Hitters to Avoid in 2017

Yesterday we highlighted pitchers that, due mostly to injury concerns, we will be avoiding in 2017 drafts. Today we thought it only fair to pay attention to the other side of the game and name some hitters we won’t be drafting.

Yasiel Puig, OF Dodgers

There is a big hole in the outfield when it comes to quality fantasy players, one of the slimmest crop of usable players in a while. Even with that we will be avoiding Yasiel Puig. It is highly probably Puig will be traded in the offseason and a lot of people believe it will be to the Brewers, we agree with that by the way. Even if that happens and opens up his playing time we still believe he is too risky. He has not shown that he can be consistent nor stay healthy. He won’t go high in drafts likely, but still we want to stay away.

Jay Bruce, OF Mets

Again, we know there are not a lot of great outfielders to choose from, but Jay Bruce is not someone you want next year. Since his trade to the New York Mets Bruce had been horrible. In 36 games he has a slash line of .192/.271/.315, with only 4 home runs. Question has been asked is he trying to prove too much to his new team or is this simply regression to the mean for him. We believe it is that latter. Last time Bruce his over .250 was in 2013 and it is clear to us that his hot season in Cincinnati was not the new norm for him, but just an extended hot streak.

Jose Bautista, OF Blue Jays

Maybe we should have tried a little harder to find players outside of the outfield, but it is just where we found players we don’t want for 2017. Jose Bautista has his lowest batting average since 2005 when he hit .143. Next year he will be 36 years old and has progressively been showing signs of aging with declining performance and increasing time injured. He is still valued by most fantasy players as a high end option, but is not returning what you have to pay for him. He is likely going to finish the regular season with his first sub-25 home run season since 2009. If he isn’t knocking the ball out of the park, isn’t hitting for a good average and isn’t driving in 100+ runs then he just doesn’t provide enough value for where he will be drafted.

Daniel Murphy, 2B Nationals

Finally, a non-outfielder and probably a pick that has you scratching your head. Daniel Murphy has been a major break out star in his age 31 season and has given owners plenty to celebrate. However, is it really something he can do again next year? We predict that many fantasy owners will be drafting Murphy in the first three rounds and he will not return that value. It is very unlikely that at 32 Murphy will be able to repeat his 2016 season. He has made it known that he made changes to his batting stance to increase his power production, but even if that sticks next year he will more than likely fall off in batting average as he has his highest BABIP since 2008 at .350 that is not going to be repeated. He will be a very useful fantasy player in 2017, but not worth where you will have to draft him.

There are without a doubt a lot more players that will be on our do not draft list for 2017 like Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Mark Trumbo and Billy Hamilton, but we didn’t have room to talk about them all here. Be on the lookout during the offseason however for more on why these players won’t be on any of our fantasy baseball teams in 2017.

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Pitchers to Avoid in 2017

As we get ready to say goodbye to the 2016 fantasy baseball season, some already have, I begin to look at the 2017 season. With that I thought I would write a quick post on some starting pitchers that as of right now I will be avoiding in 2017. Below are my four pitchers to stay away from, unless they remedy their injury concerns during the offseason.

Danny Salazar, SP Indians

Danny Salazar once again is being shut down due to an arm injury. Based on my recollection he has been shut down this season for issues related to his shoulder, elbow and forearm in 2016. All areas that make me think of Tommy John since they all can be related to a serious elbow injury.

Gerrit Cole, SP Pirates

Another pitcher who has been shut down for the season is Gerrit Cole. Cole started the year off injured, was shut down not long ago because of an arm issue and that issue seems to have come back. Though his early season problems were not arm related I am steering clear of Cole next year unless something happens in the offseason to change my mind.

Lance McCullers, SP Astros

Like Cole, McCullers started the season hurt. He got off to a very late start in 2016 because of that injury and there were many who were scared his big jump in workload in 2015 would lead to issues in 2016. They may have been right as he has been on the DL twice this year and may or may not finish the regular season on the DL. His issues in 2016 have consisted of shoulder and elbow pains, not a good thing for a starting pitcher and a player that should be avoided in 2017.

Clayton Kershaw, SP Dodgers

This is probably the most controversial name on my list. There is no doubting that Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in baseball, but to me he has a huge red flag. In 2014 Kershaw spent time on the DL because of a back issue, 2015 a hip issue sidelined him and this season the back is back. Yes, he is pitching again in 2016, but unless he does something to get his back issue taken care of in the offseason I won’t be drafting him. Now, that is not because I think he will for sure be hurt. It is because the price you will have to pay for him is too high based on the ongoing injury concern.

Where Analysts Went Wrong in 2016

Clayton Kershaw
By Barbara moore from Springfield, USA (CLAYTON KERSHAW Uploaded by Muboshgu) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Every year analyst put out their projections of where they see players finishing for that season in fantasy baseball. They use past history and their own thoughts on which players will improve and which will fall off. Some players like, Mike Trout or Madison Bumgarner, are somewhat easy to predict as they are very consistent. Others, however, can be extremely difficult. In this post we will look at three players that most if not all analyst got wrong. Players that for one reason or another did not live up to analyst expectations.

