Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
2015 Draft Prep Guide
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

Reality Check: Humber far from perfect

Senior Fantasy Writer
  •  

Of the more than 7 billion people on the planet, hundreds of millions are baseball fans. And of those hundreds of millions, the majority likely engage in some form of casual prognostication. And of those hundreds of millions of off-the-cuff predictions made in ballparks, living rooms and sports bars every day, a healthy percentage are probably so far-fetched and nonsensical that any impartial observer even halfway rooted in reality would dismiss them as pure lunacy.

And yet with that wide range of possibilities, from the practical to the abstract, on every corner of the planet, I submit that no one -- not a single of those 7 billion people -- predicted what ultimately happened for Philip Humber on Saturday night.

Perfection. Of the 27 Seattle Mariners who went to bat against him, 27 went straight back to the dugout. He became the 21st pitcher in major-league history to achieve such a feat.

Clearly, Fantasy owners were among those predicting less than perfection for Humber, starting him in only 22 percent of leagues even in a week when two-start sleepers were in short supply. Needless to say, he wasn't widely owned either, which of course makes him a prize off the waiver wire now.

Or does it?

No, you haven't missed your opportunity yet. Naturally, he's one of the most added players in Fantasy, but even now, after we've all had some time to reflect on the accomplishment, he remains unowned in nearly half of all leagues. Mr. Perfection is out there for the taking. All you need is for someone to reassure you it's OK.

But I won't be the one to do it. It wouldn't be right. How can I advise you to make a move that I haven't been able to bring myself to make?

That's not meant as a swipe at Humber himself. I'm not saying he's another Armando Galarraga, who got plenty of attention in Fantasy after his "perfect" game two years ago only to deliver nothing the rest of the way. I actually owned Humber in my shallowest league -- a 10-team Head-to-Head -- for much of last year, and you know what? I got some use out of him.

But the season was further along when I added him. My team was in a later stage of its development. Right now, only three weeks into the season, we're still in that critical period when every player's best-case scenario is possible. A guy who isn't performing well might simply be off to a slow start. A guy who is performing well might be in the earliest stages of a breakthrough season. Obviously, not everyone is going to pan out, but enough will on both sides of that equation that you have to keep an open mind to every legitimate possibility.

You know what isn't a legitimate possibility? Philip Humber becoming a Fantasy ace. He'll be useful perhaps, but not an ace.

How can I be so sure? Look, he's 29. He's already reached the limits of his ability. He had his coming out party last year, when he finally got to hold down a regular rotation spot, and it was as impressive as anyone could have expected. He nearly made the All-Star team. He maintained a WHIP below 1.20 by substituting efficiency for ability. It's the same approach that has sustained Bronson Arroyo, Joe Saunders and Carl Pavano for years. They're all solid pitchers. They're all making millions. But they're all probably also on your league's waiver wire.

Nothing sets them apart in Fantasy. They're not bat-missers, and pitchers who aren't bat-missers have limits to their upside. Instead of piling up strikeouts, they're giving up hits, and that's not a good tradeoff in Fantasy.

Eventually, the season will reach a point when those pitchers' ability to consume innings, vanilla as they may be, will make them relevant in Fantasy, but only after the last of the potential bat-missers have flamed out and your waiver claims become more a matter of surviving the week-to-week than stockpiling talent.

Right now, while so many players still have yet to show their true colors, your roster spots are precious. You want to devote them to the players who have a chance to become something special. You want as many of the "freebie" studs that emerge off the waiver wire as you can possibly get, and by devoting a roster spot to assured mediocrity, you're only limiting your opportunities.

That's not to say every potential bat-misser is worth owning over Humber at this point. Ones who have yet to offer even a glimmer of hope up until now, such as Francisco Liriano and Brian Matusz, are safe to leave on the waiver wire simply because nobody would jump at a player with a 12.00 ERA -- not one who was less than a sure thing to begin with. But the ones with legitimate upside who have been raising eyebrows this season are worth protecting. They're worth the roster spots.

