Ryan Braun – What’s going on with Ryan Braun? After posting a .386 OBP, .231 ISO and .320 BA in 2009, Braun’s numbers are down to a .325 OBP, .185 ISO and .273 BA in 2010. Delving deeper into the numbers, we see the main culprit for the BA and OBP drop is a .297 BABIP. In Braun’s two seasons where he posted strong OBPs (2007 and 2009), he benefited from high BABIP marks (.361 and .353, respectively). When his BA fell to .285 and his OBP dropped to just .335 in 2008, Braun’s BABIP was only .305. This is good news for Braun’s fantasy owners as it appears he’s simply getting unlucky this season which has resulted in a lower BA and OBP. However, the lack of power continues to be a concern. For the third straight season, Braun’s ISO has trended down from .310 in ’07 to .268 in ’08 to .231 in ’09 and now to a pedestrian .185 mark this season. At 26, he should be entering his power prime, but instead he’s regressing. Coincidently, Braun’s K% has dropped for three straight seasons while his Contact % has improved which indicates he may be trying to put more balls in play in exchange for fewer HRs. Braun’s lack of power is a situation worth monitoring as fantasy owners look toward next season’s draft or auction.
Ryan Ludwick – The Padres acquired Ryan Ludwick in a three-team trade with the Cardinals and Indians on Saturday. Ludwick will likely hit behind Adrian Gonzalez in San Diego’s lineup. For the season, Ludwick has 11 HRs, a .203 ISO and a .484 SLG%. He hit a career-high 37 HRs in 2008 to go along with a .591 SLG% and .996 OPS but hasn’t been close to that level of performance in the past season and a half. He posted a .775 OPS in ’09 and has an .825 mark this season while averaging just 1 HR every 23 ABs. The move to pitcher-friendly Petco certainly doesn’t help Ludwick’s power numbers so his fantasy value takes a decent hit. At 32, you basically know what you’re getting with Ludwick – 20-25 HRs, an .800 OPS and a .200 ISO.
Chad Billingsley – Make it 21 2/3 straight scoreless innings for Chad Billingsley. The big right hander tossed his third straight gem Saturday against the Giants, allowing a mere 2 Hits and 2 Walks while striking out 5 in 6 2/3 innings. After getting shelled by the Cardinals on July 16th, Billingsley has been unhittable during his past three outings. For the season, Billingsley’s K/9 has dropped to 7.53 (compared to 9.01 in ’08 and 8.21 in ’09) but he’s walking fewer batters (3.14 BB/9 compared to 3.94 in ’09) and allowing just 0.55 HR/9 (compared to 0.78 in ’09). I’m not too alarmed by the lower K/9, since the strikeouts have fallen in just his past few starts. As long as Billingsley continues limiting the free passes (2 Walks or fewer in 7 of his past 8 starts), he should continue to enjoy a successful 2010 campaign.
Ted Lilly – The Dodgers acquired Ted Lilly in a trade with the Cubs Saturday in hopes of bolstering their starting rotation. After posting an FIP of 3.65 in ’09, Lilly hasn’t been nearly as sharp in ’10 (4.50 FIP). For the season, Lilly’s K/9 has dropped (7.68 in ’09/6.85 in ’10), while his BB/9 has increased (1.83 in ’09/2.23 in ’10) along with his HR/9 (1.12 in ’09/1.46 in ’10). However, this regression shouldn’t be surprising. In 2009, Lilly had his best season, recording an FIP under 4.00 for the first time in his career. Otherwise, he owns a career FIP of 4.46 which is right in line with this season’s performance. Lilly certainly has value in most fantasy league formats, but don’t expect him to recapture his 2009 form any time soon.
Francisco Cordero – The Reds’ closer made things interesting yet again on Saturday as he allowed 2 base hits to bring the tying run to the plate in a 5-2 game against the Braves. However, Cordero was able to strike out Jason Heyward to pick up his 28th Save of the season. Entering yesterday’s game, Cordero had an awful 5.17 BB/9 and career-low 7.66 K/9. While he’s induced 5% more groundballs in 2010, he’s also witnessed his FIP jump from 3.10 in ’09 to 4.52 this season. He might not be in danger of losing his job, but if he continues to post a K/BB of 1.48, Cordero is bound to blow his fair share of Saves by season’s end.
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