Fantasy Baseball Columnists Have B.A.s in BS

AJ Mass' preferred Fantasy Baseball

I’ve read a fair amount of fantasy based columns, some semi-regular, some not, and to a large degree it sometimes appears as if there is an incredible lack of effort put into it. Often you get the feeling that the writer is hired not so much for his knowledge of the players and their abilities than for their ability to weave a semi-interesting read couched more in narrative than information. So beware the advice-men, you may discover they know much less than you.

I’m in a 14 team ESPN League, so I generally take a minute to at least scan the free articles to see if I can get a leg up. There is a Daily Notes column written by a couple or few guys and for this weekend we received this offering from AJ Mass: Daily Notes For May 1-2; Pelfrey, Hughes look to stay hot

Note: As some of these games have already been played I will place post-game info italicized in [brackets].

The first steaming fissure in the case is the replacement Rockies. The Rox have had to call up two minor league pitchers to fill in for injured starters and for their starts against the Giants they both received ratings of 10. Chris Carpenter receives a 10 for his game with the Reds and Roy Halladay a 9 vs the Mets and those are the two best pitchers. I’m guessing that Mass forgot to give a rating, but for a default value to be 10…really? Then again, if it was purposeful that displays faulty logic as these are two unheralded minor leaguers and I wouldn’t even have given Tim Lincecum a 10 for when he first came into the Majors.

Mass spends a lot of time on his player notes singling out stats vs opposing teams or pitchers. Unless you end up talking about divisional foes or lengthy careers most players haven’t accumulated enough stats to make any meaningful deductions. It’s like judging Christian Bale’s acting career based on “Terminator: Salvation” or Steve Martin’s preferred genre based on “The Spanish Prisoner.”

Chris Volstad is ‘dangerous’ because he has a 6.48 ERA against the Washington Nationals in 4 starts. The Nats are one of those teams where you can pretty much start anyone with relative assurance of good numbers in comparison to their career. Sure, Volstad has a young career, so those past numbers are more relevant, but you’re likely desperate and he is likely an FA and this remains a favorable situation as there are many far worse ones. And if you’re scared of his 2010 numbers the main bloatation arose from his initial start against the Rockies and since then he has been getting progressively better.
[Volstad pitched a complete game, 8K, 1R]

Javier Vasquez is singled out for his success against against the Chicago White Sox, stated as 3-0 lifetime. That’s based on 3 games from ’04 and ’05. Well, besides Paul Konerko and A.J. Pierzynski (’05 only) the WhiSox are completely different. Vasquez has been awful for the Yankees against the Rays, Angels, and A’s, so why should you suddenly believe him to turn it around. Vasquez is one of those candidates, who is most likely now an FA, that should be left alone until he shows signs of his former self.
[Vasquez crapped the bed again, lucky to only allow 5R through 3 IP, allowing almost 4 baserunners an inning and 3 HR]

For other mentions of the May 1st games (quotations are summations):
“Mike Pelfrey is not as reliable as Doc Halladay”…no kidding, thanks. [Doc incredible, Pelf not so much]

“David Price and TB are good.” These are gimmes so far. [Respectable, but far from good]

“King Felix is 8-9, 3.72 vs Texas, and is better play than Dan Haren, who has struggled vs Cubs.” You play Felix regardless, even if Texas is a strong hitting team and Dan Haren has been off and on so far, but at some point he should get back on track. [Milton Bradley stood around as a fly ball dropped 15 feet from him allowing 2 ER to score, Felix was good otherwise, but Dan Haren wasn’t]

“Yovani Gallardo has had similar difficulties with his Saturday opponent, the San Diego Padres, as evidenced by his 5.40 ERA facing them over the years.” That’s an exact quote and I emboldened the last part because he has had one career start against them from during his rookie campaign of 2007. You don’t use the phrase ‘over the years’ for one instance…also, the Padres are another team where you can expect most pitchers to do better than their averages. [11 Ks to go with 7 IP of one run ball debunks ‘those years’ of trouble]

