Bleacher Report: The Diamond Oracle

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Bleacher Report: The Diamond Oracle
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Want to know what's going to happen before it happens? Then The Fantasy Oracle is for you.

We are only three weeks into the season, so there’s still not a lot of 2009 data to review. But in fantasy baseball, it doesn’t matter what a player did yesterday or last week. What matters is what they are going to do today, tomorrow, and next week.

To that end, let’s look at how the month of May affects fantasy production for the players below. So grab a cold beverage, and be prepared to be dazzled by the Oracle. As always, we’ll start our tour behind the plate and work our way around the diamond.

Thanks to the readers (Bob and Jerry) who e-mailed me player suggestions, and if there’s a player you’d like me to profile in a future column, shoot me an e-mail at wirkiowski@RotoExperts.com

Tip of the week: People have a tendency not to make changes in life until they absolutely have to. Don’t take the same approach to your fantasy baseball team. If you wait until you are on the brink of collapse before making changes, it is already too late. Be proactive to win your league. Complacency will win you nothing.

All stats are through April 22, 2009

BRANDON INGE (C/3B/OF, DET)
When is a catcher not a catcher? When he plays 3B! Since he caught 60 games in 2008, Inge is catcher-eligible in most leagues, despite not appearing behind the plate once in 2009 through April 22.

This is great for fantasy owners, because you don’t have to worry about "off" days as much with a third basemen as you would a catcher. Inge is off to a nice start, batting .320 with five home runs and 14 RBI, but will it continue through May? Let’s ask our good friend the Oracle.

The Oracle says… Inge has had his issues in the month of May. In 566 career May at-bats, Inge’s batting average is .231, and he has 20 home runs and 69 RBI. Compare this to his career April output of a .250 batting average with 21 home runs and 81 RBI in 524 at-bats.

However, if you only need Inge for power, you should hang onto him. 61 percent of his career home runs have come in the months of April, May, and June. Plus, his batting average rebounds to .264 in 485 career June at-bats. Every part of his game erodes starting July 1, so be sure to dump him in late June.

DERREK LEE (1B, CHC)
Lee is usually a fast starter, with a career .283 batting average in the month of April, while bashing 46 home runs and delivering 175 RBI in 930 at-bats. Those 175 RBI are 22 more than any other month.

However, Lee has struggled this April, only managing a .222 batting average with one home run and nine RBI. Hey Oracle, are you able to give us any insight into what we should expect from Lee in May? Also, wasn’t there a Lee May who used to play baseball?

The Oracle says…I’ll take your second question first. Yes, Lee May played for 18 years and amassed 354 home runs. Unfortunately for Derrek Lee owners, this Lee tends to have bad Mays. His .246 batting average in 959 career at-bats is the lowest of any month. His next worst month is August, in which he hits .278.

His power numbers drop similarly in May, as May marks his low point in home runs and RBI as well. Lee does rebound very nicely in June, so if you own him, you should live with his May, and if you don’t, target him in trade talks late in the month.

BRIAN ROBERTS (2B, BAL)
Roberts is off to a strong start, batting .390 with no home runs, three RBI, and three stolen bases. The problem is that April tends to be Roberts’ best month. His batting average drops every month from April through July before rallying in August.

Roberts has also dealt with more injuries in April and May, as he has played the fewest games in those two months. So Oracle, what can you tell us about Roberts and the month of May?

The Oracle says… Like Inge, Roberts seems to do most of his best work in the first half of the season. For the month of May, in 507 at-bats Roberts is hitting .304 with seven home runs, 43 RBI and 33 stolen bases.

When you look at his annual splits, the numbers may look fairly equal, but once you factor in that Roberts has had 1,821 career at-bats prior to July 1, and 2082 after July 1, you realize his fantasy value diminishes greatly at that point. So hang onto Roberts through June, and look to sell high before his numbers crash in July.

JIMMY ROLLINS (SS, PHI)
Rollins was caught sleepwalking during the month of April, crafting a .179 batting average (he just barely hit his weight!) with one home run and four RBI. Rollins does tend to struggle in April, as he is career .265 hitter in 785 at-bats, marking his monthly low point. So he can only get better, correct? What say you, oh Oracle?

