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Di Fino: Across the great divide

Senior Fantasy Writer
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One of the coolest things about working at CBSSports.com is the fact that because a random idea pops up on Tuesday morning, we can walk 20 feet and ask someone here at the office for a spreadsheet that shows the difference between owned and start percentages for players in our Fantasy leagues. Some people get excited because they get Keurig in the cafeteria. I love that I now have one spreadsheet that can tell me which players are owned in a lot of leagues, but not universally started (also, we can send faxes from the copy machines here, which is pretty cool).

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What's so great about having these numbers? They provide some serious insight as to which players Fantasy owners are holding on to and waiting on. They may be that last guy on the end of the bench, who will get dropped when the Next Big Thing gets called up. Or they could be a fizzling superstar, who they're waiting to break out and plug into the lineup. I personally like these numbers because they can help with trade offers. For instance, Jarrod Parker is owned in 84 percent of leagues, but started in just 38. Despite having just three wins, he has a 3.16 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 71 strikeouts in 91 innings. With 211.5 points so far this season, he ranks 66th in our standard leagues. In short, he's good enough to own, but 46 percent of his owners are deeming him unworthy of their rotations. He is too dangerous, in their minds, to leave on the waiver wire, exposed for another team to scoop up and put into their starting lineups. Yet not dangerous enough to help their team win on a weekly basis.

He's still being traded, though. In fact, Parker has become a popular throw-in on plenty of deals. Of the last 60 trades made involving Parker in CBSSports.com leagues, just three have been one-for-one swaps (one for Troy Tulowitzki, one for Pablo Sandoval, the other for Michael Bourn). And Parker isn't alone in the gap between owned and started. While most of the players at the top of the list are injured, there are plenty of healthy players with whom owners just can't figure out what to do. Ricky Romero, Josh Beckett, Chris Young, and Ubaldo Jimenez are just a few. Does this make them trade targets? Possibly. There are two ways to look at it:

1. Owners of these players have no idea what to do with them and would gladly include them in a trade, just to have them off their hands. The only reason they haven't traded them yet is because they want to try and get some value back for their now-wasted high draft pick.

2. Owners of these players will ask a ton for them because they've held on to them so long and have grown attached to them on their bench. They live in fear of you getting them for pennies on a dollar in a trade, then having to watch as they turn around their seasons and punish them for not holding on that extra week.

Regardless of these players falling into the first or second categories, these numbers still have a great amount of value, just in figuring out how they're perceived among other Fantasy players. What follows is a gift from CBSSports.com to you: the most intriguing and stark differences between owned and start percentages and what they mean in the realm of Fantasy.

Ricky Romero, SP, TOR
Owned: 92 percent
Started: 48 percent
Difference: 44 percent
What it means: From 2009 to 2011, Romero had done a masterful job of improving his stats -- his ERA and WHIP took marked drops each year, while his innings pitched and strikeouts went up. And then 2012 happened. So far this season, Romero is 8-6 with a 5.22 ERA (the highest of his career) and a 1.50 WHIP (the highest since his rookie year). After a strong April (3.18 ERA) and decent May (4.82 ERA), Romero managed a 7.33 ERA in June and has a 6.38 ERA in July. Owners stashing him on their benches are looking at his previous three seasons -- even his April from this year -- and are hoping there will be some return to form for the 27-year-old.
So what do I do?: Trade for him. His velocity is the same, so that's not a concern. Either he's injured, which there's no way of predicting, really, or he gets his walks down and returns to the trajectory he was on after 2011. Romero can likely be had for pennies on the dollar right now and, if he turns it around, could be an asset in the second half.

Josh Beckett, SP, BOS
Owned: 93 percent
Started: 51 percent
Difference: 42 percent
What it means: Beckett has cemented himself as one of baseball's most intriguing pitchers -- since 2006, there has been no real indication of which Josh Beckett will show up: the incredibly good pitcher or the head-scratchingly bad one. His ERAs from 2006 on: 5.01, 3.27, 4.03, 3.86, 5.78, 2.89, 4.44. With the exception of 2010, when it ballooned to 1.54, Beckett has managed to keep his WHIP low, having it hover between 1.03 and 1.22. He's especially erratic with home runs given up, with totals ranging from 17 to 36 (which happened to come in back-to-back seasons). The 32-year-old has made 25 starts in all but one of the previous six seasons and is on pace to reach that mark again in 2012. But everything else this year has been frustratingly inexplicable. His strikeout rate (6.8 per nine innings) is the lowest of his career, while many of his other rates (HR, hits, K/BB) are either at or near his career numbers.
So what do I do?: Trade him away. As brilliant as Beckett can be, there's no way to predict when he's going to be good. There are the every-other-season theories and every-other-start ideas popping up now (driven mainly by his 55-point week following his negative-13 point week, which both gave way to weeks of 20, 1, 17, 0, 14, 0 and 17 points). when it comes down to that, you're dealing with a pitcher who can do just as much harm as good to your Fantasy team.

