GIANCARLO STANTON: OR HOW I STOPPED WORRYING ABOUT OLD-TIMEY BASEBALL LOGIC AND ENTERED THE 21ST CENTURY
Add an “S” to Sucks and what do you get? #Success…
— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) January 24, 2011
There is only one sect of people who hate Giancarlo Stanton playing in Miami more than Giancarlo Stanton himself: The unlucky souls who wasted a second round pick on him. Or, the unfortunate few who traded for the should-be-slugger this spring to solidify their power base in a keeper league, aka, me. How bad has Stanton been over the first two weeks? All you need to know is that his OPS – .575 – is 33 points lower than his slugging percentage 2012. Not good. And now, he’s been out of the lineup since last Wednesday with a left shoulder contusion. Originally considered day-to-day, it looks like we’re week-to-week at this point, although, an MRI taken Saturday ruled out any structural damage. Still, there’s no set date for his return.
If your league mates are as opportunistic as mine, you’ve no doubt fielded multiple, wildly lopsided, trade offers for the Marlins masher. So what to do? That’s the $64,000 question every Stanton owner is facing. Given what people are currently willing to exchange for his services, selling low doesn’t seem like the ideal option. You’d just be giving him away. But if he wasn’t on my squad I would be making sure he was as quickly as possible.
It sucks that Giancarlo Stanton won’t get pitched to all season. He has not protection so you can’t let him beat you — Brandon Palmer (@bePalm_or_Fist) April 10, 2013
Let’s assume the shoulder injury had no impact on his production. Now, it probably did, but there’s just no way to properly quantify the influence it exerted on his numbers, so any discussion on the issue would just be guesswork. Not exactly my style. The most common suspicion for his shaky start is attributed to his glaring lack of lineup protection. Since the rest of Miami’s batting order his littered with barely-Major Leaguers, Stanton is seeing a dearth of quality pitches to hit – i.e. fastballs.
In time, this line of thinking will bring a hefty return for someone on Antiques Roadshow, but in the present it’s merely specious and, regrettably, prevalent logic. Much like using “Wins” to evaluate pitchers, or RBI to measure a batter’s skill, it’s a train of thought that seems like it should be correct. Mainly because that’s the sort of drivel baseball people have been force-feeding us since Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown was able to deliver a non-awkward high five. But like every fallacious theory, it has no factual merits. For every Andre Either that sees his production skyrocket the moment Manny Ramirez joins the lineup, there’s an Edwin Encarnacion who experiences the same thing once Jose Bautista is gone for the season. We only tend to remember the cases that prove our specific point, not the entire story.
You know what actually gets batters more fastballs? Laying off terrible pitches and working the count in their favor. Which, shockingly, is actually what Stanton has been doing. His plate discipline has been superb. Yes, it’s a microscopic sample, but he’s walking in 21 percent of plate appearances this season, way up from his 10 percent career rate. Resulting in, YUUUP, more fastballs. In his nine games, Stanton is seeing a four-seam fastball 41 percent of the time, up 32-percent from 2012. And digging a little deeper into his PITCH f/x data reveals the two issues surpassing his stats.
First, Stanton is taking significantly fewer hacks at pitches inside the strike zone – 50.9 percent, down from 65.5 percent in 2012. Why? Perhaps he’s simply tentative at the plate or pressing, trying to do too much in each at-bat, however, like trying to accurately measure how unseen injuries affect production, assigning value to intangibles is best left to those who favor postulating over empirical analysis. Maybe there’s just a crazy person, traveling cross-county, hustling from stadium to stadium for the sole purpose of reflecting the sun off his watch into Stanton’s eyes – My vision! Of course, I don’t deny the existence of these outside factors, but they’re unique to each individual and situation; and since most people need to pay a therapist to figure out their own mental problems, arbitrarily making assumptions about someone else’s, based on the 30 seconds we see that person swing a bat four times a game seems a tad erroneous and, quite frankly, lazy. Regardless of what’s going on between Stanton’s ears, the output is clear; guy’s just not taking his usual cuts.
Second, and the real killer, on those limited swings; Stanton isn’t squaring up the ball. Smacking a line drive on 19% of balls put into play coming into the season, he’s watched that number dip to 5.6%, ranking him 195th of 197 qualifiers. If percent signs generate math class-induced cold sweats for you, let me make it easier: Stanton has hit 18 between the foul lines this year and has managed just a lone line drive. One. Uno. Une. Einer.
Is this result of injury, or a deep depression brought on by waving bye-bye to his All-Star buddies and watching get replaced by a crew of flunkies? Potentially. But in all likelihood, it’s merely a product of bad luck amplified by a minuscule sample size. So don’t panic if Stanton’s on your roster, and if you’re attempting buy-low, don’t be scared to give up a valuable piece for his services. He’ll be fine. The courts can influence your freedoms, but their shiny gavels have no say over the law of averages.
