Roto Roundup: Ryan Braun, Clayton Kershaw, and Others

Marc Serota

Ray Guilfoyle highlights some of the top fantasy performers from Thursday's roto action including the dominance of Clayton Kershaw, Ryan Braun's value in 2014 and i answer a question from a Twitter follower.

There were only 8 games on the schedule on Thursday, and time is short for me, so I will keep this brief today.

Ryan Braun: How are you valuing him in 2014?

Yesterday, Ryan Braun issued his statement about his suspension and PED use. I am not here to discuss his PED use, but want to know how you value him heading into 2014. This season has been a big disappointment for his owners for obvious reasons, as he hit .298-.372-.498 with just 9 HRs, 30 runs, 38 RBI and 4 stolen bases in just 61 games. He was coming off another MVP-like season, hitting .319 with 41 HRs, 108 runs, 112 RBI and 30 stolen bases, and was a top 3-4 pick in many drafts this season.

So that brings us to 2014. How do you value/rank him for 2014? Right now, I think I would still value him as a first round pick, but we do no know how much PEDs he was using or for how long, nor their impact on his performance. WIthout know that, I am still valuing him as one of the top outfielders and a Top 12 pick for 2014.

What do Fake Teams readers think? Where do you value him in 2014?

Clayton Kershaw: A Top 5 pick in 2014?

Yesterday, Clayton Kershaw shut out the Marlins for 8 innings, giving up 5 hits, walking 3 and striking out 6, to win his 13th game of the season. Kershaw is now 13-7 with a 1.72 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and a 188-43 strikeout to walk rate in 198.1 innings. He leads the NL in innings pitched, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP, is second in complete games with 3 and fourth in wins with 13.

He has made 27 starts this season, and what I find amazing is the fact that he has given up one run or less in 17 of his 27 starts this season, and has come away with a win in "only" 11 of them. He has given up 3 runs or more in only 6 of his 27 starts this season, which is also pretty amazing.

When drafting players in the first round of next year's draft, or any draft, you want a player who will give you consistent performance and be the best, or one of the best at their position, and Kershaw offers both....consistency and is the best pitcher in baseball. That is why I won't hesitate to rank him in my Top 5 for 2014.

Here is a tweet from Joe Sheehan, showing how dominant Kershaw has been since the All Star break:

Impressive to say the least.

More on Kershaw's dominance this season, courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau, via Buster Olney's blog post this morning:

From the Elias Sports Bureau: Kershaw lowered his ERA to 1.72 in 27 starts. The only other Dodgers pitcher in the live ball era (since 1920) to have an ERA under 1.75 at least 25 starts into a season was Sandy Koufax in 1964 and 1966. Kershaw also has the fourth-lowest ERA through 27 starts of any pitcher over the past 40 seasons. 

The others: 

2005 Roger Clemens: 1.51 
1998 Greg Maddux: 1.65 
1995 Greg Maddux: 1.68

Ranking prospects

I received this question from a Twitter follower yesterday and decided to answer it here. Here is how I would respond:

I would rank them as follows:

Oscar Taveras

George Springer

Anthony Rendon

Archie Bradley

Christian Yelich

Nolan Arenado

Gerrit Cole

Mike Zunino

Chris Archer

Brandon Beachy

I rank Beachy this low due to the news that he is visiting Dr. James Andrews on Monday, as he felt something go bad in his elbow in his last start. Not good.

I ranked Taveras at #1 here, as his injuries this season don't impact my ranking of him. He will still be one of the top prospects in the game in 2014, and we should finally see him in the big leagues sometime next season.

I ranked Springer second here, and I almost ranked him at #1, but decided not to. Springer could be a monster fantasy hitter if he can control the strikeouts, and he is showing signs of improvement in AAA this season, as his walk rate is up and his strikeout rate is down since his promotion from AA. He has put up a 30-30 season in 2013 and should be the Astros starting center fielder out of spring training next season.

Pitchers are so volatile, so that is the reason why I ranked Bradley below Rendon here, as I think Rendon could be a special hitter going forward. He just needs to stay healthy, and it appears he will be moving back to third base in 2014, moving from second base, so his chances of staying healthy are pretty good.

Round'em Up

Tigers starter Justin Verlander was coming off three solid outings in his last four starts, so yesterday's performance vs the Twins is a head scratcher. Pitching at home, Verlander gave up 6 runs on 10 hits, 3 walks and struck out 6. Verlander is not the same pitcher he was coming into this season, and his season has been a bit of a disappointment for his owners. He mixed good outings with bad, and is now 12-9 with a 3.68 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and a 166-62 strikeout to walk rate in 173.2 innings.

The Pirates are leading the NL Central and appear to be about to make the playoffs for the first time in two decades. They are getting solid performances from several unlikely players this season, including outfielder Jose Tabata. Last night, Tabata went 3-4 with 2 runs scored and 3 RBI in the Pirates 10-5 win over the Giants. For the season, Tabata is hitting .270 with 4 HRs, 23 runs, 20 RBI and 3 stolen bases in just 77 games.

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