Bryce Harper, OF Nationals

After an amazing, MVP, season in 2015 everyone had high hopes for Bryce Harper. Many analysts had him as the top ranked player in baseball. After a season of 38 home runs, 97 RBIs, 112 runs, 125 walks and a .322 batting average it was no wonder we expected him to be such a high end player. As we wrote about earlier this season, to see that post click here, we may have over-hyped him. He had only had one season of those great numbers and we may have put too much in to that one season as this season has not compared to that one. Harper is hovering around the 20th ranked player in fantasy baseball this year, still a very good player, but nowhere near where we expected him to be. There have been rumors that he has been playing hurt and with a .255 batting average and only 23 home runs in 2016 we hope those rumors are true. At least that way we would have an explanation for why he is not what we thought he would be and would help us decide what to do in 2017.

Clayton Kershaw, SP Dodgers

Every season Clayton Kershaw is ranked at the top of all analyst rankings and that is well deserved. He never lets owners down as he has been consistently the best pitcher in baseball year after year. Even when he is not number one Kershaw is never far behind. 2016 was no exception as most every analyst had him ranked as the top pitcher and most had him in the top 5 of all players for fantasy baseball. He should have given owners wins, strikeouts, elite ERA and WHIP and just as many innings as any other pitcher out there, but then something went wrong. On June 30th he went on the disabled list, something that analyst could not predict, and has been out ever since. He is near a return now, but with so much of the season gone it is highly unlikely he will finish anywhere near where he was drafted. Even with the injury he still ranks 32 overall and 4th amongst pitchers. While playing he amassed a 1.79 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 145 Ks and 11 wins in 16 starts and 121.0 innings. He was on pace for what could have been his best season in his career, but will fall far short of that.

Andrew McCutchen, OF Pirates

Prior to the 2016 season when fantasy baseball owners heard the name Andrew McCutchen they thought elite outfielder and a player you would love to have on your team. That was not the case for this season. McCutchen has fallen and fallen far in rankings. As the season started the narrative was that he is just a slow starter and that he would turn it on and reward those owners who held on to him, but that has not happened. In 2015 McCutchen finished ranked 32nd overall, dropping 17 spots from where he finished in 2014. Maybe analyst should have looked at that drop in more depth, but we didn’t, we ignored it and he was a consensus top 10 player coming in to this year. Currently he has a .253/.331/.420 slash line which compared to his career line of .293/.382/.487 is a big disappointment. With only 19 home runs and a mere 6 stolen bases to go with his 58 RBIs and 68 runs he is ranked 101st overall in 2016. There is no explanation for why he has fallen so far from what he was and we still don’t know if this will be the norm for him moving forward. None of that matters to those who own him this season though as all they can do is wonder what could have been if he lived up to his expectations.

Others we could have included in this post; Prince Fielder, Carlos Correa, Shelby Miller, Jose Bautista or James Shields.

What’s Wrong with Jake Arrieta?

Last night in Chicago Jake Arrieta had one of his worst games of the season going 6.1 innings and giving up 6 earned runs on 5 hits and 3 walks. It was, to most, somewhat of a surprise as he was coming off one of his best starts on August 23rd where he pitched 8 scoreless innings of 2 hit ball at San Diego. If you look at his overall line for the year you probably would not be too concerned as he has a 2.84 ERA, 1.048 WHIP with 16 wins on the season. I would argue though that there should be some concern.

It would be unfair to just say Arrieta is struggling because his season hasn’t been what it was in 2015, since that was an amazing season for him and he was the Cy Young winner in the National League. My concerns are more rooted in numbers that not everyone likely pays attention to.

Over Arrieta’s best two seasons of his career, so far, 2014 and 2015 he had a 2.08 ERA and a 0.915 WHP. He obviously isn’t living up to that, but ok we can’t expect that necessarily. In that same span of time he had a 2.31 FIP, 0.4 HR/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 9.4 K/9, this is where my concern falls. In 2016 his FIP is 1.16 higher at 3.47, his HR/9 has nearly doubled to 0.7, BB/9 is up to 3.5 and he is not striking batter out at the same clip with an 8.6 K/9. His struggles are very prominent in his last 11 starts where he has a 4.20 ERA, 34 walks and only 60 strikeouts in 75 innings. To make matters worse he has a record of 6-6 in those games.

So what is wrong with Jake Arrieta? According to BrooksBaseball.net it wouldn’t appear that he is injured as his velocity is right in line with his 2015 numbers. His pitch mix does appear to have changed. As you can see from the chart below he has begun to rely more heavily on his hard stuff versus his breaking pitches, throwing his fastballs 14% more of the time then he did in 2014 and 2015. As the 2016 season has progressed that has become an even bigger trend as he has thrown hard pitches 73.21% of the time in the month of August.

Arrieta 2014 thru 2016 pitch selection

My theory, however, is more than that. Last season Arrieta threw a career high 229.0 innings, 55.7 more innings than his previous high of 173.3 set in 2010. Since 2010 he has thrown 119.3 in 2011, 170.7 in 2012, 154.7 in 2013 and 176 innings in 2014. It is not that a jump to 229 innings is a death sentence for a pitcher, but that is a fairly large workload and many of those innings were in higher pressure situations than ever before. It is very likely with Arrieta already at 168.0 innings in 2016 that he is just wearing down from last year’s innings and because of that his stuff just isn’t as crisp.

Though we don’t know for sure what is wrong with Arrieta, what we do know is the Cubs have to find a way to get him back to his high end form soon as they are likely in the playoffs for 2016 and have a good shot of making it to the World Series if they can get him right.

Can’t Imagine This Happening Today

I saw this tweet on Twitter today and I almost didn’t believe it was real.

It was however. Now in this day and age we do have violence and hysterical fans, but I could never imagine seeing a manager beaten after a game like this.