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Minnesota Twins v Toronto Blue Jays

FANTASY BASEBALL – Trusting Brian Dozier + June 14-17 Pitcher Streams


BaseballMLB

It’s easy to overpay for tools in Fantasy Baseball. It’s the reason Billy Hamilton was the most polarizing figure during Spring Training this year. It’s the root of Chris Davis’ disappointing two month stretch. Really, it’s the most common occurrence on draft day. So why did Brian Dozier, a man currently on pace for a 30/30 season drop outside the Top 200 players according to ADP while playing a historically shallow position? The answer is simple. No one was paying attention. Or at least they weren’t paying attention to the right person.

Coming into 2014, Jedd Gyorko was most pinned for a breakout campaign among the young 2B crop. He had impressed in his rookie season, knocking out 23 home runs even while playing half his games at spacious Petco Park, but aside from power, Gyorko brought little else to the table. The speed was minimal, the average was poor, and most importantly there was no patience. One of Gyorko’s many issues this season, aside from those of the more obvious injury variety, was his inability to take a free pass. Not only did the Padre see his already low 6.3% walk rate drop almost a full percentage point, but he began seeing far fewer pitchers per plate appearance, sitting at just 3.72 before being placed on the disabled list. This is all just a roundabout way to stress how rare Dozier’s blend of power, discipline, and speed can be. The Twin’s current .211 ISO is ranked 16th in the American League – not just second basemen, not just middle infielders, all players in the normally power flush AL. His 14 stolen bases are good for fifth. While Dozier also ranks eighth in walk rate at 13.7%. Initially, with his ability to work deep into counts, his propensity to generate power from pitches left up in the zone, and his sterling defense, the mind tended to associate the former eighth round pick with Dustin Pedroia, but the potential for pop is greater. In fact Dozier is on pace to put up numbers similar to one of the more recent, great campaigns of the position – Ian Kinsler’s 2011. The similarities are almost eerie.

Hitting mainly at the top of a potent Texas lineup in 2011, Kinsler put up some gaudy statistics. Aside from placing second to Curtis Granderson in runs scored with 121, Kinsler hit 32 home runs, drove in 77, and swiped 30 bases. Dozier, with his stats after 64 games projected over the season, stands to be slightly better at 137 runs scored, 35 long flies, 84 RBI, and 35 stolen bases. Kinsler’s .364 wOBA is only a fraction ahead of Dozier’s .359 mark, while the then Ranger’s .223 ISO is also just a ten point difference. The only area where both aren’t positionally elite, due to BABIP’s below .250, is batting average and, again, for both, the issue stems from the same place – minuscule line drive rates with Kinsler at 17.6% and Dozier slightly better at 18.2%.

Obviously the big question, with the said average deficiency, is whether or not the Twins’ second baseman can sustain his current power pace. As a point of reference, Kinsler, who not only hit roughly 6% more fly balls than Dozier’s on pace for this season, but also played in a park far more conducive to the home run, only needed a 12.5% HR/FB ratio, still a career-high, to break through the 30 plateau. Dozier should see his 16.9% mark plummet at some point, even though he’s surprisingly maintained better numbers at home than when playing away. The 2B’s .ISO jumps to .246 at Target Field and he’s walked more times than he’s struck out within its confines. Still, a 25/30 season is well within reach and the average – while it will never near the heights of .300, can really only go up. By season’s end the only expectation for change I see in Dozier is his perception in fantasy circles. That tends to happen when you’re the most valuable player at your position in standard leagues. The power is legitimate. The speed is also unable to quit due to its legitimacy. Dozier has implanted himself among the position’s elite to stay.

PITCHER STREAM RANKS: SATURDAY, JUNE 14TH

  1. Jarred Cosart (5%) vs. TB
  2. Charlie Morton (13%) @MIA
  3. Gavin Floyd (9%) vs. LAA
  4. Danny Duffy (10%) @CWS
  5. Ryan Vogelsong (32%) vs. COL
  6. Bud Norris (4%) vs. TOR
  7. Hector Noesi (1%) vs. KC
  8. Randy Wolf (1%) vs. PIT
  9. Edwin Jackson (4%) @PHI
  10. David Buchanan (0%) vs. CHC

When Ervin Santana chose to go to Atlanta this off-season instead of Baltimore or Toronto, most wrote it off as Santana (and his agent) deciding, in what would be another contract year, to avoid the possible perils of the American League East. This was an incorrect theory. It was clearly because the Braves hold the secret to pitcher success – just ask Gavin Floyd. After years of mediocrity with the White Sox, Floyd has had an impressive start to his 2014 season in the National League. He hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in any of his seven starts, while his 2.57 walks allowed per nine are his lowest total since 2011. This is all due to Floyd embracing his best pitch: his slider. The righty has thrown 133 sliders over his 42 innings this year and not one has been converted into an extra-base hit. Not one. To put it another way, Floyd has a zero opponent ISO on his slider. That’s an effective pitch. Now, it’s not necessarily translating into more strikeouts, his 7.50 K/9 is in line with his career totals, but Floyd is using the pitch to induce far more poor contact that ever before. His 38.2% opponent swing rate of pitches outside of the zone would be good for best in the NL if he had the innings to qualify which correlates perfectly with a career-high groundball rate of 50%. The Angels don’t have a poor offense by any means, but ride the hot hand in Floyd.

