this year. His solid .462 slugging percentage makes it even crazier. He’s making last year’s 103 stolen bases look like kid’s play. We may never see a bigger discrepancy between a real life prospect and a fantasy prospect than him…Paul Goldschmidt has 14 career homers. Four have come against Tim Lincecum…So I was texted a picture of my cousin with Pablo Sandoval the other day. He came into where she worked and said he was super nice, handing out autographs and willing to take a picture with anyone. He was later accused of sexual assault the very same night. Don’t. Know. What. To. Think.

Zombie Apocalypse!!!: First there was this face-eating attack, in which I implore you all never to look at the photos of the aftermath…Followed by this…and then this…and this…and finally this…These all resulted in an official response from the CDC, as well as this prank.

Quick hits, part deux: Jason Kipnis is on pace to finish with this line: .280-28-113-104-40. Yes, he’ll regress, but he’s a stud who looks like a total steal in fantasy drafts this year (he’s 18-for-19 in SB attempts)…The Giants have hit six home runs at home this season. Six! They have zero over their past 12 games. That’s not ideal…Matt Cain recently improved his career record to 75-75, putting him at .500 for the first time since 2007. His career ERA is 3.31, and he has 14 complete games with five shutouts. His career BAA is .226. Roy Halladay’s is .252…If you’re in a deep league, I’d consider adding Vladimir Guerrero…According to ESPN’s “Cy Young Predictor,” the current league-leaders are Fernando Rodney and R.A. Dickey.

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MLB Notes

David Wright is having quite an interesting season. He leads the National League with a .382 batting average with a ridiculous .484 OBP and is on pace to finish the season with 108 runs scored, 95 RBI and 17 steals. However, the terrific production has come with just five home runs, giving him the same pace to finish the year as his steals. To put this in perspective, Wright entered Sunday slugging .604 – only one player in all of baseball had a SLG higher than .600 last season (Jose Bautista). Among the 10 players who slugged .550 or better last year, only David Ortiz hit fewer than 30 homers (he had 29). The average among that group hit 34.8 home runs. Wright is on pace to finish with fewer than half that amount. In fact, among the batters who finished in the top-20 in slugging percentage in 2011, not one hit fewer than 25 long balls (Josh Hamilton hit 25, and he missed 41 games).

I don’t totally buy how real this is, but I love the concept.

Speaking of being skeptical, I definitely was about this crazy video of an 80-year-old shown being forced out of a plane during a skydiving venture that later resulted in her nearly dying, but further research/interviews have proven it’s totally legit. Insane!

Speaking of crazy skydiving, this person set a world record for free falling without a parachute.

It gets even more bizarre when you consider Wright’s HR/FB ratio is a healthy 14.3|PERCENT|. His MLB-leading .451 BABIP has obviously been lucky, but he also sports a 29.1 LD|PERCENT|, and his career hit rate is .344. After seeing a massive spike in K|PERCENT| over the last few years, Wright has actually walked more than he’s struck out so far this year (29:32). In fact, his current walk rate is a career best, while his K rate is his lowest since his rookie season. It’s also worth noting even after moving the fences in during the offseason, Citi Field has continued to play as an extreme pitchers’ park. Wright will remain plenty productive moving forward, trading BA for homers, but his current combination of such a high slugging percentage resulting in so few bombs is pretty rare. 

Yeah, you can go ahead and count me in.

There are too many memorable one-liners to even list when it comes to Rob Ryan describing his van.

This is 100|PERCENT| NSFW but equally as humorous (hat tip Chris Liss). The final line kills me.

Asked last week whether I was worried about Roy Halladay on the XM/Sirius show, I said not at all. His BAA remained normal for him, he still had a 4.3 K/BB ratio, and although Halladay had already allowed half of last year’s home run total of 10, he gave up 24 long balls in 2010, when he finished with a 2.44 ERA and 21 wins. The drop in velocity was worth discussing, but it’s become increasingly difficult to label whether he’s throwing his four seamer or cutter. In 2010 during his first year in Philly, Halladay threw his fastball 37.4|PERCENT| of the time, according to Fangraphs. This year, he’s thrown it just 14.7|PERCENT| of the time, increasing his use of the cutter greatly (this might not be a Pitch fx glitch either, as Halladay confirmed he was using his cutter at a far greater frequency when we interviewed him on the aforementioned XM show last year. That wasn’t a “humble brag” either, because there was nothing humble about it. It bothers me when people use that phrase when they are just plain bragging, but I digress). Nevertheless, the two pitches are tough to distinguish, usually within two mph of each other. But after Halladay left Sunday’s start with a sore shoulder, it looks like my assessment of not worrying was wrong. There’s obviously legitimate cause for concern now.