The Oracle says…Rollins does improve in May, but the changes aren’t drastic. Rollins is a career .270 hitter in May, with 16 home runs and 82 RBI in 890 at-bats. The one area in which Rollins does improve immensely is stolen bases.

While he has only 29 career stolen bases in April, that number jumps to 53 in May and remains consistently good for the rest of the season. Now’s the time to try to get Rollins cheap, as he’ll gravitate up towards his usual numbers in May, and remain there the rest of the season.

MARK DEROSA (2B/3B/OF, CLE)
DeRosa was acquired by the Indians in the offseason, and has given them quality production, with three home runs and 15 RBI, despite a .226 batting average. DeRosa is a career .264 hitter in April, and does increase that to .268 for May.

However those few percentage points of increase have a negative effect on his power numbers, as he has hit fewer home runs and drove in fewer runs in more at-bats in May compared to April. So can we expect a similar change in DeRosa’s numbers this season Mr. Oracle?

The Oracle says…DeRosa is a .268 hitter for the month of May with 10 home runs and 53 RBI in 441 career at-bats. Nothing to write home about, but if he’s a spot starter, you could do worse. His splits the rest of the season are odd.

DeRosa has great numbers in June and August, and comparatively crappy numbers in July and September, so unless you find someone to trade with you every other month, be careful how you use DeRosa in your lineup.

ALFONSO SORIANO (OF, CHC)
Soriano is off to a blazing start, as he is hitting .304 with five home runs and nine RBI. And bigger numbers could be on the horizon, as April has been traditionally one of Soriano’s worst months from a power standpoint.

However, it is his best month for batting average. In 841 career April at-bats, Soriano is hitting .300 with 37 home runs and 101 RBI. So Oracle, how does May look for Soriano? Will he build on his good start or slump in May?

The Oracle says… From purely a power perspective, May is Soriano’s best month. He has hit 56 home runs and driven in 146 runners in May, easily his best month overall for both statistics. His numbers drop off a little in June, July, and August, but not enough to be a concern.

His batting average in September is his worst, although the power numbers hold steady. No need to seek to trade Soriano unless you get an outstanding offer, and chances are it will take an outstanding offer for you to acquire him, so keep that in mind during trade negotiations.


JAKE PEAVY (SP, SD)
Peavy has been horrible so far this season, amassing a 5.13 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP over 26.1 innings. The bright side is that he has struck out 26 against only five walks, so control hasn’t been an issue.

Peavy is traditionally a fast starter, compiling a 3.09 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP in 227.0 career April innings, including 223 strikeouts. So Oracle, will Peavy return to form in May, or is this going to be one of “those” seasons for Peavy?

The Oracle says… In his career, Peavy has pitched 191.2 innings in May, and pitched successfully, to the tune of a 2.96 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP with 208 strikeouts. However, June and July have not been kind to Peavy, as he has a 4.55 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP during those two months, before bouncing back with sub-3.00 ERAs in August and September.

Keep Peavy if you have him, but only start him at home during June and July, as he’s a much better pitcher at PETCO. Try targeting Peavy in trade talks now, and if they break down, try again at the end of July for your stretch run.

 
BRANDON MORROW (RP, SEA)
Morrow gave up three runs in his first appearance of the season, and has been flawless since, giving up zero runs, two hits and three walks while striking out seven in five innings.

Walks are still an issue for Morrow, as he has issued six in 5.2 innings this season. Let’s get with the Oracle one last time this week and see if Morrow will be a better pitcher in May.

The Oracle says…Morrow has never had a save opportunity in the month of May, but he does sport an impressive 0.45 ERA and a borderline-respectable 1.30 WHIP in 20.0 career May innings, while striking out 28 and walking 15 batters.

Hopefully you’re not counting on Morrow to help your WHIP, because you’ll be sorely disappointed. He has 90 walks in 133.2 career innings. However, if all you need out of Morrow is saves, you’ll just have to learn to live with the whipping you’ll take in WHIP.

When Matt isn’t crunching numbers for The Fantasy Oracle, you can find him at the ballpark, if you do—buy him a beer, he probably could use one. Got a question, comment or complaint? E-mail Matt at Wirkiowski@RotoExperts.com

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