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By Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Analyst/Website Owner): Follow @chuckbooth3024
Stats all Prior to May.06th games.
The time has come for the 1sy May Power Rankings. There will be one each for May, June, July, August, September – and then a special playoff edition Power Rankings will be done in October.
I will not do a weekly Power Rankings during this weeks, because in essence, these are the weekly rankings done on a much larger scale.
These Reports are done with a heavy thought to how the teams project by the end of the season – along with how the clubs have fared so far.
I will point out who has had great months for the all 30 MLB Teams. I reward the good performances in these rankings – and leave the poor ones for the Podcasts or future articles. CLICK THE READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON
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By Brian Madsen (White Sox Correspondent) Follow @brianm731
While the baseball world focuses its eyes on young arms like Stephen Strasburg, Dylan Bundy, and Jose Fernandez (for good reason), White Sox closer Addison Reed has raised some eyebrows in the first 6 games of this season.
Though Reed made his first MLB appearance in 2011 as a September call-up, he didn’t make a real impact until 2012. Reed saved 29 games last year with an ERA of 4.75. Not stellar numbers for sure, but also not shabby for a rookie.
He picked up the first Save of his career in May of 2012 and was officially named the Closer by month’s end.
Addison Reed of the San Diego Aztecs:
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By Brian Madsen (White Sox Correspondent): Follow @brianm731
The last time the White Sox won on Opening Day by a score of 1-0 was 2005. They won the World Series that year. They beat the Royals 1-0 on Monday behind a solid pitching performance by Chris Sale and a solo HR from Tyler Flowers.
Monday was Opening Day. Not that that means anything, but baseball fans are superstitious. I know I am.
The Sox were 6-12 against the Royals in 2012, proving to be the Sox undoing. After their victory on Wednesday against KC 5-2, they’re 2-0 against the Royals so for in 2013. You have to understand, this is mind boggling for a White Sox fan.
The Royals have been the Sox’ achilles heel for what seems like forever now. If the Sox find a way to knock around Jeremy “Catfish” Guthrie today, the world may come to an end. Guthrie posted a 0.30 ERA vs the Sox last season, but, only managed one victory against them.
White Sox Opening Day At Us Cellular Field – Mature Content so Parental Guidance is advised:
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By Brian Madsen (White Sox Correspondent): Follow @brianm731
Considering the collapse of the 2012 White Sox, the team losing A.J. Pierzynski and Kevin Youkilis to Free Agency, one might not expect the 2013 White Sox to fare any better. But, looking on the bright side, they should have a solid starting staff, with Chris Sale having another year of experience under his belt, and, hopefully, the return of a healthy John Danks. That’s a pretty good 1-2 punch. Next is Jake Peavy. Not a bad 1-2-3 punch, if you ask me. Follow those 3 with Gavin Floyd and/or Hector Santiago/Jose Quintana, not too shabby. An “expert” may look on the not so bright side, and see a “whole lotta outs in the lineup”.
Between Gordon Beckham, Alexei Ramirez (both struggled in 2012) and the newly anointed starting Catcher, Tyler Flowers, that’s a combined average of .237 (which equals a whole lotta outs). While some say Beckham’s and Ramirez’s defensive prowess make up for their offensive deficiencies, many White Sox fans disagree. But, if Alex Rios and Adam Dunn can carry over their production from 2012 into 2013, the Sox could be in the running for the division title again. The addition of Jeff Keppinger at third base, while not a high-profile move that White Sox fans had grown accustomed to with former GM Kenny Williams, he is solid at the plate and in the field. Let’s take a look at the Sox payroll for the 2013 season….
DeWayne Wise’ catch to preserve Mark Buehle’s perfect game:
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Tuesday December 18th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer): Follow @BernieOlshansky
If I had to describe the 2012 White Sox in one word, I would describe them as underperforming. Although they improved on their 2011 season, the White Sox still performed below expectations in the 2nd Half and it cost them a trip to the playoffs. In a division with the Detroit Tigers, who signed Prince Fielder last winter, the White Sox were not favored. They finished with an 85-77 record, which was not bad—I just expected better. After all, the Tigers ended up in the World Series.