These headlines really tell the story: Evil Clown Hired For Stalking, Threats And A Pie In The FaceGirlfriend Of (Female Genitalia) Boy Nabbed In StuartBriton Arrested With Roasted Human Foetuses For Use In Black Magic RitualTexas Honor Student Jailed For Missing Too Much School

Animal Antics: Here’s a 40 LB barracuda jumping into a fishing boatThat’s a pretty big ratHere’s a frog sitting on a bench like a humanCouple splits over 550 house cats

Long read: If you haven’t caught this Grantland article about Greg Oden, you need to do so now.

What’s going on with Adrian Gonzalez? His homer Sunday was just his fourth of the year, which is especially perplexing considering he talked this offseason about how his shoulder is finally fully healthy, stating he wasn’t 100 percent last year. Fenway Park is a great place to hit, but its one negative is suppressing home runs for left-handed batters, but we are talking about a player who once hit 40 home runs while playing half his games in Petco Park. Gonzalez has been unlucky when it comes to power, with a HR/FB rate of 5.6|PERCENT| (career mark is 16.5|PERCENT|), but his current BABIP (.324) is right in line with his career level (.322), making his .269 batting average all the more disappointing. Gonzalez’s walk rate (7.8|PERCENT|) is his worst since his rookie season, continuing a downward trend in each of the past three years. He just turned 30 years old and hits in the middle of a lineup that’s among the best in baseball, but the lack of homers is alarming. Being pushed into playing right field also increases his risk of injury. I’m still plenty optimistic and would buy low if such a thing exists, but I predicted Gonzalez would win the AL batting crown before the season and would have drafted him ahead of Miguel Cabrera, so there’s definitely egg on my face so far.

Harrowing footage of a big rig getting demolished by a train.

He’s not as good as Enrico Palazzo, but I do appreciate this little league ump. And this one too. You see, it’s funny because they are making children feel bad about themselves.

Here’s a driver nearly hit by a semi while carrying multiple kids in his trunk.

Rickie Weeks’ .152 batting average is the lowest among qualified hitters in all of baseball by a wide margin. He’s at least contributed five homers and two steals to fantasy owners, but it’s tough to call his start anything but an utter disaster. It’s possible last year’s ankle injury has lingered, and just out of principle I’d recommend trying to buy him low right now. However, problem is, when he inevitably starts hitting, there’s always the risk of injury shortly to follow, as he’s played in 130 games just once during his career. Entering Sunday, an astronomical 42.2|PERCENT| of Weeks’ at-bats have ended with either a strikeout or popout – that isn’t ideal.

This one is aptly labeled “drunk chick fail.”

Wheel of Fortune fail.

Another fail, as this Lamborghini Crashes in the Chicago Suburbs.

Quick hits: Mat Latos pitched into the eighth inning Sunday, gave up five runs and had a BABIP of zero (Colby Lewis accomplished a similar feat May 10). Latos never pitched out of the stretch…Adam Dunn is on pace to finish with 253 strikeouts. The MLB record is 223…Take away his one start in Coors Field (this might be a problem moving forward, since that’s his home park and all), and Christian Friedrich has a 23:3 K:BB ratio over 18.0 innings. The intriguing former first round pick should at least be stashed right now…It’s been a really small sample (you typically want about three years worth of data before drawing conclusions), but it’s still surprising the new Marlins’ park has been the best hitters’ park in baseball this year…Aroldis Chapman’s 15.23 K rate would go down as the second highest in MLB history (minimum 70 innings). He’s also yet to allow a run over 26.0 innings…Melky Cabrera is on pace to finish with 246 hits, which would be the most by an NL player since 1930.

Police Blotter: Teenager tried to rob officer at police stationThe Zodiac killer may (or may not) have finally been identifiedMan arrested for drunken driving, with Zebra and Parrot as passengersNaked man who was eating face off victim killed by police.

“The Dictator,” which was based on a romance novel by Saddam Hussein (I refuse to believe the ugly rumors it was ghost written), was absolutely brilliant. Sacha Baron Cohen is a true genius.

When it comes to speeches, "I Have a Dream" now has a serious rival. And by that I mean the opposite. I haven’t meticulously checked her facts, but I’m going to go ahead and assume they are accurate. Also, this isn’t safe for work (or for sane people). Seriously, listen to the whole thing. It may change your life.