“John Danks is good so far, but has been bad against the Yankees.” Most pitchers aren’t all that good against the Yanks as their batting order is hired to be dangerous. [Danks was decent, but threw too much allowing 2 R over 5 IP]

“Matt Cain has poor run support and hasn’t won a game yet.” A good pitcher playing for a poor scoring teams will still put up good numbers, maybe you could mention how the Rockies have injury trouble and besides filling in their rotation they have had to plug holes in their lineup. Lincecum and Greinke have similar issues with run support. [8 IP, 8 K, 0 runs, 0.50 WHIP]

“Tim Hudson is undefeated with 1.16 ERA vs Houston.” Tim Hudson is a good pitcher and the Astros are a bad to average team (poor division bloats win totals). 4 total starts, 2 wins. Can we mention how the Astros are abnormally bad this year? [1 K to go with 1 R over 6.2 IP]

“Wandy has back issues and they could flare up again.” That is actually helpful, backs are important for pitching, life in general. [Poor fielding did him in 5 R, 2 ER over 5 IP, he should be fine by next start]

“Gio Gonzalez and Carlos Silva = middle-of-the-road options.” Gonzalez waffles between great and bad, but you can risk that vs Toronto. Silva is a career bad pitcher who puts a lot of balls in play and he has faced the Reds, Astros, Mets, and Nats in his 4 starts this year…so judge by that. [Gio was the great side of the waffle with 8 K, 2 R over 6.2 and Silva regressed to old habits]

“Craig Stammen has been bad vs the Marlins.” …and just about every other team. I’m not quite sure why Mass didn’t place him in the ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ category. [Stammen lasted 4 innings and was his usual bad self]

“Homer Bailey is 1-3, 7.06 ERA vs Cardinals.” He is another wait for signs of success candidate as he has been awful this year and the Cards are not a return to winning form opponent. [Homer allowed too many runners, but kept damage down to 2 ER, 3 R with a promising 6 K]

“Carlos Monasterios goes RP to SP and Brad Bergesen returns from AAA.” One faces a bad team, while the other faces a good team. Craig Stammen is rated above them somehow. [Monasterios wasn’t anything special, but allowed 1 R over 4 IP, while Bergesen allowed 2 doubles and 2 HR]

Other pitchers are neglected their share of text because the writer was too lazy to blindly pull split stats from Baseball-Reference. Chances are that if you listened to everything he said you left your good pitchers in and got screwed on any chances you took.

Look, I understand that doing a daily note piece on all the games can get tedious, but these are completely useless statistics (small sample size) and don’t go far enough into tendencies. Something that could really help are individual splits vs lefties or righties, proclivity to take advantage of ground ball or fly ball pitchers, or even specific pitches that an upcoming pitcher may throw that a hitter likes. One game against a team that no longer looks the same is not something you can make decisions with.

Hitter notes for May 1st:
“Dustin Pedroia is 4-6 against Bergesen.” Outstanding, that’s like 2 games. [Pedroia went 0-5]

“Andy LaRoche is facing inexperienced starter.” To be honest I would have bit on this matchup, but…[0-4, in hindsight LaRoche has had a short and poor career]

“Jose Lopez has hit in 4 of 5 and has .308 BA vs Harrison.” He is also a poor career guy and that .308 is 4 hits in 13 AB. [2-5 with 2 RBI, bumping his 2010 BA to .235]

“Adam Lind is .385 in past few days and went 2-3 previously against Gio.” Awesome, Gio clearly learned nothing from that, so Lind obviously has his number. At this point you’re probably trotting Lind out there regardless, so I don’t know why this is mentioned other than Mass remembered that game. [0-4 with a K]

“Mark DeRosa is slumping and has a .212 BA vs the Rockies staff.” The staff that he won’t be seeing this weekend? [1-4 and a K]

