Brian, Debate, Players of the Week, Questions

In Memoriam Chris Shelton

Chris Shelton. Cousin of Alex Smith. Fan of home runs. R.I.P.

Here lies Chris Shelton’s fantasy career. Cousin of Alex Smith. Fan of home runs. R.I.P.

From the time the words “Play Ball!” are first belted out on Opening Day, until the first week comes to a close, there are always hundreds of storylines that nobody could have predicted. Wacky stories will often be accompanied with “You can’t make this s**t up.” It’s why some of the best movies, especially lately, are based on “true” stories. This world is filled with incredible, sometimes unbelievable, happenings.

One such story came about in the first month of the 2006 season. Detroit Tiger’s first baseman, Chris “Red Pop” Shelton, selected in the 2004 Rule 5 draft from the Pittsburg Pirates, devoured American League pitching for the first 13 games of the season. Shelton had nine home runs before playing in his 14th game, the fastest American League player to do so. Needless to say, Shelton was a sought after commodity in fantasy leagues. Managers salivated over the power potential he possessed. The second coming of Mark McGuire was in our midst.

Sadly, after that 13th game, Shelton’s monstrous power retreated as fast as it had materialized. He only had one more home run that month, and only six more before being demoted at the end of July. Since that demotion, “Red Pop” only played in 63 more games before leaving the game for good. His magical fairy tale was over, and he turned back into an orange pumpkin.

Even though fantasy managers shouldn’t be surprised by fluke success stories like Shelton, it is still very tempting to think that this guy might be the real deal. For every Shelton, there is a Jose Bautista. Let’s take a look at some hitters who have jumped the gun and are treating this marathon like a sprint, and we’ll try and determine who is going to make it to the finish line and who is going to flame out.

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Debate, Questions, reality blog, Spring Training, Wooden

WBC: Fantasy Baseball’s Crystal Ball

The World Baseball Classic is a flawed tournament (ridiculous pitch counts, missing stars, too much risk to MLB franchises for the players who do participate, and a cockamamie run differential rule that led to the horrendous brawl in Saturday’s Canada-Mexico showdown). That being said, it is still enjoyable to see baseball on your TV screen that means (a little) more than the typical, yawn-inducing spring training games you’d otherwise be watching this time of year. It’s also fun to watch from a fantasy perspective, as it can serve as sort of crystal ball for what we should expect in the coming season from some of the biggest stars in the game.

Let’s have a look at five players who followed their turns in the WBC with monster seasons and five who probably should have done what Russell Martin did this season: stayed home.

Five Who Starred:

(stats in bold were for the MLB season immediately following that year’s WBC tournament)


ny_a_santanaj_3001. Johan Santana (2006)

19-6 (1st in league); 2.77 ERA (1st); 245 K (1st); 233.2 IP; .997 WHIP; Cy Young Award

Santana had already won a Cy Young award in 2004 and was widely regarded as baseball’s best pitcher at the time he laced ‘em up for his native Venezuela in the inaugural World Baseball Classic. Although the Venezuela squad didn’t advance past the second round and Santana tied for the tourney lead with two losses, it certainly was by no fault of his own. Santana averaged 8.2 innings in his two starts and maintained a tidy 2.16 ERA. He went on to win the pitching equivalent of the Triple Crown and collect his second Cy Young Award in three years.

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Awards, Debate, Feature, Hall of Fame, Questions, Rotoballs, Rumblings, Wooden

The Reality Blog: The Hall of Most Shame (Rose vs. ‘Roids)

We live in the age of instant quotes and misquotes thanks to social media sites. I came across this heavy hitter in a recent online rant against alleged PED-user Lance Armstrong:

"I never used steroids, but I have inspired thousands of Catholic priests."

“I never used steroids, but I have inspired thousands of Catholic priests.”

