2014 NFL Draft: Post-draft analysis and rankings
The 2014 NFL Draft is over...finally. How many of you watch all four days of the draft? I watch round 1 and some of day 2...maybe. But day 3? Not for me. Especially on a weekend. Anyway, our new fantasy football writers were all over the draft and here are a few articles addressing the fantasy impact of round 1 of the draft, the winners and losers from round 1, and our post-draft running back rankings:
2014 Rookie Running Back Rankings
2014 Rookie Quarterback Rankings
Winners and Losers from Day 1 of the 2014 NFL Draft
2014 NFL Draft: Round 1 Fantasy Impact
Christian Yelich: Is a 20-20 season in his future?
Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich is no stranger to prospect hounds, as he was one of the top hitting prospects in the game since he was drafted by the Marlins in the 2010 draft. He showed an ability to hit for average and steal some bags in his three years in the Marlins farm system. He was called up in late July last season, and in his 273 plate appearances, he hit .288-.370-.396 with 4 home runs, 34 runs scored, 16 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 10 attempts.
Fast forward to 2014, and Yelich is again showing the ability to hit for average, hitting .279-.350-.442 with 4 home runs, 27 runs scored, 12 RBI and 5 stolen bases in 6 attempts. He is walking at a 9.7% rate, down a bit from the 11.4% rate last season; but is striking out in 21.8% of his plate appearances, down from 24.2% last season.
Last season there were only nine hitters that hit 20 home runs and stole 20 bases, but Yelich is on pace for 17 home runs and 21 stolen bases this season. Power is not his calling card, but as he matures as a hitter, the home run totals could jump into the 20+ range. Combined with his solid batting average and ability to steal 20+ bases, his name will climb up rankings in 2015.
For more on Yelich and the Marlins, check out Fish Stripes, SB Nation's Marlins fan site.
Mike Trout: Have pitchers found his weakness?
Coming into the season, Angels outfielder Mike Trout was the consensus #1 pick for 2014, and his April performance showed he deserved the #1 ranking, as he hit .321 with 6 home runs, 21 runs scored, 18 RBI and 4 stolen bases. But, his May performance has been dreadful, as he is hitting just .132-.239-.316 with a home runs, four runs scored and six RBI, while striking out 13 times in 38 at bats. I know, it's a small sample size and all, and it could just be a slump that most hitters go through during the season.
Then again, maybe it isn't, and pitchers have figured him out. Trout is striking out more than he ever has in his first two seasons in the majors, striking out just under 28% of his plate appearances this season. It might surprise you that his 47 strikeouts rank second only to Braves outfielder Justin Upton
ESPN's David Shoenfield addressed Trout's strikeouts yesterday and here is what he had to say:
A year ago, Trout struck out 136 times while drawing 110 walks; he's on pace for 206 strikeouts and 88 walks. While his power output hasn't been affected, with so many fewer balls in play his batting average and on-base percentage have thus declined significantly.
Justin Havens of ESPN Stats & Information broke down some of Trout's issues so far, and this stands out to me:
Trout is swinging and missing far more often against pitches in the strike zone. About 50 percent of Trout's strikeouts last season came on a pitch in the strike zone. This season, however, 74.5 percent of his strikeouts have come on a pitch in the strike zone.
Schoenfield later went on to question whether Trout was trying to hit for more power this season leading to the jump in strikeout rate. He also showed that there have been only 14 hitters in major league history who have struck out 25% and hit .280 or better, and only three have hit over .300 while striking out as frequently.
The other issue is that Trout has stolen just four bases this season, and is on pace to steal just 18, down from 49 in 2012 and 33 last season. Maybe the Angels have asked him to not run as much as they prefer he stay healthy and in their lineup every day, especially with Josh Hamilton and Cole Calhoun on the disabled list.
The May slump could be just that, but the strikeout rate could begin to work against him as the season goes along. Something to watch.
For more on Trout and the Angels, check out Halos Heaven, SB Nation's Angels fan site.
Dallas Keuchel: It's time to buy
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel has been the team's best starter this season and he showed why by dominating the Rangers on Tuesday night. Keuchel tossed a complete game shutout, giving up seven hits and striking out seven in the Astros 8-0 win. Keuchel got 22 of his 27 outs via the strikeout or ground ball, as he induced 15 ground ball outs last night, moving his record to 4-2 with a 3.06 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 2.83 xFIP, 1.18 WHIP, and a solid 47-11 strikeout to walk rate in 53 innings this season.
He is striking out nearly eight batters per nine, walking less than two batter per nine and inducing ground balls at a 65% rate thus far in 2014, a recipe for lots of success. He is owned in less than 3% of leagues right now, so he will be appearing in the Streamer Report going forward, and you should grab him if he is available on your league waiver wire.
For more on Keuchel and the Astros, make sure you check out Crawfish Boxes, SB Nation's Astros fan site.
The Orioles signed free agent starter Ubaldo Jimenez to shore up their rotation in the offseason, but he struggled through the first month of the season, going 0-4 with a 6.59 ERA. But May has been a completely different story for him. Last night, Jimenez shut out the Tigers on three hits, two walks and seven strikeouts in seven innings in the Orioles loss to the Tigers. He left with a 1-0 lead, but Tommy Hunter blew the lead in the ninth inning, serving up a three run home run to Miguel Cabrera and a solo shot to Victor Martinez on successive pitches. Ublado is now 2-4 with a 4.02 ERA, 1.45 WHIP and a 41-22 strikeout to walk rate in 47 innings. Over his last three starts, he owns a 20-6 strikeout to walk rate in 19.2 innings, so he appears to be back on track. He is owned in less than 20% of leagues right now, so grab him if you are in a deeper AL only or mixed league.
If it wasn't for the super strong start from teammate Johnny Cueto, Reds starter Mike Leake might be the Reds best starter this season. Leake was at his best on Tuesday night, limiting the Padres to just one run on two hits, a walk and five strikeouts in the Reds 2-1 loss. Closer Aroldis Chapman served up a game winning solo home run to Chase Headley in the ninth inning. Leake did not figure in the loss, but is now 2-3 with a 3.09 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and a 34-11 strikeout to walk rate in 58.1 innings. He has gone at least 6.2 innings in each of his eight starts this season, and has given up two runs or less in half of those starts.
Astros starter Dallas Keuchel has been the team's best starter this season and dominated the Rangers on Tuesday night. Keuchel tossed a complete game shutout, giving up seven hits and striking out seven in the Astros 8-0 win. Keuchel got 22 of his 27 outs via the strikeout or ground ball, as he induced 15 ground ball outs last night, moving his record to 4-2 with a 3.06 ERA, 3.05 FIP, 2.83 xFIP, 1.18 WHIP, and a solid 47-11 strikeout to walk rate in 53 innings this season. He is striking out nearly eight batters per nine, walking less than two batter per nine and inducing ground balls at a 65% rate thus far in 2014, a recipe for lots of success. He is owned in less than 3% of leagues right now, so he will be appearing in the Streamer Report going forward, and you should grab him if he is available on your league waiver wire.
Red Sox DH David Ortiz is starting to heat up in May, and last night he went 4-5 with two home runs, two runs scored and four RBI in the Red Sox 8-6 loss to the Twins. Ortiz is now hitting .364 with four home runs, nine RBI and runs scored in 44 May at bats, raising his season slash line to .287-.384-.537 with 9 home runs, 19 runs scored and 23 RBI in 136 at bats. He is on pace for yet another 30 home run, 100 RBI season.
For more fantasy baseball (and football) news and rankings, make sure you check out Fantasy Rundown, your one stop for all the fantasy news you need on a daily basis.