- Matthew Berry, Fantasy
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May the Fourth be with you!
Thanks to that simple pun, we prepare to celebrate National Star Wars Day on Friday. If you don't understand why, stop reading now. The rest of this column is also going to be confusing and frankly, I've already got your click. I'll see you next week. Between now and then, please watch the original Star Wars trilogy: "Star Wars," "The Empire Strikes Back" and "Return of the Jedi." You'll be glad you did. Or, at worst, watch this 2-minute,13-second video, which is a condensed version of all the movies, but with Legos. Naturally.
I was 7 years old when the original was released and, as often is the case, what was important to you at age 7 becomes really important to you when you're older. Important and beloved. Star Wars explores themes much larger than just a simple epic struggle between good and evil for control of the galaxy. No, there's much to learn about love and life, death and honor and, of course, fantasy baseball.
So, to celebrate Luke, Han, Leia and the gang, here are my favorite quotes from the original trilogy, and the insight they offer us into that other fantasy world we play in.
Han Solo: Get in there, you big furry oaf! I don't care what you smell!
That's right. Dive into this column. I don't care that, after a quick Google search of "Star Wars quotes" I discovered a ton of other people who have written about their favorite Star Wars quotes. I don't care that the "take a bunch of quotes from something in popular culture and relate them to something else" premise has also been done a lot. I don't care that these aren't all the "best" quotes from the movie but rather just moments I really like (taken from IMDb.com, so if any words are wrong, send your complaints there). I don't care that they are somewhat out of order; save your nerd fight for someone who does. In short, this is my column, I write what I want, so I don't care what you smell, you big furry oaf. Get in there.
[Ponda Baba gives Luke a rough shove and starts yelling at Luke in an alien language which Luke doesn't understand]
Dr. Evazan: [explaining] He doesn't like you.
Dr. Evazan: [grabbing Luke] *I* don't like you either.
I've never liked Andre Ethier. Just felt he was a bigger name than his overall fantasy production merited, basically a 20-homer guy with decent average who doesn't run but gets treated like he does a lot more than that. And check this out:
Andre Ethier career OPS by month:
>> Highest of any month
If you're gonna deal him, now's the time to do it.
Admiral Motti: Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerous ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you enough clairvoyance to find the rebels' hidden fortress ...
[Vader makes a pinching motion and Motti starts choking]
Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Here is an actual email I received.
That's how panicked people are about Sir Albert. They think giving up a midtier, below-the-Wandy-Line starter who's not even top 40 on the Player Rater and a guy who wasn't drafted in most leagues might be too much for a guy many considered to be the best player in baseball a month ago. It's been a rough start, no doubt. And there will continue to be an adjustment to the new league, park, pitchers, etc. If I were drafting today, he would not be the No. 2 overall player. But he wouldn't drop out of the top 10, either. If we are still having this discussion in a month, fine, we can start to worry if this is a "Hanley Ramirez last year" type of season. But it's a month. To answer the question, Mark, no, I don't think you're giving up too much. I find your lack of faith disturbing.
Aunt Beru: Where are you going?
Luke: Looks like I'm going nowhere ... I'm gonna finish cleaning those droids.
Aunt Beru: [after Luke leaves] Owen, he can't stay here forever, most of his friends have gone. It means so much to him.
Uncle Owen: Well, I'll make it up to him next year, I promise.
Aunt Beru: Luke's just not a farmer, Owen. He has too much of his father in him.
Uncle Owen: That's what I'm afraid of.
Ah yes. Down on the farm, but wanting to get out and see the big world. People keep clamoring for Trevor Bauer to escape from Double-A Uncle Owen's to go out and look for adventure in Arizona. He's 5-1 with a 2.36 ERA in his first six starts, they yell. Free him! And yet ... Nate Ravitz and I discussed this on the podcast. He's given up 20 walks in his first 34 1/3 innings. You're not gonna have success in the majors with that walk rate. He needs more time on Tatooine.
Luke: [about Princess Leia] They're gonna execute her! Look, a few minutes ago you said you didn't want to just wait here to be captured. Now all you want to do is stay?
Han Solo: Marching into a detention area is not what I had in mind.
Luke: But they're gonna kill her!
Han Solo: Better her than me!
NL-only darling and 16th-most-added outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis would be a great guy to foist on your opponent while you still can. His .439 batting average on balls in play is pretty unsustainable. He's striking out in 29.2 percent of plate appearances and he will most likely lose his gig when Jason Bay comes back.
C-3PO: Just reconsider playing that message for him!
[R2 beeps a question]
C-3PO: No, I don't think he likes you at all.
[R2 beeps again]
C-3PO: No, I don't like you either.
