Harvey sucks we want Jeremy Hefner
— Andrew Vignali (@Vigsanity) July 9, 2013
There’s a pitching Renaissance happening in the Big Apple. At least in Queens. First Matt Harvey proves to be Roger Clemens incarnate. Then Zack Wheeler was the world’s second most anticipated coming after Christ. Even Dillon Gee has started to pitch well enough to extinguish the rumors that he’s only on the team because he’s Fred Wilpon’s secret son. And how Jeremy Hefner – aka Heffer – has joined them in as the fourth member of baseball’s least harmonic quartet. Hefner is the alto.
It’s time to hop into Grover Cleveland’s presidential time machine and resurface on June 4. POOF! We made it, huzzah! Just in time for Hefner’s start against the Nationals to boot. Yes, the Nats are struggling at the moment but they really shouldn’t have issues teeing off on Hefner. I mean, he’s 1-5 with a 4.74 ERA, having only make through the sixth inning twice in 11 starts. Now, lets skip ahead three, three and half hours or so, and glory me, Hefner sure looked great tonight. Seven strikeouts, just four hits and a walk, ceding one earned over seven innings. I’m glad we were here to witness such an aberrational performance. Sure, he failed to pick up the win, but that really just speaks to the unpredictable nature of that stupid stat more than anything.
Alright, enough living in the past. Someone hit the ‘live’ button on the remote, please?
Now back in present times, six weeks later, it turns out that domination of Washington was no mere fluke, but the beginning of a new trend. Since that outing, Hefner’s reeled off six consecutive big boy starts: Tossing 44 innings, going 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA, 7.57 K/9 and 1.67 BB/9. WHA HAPPENED? Where did that other fella go? The one with the 3.83 BB/9? Did he succumb to the same fate as that random jobber – Art – that went to Mortal Kombat island with Sonya, Johnny Cage and Liu Kang, only to get pwned by Goro and have his soul stolen by Shang Tsung? Because if Hefner isn’t actually Hefner and it’s actually Shang Tsung out there chucking gem after gem, I think that’s worthy of at least 25-game suspension. Ah, who am I kidding, the union would never go for that. But honestly, I’m sitting here, trout faced, searching for ways to confirm that this run has been legitimate. Because I’m not finding much.
Taking the ‘pro’ side of the “Hef if actually good” debate, let me introduce I mproved Command. He’s sacrificed some swing and miss ability – 8.08 K/9 pre June 4 – but has ceased making a farce of that abstract entity we call a “strike zone”. He locates now, instead of just firing the ball as hard as he can. Yes, he’s lost a bit of speed on the ol’ heater, but if that leads to doubling your K/BB than that’s perfectly acceptable – now 4.53 K/BB from 2.11 K/BB. And that’s about it. At least from a sustainability standpoint, and even those ratios are bound to spike. Sorry Jeremy, Cliff Lee you are not.
Eyes will be instantly lured towards that sparkling 1.23 ERA, but we know ERA isn’t really ERA without checking us some FIP and xFIP first. That tells the real tale. And it’s not what Mets fans want to see. Over this stretch Hefner’s FIP is almost a point and a half higher – 3.11 FIP – and his xFIP is over double – 3.35 xFIP. It’s due an abnormally low HR/FB, in comparison to his three-year average, a snuffed out strand rate and BABIP against that is about asbig as the Black Knight after his epic clash with Arthur, King of the Britons. Of course, those expected numbers aren’t bad whatsoever, but they scream regression. Once Hefner’s luck and/or command begin to flip, he’ll, once again, be nothing more than a backend Fantasy starter, best used for streaming purposes. I’d say sell high, but no one’s going to give you anything for him. So just ride this hot streak out and maybe you’ll get as lucky as Hefner and he’ll keep it up. Stranger things have happened, Jeff Locke’s in the All-Star Game.
— Glenn Henri Raza (@CountSmackula) July 10, 2013
Take my new favorite song – a vacillating honor based on whatever is currently playing within ear range – and fuse it with the stylin’ groove of the Huxtable Klan, and folks, we have a new champion…
Has anyone questioned Aaron Hicks age before, says he's 23 but damn he is balding an awful lot for a 23 Year Old.
