“Alluhring Strategy” The (NL) West Coast Bias: State of the Division at the Quarter Pole [PART 1]
The National League West has not been one of the stronger divisions in baseball this season. Since this is an article for a Fantasy Sports website, we can focus in on the fantasy impact and potential on YOUR team, and there is plenty to discuss throughout the NL West. Here is where we stand prior to games starting on May 22nd.
|NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST|
|L.A. Dodgers||24||16||.600||–||186||138||48||17-5||7-11||2-1||2-2||17-13||4-6||L 3|
|San Francisco||23||18||.561||1½||155||145||10||14-9||9-9||2-2||3-1||14-14||8-2||W 6|
|San Diego||20||22||.476||5||181||199||-18||11-12||9-10||1-3||3-3||15-12||3-7||L 2|
Over the next two weeks, we will take a look at each team in the division and what was their biggest surprise (good), biggest disappointment (bad) and recommend an Action plan (so it doesn’t get ugly). This week we concentrate on the teams on the north side of .500.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Biggest Fantasy Surprise – Yasmani Grandal, C
The Dodgers best fantasy performer has clearly been Adrian Gonzalez, but his production was expected. Rookie, Joc Pederson, was looking like a lock for this honor until he kind of fell off dramatically. He has now struck out nearly twice as much as ALL other players on the team. His power and OBP percentage has still been fantastic, but the league has made adjustments on how to pitch him. The guy that has really surprised me is Yasmani Grandal. Matt Kemp might have been the big name in that trade, but the Dodgers may have won the trade with the consistent production by Grandal. It’s not easy to find this kind of production from the Catchers position. He has 10 extra base hits this season, including 4 HR and 17 RBI. He is slashing .287/.402/.465 and has produced as a Top 5 Catcher in most scoring formats.
Biggest Fantasy Disappointment – Jimmy Rollins, SS
Reigning NL Cy Young and MVP, Clayton Kershaw, could have easily received this dreaded distinction. His 2.89 FIP, 30.0% K rate and .347 BABIP make me think he has run into some bad luck (and Madbum three times) and his stats will improve as the season goes on. Jimmy Rollins came over in an off-season trade with the Phillies, with one year left of his contract. The veteran leadership was supposed to bridge the gap until superstar prospect, Corey Seager, is ready to take over at Shortstop. The problem is, after a hot first week of this season, J-Roll has been downright terrible. The Dodgers might as well have taken the $10M they are paying him (Phillies are paying $1M) and set it on fire. The former NL MVP is slashing .197/.279/.340 with 4 HR, 13 RBI, and 3-for-6 in SB.
The Dodgers have managed to stay atop the division due to their incredible depth. No Puig, no Crawford, no Ryu, no McCarthy…No Problem!!! Andre Ethier, Scott VanSlyke, and Alex Guerrero are all getting playing time in the OF due to the injuries and all three are batting over .300. Utilityman, Justin Turner has been outstanding playing all four infield positions (though primarily 3B) with only 2 errors in 25 games and is slashing .284/.376/.554.
My Unsolicited Advice…As the OFs get healthy, its time to trade from depth and 2nd tier prospects to upgrade SP and Middle RP. Idea #1 – Send a package of prospecs headlined by SP Jose DeLeon and OF Alex Verdugo to OAK for Scott Kazmir. Idea # 2 -Andrew Friedman should call up his old friends in Tampa and trade Alex Guerrero for one of their stud RPs (Boxberger, Jepsen, or McGee). Add one of these guys to newly activated Closer Kenley Jansen, and Yimi Garcia, and suddenly the Dodgers have arguably the best back end of the bullpen in the division. Donnie Baseball doesn’t really like Guerrero anyway and he would slot in the middle of the Rays order.
San Francisco Giants
Biggest Fantasy Surprise – Brandon Crawford, SS
I went back and forth here between Crawford and SP, Tim Lincecum. He certainly could be considered for Comeback Player of the Year if he continues with his 2.08 ERA. His control numbers are not great and ultimately that could catch up to him, dropping him down in my eyes for this lucrative distinction of “Biggest Fantasy Surprise.” Quick Trivia? Who leads the team in OBP (.391), SLG (.515) and WAR (2.2)? The answer is…Brandon Crawford. That is a surprise to me. Why is it a surprise? In his four seasons as a Major Leaguer, he has never batted over .250, never had an OBP over .325, or a SLG over .400. I don’t see any evidence that would lead me to believe this is sustainable, but after 150 Plate Appearances, he is the #1 fantasy SS so far in 2015. Ride him as long as it lasts.
Biggest Fantasy Disappointment – Casey McGehee, 3B
This should come as a surprise to no one. In a rare lapse of judgment, GM (at the time) Brian Sabean signed McGehee to a one year deal for $4.8M. He apparently
earned this deal after returning from a one year sabbatical in Japan, producing a slash line of .287/.355/.357 and hitting into a league leading 31 double plays. I would never have thought about having him on any of my fantasy teams heading into the season, and his .190/.248/.276 so far this year isn’t changing my mind. I guess the biggest disappointment is probably to the Giants, who were hoping a light hitting corner infielder would be able to replace the Panda.
The Starting Pitching has held up better than I anticipated (just finished sweeping the Dodgers with three consecutive shutouts) and Cain might be coming back soon. The Giants have a team ERA of 3.34 for the season. The SP and RP have both been strong, but they need to improve on their 25th MLB ranking of runs scored (3.78 runs/game). There lineup really isn’t as bad as it looked on paper prior to the season. They need more production out of 3B and to tweak the lineup to take better advantage of their 4th ranked .334 OBP.
My unsolicited Advice…Its time to recall Adam Duvall to take over 3B duties. I also like Matt Duffy, but as a utility infielder and defensive replacement. Duvall is not a highly rated prospect, but does have the power tool and is slashing .321/.358/.636 with 12 HR and 36 RBI in 165 AB in Triple A this season. Starting him at 3B would lengthen the lineup, and Duffy could be a defensive replacement and fill in once or twice a week without embarrassing you at the plate. With Crawford slugging they way he is, it is time to move him up in the order. Below is my lineup suggestion for Coach Bochy.
|1||Nori Aoki LF||Left|
|2||Angel Pagan CF||Switch|
|3||Buster Posey C||Right|
|4||Brandon Crawford SS||Left|
|5||Hunter Pence RF||Right|
|6||Brandon Belt 1B||Left|
|7||Adam Duvall 3B||Right|
|8||Joe Panik 2B||Left|