I’m a Dustin Pedroia fan and even proclaimed he’d be the top fantasy second baseman before this season, but he’s becoming tougher to back as an elite fantasy option. Here are his slugging percentages over the past five seasons, respectively: .493, .474, .449, .415 and .382. That’s trending in the wrong direction, I say. He still sports strong plate discipline (35:30 K:BB ratio), although if you really nitpicked you’d point out his 12.3 K% is a career worst. Pedroia remains a terrific defensive player, but he’s been caught on four of his six stolen base attempts (another trend going in the wrong way), and it’s increasingly difficult to blame his recent disappointing performances (albeit still good) on nagging injuries. He’s been the No. 14 ranked fantasy second baseman this season.
Why was Felix Hernandez taken out of Sunday’s game after throwing just 100 pitches over seven scoreless innings? I don’t think it was due to performance.
Here are the benches clearing after Manny Machado was tagged out followed by the benches clearing when he threw his bat two days later (while also hitting the A’s catcher on a backswing twice, knocking him out of the game).
Maybe there’s a reason Baltimore failed Grant Balfour’s physical after all. His average FB velocity (91.4 mph) is a full two mph less than last season and easily a career low, which might explain why he’s thrown the pitch nearly 22.2% of the time less than his career mark. His average slider velocity (84.3 mph) is also his lowest in a decade, while his 7.6 SwStr% is the second worst mark of his career. As a result, Balfour has been removed from the Rays’ closer’s role, and while a committee is the expected replacement, Jake McGee sure looks like the clear favorite to lead it. He currently sports a 1.53 ERA and 0.78 WHIP with a 34:7 K:BB ratio over 29.1 innings. The southpaw has no issues with splits either, as he’s held right-handed batters to a .145/. 209/.161 line this season while facing nearly twice as many as he has lefties. McGee has the upside of being a top-10 fantasy closer from here on out, although he’s apparently pitching for a baseball team in which I overrated entering the year. Tampa Bay has been shut out an AL-high 10 times this year, already two more than they were all of last season. I picked the Rays to be in the World Series, and Fangraphs’ odds have them currently at a 1.2% chance of making the postseason.
Addison Reed has a 33:4 K:BB ratio over 29.1 innings, so I would be buying if his owners are panicking. The eight homers allowed are no doubt ugly, and yes this is a fly ball pitcher playing in a hitter’s home park, but that’s not exactly new to him. In fact, Reed has already allowed more long balls this season than any other in his career, but Chase Field has increased homers by six percent over the past three seasons, which is nothing compared to his old stopping grounds (U.S. Cellular Field by 30 percent) over that stretch, so it’s safe to expect some regression there. Although to be fair, the alternative to close, Brad Zeigler, is pretty awesome. Still, Reed looks safe in his role, and Arizona has been very good since its slow start to the year, so more save opportunities are to come.
Song of the Week: Dashboard Confessional – “Screaming Infidelities.”
Quick Hits: Brian McCann hit 20 homers over just 356 at bats last season (marking his sixth straight campaign with at least 20 home runs despite averaging a modest 456.2 ABs over that span), yet he has only seven bombs and a career worst .647 OPS since joining New York, which has a home park that has increased home runs for left-handed batters by 33 percent over the past three years that's tied for the most in MLB. Go figure…Chris Sale gave up his first hit to a left-handed batter this season Saturday (and later his second, both to Josh Hamilton. H/T Andrew Martinez). Speaking of the terrific Sale, here’s Mike Trout hitting a grand slam off him (on a dirty pitch that didn’t exactly miss location) to tie Saturday’s game in the eighth inning…Over his past 396 at bats (including the postseason), Derek Jeter has two homers and one steal. Frankly, it’s tough to watch him run right now. He’s obviously had a first ballot Hall Of Fame career (despite the undeserving Gold Gloves), but it’s pretty funny he’s going to be starting this year’s All Star game, especially when Alexei Ramirez is having such a terrific season…Since returning from injury, Aroldis Chapman has struck out 24 batters over 13.0 innings while posting a 1.38 ERA and 0.54 WHIP. Chapman hasn’t allowed a hit since May 23 and is AVERAGING 100.1 mph with his fastball. His 22.5 SwStr% would be the highest ever, and his 46.7 K-BB% is 8.3 percent better than the next best this season. Over Chapman’s last 8.0 innings, he has a 15:0 K:BB ratio while allowing one baserunner. That’s simply unfair.
Headlines of the Week: Michigan Man Refuses To Stop Road Trip When Girlfriend Dies, Drives Cross-Country With Corpse…Allegedly Intoxicated Woman Falls Asleep On Railroad Tracks, Is Run Over By A Train But Is Left Uninjured…Woman Buried Alive After Worst First Date Ever…Two Killed, Multiple Injured Trying To Retrieve Cellphone From Toilet…SoCal Teacher Allegedly Pulled Knife On Students, Demanded They Drive Him To Fastfood Restaurant…Guinea Pig To Become Father To 400 After Breaking Into Female Enclosure…Guy Transforms Apartment Into An Arcade, Fiancee Promptly Dumps Him…Woman Reveals She Had Sex With Dolphin During 1960s NASA Experiment…I Made Up A Fake Donald Trump Quote, And He Retweeted It.
