Taking one for your team

Seeing how I am a Royals fan, you’d think I’d jump on every player’s bandwagon. I made it clear in my rankings and my prior comments that I wasn’t a big advocate of Brian Bannister, despite his elite start as of date. However, a recent article that has been circulating and brought to the attention of many fantasy writers has changed a lot of minds on why Bannister has been so successful in his pitching methods. His BABIP was irregularly low, which usually projects that the following year will see a spike in the number of balls that fall, and therefore his ERA will climb as well. A clip from what he said:

“I don’t claim to be able to beat the .300 (H/BIP) average year in and year out at the Major League level. However, I also don’t feel that every pitcher is hopelessly bound to that .300 number for his career if he takes some steps to improve his odds — which is what pitching is all about.”

Apparently Bannister is a meticulous study of film, and Royals first-base coach Rusty Kuntz compared him to Pirates’ closer Matt Capps in that they are simply smart pitchers who induce weak swings and such. Surely Bannister won’t keep up the pace he’s at, but if last year truly wasn’t a fluke, the Royals may actually have three frontline guys who can turn heads. Speaking of, for all the Zack Greinke owners worrying about the strikeouts despite an electric start, they came Saturday despite struggling as he wore down.

One thing that’s been well documented about the Oakland A’s and the “Moneyball” strategy has been Billy Beane’s tendency to find guys who have the ability to draw walks and reach base as much as possible. Perhaps no one was more epitimized in this stereotype better than Kevin Youkalis, and now Daric Barton could be a similar mold of high .OBP. Going hand in hand in this is having a good eye, and the ability to take a lot of pitches.

NP Chart

An interesting assortment of names up here. Would you be surprised if say, six of these guys didn’t hit .300? Obviously McClouth is going to cool down some, but he has tools to be useful in other categories. There’s, not surprisingly, two A’s at three and four. One could argue that Ortiz’s average, again, can be explained by perhaps physical problems and not any downtick in his eye.

Regardless, this list is no fluke. Care to check out 2007’s leaders? How about a who’s who in the top 10? Grady Sizemore, Bobby Abreu, Brian Roberts, Jimmy Rollins, David Wright and Jose Reyes are in there. It’s very reflective of a good batting eye and a selective swing as a result. We’ll revisit this list in about a month. It might not be surprising to see that some of the top performers from fantasy are heading this list.

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