This week we’ll take a look at a corner outfielder, a corner infielder, and a pair of starting pitchers. All stats are prior to Tuesday night’s games (Only Blanks played on Tuesday night, so only his stats have changed).
Kyle Blanks (26, Right handed hitting corner outfielder/first basemen, San Diego Padres) has never played more than 55 games in a year.
He’s also never hit better than .250. So despite being in his fifth year of Major League Baseball, I will forgive you if his name does not ring any bells for you. Blanks owns a career line of .225/.326/.425 (what a fantastic triple slash that would be if his OBP was a point lower at .325!!!). But in 2013 he’s off to a relatively hot start hitting .267/.392/.450 (That is similar to the career line of Josh Willingham with a little more BA and a little less SLG).
Throughout his whole career, the biggest issue for Kyle Blanks has been staying on the field. His injury history ($) on BaseballProspectus.com lists TEN different injuries dating back to his MLB debut in 2009, including a stint earlier this year for a facial laceration after running into a wall. Blanks seems to have rebounded since than and if (big IF) he stays healthy I think he will be a nice little player who can hit for some power, get on base at a pretty decent clip, and should have plenty of RBI opportunities hitting 5th or 6th in a surprisingly good Padres’ order (above average in the NL in runs per game, stolen bases, walks, OBP, and OPS+). I’d Roster That.
Kevin Youkilis (34, right handed hitting corner infielder, New York Yankees) has been on the DL since April 28th.
When he was in the lineup, Youk was hitting .266/.347/.422 with six extra base hits in 17 games. That more closely resembles the 2011 version of Youk than the one we saw a year ago. When Youkilis comes back he should serve as the Yankee’s primary 1B until Mark Teixeira comes back in mid-June, so he will certainly have value for the next month or more.
Youk could be back in the Yankees lineup as soon as early next week, so his roster spot won’t be a black hole for much longer. The problem is that the Yankees are winning on the strength of their pitching so far this year, giving up just 3.7 runs per game, and their offense has been below average in terms of runs scored and OBP, so unless Kevin Youkilis is hitting for power, he just does not have a ton of upside on the dinged up Yankees team. Don’t Roster That.
Brett Anderson (25, left handed starting pitcher, Oakland Athletics) has an interesting career trend.
In even numbered years, Brett Anderson has a 2.74 ERA. In odd numbered years he has a 4.26 ERA. He’s only pitched in parts of five seasons, so we’re not seeing a huge trend, but 2013 looks like another bad odd numbered year for Anderson. His ERA is 6.21 and his walk rate (11.4%) is more than twice what it was a year ago (5.1%). But none of this matters because Anderson landed on the DL on Friday with a stress fracture in his right foot and will be shut down for four weeks.
When he comes back, Anderson will not be able to succeed giving a free pass to 11.4% of the hitters he faces, even with a 22.0 K% and a 7.8% swinging strike rate. If the walks rate comes down (and how could it not) the rest of Anderson’s peripherals look good, and even with the sky-high walk rate he still owns an xFIP of 3.93. For now, I wouldn’t put him on my roster, but three weeks from now when he’s close to coming off the DL I’d take a flier on him thinking that foot fracture had to cause some of his issues so far this year I’d Roster That (eventually).
Dan Haren (32, right handed starting pitcher, Washington Nationals) is moving the wrong way, despite moving over to the National League.
Haren’s ERA is going the wrong way. art of that could be age catching up with him, but he is just barely past his prime, so I do not think that’s what is going on. hrough his first nine starts, he has twice given up 6+ earned runs, and four times he has not pitched more than five innings. Not exactly the workhorse he was in his younger days when he pitched 216+ innings six years in a row with a 3.55 ERA (123 ERA+) during the height of the steroid era.
Haren’s problem this year is that his strike out rate (16.0%) is the lowest he has had as a professional since his rookie year (13.4%) and his strand rate (66.1%) is the lowest it has been in any of his 11 years in the League. Haren is still primarily a fastball, pitcher throwing a mix of four-seamers, two-seamers, cutters, and splitters. He also has a change-up, but he’s throwing that just 2.6% this year, down from 6.0% of the time a year ago.
Dan Haren remains essentially the same pitcher he was last year, with a few less strike outs and a tiny bit less horizontal movement on his pitches (which hasn’t cost him only 0.5% decrease in his swinging strike rate). The biggest difference, besides the big strand rate (which is likely tied to the change in K% (less K’s means more balls in play, more balls in play means more runners moving, and so on), is that he’s working in the zone A LOT more than he was a year ago (50.1% to 41.6%). That’s a huge difference.
Maybe that’s related to the influence of Steve McCatty the National’s pitching coach, but it is really hurting Haren in 2013, and for that reason Don’t Roster That (whew, that one got long winded).
If you have anyone you’d like to get a second opinion on, feel free to reach out in any way you know how. Our Twitter and Facebook pages, the Twitter pages of myself, Clave, Dixon, or Nash, as well as any of the email addresses listed.