Knowledge Drop April 22, 2018 – John Stearns edition*
While we continue to build and improve our website, we are giving away the Big Mac Knowledge Drop and membership for April AND May, as we gear up for Fantasy football season as well. Please help us spread the word about Big Mac.
*Baseball is not just about greatness and Hall-of-Fame caliber careers; it’s more often about sentimentality. Big Mac grew up in the 1970s and John Stearns was one of his first baseball heroes. He donned #12 for nine seasons and earned 19.67 WAR in his career. (For all you Mets fans, that’s .09 more career WAR and Gregg Jefferies. Yeah. Sorry.) Besides some of the best number twelves were great but not on the Mets. I’m looking at you Roberto Alomar and Jeff Kent.
TOP KNOWLEDGE – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW NOW
Kenta Maeda Improvement … For those in multiple leagues, ever notice how the same names tend to stay on the board in each draft longer than you thought they should, so you snag those names for most of your teams. For me, three of those players were Zack Cozart, Brandon Belt, and Kenta Maeda.
Maeda was 13-6 with a 4.22 ERA for the Dodgers last year. He whiffed a batter per inning and only walked 2.3 hitters per nine innings, essentially a 4:1 K:BB ratio. Maeda wasn’t as good as his rookie season (16-11, 3.48 ERA roughly the same K/BB numbers). He surrendered more fly balls and, of course, home runs so he had trouble lasting in many of his starts.
But, let’s face it, in today’s game a 4.22 ERA is in play in Fantasy. The only reason I even look at ERA numbers is to gauge a pitcher’s “range.” If Maeda had a 4.22 ERA, I figure, he can swing about 0.6 runs either way. In this case between 3.60 and 4.80. That’s where the skill stats come into play.
But Maeda’s profile is good strikeout pitcher, good control, throws about 92 mph but he misses bats. His 12.5 Swinging Strike rate was encouraging and improved over his rookie 2016 season.
That’s a pitcher I wanted on my teams this year.
Here are some of his early numbers, in visual form:
This is a fairly boring looking graph, but these small increases and decreases are very encouraging and have yielded great results so far this season. Maeda’s GB rate is better than ever, hitters are making less contact and are offering more at pitches out of the strike zone (o-swing%) than in previous seasons.
Oh, by the way, Maeda is 2-1 with a 3.77 ERA this season. But his xFIP is 2.07, partly because the BABIP against him is .513. So he stands to be even better. His 15 K/9 rate will surely fall a little, but he is missing bats, and batted balls will find more gloves. The 3.60 ERA floor we mentioned for Maeda might be too conservative. He’s fortunate to pitch in a very deep rotation, but don’t overlook Kenta Maeda. If you can strike a deal that included him right now, this might be the cheapest he’ll be all season.
NFL MATCHUPS WE’RE EXCITED ABOUT
The NFL schedule was released on Thursday, teasing all of us fans and Fantasy players. Big Mac contributor Chris McNamee outlines the non-divisional games that caught his eye and they are sure to have big Fantasy football implications:
By Chris McNamee
Big Mac Contributor
It might be baseball season, and my man crush on Aaron Judge may grow stronger by the day, but in my house it’s always football season. The NFL released its schedule this week, and if you’re like me it feels like an early Christmas present.
You don’t need me to tell you Steelers-Ravens, Cowboys-Giants or Chiefs-Raiders is must-see TV. Therefore, we’ll highlight some non-divisional matchups that are worth circling on your calendar.
FALCONS AT EAGLES (Sept. 6, 8:20 pm NBC): A no brainer to kick-off the season. Matty Ice and Falcons visit the defending champions. Will Carson Wentz and his surgically repaired knee be ready to get back under center? Or will coach Doug Pederson be forced to turn to Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles? If it’s Foles, he can only enhance his trade value if he picks up where he left off against the Patriots. He might even keep Wentz on the bench. Stranger things have happened.
