The Price has been right (USAT)
I admit I was skeptical David Price was a great buy-low candidate when his ERA sat in the mid-4s despite terrific peripherals, as I worried a noticeable drop in velocity was leading to all the home runs allowed more so than pure bad luck. After all, he’s already served up more homers this season than he did all of last year in 62.2 fewer innings. In fact, only three pitchers have allowed more long balls this season, but they play in hitter-friendly places such as Miller Park, Coors Field and Chase Field, whereas Tropicana Field has reduced home runs by nine percent over the past three seasons. Price’s 13.3 HR/FB% is easily a career high, but I didn’t want to totally absolve him for all these long balls. But that viewpoint is harder to argue after Price’s last five starts, when he’s posted an insane 54:5 K:BB ratio with a 2.27 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP over 39.2 innings. Over that span, he became the first pitcher in a decade to record five straight double-digit strikeout games.
Price’s current K:BB ratio would rank as the third best in MLB history, and his 25.2 K-BB% also leads all of baseball. If you’re wondering how much that latter stat matters, the pitchers directly behind him to round out the top-10 are as follows: Masahiro Tanaka, Stephen Strasburg, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish, Johnny Cueto, Madison Bumgarner, Zack Greinke, Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber. In other words, it features a list of the best pitchers in the game, so I guess Price’s big turnaround in ERA shouldn’t be all that surprising, although it’s probably worth noting he yielded five more home runs over this five-start stretch. I would argue he could benefit from not throwing so many pitches inside the strike zone, but he ranks a modest 17th in that category, so it’s not like he’s too extreme. At least plenty of the homers are solo since he rarely walks anyone, but it’s quite interesting to have historically dominant peripherals and yet be so susceptible to the long ball. Regardless, Price is plenty valuable as is and would be an absolute monster if he gets traded to the National League.
Count me among those who thought the Royals were foolish for trading Wil Myers to the Rays for James Shields and Wade Davis. Revisiting it now, Myers had a 92 wRC+ this year before going down with a season-ending injury, whereas Shields has accumulated 5.8 WAR since the beginning of 2013, which ranks as the 17th most among all pitchers. Meanwhile, Davis has turned into one of the very best relievers in MLB, posting a 1.10 ERA and 0.83 WHIP with 54 strikeouts over 32.2 innings (he’s actually allowed more walks than hits+homers combined). Kansas City suddenly has a better run differential than the Tigers and is in the playoff picture. Having said that, Shields is a free agent at season’s end and of course Myers could develop into a star, but maybe the Royals didn’t exactly get totally taken advantage of, to say the least…Sticking with the A.L. Central, it’s odd the Tigers and Royals are a combined 38-39 at home compared to 43-30 on the road…Max Scherzer’s first complete game came during his 179th start - the most ever by any pitcher since 1900. He proceeded to follow that up by getting pounded for 10 runs over four innings during his next outing. Scherzer has given up four runs or more in five of his last seven starts, but his peripherals still look strong…Seriously, what’s up with Eric Hosmer? He sure seems like a lost cause right now…The Indians, who were my favorite “long shot” bet to win the World Series before this year (admittedly my favorite “over” bet was the Padres but more on them later) are somehow still in the postseason race despite Jason Kipnis (.247/.329/.351) and Carlos Santana (.214/.366/.408) off to disappointing starts and ace Justin Masterson posting a 5.03 ERA while Danny Salazar was so bad (and hurt) he’s currently in Triple-A. It doesn’t hurt that the Indians are batting .355 with the bases loaded (compare that to the Dodgers, who’ve hit .152 with the bases full this year).
