Joe Mauer currently sports a career-high 27.8 LD% to go along with a career-high 2.80 GB/FB ratio and hasn’t hit one popup this season, yet his .344 BABIP (while still good) is actually below his career mark of .349. So while fantasy owners should be encouraged his .276 batting average will improve from here on out, his .079 ISO ranks 164th in all of baseball, behind known sluggers such as James Loney, Elvis Andrus, Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton. And I want to be clear I absolutely expected Mauer’s full time move to first base would result in a better performance at the plate, but if anything, the opposite has held true (not that the defensive move necessarily is the cause of the disappointing production). Here are Mauer’s K% marks over the last five seasons, respectively: 9.1, 11.4, 13.7, 17.5 and 20.0. If he stays healthy, he’s going to strike out 40+ more times than his previous career high this year. Mauer hits a ton of groundballs, plays in a home park that has decreased home runs for left-handed batters by 25% over the past three seasons (the second most in the American League over that span) and is on pace to finish with 43 RBI (while on pace to record 588 ABs that would easily be a career high. He's also hitting atop a Twins lineup that has scored more runs than the Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals and Cardinals). My colleague Scott Pianowski has hammered the Mauer being overrated angle way before me, and I’d seriously rather own Devin Mesoraco over the rest of 2014.
Here’s Yu Darvish fanning Adam LaRoche on a 59 mph pitch…But this eephus makes Darvish’s look tame. And what a joke it wasn’t called a strike.
It’s usually best not to get worked up over any three-start sample, but with pitchers suffering so many injuries this year (especially those on my fantasy teams), it’s tough not to be at least a bit concerned about Max Scherzer. He’s allowed 16 earned runs over 19.2 innings over this stretch, yielding a homer in every outing. In fact, Scherzer has allowed as many hits (29) over his last three starts than his previous seven starts combined. While his velocity has been a bit down this season (his average fastball velocity of 92.1 mph is a career low), at least it hasn’t taken a noticeable dip during this slump (he actually threw his fastest pitch of the season during his last start), so that’s an encouraging sign an injury isn’t to blame (albeit not foolproof). Moreover, he’s pitched on the road in all three of these outings, two coming against teams that rank in the top-five in runs scored at home (although to be fair, the other came against a Mariners offense that isn’t exactly potent). Let’s hope this is just a minor blip, as Scherzer was one of the five most valuable fantasy pitchers before this recent three-start slump.
Don’t concentrate on Bartolo Colon’s 4.52 ERA, as he allowed 13 earned runs over starts at Coors Field and Yankee Stadium (he was also annihilated for nine earned runs against an Angels team that has scored the fifth most runs in MLB). I know it’s cheating picking and choosing, but this is now a National League pitcher, so if you avoid using him in Interleague (or at Coors Field), he should be plenty useful moving forward. Colon has a 5.7 K:BB ratio despite the blowups, and believe it or not, his K:BB rate over the past three seasons ranks sixth best in all of baseball, behind only Cliff Lee, David Price, Adam Wainwright, Felix Hernandez and Chris Sale. Colon shouldn’t be ignored.
Headlines of the Week: Man With Inverted Penis May Have To Pay $100,000 To Stop Watermelon Sized Scrotum Getting Any Larger…Giant Era Binoculars Hear A City In the Distance...Fresno Man Finds, Returns Brinks Bag With $125,000 In Cash…US Airways Flight Makes Emergency Landing After Dog Poops In The Aisle Twice…Texas Man Still Buzzing From 60 Espresso Shot Starbucks Drink…Gun Safety Demonstration In China Kindergarten Injures Five…Students Upset To Discover Yearbook Photos Were Altered To Show Less Skin…Important Study Of Porn Inconclusive, Researchers Need More Time To Study Porn.
Quick Hits: Doug Fister looks to be over his health problems and is a major fantasy asset. He has a 3.34 ERA, which isn’t easy to do while allowing five home runs in fewer than 30.0 innings. His SwStr% (5.3) is anemic, but he’s had plenty of success before with that number not being elite (his career mark is 6.8%). It sure helps Fister simply doesn’t walk anyone, as his 1.6 BB% would easily be the lowest among starters if he qualified. The Tigers trading him away remains perplexing…With the caveat of win/loss percentage being meaningless, it’s still a bit strange Trevor Rosenthal has a career 2-9 record to go with a 3.02 ERA. After walking 14 batters over his first 19 appearances this season, he’s issued just one over his last seven, so Rosenthal is making encouraging strides after a rough start to the year…As if Billy Butler’s season couldn’t get any worse, here he is getting thrown out at first base by a right fielder. Actually it can get worse: Jeremy Guthrie pinch ran for him Tuesday and went from 1st-to-3rd on a single, a base running move Butler hasn’t accomplished all year…Just one season removed from posting a 35-85-110 line, Josh Willingham has returned from missing most of the year with a wrist injury and has homered in four of his past seven games, recording 10 RBI with six walks over that span. He’s slated to hit in the middle of Minnesota’s lineup and should be owned in all fantasy leagues.
Headlines of the Week Part Two: Brazilian Man Goes Under The Knife To Look Korean…Indian Court Asked To Rule On Whether Hindu Guru Dead Or Meditating…Seven People Die After Climbing Down Well In Cambodia To Retrieve 75 Cents…Britain Snorts So Much Cocaine It’s Now In Their Water Supply…Child Draws All Over Dad’s Passport, Gets Stuck In South Korea…Professor Claims He Was Fired By Christian College For His Outlandish Beard After It Was Used On The Side Of A Beer Can…Female-Named Hurricanes Kill More Than Male Hurricanes Because People Don’t Respect Them, Study Finds…Man Buys Penis Enlarger, Gets Magnifying Glass Instead…Zoo Vet Mistakes Employee In Gorilla Suit For An Actual Ape, Shoots Him With Tranquilizer...A Woman Divorced Her Husband Because He Doesn’t Like ‘Frozen.’
