There would be no Allan Trammell commemorative T-shirt that day. The Detroit icon – he and Whitaker had filled the middle of the infield for 18 years – was retiring at the end of the year, and the family had accordingly planned for a day at the ballpark. But no one had realized that the Blue Subaru would never reach the stadium. The new minivan hadn’t gotten its plates tacked on, and so the SUV would head on its last voyage before departing to “car heaven.” Breaking down in Detroit is a hazy proposition at best, and now no game to boot! This was the worst day ever…
My friend never did obtain that Allan Trammell T-shirt. Trammell, a great shortstop who will hopefully make the Hall of Fame in the near future, had the air let out of his career following a magnificent 1987 season in which he placed second for the MVP (and yes, he was robbed by George Bell). With single season career highs of .343 AVG, 109 R, 28 HR, and 105 RBI the slugger looked to be a tour de force for years to come. Sadly, the ankle and knee injuries he suffered sent him crashing down to earth and stopped his chance at 3000 hits. Whether the 1987 season was a fluke or his career arc was simply halted by injuries is uncertain, but as a fantasy baseball owner it really doesn’t matter.
Every year, there are a handful of players whose production miraculously evaporates in the summer heat. Sometimes they falter a bit sooner – Matt Joyce has slumped to a .222 AVG (albeit with 6 HR) since I called him out in late May. In 2010, Brennan Boesch and Miguel Olivo underwent fantastical disappearing acts after the All Star Break. They combined for 23 HR and a .333 AVG in the first half of the season, but faltered to only 5 HR and a .172 AVG after the All-Star break. (Ouch.) Who will be the next bat to wilt in August and September? Here are a few guesses on those planning on performing a Houdini.
1B Todd Helton – It’s great that he’s turned back the clock, but Helton is still a 37 year old player with a degenerative back condition. He suffered from back spasms as recently as late May, and I bet he’ll meet the disabled list sometime in August.
SP Jeremy Hellickson – Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the 23 year old lefthander, and I think he’ll be a rotation anchor in Tampa for years to come. But he’s not striking out enough batters, and he too has been lucky with balls dropping into play. It’s not like he won’t have value as a 4.00 ERA pitcher, but I can’t see him ending the season on a strong note. Move him if possible for a less lucky candidate (a la Zach Greinke).
OF Hunter Pence – He isn’t quite beating the cover off the ball at the moment, but I have a sinking feeling that it’s only going downhill from here. His BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .378, which means that his .316 AVG is bound to suffer. (BABIP generally is a ‘luck’ stat; that is, most players don’t have the ability to achieve high BABIPs from year to year, or from one month to another.) Furthermore, as per Stat Corner, Minute Maid Park helps boosts righty power, and Pence is no exception the rule. If Pence gets dealt to Pittsburgh or San Francisco, expect his stats across the board to absolutely plummet.
1B Casey Kotchman – This can’t be a surprise to anyone, but he has only been good for AVG this season, and he’s also been extremely lucky on balls hit in play (.369, sixth in the MLB). The stars have aligned so far, but when he hits .280 from now through September, he’ll be worthless to owners. Drop him even in shallow leagues.
Three To Mail Out
Q: Konerko/Beltre/Karstens for Votto/ARod/Storen…. Fair deal?
A: Well, ARod is currently holed up with that knee injury. In Roto, I’d much rather own Konerko and Beltre, but if you’re confident that Rodriguez will return to save the day for the playoffs, feel free to go with Votto. Call it blasphemy, but Konerko has put together a fantastic 1.5 seasons. Call it blasphemy, but there isn’t much difference between him and the 2010 NL MVP at this point. It’s not very fair in Roto, that’s for sure. (Although in a keeper league, Votto probably reigns king.)
Q: Hanley Ramirez for Jair Jurrgens?
A: I think this one is an easy no. Ramirez has been the best SS in the league since his return about a month ago, and that means that only Verlander and Halladay will do as a straight up return. You need to get more in this deal.
Which of these Minor League Players do you like? (Julio Teheran, Brett Lawrie, Collin Cowgill, Tyler Thornburg, Matthew Adams)
A: Let’s just give a line on each of them quickly.
Julio Teheran SP Braves – They’re moaning about a lack of a curve, but he’s been so successful in the minors. And he’s 20 years old. Really, really good, but there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect.
Brett Lawrie 2B/3B Jays – He won’t have a problem hitting in the majors. I could see 15 HR and 20 SB w/ AVG, plus the power could develop.
Collin Cowgill OF DBacks – Meh. He’s 25, and I’d need to see him succeed in the majors to believe it. Reno is a launching pad (See Allen, Brandon).
Tyler Thornburg SP Brewers – Meh. This isn’t much of a prospect. Old for his league.
Matthew Adams 1B Cardinals – The numbers look really good, but I’d like to see AAA success this season too. Maybe the Cards let Pujols go knowing he’ll be around?
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