Production without hits
Batting average not as much of liability in points leagues if walks are in play
When it comes to music, it's all about the hits. Sure, personal taste enters into the mix, but few people would argue that The Beatles and their 20 No. 1 songs (according to Billboard) don't belong in the conversation as one of the best groups of all time.
But just because a group doesn't have a laundry list of hits doesn't mean that group lacks broad appeal. Take for example The Grateful Dead, who built up one of the biggest followings of any band in the history of the United States, all the while going through a two-decade-long drought in terms of "chartability."
Even when they did finally merit a radio introduction by Casey Kasem with 1987's "Touch of Grey," that was likely due more to the "It's Your Move"-inspired skeleton marionettes in their music video than the song itself. People who didn't already like Jerry Garcia & Co. were still naysayers.
Dan Uggla is the points-league equivalent of the Grateful Dead. Sure, his batting average is going to hell in a bucket. But this isn't rotisserie. You can still enjoy the ride. Uggla may be the 21st-ranked second baseman on the ESPN Player Rater, but at least you know it's the .210 batting average that is to blame.
In points leagues, Uggla has a lot more value due to the fact he leads the National League in walks with 75. In fairness, he also ranks second in strikeouts with 137, one behind Danny Espinosa, but even so, he has a lot more value due to the fact he can still earn you a lot of points without the benefit of any hits.
Players with a much higher on-base percentage when compared to their batting average are always undervalued and underappreciated by owners who aren't die-hard veterans of points-league formats. However, looking at a player's recent OBP-BA calculation is one of the best ways to discover points-league hidden gems.
Here's a list of players who, over the past 30 days, have had the biggest disparity in these two statistical numbers. The list includes studs like Andrew McCutchen, and you don't need this stat to know he's good. But, injuries aside, if you do happen to see any of these names magically appear on your league's waiver wire, you should not hesitate to grab them.
Name Team PA AVG OBP Difference Miguel Montero ARI 97 .342 .485 .143 Chase Utley PHI 115 .258 .400 .142 Kevin Youkilis CHW 103 .188 .330 .142 Dan Uggla ATL 108 .167 .306 .139 Alberto Callaspo LAA 113 .226 .363 .137 Prince Fielder DET 114 .303 .439 .136 Stephen Drew ARI 93 .177 .301 .124 Joe Mauer MIN 116 .260 .383 .123 Edwin Encarnacion TOR 116 .266 .388 .122 Chris Carter OAK 112 .272 .393 .121 Freddie Freeman ATL 121 .235 .355 .120 Carlos Quentin SD 103 .241 .359 .118 Carlos Pena TB 96 .198 .313 .115 Ryan Roberts TB 97 .238 .351 .113 Andres Torres NYM 87 .233 .341 .108 Andrew McCutchen PIT 125 .295 .400 .105 Jamey Carroll MIN 88 .274 .379 .105 Carlos Gonzalez COL 101 .262 .366 .104 David DeJesus CHC 106 .286 .387 .101 Jon Jay STL 114 .333 .434 .101
Before we go, some other players who have had success this year "getting by" without the benefit of a hit might be found on the next list headed by our good friend Dan Uggla. No player in all of baseball has had more games this season in which he scored a run despite going 0-for-2 or worse.
Here is the lineup of the 2012 Grateful Dead players who have had enormous success in multiple games this season without the benefit of a hit.
Player Games OBP (in those games) Dan Uggla 11 .304 Cameron Maybin 11 .200 Matt Wieters 10 .250 Jemile Weeks 10 .311 Mark Teixeira 10 .356 Jimmy Rollins 10 .239 Carlos Pena 10 .277 Andre Ethier 10 .233 Ben Zobrist 9 .350 Mark Reynolds 9 .333 Kelly Johnson 9 .289 Rafael Furcal 9 .244 Gregor Blanco 9 .200
Now that I've got my list out, I've said my piece, so I'll get out.
Nick Markakis, OF, Baltimore Orioles: Not only is he hitting .321 since Aug. 5, but eight of his 17 hits have been for extra bases, including his second triple of the season. With only eight strikeouts in his past 169 plate appearances, there are few negatives to be found in this right fielder, who has been a points-league beast since returning from the disabled list in July.
Jonathon Niese, SP, New York Mets: Not only is he 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA in his past four starts, but he's got a 4.4 K/BB rate to go along with a .214 BAA. The Mets have said they were going to a six-man rotation, which certainly would limit Niese's starts going forward, but if they eventually shut down Johan Santana for the season, Niese's two-start weeks should once again be in effect.
Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS/3B, San Francisco Giants: Sure, the seven-RBI game against the St. Louis Cardinals inflates his recent point totals enormously, but even without that one enormous game, Scutaro has been a solid value. Since leaving Colorado, he's batting .318 and has more walks (six) than strikeouts (five) over 97 plate appearances. The change of scenery has not hurt him one bit.[+] EnlargeWilliam Perlman/The Star-Ledger/US PresswireHiroki Kuroda has been one of the hottest pitchers in the past couple of months.
Hiroki Kuroda, SP, New York Yankees: A 60-point scoring period is sure to boost any player's overall ranking, but what really impresses us with Kuroda is the fact he's performing well against strong lineups. Two games with Boston and one each with Detroit and Texas in his past five starts have yielded no negative numbers. With a 1.98 ERA and .213 BAA since July 13, Kuroda is on the climb in a big way.
David DeJesus, OF, Chicago Cubs: Owned in less than 5 percent of leagues, DeJesus is a waiver-wire gem begging to be mined. Since Aug. 1, he's got an OBP-BA differential of .097 and an OPS of .900. The only game he hasn't started since Aug. 7 was the back end of a doubleheader, so the quality at-bats should continue to mount.
Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks: A huge leap in ownership to 22 percent is not surprising to us, as Corbin has now won three of his four starts since rejoining the Arizona rotation at the start of the month. Opposing hitters have managed to hit just .048 against his curveball over this stretch, a huge reason his stock is rising steadily.
Josh Beckett, SP, Boston Red Sox: In his past three starts, Beckett has "earned" negative-15 points. You have to go all the way back to July 15, the date of his only win since May 26, in order to get him back into positive production. Seven home runs allowed over his past three starts and a .302 BAA? No, thank you. We shall not be having another.
Dan Haren, SP, Los Angeles Angels: Over the first two months of the season, despite a losing record, Haren was very effective thanks to a 4.71 K/BB. Since returning to action on July 22, however, that ratio has plummeted to 1.67 and he's retired a batter in the seventh inning just once in his past 11 starts. Now he's going to get skipped in the rotation, and while he's promised it's a one-time occurrence, recent performance doesn't lower the worry rate any.
Neil Walker, 2B, Pittsburgh Pirates: Even before the dislocated finger sidelined him for a few days, the writing was on the wall here. Take away a 5-for-5 game against the San Diego Padres and he was hitting just .156 since Aug. 6. He did pinch hit during the Pirates' marathon affair versus the Cardinals, but of course, all that does is minimize the chance of a trip to the disabled list in spite of the fact he may not start again for another few days.
Denard Span, OF, Minnesota Twins: Another guy fantasy owners wish they could put on their disabled list, but can't, is Span. He hasn't played since Aug. 12 and when asked if he could even participate in batting practice on Sunday, he told reporters, "No chance." Limbo for a guy hitting just .200 this month before the injury? It's frustrating to say the least, especially with Chris Parmelee raking at Triple-A.
Jonathan Broxton, RP, Cincinnati Reds: We knew his value would go down post-trade simply because he was moving into a setup role from the closer spot. What we didn't anticipate was the shoulder soreness that limits his workload and the awfulness of his performance when he does take the mound. Saves we knew would be scarce, but a .364 BAA and a 7.20 ERA? Punch out, Maverick!
Ian Desmond, SS, Washington Nationals: Did he come back too soon from his torn oblique? He went 0-for-11 against the Mets over the weekend, and while you do want to give the shortstop the benefit of the doubt and chalk it all up to needing to get his timing back, you have to wonder. Another few games like this and perhaps Davey Johnson will show some concern, as well.
TOP 100 OVERALL PLAYERS
Note: AJ Mass' top 100 overall players are ranked based on statistics that have already been accrued in ESPN standard points formats and should be used as a supplement to the ESPN Player Rater.