I’ll start with Adam Dunn. Dunn had one of the worst seasons in baseball history in 2011, the year that he signed a Four Year deal worth $56 Million. He hit .159 with only 11 HRs and 42 RBI. He was poised for a great comeback in 2012. I guess you could call hitting .204 with 41 HRs and 96 RBI a comeback, but it still was not the normal Adam Dunn. The HRs and RBI were there, but the .204 average was well below what he hit in previous years. If Dunn were to have hit for a higher average, one might be able to say that the White Sox would have made the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday September 18, 2012
Peter Stein: Follow @peterwstein
The following stat is the most telling about the roles of closers from a fantasy baseball perspective: 47 players have recorded 5 or more saves and a total of 61 have record 3 or more in 2012. The dispersion of saves throughout baseball reaffirm the old fantasy adage to never overpay for saves, demonstrating just how volatile the closing position is… and the difficulty of predicting saves.
A look at the top-five save leaders tells us even more:
Fernando Rodney (0.66 ERA, 0.78 WHIP 43 saves)
Jim Johnson (2.82 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 43 saves)
Rafael Soriano (2.07 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 40 saves)
Chris Perez (3.48 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 36 saves)
Tuesday September 11th, 2012
Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst): Follow @peterwstein
It’s that time of the year where you are hopefully competing or preparing for the playoffs/stretch run of the fantasy season. That’s why you need to be ahead of the competition and go the extra distance to secure a title because It’s the little moves that will ultimately make a difference. Understanding that the trading season is past, I have identified players likely available on your waiver wire that can help your team, as well as other advice based on player match-ups:
Ervin Santana, with a 5.21 ERA and 8-11 win/loss record has largely been a disappointment for fantasy owners in 2012. However, he has been much more of a reliable pitcher down the stretch. He is most recently coming off a 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 10K, performance against the tough hitting Detroit Tigers. Next up for Santana, who is owned in just 38.5% of ESPN leagues, is the softer hitting Oakland Athletics on Tuesday. Santana produced a 3.58 ERA in August and has allowed just 4 ER in 13.2 September innings to go with a 15:3 K/B ratio. We know he is shaky, but he appears to be a safe start, especially as he has held the Athletics to just 4 ER in 14.2 IP in 2012. Furthermore, Santana is much stronger pitching at home, evidenced by his .210 BAA, compared to .268 on the road. Santana’s following start is slated to be at Kansas City, which could be another decent option depending on Tuesday’s outing. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012
Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst): Follow @PeterWStein
In what many have dubbed the “Year of the Rookie”, can we really expect any more impact youngsters in the crop of September call-ups? This is the time of the year that we generally have to wait to the teenagers and early twenty-something’s. However, competing teams, particularly in the NL West, have showed increased willingness, or perhaps found it a necessity, to expedite the developmental process of their minor league talent and give them a taste of the big leagues. For many, they have had more than just a taste and proved ready to produce at the big league level. As a result, after Trout and Harper led the way, there has been an implosion of young talent in the big leagues.
From a fantasy perspective; however, this does not mean that the talent well has run dry in the core of players called up when the rosters expanded this past Saturday. And, if you find yourself out of the playoff race in your league, now is the time to scout talent for next year and try to locate the bargains of the 2013 draft. A prime example of such a player in 2011 was Addison Reed, who pitched brilliantly last September and a year later is the closer of the Al Central leading White Sox. Let’s take a look at the September call-ups who have potential to provide value down the stretch as well as in the 2013 season: Read the rest of this entry
Monday July 30th, 2012
Peter Stein: 2012 truly has been the year of the rookie.
