Fantasy Baseball: Buzz Building For Garrett Richards

There wasn’t much buzz for Angels righthander Garrett Richards in Fantasy Baseball drafts. Fantasy owners usually want to see production first before taking a player with some promise, and Richards didn’t do much in his first two seasons to be on the radar like some other young arms.

Richards had a 4.69 ERA over 71 innings two years ago and a 4.16 ERA in 145 innings last season. Richards is off to a great start in 2014. He is 2-0 with a 2.53 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 24.6 strikeout percentage and a 12.7 walk percentage. Richards is inducing ground balls at a 52.6 percent rate, in line with the 58 percent rate he had in 2013.

Richards has seen a slight uptick on the average velocity of his fastball going from 94.8 miles per hour last season to his current 95.9 to go with a slider and curveball. While Richards has been fortunate with a .195 BABIP and his high walk rate, he is legit.

Richards had a 7.1 walk percentage in 2013, and after walking eight in his first 12 innings he has walked just eight in 20 innings since. The control can improve. Richards is owned in 52 percent of Yahoo! Leagues and it should be more.

Madison Bumgarner Will Improve

I have seen some real concern expressed by owners of Giants lefthander Madison Bumgarner. Many have expressed the desire to trade him. I am not worried and if you don’t own him, send trade offers now. The 1.72 WHIP has brought panic to the owners of Bumgarner.

There’s nothing that shows Bumgarner has fallen off. The velocity is the same as the past few seasons, the ground ball rate is similar and the swinging strike percentage is slightly lower than last season. The strikeout percentage of 23.3 percent is above his career average of 22.5 percent.

Bumgarner is issuing more walks with an 8.2 percent rate that is above his career average of 6.3 percent. He is suffering from some poor luck with a .390 BABIP. Bumgarner will be fine and now is the time to buy low.

John Lackey Better Than Perceived

It seemed to me that John Lackey was undervalued in many drafts. Did people doubt his season last year? Lackey was not good in his first season with the Red Sox in 2010, and terrible in 2011 before missing 2012 with injury.

Lackey was in better shape last season and pitched well despite a 10-13 record. He had a 3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 20.7 percent strikeout rate and a 5.1 percent walk rate. Lackey is doing it again through six starts, although the 3.83 ERA and 1.23 WHIP don’t show it. Lackey has struck out 23.5 percent of batters and walked just 4.8 percent. For some reason, Lackey is not thought of highly. He can be acquired cheaply.

Give Cameron Maybin a Shot

Cameron Maybin oozes talent and hasn’t lived up to lofty expectations so far. He’s not a player I targeted, but if he’s going to cost nothing off the waiver wire, I will take the chance.

Maybin was originally thought to need surgery on a ruptured biceps tendon expected to miss two to three months. It turned out he didn’t need surgery and he returned surprisingly early on Sunday. Maybin has yet to show power, failing to hit double-digit home runs in a season in the majors, but had 40 stolen bases in 2011 and 26 the next season.

Derek Norris Deserves More Playing Time

The A’s catcher is off to a great start, although he is in a platoon with John Jaso. Norris starts against lefthanders, although he is showing he deserves a chance to play more. Norris is batting .386 with eight runs, five doubles, two home runs, 12 RBIs and a 1.023 OPS. Even in a platoon, Norris can be productive in deeper two-catcher leagues.

All stats entering Thursday May 1

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