Dalton Del Don

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Dalton Del Don is a writer for Roto Arcade, covering football, baseball and basketball. He’s been playing fantasy sports since before it became “cool” and won’t hide his love of the S.F. Giants and 49ers. He also pays far too much attention to pop culture for his own good.

  • Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Andrew Cashner, Homer Bailey and a look around the league

    Andrew Cashner is dealing (USAT)

    Despite averaging 94.5 mph with his fastball while posting a 3.09 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, Andrew Cashner recorded just 128 strikeouts over 175.0 innings last season after finally becoming a full-time starter. The K rate improved after the All-Star break, when he produced a 2.14 ERA and 0.95 WHIP with a 61:19 K:BB ratio over 75.2 innings. The hope was that his impressive stuff would lead to more missed bats, and if Cashner’s first three starts are any indication, it’s going to come to fruition in 2014. He’s allowed just three runs over 21.0 innings, fanning 22 batters over that span. Cashner’s last outing was especially dominant, as he tossed a shutout against the Tigers, striking out 11 and yielding one lone hit (a single). Ironically, his SwStr% (7.1) is easily a career low, while his K% (27.5) is a career high. As any pitcher with a 1.29 ERA, Cashner has experienced some good fortune in the early going, as his .196 BABIP is especially crazy considering he also has a 2.50 GB/FB ratio. But all those groundballs should lead to few home runs allowed, and he also hasn’t given up many line drives (16.0%). PETCO Park has increased strikeouts by nine percent over the past three years, which is the most in baseball, so Cashner has that going for him as well. Part of the reason the Cubs traded him was because they didn’t think Cashner could ever be a 200-inning workhorse, but assuming he can stay healthy, he has all the makings of being a top-15 fantasy starter

    Here’s a pretty funny prank played on Jeff Francoeur.

    Jose Abreu literally destroyed a baseball.

    Here’s David Ortiz setting the record for the slowest home run trot of all time.

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Andrew Cashner, Homer Bailey and a look around the league
  • Giancarlo Stanton could lead the league in homers (USAT)

    Giancarlo Stanton is coming off a down year in which he batted just .249 and has never reached 90 RBI or scored 80 runs in a season. A career .267 hitter who doesn’t steal bases and has missed 85 games over the past two years, it was easy to be skeptical about making Stanton an early fantasy pick in 2014, especially with him once again slated to hit in what projected to be one of the worst offenses in baseball (not to mention in a park that has suppressed homers by 31 percent since its inception two seasons ago, making it by far the stingiest in all of baseball). Of course, there’s also a lot to like about Stanton, who’s one season removed from hitting 37 homers over just 123 games as a 22 year old. He’s one of the 10 youngest players ever to reach 100 career home runs, and even during 2013’s disappointing season, the average true distance of his 24 homers (413.8 feet) was the third longest in baseball (Mike Trout finished first at 419.6 feet). Stanton also crushed this baseball 484 feet earlier this week, so he has the type of power that no stadium can hold back. Moreover, while the Marlins early hitting is likely to regress some, they are clearly going to be a much improved lineup compared to last year, when they finished scoring by far the fewest runs in MLB (they currently rank fourth). In fact, Stanton had more RBI through six games this season than he did all of April last year. It’s crazy to come to any conclusions this early, but Stanton’s K% is way down (16.7 compared to his career 28.4), and K rate stabilizes quickly (usually around just 60 plate appearances), so maybe there’s something to this. Stanton is 24 years old and a truly monstrous season could be in store.

    Here’s a college player hitting a walk-off home run while getting intentionally walked.

    Here’s an interesting column talking about Yasiel Puig.

    This fan’s catch using a popcorn bucket was pretty sick.