With all of this new talent and many surprises, it most likely means that there is a lot of parity amongst fantasy leagues. This is great. But the question you must ask moving forward: which players can actually sustain this level of play? Remember that last year, the entire buzz was around Eric Hosmer, whose sophomore campaign (.232/9/42) indicates that he might actually need some time in AAA. Don’t forget about Jason Heyward’s disappointing encore after his breakout rookie campaign too. And didn’t we all write of Anthony Rizzo after he was completely over matched by major league pitching in 2011?
Amazingly, Yoenis Cespedes has produced a stat line of .305/14/54 and 8 SB through 69 games played and has no shot of winning rookie of the year. That honor will belong to Mike Trout – .350/16/49 and 31 SB in 79 total games. A plethora of other rookies are mashing too, including Rizzo (.941 OPS), Todd Frazier (.857 OPS), Will Middlebrooks (.848 OPS), and Matt Carpenter (.836 OPS). Not included in this list is Bryce Harper, who is already a dynamic fantasy option at the age of nineteen. Read the rest of this entry
Monday July 23rd, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: As the trade deadline looms, teams are scrambling to make a final buy or sell in order to push toward the playoffs. Some teams are trying to get value out of their soon-to-be free agents while other teams are rebuilding. Here are some of the big deals that have gone down in the past few days:
The Astros are obviously in their rebuilding phase. Last year, they gave up Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn, and the year before they gave up Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman. Earlier this year, Carlos Lee went to the Marlins for top prospect Matt Dominguez and others. More recently Brett Myers went to the White Sox for minor league pitchers and J.A. Happ went to the Blue Jays along with relievers Brandon Lyon and David Carpenter for Ben Francisco, Francisco Cordero, and other prospects in a ten-player trade. With these deals this year, the Astros have removed virtually all big names from the team. Not to say that J.A. Happ was a big name player, but he was a well-regarded pitcher that the Phillies gave up in the Roy Oswalt trade. Also given up by the Astros is former closer Brandon Lyon. He gave up the closer role to Brett Myers this year, but he does have the capability to serve in the back-end of a bullpen. Read the rest of this entry
Monday May 28th, 2012
Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): In this week’s fantasy focus, I take a look at a group of hitter who have improved significantly in one category and as a result have seen a tremendous increase in their overall value. While some of these guys are legit, others should be traded while their value is at a peak. Also, do not miss the “Closer Corner”, as the saves category has been as frustrating and hard to predict as any in 2012.
Martin Prado has always been a serviceable infield option, although now only eligible at third base, due to his ability to hit for average and decent power and production. However, his average took a hit in 2011 (.260) and his career highs in home runs (15) and stolen bases (5) leaves a lot to be desired. In 2012, Prado has made an effort to be more aggressive on the base paths and has already stolen 7 bases in 8 attempts. Even 15 stolen bases would tremendously increase his overall value. I expect him to approach 20, especially as he is getting on base more with an even 21:21 walk to strikeout ratio. His average is a robust .333 (career .297) and his new approach at the plate could have Prado ending the year with a line looking something like this: .310/14/80/20.
After crushing 21 home runs in 2009, Billy Butler has disappointed many owners by hitting 15 and 19 home runs in his follow-up seasons. He is an OPS machine and the power seems to be developing in 2012, as he already has 11 home runs. Due to his size, 240 pounds, people expected the power to develop right away, but we cannot forget that he is only 26 years old. Guys typically do not reach their full power potential until their late twenties. While we know we can expect a .300 average from Butler, is appears that he will at least come close to approaching 30 home runs in 2012. The fact that he hit 13 of his 19 home runs in the final three months of the 2011 season is even more promising for Butler owners. The only discouraging thing about Butler is that he is only eligible at the DH position in most leagues. Read the rest of this entry
Monday April 2nd, 2012
Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): The 2012 fantasy baseball season kicked off this past week with the Oakland Athletics and Seattle Mariners two game set in Japan. What can we learn from this series? Even in a hitter friendly park, neither of these teams can really hit. They will both struggle to score runs all year. Therefore, Bartolo Colon will have a lot of value pitching in the friendly confines of the Oakland Coliseum. Colon needs to be owned in all leagues, because he proved he still has something left in the tank last year. He is a must start option anytime he faces the Mariners and in most instances he pitches at home. The same is true with teammate Brandon McCarthy, who could perform to a near ace level this season. However, he does have an injury past, which also goes without saying with the old and portly Bartolo Colon. I also think this short series spoke volumes about the potential of Dustin Ackley, who can quickly emerge as a top ten option at second base.
