A.J. Burnett Yankee Saviour?

Issue: The Yankees are desperate for rotation help in 2011, while your fantasy team needs a starting pitching bargain, so you can spend more on big stick hitters. Is A.J. Burnett the guy?

Facts: After 10 seasons in The Show A.J. has won 10 games more than he has lost (110-100). 2010 was easily his worst season when he went 10-15, 5.26 ERA, and 1.511 WHIP. Burnett pitched through low back soreness in August, left hand laceration in July, and foot soreness in June, so nothing serious and no time on the DL in 2010. Maybe his splits will show us something. He gave up 15 HR on the road and only 10 at home, the opposite of what you’d expect. His Batting Average on balls in play was .326 at home and .320 on the road. Both say he was unlucky. Splitting the season in half indicates some real differences. His first half/second half splits are .275/.295 BA, 4.75/5.95 ERA, .357/.378 OBP, .440/,480 SLUG, and .310/.341 BAbip. Lastly, while his line drive and strikeout ratios were better than the league average, all these were worse: HR%, BB%, XBH%, GO/AO, and HR/FB.

Analysis: At age 34, 3 years older than his former teammate Josh Beckett, Burnett will improve in 2010, but not nearly enough to make him a valuable asset for either the NYY or your Roto team.

Projection: 10 W, 4.69 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 138K, 165 IP.

Nate McClouth and Jordan Schaffer 2011 Outlook

Issue: Nate McClouth is hot early in Spring Training, while Jordan Schaffer looks ticketed for AAA where he’ll get to play every day. What should I do with these 2 Braves center fielders on Auction Day?

Facts: Schaffer was hot, hot, hot 2 years ago in Spring Training, then suffered a hand injury at the end of the first week of the 2009 regular season. He played through it and out of a job. It has taken 2 years for him to recover fully; in the meantime he has put up nondescript MILB numbers. Jordan’s star has dimmed, but Nate is on fire right this minute. What can we expect from McClouth? Here are his career splits month by month:

April/March 337 47 15 47 6 .265 .360 .478
May 484 76 14 48 17 .245 .340 .419
June 348 43 5 32 12 .219 .277 .356
July 395 70 14 35 12 .249 .324 .457
August 330 43 11 32 14 .241 .317 .415
Sept/Oct 469 82 18 60 22 .286 .385 .496


Analysis: The beginning and end of each season are when McClouth is at his best. Unfortunately, there are more games in between when Nate has produced sub-par numbers. Let someone else pay full value or a premium for McClouth’s Spring Training and March/April numbers. If you’ve got a spot for a buck flier and your league allows you to grab players on Auction or Draft Day who aren’t on a MLB roster, then spend a buck or a late, late draft pick on 24 year old, Deep Sleeper Jordan Schaffer, as he’ll have the starting job in Atlanta by mid to late May.


Nate McClouth   403PA  12HR  54R  45RBI  12SB  .246BA.

Jordan Schaffer  469PA  16HR  70R  75RBI  19SB  .287BA

Jeff Francis and Kevin Correia 2011 Outlook

Issue: Last season Jeff Francis and Kevin Correia both had ERAs greater than 5.00 and WHIPs higher than 1.48. Has the change in home ball parks for 2011 made them worthy of a $1 flier in Auction End Games?

Facts: Francis has spent 6 seasons in Colorado. In 2011 Jeff will be the #2 starting pitcher in KCR’s rotation. Correia has spent 8 seasons in The Show, first 6 with SFG and last 2 with SDP. Kevin will be the #3 starter in Pittsburgh this season.

Condensing each one’s career into a single season of stats looks like this:

Francis 13 4.77 201 25 1.429 1.1 6.1 2.1
Correia 7 4.57 150 18 1.441 1.1 6.6 1.84


The Park Factors are these:

SDP 59 95 107 110
Pitt 99 73 93 89
COL 116 117 87 90
KCR 73 85 88 92

Analysis: This is a tale of home advantage going in opposite directions. Francis has been below the league average in K/9 which puts too many balls in play. He won’t get any material help in strikeouts in KCR, but those HR factors are so much better in KCR. Remember 100 = League Average. Correia has been right at or slightly above the league average for K/9. Pittsburgh will decrease those, especially with RH hitters. It also looks like Kevin will be a lot more vulnerable to homers by LH batters. Add to it that the Padres were one of the best defensive teams in 2010 while Pittsburgh was one of the worst.