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Hamilton and a look around the league
  • Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Clayton Kershaw, closers and a look around the league

    Clayton Kershaw had never spent a day on the DL before now (USAT)

    After staying up to watch the first game of the season played in Australia, I made this tweet, wondering why no one was talking about Clayton Kershaw topping out at 88 mph. He was making an earlier than usual first start of the year, so maybe he wasn’t quite ready thanks to a truncated spring, or it could just be that the radar gun was off. Sticking to my plan to draft starting pitchers early this year, I decided to brush it off (after all, he produced a silly 17.7 SwStr% during that outing despite the decreased FB velocity, as his slider and curve looked as filthy as ever) and once again took Kershaw in a big money NFBC league a few days later, only to have the news of his back injury break about an hour after I did so. At first, the issue seemed minor, but it’s become clear Kershaw is missing all of April in something of a best-case scenario, which isn’t ideal as someone who owns him in four of my five fantasy leagues. Considering this is the same teres muscle that will sideline Jurickson Profar 10-12 weeks, and Kershaw is a pitcher (although he hasn’t torn his like Profar did, supposedly), I’m not overly optimistic, but then again, I can’t really see getting equal value in a trade at this point either. Kershaw owners likely just have to keep their fingers crossed and hope for a healthy version for the final five months of the year.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Clayton Kershaw, closers and a look around the league
  • Mostly MLB Notes: American League Season Preview

    Jacoby Ellsbury is one of many new faces in New York (USAT)

    AL East

    1. Tampa Bay Rays
    2. Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)
    3. New York Yankees (Wild Card)
    4. Baltimore Orioles
    5. Toronto Blue Jays

    Comments/Predictions: Tampa Bay enters once again with a decent lineup that projects to play very good defense and a starting rotation that should be dominant. The extent in which Wil Myers (and to a lesser degree Desmond Jennings) breaks out and whether Evan Longoria can stay healthy will go a long way toward how far this team goes. This could easily be the year when the Rays win the World Series…Alex Cobb emerges as the staff ace, finishing with more fantasy value than David Price and Matt MooreBen Zobrist remains highly valuable to the Rays but doesn’t live up to his ADP in fantasy leagues…Evan Longoria doesn’t finish as a top-five fantasy third baseman, but Chris Archer finishes as a top-35 fantasy starter.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    I wouldn’t separate the top three teams here by more than a game apiece. It’s tough to respond after playing deep into October the previous year, as starting pitchers not only can throw up to 30 more innings, the team also gets one fewer month to rest during the offseason. This division is once again going to be a battle…Grady Sizemore begins the year attempting to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, but Jackie Bradley ends the year with more fantasy value...Clay Buchholz stays relatively healthy but sees his ERA double from last season, while fantasy owners battle between Edward Mujica and Junichi Tazawa on free agent wires when Koji Uehara spends time on the DL…Xander Bogaerts has an OK rookie campaign before fully breaking out in 2015, while Dustin Pedroia ends 2014 as the most valuable fantasy second baseman.

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: American League Season Preview
  • Mostly MLB Notes: A National League Season Preview

    Bryce Harper is an MVP threat (USAT)

    NL EAST

    1. Washington Nationals
    2. Atlanta Braves (Wild Card)
    3. New York Mets
    4. Philadelphia Phillies
    5. Miami Marlins

    Comments/Predictions: The Nationals entered as one of the favorites to win the World Series last season but failed to make the playoffs despite the extra wild card spot. But this is still a loaded roster, and Washington projects to have by far the easiest schedule in baseball this year...Stephen Strasburg is 25 years old with a career 2.96 ERA and 1.07 WHIP with a 504:123 K:BB ratio over 434.1 innings during his career. His career SwStr% is 11.1 (Clayton Kershaw’s is 10.6). Hopefully the removal of bone chips from his elbow during the offseason finally has Strasburg at 100%, something he wasn’t in 2013. I think he’s worthy of a top-15 pick…My love for Bryce Harper can be found here, and I rank him as a top-five pick right now and as my choice to win the National League MVP.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    No team has been hurt more by injuries than the Braves in spring training, as they lost both Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery, while Mike Minor remains sidelined with an elbow injury. It’s enough to make them underdogs in their division, but Atlanta should be in wild card contention throughout 2014 despite the major losses…Ervin Santana is a top-40 fantasy starter thanks to joining Atlanta, while Alex Wood isn’t too far behind…Chris Johnson hits better than .300 again and a move to the cleanup spot improves his counting stats…2014 will mark the final time Dan Uggla plays professional baseball…Freddie Freeman wins the NL batting title, while Andrelton Simmons is one of the five most valuable players in the Senior Circuit. In fantasy terms, Simmons finishes as a top-10 shortstop, ahead of Starlin Castro.