Quick hits, part deux: Before he was touched up for a whole two runs Saturday, 19-year-old Dylan Bundy had allowed zero earned runs over 30.0 innings this season, with a 0.23 WHIP and 40:2 K:BB ratio. Pedro Martinez in his prime couldn’t possibly be expected to match that performance, regardless of level. There isn’t a minor leaguer I’d rather own in keeper leagues…Stephen Strasburg is hitting .389/.421/.722. He’s holding opposing batters to a .223/.290/.278 line…Before the play in which he suffered the thumb injury that will sideline him 4-to-6 weeks, Emilio Bonifacio set an MLB record by stealing 18 consecutive bases without being caught…I have no idea what to make of it, but 26 of Tim Lincecum’s 38 earned runs this season (h/t Henry Schulman) have occurred in one bad inning during his 10 starts…If you prorate Mike Trout’s production over 162 games, you get this: .302-108-24-72-48. He strikes out too much, but he’s 20 years old and might already be baseball’s fastest player and one of the game’s best defensive players. Trout is quite the catch (see what I did there?).

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Moving The Needle

While we are just now reaching the quarter mark of the season, a sample that should still mostly be considered small, the following players have displayed a dramatic enough change in underlying skills that has increased or decreased their value significantly since being drafted back in March.

Jeff Samardzija – Samardzija entered 2012 with a career 5.30 BB/9 rate, but he’s carried over a strong spring training into the season, as he currently sports a 3.00 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP with a 53:16 K:BB ratio over 51.0 innings. His 9.35 K/9 rate ranks 11th best in baseball, and among the 10 listed ahead of Samardzija, only one (Zack Greinke) has a better groundball|PERCENT|. His average fastball velocity of 94.8 mph ranks second best among all starters, so if his dramatic improvement in control is here to stay, Samardzija suddenly looks like a star. In fact, his SwStr|PERCENT|, which measures the percentage of total pitches a batter swings and misses with league average being 8.5|PERCENT|, is an MLB-high 13.3|PERCENT|. Samardzija looks more like a staff ace than a sell high in fantasy leagues.

Adam Dunn – After Dunn’s OPS sat at .589 on April 17, there was obvious concern last year’s disastrous season was the beginning of the end. Since then, it’s become clear 2011 will go down as a huge outlier in an otherwise productive career, as he’s back to his vintage self. Dunn has struck out in 40-of-42 games this season and is on pace to finish with 239 Ks, which would easily set a major league record, so it’s safe to expect a batting average no better than his career .244 line. Still, Dunn’s .349 ISO ranks third best in the majors, and in today’s game when power is way down, home runs are that much more valuable. There’s little doubt he’s experienced some luck with a 31.8 HR/FB|PERCENT|, but his walk rate is up, his 0.48 GB/FB rate is a career low and his 23.5 LD|PERCENT| is a career high. If we held a draft today, Dunn would likely go more than 10 rounds higher than he did back in March.

Dee Gordon – After racking up 10 steals over the first 18 games of the season, Gordon has none over the past 11 contests, attempting just one over that span. Of course, it’s tough to run when not on base, as Gordon’s OBP currently sits at .244. That’s accompanied by a .255 slugging percentage, as he’s one of only four players in baseball with an OPS below .500. He’s been utterly helpless against left-handers, producing a .152/.188/.174 line over 46 at-bats. For someone who has terrific speed with a 1.97 GB/FB rate and an 18.1 LD|PERCENT|, his .241 BABIP should certainly be considered unlucky, but it’s worth noting his groundball numbers are skewed by 12 bunt attempts, and he hits far too many popups, possessing a 20.7 IFFB|PERCENT| that’s fifth highest in all of baseball. Gordon’s bat simply doesn’t look ready for major league pitching. I predicted he’d lead MLB in stolen bases before the season started, but at this point, there’s a better chance he spends a long stint back in the minors than that happening.