TEXANS AT PATRIOTS (Sept. 9, 1 pm, CBS): The Texans also have QB questions as rookie sensation DeShaun Watson recovers from a torn ACL. Watson opened eyes around the league with his performance against the Patriots last season, throwing for 301 yards and 2 TDs in a near upset of the mighty Patriots, losing 36-33. And if Tom Brady actually does retire, then this game takes on a whole new meaning.
VIKINGS AT RAMS (Sept. 27, 8:20 pm, FOX): So much for TNF games being boring. By Week 4 Minnesota GM Rick Spielman could basking in the glow of league-wide praise for signing Kirk Cousins to a guaranteed $84 M contract. Or Cousins could already be tagged as Neil O’Donnell 2.0 by an impatient SKOL fan base. Meanwhile, the Rams enter the season as the team to beat on paper with QB Jared Goff, sensational RB Todd Gurley and defensive lineman Aaron Donald joined by an embarrassingly talented group of offseason acquisitions that includes DT Ndamukong Suh, CBs Marcus Peters and Aquib Talib and WR Brandin Cooks. Winner could have a leg up in the race for the top seed in the NFC.
RAVENS AT TITANS (Oct. 14, 4:25, CBS): Baltimore was on the short end a 4-way tie at 9-7 for the AFC’s two wild card spots, staying home with the Chargers while the Titans and Bills went to the postseason. The Ravens window to get back to another Super Bowl with Joe Flacco gets smaller with each passing season, and winning at Tennessee could go a long toward getting Baltimore back in the playoffs. As for Tennessee, it will be interesting to see where franchise QB Marcus Mariota is by Week 6. Even though he took the Titans to the playoffs, a season of 18 total TDs and 15 INTs was not what the team envisioned when it drafted the dynamic playmaking Heisman winner from Oregon No. 2 overall in 2015. He still has another year left on his rookie deal, but this just might be a make or break season for Mariota.
PACKERS AT RAMS (Oct. 28, 4:25, FOX): This game could be an absolute points fest. Aaron Rodgers slinging it deep down the seam for Jimmy Graham. Todd Gurley answers by ripping off a long TD run. If Rogers plays in this one, it’ll be a good sign for Packers fans given their hero’s injury problems the last two seasons. For LA, winning this one could be another rung in its climb to reaching the top of the NFC and locking up home field throughout the playoffs. This game may come down to the last possession.
TOO MANY TO LIST. On paper this looks like an NFL fanatics dream. The week kicks off with Packers-Seahawks on TNF. Has there ever been a memorable prime-time game between these two? Hmmm … Sunday at 1 we get Cowboys-Falcons and Eagles-Saints. Sunday caps off with Steelers at Jaguars on SNF in a rematch of the AFC Divisional playoffs. If there was ever a reason to get Sunday ticket, this is the week.
EAGLES AT RAMS (Dec. 15, 8:20 NBC): If the defending champions plan on returning to the Super Bowl, having home field in the playoffs would be a big boost. Philly will like need to beat the Rams in Prime Time to do it. Oh by the way, it was in this game last year that Eagles QB Carson Wentz tore his ACL and the legend of Nick Foles was born. So there’s that. HONORABLE MENTION: Texans at Jets (Dec. 15, TBA) This is my homer pick. I think Josh McCown puts together the season of his life for my Jets, who will face Houston with serious playoff implications on the line.
Chris McNamee is the Deputy Sports Editor for Hearst Connecticut Media. He is a tortured Jets fan and a spoiled Yankees fan – everything in sports evens out.
RIDDLE ME THIS:
If you have a 7-minute hourglass and an 11-minute hourglass, how can you boil an egg in exactly 15 minutes?
None of you otherwise smart people correctly guessed the “bridge and torch” riddle. This one has its own Wikipedia page, so we’ll send you there for the answer: http://bit.ly/2F7JZ3z
DAD JOKE OF THE DAY:
Today, a girl said she recognized me from the Vegetarian Club.
But I never met herbivore.