“I would prefer even to fail with honor than to win by cheating.” – Sophocles

Cute, but I’ve got news for this good-intentioned quote fiend; Sophocles never lived in the era of the $100 million dollar contract. He also never lived in the era of the front page fandom that comes with hitting home runs that switch zip codes in air, collecting Cy Young awards like Adele collects Grammys, or winning games more consistently than Wilt Chamberlain won with the ladies (sorry Quentin Tarantino).

The Baseball Writers Association of America must be suckers for Sophocles’ work, as they famously took a hard stance a few weeks back when they voted nobody into the Hall of Fame for just the eighth time in the Hall’s history. It certainly wasn’t for lack of viable candidates that nobody was enshrined as this year’s ballot boasted MLB’s all-time home run king, and the man with more Cy Young awards than anyone else, among other notable players. No, the BBWAA pitched a shutout because they wanted to send a message to these players, most of whom had more than casual ties to PEDs- there’s no place for cheaters.

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Brian, Debate, Outfield, Player Profile, Projections, Questions

Jason Heyward: Better than Justin Upton?

This was just four years ago!

This was just four years ago!

If you visit, they have a section of their website dedicated to comparing a player’s stats with historically similar stats (whole career, current MLB years of service, and by ages). Jason Heyward is currently, at the age of 22, compared with Ruben Sierra, Andruw Jones, Jose Conseco, Juan Gonzalez, and Jack Clark. Not bad company.

Who is the only active player to make this comparison list? Justin Upton.

After the 2011 season, when Heyward struggled mightily (sophomore slump) and Upton had his best statistical season to date (fourth in NL MVP voting), if you had told me these two would be at or near the same level, this soon, I would’ve called you a crazy person and Gangnam styled off stage left. In ’11, Heyward had as much chance at being a top 50 fantasy player as Joe Paterno had at living to see his name removed from every nook and cranny of Penn State. It just wasn’t going to happen.

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Brian, Outfield, Pick Ups, Questions, Relievers, Rumblings, Second Base, Shortstop

Early Season Observations

Elite Starting Pitchers Struggling

Timmy won't be asked to do anymore video games with an ERA over 12.00.

This is something Ryan Butler is going to touch on in an article later this week, but it’s something worth noting here. After two turns through pitching rotations, six starting pitchers ranked in the top 100 by Yahoo! have an ERA over 6.00 (Tim Lincecum, 12.91; C.C. Sabathia, 6.75; Zack Greinke, 6.75; Dan Haren, 6.97; Adam Wainwright, 11.42; and Daniel Hudson, 8.71). Yu Darvish, the Chosen One, has eight walks in two starts and his WHIP (2.21) weighs more than he does. Mat Latos has the same amount of walks as strikeouts (five).

Conversely, pitchers like Chad Billingsley, Edwin Jackson, Barry Zito, and Jonathon Niese are all pitchers who went largely undrafted in many leagues, but are ranked among the top starters through two weeks.

We’re not saying you should hit the panic button yet, but it’s a reminder that there’s always pitching to be had.

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Brian, Feature, Questions

Biggest Questions on Opening Day Eve

by Brian Dorsey

1. What do we make of the Chase Utley situation?

In case you missed it, ESPN has been updating Utley’s status all March with headlines like “ESPN REPORT: Chase Utley might start the season on the DL” or “We’re really not sure why we’re telling you this, but there is no news regarding Phil’s Utley.” Thank you, ESPN. You’ve succeeded again at being CNN: Sports Edition. In their defense though, there really wasn’t much to report because Utley and GM Ruben Amaro Jr. (side note: if you’re named after your father, and he isn’t famous, the “Junior” moniker is completely unnecessary) have been tight-lipped. Utley’s goal seems to be a first half return, but there are people (i.e. Brandon Inge) who think it would be a miracle for Utley to play at all this season. I won’t begin to speculate, but I will say this: The Phillies just released Luis Castillo, Utley’s supposed replacement. Read into that however you will, but to me that seems like a good sign for Utley owners.

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