MLB Real Talk (6/6/11)

Josh Willingham supports creepy beards.

Photo Credit: dbking

Awwww shit! MLB Real Talk is in full effect on this fine Monday morning with guest appearances from Josh Willingham, Charlie Blackmon, Nyjer Morgan, and Edinson Volquez. Holy hammocks! I’m hard with excitement!

For some reason, Josh Willingham is only owned in 32-percent of Yahoo! leagues despite having 10 HRs and 39 RBIs on the season. He’s been an under-the-radar power source for most of his career (ISO above .215 in three of previous five years) and is playing for the non-descript Athletics, but even Coliseum (yes, that’s we are supposed to call Oakland’s home park these days) can’t keep him down. Six of Willingham’s 10 HRs have come at home in that pitcher’s paradise, which is impressive. That said, it’s disconcerting that Willingham’s plate patience has “suck-ened” since his move to the AL. He owns a career-worst 9.3 BB% and his K% has skyrocketed (33.9-percent; 24.0 career). He’s struggled to make contact against American League pitchers as his Contact% has slipped to 75.3-percent. Yet while his plate patience peripherals are down, one cannot deny the power potential here. Injuries and inconsistencies always seem to keep Willingham down, but while he’s healthy and hitting, fantasy owners should be universally rostering him.

Edinson Volquez is back in the Reds rotation and will start tomorrow against the Cubs. I’ve famously been back-and-forth on Volquez all season, loving his potential but hating the results. I wouldn’t start him tomorrow, but pitching-starved owners in very deep leagues should make a speculative add just in case. In two starts in the minors, Volquez only struck just seven batters in 14.1 innings, but he “only” walked six dudes, which is actually a big improvement for him. His 6.71 BB/9 in the bigs this season is atrocious, but it’s worth nothing that he’s been throwing more first-pitch strikes (67.0 F-Strike%; 53.1 career) and is inducing weak contact (15.7 LD% and 55.0 GB%). Yes the HRs and high walk rate have killed him this year, but if he can get his BB/9 to settle around 4.0, he can be a very useful fantasy SP with all ‘dem strikeouts. For now, most owners can enter into “scout” mode with Volquez, but you’ll probably have to act fast if he has an eye-opening start since the upside is so great.

All Nyjer Morgan does is rake with the Brewers. He hit his first HR of the season yesterday and is hitting .356 with three triples in just 68 PAs. He’s hit the DL twice this season and admitted that his finger is still not 100%, but he’s a way better option for Milwaukee than Carlos Gomez. Owned in just 11-percent of Yahoo! leagues, we are talking about a player with elite SB potential. If you need steals, go out and add Morgan right now as it’s hard to see how Gomez can hold him back much longer.

Charlie “Marinara” Saponara wrote a nice analysis on Charlie Blackmon yesterday, making great points about his speed, improving power, and low strikeout rate. Couple that with the Dexter Fowler demotion rumors/abdomen issues, and you have yourself an interesting fantasy prospect. Now to be fair to Fowler, he’s been getting on base at a good clip (12.6 BB%), has scored 33 runs, and is playing above-average defense in CF. Unfortunately, he’s striking out a ton (31.4 K%) and his manager is losing his faith in Fowler. Not only has Fowler been dropped to the bottom portion of the order, but manager Jim Tracy has also voiced concerns over his offense. This abdominal injury news gives the Rockies the perfect out to send Fowler packing and promote Blackmon, so keep a close eye on what transpires over the next day or so as a Blackmon call-up would warrant a pickup in all 5OF leagues and deep mixed formats.


About Starbonell

Starbonell is the co-founder of Sons of Roto and one of the most insightful and colorful fantasy analysts in the game. Mixing intelligent and well-researched advice with an entertaining style of writing that is easy to digest, Starbonell is the king of info-tainment.