Rnk Player, Team Prev
1 Miguel Cabrera, 1B/3B, DET 1 2 Mike Trout, OF, LAA 5 3 Edwin Encarnacion, 3B/1B, TOR 2 4 Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT 3 5 Albert Pujols, 1B, LAA 13 6 Ryan Braun, OF, MIL 12 7 Aroldis Chapman, RP, CIN 8 8 Prince Fielder, 1B, DET 11 9 Josh Hamilton, OF, TEX 14 10 Justin Verlander, SP, DET 7 11 David Wright, 3B, NYM 10 12 David Price, SP, TB 17 13 Felix Hernandez, SP, SEA 25 14 Melky Cabrera, OF, SF 6 15 Carlos Gonzalez, OF, COL 19 16 Robinson Cano, 2B, NYY 4 17 R.A. Dickey, SP, NYM 9 18 Fernando Rodney, RP, TB 18 19 Cole Hamels, SP, PHI 34 20 Matt Holliday, OF, STL 15 21 Alex Rios, OF, CHW 21 22 Carlos Beltran, OF, STL 24 23 Matt Cain, SP, SF 27 24 Josh Willingham, OF, MIN 30 25 Ian Kinsler, 2B, TEX 23 26 Aramis Ramirez, 3B, MIL 29 27 David Ortiz, DH, BOS 22 28 Clayton Kershaw, SP, LAD 31 29 Jose Reyes, SS, MIA 33 30 Craig Kimbrel, RP, ATL 26 31 Buster Posey, C/1B, SF 35 32 Chris Sale, SP, CHW 20 33 Johnny Cueto, SP, CIN 38 34 Madison Bumgarner, SP, SF 41 35 Adam Jones, OF, BAL 28 36 Billy Butler, 1B, KC 43 37 Stephen Strasburg, SP, WAS 37 38 Adrian Gonzalez, 1B/OF, BOS 44 39 Aaron Hill, 2B, ARI 58 40 Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY 36 41 Jered Weaver, SP, LAA 16 42 Joe Mauer, C/1B, MIN 39 43 Martin Prado, 3B/OF, ATL 48 44 Jose Bautista, 3B/OF, TOR 32 45 Adrian Beltre, 3B, TEX 42 46 Kenley Jansen, RP, LAD 46 47 Joel Hanrahan, RP, PIT 40 48 Ben Zobrist, 2B/OF, TB 53 49 Gio Gonzalez, SP, WAS 50 50 Hanley Ramirez, SS/3B, LAD 71 51 Michael Bourn, OF, ATL 52 52 Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, WAS 49 53 Joey Votto, 1B, CIN 45 54 Jay Bruce, OF, CIN 83 55 Kyle Lohse, SP, STL 60 56 Jake Peavy, SP, CHW 56 57 Derek Jeter, SS, NYY 75 58 CC Sabathia, SP, NYY 51 59 Yadier Molina, C, STL 62 60 Brandon Phillips, 2B, CIN 47 61 Austin Jackson, OF, DET 61 62 Elvis Andrus, SS, TEX 54 63 Curtis Granderson, OF, NYY 63 64 Hiroki Kuroda, SP, NYY N/R 65 A.J. Burnett, SP, PIT 68 66 Shane Victorino, OF, LAD 77 67 Chase Headley, OF, SD 66 68 A.J. Pierzynski, C, CHW 64 69 Paul Konerko, 1B, CHW 74 70 Jimmy Rollins, SS, PHI 70 71 Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU 81 72 Rafael Soriano, RP, NYY 88 73 Michael Brantley, OF, CLE 78 74 Jordan Zimmermann, SP, WAS 65 75 Mat Latos, SP, CIN 92 76 Mark Trumbo, 1B/OF, LAA 55 77 Freddie Freeman, 1B, ATL 59 78 Chris Capuano, SP, LAD 84 79 Starlin Castro, SS, CHC N/R 80 Dustin Pedroia, 2B, BOS 85 81 Jason Motte, RP, STL 72 82 Jason Kubel, OF, ARI 69 83 Jason Heyward, OF, ATL 90 84 Jim Johnson, RP, BAL N/R 85 Hunter Pence, OF, SF 86 86 Alex Gordon, OF, KC 73 87 Josh Reddick, OF, OAK 67 88 Allen Craig, OF/1B, STL 98 89 Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI 99 90 Adam LaRoche, 1B, WAS 80 91 Nelson Cruz, OF, TEX 94 92 Carlos Ruiz, C, PHI 79 93 Shin-Soo Choo, OF, CLE 87 94 Marco Scutaro, SS/2B/3B, SF N/R 95 Jason Vargas, SP, SEA 91 96 Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE 76 97 Jonathon Niese, SP, NYM N/R 98 James McDonald, SP, PIT N/R 99 Ryan Vogelsong, SP, SF 57 100 Nick Markakis, OF, BAL N/R
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