With only two regular season games to reflect upon, let’s take a closer look at the end of spring training and its fantasy relevance. Henry Rodriguez is most likely available in your league, and the 100mph flamethrower will have the opportunity to close games as Drew Storen begins the season the disabled list. In 10 spring training innings, Rodriguez has allowed just four hits, but more importantly struck out nine batters compared to only two walks. The strike zone was the problem in 2011, when he still posted respectable numbers. But he seems to have found better control of the plate. He could be deadly and Zumaya-like. He should provide great value for strikeouts, and is great insurance for Storen owners, as I would not even be surprised to see him assume the closer role at some point during the 2012 season. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday March 13th, 2012
Peter Stein (Fantasy Baseball Analyst – MLB reports): Prince Fielder teams up with Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander, as the Detroit Tigers are the home of the Al Central’s three biggest fantasy stars. While the rest of the teams in the division are “rebuilding” (I don’t really know what the White Sox are doing), there are many promising youngsters and other players to target as value picks in the AL central on your draft day.
Wednesday February 1st, 2012
Sam Evans: Closing ballgames takes confidence, skill, and experience. There are select players that have earned the closer role at the highest level possible. These players come in all shapes and sizes, with diverse backgrounds.
Without further adieu, here are the closers for all fourteen American League teams:
New York Yankees: The Yankees have had the same closer for the last fifteen years. That is by far the longest stretch of any closer with their current team. Arguably the most successful closer of all time, Mariano Rivera has constructed his whole career around one pitch.
Rivera’s cutter is simply dominant. He breaks more bats than any other closer in the league, and he knows where to throw it to specific hitters. Even at 42 years old, hitters know what’s coming but still have no chance of making solid contact. In 2011, Rivera had a 1.91 ERA and he recorded 44 saves. Mariano Rivera still has at least five more years closing out games. The Yankees should be content with him as their closer for as long as he wants to pitch.
Tampa Bay Rays: Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth had a surprisingly effective 2011. Coming into the year, he was expected to compete with young prospect Jake McGee for the closer role. Farnsworth stole the show and was Tampa’s closer for the whole season. He posted a 2.18 ERA in 2012, along with 25 saves. It was a nice bounce back year for the once overpaid, angry reliever.
The Rays picked up the fiery reliever’s option for 2012, so he will likely retain his job as the Rays’ closer. However, if Farnsworth can’t get the job done, Joel Peralta or Fernando Rodney (87 career saves) will step in.
Boston Red Sox: The Red Sox bullpen has had a perplexing offseason so far. They let their closer leave in free agency and they moved two of their other best relievers to the rotation. Now, they’ll be trusting a young, former Rookie of the Year, who hasn’t thrown fifty innings since 2009. I think the Red Sox made the right move by letting Jonathan Papelbon walk, but I don’t see the benefit in moving Daniel Bard to their rotation.
Moving from Oakland to Boston, Andrew Bailey will have to learn to deal with constant criticism and media pressure. He’ll go from pitching in front of 10,000 people every night to almost 40,000. It’s impossible to quantify how much of an impact that will have on Bailey, but it’s got be at least a small factor.
The Red Sox will have a strong bullpen, despite which of their relievers end up in their rotation. Besides Bard, the Red Sox also acquired Mark Melancon who could see time as Boston’s closer. Melancon isn’t as good of a pitcher as Bailey, but he is still a strong option for late-inning relief.
