Playing the Stock Market

Dented cans are half price; Microsoft went down 3 points. We gotta save some money.

Blog post title made explicitly to post that video clip? Guilty. Well, since you’re here, I figure we’ll look at the Phillies as if they were businesses into which you could sink your hard-earned money. Depending on how well-received this post is, this may be a recurring theme. Thus more excuses for me to post funny video clips.

Essentially, this is a short-term forecast of various players that may also help your fantasy baseball team(s). Feel free to post your thoughts or your own tips in the comments below.

Buy

  • Ryan Howard, 1B

Howard has slumped over the past week after starting the season on fire. The next three games will be against the Braves in Atlanta where he will face back-to-back-to-back right-handed starting pitchers in Tommy Hanson, Tim Hudson, and Derek Lowe. Hanson has pitched well in his first two starts, but has struggled with control. Hudson has struggled to strike hitters out and his .190 BABIP will start climbing skyward. Lowe has struggled in two of his three starts. In his one good start, he walked seven batters in six innings against the San Francisco Giants. With the Phillies becoming one of the most patient teams in baseball, Howard should get plenty of opportunities with men on base in situations where the Braves will have to pitch to him.

Career vs. Hanson: 1-for-3, 1 HR, 1 RBI

Career vs. Hudson: 12-for-34, 5 HR, 10 RBI

Career vs. Lowe: 4-for-25, 1 2B, 4 RBI

  • Chase Utley, 2B

Pretty obvious. Utley won’t be 1.287 OPS good, but he appears primed for a much-deserved MVP run this season. His BABIP is about 45 points lower than his career average. While he won’t be hitting home runs at his current torrid pace, he should see some more singles and doubles especially in the cavernous outfield at Turner Field. Utley, like Howard, will also benefit from a Braves starting rotation heavy on right-handers.

Career vs. Hanson: 1-for-4, 1 3B, 1 RBI

Career vs. Hudson: 8-for-36, 5 RBI

Career vs. Lowe: 9-for-23, 3 3B, 2 HR, 3 RBI

  • David Herndon, RH RP

“But Bill,” you say, “Herndon was horrendous his last time out. He nearly blew a six-run lead for Roy Halladay!”

In that game on April 16 against the Florida Marlins, Herndon fell victim to plain ol’ bad luck. He faced six Marlin hitters and caused five of them to hit ground balls, only one of which was converted into an out by the Phillies’ infield. Herndon made one mistake which resulted in an RBI double for Gaby Sanchez.

Aside from that appearance, Herndon has been fantastic for the Phils. He had tossed four straight scoreless appearances which included zero walks. His sinker has been heavy in every outing so far and that .496 BABIP of his will sink like a rock as the season progresses.

Career vs. Braves: Never faced

  • Shane Victorino, CF

More BABIP. Victorino’s current BABIP is one hundred points lower than his career BABIP. You know what that means — regression to the mean. His .286 on-base percentage doesn’t look good, particularly since he’s filling in for Jimmy Rollins atop the Phillies’ lineup. However, that OBP will be lifted up significantly by the end of the month.

Victorino’s absence on the base paths is part of the reason why the Phillies have only attempted three stolen bases through the first 12 games, quite a turnaround from the aggressive-efficient runners we had come to know.

Career vs. Hanson: 1-for-2

Career vs. Hudson: 8-for-25, 1 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI

Career vs. Lowe: 2-for-14

Sell

  • Kyle Kendrick, RH SP

A right-handed sinkerballer who can’t strike anybody out going against a lefty-heavy Braves lineup is a huge disadvantage. Kyle Kendrick will open up the series tomorrow in Atlanta, where he will be forced to hold the left-handed Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and the switch-hitting Chipper Jones and Melky Cabrera at bay.