— Joseph McAdams (@joemcadams) July 11, 2013
When Minnesota announced it would promoted hyped prospect Aaron Hicks from AA to the majors during Spring Training it sounded like a super hero-equse origin story for the next Fantasy sleeper. Here was a 23-year-old with power/speed upside that would be given every opportunity to succeed in the big leagues. His defense, at a prime position, would inevitably have him entrenched in the lineup on an everyday basis and Twins management wanted Hicks to develop into the next star for the organization. A new, youthful face would bring some excitement to a club that had come to grips it was going nowhere before snowfall last autumn. Skills are the focal point of every great Fantasy player; their role does play a determining factor, though. Hicks was expected to be showcased hitting atop the order, giving him the proper chance to rack up clusters of runs and steals, while his power potential would make him a viable contributor in the other three categories. What could go wrong? How about going 8-for-71 in April. That’s .119 for you who can’t work a calculator. Not good.
Hicks was nothing if not consistent in May, finishing with a .202 average for the month in 27 games. Circumstances had changed though. He’d been dropped from leadoff to eighth in the lineup and, while he was marginally better at the dish, he was still terrible compared to everyone besides himself… and B.J. Upton. Just because you advance from Limbo into Lust, fact is, you’re still in Hell. If he wasn’t dropped after that inglorious start, his DL stint the second week of June made him a universal fixture of waiver wires in everything outside the deepest of AL-Only/Dynasty leagues. He became an afterthought. He was a guy who only remained at the big league level because his team had already wasted a year of control watching him flail at pitches like he’d been treating his vertigo hourly doses of crack. An opaque future; everything looked bleak. Except the underlying numbers.
For those first two months, Hicks’ BABIP suggests that, instead of being the worst hitter in baseball, he was just the unluckiest. When you possess his speed, a sub-.200 BABIP just doesn’t happen. Regression was coming. The thing about regression, though, is you never know when it’s going to come. But, to a fault, Hicks’ ascent began as soon as he was cleared to returned.
Since rejoining the Twins July 2, Hicks has bumped his average 24 points in just eight games, the vertex being a four-for-four night in Tampa where he slugged two doubles and a triple, scoring four times. Now, three extra base hits in one game may come as a shock, but it actually lines up with what he’d been doing all season – The power part, not the hits part. Despite the brutal batting average, Hicks has displayed this type of pop all season, his awful overall numbers just masked it behind a grody glint.
Hicks has 44 hits this season. Surprisingly, 19 have been for extra bases. Quite the ratio. And that pop has manifested itself in his Isolated Power. Right now, it sits at .166. Certainly not an elite number, but it’s higher than Allen Craig, Andrew McCutchen, Manny Machado, Ian Kinsler and teammates Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit. It’s no fluke, either. His very reasonable 11.7% HR/FB tells that story. So here we sit, heading into the All-Star break with a potential second half difference-maker just wasting away on free agency. What must be done is evident – Scoop him up. Now that Hicks has gone full on Stella and retrieved his groove, expect his totals – 7 HRs, 6 SBs – to soar once his dreadful .253 BABIP full normalizes. At that point, he’ll return to the top of the lineup, generate extra at-bats and possibly finish inside the Top 100 of all players in the season’s second half. Is it guaranteed? Of course not. Neither is doubling 11 against a 6 though, but you do it every time anyway because you’re playing the odds. And it’s going to be tough finding another Fantasy asset who can make a sustained impact for zero cost.
I believe Brock Holt will be wrestling for the Intercontinental title at a later date.
