A pitcher has a new home. A young hitter is lost. A third baseman has been better than you thought. An NL outfielder is on many teams wish lists as the trade deadline approaches.
BRAVES ADD RYAN DEMPSTER
The Braves just got a whole lot tougher.
3.5 games behind the Nationals at the start of play Monday, the Braves acquired Ryan Dempster from the Cubs (reports suggest cash and 22 year old Randall Delgado are heading back to the club from Chicago). Given that Ben Sheets has apparently turned back the clock five years, the Braves now have a rather imposing rotation that includes Dempster, Sheets, Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson an I would think Mike Minor (after Jair Jurrjens has allowed 14 earned runs in his last 5.2 innings I think it’s safe to say that he’s going to be the one losing his spot in the rotation to Dempster). What did the Braves get in Dempster? They get a guy who is pitching as well as he has ever flung it in the big leagues.
Dempster currently leads baseball with a 2.11 ERA. Let me repeat, he has the best ERA in baseball. Over his last six outings he’s allowed a total of four earned runs. Four. On the road this season this ERA drops to 1.52 as he’s allowed just one home in eight road starts. Moreover, he’s made four starts against the NL East this year with special results (0.70 ERA, 26 Ks in 25 IP). All of that is flat out amazing. He’s also sporting a 1.05 WHIP though all that pitching has led to a mere 5-4 record for the sad sack Cubbies.
Let me throw some cold water on the party.
Dempster has always been good, but he’s never been anywhere this good.
The last time that Dempster had an ERA below 3.65 was 2008.
The last time that Dempster had a WHIP below 1.31 was 2008.
The last time the Dempster has a K/9 rate as low as his current mark of 7.07 was 2003.
The last time Dempster had a BB/9 rate under 2.48 was… never. Dempster has only one season in his career where that number has been under three (it was 2.93 in 2009).
Dempster currently has a career low 42.2 percent ground ball rate while his line drive rate is a career worst 24.8 percent. Given those two facts, it’s virtually impossible to explain how his BABIP of .245, while not only a career best number, is .056 points below his career rate.
A career 0.96 HR/9 fella, Dempster is down at 0.64 right now.
A 72.2 percent left on base guy, that mark is currently 83.9 percent.
Add that all up and Dempster, who has had an xFIP between 3.69 and 3.76 each of the past four years (that’s remarkably consistent by the way), currently owns a mark of… 3.74.
The bottom line with Dempster is that he is pitching extremely well, but even so there’s little hope he’ll be able to remain this effective now that he’s on the Brave given the totality of his game.
Note: The deal is not yet official. As a 10/5 player Dempster has the right to turn down any deal, and he obviously needs to also approve the deal. At this point, he still hasn’t.
What the hell happened Dustin Ackley? Drafted 2nd overall in 2009, Ackley went on to hit .280 with a .387 OBP in 200 games in the minors. He then had a nice audition last year with the Mariners posting solid numbers in 90 games.
.273./.348/.417 with six homers, 36 RBIs, 39 runs and six steals.
What has he done for an encore this year in, you guessed it, exactly 90 games?
The good. He’s scored 52 times and stolen nine bases. Solid improvement there.
The bad. He’s posted only 27 RBIs, is hitting .226, has a .304 OBP an a .629 OPS. Moreover, Ackley has hit .156 over his last 15 games and .194 over his last 41 games. That’s a quarter of the season with Ackley hitting under the Mendoza Line. There have been not so quiet whispers that the club might send him down to the minors so that he could rediscover his lost stroke. For a guy that pretty much everyone thought would hit right away his 2012 effort has been a pretty big disappointment.
WHY THE INTERST IN CHASE HEADLEY?
The Padres superstar third baseman… OK, I know that’s a total lie, but I’ve always been a fan of Headley’s. More on that in a moment. Under team control for two more years with arbitration, Headley won’t be able to hit free agency until the 2015 season which also makes him a hot commodity on the trade market. As a result Headley’s name keeps popping up in trade rumors with the Pirates, Athletics and Dodgers reportedly at the top of the list.
In terms of his fantasy value Headley does nothing that stands out. He’s hitting .268. He has 11 homers, He’s knocked in 50 runs. He’s scored 47 times. He’s swiped 10 steals. Yes nothing stands out, but in total this is a very nice offensive package. How solid is his peformance? How many third base eligible players have gone .265-10-50-45-10? The answer is three ‚Äď Alex Rodriguez, David Wright and Headley.
What did I say about Headley in his Player Profile back in January? ‚ÄúIf he was allowed to spend his home games in an offensive leaning park a 15 homer, 15 steal season could be possible… Headley might still produce enough to be a solid corner infield option in deep mixed leagues.‚ÄĚ He’s well on pace to be a solid CI option and he seems likely to get to 15/15 even if he isn’t dealt to another club. Boom goes the dynamite.
Shane Victorino is rumored to be on the trade block, and the Dodgers, Yankees and Pirates are reportedly at the top of the list. A move to the Yankees could be huge for Victorino IF he were to play on a daily basis. However, the Dodgers and Pirates situations may not give much of a boost to the sagging production of the outfielder.
Some Victorino facts.
Each of the past four years he has scored at least 84 runs.
Each of the past four years he has hit at least 10 homers.
Each of the past four years he has knocked in at least 58 runs.
Each of the past four years he has stolen at least 19 bases (three of the four years he had 25+).
So what’s going on this year?
He’s swiped 21 bases though he only has two since June 28th.
He’s hitting only .253 though he is hitting .333 since the All-Star break.
He’s only scored 40 runs. You can certainly blame that on the offense, one that has been without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley for most of the year, but Victorino also has to share some of the blame. Five of the past six years Shane’s OBP has been at least .346 and this year it’s way down at .317.
Given his history, and recent uptick in performance, it would seem wise to expect Victorino to continue to be a solid fantasy producer no matter what team’s jersey he is wearing the rest of the way.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 5-8 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray’s baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys’ Twitter account.