Mr. April – Looking at the Regression Trends of Some Notable Players on the ESPN Player Rater

 

1973 was the year.

Richard Nixon was president and the Watergate hearings were beginning. The OPEC oil crisis had the world economy in a tailspin. Roe vs. Wade was under discussion amongst the Supreme Court.

But to the common man, more significant events were afoot.

Secretariat was about to become the first Triple Crown winner in a quarter century. Frank Burns started picking flowers for Margaret Houlihan. Stevie Wonder was getting superstitious while Paul McCartney started releasing crappy music. David Thompson led NC State to an undefeated season (27-0), invented the ”alley oop” dunk, and started to prepare himself for his 9 year attempt at snorting away Columbia’s gross domestic product.

And, amidst all the clatter, on June 7th in a smoky room filled with name plates and coffee, David Mark Winfield was drafted number 4 overall to pitch for the San Diego Padres.

The Padres of course started Winfield in the majors, and placed him in right field so they could take advantage of his ”cannon arm”. In his 22 year career he had 3,110 hits, knocked 465 homers, stole 223 bases, batted .283 and was elected into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.

But it was in 1985 that Dave Winfield met his moniker. Recalling the 81 series loss to Toronto, an annoyed George Steinbrenner told NY Times writer Murray Chass, ”we need a Mr. October or Mr. September. Winfield is Mr. May.”

 

RotoWire has the best daily fantasy baseball tools on the web.
Try Our Daily MLB Lineup Optimizer

In deeper leagues you’ve already found your hot hitters and rubber arms. Omar Infante, Nolan Reimold, and Chase Headley are the present gems of the astute owners roster. But what batters on this years player raters are due for a predictable regression?

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you your 2012 Mr. April nominees.

Josh Willingham OF Twins

Currently the number 11th rated hitter on ESPN’s player rater, Josh has hit safely in all 14 games played this season. He is on pace to shatter Joe DiMaggio’s streak and have the planet Earth renamed after him.

Looking closer though, Willingham is a career .289 April hitter, .259 May hitter and .252 June hitter. As he’s 33 years old, we can expect this career trend to continue.

Prepare to dump.

Andre Ethier OF Dodgers

15th on the player rater, 4 homers, 19 RIB’s (Eve of Eden, eat yer heart out) and a .289 average.

Interestingly, he’s regressed. In Ethier’s 5 year ML career he is a .318 April hitter (4.6 Hr’s) before sliding to .292 in May and .267 in June (those splits are in 484, 486 and 513 AB’s, so injuries aren’t a factor).

In a keeper league I recently packaged Ethier with Gordon to aquire a big fish. I suggest you explore the same opportunity.

Chase Headley 3B Padres

Number 19 on the player rater, Headley’s currently hitting .288 with 4 dingers and 2 swipes.

In his 5 year career Headley’s got 8 homers in 312 April at bats, so at the age of 27 things might finally be clicking into place. On the downside though, he carries a .276 career April average, to a May-June line of .258 and .263 respectively (with 5 homers and 8 homers, re-respectively).

I find little to respect in those respective numbers.

Though he’s apparently found some semblance of a groove I would see if I could use his age and present numbers to entice another owner into his acquisition.

David Freese 3B Cardinals

Currently batting .364. Nuff said.

At 28 years old, Freese is a career .333 April hitter. And, as much as I like Freese and recommend you hold him, his career at bats (and not production numbers) tell the story. 216 career April AB’s, 110 career May AB’s, 76 June, 85 July, 82 August, 79 Sept/Oct.

Dave Freese is such an injury risk, that if he’d spent his career under the care of the Met’s medical staff he’d already be dead. Own at your own risk.

Matt Joyce OF Rays

Aged 27 when most hitters mature, Joyce has homered 3 times in the last 4 games to raise his season average to .306.

And I still peg him as a sell high candidate. Those who owned him last year will attest. A career .299 April hitter, Joyce traditionally rides the temperate skies of spring to a state of belief, until he melts like cheddar in the summer sun. .183 career June average, .248 July, .254 August. What, do I have to spell it out for you after having just spelled it out for you?

Like Headley, I would package Joyce’s age with his numbers and ship him off to an owner with holes in his socks.

Chad Billingsley SP Dodgers

Bills has 17 K’s in 20 innings this year and wields a 0.69 WHIP. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he historically carries a K/9 of 9 through April and May, before averaging 7.2 through August. Heat behooves him not.

 

I picked him off waivers in 80|PERCENT| of my leagues this year in anticipation of some sweet early numbers. After the Milwaukee game I managed to spin him off in half of those leagues. After the Houston game I hope to shuffle him off in the rest of them. Let’s face it, he opened the season with 11 K’s against a Padres offense that can best be described as a sham of a mockery.

Dump him while you can. Matt Capps or Jason Kipnis seems a reasonable asking price (at least in my deeper leagues) but I’d aim for more first.

Gio Gonzalez SP Nationals

There were reports during last years spring training that Gio’d put it all together and he rode the rap out to a 2.70-1.67-2.72 April-May-June ERA line. This year he’s sporting a tasty 2.04 ERA with 21 K’s in 17.2 innings.

And, last year he put up a 4.50 July line and a 5.52 August line. This mirrors his career trends of 2.84-3.15-3.76-4.88-4.43. The culprit isn’t his K/9 however, it’s his control. A 2.14 K/BB in April-May becomes a 1.86 ratio in the summer months.

I like Gio to mature this year and I like his move to the NL. I’m also aware of his aversion to pitching in the heat. Watch how his ball movement translates to the humidity on the east coast and be ready to duck if you’ve got box seats.

Things could get dangerous.

Kyle Lohse SP Cardinals

In deeper leagues he’s everybody’s darling. In leagues that count WHIP and BB’s as a category he’s a prom queen with a movie deal. Carrying an 0.89 ERA and a 0.59 WHIP, why wouldn’t he be?

A look at his career trends though paint a bleak outlook. Typically a 4.15 April butterfly, he morphs into a 4.54-4.80 and 5.02 larva around the All Star break.

Now, those numbers in my opinion don’t reflect the voodoo spell that Dave Duncan has cast upon him in the past few years. Still, when we turn our third eye back to last season we notice a 1.64 April ERA, followed by 2.57-4.55-5.53 and 5.92.

There is a light in the tunnel though. Lohse finished last year with a sexy 1.37 September line. And, when Doug Eddings or Matt Hollowell are behind the plate his K/9 jumps to 10.5!! (That’s 3 lights in 1 tunnel Callahan!!)

Sorry. I just paraphrased you.

Astute owners in deeper leagues make decisions based on numbers, not on names. By keeping one up on the Jones’s, you can use your Mr. April’s to accumulate talent that will help you over the course of the season.

We’re 3 starts in people. The data is beginning to round into perspective.

Happy gambling folks.