Quick Hits Part Deux: David Robertson’s role as closer should be safe despite his recent blowup (he allowed five earned runs while recording just two outs Sunday), but Dellin Betances continues to impress and sure looks like the team’s long term answer to close. The reliever currently has more strikeouts than Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann…With Dan Uggla’s OPS dropping for the fourth straight season (his .211 batting average over this span ranks 247th out of 250 qualified batters), Tommy La Stella is the Braves’ new second baseman. He’s not a huge power guy, but he’s a career .322 hitter in the minors and is worth adding in fantasy leagues…Brandon Phillips’ steal Tuesday was his first of the season and just his second since August 13. His OPS has dropped for a third straight year, and despite having a higher BA and SLG this season compared to last, he’s on pace to finish with just 63 RBI after getting 103 last year, which is at least partially due to no longer hitting cleanup. Phillips is currently outside the top-20 ranked fantasy second basemen…Since coming off the DL, hitters are just 3-for-56 against Chris Sale…Mark Buehrle is on pace to win 27 games this season, which is pretty remarkable for someone who’s been in the league 15 years and never won 20 games. Of course, you don’t need me to tell you his 2.10 ERA looks especially unsustainable with an accompanying 46:20 K:BB ratio over 81.1 innings. But Buehrle deserves credit for being such a reliable workhorse, even if his run prevention comes in an unorthodox way.
Police Blotter: 89-Year-Old Woman Fights Off Sword Wielding Robber With Golf Club...Serial ‘Tickler’ Breaking Into Boston College Students’ Homes…Police Arrest 2 Men In Connection With Recent Urinal Thefts From Local Restaurants....Man Stole $350,000 In Human Skin From Hospital For Years…Lost Florida Man Calls 911, Claims He’s Lost And Being Chased By Wild Hogs, Gets Arrested…Man Claims He Can Prove ‘Time Warp’ Caused Him To Kill NY State Trooper With His Truck…Robbery Suspect Friends Victim On Facebook…Cook Charged With Battery On Peace Officer For Allegedly Licking Cheese In Sandwiches…Man Called 911 On Wife For ‘Throwing Out His Beer'…Man Sentenced To Jail Because Of Large Penis.
Quick Hits Part Tres: A TV commentator (I wish I could remember who) recently mentioned how Andrelton Simmons’ defensive metrics are way down this season, and while it’s true they have dropped, they remain pretty fantastic, as this was a little like saying his BABIP has dropped from .400 to .375. Setting aside defensive numbers should be viewed over a three-year period, Simmons’ current UZR/150 would have led all shortstops last season (other than himself, of course), so he’s not exactly turned into a scrub with the glove suddenly…Domonic Brown is batting .208/.263/.313, and his wRC+ is the fifth lowest in MLB. Add in Brown’s poor defense, and the result is him having the second worst WAR in all of baseball. He’s currently the No. 508 ranked fantasy player…Kendrys Morales hit 45 homers with 147 RBI over 203 games from 2009-2010 before a freak accident while celebrating a walk-off homer derailed his career. Since returning, he averaged 22.5 homers and 76.5 RBI despite missing 34 games over the past two seasons. Still just 30 years old, Morales is going to sign with a team soon after Thursday’s draft (when he will no longer cost a pick) and could find himself in a nice situation with the Yankees or Rangers. Stash him now…Alfonso Soriano hasn’t had a hit since May 25 and has struck out in six of his last seven at bats. His current .645 OPS is the lowest of his career, and he’s yet to attempt a stolen base this season while sporting an ugly 58:6 K:BB ratio. Soriano hit 18 home runs after the All-Star break last year, so it’s hard to write him completely off, but he’s 38 years old and is clearly in the decline phase.
Quick Hits Part Four: Robinson Cano will no doubt hit more home runs moving forward, but it’s hard not to be a bit concerned about his performance since leaving baseball’s most favorable HR hitting park for left-handers. Cano’s .365 BABIP is a career high (likely thanks to a career high 2.17 GB/FB ratio) that has resulted in a career low .092 ISO. Despite his .330 BA (his highest since 2006) and a .380 OBP, Cano is on pace to finish with 85 RBI (after averaging 107 over the past four years) and a modest 71 runs scored (after averaging 99 over the past five years). Oddly, the Mariners have scored more runs than the Yankees this season. Go figure. Then again, maybe the fact Cano has a lower ISO than Everth Cabrera might have something to do with it…Before Wednesday’s two-bagger by Buster Posey, he had as many doubles (three) this season as Zack Greinke…After getting benched due to a poor start during April, A.J. Pollock hit .375/.427/.659 with three homers and eight steals (without getting caught) during 88 at bats in May, when he was the No. 20 ranked fantasy player for the month. Unfortunately, a hit by pitch fractured his hand, and he won’t even begin baseball activities for eight weeks, which is a brutal blow to fantasy owners…Jaime Garcia has a 22:0 K:BB ratio and a 0.97 WHIP, which I’d trust more than his 5.47 ERA. I certainly can’t guarantee health, but it’s pretty hard to give up five homers in 24.2 innings when inducing a 1.85 GB/FB ratio. Grab Garcia in any league in which he’s available (note his next outing is against a tough Blue Jays offense, so if he’s not available in your league now, he may soon be).