Originally posted on Sons of Roto  |  Last updated 5/9/12


In Italy, admiring the statue of David
Photo Credit: Caroline Bonarde Ucci

Welcome to “John Travolta Numbers.” You know, because John Travolta lies (naked, for potentially gay masseuses) and whores (naked, for potentially gay masseuses). Think that joke is a stretch? Well, my retort is that I stretched your moms out last night, and I didn’t even need to pose as a masseuse (though if I did, it would be a totally hetero disguise complete with beef jerky and matted-together issues of “Greasy V’s” magazine).

More after the jump:

The statistic: 89.4 mph
The player: Carlos Zambrano
I’m having a hard time understanding why Zambrano is only owned in 34-percent of leagues. I thought that perhaps it was the one win on his ledger, but figured fantasy baseball owners were far enough along to know that wins are fueled by fortune. Then I thought, well, it has to be the fact that his fastball is averaging under 90 mph, which (coupled with his .234 BABIP) may make owners think that this hot start to his season will cool down soon.

The most surprising thing about his availability is that this is a player who was owned in too many leagues as recently as two years ago. Yet after several downright wacky antics (and by “wacky” I mean “crazy, violent, sociopath-y”) and a litany of horrific pitching performances, fantasy owners finally had enough. This season is different though. I mentioned in an April 10th edition of MLB Real Talk that Big Z could be a surprisingly effective fantasy asset. After all, he looked great in the spring and his stuff was crisp as hell. Now here we are six starts into the season and Zambrano is sitting on a 1.98 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 7.02 K/9. Yet, no one seems to think it will last.

To be fair, Zambrano’s velocity has been on a steady decline for years with his current 89.4 mph fastball clocking in as his “slowest” yet. Thing is, he’s not aiming to put hitters away with his heater the way he was years ago. Zambrano is leaning on his cutter and split-finger more than ever, and the results have been impressive to date. One would think this new approach with a weaker fastball would generate fewer swings and misses, but the truth is that his 10.0 SwStr% is the highest it’s been since his rookie season. Granted he won’t be striking out a batter per inning, but if he keeps missing bats at this pace, he’ll easily remain above the 7.0 K/9 mark. Not only is Zambrano making hitters swing at air, he’s also generating weak contact. His 18.7 LD% and 50.5 GB% are some of the healthier marks he’s ever put up and they help explain why his BABIP is so low. It also doesn’t hurt that his home park will help limit the damage of any long fly balls.

Look, Zambrano isn’t a rotation savior, but this new approach is doing wonders for his production (and my fantasy rosters). He absolutely deserves universal ownership at this point.

The statistic: .311 BA
The player: Chipper Jones
The old bastard is still an injury-risk, but he’s been very productive on the field this year. With five HRs, 21 RBIs, and 14 Rs in 20 games, some fantasy owners may even think that the farewell tour of Chipper Jones may end up being one of his more successful campaigns in recent memory. To quote Chipper (and every other old-ass person who doesn’t hear **** the first time you say it), “What?” For starters, Chipper’s .286 BABIP is actually lower than his BA by almost 30 points. Jones is making pretty crappy contact overall, posting a meager 14.7 LD% to go along with his 55.9 GB%. Couple all that with his eroding contact, strikeout, and walk rates, and it’s pretty clear that Jones is playing well above his head. Your best bet is to trade him now while you can still get something in return.

The statistics: 6.32 ERA and 1.72 WHIP
The player: Max Scherzer
The German Scherzer Video looks like he is getting rocked on the regular if you look at just his surface ratios, but that simply is not the case. For starters, homie is carrying a .407 BABIP. Granted, he’s giving up his fair share of lasers (21.5 LD%), but he’s also had his share of bad luck. I mean, 17.1 percent of the batted balls he’s induced have been infield hits. That’s crazy. I honestly have never seen an IFH% that high before in my life, and that tells me that he’s inducing a ton of “grounders with eyes” that just happen to be finding daylight in the infield. Now some of you may be saying, “Alright Star-money, the bad luck may explain the ERA, but that WHIP tells me he’s still putting more guys on base than ‘Freeway’ Ricky Ross.” Nice one, but despite your spot-on drug reference, the truth is that Scherzer’s command is not too shabby. Sure the 3.73 BB/9 isn’t great by any means, but he’s actually throwing more first-pitch strikes than ever (62.6 F-Strike%). Oh yeah, Scherzer is also blowing hitters away. His 10.34 K/9 leads the league and he’s posting an elite 12.3 SwStr%. He’s an amazing buy-low target right now and don’t be afraid to pony up to land him. Going forward, he should be a K-heavy SP1 in fantasy.

 

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