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The Wire Troll: Young Gun

May 18, 2007 | By James Morris | comment on this post
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Luis Gonzalez, left, has not been helping his owners this year.
Having Luis Gonzalez, left, land in L.A. hasn’t exactly been anyone’s idea of a good Christmas present — especially his owners. The man who replaced him in ‘Zona, Chris Young, could be a good replacement for fantasy purposes as well.

Everyone wants to know how I assess the stats to find sleepers. Well, I use a complex method of Bill James’ and Doug Decatur’s formulas for statistics, and then I get right with Jesus before making the switch! But, here is a little nugget I will give you for free: The best metric for differentiating winning and losing pitchers is their home run rate. On average, pitchers who got jacked around the yard in April at a rate of 1.5 HR/9 or more didn’t get even half their innings pitched in the second half of the season. The ones who kept the rate under 1.0 HR/9 in April kept 83 per cent of their April workload. If you are bored enough to sort those stats out, you can play in my league any time!

Moving on, I love to look over the waiver wire and add/drop guys. I give guys some leeway, but enough is enough with Luis Gonzalez, Garrett Atkins and Robinson Cano. So, what do you do instead of them? Well, read on for my recommendations for the week.

OF Chris B. Young, ARZ: As his name suggests, the kid is young and he’s doing his thing. Young is showing some pop with the bat (.456 SLG), and speed with the legs (five steals), but his eyes need some work with that .299 OBP. He makes a solid fourth OF right now and could be good to start if you need a DL replacement or one your starters, like Gonzo, is struggling.

2B Pl’cido Polanco, DET: Polanco isn’t going to wow you with his runs and RBI, but his BA and OBP (.327/.366) say he will do well over the long haul of a season. If your 2B is just not getting it done, i.e., Cano, Josh Barfield or Chone Figgins, then give Polanco a good look.

3B Casey Blake, CLE: It’s not that I am going to pick him up, but if you’ve got Atkins, Scott Rolen, or Joe Crede, Blake might be someone to look at. Over the last month he has 17 runs, two HRs, 14 RBI, two steals, and a BA of .286. He sure isn’t top tier, but if you are in need, he is probably there.

RP Carlos Villanueva, MIL: Villanueva is someone I picked in my Diamond Mind league hoping he could get it done as a starter. He is getting it done for sure, just in middle relief. He has thrown 21 2/3 innings going for three wins, 21 strikeouts, a 1.25 ERA, and a 1.06 WHIP. If you need someone to throw some innings and lower your team’s ERA and WHIP, the Villan is someone that is flying under the radar. And bear in mind that if (when?) injury-prone Ben Sheets or another Milwaukee starter lands on the DL, Villanueva could get some consideration to start unless the Brewers decide to bring up Yovani Gallardo.

So, I figured I’d do something a little different here and give you some buy low and sell high candidates. I know you will think I am crazy, but I have a reason for my picks.

Sell High

  • 3B Alex Rodriguez, NYY: Hey, I know A-Rod has scored 35 runs on 15 taters, with 39 RBI, three steals, and a .311 BA. But, if you look over his last three years, he has fewer HRs (64 before to 55 after), runs (187/162), RBI (195/162), and even SBs (36/28) after the All-Star break than he did before it. The trend is there and even though he is rated as the No. 1 fantasy player in my Yahoo leagues, I might look to see what someone will pay for him if I had him.

Buy Low

  • OF Gary Matthews Jr., LAA: Not that he is under anyone’s radar at this point, but I would contact the guy who has him and talk about his ‘roid allegations and see if I could snag him cheap. He could still very well have the wheels come off the bus, but he has looked as good as any outfielder in the majors so far this season. See what he costs and pull the trigger if it is low.
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