Sometimes I have my finger on the pulse of America. Hell, I have it on the pulse of the world, at least when it comes to the game of fantasy baseball. My belief was shook to its foundations Monday night when I posted a rather innocuous query on Twitter about whether or not a 4-time All-Star, with two Cy Young Awards, was a better hold for 2013 than a youngster with five innings pitched in his career. Turns out the folks told me I was cracked. Was I? Do you agree with me or the masses on Twitter?
PEOPLE HAVE LOST THEIR MINDS
I posted a question on Twitter on the @BaseballGuys account. I thought it was a funny thing I’d throw out there to make a point. Turns out I was wrong about that (never assume anything as the saying goes). After 30 minutes I was stunned to learn that the question was answered, buy more than a three to one margin, in the opposite direction of what I thought it would be. Here’s the question.
That’s right, but a three to one margin people chose… Cingrani.
Here are some of the tweets.
Cingrani. Lincecum is still pitching like he’s throwing in the mid-90′s.
— Fair point. Lincecum might need to adjust a bit.
My fantasy league records stats from this season, not three years ago.
— Ridiculous to say. Cingrani hasn’t even thrown a pitch this season in the bigs.
I’d take a Cup o’ Noodles over Lincecum.
— Somewhat funny, but totally ridiculous at the same time.
Lincecum is far more likely to still be in the show 3+ weeks from now.
— Finally a sensible response.
I’ll take the unknown from Cingrani over the known awfulness from Lincecum.
— Let’s address this last point, it’s the one I saw the most (i.e. that Lincecum is atrocious).
What on Earth is going on? A multiple Cy Young award winner, one year removed from a 2.74 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 220 Ks, is operating at as a 1/3 choice to a guy who has thrown five big league innings. Five.
Tim Lincecum has made one fewer All-Star Game, four, than Tony Cingrani has thrown big league innings.
Tim Lincecum has been a top-10 finisher in the Cy Young voting four times, one fewer time than Tony Cingrani has thrown big league innings.
I could go on and on, but I think this example highlights just how insane things have gotten in this world of immediate gratification (For more on Tim Lincecum and his outlook for 2013 see Is Tim Lincecum Washed Up After Years of Dominance?). People want stuff, and they want it now. It doesn’t matter if their plasma television is perfectly fine, they want an LED television. Maybe your car runs smoothly and gets good gas mileage. You don’t care cause you want that new car with a sunroof, satellite radio, wi-fi for your phone and built in directional finder. People could care less that the chances are about 95 percent that Cingrani will NEVER reach the heights of Lincecum. They think Lincecum sucks so they want Cingrani who has dominated at Triple-A this season (in 14.1 innings pitched Cingrani has a 0.00 ERA, 0.35 WHIP, 26 Ks and two walks ). Never mind the fact that Cingrani has thrown five innings at the big league level and, even if he does well, that he might be back in the minor leagues in 3-4 weeks when Johnny Cueto is ready to return from his lat issue for the Reds.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Cingrani will outproduce Lincecum the rest of the season. I simply have to be the one to tell you that you will never convince me that going with Cingrani over Lincecum is the right percentage play. NEVER. Time will tell, but I think some folks out there have totally lost their minds. I’m not just talking a little bit, I’m talking over the top, out of control, mass hysteria type stuff. Here’s a list of some of the elite pitching prospects that have failed to be fantasy forces during their first season.
Oh, and there is this. Cingrani was Baseball America’s 82nd ranked prospect after the 2012 season. That’s still uber impressive, but it’s not like this guy has been looked at as Stephen Strasburg.
AROUND THE LEAGUE
SELL HIGH: Clay Buchholz, SP, Red Sox
Through three starts Clay has a 0.41 ERA, 0.95 WHIP an a 3-0 record for the Red Sox. Clearly he is back to the form he flashed in 2010 when he went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA, right? Uh, no. Buchholz is not that pitcher, either the ’10 version or the guy we’ve seen over three starts this season. Before you say I’m bonkers, let’s delve into the data.
(1) Buchholz currently has a 9.41 K/9 mark. His K/9 mark the past four years has never been 6.70. Never.
(2) His current walk rate is 4.09 per nine. That is half a batter above his career rate and would be a five year high.
(3) His current 1.22 GB/FB ratio would be a six year low.
(4) His 20 percent line drive rate would be a five year high.
(5) His BABIP of .200 would be a career low and .080 points below his career mark.
Sorry folks, but note a single one of those five points should make you feel good about Buchholz. Deal him before the bottom falls out. Best case he’s a solid depth arm when those strikeouts recede. It’s also worth noting that Clay has been held to less than 100 innings in three of the last five seasons so he also isn’t a lock to take the ball every five games the rest of the way.
BUY LOW: James McDonald, SP, Pirates.
Wait, didn’t McDonald just allow eight runs while recording five outs? Yes, but only three were earned. McDonald has a big arm, and though his efforts last season were stellar early and hideous late, there still is that right arm. For more on McDonald check out his Player Profile.
Jose Bautista missed yet another game Monday as he was held out of the lineup with a back situation (spasms were the issue). The Blue Jays expect him to return to action Tuesday. Bautista has hit 30 homers over his last 101 games dating to the start of last season, but he’s also hit a mere .237 with a .352 OBP. Those aren’t exactly heartwarming numbers, are they? He’s a major source of power no doubt, but he hasn’t been the same hitter since the start of 2012 that people seem to be remembering.
Yoenis Cespedes is dealing with a hand injury that has a soft cast on it as the doctors are trying to stabilize that sucker to allow the strained muscles to heal. The hope is that he will be able to return to action by the end of the month. Through 140 games of big league action he has hit .285 with 26 homers, 89 RBIs, 77 runs scored and 16 steals, borderline elite fantasy production. But what about this? Cespedes played in 129 of 162 games last season. This season he has appeared in 11 of 13 games. That means since he started his big league career he’s been on the field for 140 of 175 games. That’s 80 percent of the games folks. To put that in perspective 80 percent of 162 games would be 130 games played. No matter how talented a fella is, are you going to be happy with him if he’s playing only 80 percent of the time? Everyone loves to down Carlos Gonzalez for not playing a full season but the last three years he’s still averaged 136 games played. Just something to think about as Cespedes sure has seemed to pick up injuries at a fairly alarming rate since joining the Athletics.
It’s tax day, and on this day in baseball history…
The Mets lose to the Astros 1-0 in 24 innings on April 15, 1968, the longest scoreless game in major league history. Each team went 11-for-79 in the contest, good for a .139 average.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray’s analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone’s questions.