PITCHER STREAM RANKS: SUNDAY, JUNE 15TH

  1. Henderson Alvarez (29%) vs. PIT
  2. Travis Wood (32%) @PHI
  3. Drew Smyly (25%) vs. MIN
  4. Brad Peacock (1%) vs. TB
  5. Daisuke Matsuzaka (6%) vs. SD
  6. Jaime Garcia (19%) vs. WSH
  7. Mike Leake (40%) @MIL
  8. Brandon Workman (2%) vs. CLE
  9. Bronson Arroyo (16%) @LAD
  10. Nick Martinez (1%) @SEA

Don’t look now, but with Dallas Keuchel, Collin McHugh, and Jarred Cosart the Astros are quietly building themselves a nice, little rotation down there in Texas. The three pitchers have clearly distanced from the rest of Houston’s staff this season, however Brad Peacock has been showing positive signs of his own. Over his last four starts, Peacock has pitched to an astounding 2.66 ERA and, since his move from the bullpen in late April – he’s allowed more than three earned runs in just two of his nine outings. Much of the success has come from Peacock’s continued ability to strikeout opponents. Since being acquired by Houston in 2013, the righty has maintained an 8.43 K/9 across 224.1 innings between the majors and AAA, enough to already consider Peacock an asset in at least one category. The former Nationals farmhand owes much of that fortune, specific to 2014, to an off-season adjustment in his slider. Not only is Peacock throwing the pitch 7% more often, but he’s changed both its velocity and depth. Now clocking in at 82 mph, a bigger and, frankly, needed separation in speed from his fastball, the pitch is also breaking far more horizontally than in the past – and it’s been highly effective. The 16.6% whiff rate is the largest of any pitch in Peacock’s arsenal, the main contributor to his career-high overall swinging strike rate of 8.9%. Ignore him if you must, but Peacock has actual fantasy value – especially going against a Rays team that rank 29th in team average at .218 in the past two weeks. Give him a look.

PITCHER STREAM RANKS: MONDAY, JUNE 16TH

  1. Wei-Yin Chen (13%) @TB
  2. Chris Young (8%) vs. SD
  3. Tom Koehler (20%) vs. CHC
  4. Trevor Bauer (25%) vs. LAA
  5. Jason Vargas (34%) @DET
  6. Rubby De La Rosa (9%) vs. MIN
  7. Jake Odorizzi (6%) vs. BAL
  8. Jacob deGrom (9%) @STL
  9. Kevin Correia (0%) @BOS
  10. Brandon McCarthy (5%) vs. MIL

Since the calendar has turned to June, Wei-Yin Chen has been on fire posting a 1.45 ERA in his three starts this month. Chen’s value has always been most prominent in ratio sustainment, his 1.29 walks per nine this season is the fourth lowest total in baseball, but over his last four outings Chen is racking up the strikeouts. The lefty has 23 over his past 23.2 innings, nearly two more per nine than his career 6.98 rate. The reason behind this is an increase in the use of his sinker – statistically Chen’s best pitch. The Oriole has bumped its usage to 16.4% in June, after just 4.9% in May, and is reaping the results in the form of a 13.8% whiff rate, but also in generation of poor contact. At 44.6%, Chen’s groundball rate in 2014 is almost 10% higher than it was last season, which, while creating a slight jump in his BABIP, has also allowed Chen to better keep the ball in the park – important when playing half your games at Camden Yards. Surprisingly, Chen has been far better at home this season, his 3.13 ERA is better than even his suppressed 3.44 xFIP, however, even if he had been struggling, the aforementioned Tampa offense is not one capable of exploiting Camden’s traits. The Rays’ .113 ISO is 26th in the MLB over the past two weeks, with the team having been held scoreless five times this month alone. That’s bad. Chen is not.

PITCHER STREAM RANKS: TUESDAY, JUNE 17TH

  1. Jon Niese (38%) @STL
  2. Roenis Elias (22%) vs. SD
  3. Marcus Stroman (18%) @NYY
  4. Josh Tomlin (12%) vs. LAA
  5. John Danks (5%) vs. SF
  6. Jacob Turner (1%) vs. CHC
  7. Wade Miley (16%) vs. MIL
  8. Jhoulys Chacin (3%) @LAD
  9. Tommy Milone (14%) vs. TEX
  10. Brandon Cumpton (1%) vs. CIN

Here are two very important things to know about Brandon Cumpton’s start on Tuesday: the game is in Pittsburgh and it is not, I repeat, is not against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Cumpton has made six starts for the Pirates so far this season, allowing 22 earned runs over that period of time. Ten of those runs came in a single start versus the Dodgers on May 31st. Still, don’t let the 6.06 ERA fool you, the rookie has actually been decent otherwise in 2014, with a 3.45 FIP proving that point, he just hasn’t benefited from much luck. Had he the innings this season to qualify, Cumpton would have by far the lowest strand rate in baseball at 57.8%. He would also have the second highest BABIP, just a point behind Stephen Strasburg, with a .353 mark. Cumpton is not a premier option this week – Cincinnati has the pieces of a potent offense and has welcomed the return of Joey Votto, but in deeper or NL only leagues he could be a sneaky start. He’s allowed just one home run this season, doesn’t walk a lot of batters, and his ERA is five runs lower at PNC. Pick up Cumpton, if nothing else, you won’t have to worry about getting beat to him.



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