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Fantasy Baseball: The Hardball Times Annual-NL Edition

The second of the four baseball/stathead books I decided to read this year-The Hardball Times Annual- came in the mail this week, and here are a few nuggets of information that could be helpful to fantasy/roto players in 2009:

  • 64% of the ground balls allowed by Randy Johnson resulted in outs, the lowest in the majors for starting pitchers-does it get any better with Sandoval, Renteria, and Velez/Burriss?
  • Carlos Marmol struck out 33% of the batters he faced. He should be a top tier closer in 2009.
  • Rich Harden struck out 31% of the batters he faced, while in Chicago and 30% of the batters while in Oakland. Harden would make a good closer should he not be able to withstand the rigors of starting every 5 days.
  • Javier Vazquez's FIP-3.81 (tells you how well a pitcher pitched regardless of how his infiled performed behind him) was almost a run lower than his ERA-4.67. His infield in Atlanta might help him achieve a sub-4.00 ERA in 2009.
  • Edwin Encarnacion hit a fly ball on 50% of his batted balls (where he didn't strike out or walk), but 22% of those were infield fly balls. A 50% flyball rate is a very good sign of developing power. Can he be a 30 HR hitter in 2009?
  • Chris Dickerson struck out 29% of his plate appearances. Thus the reason for the Willy Taveras signing? Dickerson did hit .304-.413-.608 though. So why did they sign Taveras again?
  • Speaking of Taveras, he had the lowest GPA (Gross Production Average-a better measure of OPS adjusted for ballpark) of .195 of any regular in the majors. Maybe that will change in Cincy? Doubt it.
  • Sleeper Alert-Andrew Miller's FIP-3.96 was almost 2 runs lower than his ERA-5.87, representing the largest ERA-FIP differential in the majors among pitchers with >60 innings pitched. Keep him on your sleeper lists for 2009.
  • Andre Ethier led the majors with a 27% line drive rate. He can become a 25-30 HR hitter if he can hit more fly balls.
  • Matt Kemp disappointed some fantasy owners by htting only 18 HRs in 2008. Only 13% of his flyballs resulted in HRs. Should he increase that to 20%, with his flyball rate staying the same, he can reach 30 HRs in 2009.
  • 7 of the 8 hitters in the Brewers starting lineup struck out at least 98 times in 2008. Maybe it is time to deal one or two of those guys?
  • Johan Santana's FIP-3.51 was almost a run higher than his ERA-2.53. He can thank Mr. Reyes and Mr. Wright, but his ERA may be more indicative of his 2009 performance moving into the new ballpark according to THT.
  • Jonathan Sanchez's FIP-3.90 was more than a full run better than his ERA-5.01. Will his ERA get any better with Sandoval and Renteria on the left side of the infield?
  • Albert Pujols-what more can you say about the 2008 MVP? His GPA was .379, he k'd only 8% of his PAs (lowest among power hitters by far), and he hit more ground balls-40% than flyballs-37%.

I will post the AL Edition over the next day or two.