I’m not high on Bailey and I see him having issues in 2012. Bailey relies too heavily on his fastball and his curveball was not effective last year. If he succeeds in Boston, then the Red Sox will look like geniuses for trading for him. If he struggles, then new General Manager Ben Cherington will have some questions to answer about the future of this bullpen. (I wrote more about the Red Sox bullpen here.)
Toronto Blue Jays: With the abundance of closers on the market, Toronto went out and got their closer of the present and future, in Sergio Santos. They had to give up Nestor Molina, a young starting pitching prospect, but they scored Santos and his team-friendly contract.
Since being converted from shortstop to pitcher a couple of years ago, Sergio Santos has molded into a top-notch closer. In my opinion, he has the second best slider in baseball. (Braves closer Craig Kimbrel gets a slight edge.)
The Blue Jays have a fairly strong bullpen and General Manager Alex Anthopoulos could always trade for more bullpen pieces. Rebuilding Toronto’s major league team is going to take a couple of years and right now the bullpen appears to be the least of their worries.
Baltimore Orioles: Jim Johnson emerged as a star for the Orioles in 2011. The twenty-eight year old reliever threw ninety innings but recorded only nine saves. The Orioles leader in saves last year was Kevin Gregg with 22 saves. This was surprising considering Gregg wasn’t even one of the Orioles top three relievers.
I’ve been a huge fan of Pedro Strop ever since he was with the Rangers organization. The twenty-six year old had a 2.62 FIP in 2011, and the Orioles have implied he’ll be their setup man in 2012. With Johnson, Gregg and Strop all gunning for the Orioles closer job in 2012, they’ll definitely have competition throughout the year. I’d expect Johnson to get the most saves, but Strop could have a breakout season as a 9th inning superstar. Plus Alfredo Simon could always get hot and take back the role if he fails as a starter.
Detroit Tigers: For the Tigers, having a closer they can trust to close out games in 2012 will be huge. The Tigers are going to have plenty of late-inning leads, thanks to a strong pitching staff and a powerful offense. Jose Valverde has been the Tigers closer for the last two years and he’s excelled at the back of the Detroit bullpen.
Papa Grande took a step forward in 2011. He saved 49 saves in just as many opportunities in 2012. His electric (and to a lesser extent, annoying) personality provides a spark at the end of Tigers games.
Valverde will be back in 2012 and will help Detroit down the stretch as they look to make a run at the World Series.
Chicago White Sox: The White Sox no longer have a clear closer after trading Sergio Santos to the Blue Jays. Now, their bullpen will rely on the flame-throwing lefty Matt Thornton and rookie Addison Reed.
Matt Thornton had a rough 2011. He lost his closer job to a former shortstop and saw his strikeout rates plummet. In 2010, he struck out 12.02 batters per nine innings. In 2011, he saw that rate drop to 9.5. He also walked more hitters than he had in previous years, and his LOB% dropped to 61.2%. In 2012, he will probably see his numbers improve moderately- but not to the level they were at in 2010.
Addison Reed is the best prospect in the White Sox deprived farm system. He will probably start the year in the majors. He has a higher ceiling than any other White Sox bullpen arms and that might lead to a job closing for Chicago. Reed is a nice sleeper in 12-team leagues, in which you are looking for saves.
Manager Robin Ventura has said that Reed is likely to make the 25-man roster out of Spring Training. He also said that the closing job is Matt Thornton’s to lose. I don’t think it will be very long before Reed takes over the job from Thornton, so Reed will probably get the majority of saves for the White Sox this year.
Kansas City Royals: Last year, it seemed inevitable that the Royals would trade away their longtime closer Joakim Soria. Then Soria’s value dramatically dropped. In May, Soria gave up ten runs in ten innings, and Royals fans started to panic. Eventually, Soria got back to the pitcher he always was. He finished 2011 with 28 saves, his lowest total since 2007. General Manager Dayton Moore made the right move hanging on to Joakim Soria because his value was so low at the trade deadline.