Check out our Fantasy Baseball podcast!
Stay a step ahead of your competition in 2014 by checking out our popular Fantasy Baseball Today podcasts. Adam Aizer, Scott White and Al Melchior will entertain you and help you dominate all season.
Latest episode | Subscribe!

You know who's worth owning over Humber? Jake Arrieta. He has a fastball in the mid-90s and demonstrated strikeout-per-inning potential before hurting his elbow last season. You know who else? Jake Peavy, Mike Minor, Jhoulys Chacin, Jonathon Niese and Bartolo Colon. I assume they'd be obvious in comparison.

Their stuff will benefit you more than Humber's over the long haul, which is what baseball is all about. When you reduce a game of 162 down to one, weirdness ensues. That's how pitchers like Humber throw perfect games.

Of course, if you play in a league where pitchers like Peavy, Minor, Chacin, Niese and Colon are already owned, maybe yours is deep enough that Humber is an automatic add. As always, deductive reasoning is crucial. That said, even in those formats, you shouldn't consider Humber the savior of your pitching staff, and you shouldn't feel obligated to stick with him if an intriguing but lesser-known talent like Ross Detwiler continues to deliver.

In the now ... A look at how recent events have impacted certain players' Fantasy value

Justin Morneau, 1B, Twins: You might dismiss Morneau's two-homer game Wednesday as simply another by-product of new Yankee Stadium, where he has hit .458 (22 for 48) with seven home runs over his career, but keep in mind none of those seven came last year. No, that version of Morneau wouldn't have been capable of such a performance. Besieged by injuries and lacking in confidence, his current .947 OPS would have been forever beyond his reach. But already, we're seeing a change in him. While his recovery from his 2010 concussion has been anything but straightforward, I've always contended that, if he was able to flip the switch and regain his MVP form, he wouldn't suddenly lose it again. So considering he ended spring training on a nine-game hitting streak in which he hit .433 (13 for 30) with three home runs and hasn't let up since, I'd feel comfortable using him on an every-week basis.

Jake Peavy, SP, White Sox: Yes, I'm following up Morneau with Peavy, but no, you haven't caught a time warp back to 2007. Of course, that's part of the reason for my optimism now -- knowing how good they were then and that only injuries have prevented them from being that good since. Though Peavy's recovery from shoulder surgery last year was less than complete, his strikeout rate and fastball velocity were at least encouraging enough to suggest he was on his way back to form. And while his claims of improved health this spring were easy to dismiss as unbridled optimism, he has followed them up with a 21-to-2 strikeout rate in three starts, including one at Texas and one against the Tigers. Peavy may have been one of your last draft picks, but he should no longer be one of your last bench options. He's earned the right of a Matt Moore-like leash with this hot start.

Yonder Alonso, 1B/OF, Padres: Look, I wanted to believe in Alonso too. His stint with the Reds late last year was nothing short of impressive, and his keen batting eye and consistently high batting average in the minors would have normally made him an ideal candidate to find instant success in the majors. But as unfair as it may seem for him to suddenly wind up in San Diego after all those years of hype, that's what happened. And the way his first 50 at-bats there have gone, you have to assume he'll be the latest in a long line of left-handed power hitters (Adrian Gonzalez being the lone exception) to fall victim to PETCO Park's spacious dimensions. Maybe one of these years he'll learn to maneuver them, but he's not mixed-league material right now.

Alejandro De Aza, OF, White Sox: In 537 at-bats between the majors and minors last year, De Aza had 40 doubles, eight triples, 13 homers and 34 stolen bases. So what would you need to see from him this year to believe he's genuinely that player? A bunch of doubles, triples, homers and steals, right? Well, so far, he has two, two, three and two in 56 at-bats. Even with increased exposure, his diverse, Shane Victorino-like skill set is as apparent as ever. He's currently the 12th-ranked Head-to-Head outfielder, and yet he remains unowned in 28 percent of leagues. If yours is one, you're running out of time to do something about it.

