It's not that Harold Reynolds is bad, per se. He's ridiculously charismatic, he can actually explain inside-baseball things to a point, and he's a polished speaker.
There's actually plenty about Harold to like. Which is why the stupid parts of his analyst game are so freaking annoying. (For the sake of this, I'm ignoring whatever sexual harassment there is or isn't in Reynolds' ESPN past, because I don't know how to address it. But don't worry, I'm not pretending it didn't happen.)
No, the annoying part (well, the most annoying part) of Reynolds is that he all too often speaks without any research. The quasi-dormant Twitter account @HeardOnMLBT reached north of 12,000 followers on the back of things said on MLB Tonight, usually by Reynolds (and, once upon a time, Mitch Williams). Things like these:
Harold Reynolds: "(Raul Ibanez) has actually been hitting pretty good since joining Kansas City." (.217/.250/.391 as a Royal) @HeardOnMLBT— Daniel Kelley (@danieltkelley) August 2, 2014
"Max Scherzer started out as a closer." - Harold Reynolds (0 saves in his pro career)— Heard on MLB Tonight (@HeardOnMLBT) July 16, 2014
"He's been a playoff guy." -Harold Reynolds on Mark Trumbo, who has never been to the postseason. @HeardOnMLBT— Neil Weinberg (@NeilWeinberg44) July 10, 2014
"I see Nick Markakis as the same category of player [as Alex Gordon]." - Harold Reynolds (Markakis has 4 WAR last four years. Gordon has 20)— Heard on MLB Tonight (@HeardOnMLBT) June 26, 2014
Harold Reynolds just said that Andrew Cashner has been in a horrible stretch…he’s made only 2 starts since coming off the DL…2.74 FIP.— Beyond the Box Score (@BtBScore) June 19, 2014
"Aaron Hicks is having a good season." - Harold Reynolds (Hicks is hitting .170/.315/.239)— Heard on MLB Tonight (@HeardOnMLBT) May 17, 2014
Harold Reynolds: "(Chase Headley) is healthy, off to a decent start." (Hitting .125/.152/.125 entering tonight) cc: @HeardOnMLBT— Daniel Kelley (@danieltkelley) April 12, 2014
Everything there, more or less, is wrong. But it's all a very easy wrong to be. Take that Headley one, which I remember the best because, heck, it was mine. It came on a day last season when Headley went 2-for-4 with a double and a homer, a strong game for a guy who at the time was toiling on a largely anonymous Padres team. He had a big game, Harold saw it, his brain clicked on things like "Headley's been good before," and he genuinely, really thought that what he was saying is right.
In a bar, in the stands, saying something like that wouldn't matter. Either the people who heard it would nod and move on, or they'd look up the truth and correct the comment, but it wouldn't matter much.
But Harold Reynolds (and the other @HeardOnMLBT inspirations) are saying what they say as authority figures, as teachers, more or less. It's okay if Dave, sitting in a bar on a Tuesday, equates Nick Markakis' value with Alex Gordon's. It's not okay if Harold freaking Reynolds does it, because his job is to research what he's saying.
The connection here to fantasy is that we all come in with predispositions. I'll mention it a couple times in the blurbs to come, but all too often I'll dismiss a good performer or be too willing to accept a bad one because, I don't know, I remember him hitting a home run when I didn't expect it, or he gave up six runs in four innings the one time I saw him pitch this season.
It's inevitable, because we can't watch 30 teams play 162 times a year, to say nothing of prospects getting the call-up. But at this point, we have Baseball-Reference, FanGraphs, Baseball Prospectus and about a hundred sixteen other points of reference.
There's no excuse for Harold Reynolds to not look up his points, at least in a cursory manner. But there's no excuse for you, either. Opinions are great. Opinions backed up by fact are way, way better.
On to The Ticker. As always, stats are through Monday unless otherwise noted; ownership percentages are as of Tuesday afternoon.
(The players' values are at or near their low points, and you might be able to get them for cheap)
Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, BOS (42 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues)
So we all knew those first three starts for Rodriguez were too much to hope for, yeah? Through three starts, the rookie was 2-0, with 20.2 innings, one run allowed and a 21:7 K:BB ratio. That's Scherzerian, and he was an obvious sell high. Over his last three starts, then, Rodriguez proved it — he's thrown 14.2 innings and given up 16 runs. Eight hits in his first three starts turned into 21 in his last three. If you believe his pitching coach, Rodriguez has started tipping his pitches (and, while I haven't viewed the game footage myself, certain screen shots certainly back up the idea). He almost certainly hasn't been doing that over the last year, during which Rodriguez went from "decent prospect, but still tradeable for two months of a reliever" to "OMG best pitcher ever," so you'd assume identifying the problem is the biggest step en route to fixing it. Rodriguez will get right soon. If someone's selling, buy. (It's one start, but Tuesday's six innings with one run allowed offer hope, even if it might have hurt the "buy low" part of everything.)