Ryan Roberts, still owned in over 44 percent of ESPN.com leagues, seems to have earned the ire of Kirk Gibson. Perhaps he let his gaze stray toward Mrs. Gibson one time too many. Or maybe he kicked Kirk's dog. Something. Just six at-bats in the past four games and when you're told, "Hey, we think we're better off with Cody Ransom," well, they don't like you. For you 44 percent still hanging on, drop him.
Luke: It's not impossible. I used to bull's-eye womp rats in my T-16 back home, they're not much bigger than two meters.
You know what else is not impossible, but is highly unlikely? A good ERA without a high K rate. Last year, only Jeremy Hellickson finished the year with both an ERA under 3.00 and a K/9 rate under six. This year, his K/9 is, once again, under six and his ERA is under 3.00. Can he do it again?
Well, since 2005, only three other pitchers (who qualified for the ERA title) have had a season like that: Tim Hudson, R.A. Dickey and Trevor Cahill. Maybe he repeats history. I don't think he's Luke. I think he's the rebel pilot who came close only to say "I've been hit!" and get blown to smithereens. Sell high.
Princess Leia: Aren't you a little short for a Stormtrooper?
At 5-foot-5, Jose Altuve is certainly not Stormtrooper material. In fact, according to Baseball-Reference.com, Altuve's .358 average and .930 OPS would be among the highest batting average and OPS since 1900 by any player 5-foot-5 or shorter who qualified for the batting title.
He had a mediocre .654 OPS last year, mostly due to the fact that he walked just five times in 234 plate appearances and had just 13 extra-base hits. This year, Altuve already has eight walks and 11 extra-base hits in 105 plate appearances. He's a career .327 hitter in the minors, and his improved walk rate is consistent with what he did in the minors. He's not gonna hit double-digit homers but the average and runs scored are legit, as is his decent speed. Not a sell high.
C-3PO: "I suggest a new strategy, R2. Let the Wookie win."
They don't all have to be about fantasy baseball. This is just good advice in general.
Obi-Wan: That's no moon. It's a space station.
Bartolo Colon is still available in 30 percent of leagues and, as ESPN Stats & Information points out through Monday, April 30 ...
Most Looking Strikeouts - Since Start of 2011
Han Solo: Well, you can forget your troubles with those Imperial slugs. I told you I'd outrun 'em.
[nobody is listening]
Han Solo: Don't everyone thank me at once.
Here's an email I got a little bit ago that was very representative of many other tweets and Facebook posts that I received when Michael Bourn got off to a slow start.
Tenax (Trigger City, Fla.): I can't believe I let you talk me into Michael Bourn. I know I'm my own man and make my own decisions, but if nobody ever listened to you, this wouldn't be your job. Honestly, I never considered Bourn until reading all the love you have for him and everything you said to back it up. I'm assuming you went with him in a few of your leagues, so you, the Braves and myself have something in common after a week and a half: we suck.
And this is why you don't judge our players just two weeks into the season, kids.
Luke: I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you.
Princess Leia: You're who?
Not many people have heard of Anthony Bass, as he's still available in 95 percent of leagues, but he's borderline Wandy Line material. A 2.30 ERA and 1.02 WHIP with 27 strikeouts to 10 walks in 27 1/3 innings so far this season. He pitches for the Padres, so wins aren't coming in bunches, but you have to love that he pitches in Petco. His minor league 7.5 K/9 says you're going to keep getting strikeouts, though not one per inning. You'll know his name soon enough. Make sure it's because he's rescuing your ERA.
Princess Leia: Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you're my only hope.
I don't really have a player for this one because let's be honest; there's not only one player this applies to. But any Star Wars quote collection has to have that one in it, so can we take one moment to talk about the incredible luck here?
What if they decide to shoot the pod when it leaves the Death Star, even though it has "no life forms on it"? What if the red R2 unit works when Uncle Owen and Luke try to buy it from the Jawas, and they never acquire R2D2? What if, as Uncle Owen instructs, Luke (a fairly obedient kid early on) actually did erase the memory? Or had never met old Ben Kenobi, so he had an inkling who R2D2 was talking about? Lots of things had to go right there for that message to be delivered and the universe to be saved, you know? And in the future, couldn't Leia have just texted or something? Discuss.
Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification.
Obi-Wan: [with a small wave of his hand] You don't need to see his identification.
Stormtrooper: We don't need to see his identification.
Obi-Wan: These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Stormtrooper: These aren't the droids we're looking for.
I've talked before about my disdain for Ubaldo Jimenez this year, but in case you missed, this is not the Ubaldo you're looking for. Look at the strike and walk rates for this guy, along with his fastball velocity.
Ubaldo Jimenez, past three seasons
As ESPN Stats & Information notes, in Ubaldo's start last Tuesday against the White Sox, he didn't induce a swinging strike until his 92nd pitch. He finished with just three, tied for his fewest swinging strikes in 153 career starts.