Mike Minor, SP, Braves: Once Minor secured a rotation spot this spring, the one lingering question with him was whether or not he could keep his pitch counts low enough to pitch beyond the sixth inning. Safe to say he's answered it, going beyond seven in two of his first three starts. Though his strikeout-to-walk ratio always hinted of his potential, only now is he attacking hitters the way he did in the minors, which is basically the same leap Jon Lester made in 2008, when he went from being a five- and six-inning pitcher to everything he is today. It's early, yes, but the pedigree is promising enough that you should already be thinking of Minor as one of your top five starting pitchers.

Down the line ... A brief update on some of the minor-leaguers who have caught the attention of Fantasy owners

Jarrod Parker, SP, Athletics: When Graham Godfrey struggled in three starts, the Athletics decided they didn't want to waste any more time on a pitcher who lacked the upside to become a long-term member of their starting rotation, demoting him to the minors on Saturday. That same day, Triple-A Sacramento removed Parker, whose pedigree and 2.18 ERA in four starts suggest he does have that kind of upside, in the third inning of a start, which has the rumor mill buzzing that he could be on his way to the majors. If that's the case, even mixed-league owners will want to take notice. If your format is deep enough that Drew Pomeranz-type rookie has value, now is the time to make a move for Parker. You may not get another chance once he officially gets the call.

Will Middlebrooks, 3B, Red Sox: In case you haven't noticed, Kevin Youkilis isn't off to the best start for the Red Sox. Not only are his numbers down, but he has already had to contend with back, groin and quadriceps injuries as well as a manager who questions his commitment. Meanwhile, his heir apparent at third base, Middlebrooks, is setting the world on fire at Triple-A Pawtucket, batting .429 (15 for 35) with six home runs in his last eight games. Chances are Middlebrooks won't replace Youkilis outright, but a DL stint or even a trade isn't so far-fetched. One way or another, the Middlebrooks era is looking more and more like it'll begin this year.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B Cubs: Rizzo's hot start at Triple-A Iowa would mean more if Bryan LaHair wasn't also playing well at the major-league level. Or if the Cubs hadn't already said they'd prefer to keep Rizzo in the minors. But at some point the numbers have to count for something, and right now, Rizzo's are off the charts. He's batting .369 with seven homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 at-bats, somehow managing to exceed his performance at Triple-A Tucson last year. Of course, like Tucson, Iowa isn't exactly PETCO Park, so perhaps Rizzo still has some flaws that don't show up in the box scores. But if he continues to deliver at this pace over the next couple months, the Cubs will have to think long and hard about shifting LaHair to left field to make room for the rookie.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Scott White at @CBSScottWhite . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Rangers' Alexander Claudio hoping to earn a role
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(12:27 am ET) Rangers pitcher Alexander Claudio is hoping to be the team's lefty in the bullpen, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Claudio is one of three lefties in camp competing for the job. He performed well in his first taste of spring training, retiring two lefties during his inning of work. He allowed one hit, and struck out two batters. While Claudio's fastball barely registers on the radar gun, manager Jeff Banister still came away impressed.

"I like the secondary stuff," Banister said. "He's accepted the type of pitcher he is and is willing to be that guy. He’s really intriguing with the kind of deception he brings."

Claudio posted a 2.92 ERA over 12 1/3 innings last season.


Dodgers' Erik Bedard willing to go to Triple-A
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers pitcher Erik Bedard is willing to go to Triple-A if he doesn't break camp with the major-league club, according to MLB.com.

Bedard allowed one run over two innings in his first taste of spring action on Wednesday. The veteran said he knows that if the Dodgers five starters are healthy, he'll be sent to the minors. "I know where I stand," Bedard said. "The game is still fun. I like to play baseball."

Bedard posted a 4.76 ERA over 75 2/3 innings last season. 


Dodgers' Alex Guerrero willing to play third base
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero has been willing to learn third this spring, according to MLB.com.

Guerrero is in a bit of a unique position. With Howie Kendrick entrenched at second, Guerrero doesn't really have a spot in the team's infield. Due to his contract, however, the team can't just send him to the minors. Guerrero can block the move, and has already said he plans to do so if the team tries to send him down. If he can play third well, that may not be a problem.

