Grady Sizemore Paradise Lost Last Season

Last season at age 27 with experience Sizemore should have been the clean, electric, more personable  version of Barry Bonds who hung up these numbers in his last season in Pittsburgh at the same age: 109 R, 34 HR, 103 RBI, 39 SB, .311 BA, .456 OBP, and 1.080 OPS., but  that season and those stats are lost for Grady Sizemore. In 2011 at age 28 after missing so many games the last 2 seasons due to injuries, what can we expect?

Analysis: Before injuries took their toll Grady Sizemore put up numbers that remind us of some very fine hitters at the same ages – Duke Snider at ages 22 and 23, Jack Clark at 24, Barry Bonds at 25 and 26. Sizemore’s growth as a hitter has obviously been sidetracked. He won’t be back at full speed when 2011 begins. Also, we may be too optomistic about his 2011 PA, which would depress his counting stats further. We would settle for these stats as his first step back toward stardom.

Projection: 600 PA, 80 R, 21 HR, 60 RBI, 22 SB, .283 BA.

Pushing Aramis Ramirez

Issue: Aramis Ramirez the Cubs’ 33 year old cleanup hitter has hung up some gaudy seasonal numbers over his 13 year career, but the last 2 were disappointments due to a shoulder separation on 2009 and a bruised thumb in 2010. If his gloss is tarnished, how far should we push the bidding in our 2011 Auction?

Analysis: He played in only 82 games in 2009 and 124 games last season, playing through the injury. The change from season to season looks like this: .317/.389/.506 in 2009 vs. .241/.294/.452 in 2010. His post All Star Game stats improved- 15 HR, 51 RBI, .321 OBP, .276 BA. Those 2nd half numbers may well push the bidding up. Beware because of 2 reasons. First, obviously older now than his best seasons, Aramis has injured 16 different body parts in his career, including thigh (6 times), thumb (4), shoulder (4), groin (4), wrist (3), knee (3), and lower back (3). Second, his supporting cast will diminish his counting category stats. Don’t count on 100 R and 100+ RBI. Marlon Byrd will be hitting in front of Aramis. Byrd kills LHP, but there are significantly more RHPs (.267/.328/.389). Newly acquired Carlos Pena hit .196 last season and will bat 5th for the Cubbies.

Projection: 475 PA, 25 HR, 70 R, 85 RBI, 1 SB, .289 BA.

Dexter Fowler Is All About Splits

Dexter Fowler will hit leadoff or 2nd for Colorado in 2011; as a prototypical speed guy in Colorado he probably will not be cheap enough at auction for his risk and reward to be in sync. Should we pursue him anyway?

Analysis: The book on Dexter Fowler is blazing speed, can hit LHP, but not any of the numerous RHPs, stole bases like crazy in the minors, but got caught way too often in The Show. A look at his splits shows his problems are only 2: (a) hitting/stealing versus RHP and (b) hitting outside of Mile High Stadium. His full season stats show he improved against RHP, hitting .260 from both sides of the plate. More good news is he hit .280 against all pitchers in the 2nd half following .233 in the 1st half. Even more encouraging was his 2nd half .304/.341/.494 against RHP. In 2010 he was an 80% base stealer (excellent) against LHP and had a 45% success rate vs. RHP. Typically it’s easier to steal against RHP, as a LHP is looking directly at first base when pitching from the stretch and thus shortens the base runner’s lead and often delays his first step. We assume this is correctable by Dexter with good coaching. After all he did steal 43 bases in 99 games in a single minor league season (Class A ball). So far so good for the future, yet when we look at his home/road splits from 2010 we catch our breath: .313/.401/.531 home v. .201/.297/.298 road. While he is improving and has the tools for a high ceiling, Dexter has a long way to go to be just an average MLB hitter in those 81 travel games in 2011. We think he will be better in 2011, but he won’t be a true breakout hitter. He will make an even bigger jump in value after another season of MLB experience. Don’t pay for 2012 in 2011.