“Rod Barajas hasn’t logged a hit vs Halladay.” Barajas is an awful hitter and Halladay is a brilliant pitcher, wtf do you think is going to happen. His career 0-9 against Halladay is similar to his career 0-12 vs Brian Lawrence…oh, haven’t heard of him? I did mention that Barajas sucks. Seriously, if you have him you are either in a deep NL-Only league or the deepest Mixed league ever. [Barajas didn’t play because Mass neglected to research Pelfrey pitching only to Henry Blanco, who went 1-3]

“Adrian Gonzalez will be pitched around and hasn’t homered in a while.” You play Adrian regardless and accept the walks as the OBP boost your league should be incorporating. [1-4, no BB, with the sole SD RBI]

“Josh Hamilton is 9-23 over past 5 games, but is .130 vs King Felix.” Congrats for our first matchup with decent stat history. 3 hits in 23 AB, but toss in 7 BB and you see obvious concerns from Felix’s standpoint. Hamilton is a good hitter and is hot so you ride him. [1-3 vs Felix with a HR]

“Brian McCann is 2-12 in past three, and hitless vs Wandy.” Unless you have one of the two catchers better than McCann you are going to be starting him. [McCann got rested for the ‘day game following night game’ issue]

“Alex Gordon is bad.” We know, nobody trusts him right now, nor should they trust Mass. [Didn’t start because he’s been horrible, scored a run]

Seeing as I knew the results for these games as I typed the majority of the previous part it could be argued that I was swayed. So let’s see how I fare with the future…on to May 2nd!

Pitchers on May 2nd:
“You have to like Chris Carpenter and his 8-3, 2.17 ERA vs Reds.” You can pretty much like Carpenter in any matchup.

“Hiroki Kuroda has a 2.74 career ERA vs Pirates.” 4 starts over 3 years, but the Pirates have been with the Nats as the worst team of the past 5 years.

“Doug Fister is good bet vs Texas who hit .220 on road.” Fister has been really good, but he is a low K guy, so that’s a lot of balls in play…which works for baseballs best defense. Texas at some point will break out of that funk and Fister has to continue working with great command. His starts have been Oak, Oak, Bal, CWS so Texas is the strongest offense on paper he’ll face. I’d start him, but be a little nervous about it.

“Johan Santana is 4-1, 2.90 ERA vs Phils.” 9 starts is a decent number to work with, but why would you worry about a top 5 pitcher?

“Jered Weaver could be bad vs Detroit who has him at a 6.34 ERA.” Don’t mention that he face them already in 2010 to the tune of 2 R over 7 IP. At some point he may have a bad start, but wait until he faces the AL East to worry.

“C.J. Wilson is 5-2 vs the Mariners.” This is just awesome. Before this season Wilson pitched 5 seasons mainly in relief with 6 starts in 2005. One of those was vs Seattle, but was a no decision. So in 37 other appearances he has gone 5-2 with a 5.77 lifetime ERA. This is the dumbest baseball oriented reason to use Wilson. He has pitched well this season and faced good teams and the Mariners aren’t built on offense so you start him (run on, sentence, run).

“Phil Hughes has 1.64 ERA and 9.0K/9IP vs White Sox.” He has 6 appearances including 2 starts for a total of 11 IP, which seems a little odd. However, he has yet to allow more than 2 R coupled with a little walk issue. He’s fine, but once again, referencing relief numbers is useless.

“Josh Johnson is 5-0 vs Nats.” Who isn’t these days?

“Jonathan Sanchez has struggled vs Rox with career 6.85 ERA, but solid so far in 2010.” Those previous years Sanchez wasn’t all that great despite flashes of brilliance. He has strung along 4 good to great starts including the most recent one run Phillies outing. See previous mention of Rockies’ issues.

“Francisco Liriano’s quick rematch vs Indians coupled with Twins recent weak bats has him ranked low.” I don’t know what that gibberish about a ‘quick rematch’ is, but if you’re worried about Liriano then you really should relax more.