UP ALL NIGHT
I’m not sure how many people have a standing Google Alert set up for “Daft Punk” but it really delivered the dividends late-Friday night after this tease, for their first album in eight years, surfaced out of Coachella.
No lie, I’ve listened to this minute sample over 300 times since its release. It has everything: An infectious beat, robo singing, and the track’s hook, “We’re up all night to get lucky” maybe be the most honest look into the mind of anyone currently under 30. Now I just pray Daft Punk gets added to Bonnaroo or The Governor’s Ball.
BULLY HOUSTON MIAMI
The Florida Marlins have to be the worst offensive team in the league! Bunch of punch and Judy hitters! I could pitch a shutout against them
— Can You Hang? (@CanYouHang_) April 14, 2013
Last week, I advocated bullying Houston like they we’re the fat kid with glasses who accidently signed up for Intro to Dinosaurs and wound up with a meat head sitting at all 360 degrees. I may have jumped the gun. The Astros beat the crap out of all streamed against them, destroying ERAs and WHIPs across Fantasyland. So I’m switching my wrath to the new kid: the Marlins. Through Monday, Miami only has 23 runs in 13 games. They’ve been shout out on four different occasions, limited to one run another four and generously afforded Roy Halladay owners a slight selling window, making the former ace look like his 2003 self.
For the rest of the week Dan Haren, Ross Detwiler, Matt Latos, Brandon Arroyo and Homer Bailey all get to pad their peripherals against this feeble offense. And Reds rookie flamethrower Tony Cingrani may post the greatest debut start in baseball history Thursday, so get him in your lineup if he’s still available. If you want to be super proactive, the Marlins head to frosty Minneapolis for a two-game series to kick off next week, leaving the wildly un-owned Vance Worley and Scott Diamond halfway to a great two-start week.
OH GOD, MY SPEED
Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes won’t need surgery on his sprained left ankle, but is still expected to miss three months
— Sportsfeedia.com (@sportsfeedia) April 16, 2013
I write this, not only wearing my Robbie Alomar throwback T-Shirt Jersey but as a Jose Reyes owner in a passel of leagues. So Friday’s, “Should I slide? Wait, maybe not. No, I’m definitely going for it… AHHHHHHHHHH, MY ANKLE”, moment from Reyes left me doubly down in the dumps. There was no way I was catching the taste that night, not even with an unlimited supply of orange, berry or fruit McCain Punch. Well, maybe a little.
After having that laugh, I was left scrambling; sifting through various uninspiring SS/MI replacements for Reyes, and here are some interesting names that stood out.
Josh Rutledge is still lingering on waiver wires in shallower formats. He’s around 70-percent owned right now, and that number is going to keep sliding if he continues hitting below .200. The positive? He’s still managed to score 10 runs and swipe three bags without really getting on base. Encouraging. If he’s not currently available, he’s a fantastic buy-low – once his average comes up, he’s going to be Top 10 at the position.
In deeper leagues, it seems no one wants to own Jhonny Peralta. He can help, though. The Tigers’ pivot man plays in the right lineup to pick up cheap runs and RBI. Also, the Astros Marwin Gonzalez is getting plenty of playing time right now, mainly because he’s been hot of late. I don’t think it can last, as we’ve seen over Houston’s last three games, but he’s an available Band-Aid if you need it until someone better emerges.
In AL-only leagues, where this really hurts the most, you may have to roll the dice on a backup with playing time in his future. That’s the Twins Eduardo Escobar, assuming Maicer Izturis is already scooped up. Almost universally un-owned, he’s looked good in limited play, can help recoup a fraction of Reyes’ speed and qualifies all over the infield. There are worse bets you could make.
Reyes has a timetable of one to three months, but knowing his recovery history, I’m planning for the full trifecta of calendar flips. But, I’m actually not all that concerned about his speed once he does return. Possibly for the first week or so, but remember, he’s a shortstop and if he doesn’t have full mobility he can’t play his position. So he won’t be able to return until the ankle is 100-percent. Keep that in mind if the Reyes owner in your league is willing to give him away for 10-cents on the dollar right now. He’s definitely worth the stash.
Just before starting Mad Men this week, I get this sort of spoiler, but not really, Twitter popup from Daily Fantasy Guru, and uhhhhhhhh soccer enthusiast, Adam Zdroik.
Now, I prefer to remember the immortal Kip Pardue not as Sunshine, the back up QB with the fruity flow, but as stud racer Jimmy Bly from the unintentional comedy Hall of Fame honorary mention, Driven. The crazy part? I watched the entire episode and still couldn’t figure out who BIG Z was talking about. So he told me.
@thepme Timmy. The Heinz Ketchup guy in the blue suit. Slow down on the Manhattan’s.
— Adam Zdroik (@RotoZdroik) April 15, 2013
I blame my unhealthy, both figuratively and literally, love of ketchup for blinding me during that scene. Oh, and if you ever ask anyone to grab you a bottle on their way over, and they show up with some knock off and not Heinz, actually punch them in the face as hard as you can.