David DeJesus, OF, TAM (2 percent)
At the end of May, DeJesus was hitting .333/.383/.504. He admittedly isn't a full-time player, as he more-or-less can't hit lefties, but in a righty-dominant Tampa Bay lineup, DeJesus' left-handedness is a blessing. Well, that blessing turned sour in June, as DeJesus has hit .159/.225/.206 since the start of the month. It's taken what was looking like a strong season to an average one, and at 35 years old, dropoff months like that might be warning signs. I'm taking it, though, as an aberration month. DeJesus' June BABIP was .189 after .364 the first two months. Sure, the truth is somewhere between the two, but with DeJesus' hard-hit rates and similar all lying within his career norms, and his job as "designated lefty" pretty secure, he's likely to rebound.
(Just because a guy is at or near peak value doesn't mean he has to regress. These are guys who are exceeding expectations for them, but I can see it continuing)
Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET (99 percent)
This was one of those "Surely I know things moments." I was thinking about performances last week, and in my head I said "It's a shame Miguel Cabrera isn't as Miguel Cabrera-y as normal." Then I stopped, wondering just how far his numbers had slipped. Turns out, Cabrera is leading the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging, with an OPS+ near his career high. In other words, the 32-year-old who entered the season injured and with his running mate (Victor Martinez) struggling is putting up maybe his best season. He's just doing it crazy quietly, for him. I knew he was hitting fine. I didn't realize this was happening. Miggy bein' Miggy.
Welington Castillo, C, ARI (1 percent)
Maybe I was wrong about Jarrod Saltalamacchia; since joining Arizona, he's hitting .184/.293/.306 in 16 games. Those numbers are an improvement on his performance in Miami, but that's only because he couldn't hit in Miami any better than you could. Meanwhile, Castillo has started all 14 of his games in Arizona, more or less relegating Saltalamacchia to backup duty, and he's hitting .277/.346/.553. By all rights, Castillo should have gone to Arizona in the Miguel Montero trade in the offseason, but he's there now, and he's a perfectly competent No. 2 catcher in deeper fantasy leagues. He's owned in one percent of leagues, less than Jason Castro, A.J. Pierzynski and Josh Phegley. Castillo is worth an investment.
(Sure, these guys have been great, but this is the time to cash in your chips)
Rubby De La Rosa, SP, ARI (15 percent)
It's easy to look at De La Rosa's recent performance and get excited. In his last four starts, he's gone 27.2 innings and given up four earned runs, good for a 1.30 ERA that was even lower before his two-run, 5.2-inning start Tuesday. That stretch is accompanied by 23 strikeouts against seven walks. The flip side, though, is that De La Rosa has faced a set of opponents lately that seemed particularly tailored to make him look good. The Padres, for example, against whom he allowed one earned run in seven innings, feature a lineup of strong-hitting righties and slap-hitting lefties. De La Rosa, as it turns out, can get righties out more than adequately, but dude struggles against lefties, to the tune of an .836 career OPS against, .908 in 2015. He's going to face more lefties. And they're going to hit him.
Grady Sizemore, OF, TAM (0 percent)
I mean, ultimately, I doubt you are seeing Grady Sizemore and thinking "ooo, investment." But after Sizemore went 4-for-9 with a double and a home run in his first two games in Tampa Bay, I wondered something. And yes, for whatever reason, Sizemore starts out well with teams. Sizemore restarted his career last year, going 2-for-4 with a home run in his first game with Boston. Through 13 games, his slash line sat at .343/.395/.571. He went on to hit .187/.263/.267 the rest of his time in Boston. He moved to Philadelphia, where he hit .353/.389/.485 in his first 18 games, then hit .214/.274/.307 before they dumped him. Whether it's a coincidence or a trend, Sizemore might start off hot with a new team, but the Cleveland-era version of Sizemore is long gone. He won't keep this up.
(Yeah, their current values might not be at peak, but frankly, I think lower is more likely than higher; don't get cute)
Alexei Ramirez, SS, CWS (60 percent)
I've almost included Ramirez in, like, half of these pieces, as his season started slow and has just never picked up pace. His poor performance is, for my money, the biggest surprise of all of the awful Chicago offense. Now, that said, Ramirez was never going to be a good hitter; he was going to be a passable offensive contributor at a weak offensive position. At this point, though, he's 73 games into a .525 OPS. His home runs have fallen all the way off, and even his steals are a bit down. He's not worth owning unless it's the deepest of leagues, yet he's more owned than Addison Russell, Yunel Escobar, J.J. Hardy. Cash out for whatever you can get.
Devon Travis, 2B, TOR (55 percent)
The numbers had already started falling off for Travis before he got hurt, as his batting average ended April at .325 and fell to .269 by May 16 before he got hurt. For perception's sake, though, the injury came at the perfect time — his slump hadn't gone on long enough to really color perceptions of him. So when he came off the DL a few days ago, I started seeing "Yes, getting Travis back!" excited posts. He was a rookie playing over his head a couple months ago, but he generated enough excitement then that he's got some buzz about him now. He's a classic "wait, I heard stories about him" guy for your non-researching leaguemates, and you can take advantage.