Quick Hits Part Deux: I get that Gavin Floyd’s 1.38 WHIP suggests his 2.57 ERA has been quite lucky, but there’s not much to suggest he’s been overly fortunate when digging deeper into his peripherals (not that anyone should expect his ERA to remain in the twos). He currently sports a .323 BABIP that’s more than 30 points higher than his career mark as well as a perfectly normal 11.1 HR/FB%. Floyd’s 1.78 GB/FB ratio is a career high (and admittedly helps explain the higher hit rate), and he’s also accompanied that with a bunch of pop ups (13.9 IFFB%). Seemingly over his injury issues, Floyd should really benefit joining the NL after having to pitch in U.S. Cellular Field for the majority of his career. Moreover, the Braves have a terrific history of getting the most out of their pitchers (look no further than Aaron Harang this season as well). Floyd hasn’t had the easiest schedule, and his 11.2 SwStr% would rank 13th among all starters if he qualified (tied with Michael Wacha and ahead of others such as Yu Darvish, Jordan Zimmermann, Johnny Cueto, Sonny Gray and Adam Wainwright). I’m by no means calling Floyd anything close to an ace, but he can be a useful player and is currently owned in just 9% of Yahoo leagues…David Wright is slugging .374, hasn’t homered this month and has been caught on four of his seven stolen base attempts. He’s the No. 12 ranked fantasy third baseman, which has been an extremely thin position this year, despite a .345 BABIP. Not good, although all of this might not make him the worst buy-low candidate if that’s possible in your league…Jose Altuve has more stolen bases (24) than strikeouts (22), the only player in major league baseball to do so. He’s the No. 2 ranked fantasy second baseman, helping the Astros to somehow have a better record than the defending world champ Red Sox entering Tuesday..Doug Fister's walk in the seventh inning Tuesday was the Nationals' first base on balls issued in seven games.
Police Blotter: Fake Cop Pulls Over Real Officer, Gets Arrested…Alleged Male Burglar Caught Wearing Stolen Women’s Bathing Suit…Cop Is Fired For Secretly Filming His Police Chief Having Sex In Ambulance In Uniform…Drunk Man Arrested For Stealing Candy…Quebec Sees Second Jailbreak Involving Helicopter…Police: 315-Pound Man Hid 40 Bags Of Heroin In Belly Button…Tennessee Man Admits To Dismembering, Eating Woman On Day They Met.
Quick Hits Part Tres: Matt Cain has one win this season despite a 3.52 ERA while pitching for a Giants team that has the best record in baseball. The workhorse has reached 15 wins one time (when he won 16) during his career. And while S.F. may have MLB’s best record, Oakland has somehow both scored the most runs in baseball and allowed the fewest, which is pretty insane…Speaking of the A’s, since joining Oakland at age 28 with 15 career home runs, Brandon Moss has clubbed 61 homers over 923 at bats with the A’s, which is good for one HR per 15.1 ABs. To put this in perspective, Miguel Cabrera leads MLB in long balls over this span, and he’s averaged one per 14.1 at bats. Moss has done this despite playing in a park that’s suppressed home runs for left-handed batters by 26 percent over the past three years, which is the most in the American League. He’s on pace to hit 41 homers with 134 RBI this season…Tommy Hunter completed his first 1-2-3 inning of the season during his return to action Monday…No one will have a better game at the plate this season than Lonnie Chisenhall did Monday, when he went 5-for-5 with three homers and nine RBI. The former top prospect has had his best campaign to date even before the outburst, posting a .385/.429/.615 line on the year. His 195 wRC+ would rank first in baseball if he qualified, and he’s been the fifth most valuable fantasy third baseman this season.
For the second straight week, John Oliver has killed it, this time taking down FIFA.
Longread of the Week: Why Isn’t Delonte West In The NBA?
Longread of the Week Part Two: The King Of Pop In Exile.
Quick Hits Part Four: Chris Archer got off to a poor start this season, holding a 5.16 ERA on May 11. Since then, he’s allowed just three earned runs while striking out 33 batters over 31.0 innings, good for a 0.87 ERA. The slider specialist is throwing harder than ever and is currently producing a 1.80 GB/FB ratio, so he’s back looking like one of the game’s more promising young pitchers…After Jhonny Peralta averaged 12 homers over the past two seasons, while J.J. Hardy led all shortstops in the category by a wide margin over the past three years, it’s a bit surprising the former has 10 more bombs than the latter through June 10…Since getting traded to the Rockies after his rookie season, Carlos Gonzalez had a .920 OPS that ranked in the top-10 in baseball over 2009-2013. After a terrific start to 2014, a finger injury has helped lead to a .756 OPS and now exploratory surgery that will sideline him for an indeterminate amount of time. It’s too bad CarGo simply can’t stay healthy…Speaking of injuries, while Neil Walker was playing a bit over his head (he hit three more homers than doubles this season after entering the year having 63 more doubles than home runs), this is a second baseman who was on pace to finish with 29 homers and 92 RBI before undergoing an appendectomy that forced him to the DL. Ugh…One injury that fantasy owners likely don’t care about at this point is Jedd Gyorko’s plantar fasciitis. After hitting 23 homers in just 125 games as a rookie, Gyorko has arguably been the worst player in baseball this season. His -1.1 WAR is the lowest among all hitters, and this is despite him grading as a plus defender playing an important position. His WRC+ of 34 is much lower than the next worst (Eric Hosmer at 49) and realize this stat is both park and league adjusted. Remember Gyorko just signed a $35 million contract…After spending every other season of his career in the AL before joining the Mets, Bartolo Colon at the plate is one of the most entertaining moments in baseball right now. He’s 0-for-23 with 16 strikeouts. His SwStr% is 29.8!