Projection: 550 PA, 7 HR, 70 R, 40 RBI, 22 SB, .382 BA, .360 OBP

Invest In Josh Johnson In 2011

Josh Johnson was a stud in 2010. In fantasy where starting pitchers can hurt your team severely in so many categories, big bucks should only be spent on the expectation of a safe, awesome return on your investment. Was Josh Johnson simply lucky in 2010?  We usually look closely at 2 Base Performance Indicators (BPI) to see if we should expect a material correction the following season, namely HR allowed and Batting Average on balls in play. Josh’s .34 HR/9 was superb and likely to regress, so the question is how much can we expect? Here are the Park Factors in the NL East (LHB/RHB):

Marlins: 99/95
NYM: 90/94
Nats: 94/100
Phillies: 116/120

100 = League Average. Obviously the NL East is a good division to be a starting pitcher in HR wise, except those Phillies. Josh has had 11 starts vs. the Phillies in 6 seasons, going 5-3, 3.34 ERA, 1.329 WHIP, .316 OB, .364 Slug, and 5 HR. Only that inflated WHIP is of any concern.

In 2010 Josh’s BAbip was .297 versus a League average of .290, the opposite of what you’d expect by a lucky pitcher. Let’s take a quick look at some other 2010 ratios that show what made Johnson superb. These are shown Johnson/League Average: 25/16.7 K%, 6.9/8.0 BB%, 18.3/11.5 PAK%, 45.7/43.2 GB%, 79.5/71 LOB%, and 12.1/7.8 Swinging Strikes%.

In 2011 Josh will give up a few more homers and more men left on base will score, yet Johnson will continue to be worthy of your investment as an Ace. Just don’t pay for the full value of his 2010 stats in 2011.

Projection: 16-6, 203 IP, 2.98 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 201 K.

Josh Beckett: How Good Will He Be in 2011?

Issue: In 2010 Josh Beckett’s performance was Good, Bad, and Ugly. Which ones will show up in 2011?

Facts: Good, Bad, Ugly


There were items that stand out below his ugly surface stats in 2010. Josh’s strikeout rate remains strong at better than 8K/9. His line drive rate ticked down from 20% to 19%. Hitters’ slugging and OPS were below the league averages. His .341 Batting Average on balls in play versus the .298 league average means he was unlucky as well. Injuries left the Bosox defense in shambles in 2010, especially in the outfield and at shortstop. Everyone appears healthy now, plus the addition of Adrian Gonzalez, so the defense behind Josh will be much improved in 2011.


His 3 year trend in BB% is 4.7 – 6.2 – 7.87. Beckett spent 65 days on the DL with lower back strain between May and July. His fly ball rate increased from 31.7% to 35.3%. His fastball slowed just a bit, but is still good. His average fastball speed for the last 4 seasons is 93.5, 94.3, 94.3, 94.6.


He lost confidence in his heater last season. His fastball use the last 4 season it is 55.2%, 66.9%, 63.1%, and 69.0%. He also had less horizontal movement on most of his pitches. He went from pounding the strike zone high and away to working mostly low and outside, but with less movement away from or into the batter.

Career Highest – BA Against (.292), while the league average was .264. ERA was 5.78.

Career Lowest – First pitch strikes (62%); Innings Pitched 127.2.

He has injured 12 different body parts over his career, including Hand (8), Low Back (5), Elbow (2), Trunk (2), and once each – Fingers, Head, Upper Back, Shoulder, Neck, Groin, Foot, and General Medical.

Analysis: Injuries have most likely caused Beckett’s Jekyll and Hyde performances every other season. All pitchers are healthy…until not. How good will Beckett be considering how bad he was in 2010? Gazing into this season 4 things out stick in our mind: (A) Beckett’s bulldog determination; (B) he has displayed some strong Base Performance Indicators even when his surface stats have been ugly; (C) the abrupt change in the frequency of use and movement of his fastball; and (D) those injuries every other season.

If we condense Josh Beckett’s career into a single season’s worth of stats we would get a 162 Game Score season of 15-10, 3.96 ERA, 210 IP, 8.5K/9, 199K, 65BB, 3.07 K/BB, and 1.244 WHIP. We feel strongly that Josh will do better than that, despite real injury risk. Depending on how many others in your auction feel the same way and the timing of his nomination, Beckett represents an opportunity to grab a starter for $14 or less with the likelihood of earning $20 to $25. This is how pennants are won in auction leagues. The risk is in line with the reward, so long as you don’t spend over $14, before any auction inflation.

Prediction: 19-6, 3.66 ERA, 212 IP, 8.4K/9, 201K, 55BB, 54BB, 3.62 K/BB, and 1.18 WHIP.

{6-4-3 Assists to TexasLeaguers and Baseball-Reference.}