Friday Morning Fantasy Links

Lets talk some pitching to get things started for your Friday.

  • First off, a couple of keeper rankings lists. The dueling Mikes, Axisa and Podhorzer, rank some middle relievers and starters at FanGraphs. A word on middle relief, and Axisa mentions this, but there are only a handful of guys I'd hold as any type of reliever. If your team only allows for five or six keepers, certainly don't keep a reliever. I'm in a league with ten keepers so maybe I have a little bit more leeway and I will probably end up holding on to John Axford. That being said, if you have some leeway, I'd hold on to Tyler Clippard or at least grab him in your draft because he is amazing.

Clippard has managed to cut his walk rate almost in half since the start of 2009 (2.65 BB/9 and 7.9 BB% this year) while raising his strike rate from 27.2% three seasons ago to 31.6% in 2011 (10.60 K/9). The only negative here is that he is homer prone (1.12 HR/9 this year) because he’s probably the game’s most extreme fly ball pitcher (just 20.2% grounders in 2011, 27.2% for his career). Luckily, he’s done such a good job at keeping runners off base that seven of the eleven homers he allowed this past season were solo shots. Clippard has also excelled despite high workloads these last two years (91 IP in 2010 and 88.1 IP in 2011).

More after the jump...

  • Peter Christensen of Roto Hardball has ranked his best closers for 2012 as well, he most recently ranked 11-15. A couple of interesting tidbits on closers he ranked surprisingly (?) low based on their 2011 seasons. Jose Valverde (who by the way is an excellent dancer) converted every one of his 2011 save chances but can he repeat it?

"Papa Grande" lives on the edge of a blow up but always seems to find his way out of trouble, had an ERA of 2.24 last season but a FIP and xFIP of 3.55 and 4.01. Of course, Tigers' manager Jim Leyland likely doesn't care about such statistics, and Valverde should have a very long leash in 2012. Expect a lot of saves but an inflated ERA from Valverde in 2012.

Another guy who is a big name but lived on the edge in 2011 is Brian Wilson.

Wilson struggled through much of 2011, spending time on the DL with an elbow injury, and both his K/9 and BB/9 suffered greatly from previous seasons. Wilson's walk rate last year of 5.07 BB/9 is of particular concern, as is his lower swinging strike percentage, which plummeted three percentage points to just 7.1 % last season.

  • Joakim Soria's situation seemingly got more interesting this week with the acquisition of Jonathan Broxton, Peter Christensen ranks him 12th in his top 15. FanGraphs addressed what to do with Broxton.

Right now, it looks like Broxton will be the 7th inning guy at best.

To put it nicely, Jonathan pitched badly in 2011. In the 14 games he threw before going on the DL for elbow surgery, he had a 1.11 K/BB. In the previous 5 seasons, it was between 2.6 and 4.0 K/BB. Also, he had a career high FIP of 5.63. A cause for the drop in production was a decline in his fastball speed

The Jonathan Broxton signing in all reality has little, if any, significant fantasy impact. He will be at best a 7th inning setup man with an unknown ability to help with ERA or Ks.

In other words, if you are interested in Broxton, don't be. I think a lot of people will grab Broxton because he's a big name and that will be a mistake. Soria will continue to be Soria and will hold on to his closer role. if you desperately need another reliever and you want a Royals' pitcher not named Soria, grab Greg Holland.

  • There was a transaction this week with some fantasy impact on a position that is fairly scarce talent wise, namely the Angels acquiring Chris Iannetta from Colorado for Tyler Chatwood. Tyler Chatwood is anyone worth paying attention to in your fantasy league. However, Iannetta has been a halfway decent option as a catcher with the Rockies. What will he be with Anaheim? Well first, lets look at his home/road splits courtesy of Fantasy Baseball 365.

    Career home: .262/.377/.492 (.869 OPS), .375 wOBA

    Career road: .208/.338/.369 (.707 OPS), .317 wOBA

    Those are some huge disparities in each category, especially the drop of about .100 points in his SLG%. These number have to give fantasy GMs pause since not only is Iannetta moving away from Coors, he’s moving to the American league and into a ballpark that is favorable to pitchers, fly-ball pitchers in particular. Iannetta typically hits more fly-balls than ground balls or line-drives, so his batted ball data gives us another reason for pessimism.

Those splits are frightening enough but then we must remember what Mike Scioscia has done with catchers. This is the manager who ran Mike Napoli off so that he could give Jeff Mathis more playing time. Jeff Mathis of the negative WAR and .211 wOBA and under .500 OPS. This is who Scioscia wants to give playing time to. The fact of the matter is that I don't think going to Anaheim helps Iannetta at all. He'll be splitting time with Mathis or Hank Conger. Iannetta has always had some power but the move out of Colorado will probably hurt that too. Basically, avoid the Angels catchers at all costs and weep for what Chris Iannetta could have been if you own him in a keeper league.

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