(The values here are at the extremes, either really high or really low, but it's to the point where any sale wouldn't be a fair one)
Jaime Garcia, SP, STL (63 percent)
I highlighted Garcia's appeal just over a month ago, but here's the short version: he's a good pitcher who gets hurt a lot. So far this season, he's been a very good pitcher who hasn't gotten hurt at all. Regardless, with Garcia, it's always the question of "when" the next injury comes, not "if." If you have him, well, the other owners in your league know his reputation, and they aren't likely to pay a fair price for a pitcher of that talent. And if you are dealing for him, well, his current owner is going to be excited by his 1.69 ERA and his 0.875 WHIP and want a return that doesn't take into account the fact that he might hit the DL at any moment. Whatever team Garcia is on now, that's the team he should be on next week.
Marlon Byrd, OF, CIN (36 percent)
I've mentioned before that I'm also a bartender. Well, I ply my trade in Lexington, smack in Reds territory. Cullen, the bar's resident asshole, hates Marlon Byrd. When Byrd was struggling to start the season, Cullen declared he was the entire reason the team struggled. When Byrd raised his OPS 202 points in a week in May and showed he wasn't done yet, Cullen said it didn't count, because reasons. As soon as Byrd gut hurt in early June, Cullen said now he was hurting the team by not playing. And hitting .317 in nine games since his return just has Cullen complaining that he's going to get the team just successful enough to screw up trades. There's really no winning there. Fantasy-wise, here's the thing with Byrd — he's going to be up and down all season. He's 37, might be on a new team at any moment, and has stretches where he's looked like a superstar and stretches where he's looked like a lost child this season. What's a fair trade return there? Not a clue. Just don't ask Cullen.
(Low-owned guys who have a starter in front of them or another reason to hold off, but there are things that could change)
Ervin Santana, SP, MIN (31 percent)
I mean, if we had the postseason for the Twins to worry about, Santana wouldn't be eligible after testing positive for Stanozolol. But despite them still hovering in the neighborhood of contention, I can't realistically see Minnesota as a playoff team. So when they get Santana back (expected this weekend), he'll just be, what, the second best starter on their staff? Maybe even the best, depending on your faith in Kyle Gibson and/or your trust in Phil Hughes' recent bounceback. Leaving the Angels was the best thing for Santana's career; he had a 4.33 ERA in Anaheim, but a 3.58 in the two years since. He's not a superstar, but if you're seeking some low-end help for a deeper fantasy staff, Santana is on his way to help.
Raisel Iglesias, SP, CIN (1 percent)
In six games before hitting the DL with an oblique strain, Iglesuas had a 5.11 ERA. It was sporadic, as he had an eight-inning outing with one run allowed in one game, and five runs in 5.2 innings in another, with just about everything in between. He started four games, relieved in two others and was good for only a 76 ERA+. On the other hand, that key peripheral-based FIP was much more invigorating, at 2.94. He struck out more than a guy an inning and allowed only one home run. The Reds' rotation right now has Josh Smith in it, who I'm pretty sure is a basketball player, and the maybe-traded-soon Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake. When Iglesias is healthy — he's expected back around the All-Star break — there'll be a rotation slot for him.
(Handcuffs; low-owned guys who have someone in front of them, but they are strong backups or replacements to stash)
Kevin Gausman, SP/RP, BAL (7 percent)
Hey, he started a game! For whatever reason, the Orioles have resisted giving Gausman a regular rotation slot, even while Chris Tillman and Bud Norris pitch like Chris Tillman and Bud Norris. Gausman himself hasn't been fantastic, with a 4.24 ERA and a 4.22 FIP in 17 innings, but we all know he has that elite pedigree. At some point, Baltimore is going to move on from Norris. The next-man-up has to be Gausman, and assuming that pedigree comes through at all, he'll take that rotation slot and run with it. He could be worth an early investment in deeper leagues.
Paulo Orlando, OF, KAN (0 percent)
Orlando got some brief acclaim early in the season when, as soon as Alex Rios hit the DL, he came in and did nothing but hit triples. Seriously, he had three triples in his first two career games, four in his first four, and five in his first seven. It was a gibberish, unsustainable pace, but it was fun as hell for a week there. By the time Rios was healthy, Orlando's line had settled to a sub-ordinary .241/.274/.384, and he was sent down in favor of keeping Rios and Jarrod Dyson around. But Rios, for all his once-positive attributes, is hitting .220/.248/.271 this season, "good" for a 44 OPS+. We make fun of Omar Infante, but the truth is he's beating Rios' OPS by 34 points. If you're the Royals, why keep running him out there? He's worth DFA-ing or dealing for a warm body, and at that point, Dyson and Orlando would take over right field. It's a long shot, but in that sort of league, Triples Man Orlando could return.