“Zack Greinke is 0-3 vs Rays.” He’s a good pitcher, they’re a good team. If you have Greinke you play him…possibly even when he’s on the DL.

“Josh Beckett is 6-2 3.70 ERA vs Baltimore while Kevin Millwood has a 3.84 ERA vs BoSox.” Worry about Beckett, but he is usually a good pitcher so if he doesn’t get back on track soon then his pitches are getting tipped or he has mechanics/injury issues. Millwood has a bizarre career. I’d go with Beckett over Millwood, but the way they’re pitching it could go wacko.

“Jhoulys Chacin has a 2.43 career starting ERA in minors.” And he faces San Fran! It’s a risky play with an unknown, but for a spot start you could do a lot worse this week.

“Ben Sheets is 2-0 with a 1.93 ERA vs Toronto.” Sheets spent all of his previous career in the NL…so those two wins are from two starts. He’s been off and on so far, but way off in his last start (vs TB). He could bounce back against the Blue Jays, but don’t base it on an ’05 and ’08 start and keep in mind that he has allowed too many baserunners in each outing.

“Edwin Jackson has a 2.57 ERA facing the Cubs.” This is a real winner. One start. Interleague play. He won’t be previous start bad, but chances are he won’t be good.

“Justin Verlander has been bad vs Angels as has Mark Buehrle vs the Yanks.” I can understand sitting a slumping pitcher vs NYY, but calling for Edwin Jackson over Verlander is ridiculous.

“Tom Gorzelanny has a 5.09 ERA vs Arizona.” That large ERA is primarily from one bad start, while he had three other good starts. If Mass was arguing for Carlos Silva he might as well do the same with Gorzelanny (but he clearly has no idea what he’s doing, so he doesn’t).

Hitters for May 2nd:
“Jorge Cantu has an .818 SLG vs Nats’ John Lannan.” Cantu is hitting ridiculously well and Lannan is pitching like anyone else on the Nats. You’re an idiot if you don’t play him or most other Nats opponents.

“Luis Castillo knows Jamie Moyer quite well batting .308 in 26 AB.” There you go, a decent number of AB to make judgements on. That being said, if you have Castillo, you are in a deep league.

“Xavier Nady is 4 for 7 with two doubles against Edwin Jackson.” This is so painful. Nady is below the Mendoza line in 2010 and should be an FA in all formats unless you hate yourself.

“Blake DeWitt is 3-3 vs Jeff Karstens.” PLEASE STOP! These are meaningless. As a career .256 hitter DeWitt is more likely to have an 0-fer than perfection and there are tons of guys he’s 0-3 against. If you’re adding DeWitt, then someone already has Luis Castillo.

“Jay Bruce has been hot, but has .200 BA vs Carpenter.” Oh wow, this low average guy has an even lower average vs a good pitcher. It’s only 10 AB though, but if you have a decent option try that.

“A.J. Pierzynski is bad.” Thank you.

“Carl Crawford is good, but hits .211 vs Greinke.” 4 for 19 isn’t great, but more often than not Crawford accomplishes something beneficial in a game and you don’t draft first rounders to bench them during good play.

“Julio Borbon has been playing well of late, but earlier this season he was 1-9 against Seattle.” He was also 0-12 against Toronto, 2-8 vs Cleveland, and 0-7 vs NYY. He was really bad then. What other useless info do we need?

“Casey Kotchman is 0-6 against C.J. Wilson…lifetime.” EVERYBODY PANIC! This is getting boring.

“Clint Barmes is playing so poorly that Melvin Mora gets switched in to play for him.” What does this have to do with the pitcher matchup? Mass is just filling up space now.

Oh, good, he finished. All I ask is that the put some effort into their paid job and give us info we can’t normally find or eyeball based on the names of the pitcher and hitter. In all seriousness, if you drafted your own team, then you probably can make better judgement calls than AJ Mass. Maybe he had a bad week (I’ll say, just read that column again…no, don’t!).

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