Madison Bumgarner (SP-SFG) I have been fascinated for months by the numbers Bumgarner has posted in 2011. He threw one of his best games of the season on Wednesday against the Cubs. He shutout them out for 8 innings while striking out 11, walking 2 and allowing only two hits. He improved his record to 9-13 and lowered his ERA to 3.43. Because of his record, Bumgarner has been one of the best-kept stories this season. His 3.17 xFIP is the tenth best in baseball, and he has a WHIP of 1.24. A .325 BABIP has hurt his ERA this season, and he has improved his strikeout rate to 8.15 K/9 while keeping his walk rate at 2.13 BB/9. The increase in his slider velocity to 87.1 mph has made the pitch more successful and it is his go to out pitch using it over 30 percent of the time. Owners in keeper leagues should be excited they can keep the young left-hander, and I would venture an early guess that he is the most successful Giants pitcher next season and one of the top 5 in baseball.
Craig Kimbrel (RP-ATL) Kimbrel lowered his ERA to 1.64 and recorded his forty-first save of the season, which set a new record for most saves by a rookie. Kimbrel pitched a 1-2-3 inning while striking out 2 continuing his phenomenal rookie season. He came into Wednesday leading all relievers in WAR (3.2), and his save on Wednesday allowed him take the major league lead. Furthermore, his 1.88 xFIP, and his strikeout rate of 14.67 also lead all qualified relievers. Kimbrel's average fastball has actually gained velocity this year increasing from 95.4 mph to 96 mph, and he has a swinging strike rate of 16.1 percent this season. Quite possibly the most impressive statistics for Kimbrel has been his 3.43 BB/9, which is his lowest walk rate since single-A. An honorable mention is his 2 percent HR/FB ratio (tied for third best among qualified relievers).
Jay Bruce (RF-CIN) Bruce went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout against the Phillies last night. He has struggled over the last eight games going 4-for-30 with a home run, 4 walks and 12 strikeouts. He does have a career high 28 home runs and 8 stolen bases, but his slash line has dropped to .261/.342/.491 for the season. Despite hitting .238 during August, the month has been his second best in terms of home runs (7) and wRC+ (116). His average has taken a hit during August because of a .267 BABIP. Bruce's overall season is very similar to 2010, except for the 34 point drop in his BABIP, which has caused his batting average to drop 20 points. Furthermore, Bruce has hit more home runs this season because of an increase in his HR/FB ratio from 15.3 to 17 percent and a slight increase in his fly ball rate from 43.7 to 45.2 percent. He should finish the season with more than 32 home runs.
JA Happ (SP-HOU) Happ improved his record to 5-1 after shutting out the Pirates for 7 innings last night, and he lowered his ERA to 5.71. He recorded 6 strikeouts, walked 1 and allowed 7 hits in those 7 innings of work. Since being recalled from triple-A on August 26, Happ has thrown 2 quality starts in a row and has allowed only 1 earned run over that span. Looking at his xFIP, Happ's 2011 season is comparable to his major league career rate of 4.55. He has been victimized by an outstandingly low strand rate (62.7 percent), and his BABIP of .310 is 30 points higher than his career rate. However, his line drive rate of 23.3 percent indicates that number is appropriate this season. That is that Happ cannot be a successful fantasy starter until he lowers his walk rate. He has a 4.62 BB/9 this season, an improvement over 2010's 4.82 BB/9, but he has a career rate of 3.99 BB/9. Sure Happ isn't as bad as his 2011 ERA suggests, but when combined with his 2010 ERA, his 4.79 ERA is right on line with his xFIP.
Albert Pujols (1B-STL) Pujols went 1-for-5 with a home run against the Brewers last night. The home run was his thirty-second of the season, and he has a slash line of .286/.360/.536 in 2011. Overall, August has been one of his better months of the season. His 8 home runs is tied for the most he has hit in a month this season, and he has a wRC+ of 151. What has been encouraging is that he has started to take more walks of late, increasing his walk rate to 13.6 percent during the month. His overall rate of 9.9 percent is a career low, and he has a career high chase rate of 29.7 percent this season. A combination of this free agent talk and his wrist injury has contributed to his subpar season. His .261 BABIP should return to normal next season. His line drive rate is virtually the same as 2010, and his career high ground ball rate is only 4 percent higher than his career rate. Pujols is still one of the fantasy greats, and he is still on pace for 38 home runs in what has been considered his worst season.
There are over 100 player news blurbs posted in the member area each morning. Members can read the rest of today's player news by clicking here
. Not a member? Join today
You can follow me on twitter @enehsy.