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: A National League Season Preview
  • Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Hanley Ramirez, Bryce Harper and a look around the league

    Hanley Ramirez still has a ton of upside (USAT)

    Hanley Ramirez is a tough player to gauge, as the former top fantasy player has missed an average of 50.3 games over the past three seasons (and he missed 20 the year before that). It wasn’t just injuries, as Ramirez’s performance slipped as well. During his first five years in the league (from 2006-2010), he recorded a .906 OPS, which was the 18th best in all of baseball (only Chase Utley ranked higher among all middle infielders over this span, and the second best mark by a SS was Troy Tulowitzki, who ranked No. 43). However, over the next two years (when he inexplicably started hitting a lot more groundballs than fly balls, something he stopped doing last year), Ramirez’s .742 OPS ranked just eighth among shortstops, tied with Erick Aybar and behind Jhonny Peralta.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    Then, Ramirez went crazy last season, posting a .345/.402/.638 line, although he missed half the year. If you prorated his numbers over a full season, you’d get this: .345-117-38-107-19. I generally think position scarcity should be ignored, but it certainly doesn’t hurt if that type of production comes from your shortstop. So we are dealing with a player who’s been both injury prone and shown massive fluctuations in performance when on the field of late, so he’s clearly a high upside/high risk pick early in drafts. I currently have him as my No. 7 ranked player, so I’m willing to take the gamble. Ramirez is still just 30 years old and since joining the Dodgers, he’s batted .312 with 30 homers, 92 runs scored, 101 RBI and 17 steals over 150 games.

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: Talking Hanley Ramirez, Bryce Harper and a look around the league
  • Mostly MLB Notes: Talking N.L. LABR and Billy Hamilton

    Billy Hamilton has been a polarizing fantasy player (USAT)

    Let’s first get the obvious out of the way, and that’s I’m aware no one wants to hear about my own fantasy team. But after just competing in N.L. LABR – the industry’s longest running fantasy league and one of the two most prominent (Tout Wars being the other) – I do think there’s some merit discussing what happened. But I’ll try to make this as general as possible.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    It’s important to understand the format, as LABR is a 12-team, N.L.-only format with rosters of: C,C,1B,2B,3B,SS,MI,CI,OF,OF,OF,OF,OF,UTIL and nine P slots. This is about as deep as it gets. Anyone who’s never played in an “only” league like this is sure to examine rosters and be shocked by some of the holes (every fourth outfielder and relevant middle reliever is gone by the end of the reserve rounds). The prices in this type of format have nothing to do with the prices in mixed leagues – they might as well be different sports altogether. Here are the full

    Read More »from Mostly MLB Notes: Talking N.L. LABR and Billy Hamilton
  • Mostly NBA Notes: Talking Victor Oladipo, Anthony Davis and a look around the league

    The rookie is picking it up (USAT)

    Over the last three games, Victor Oladipo has averaged 22.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 7.0 assists, 2.7 steals and 2.0 3pt. He’s also shooting an improved 44.6 percent from the floor while making all 11 of his free-throw attempts and seeing at least 35:00 mpg over that span, as the rookie’s role continues to grow in Orlando’s offense. I was recently offered Kawhi Leonard for him in a keeper league, and while the latter has seemingly had a disappointing year, not breaking out as many expected, he’s still been the No. 36 ranked fantasy player (and also had the cheaper contract in this case). But ultimately, I declined (it also should be noted this is an 8-cat league, which helps Oladipo), and I’m hoping this latest stretch is a sign of big things to come from the rookie. It was a double OT game against a Knicks team that ranks 27th in defensive efficiency, but Friday’s performance in which Oladipo scored 30 points, grabbed nine boards and handed out 14 assists revealed some tantalizing upside. He sure seems to be "getting it" of late.