For what it's worth, manager Don Mattingly believes Guerrero has looked better this spring. "I really do think the second year [in camp] he looks a lot different as far as being relaxed," Mattingly said. "He's swinging the bat well and he keeps improving."

The 28-year-old hit .333/.371/.621 over three minor-league levels last season. 


Twins' Byron Buxton doubles twice on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Twins outfield prospect Byron Buxton doubled twice on Wednesday against the University of Minnesota.

Buxton came into last season ranked as one of the best prospects in the minors. He had injury issues, which ended his season early. While Buxton is still considered the Twins top prospect, he was passed by other players in the overall prospect rankings due to the injuries. 

Buxton seemed to be 100 percent on Wednesday, doubling twice during the contest. He scored one run and drove in one RBI. The 21-year-old should open the season in the minors, but could debut as early as this season depending on his performance. 


Twins' Jose Berrios strikes out four on Wednesday
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Twins starter Jose Berrios struck out four during his first spring appearance on Wednesday.

Berrios took on the University of Minnesota, and turned in a good showing. While Berrios is a minor-leaguer, he's only 20, and was taking on players his age. Berrios allowed one hit and one unearned run over two innings of work. He struck out four batters.

Berrios is the team's third-best prospect according to Baseball America. He's expected to begin the year in the minors, but could move quickly based on how well he performs. 


Diamondbacks pitcher Braden Shipley makes debut Wednesday
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Diamondbacks pitcher Braden Shipley pitched two innings in his spring training debut Wednesday, allowing just one baserunner and recording one strikeout. Shipley admitted he was a bit worried in his first appearance, reports AZCentral.com.

"I was a little nervous going in, but that was expected," Shipley said. "I think it was more excitement for me. That was really fun."

Manager Chip Hale said he expects Shipley to make starts in his next few appearances this spring.


Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson faces batters for first time this spring
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Dodgers pitcher Brett Anderson was able to face live batters for the first time this spring since recovering from back surgery, the 27-year-old tweeted Wednesday.

Anderson was only able to pitch 43 1/3 innings in 2014 with a 1-3 record and 2.91 ERA after suffering the back injury that cut his season short. 


White Sox SS Tim Anderson looking to become long-term solution
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) White Sox prospect Tim Anderson is on a mission in spring training this year. He wants to prove that he belongs in the majors with the big boys.

"Just show them I can stay at short and my defense has come a long way and it's going to get better," Anderson said. "I want to be a shortstop for a long time. I'm going to be a shortstop. I'm going to work hard to stay there."

Anderson is currently considered Chicago's No. 2 prospect and could be just the prospect the White Sox are looking for. In his 2015 debut, Anderson smacked a two-run single.

"I'm just staying calm and trying not to do too much and just doing what I've been doing to be here," Anderson said. "It has been exciting to get in here and work with all the big leaguers and get my reps in and see how they go in the daily routine."


Reds' Kevin Gregg hoping to win a spot in the bullpen
by Chris Cwik | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Reds pitcher Kevin Gregg is hoping to win a spot in the team's bullpen, according to MLB.com.

Gregg may be 36-years-old, but understands he still needs to prove himself.  "I don't mind coming in and earning a spot," he said. "I'm coming off elbow surgery. At this point in my career, it's something I need to do."

Gregg had bone chips removed from his elbow in August, but was able to hit 92 mph in a showcase in February. He believes his velocity has improved since then.

Manager Bryan Price had good things to say about Gregg thus far. "He looks great. He looks durable," Price said. "He's got hand speed. He's crisp with his location. I've been extremely impressed with Kevin to this point."

The 36-year-old tossed just nine innings in the majors last year.


Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Reynolds sidelined with oblique injury
by Brandon Wise | CBSSports.com
(3/4/2015) Diamondbacks pitcher Matt Reynolds was scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday, but was unable to do so while dealing with a sore right oblique, reports MLB.com.

"I'm like, 'I'm in here again, I can't get out of this darn room,'" Reynolds said.

Reynolds missed all of 2014 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, but he isn't having any issues with the elbow.

"My elbow feels real good," he said. "It feels strong."


 
 
 
Rankings