First things first: go grab Cameron Maybin; he’s just been activated from the DL and is only 41% owned in RCLs at time of writing. More on him later.
Right, now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s some proper preambling. Unbelievably, we are somehow in mid-August. The evenings are dropping in earlier. Those cruel “back to school” ads are in full swing. And we’re staring the 11 August trade deadline in the face — for the Razzball Commenter Leagues (RCLs), anyway. If you haven’t yet dropped dead of attrition, it’s time to go for it; time to take a long, hard look at categories where you still might catch up with competitors in your leagues. This week, Dr. Easy — my partner in fantasy baseball and other crimes — and I thought we’d comb through the Razzball Season-to-Date Player Rater (STD PR) with a particular focus on the categories of runs and RBIs. I.e. (ooh! She’s trotting out the Latin!), some surprisingly high scorers in these categories, whom you might target in trades (or off the waiver wire).
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To explain a little further: with home runs and stolen bases, or average, we usually have a clue of how we’re doing in terms of pace or with respect to our competitors. With RBIs and runs, it seems harder to know what the benchmark should be in a week or month or season; to gauge how well you’re really doing. Dr. Easy’s strategy is to worry primarily about home runs, steals and AVG, in the hope that those home runs and AVG will provide RBIs, and steals and AVG will yield runs (mine is to just get a ton of home runs). But this doesn’t always work out. So toward the end of the season (i.e., now!), it’s important to take stock of where you are in terms of categories. Perhaps you’ve fallen behind in runs and RBIs and want to do something about it — maybe even at the expense of other categories, if you’re doing well or badly enough in them that it doesn’t matter. You might want to look at players who don’t necessarily provide good overall contributions, but will help with those runs or RBIs.
To do all this, we realized we needed to combine the info from the STD PR, where the $R and $RBI work well for hitters who have played all season long, with simple “rate” calculations of RBIs per game (RBI/G) and runs per game (R/G), which works well to show the value of hitters who have less playing time (less than a full season), for whatever reason. In addition to that, we looked at players who are currently near the top (runs!) or near the middle (RBIs!) of the lineup because they may be recent additions to or promotions within the team. We’ve divided them into three groups:
- Category 1: players who have played pretty much all season and whose value can therefore be clearly demonstrated via the STD PR (see Bautista and Pujols).
- Category 2: players who are doing well in “rate” terms even though they may have missed time due to injury (e.g., Cameron Maybin), or are rookies.
- Category 3: “recent developments” — changes in a team due to trades or shuffles (such as Jon Jay).
Category 1: Ol’ Faithfuls
Albert Pujols: Clean-up hitter Pujols is 32nd of 1Bs when ranked by $, but he jumps to 12th when ranked by $RBI (68). This isn’t particularly shocking: he has the RBIs because he has a Trout in front of him (kind of like a carrot in front of a donkey, only fishier). Roughly speaking, probably more than half the time that Pujols is at bat, he has someone on base in front of him; Trout alone has a .462 OBP for the season, never mind other players who could be on base when Pujols comes to the plate. Pujols is 91% owned in RCLs, so if you’re trade averse but need RBIs, you may even be able to find him on your waiver wire.
Brandon Phillips: Phillips has a negative $HR (-2.2; only 8 HRs on the season) but his $AVG (.288), $SB (9 steals) and $R (54 runs) combine to bump him up to 15th of all 2Bs when ranked by $R (2.2). He hits in the two-spot, so this isn’t surprising.
Odubel Herrera: Herrera is 96% owned, yet here he is sitting 227th overall,with a meager $2.7, on the STD PR. Just let that sink in for a second. Then think about the fact that he’s batting 5th (at least, currently he is) and doing nothing in RBIs: his $RBI is -1.1 (41 on the season). In “there are better people out there” news, when we sorted by RBI/G, we discovered he’s 233rd. All he’s giving you is empty average (.277) — and maybe steals, if you consider 5 steals on the season helpful. (Ahem.) Want to replace him with another Philly who WILL give you RBIs while not even hitting anywhere near the middle of the lineup? How about Nick Williams who, in 30 games, has collected 22 RBIs?
Nick Castellanos: The Detroit 3B is 84% owned (so available off the waiver wire in some leagues) and has some value in terms of RBIs, batting 5th, as he does, behind Miggy and Justin Upton. His $RBI of 3.4 ranks him 11th out of all 3Bs. … That’s 14 ahead of Kris Bryant. He’s not too shabby in terms of runs, either: his $R 1.7 gets him a ranking of 16th of 3Bs in terms of runs. Note that he’ll hurt you in $AVG (-2.2).
Maikel Franco: At 77% owned, Franco is positive in $RBI, to the tune of $RBI 3.1. When we looked at his RBI/G, it turns out he’s ranked 98th among hitters with > 50 PAs. Doesn’t sound that great, eh? Just bear in mind that by comparison, Josh Donaldson is 100th (100% owned). Manny Machado is 101st (100% owned).
Jose Bautista: Joey Bats is kind of the poster boy for this exercise, as a lead-off hitter. Note that he’s 99% owned in RCLs, so basically a trade-only candidate at this point (maybe for a SAGNOF guy?). He’s ranked 58th out of outfielders by $, because he’ll crap on your average (he’s currently sitting at a sad .218; $AVG -5.1), and not great in $RBI (watching him all season, we’ve known he’s kind of the anti-clutch: 47 RBIs; $RBI 0.7, ranked 50th by $RBI), but he is doing very well in runs: his 64 runs on the season, $R 5, shoot him up to 19th of all outfielders. Which makes sense, because hitting leadoff is conducive to collecting runs. Son just wrote about Joey “Aluminum” Bats, as well.