Clay Buchholz – After Buchholz broke out with a 2.33 ERA in 2010, there were calls for regression since that came with a poor 120:67 K:BB ratio over 173.2 innings. While some of that correction occurred in 2011, he still posted a solid 3.48 ERA before going down to injury despite another K:BB rate that was under 2.0. With consistently strong groundball rates, it was entirely possible Buchholz was a pitcher who could prevent runs better than his peripherals would suggest, and with a good pedigree at age 27, there was also a real chance he’d make a leap. After all, Buchholz’s minor league numbers were dominant (2.44 ERA, 10.2 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 over 447.0 innings), and he should receive a lot of run support pitching for Boston. But Buchholz has only gotten worse in 2012, with an ugly combo of 5.11 K/9 and 4.70 BB/9 rates. He’s certainly not as bad as his current 7.77 ERA, and things will get better, but Buchholz’s 5.23 xFIP is the second worst among all starters in baseball, so it’s safe to say he’s unlikely to live up to his once high expectations. In fact, he may not even be rosterable outside of AL-only leagues.

MLB Notes

Before the season started, I noted just how different Billy Butler’s approach at the plate was before and after the All-Star break last year. Entering the ASB, Butler had a 43:49 K:BB ratio with a .415 slugging percentage. Afterward, he posted a 52:17 K:BB ratio with a .511 SLG. Here were his GB/FB rates over the final five months of last season: 2.09, 2.44, 1.48, 0.78, 0.97. The approach appears to have continued into 2012 so far, at least on the surface, as he currently has a 16:4 K:BB ratio with five homers over 27 games. However, digging deeper, his GB|PERCENT| (48.3) is actually nearly a career high, and Butler is hitting fewer flyballs than ever (31.5 FB|PERCENT|), it’s just that they have gone over the fence at the best rate of his career (17.9 HR/FB|PERCENT|), so he’s been a bit lucky in the power department. So while his 30-homer pace appears unsustainable, a .300-22-100 type campaign is well within reach and would be plenty valuable in fantasy terms. One positive is that all five of his home runs have come against right-handers this season, as he’s typically done most of his damage against southpaws throughout his career.

This bike crash is pretty brutal.

Intense plane crash caught on film.

Crazy footage of a kid getting hit by a bus.

Anibal Sanchez’s shoulder scared me off him in March, but it’s certainly been to the detriment of my fantasy teams so far, as he looks like one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. After striking out 202 batters over 196.1 innings last season, he leads the National League with a 10.26 K/9 rate in 2012. That’s been accompanied by a career-low 2.43 BB/9 ratio and a career-high 48.1 GB|PERCENT|. When you add that all up with someone who’s also tough to homer against (career 7.8 HR/FB|PERCENT|), it’s a combination that could potentially lead to a Cy Young award. Health remains something of a concern with Sanchez, but his fantasy owners may be holding what’s equivalent to a winning lottery ticket.

These grandmas watching the Kim Kardashian sex tape are pretty damn funny.

I’m beginning to think “the human element” needs to be stopped.

This encounter of a woman interrupting a news taping constantly spitting is truly bizarre.

I dropped Pedro Alvarez in my home league a couple weeks back, even questioning whether he was the worst hitter in all of baseball on the radio at the time. He’s since hit four homers with 10 RBI over his last 11 games and has recently become the team’s new cleanup hitter. The strikeouts remain ugly, but he also has seven of his eight walks on the year during that span. There’s little question Alvarez will hurt your batting average, and this is obviously a small sample, but the former No. 2 overall pick possesses plenty of power potential. He’s also crushing left-handers (.364/.364/.818), which is a surprise. In a thin landscape at third base with Evan Longoria, Pablo Sandoval and Ryan Zimmerman shelved, Alvarez suddenly holds plenty of value.

This footage is disturbing, but not nearly as bad as a much more close version that was only recently removed from YouTube. Wow.

Funny bit of Cousin Sal working at a temp agency.

Long read: A remarkable story about one of the most sought after fugitives in U.S. history, whom after finally being caught, may walk free anyway.

Speaking of nice surprises at third base, look no further than Edwin Encarnacion, who’s currently on pace to finish the season with 50 homers, 134 RBI, 95 runs and 22 steals. It’s safe to say the streaky E5 is going to slow down, but he’s also locked into regular playing time, and the DH role appears to suit him well. While he’s never been given a real opportunity, it’s worth noting Encarnacion has averaged one HR per 19.5 at-bats since joining Toronto. Adrian Gonzalez has averaged one HR per 19.8 ABs throughout his career. Moreover, batting in the middle of a Blue Jays’ lineup that has scored the third-most runs in the American League this season, Encarnacion should continue to rack up counting stats. Still just 29 years old, it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Encarnacion finished with more fantasy value than teammate Jose Bautista.

Police Blotter: Jilted dentist pulls out all of ex-boyfriend’s teethThis guy was ignored in a DEA holding cell for five days and was forced to drink his own urine in order to survive…Disturbingly tan mom arrested after 5-year-old daughter gets sunburn. Seriously, her defense team better be good!