Chris Young, OF, ARI
Owned: 84 percent
Started: 43 percent
Difference: 41 percent
What it means: Young has put up 20-20 seasons the last two years, while averaging 35.5 doubles in the same span. His batting average has never been great, but it was a necessary burden that his owners had to carry in order to get the slugging and speed. In 2012, though, Young has pulled a bait-and-switch: a .206 average with nine home runs and three steals. Granted, he missed a month between April and May with a shoulder injury, but has been awful since his return -- he went on the DL with a .410 average and five home runs. He has hit .153 with four home runs in the 44 games since.
So what do I do?: Trade him. Like Ryan Zimmerman, Young has a ton of talent, but the only explanation for his power and speed shortcomings this year is his shoulder, which was deeply bruised and had a ligament tear in April. He was given a few days off to clear his head in June and responded with an 11-point drop in batting average over the next four games. And after the All-Star Break, Young is batting just .235 with one home run. The injury theory is just guesswork, but after being given two relatively long breaks (by baseball standards), Young has failed to turn his season around. His start numbers may continue to drop as owners grow more frustrated with him.

Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, CLE
Owned: 77 percent
Started: 37 percent
Difference: 40 percent
What it means: Like Romero, Jimenez saw his ERA and WHIP go down over three consecutive seasons (from 2008 to 2010), while his strikeouts and innings went up. Unlike Romero, though, Jimenez does have one glaring stat that we can point to for an explanation: according to FanGraphs, his velocity has dropped from 95.8 in 2010 to 92.4 in 2012. Last year, he had an average fastball velocity of 93.9. His strikeout rate has dropped to 6.9 per nine innings, the lowest of his career, and his hit and walk rates are at career-high levels. Most disturbingly, Jimenez has seen his home run rate almost double from last year and more than triple from 2010. And he spent his entire career -- up until the second half of 2011 -- pitching half of his games in Colorado.
So what do I do?: Trade him if you can, but feel free to drop him. All things considered, Ricky Romero is a much better bet to turn things around over the second half than Jimenez.

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Eric Hosmer, 1B, KC
Owned: 92 percent
Started: 56 percent
Difference: 36 percent
What it means: After a great debut in 2011, where he finished third in Rookie of the Year voting, batting .293 and hitting 19 home runs, Hosmer has taken a major step back so far this season, sporting a .225 batting average, with nine home runs and nine steals. Owners hoping for a better offensive performance from him have been sorely disappointed, but haven't been willing to cut ties with Hosmer just yet.
So what do I do?: Hold on to him. While his July (.224 average, zero home runs, two steals) has been just as miserable as the months that preceded it, he has shown signs of life. His BABIP is a healthy .310, and he has produced nine home runs and nine steals so far this year. His June (.270 average, three home runs, five steals) was impressive, and his minor league numbers suggest he should be able to produce a much higher average -- with some power and speed.

Some other notable leaders in Owned/Started Gap, who you might be able to get from a frustrated owner for pennies on the dollar:

Bryan LaHair, OF, CHC (63 percent owned, 30 percent started)
Kendrys Morales, DH, LAA (68/36)
Mike Napoli, C, TEX (97/67)
Ichiro Suzuki, OF, SEA (90/60)
Jeff Samardzija, RP, CHC (72/42)
Michael Young, 3B, TEX (95/66)
Ian Kennedy, SP, ARI (95/67)
Jon Lester, SP, BOS (97/70)
Desmond Jennings, OF, TB (92/65)
Chris Davis, 3B, BAL (64/37)
Jemile Weeks, 2B, OAK (54/30)
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, SF (95/72)
Francisco Liriano, SP, MIN (80/59)

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Nando Di Fino at @NandoCBS . You can also send our staff an e-mail at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

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Player News
Struggling SS Danny Santana sits again for Twins
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(11:25 am ET) Twins shortstop Danny Santana is out of the lineup for a second straight game Monday, replaced by Eduardo Escobar for the game against the Red Sox. 

Santana has had a rough week at the plate, going 1-for-16 with five strikeouts and no wallks. The free-swinging Santana has just two walks in 157 plate appearances this season. 

The Twins (+103) are slight underdogs per VegasInsider.com. 


Cubs happy 2B Javier Baez 'calming things down' at plate
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com
(11:23 am ET) It's all good at the moment for Cubs premier second base prospect Javier Baez. He't not trying to hit home runs at Triple-A Iowa, but baseballs are flying over the fence anyway.

The Cubs wanted Baez to stop swinging for the downs, which led to too many strikeouts in his stint with the team a year ago. He slugged two home runs Sunday, giving him five on the season, but his strikeouts are indeed down. He has 24 in 87 at-bats, which is still disturbing, but far off the pace he set last year.

"Both (home run at-bats Sunday), he laid off borderline pitches before getting good pitches to hit," Iowa batting coach Brian Harper said via milb.com. "That's the key for Javy. What he's done the most lately is not overswinging. He's not trying to hit 800-foot home runs any more. He's just trying to hit 350 to 400-foot home runs, that's all. He's working really hard to calming things down."

