There are all kinds of fun things you could do with a time machine. Imagine setting your timer for, let's say, March or April of this year, and shocking all the baseball fans you know with this bit of knowledge from the future. By late July, the Tigers will have two outfielders with an OPS above .900, and neither of them is Magglio Ordonez or Curtis Granderson. Confronted with quizzical looks, you inform your befuddled friends that the sluggers are Marcus Thames and Matt Joyce.
In Week 17, Fantasy owners are still asking the same question. Joyce is owned in only six percent of CBSSports.com Fantasy leagues, even though he was named American League Player of the Week just before the All-Star Break. His solid Fantasy stats -- .272-9-19-19-0 in 103 AB -- are backed up by a .359 Isolated Power average and respectable walk and whiff rates. As a result, he has earned another esteemed honor: a place on this week's "Good Stats, Good Skills" list. Those willing to take a flier on Joyce are probably aware that he has overachieved so far, but the stretch isn't as great as they might think. The 23 year-old did manage a potent .280 Isolated Power at Triple-A Toledo before his callup, even while playing his home games at a pitcher's park. He deserves a shot in all formats, at least while he's on a roll.
Marlins middle reliever Doug Waechter has also earned the "Good Stats, Good Skills" label. As nice as his 2.5 K-to-BB ratio is, that alone did not get Waechter onto this list. Andrew Miller's knee tendinitis has opened up a spot in the Florida rotation, and Waechter is a leading candidate to fill it. So are several others, including the rehabbing Anibal Sanchez, Mark Hendrickson and Rick VandenHurk. However, if it's Waechter who gets the call, his 3.42 ERA and 1.16 WHIP -- built on a normal-for-a-flyball-pitcher 26 percent H/BIP -- would look good in a Fantasy rotation.
Dallas Braden is reportedly making the move from the bullpen to fill Joe Blanton's spot in Oakland. H/BIP has not been a friend to Braden, as 35 percent of balls in play against him have become base hits during his brief major league career. Braden has given up a few too many homers over the last couple of seasons, shuttling between Oakland and Triple-A Sacramento. However, his big league career 6.41 ERA and 1.62 WHIP are not a true indication of what he can do, and Braden is worth a roster spot in AL-only leagues.
Sometimes a player can have poor stats and an apparently unfavorable H/BIP rate, and he can still make the "Poor Stats, Poor Skills" list. Mike Jacobs is the owner of a .241 batting average, but don't blame his 26 percent H/BIP. This is just what happens when you strike out every fourth at-bat, hit buckets of fly balls and aren't blessed with the greatest of speed. Jake knows that Fantasy leaguers love the long ball, but his 19 dingers notwithstanding, he is still a far-below-average Fantasy first baseman, whether you measure value with Fantasy Rating (55.11) or RC/27 (4.6).
All statistics below are for season-to-date performances through Saturday, July 19.
