|Ask The King: The Fantasy Baseball King's Mailbox||Tweet|
|Archives (other articles)|
|Saturday, 18 June 2011 14:23|
The King answers readers' questions, including: Is Blackmon the real deal?
As a current Dexter Fowler owner in a keeper league, I'm a little concerned with the emergence of Charlie Blackmon. He's currently available in my league, and I've been thinking of picking him up. My OF is currently Ryan Braun, Carlos Beltran, Brennan Boesch, and Dexter Fowler. I could definitely use some steals, which is why I drafted Fowler to begin with. Should I make the swap by dropping Fowler for Blackmon?
Fantasy Baseball King's Advice:
Dexter Fowler has been absolutely putrid in 2011. His .238/.340/.348 slash line is one of the worst in the Majors for a full-time player, and it's pathetic that a guy with his speed has but 2 SB's through 57 games played. What's worse, his stats are ballooned by a .345 BABIP. While he's shown the ability to sustain a somewhat high BABIP (career - .337), it just goes to show how badly he's actually hit, and that it's only because of his speed (which otherwise has been wasted) that he's hitting above the Mendoza Line. Long-term, I'm not sure if it's realistic to expect any real improvements. Fowler is now in his 3rd full season in the majors, and we've seen significant regression in several areas. His K-rate has sailed all the way to 31.4% (career 26.3%) despite staying around the 20% mark throughout the minors. Furthermore, while he's still walking a good bit (12.6%), his limited power has nose-dived. While posting .141 and .150 ISO's in his first 2 full seasons was nothing to brag about, his current .110 mark is good for 12th worst amongst all outfielders with at least 200 plate appearances (he did manage to beat out heavyweights Juan Pierre, Michael Bourn, and Rajai Davis). Now, Fowler was never expected to be a huge source of power, but he did manage a .181 ISO in Double-A while hitting 9 HR's (421 AB). Whereas his speed once enabled him to pile up bucket-loads of doubles and triples, his inability to get on base has rendered his wheels useless.
Charlie Blackmon is another story altogether. A 2nd Round pick (72nd Overall) in 2008, Blackmon was always seen as a good hitter but never landed on any Top Prospect lists. Still, a .316/.374/.475 minor league slash line after 345 games surely calls for some notice. After several promising campaigns in Low-A ball, Blackmon started to show some pop in his first chance at Double-A during the 2010 season. This year, however, has been his true breakout. Although his BB-rate was down a bit, it was still respectable at 7%, and while a more aggressive approach has resulted in a 14% K-rate in Triple-A, his ISO also soared to .235, fueled by 10 HR's in his first 58 games. Those HR's, coupled with 12 SB's over the same time span, have made Blackmon a true threat at both the plate and on the bases. If you're looking for a batter who, despite not being in Baseball America's Top 100, could blossom into a star hitter over the next season or so, Charlie Blackmon fits the bill nicely. I could easily see him hitting 8-12 HR's and stealing 12-18 bases over the remainder of the 2011 season.
My recommendation, easily, is to drop Fowler for Blackmon. The latter has clearly passed the former on Colorado's depth chart and, even if he does lose playing time down the line, the Rockies always seem to give plenty of at-bats to a 4th outfielder (see: Seth Smith). Make the move, and laugh your way to the bank.
Hi King, Long time reader here.
Is Dustin Ackley worth owning in typical mixed leagues? I've been shuffling through the Allen Craig's and Justin Turner's of the world for a while, but am hoping to catch magic somewhere. What do you think?
Looking forward to your reply,
A Second Baseman-Deprived Fantasy Owner
Fantasy Baseball King's Advice:
Dustin Ackley is an interesting name. Despite being the 2nd overall pick of the 2009 Major League Draft, Ackley had a rough time over his first full season in 2010. He started slow in Double-A, but upon picking things up after 82 games, was promoted to Triple-A. He posted somewhat similar slash lines at both levels (.260/.386/.381 and .274/.338/.439, respectively), but clearly figured something out, as his ISO rose from .121 to .165 after the promotion. 2011 held another slow start for Ackley but, again, he bettered his game as the season progressed. Now, after 66 games, his slash line is quite pretty- .303/.421/.487. His 9 HR's have helped him reach a tidy .185 ISO, and he's even improved his running game, posting 7 SB's thus far.
Like almost any rookie, I'd expect Dustin Ackley to experience some bumps in the road. If his minor league history has taught us anything, it's that he can indeed hit, but that it seems to take some time for him to settle in. I see him hitting somewhere around .275/.350/.390 the rest of the way, which would actually be quite good for a middle infielder this season. If he can do that, he'd be about the 10th-12th best option at 2B for 2011. As for the long-term, I see him blossoming into a high-average hitter with moderate power and speed. Think Dustin Pedroia, for those wanting a MLB comparison.
So what's the deal with Dillon Gee? Could he really be as good as he looks right now? He was never ranked highly as a prospect, and it's not like he's throwing 95 so ... what do you think? I've been enjoying the ride right now, but Jake Arrieta is available in my league. With Arrieta being so highly touted, I can't help but think I should make the swap.