Quick Hits: Todd Frazier is currently on pace to finish with 102 runs scored, 36 homers, 96 RBI and 17 steals while batting .280. He has just two fewer homers than last year in 245 fewer ABs, and his eight stolen bases are already a career high. Only Miguel Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion have been more valuable fantasy third basemen than Frazier in 2014. Since the beginning of May, Frazier has been the No. 5 most valuable fantasy player…Jake Odorizzi has a pedestrian 4.29 ERA and an ugly 3-7 record, but the rookie has really impressed of late, recording a 39:7 K:BB ratio over his last six starts (over 34.1 innings). Admittedly, he’s had massive home/road splits (2.70 ERA over 50.0 innings at the Trop compared to a 7.16 ERA everywhere else), and it’s not like the Rays’ anemic offense won’t stop costing him wins. But Odorizzi has a 9.8 SwStr% and his 18.4 K-BB% would be the 16th best in baseball if he qualified. I wouldn’t let Odorizzi be on any wavier wire in all but the shallowest of leagues…Alexei Ramirez ended May as the No. 13 ranked fantasy player but has hit just .232/.267/.280 in June. He’s yet to record a single RBI this month over 82 at bats…It took Jose Abreu the third fewest games in MLB history to reach 20 homers…Jake Arrieta has a ridiculous 36:2 K:BB ratio over his last four starts, a span of 27.0 innings, including flirting with a perfect game Tuesday. He’s obviously due for some regression, but it’s hard not to be impressed. Arrieta is inducing swing and misses (9.3 SwStr%) and has a 53.0 GB% to go along with a 25.8 FB% (and among those, 11.8% have been pop ups). He looks legit.
Headlines of the Week: Mother Tries To Extinguish Fire With Water From Dog Bowl, Finds Daughter Filled It With Gas…10-Year-Old Sacramento Prodigy Graduates From High School…20 Students Taken To Hospital After First Grader Brings Heroin To School…Woman ‘Gives Birth’ To Lizard, Gets Accused Of Witchcraft…Earth May Have Underground ‘Ocean’ Three Times That On Surface…Chinese Fan Dies After Staying Up To Watch The World Cup…Cool Dead Woman Hangs Out At Her Own Funeral…Man Sues Hospital After ‘Botched’ Surgery Shortened His Penis By An Inch And Caused His Wife To Divorce Him…Man In Florida Rides Whale Shark…Boy Finds Mummified Body Hanging In Dayton, Ohio, Home...Boy Fakes Kidnapping To Avoid The Dentist…Canada Woman Stops For Ducks; Guilty In Two Deaths…Peanut Takes Lead In ‘World’s Ugliest Dog’ Contest At Sonoma-Marin Fair.
Quick Hits Part Deux: J.D. Martinez is riding a 13-game hitting streak, a stretch in which he’s raised his OPS from .756 to .965. He still strikes out too much to maintain anything close to his current .310 batting average, but the 26-year-old possesses intriguing power potential. Even with Torii Hunter’s return, Martinez should remain a regular in Detroit’s lineup, with Rajai Davis moving to the bench. Hitting directly behind Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez is a pretty good spot. Sticking with VMart, his 18 homers are his most before the All-Star break during his career. One more final Tigers nugget: Joe Nathan has a 6.18 ERA and 1.59 WHIP, which has helped him reach four wins – more than Andrew Cashner (2.36 ERA), Jeff Samardzija (2.53 ERA) and Cole Hamels (2.76 ERA)…It’s been just two starts (against two offenses that have ranked top-four in runs scored this season), but the early signs of Mat Latos’ return have been discouraging. He’s averaged just 90.6 mph after averaging 92.6 over the past two seasons. This has likely helped result in a paltry 6.0 SwStr%, which is way down from his career mark (10.4%). Again, small sample, but there’s also plenty of reason to be concerned about the true condition of Latos’ arm right now…Edwin Encarnacion entered April 29 with one home run and has since hit 23 (over just 201 at bats), giving him a league-leading 24 bombs on the year. Despite the slow start, Encarnacion also leads MLB with 63 RBI and is second only to Jose Abreu in ISO (.321). Since the beginning of May, Encarnacion has been by far the most valuable fantasy player.
Police Blotter: Man Accused Of Having Sex With Pool Float, Again…61-Year-Old Graffiti Vandal Led Police On A 300m Chase On A Toy Scooter After Spray-Painting Police Station…'My Boobs Are More Important Than The Law,’ Says Court-Defying Model With 11 Convictions…Florida Man Shoots Robber After 911 Transfers Him To Voicemail…450-Pound Florida Man Had Marijuana Stashed In His “Stomach Fat.”…Former CBS Anchorman Arrested For Calling Wife 109 Times In 1 Day…Mom Charged With Fatally Poisoning Son For Posts On Mommy Blog…Man Shoots Himself, Makes False Report Twice In 1 Year…Thief Forgets To Log Off Facebook After Burglarizing Home…Jackpot! Oakland Decriminalizing Pinball Machines.