In addition, opponents are chasing 17.8 percent of Jimenez's pitches out of the zone this season, the lowest rate among MLB starters. He has value in the deepest of AL-only leagues and that's about it.
Governor Tarkin: Evacuate? In our moment of triumph? I think you overestimate their chances.
Don't overestimate Barry Zito. Wednesday night's start was a sign of things to come, not an aberration. His current BABIP against is .186, he's a career .270 guy, and his K/9 is 4.4. It's only a matter of time before he blows up like a Death Star all over your ERA.
Han Solo: Fast ship? You've never heard of the Millennium Falcon?
Obi-Wan: Should I have?
Han Solo: It's the ship that made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. I've outrun Imperial starships. Not the local bulk cruisers mind you, I'm talking about the big Corellian ships now. She's fast enough for you, old man.
Another guy we've brought up on the podcast a lot, Tony Campana is still available in 80 percent of leagues and has seven steals in 31 at-bats. Seven. He's gonna play a ton (the Cubs have no one else) and the speed is very legit.
Luke: [on first seeing the Millennium Falcon] What a piece of junk!
Han Solo: She'll make point five past light speed. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself.
Philadelphia. San Francisco. Milwaukee.
When you're talking about the great pitching staffs in Major League Baseball, you'd probably say the Nationals don't look like much. But through the month of April, they've allowed fewer runs than any team in the league. In fact, per Elias, the Nationals' 1.78 ERA by their starting pitchers was the fifth-lowest starting-pitcher ERA for any team in a calendar month of at least 20 games since 1969, when the mound was lowered.
Washington Nationals Pitching - MLB Ranks this season
ERA: 2.47 (1st)
K: 208 (2nd)
WHIP: 1.11 (3rd)
K/BB: 2.97 (6th)
HR: 6 (Fewest)
All five Nationals starters have touched 95 mph this season. Led by Stephen Strasburg, whose fastballs average an MLB-best 95.6 mph this season, they've combined to form the hardest-throwing rotation in recent years.
Princess Leia: Governor Tarkin, I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought on board.
Governor Tarkin: Charming to the last. You don't know how hard I found it, signing the order to terminate your life.
Mark Reynolds is still owned in over 45 percent of ESPN.com leagues. The power will come eventually, but not before he destroys your batting average like it was the planet Alderaan. In standard ESPN.com leagues, he needs to be dropped.
Han Solo: Wonderful girl. Either I'm going to kill her or I'm beginning to like her.
Ahhh, Yovani Gallardo. Since the start of last season, only Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw have had more games of 10-plus strikeouts and two or fewer earned runs. Of course, he also had six games over that time frame in which he's allowed six or more earned runs.
Luke: Got 'im! I got 'im!
Han Solo: Great, kid. Don't get cocky.
I did a column last year that looked at the number of people who were in first place during Week 9 of the baseball season who ended up winning the whole league. I'm gonna do an updated version of that column next week, but it's worth noting that in 2010, 68 percent of the teams that were in first place at that point did not win their league. It's great that you're doing well. Lotta season to go.
Darth Vader: The Force is strong with this one.
Shout out to The SWAN, Zach Jones of ESPN Stats & Information. With article, help he did.
Han Solo: Not a bad bit of rescuing, huh? You know, sometimes I amaze even myself.
Princess Leia: That doesn't sound too hard.
Before you get all impressed that Wandy Rodriguez is back to being over his own line, what with the 1.64 ERA and everything, it's worth noting that he hasn't given up a homer yet. He allowed 25 last year. He's pitching better, yes, but it's not like his ground/fly ratios are way different this season. The homers are coming.
Luke: All right, I'll give it a try.
Yoda: No. Try not. Do ... or do not. There is no try.
[Using the Force, Yoda effortlessly frees the X-Wing from the bog]
Luke: I don't ... I don't believe it.
Yoda: That is why you fail.
No fantasy baseball analysis here. Just wanted to include these two quotes because they are among my favorite quotes ever. I probably get five to 10 emails a week from people saying they just graduated, they want a career in sports or specifically, fantasy, and what advice do I have? And I feel bad about it but there's just too many to respond to. I probably should just send them a bunch of Yoda quotes. It's as good life and career advice as there is.
[Yoda tries to convince Luke not to leave]
Yoda: You must not go!
Luke: But Han and Leia will die if I don't.
[Obi-Wan's Force-spirit suddenly appears]
Obi-Wan: You don't know that. Even Yoda cannot see their fate.
Luke: But I can help them! I feel the Force!
Obi-Wan: But you cannot control it.