Fantasy Baseball King's Advice:
Well, as we've seen with Fowler and Blackmon, being "highly-touted" doesn't always mean everything for a young player's future. In the cases of Gee and Arrieta, of course, we have one pitcher who never broke Baseball America's Top 100 (Gee), and another who made the list twice (Arrieta-- #67 in 2009 and #99 in 2010). We also have two pitchers with very different approaches. Whereas Gee approaches pitching with guile, deception, and command, Arrieta is a fireballer with a good fastball that hits as high as 97 MPH. But Kyle Farnsworth and Oliver Perez aren't aces, so obviously, we need to delve deeper.
Dillon Gee's minor league career was good, but unspectacular. While his ERA has fluctuated rather wildly (from as low as 2.47 in 2007 to as high as 4.96 in 2010), his other ratios were steadier, and resulted in a minor league career K-rate of 7.9 and BB-rate of 2.0. That control allowed him to post an impressive SO/BB ratio of 4.05 and clean WHIP of 1.17. His FIP followed suit:
Okay, so 2008 and 2009 were pretty close. But when the results got ugly (specifically in 2010), Gee's FIP showed that he still was pitching decently. In fact, 2010 was perhaps Gee's best "stuff" season, as he struck out a career-high 9.20/ 9 IP while still posting a mere 2.29 BB-rate. His scary ERA was due mostly to an unusually-high opposing BABIP of .332.
Gee has been even better in the majors. Over 15 career starts between 2010 and 2011, he now has a 9-2 record to go along with a 2.64 ERA and 1.12 WHIP. While his SO/BB ratio (1.78) hasn't been as phenomenal as it had been in the minors, he's improved across the board during his second season. After posting nearly identical K- and BB-rates in 2010 (4.6 and 4.1, respectively), he's bettered those numbers significantly this year (6.7 and 3.0). He's been even better of late, posting 20 K's and only 4 BB's over his past 26 IP, good for a 6.90 K-rate and 1.38 BB-rate (5.0 SO/BB ratio). Still, despite being better than initially advertised, Gee is probably in store for a regression. His FIP of 3.48 is indicative of an unusually low opposing BABIP (.239) and unsustainable / Jon Lesterian LOB% (75.3%).
Now, on to Mr. Arrieta who, for all intents and purposes, has been Dillon Gee's exact opposite. While Arrieta's always posted good K-rates (minor league career average of 8.9), his control has been another story altogether. He saw a nice improvement from 4.1 BB/9 to 3.3 BB/9 as he progressed from High-A (2008) to Triple-A (2009), but regressed in 2010, posting a 4.2 BB/9. As such, his SO/BB ratio has never been very good, sitting at a career minor league average of only 2.35. His MLB career has been even worse (1.38), although he has at least seen an improvement in the strikeout department, raising his K-rate from 4.7 in 2010 to 7.5 this season. Still, his control has continued to suffer, resulting in an ERA of 4.57 over his first 33 games started at the Major League level. It'd be nice to point to clumsy defense or bad luck, but an opposing BABIP of .279 and LOB% of 71.7% are quite typical. As such, his FIP, 4.71, has made his ERA look low. The past month hasn't been any better for Arrieta, as he's both walked and struck out 13 batters over his most recent 21.0 IP (3.90 K- and BB-rates).
This is an interesting conundrum, as Arrieta is clearly the more talented thrower. But as the sage Yoda would say, throwing doesn't always a pitcher make, and that is exactly what Gee has shown he can be - a pitcher. Like Jon Niese before him, Dillon Gee is using average to slightly above average stuff to get batters out. While he probably isn't an ace like the one he's currently impersonating, he could be a very useful mid-rotation starter for a long time. That has good value. Arrieta, on the other hand, could break out at any time and become a true front-line starter. But the Orioles staff has had many talented arms come through their system over the past few years (Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Zach Britton, Adam Loewen, and Daniel Cabrera come to mind), and only Britton has thus far looked the part. Matusz has come close, but can't stay healthy, Tillman is like Arrieta's twin, and Loewen and Cabrera were clearly busts. Even Britton, who currently sports a 3.18 ERA, is in for a regression. Like Arrieta, his SO/BB ratio is too small (1.62), and his FIP (3.98) is more indicative of his current production level. So while I like a lot of these pitchers' arms, I'm starting to sincerely doubt the Orioles' ability to harness their pitching prospects' talents.
In conclusion, I'd hold on to Dillon Gee for now, but expect a regression. If another pitcher can be had (not Arrieta), I'd make the move. Starting pitchers who are currently owned in less than 75% of leagues but who should be owned in more include Ryan Vogelsong (62%), Johnny Cueto (69%), Jordan Zimmerman (65%), Bud Norris (49%), Gavin Floyd (63%), and the aforementioned Jon Niese (33%). If one of these guys is available, I'd make the swap. Otherwise, keep enjoying the ride.
|Last Updated on Monday, 20 June 2011 06:24|