Career vs. Braves: 38.1 IP, 3.29 ERA (5.61 FIP), 39 H, 5  HR, 14 BB, 13 K

  • J.A. Happ, LH SP

Picking up from last year, Happ has benefited from some extraordinary luck early on this season. He has yet to allow an earned run, but he has walked eight in just 10 and one-third innings. Somehow, Happ has stranded 94% of the runners that have reached base against him, mostly due to his BABIP resting in the .270’s.

Happ may miss his next start (Wednesday) due to left forearm soreness. The Phillies have yet to make an official decision. But Happ’s stock will likely fall with his due regression and this nagging injury. The Inquirer’s Matt Gelb reported that pitching coach Rich Dubee attributed Happ’s lack of control in his last start to a “dead arm”.

In the coming weeks, once Happ recovers, he should see his strikeouts and hits allowed increase while his walk rate will decrease.

Career vs. Braves: 32.1 IP, 2.23 ERA (5.76 FIP), 24 H, 5 HR, 12 BB, 18 K

  • Danys Baez, RH RP

Three out of every four pitches Baez has thrown so far has been a fastball. Major League hitters picked up on it during his sixth appearance of the season against the Washington Nationals. Adam Dunn launched a home run to right-center field and Ryan Zimmerman lined another round-tripper to right field back on Tax Day. Baez throws hard — averaging 95 MPH on his fastballs so far — but it’s straight and he doesn’t have much else in his arsenal, just a seldom-used curve ball.

With J.C. Romero due back within the week, Baez’s role in the bullpen will be reduced to the sixth and seventh innings. With the lack of deception, though, it doesn’t matter which innings he pitches — Major League hitters are going to crush that straight fastball all day.

Career vs. Braves: 6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA (3.33 FIP), 5 H, 0 HR, 1 BB, 2 K

Stocks to Watch

  • Placido Polanco, 2B

Polanco will certainly regress given that his BABIP is 60 points higher than his career average and his HR/FB percentage is double his career rate. However, he may compile his best offensive season to date at the age of 34. He has been hitting more line drives and more ground balls than normal, which may help offset some of that regression.

  • Nelson Figueroa, RH SP

Figgy has pitched well since he left the New York Mets. He has allowed only two runs in seven and one-third innings, but he has walked five. However, Figueroa may find himself in the rotation given the struggles of Jamie Moyer and Kyle Kendrick as well as the sore left forearm of J.A. Happ. As the de facto swingman, Figueroa — chronically underrated — may help determine quite a large portion of the Phillies’ success early in the season.

  • Raul Ibanez, LF

Ibanez had an awful spring training and an awful start to the 2010 season. He will certainly regress upwards, but it is hard to tell how much of his struggles are due to bad luck (.212 BABIP) and how much is due to age — he’ll be 38 in June. The good news is that even while his bat has been ice cold, he has still been drawing walks.

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2 comments

  1. B

    April 20, 2010 01:40 AM

    I don’t think Baez’s fastball is straighs, seems to look like it has good movement on it from the pfx data. His two problems I’ve noticed are:

    1- You mentioned this already, but he’s rarely thrown any off-speed pitches.

    2- He can’t locate anything, he’s not getting ahead of batters.

    Put these two things together and no matter how hard you throw, or how much movement you have on your fastball you’re going to get hit and most likely hit hard.

    Scary thing about Baez is in his career he’s thrown his fastball 76.6% of the time. So it’s not like we should expect much change in the future. You’d think a guy who’s been in the big leagues for 8 years would have at least developed some sort of strike out pitch.

  2. Bradley

    April 25, 2010 01:11 PM

    why sell j.a happ? hes been successful, no matter how much “luck” he has had. i guess what he did last year, going 12-4 posting a sub-3.00 era goes for nothing? he is only 27 years old, and he is very deceptive with his delivery. if he can work on his slider, i think he can be a very good pitcher in a left-handed batting nl east. i would buy him for a few more years to see how he progresses.
    i do think kendrick has to be sold, he cant strike anyone out and cannot get any left-hander out (again, a left-handed batting nl-east). we have waited too long for this guy, he is just not going to work out in the majors

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