The problem with Max Scherzer is his control issues. His stuff (velocity, miss percentage) is still basically the same as it's been in previous seasons, but the walk rate is up to 10.6 percent (compared with 6.7 last season) and he's gotten a little unlucky with the BABIP early in the season.
Highest BABIP allowed this season:
With reports out of Detroit that Max and his pitching coach have detected a mechanical flaw in his delivery, I like Max as a buy-low guy. And if I own him, I am not bailing yet.
Han Solo: Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?
Princess Leia: I'd just as soon kiss a Wookiee
Han Solo: I can arrange that. You could use a good kiss.
Couldn't we all? Stop reading right now and wish someone you love but haven't talked to in too long a happy Star Wars day. It's just enough of a dumb, random reason to call that you'll both appreciate the gesture.
Han Solo: Laugh it up, fuzzball.
OK, a bit of a stretch here but I love that moment in the film. So I'm laughing at all the people freaking about Jose Reyes.
Jose Reyes career batting average by month:
Obi-Wan: Your eyes can deceive you; don't trust them.
Don't worry if you don't like what you see out of Eric Hosmer so far. He's actually striking out less (14.6 percent in '11, 13.6 percent so far this season) and walking more (up to 9.7 from 6.0 percent) than he did last season. He's just getting unlucky, as his .162 BABIP will attest. Buy low.
[the asteroid quakes]
C-3PO: Sir, it's quite possible this asteroid is not entirely stable.
Han Solo: Not entirely stable. I'm glad you're here to tell us these things.
Matt Kemp is really good. This we know. He will continue to be really good all year long. But his value right now may never be higher.
Largest OPS decreases from April to May since 2008
[Leia and Han share a passionate kiss before Han is dragged toward the freezing chamber by the Imperials]
Princess Leia: I love you.
Han Solo: I know.
In fantasy baseball circles, this conversation has been going on for five years now with assorted analysts, myself included, taking turns starring as the Princess, with Edwin Encarnacion in the role of Han. In case you were wondering how I feel about his start.
[Chewbacca is fixing C-3PO]
C-3PO: Oh, yes, that's very good, I like that ... Oh!
[the lights in his eyes go out]
C-3PO: Well, now, something's not right, because now I can't see!
[Chewie fiddles with something and his eyes turn back on]
C-3PO: Oh, oh, that's much better. Wait ... wait. Oh, my! What have you done? I'm BACKWARDS. You flea-bitten furball! Only an overgrown mop-head like you would be stupid enough to ...
[Chewie switches 3PO off]
Sorry about Francisco Liriano. That's all.
Leia: I thought you knew this person.
Chewbacca: [Chewie barks something to Han]
Han Solo: Well, that was a long time ago, I'm sure he's forgotten about that.
And Michael Vick, too.
Darth Vader: Luke, you can destroy the Emperor. He has foreseen this. It is your destiny. Join me, and together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.
While this is an awesome moment in the trilogy, a quick note to the young lovers out there. This does not work as well as a pickup line as you might think.
Han Solo: What's going on ... Buddy?
Lando: You're being put into carbon-freeze.
What can I say, but I'm going down with the Carl Crawford ship. Already available in 25 percent of leagues, I'm sure that number will increase in the coming weeks, but unless you have Evan Longoria or Jacoby Ellsbury, there's nobody I'd rather use my DL slot on. Hold tight.
Admiral Ackbar: It's a trap!
Don't get sucked into thinking there might not be something slightly wrong with Roy Halladay and that the game against Atlanta was "just one of those days." His velocity is definitely down this year; his max velocity has trended between 95.7 and 95.1 for three seasons, his average velocity between 91.6 and 92. 1. So far this season, he's averaging 90.1 and maxing out at 92.4.
Yoda: That face you make ... look I so old to young eyes?
Luke: No. Of course not.
Yoda: I do. Yes, I do. Sick have I become, old and weak... When 900 years old *you* reach, look as good *you* will not, hmm?
Very true, Yoda. And certainly, Chipper Jones is an impressive 40-year-old. But he's still 40. And injury prone. Which means more playing time for Juan Francisco, who already has three home runs on the year in just 36 at-bats. The power is very legit, gang, and he's not only going to find his way into the lineup more and more, he's probably available in some NL-only leagues and deeper mixed leagues, where he has value.
Han Solo: You're all clear, kid! Now let's blow this thing and go home!
Sounds good, Han. Sounds good.
Matthew Berry -- THE Talented Mr. Roto -- once ate Cheerios, which he hated, for three months straight just so he could get enough box tops to send away for a Boba Fett action figure. Berry is the creator of RotoPass.com, a website that combines a bunch of well-known fantasy sites, including ESPN Insider, for one low price. Use promo code ESPN for 10 percent off.
13hPat McManamon and Jeremy Fowler