Shin-Soo Choo: Here’s another guy who’s valuable for his runs ($R 4.7; 63 on the season, which ranks him 21st out of all outfielders) because he hits lead-off. He gets on base — and always has: right now his OBP is .367, and career OBP is .381. He’s 81% owned, so if you Choo-se him, you’d best hurry.
Nick Markakis: He’s flying under the radar at 28% owned. When sorted by $, he’s only 2 positions below Odubel Herrera, whom we mentioned earlier and mention again now to show that they have similar overall value but in different categories, and with massively different ownership numbers. Markakis gives you the RBIs and the runs that Herrera doesn’t give you; it’s needs based. If you don’t care about steals or home runs, Markakis is your man.
Cameron Maybin: Have you picked him up yet? When ranked by R/G, Maybin is prettay prettay good, sitting 33rd of all hitters; 23rd out of outfielders, so here’s hoping he keeps it up now that he’s back. He’s leading off ahead of Mike Trout. He’s gonna give you the runs.
Category 2: The Small Sample Sizes / The Cyclopsees
Tyler White: Although he’s been getting more playing time, this may disappear when George Springer is reinstated from the DL. The Astros’ lineup is so stacked that it’s going to be hard for him to find somewhere to squeeze in. But that said! In his 32 plate appearances so far (9 games), he’s earned himself 9 RBIs and 9 hits: for the math challenged among you, that’s 1 RBI per game. He has 3 home runs thus far. In this short time, he’s managed to claw his way up to a rank of 66th of all 1Bs in $RBI. And when we sort by RBI/G, he jumps to 4th overall — of all hitters. So cyclops him to see if his playing time increases, or pick him up for DFS or batty calls when he’s in the lineup.
Jesus Aguilar: He’s not a regular player (238 plate appearances), but he could be worth cyclopsing for DFS and for batty calls when Milwaukee’s facing a lefty (he has a .915 OPS versus LHP, .782 versus RHP); there’s a chance he will give you value in AVG, HR and RBI, and when he plays, he hits cleanup.
Chad Pinder: Here’s another cyclopsee; he could make for a good pickup for DFS and batty calls. He’s a second baseman hitting fifth in Oakland. And he’s good for RBIs; it’s a fairly small sample size (53 games), but when we rank him via our RBI/G ranking, he’s 133rd, which is 3 spots above Nick Markakis. His $/G is 12.4, which ranks him 15th out of all 2Bs (with 50 plate appearances or more).
Cesar Hernandez: In 352 plate appearances, Hernandez has racked up 55 runs ($R 2.3). We ranked him by R/G and turns out he’s sitting 13th out of all hitters… and he’s only 72% owned. For more goodness on Hernandez, see Smokey’s recent SAGNOF post.
Joey Gallo: Yes, Gallo has been frustrating as hell to own in roto, with all those strikeouts (his K% rate is a dismal 38.5%) and his low average (.210!), but we thought we’d mention him because he’s still crept up to 10th of all 3Bs when ranked by $. And this in 356 plate appearances. He’ll actually benefit you in several categories: his $RBI 2.8 (55 RBIs on the season) ranks him 17th of 3Bs; $R of 3.3 (58 runs on the season) puts him at 10th of all 3Bs; and, nicest of all, his $HR 9.2 (30-bloody-1 so far) bumps him up to 2nd of all 3Bs — one above Nolan Arenado). He’s 84% owned in RCLs.
Avisail Garcia: Just back from injury and hitting cleanup for the White Sox, Avisail is positive in $RBI (2.1) and $/G (11.2) in only 363 plate appearances. When we rank him by our made-up RBI/G category, he’s 32nd of outfielders. VictoriaB from ESPN’s “get him in your lineup” department says “get him in your lineup,” then adds, “this may be his breakout season.” Right now, he’s a relatively low 69% owned.
Category 3: Every Day I’m Shufflin’
Tim Beckham: With 41 RBIs in 364 plate appearances, Beckham’s $RBI value ranks him 17th out of shortstops. While searching for gumpf (what? it’s an official blog-writer term) on Tim Beckham, I stumbled across a Rays fan post with the rather glum headline “Maybe the Rays should have kept Tim Beckham.” Poor bastards. Maybe, but I’ll argue that Beckham is mostly benefiting from his trade to the Orioles and a better hitting park (small sample size alert, but he’s garnered a .462 average in Camden Yards versus .260 in Tropicana Field). He’s worth watching, for sure. He’s 76% owned in RCLs.
Jon Jay: At time of writing, The Federalist has spent 3 games as leadoff hitter for the Cubs. That’s in front of Rizzo, Bryant, Happ and Contreras, on a surging team. When we look at his numbers on the STD PR, they are no great shakes except for average: his $RBI is low, and $R is low because he hasn’t been leading off, but if he keeps doing so, that’s going to change — he’s already scored 6 runs in the last 10 games. The mind of Joe Maddon is always hard to fathom, but we’re speculating that Jay isn’t likely to keep the leadoff position when Addison Russell comes back, so bear that in mind.
Dishonorable mention, all positions:
PAUL MOLITOR, COACH OF MINNESOTA. What a mess the Twins lineup is. We said go after cleanup hitters, but DO NOT go after Joe Mauer. He’s miscast: he has no power to speak of, and with his .367 OBP, he’d make for a much better leadoff. Meanwhile, Robbie Grossman, who has a .376 OBP (last year: .386, thus not a fluke), is hitting 5th. Max Kepler, with his .313 OBP, is batting second: why is he getting so many at-bats? He has power; he should be behind the guys who get on base. Sano is about the only one who’s hitting where he should: 3rd. The Dr. Easy optimized lineup™ for the Twins is as follows: Mauer, Grossman, Sano, Dozier, Kepler.