We would stay away from Correia and consider Francis for a buck, while being nervous about his high career WHIP, but expecting it to come down. Keep in mind Correia has been healthy through out his career, while Francis has had shoulder problems 5 different times. Watch the Spring Training news for Jeff’s health.


Francis  12W  190IP  4.10ERA  105K  1.29WHIP

Correia   9W  172IP   4.60ERA  125K  1.43WHIP

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

Chase Utley’s 2011 Outlook

Issue: Chase Utley turns 32 this season and continues to have health issues. What can we expect in 2011 using the 3 players with the most similar careers in MLB history through their age 31 seasons, namely Jeff Kent, Joe Gordon, and Jim Edmonds.

Facts: Kent played another 9 seasons, Gordon only 4, and Edmonds 8. Those 3 hung up these numbers from their age 32 season till retirement.

Kent 1266 4756 754 216 850 .300 45
Gordon 566 2021 318 100 358 .262 21
Edmonds 1000 3189 563 200 573 .274 26


Analysis: Health wise we are not as pessimistic as former NYY star Joe Gordon’s shortened career. Kent became superman later in his career, with his 2 best career seasons ahead of him. Kent is the exception here in that regard and not just with these hitters. That leaves us with Edmonds.

Jim Edmonds (age 32) 2002 Actual       476 AB  96R  28HR   83RBI   4SB  .311BA

Chase Utley (age 32) 2011 Projection    476 AB  96R  28HR  100RBI  4SB  .292BA

We feel Chase will have more RBI in the Philly lineup with less batting average.

{6-4-3 Assists to Bill James and Baseball-Reference for their player similarity scores.}

$46 Albert Pujols, $10 Neil Walker, 3 Legged Stool

Issue: One Freeze Roster slot remains. You must choose between $46 Pujols and $10 Neil Walker, but at the end of Auction Day you want to own both. Which one do you keep, then buy back the other?

Facts: Your league is in Stage 3 where everyone is experienced and they all know everything, so projected value is the same as the Auction market price. You suspect a 20% inflation rate on Auction Day from the Keeper rosters. In 24 seasons only 3 times has a player gone for the league high of $50: Albert twice and Hanley Ramirez once. Albert will earn $48 and Neil $15 in 2011. In this highly competitive league an extra $4 under the salary cap could make the difference in acquiring Alexi Casilla over Jack Wilson in the End Game.


(A) Keep Albert and buy back Walker.

$46 Albert’s Freeze Salary

$18 Neil’s price at Auction ($15 X 120%)

$64 Total Investment Cost

$63 Value ($48 + $15)

$1 Loss On Investment

(B) Keep Walker and buy back Pujols on Auction Day.

$10 Walker’s Freeze Salary

$50 Albert’s cost on Auction Day (League’s Psychological Auction Price Ceiling)

$60 Total Investment Cost

$63 Value

$3 Profit On Investment

3 Legged “Price/Cost” Stool: Freeze Day is in 2 weeks and the wind is blowing out at the Grapefruit League’s McKechnie Field in Bradenton. Neil Walker is getting more loft than usual and is looking like the 2011 version of Jayson Heyward, breaking auto windows in the distant parking lot. The news or noise makes Walker’s pre-inflation market price tick up to $18, so with 20% inflation he’ll cost $22 on Auction Day, wipe out your profit, and you’ll have to settle for a Jack Wilson Wanna-Be in the End Game. Now you should keep Walker. The 3 Prices or Costs are what he’ll earn, what he’ll cost (market), what he’ll cost with inflation.


Name AVG   R   RBI   HR   SB   AB
Pujols 0.318   110   114   39   10   571
Walker 0.278   73   83   16   7   560
Casilla 0.275   70   60   10   32   507
Wilson 0.252   21   29   2   3   296