    Sticking with Orlando, Tobias Harris’ slow start to the season looks like a thing of the past, as he has ranked as the No. 32 fantasy player over the past two weeks and is now locked in as the Magic’s starting power forward with Glen Davis gone. And in case you missed it, check out this Harris game-winning dunk basically at the buzzer. The Magic have lost a franchise tying record 16 straight games on the road, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t producing plenty of fantasy value, as Nikola Vucevic has also been a top-40 fantasy player this season (not to mention Arron Afflalo has been a top-65 one as well). Looking at a possible top-3 pick in this year’s draft, Orlando should enter 2014/15 with an interesting nucleus (although buying out Davis’ contract might actually hurt the team’s chances of getting a top-3 pick, it does help in the sense it will give the younger guys more experience down the stretch).

    Read More »from Mostly NBA Notes: Talking Victor Oladipo, Anthony Davis and a look around the league
  • Pressing Questions: The Oakland A’s

    Sonny Gray is a budding ace (USAT)

    After not making the playoffs for five years, the A’s have won their division each of the past two seasons, which has been especially impressive considering both the Rangers and Angels have been among the favorites to win the World Series over that span. It hasn’t exactly been a fluke either, as Oakland has produced a +233 run differential during that stretch, which was the third-highest in MLB. Oakland’s payroll last year to open the season ($68,577,000) was the fifth lowest in major league baseball, which looks even crazier when compared to the Rangers ($127,197,575) and Angels ($142,165,250). Despite the continued discrepancy in payrolls, Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA still projects the A’s to win the American League West in 2014, although by an extremely close margin, as the system predicts 88 wins for the Athletics, 87 for the Angels, 84 for the Rangers and even 83 for the improving Mariners.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    During the offseason, Oakland lost Bartolo Colon through free agency but countered by signing Scott Kazmir to a two-year, $22 million deal. They were quite aggressive when it came to the reliever market, as after letting closer Grant Balfour leave, the A’s traded Jemile Weeks for Jim Johnson and Seth Smith for Luke Gregerson. They also signed Eric O’Flaherty to a two-year deal despite him not likely to be available until midway through 2014 coming off an elbow injury. “Moneyball” was all about market inefficiencies (OBP happened to be the main area at the time the book was written), and Billy Beane clearly believes short term deals with relief pitchers are an area to exploit these days, although that doesn’t exactly matter to fantasy players. Oakland also dealt for Craig Gentry, who’s fantastic defensively, which should help the fantasy owners of A’s pitchers. Oakland has also leaned heavily on platooning of late, as the Athletics were one of only two teams to be at least 10 games above .500 versus both right-handed and left-handed starters last year, with the only other being the World Series winning Red Sox.

    Onto the pressing questions:

    Read More »from Pressing Questions: The Oakland A’s
  • Pressing Questions: The San Francisco Giants

    Madison Bumgarner has emerged as SF's ace (USAT)

    After winning the World Series in two of the previous three seasons, the Giants finished 10 games under .500 and 16.0 games out of the N.L. West in 2013. A team built on pitching, San Francisco finished with the 21st worst ERA (4.00) despite AT&T Park once again playing as an extreme pitcher’s park (only PETCO suppressed runs more) with a defense that posted the sixth-best UZR in all of baseball. The Giants’ hitting wasn’t any better, as only the Marlins hit fewer home runs. San Francisco suffered some injuries but hardly enough to blame for its disappointing 2013, and the team brings back mostly the same roster in 2014.

    [Baseball 2014 from Yahoo! Fantasy Sports: Join a league today!]

    The Giants re-signed Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum and Ryan Vogelsong while also bringing in Tim Hudson and Mike Morse through free agency. Mercifully, Barry Zito’s contract also finally came to an end. It’s clear they are banking on bounce back campaigns from Matt Cain, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Lincecum to go along with a full season from Angel Pagan and further growth from Brandon Belt. Again, this is a team that has won two World Series over the past four years, so it’s not a stretch they return to contending in 2014, but playing in a division that’s led by arguably the World Series favorite as well as improving squads in San Diego and Arizona, a wild card berth looks like a best-case scenario.

    Onto the pressing questions:

    Read More »from Pressing Questions: The San Francisco Giants

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