A poor outing in Atlanta by Johan Santana in which he gave up six runs over 1.1 innings brings down an otherwise terrific start to the season. His current 9.87 K/9 rate is his best since 2004, resulting in a 2.61 ERA and 1.19 WHIP despite the disaster against the Braves. His return from surgery appears to be a huge success, although his velocity is a career-low (he’s averaging 88.4 mph with his fastball. His career average is 91.4 mph). Santana has been getting a little lucky, with a .282 BABIP and 2.7 HR/FB|PERCENT|, but note his career levels are .275 and 8.9|PERCENT|, respectively, so some crash back to earth isn’t necessarily in store, although more gopher balls can safely be expected. Santana will almost certainly be on an innings limit this season, but he’s been an absolute steal for fantasy owners who gambled on him so far, and there are no signs suggesting it’s been a total fluke. He’s back.

Animal Antics: Lion tries to eat baby dressed in zebra outfitFish slaps catWindow surpriseDog guards owner’s bike that he later rides on.

Freddie Freeman entered April 17 hitting .162 with a .189 slugging percentage. He’s since raised his OPS 470 points, as he’s up to six homers and 26 RBI on the year. His 31:5 K:BB ratio is ugly, but Freeman also leads major league baseball with a 37.2 LD|PERCENT|. After a fairly drastic split last year, he’s actually hit lefties better than right-handers so far in 2012, which could be big news moving forward. In such a shallow position in the National League, Freeman has emerged as the clear No. 2 fantasy first baseman in the Senior Circuit.

These headlines really tell the story: Meth Lab Explodes In Man’s PantsHang-Glider Pilot May Have Swallowed EvidenceOne Direction Stars May Have Gotten Chlamydia From A KoalaZoo Caretaker Licks Monkey’s Butt To Help It Defecate.

Quick hits: This year Brandon Morrow already has induced five times as many double plays (GIDP) than he did all of last season…Not a Yankees fan and have him on zero of my fantasy teams, but it was sad to see Mariano Rivera go down like that…Conversely, it was pretty cool to see Chris Davis pitching in a high leverage situation, striking out the first batter he faced on three pitches while reaching 90 mph…The Giants went 43 consecutive innings without having a lead this past week…Josh Johnson has allowed an MLB-high .439 BABIP, while Shaun Marcum leads baseball with a 14.4 SwStr|PERCENT|…Put a fork in Ubaldo Jimenez, he’s done…Over his last three relief appearances, Alfredo Aceves has recorded 11 strikeouts…Owning Jayson Werth just about everywhere, it wasn’t fun watching Sunday Night Baseball, when he mangled his wrist in front of everyone. Good times…It’s possible (and I emphasize may here) I may have been wrong about Luke Hochevar this year. Good God…It’s Bryan LaHair’s world, the rest of us are just paying rent.

After hearing good buzz, I saw “The Cabin In The Woods” last week, and even while entering knowing it’s not what you expect it to be, it still wasn’t anything near what I expected it to be. Unfortunately, I can’t say I loved it, although I will say it had the best scene involving a unicorn in the history of cinema.

This whole Sarah Phillips saga is easily one of the craziest I’ve ever come across. Unbelievable.

I certainly wouldn’t call the Mayweather/Cotto fight a classic, but it was refreshing to see Money May be the aggressor for once, really changing styles to put on a show, which resulted in him being hurt more than ever, although it was again a dominating performance. It would be shame if we don’t get to witness such greatness ever again.

Speaking of greatness, Jack White’s new solo album is ridiculously good. I highly recommend it…Also, I saw The Black Keys, who were opened by The Arctic Monkeys, last week, which was a fantastic show. But my ears were still ringing the next morning – does that mean I’m getting old?

Quick hits, part deux: It’s too early to take Park Factors seriously this time of year, but Coors Field’s current rating of 1.797 on runs scored would end as the highest ever since ESPN started tracking it. And it almost always becomes a much bigger hitters’ park in the hotter summer months…Edinson Volquez is off to a strong start with his new team, but realize he’s somehow managed to pitch in Petco Park in six of his seven starts so far this year…After getting hit by a pitch that was clearly on purpose by Cole Hamels, Bryce Harper not only got to third base from first on a single to left field, but he also stole home afterward during a Hamels pickoff attempt to first base. I especially liked how the Yahoo box score said he stole “4th base”…This has been, without question, the craziest year ever for closers.

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