Posts Tagged ‘Chase Utley’

The Playoff Push: Where the Phillies make me poop myself

The Yankees are pretty assured of a playoff spot. This much has been certain for a while. They will either win the AL East or win the wild card. The Rangers, Twins and Rays also will be in the playoffs. All of these teams are great. Probably not as good as the Yankees, but who is?

I’ll tell you who is. The Phillies is. The Phillies most definitely is. I wrote them off a few weeks ago

Do you really need more reasons to hate the Phillies than this?

because they were losing in the division race to the Braves. Since then, the Phillies have reeled off a record so terrifying I don’t even want to look it up. Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt form a pitching trio deadlier than any in recent memory – I think all of them have sub-3 ERAs since August, which is just…I hate it.

Roy Oswalt ‘s career has been on the schneid for like 5 years. All of a sudden, he gets traded to an already good team in a hitter’s park and turns into 2005 Roy Oswalt? Roy Halladay is who we thought he is, having just gotten win number 20 last night. Cole Hamels is my boi, has been for a long time, and finds himself on both of my fantasy team. He might be their best pitcher right now. In his last six starts, he has an ERA of 0.82, 45 strikeouts and five wins in 43.2 innings pitched. Needless to say (but I’m saying it anyway), he’s regained his 2008 form and then some.

Then, you have the Phillies offense. Jimmy Rollins is hurt, but at this point, that hardly matters. Ryan Howard is mashing, and Jayson Werth, Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez combine to form by far the best lineup in the NL, and they and the Yankees are neck and neck for the best in the bigs.

Which of course brings me back to the Bronx Bombers. The Phillies may be frighteningly hot right now and devastatingly talented, but does that mean they’re better than the Yankees? I mean, Alex Rodriguez is now clutch, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada are one hell of an offensive core. Derek Jeter isn’t even one of our 5 best hitters, but that doesn’t mean he’s no longer Derek Jeter. Brett Gardner is faster than any Phillie, which counts for something, and Curtis Granderson is (FINALLY) hitting this month.

Don’t forget, we still have the single greatest playoff weapon of all time at the back of the bullpen, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and…well there’s the rub. The only reason the Phillies do scare me is I don’t know who comes after Andrew Eugene. Phil Hughes was dominant in the beginning of the year but has completely reversed course and become a mediocre-at-best SP since the break. A.J. Burnett might as well carry around his own personal Heimlich maneuver technician (which is my guess as to what one would be called) he’s such a choke artist and Javier Vazquez is allergic to pinstripes/expectations.

Granted, none of this may matter when the calender flips to October. These are the Yankees we’re talking about. Say what you want about this current manifestation, but they now know what it takes to hoist that multi-flagged trophy. The Phillies do too, but they have a different sort of aura. The Yankees’ is tradition, professionalism, nostalgia and The Memory of The Boss. The Phillies’ is tasers, Riot Punch, and of course, this guy:


For the first time, depth at second

For years, fantasy owners have struggled to find successful second basemen. In 2008, only four second basemen ranked in Yahoo’s top 50. A shift began last season as eight players were ranked in the top-50. The trend appears to be continuing as second base has quietly become one of the deepest positions in fantasy baseball, with 9 top-50 players holding fantasy eligibility, according to Yahoo.

This revolution is being led by established players like Chase Utley, Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano, but is also benefitting from turnarounds from a number of previously questionable players. Players previously mentioned on this blog, including Martin Prado, Alberto Callaspo and Ty Wigginton are leaders in a new revolution, but two more players have had profound impacts on fantasy teams this year.

Kelly Johnson is owned in 51% of Yahoo leagues. He is the NL leader in weighted OPS (on base + slugging, scroll all the way down on the linked page for a full explanation).

Kelly Johnson is smiling. So are his lucky owners.

 In most years, Johnson’s .327/6/10/13 would make him an upgrade for virtually every team at second.  While it remains true these numbers would upgrade most teams, a few players remain ranked above Johnson.

One such player is Ethan’s favorite second baseman: Rickie Weeks.  Weeks has a line of .324/3/12/16/1.  As Ethan previously mentioned, Weeks also benefits from leading off for a team featuring Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.  He isn’t available in your league (if you are playing with any competent owners), but it bears repetition that Weeks may be starting to live up to the potential the baseball world has seen in him for years.  With his history, however, another injury could be just around the corner.

To further explain the depth at second, two of the players who have consistently put up solid numbers are currently on the DL (Ian Kinsler and Brian Roberts) and will serve to add to the already strong pool of second basemen.  You have also already heard me wax poetic on the virtues of Casey McGeehee and Martin Prado, two more players with second base eligibility.  I own all four of these players on the Providence Grays and find that most other teams are not looking for a trade, largely because they already have a competent second baseman.

Historically, second basemen have been though of as overachievers (think Pedroia), not strong or quick enough to play shortstop, but hard workers who can lead a team.  The day of the second baseman may finally have come, and crossing second on the basepaths is a new feeling to players who only touch second briefly as they turn a double play.

Second basemen have had value in real baseball because of their cunning in pulling tricks like this, even at a young age. Now they are becoming fantasy relevant as well.