— Todd Dybas (@Todd_Dybas) July 9, 2013
The combination of Will Middlebrooks’ demotion and Jose Iglesias’ move to short covering for the Man of Glass, Stephen Drew, the Red Sox decided it was time to party like Brock stars, giving Brock Holt another crack at the Bigs. Unfortunately, this isn’t really major news to anyone expect super deep AL-Only players who need some consistent at-bat at either second or third for the next week or so. But… just by donning a pair of red socks, Holt has skyrocketed up the charts in a manner no scene since Lou Bega in 1999. Which charts you ask? The all-time Brock power rankings, of course. Entering the month the Top 5 were:
1. Brock Landers: Angels Live in My Town
2. Brock Samson: Venture bodyguard
3. Brock Lesner: Wrestler, turned actor, turned fighter, turned actor
4. Brock: Pokemon gym leader, Pewter City.
5. Brock: The kid Walt poisoned with that plant on Breaking Bad (Oh ya… SPOLIER ALERT!!)
1029. Brock, Ontario: A place you don’t want to live.
Brock is actually a pretty cool first name, you’d really think more people would have it. Or at least be successful with it. Of course, these rankings do not include surnames thus disqualifying Sir Issac Brock and Eddie Brock. But, after just five games in Boston I feel comfortable placing Holt solidly at number five. Screw you Brock, Ontario!
A REDEDICATION TO RUINING YOUR CREDIBILITY
Aaron Sorkin takes himself very seriously and it's very boring. #NewsRoom
— eddie pepitone (@eddiepepitone) July 11, 2013
I have too many problems with The Newsroom to enjoy it. Be it the retroactive, infallible, pretentious journalism or the fact it’s a smart show specifically designed for stupid people, but mainly, as an avid Sorkin advocate – I celebrate the guy’s entire catalogue – I’ve actually watched the these entire exchanges play out of before, occasionally multiple times. So much so, that this is the second supercut. It probably took whoever made this 346 times longer to make than it does for Sorkin to write an entire season of reused dialogue.
Sad part is I’m still going to hate watch – it’s like XFL all over again – that chatter is just so damned snappy.
CHASING HEADLEY & CHASING AMY
— Ty Scrillman (@THE_REAL_PBUTT) July 9, 2013
Sick of Chase Headley yet? You should be. I am. Especially since I swapped Starling Marte for his services in the pre-season. That folks, is what we in the biz refer to as a terrible trade, more so since I threw in Steve Cishek too! But I refuse to give in. In fact, if I wasn’t stuck rostering him already, I’d be going out of my way to do it. Don’t surrender a talent like Marte for him, but you won’t have to. Fantasy gamers are fully prepared to toss in the white towel on Headley’s 2013. Look, don’t expect him to reach the gaudy totals of his 2012 campaign; those bombastic achievements were a direct result of an inflated HR/FB – 21.4% – and an abnormal amount of RBI opportunities – doesn’t mean he’s devoid of value, though. Even plateauing at 20 HRs seems unlikely at this point, but his average is surely to rise. The .281 BABIP doesn’t appear bad on the surface, but weighed against his career .333 mark, it is. That number’s only coming up, especially considering he’s increased his Line Drive rate this season – +1.2%. Plus, he could just be the victim of a confluence of injuries and bad luck. Don’t forget, Headley missed all of April with a fractured thumb. And, there’s always the off chance he replicates his monster second half from last season, vaulting him back into the Top 5 of the position. I wouldn’t bank on that though.
Basically, you should expect close to double-digit home runs and 5-10 steals for the remainder of the year, with upside potential attached with it. And while that won’t be considered elite at third base, it presents an interesting opportunity for roster building depending on who’s already on your squad. The hot corner is well known for its power output, but Headley gives you the speed element second to only David Wright at the position. Yes, DJ LeMahieu, Jayson Nix and Eric Sogard all run more, but that’s the only Fantasy skill they possess, so leave them out of this, and off your roster. He only has 5 SBs thus far, but he’s been getting on base less – .348 career, .320 2013 – and missed a month. He has however piled up at least 13 swipes in each of the past three seasons – 17, 13, 17 – and should hover around that number again. So, if you’re running out a power threat at either middle infield spot, a position Fantasy players traditionally rely upon for speed, having Headley on your corner will help create categorical concord. Much like having Joe Mauer as your catcher to offset Adam Dunn, their stats complement the other’s deficiencies.
Regardless of team structure, he’s a solid buy, but if you own J.J. Hardy, Dan Uggla, Brandon Phillips – No, he doesn’t run anymore – or another lead-footed MI, Headley makes even more sense for your roster.
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