For 2012, Soria will be the Royals closer barring a trade. Not to be forgotten is former Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton who was signed this offseason. The Royals have a talented young bullpen that has the chance to develop into one of the best in the league.
Minnesota Twins: The Twins have no real closer heading into the 2011 season. Sure they have Matt Capps, who has 124 career saves. But he’s not a legitimate option if they plan on contending this year. They recently signed former Detroit Tiger Joel Zumaya who is coming back from a serious arm injury, but he used to be able to throw triple digits.
For fantasy players looking for sleepers, this team isn’t a bad place to start. Any one of the Twins pitchers could step up and take the closer role. This might be the worst bullpen in the league, so Minnesota will probably have to make some moves this year.
Cleveland Indians: The Indians a strong bullpen that should be able to give their starters a proper amount of rest. Vinnie Pestano is the best reliever on the team… and he’s not even closing. Pestano was worth 1.5 WAR in 2011, and he had 23 saves. If Chris Perez were to slip up in his closing duties, Pestano could easily fill in.
Chris Perez is a very good closer because he is a clutch performer. He doesn’t strike out many hitters and he walks a lot of hitters (1.50 K/BB in 2011), but he doesn’t blow many saves. He was 36 for 40 in save opportunities last year.
Even though Perez will likely be the starting closer on Opening Day, if Pestano keeps pitching like he has, he could eventually take over the position.
Seattle Mariners: The Mariners probably should have traded their closer, Brandon League, this offseason. As strong of an asset as League is, the Mariners won’t be contending in 2012.
When Brandon Leauge decides to throw it, he has one of the best splitters in the league. Last year he threw his splitter 28.2% of the time. Mariners fans want him to throw it more because of how dominating it can be. In 2011, using his splitter more led him to 37 saves and a 2.78 FIP. If League were to be traded or injured, Shawn Kelley, Tom Wilhelmsen, or Chance Ruffin would likely step into the role.
Oakland Athletics: Since the A’s traded Andrew Bailey, their closer responsibility is no longer set in stone. Brian Fuentes will likely start the year as their closer, but he has 37 career blown saves and is no longer the pitcher he once was.
The next pitcher in line to get saves is probably Fautino De Los Santos. As a rookie in 2011, De Los Santos struck out 11.61 batters per nine innings. Fautino De Los Santos may be electric but he only has thirty-two career saves (all of which were in the minors.)
Texas Rangers: The Rangers have the most depth out of any bullpen in the AL West. Joe Nathan will be the closer out of spring training. If Nathan were to fail, the Rangers also have Mike Adams, Koji Uehara (barring a trade) and Alexi Ogando (if he doesn’t start) waiting in the wings. If the Rangers bullpen were a flavor of milkshake- they would be banana. Not always the first thing that comes to mind, but after you try it, it’s much better than you expected.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: The Angels should have spent more money this offseason on their bullpen. Jordan Walden is far from a sure thing. Although it was his rookie year, Walden had his ups and downs in 2011. Walden looked nervous at times. Hopefully in his second year, he will have a better ” closer’s mentality.”
Setting up Walden will be most likely be Scott Downs, who was extremely lucky in 2011. Downs had 26 holds and a 1.34 ERA. He had a 3.40 xFIP and he left 86.4% of his men on base. In 2012, there’s no question that Downs is going to regress. The only question is how much.
Overall: The bullpens in the American League aren’t as strong as they look. There are talented pitchers on nearly every team, but no bullpen stands out as the clear winner. 2012 is going to be the an important year for closers, as there will be many AL teams in contention (especially if the 2nd Wild Card goes through). Some say that the whole closer role and mentality is not important. But once this year’s playoffs are upon us, I think 2012 will prove just how important closers really are.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter***
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