Baez owns a slash line of .322/.404/.540. He has fanned in 24.2 percent of his plate appearances, down from 30 percent a year ago.


Yankees' Brian McCann in, Carlos Beltran out Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:10 am ET) Yankees catcher Brian McCann is in the starting lineup on Monday, while Carlos Beltran remains out for his team's matchup with the Royals.

McCann left Sunday's game due to cramping in his left foot/calf, but the issue won't keep him from missing a start. Beltran is sitting for the second straight game due to an illness.

The Yankees are favorites (-125) at home on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Orioles RP Brian Matusz receives 8-game suspension
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(11:09 am ET) Orioles reliever Brian Matusz was issued an eight-game suspension by MLB Monday as punishment for being caught with a "foreign substance" on his arm during Saturday's game against the Marlins. 

Matusz was ejected in the 12th inning on Saturday after it was brought to the umpires' attention that Matusz had a visible substance on his arm. When the home plate umpire determined it was an illegal substance, he discussed with Orioles manager Buck Showalter briefly before ejecting Matusz from the game.

Matusz will appeal the suspension, which is the same doled out to Brewers reliever Will Smith after he was caught with an illegal substance on his arm earlier in the week. Matusz is 1-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 14 appearances this season. 


Brewers' Khris Davis batting second Monday vs. RHP
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(11:02 am ET) Brewers left fielder Khris Davis is batting second on Monday against the Giants and righty starter Tim Lincecum.

It's just the second time this season that Davis has been slotted second against the righty and his sixth time batting second against any pitcher. He's been much better against righties than lefties this season, hitting .257/.361/.396 with two home runs in 101 at-bats, while posting a .452 OPS against lefties. Lincecum has also seen more struggles against righties (.720 OPS against) than lefties (.455 OPS against).

The Brewers are favorites (-120) on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Mets start Danny Muno at third base Monday vs. Phillies
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:50 am ET) Mets infielder Danny Muno is starting at third base and batting seventh in Monday's matchup with the Phillies.

Muno was called up after Sunday's game and will be immediately inserted into the lineup at third base. Normally a second baseman, Muno has seen 46 appearances at third base in the minors, with 20 coming this season.

Muno has hit .280/.354/.400 in 100 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas. His only other start with the Mets came in late April when he served as the designated hitter in an American League park.

The Mets are heavy favorites (-165) at home on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Mets' Juan Lagares, Lucas Duda return to lineup Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:47 am ET) Mets center fielder Juan Lagares and first baseman Lucas Duda are back in the lineup for Monday's game against the Phillies.

Lagares, who is batting second, was scratched from Sunday's lineup with soreness in his armpit and elbow. Duda, who is batting third, was held out Sunday due to hamstring tightness.

The Mets are heavy favorites (-165) at home on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Cubs' Miguel Montero out, David Ross in Monday
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:45 am ET) Cubs catcher David Ross is starting over Miguel Montero in Monday's matchup with the Nationals.

Ross typically receives his starts on the days that Jon Lester pitches, but he'll be behind the plate on Monday to catch Tsuyoshi Wada. He has hit .182/.341/.303 in 33 at-bats.

The Cubs are home underdogs (+105) against the Nationals on Monday, per VegasInsider.com.


Cardinals' Kolten Wong 'getting more comfortable' leading off
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10:32 am ET) Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong is 8 for 19 with three walks in his last five games, which have all come with him slotted in the leadoff spot.

"I’m definitely getting more comfortable," Wong said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "I’m starting to realize what kind of hitter I am. I understand that I can see some pitches and still be comfortable going deep into at-bats. Before, I kind of panicked leading off because I wasn’t someone who was comfortable taking pitches. Now I know I can still drive balls, no matter what the count. It just takes time. Leadoff isn’t an easy place to hit at. It’s all about learning and understanding how to hit leadoff and then buying into it."

The lineup change as pushed third baseman Matt Carpenter to the No. 2 spot, a move he sees as positive for the offense.

"I think we’re a better offense with him hitting leadoff and me hitting in the second spot," Carpenter said. "He just needed to develop as a hitter, and we’re seeing what he’s been able to become — a guy that can have tough at-bats. That’s the key to what a leadoff (hitter) is. It’s not giving away at-bats. And he hasn’t given away at-bats all year."

Wong's recent hot stretch gives him a .315/.369/.469 line with five home runs and 22 RBI in 162 at-bats.


Orioles 1B Chris Davis not in starting lineup Monday
by Elliott Smith | Staff Writer
(10:26 am ET) Slumping first baseman Chris Davis is not in the Orioles' starting lineup Monday, the first time this season Davis has not started a game in which he was eligible. 

Davis did not start on Opening Day, which was the last game of the 25-game suspension he incurred last season for violating MLB's drug policy. 

Davis has been in a prolonged slump this season, and with the Astros starting tough left-hander Dallas Keuchel, it seemed as good as day as any to give Davis a day off. 

Steve Pearce gets the start at first base, while Everth Cabrera is in the lineup for the second straight day, this time at second base. 


 
 
 
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