Quick Hits Part Tres: Huston Street has both stayed healthy and been terrific this season, but with the Padres featuring a historically bad offense (literally the worst OBP ever) and a 34-45 record that currently has them 12.5 games out of the N.L. West, there are few players more likely to get traded at the deadline. Joaquin Benoit (assuming he’s not dealt also) will be the beneficiary and take over as San Diego’s closer if it happens. He hasn’t allowed a run since May 11 and would immediately become a top fantasy closer, so he should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues. Over 59.2 innings this season, Street and Benoit have combined to produce a 1.21 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP with a 4-0 record and zero blown saves…Sean Doolittle has one of the most ironic surnames you’ll ever see, as he’s the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 45 batters before issuing his second walk. Moreover, the best K:BB ratio in MLB history (minimum 30.0 innings) is Dennis Eckersley at 18.33 in 1989. Doolittle’s current mark is 50:1…With both Michael Wacha and Jaime Garcia on the disabled list, Carlos Martinez is going to get a chance in St. Louis’ starting rotation. It may take a bit before he’s fully stretched out, and Martinez still needs to improve his control, but there’s upside here. He’s averaged 97.1 mph with his fastball this season, helping produce an elite 11.9 SwStr%.
I enjoyed going to the FSTA summer conference last week in San Francisco but aside from dominating Chris Liss at shuffleboard, it’s safe to say the highlights of the trip was the food. Taking the lead of FiveThirtyEight’s search to find America’s best burrito, I tried their No. 1 seed and while El Farolito was a dive, it also most certainly lived up to the hype. I later tried “Little Star,” a place known for some of the best deep-dish pizza this side of Chicago. It was solid, but I’d recommend this place if you want a pie in SF (how ostentatious does it sound to refer to pizza as “pie?”). And finally, the best steak I’ve ever had in my life by far was at “Strip Steak,” located in Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The chef running that place is Michael Mina, who also heads a newish establishment in San Francisco called Bourbon Steak. Order the Japanese Wagyu Rib Cap and thank me later. It will change your life. Also, I’d be remiss not to point out this pathetic moment in my life.
This compilation of the 10 most ridiculous on-screen deaths isn’t bad, but it’s also invalidated for not including the clear No. 1 winner.
This is no joke: Doctors Without Borders: Ebola ‘Out Of Control.’
Longread of the Week: Nathan Fielder’s Ingenious Dumb Humor.
Quick Hits Part Four: With Gavin Floyd out for the year with an ugly elbow injury, Alex Wood is set to rejoin Atlanta’s rotation. He’s been shaky since getting shifted to a relief role, but Wood still possesses an elite 19.2 K-BB% that’s better than Adam Wainwright’s. He needs to be owned in all formats now that he’s back starting…Over 30.1 fewer innings this season compared to last, Jason Grilli has walked just two fewer batters while allowing the same amount of home runs. He’s also doubled his blown saves and matched his losses despite 33 fewer appearances. Grilli’s K-BB% has dropped from 30.2 to 9.2. Mark Melancon looks like a very safe bet to lead the Pirates in saves from here on out…Seth Smith has a .344/.431/.640 line with six of his eight homers coming at PETCO Park this season, and while most players perform better at home, and PETCO actually increased home runs for left-handed batters by 30 percent last season after moving the fences in, it hasn’t been nearly as friendly this year (it’s decreased HR for LHB by 10 percent so far). Go figure. Speaking of Smith, I have no idea how he didn’t score on this play...Devin Mesoraco has homered in five straight games, knocking in 12 RBI over that span. He’s spent some time on the DL, but his 13 homers still rank as the second most among all catchers. Mesoraco’s 1.054 OPS easily leads all backstops (next closest is Jonathan Lucroy at .917). He’s a beast and should easily be considered a top-five fantasy catcher moving forward.
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- David Price
- Max Scherzer