|'Lucky' Hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||'Lucky' Pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Denard Span, OF, Minnesota||39%||6.4||Brandon Morrow, RP, Seattle||17%||1.70|
|Edgar V. Gonzalez, 2B, San Diego||38%||5.3||Dan Wheeler, RP, Tampa Bay||17%||1.98|
|Howie Kendrick, 2B, L.A. Angels||38%||5.4||Joakim Soria, RP, Kansas City||18%||1.31|
|Ramon Vazquez, 3B, Texas||37%||6.7||Justin Duchscherer, SP, Oakland||21%||1.63|
|Nick Punto, 3B, Minnesota||37%||6.1||Gavin Floyd, SP, Chicago White Sox||22%||3.43|
|Brian Buscher, 3B, Minnesota||36%||5.8||Mitch Stetter, RP, Milwaukee||23%||3.27|
|Fred Lewis, OF, San Francisco||36%||5.8||Shaun Marcum, SP, Toronto||23%||2.40|
|Xavier Nady, OF, Pittsburgh||36%||7.3||Scott Olsen, SP, Florida||25%||3.82|
|Adam Jones, OF, Baltimore||36%||4.6||Ryan Dempster, SP, Chicago Cubs||25%||2.98|
|Ryan Sweeney, OF, Oakland||35%||5.1||Kevin Gregg, RP, Florida||25%||2.92|
|Unlucky' Hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||'Unlucky' Pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Kenji Johjima, C, Seattle||22%||2.5||Jorge De La Rosa, SP, Colorado||38%||5.82|
|Craig Monroe, OF, Minnesota||23%||3.8||Brian Wilson, RP, San Francisco||35%||4.49|
|Jose Vidro, DH, Seattle||23%||2.7||Bronson Arroyo, SP, Cincinnati||35%||5.87|
|Kory Casto, OF, Washington||23%||3.3||Dallas Braden, RP, Oakland||35%||4.89|
|Paul Konerko, 1B, Chicago White Sox||24%||3.8||Rafael Betancourt, RP, Cleveland||35%||5.14|
|Austin Kearns, OF, Washington||24%||3.0||Nate Robertson, SP, Detroit||34%||5.47|
|Ronnie Belliard, 2B, Washington||24%||5.0||Darrell Rasner, SP, N.Y. Yankees||34%||5.06|
|Ben Zobrist, SS, Tampa Bay||25%||5.8||Randy Johnson, SP, Arizona||34%||4.76|
|Mark Ellis, 2B, Oakland||25%||4.5||Bob Howry, RP, Chicago Cubs||34%||4.59|
|Ramon Hernandez, C, Baltimore||25%||3.9||Carlos Silva, SP, Seattle||34%||5.03|
|Good stats, good skills - hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||Good stats, good skills - pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Matt Joyce, OF, Detroit||26%||7.8||Brian Fuentes, RP, Colorado||31%||2.34|
|Rick Ankiel, OF, St. Louis||30%||6.9||Heath Bell, RP, San Diego||28%||2.39|
|Aubrey Huff, 1B, Baltimore||29%||6.8||Doug Waechter, SP, Florida||26%||2.98|
|Mike Fontenot, 2B, Chicago Cubs||29%||6.8||Octavio Dotel, RP, Chicago White Sox||30%||3.11|
|Hank Blalock, 3B, Texas||30%||5.8||James Shields, SP, Tampa Bay||29%||3.25|
|Poor stats, poor skills - hitters||H/BIP||RC/27||Poor stats, poor skills - pitchers||H/BIP||ERC|
|Matt Murton, OF, Oakland||28%||2.3||Jeff Suppan, SP, Milwaukee||32%||5.47|
|Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Cleveland||27%||2.7||Kyle Kendrick, SP, Philadelphia||31%||5.37|
|Felipe Lopez, SS, Washington||28%||2.9||Paul Byrd, SP, Cleveland||29%||5.35|
|Brad Wilkerson, OF, Toronto||30%||3.3||Glendon Rusch, SP, Colorado||32%||5.35|
|Mike Jacobs, 1B, Florida||26%||4.6||Vicente Padilla, SP, Texas||29%||5.22|
| Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27) -- An estimate of how many runs a lineup would produce per 27 outs if a particular player occupied each spot in the order; ex. the RC/27 for Miguel Cabrera would predict the productivity of a lineup where Cabrera (or his statistical equal) batted in all nine spots; created by Bill James |
Component ERA (ERC) -- An estimate of a what a pitcher's ERA would be if it were based solely on actual pitching performance; created by Bill James
Base Hits per Balls in Play (H/BIP) -- The percentage of balls in play (at bats minus strikeouts and home runs) that are base hits; research by Voros McCracken and others has established that this rate is largely random and has a norm of approximately 30%
Isolated Power -- The difference between slugging percentage and batting average; created by Branch Rickey and Allan Roth
Walk Rate -- Walks / (at bats + walks)
Whiff Rate -- Strikeouts / at bats
Al Melchior was recently a Fantasy columnist and data analyst for Baseball HQ and will be providing advice columns for CBSSports.com. Click here to send him a question. Please put "Melchior" in the subject field.