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Thursday, August 27, 2009
In part one we looked at the prospects of Chris Young, Chris Davis, and Mat Gamel. Today, we've got new batch of players to dissect and discuss:
Kila Kaaihue is no secret. The 25-year-old MLB ready first baseman is once again proving he is ready for the major leagues, flashing his polished skills in Triple-A.
Although his production dropped off some this this year, Kila still showed his elite on-base ability. Given major league at bats, he could hit in the .280s with decent pop.
The player standing most in Kila's way for plate appearances is Mike Jacobs (cue laugh track). Owner of a .321 wOBA (the MLB average is .330), Jacobs should be left stranded along the side of the road on the next road trip, and the Royals should then pick up Kila and have him play. There is no reason for a 30 year old with limited upside to block a burgeoning prospect, especially on a team not fighting for a playoff spot.
Hopefully the Royals see it my way and give Kila enough at bats to make him fantasy-worthy. In AL-only leagues and 16+ team mixed leagues I would add him given the chance they do.
Hector Rondon is a 21-year-old pitcher in the Indians system who curiously seems to get better as the Indians promote him to higher levels. See for yourself:
Considering the current state of the Indians and their rotation consisting of stars like Jeremy Sowers and Fausto Carmona, they might want to give their prized Venezuelan a taste of the majors in September. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a complimentary change-up, Rondon can rack up the strikeouts while also, more importantly, allowing few free passes.
For those in AL-only leagues, Rondon may be worth a look if given starts against favorable opponents.
Aaron Poreda is a player I would stay away from. At the moment he is experiencing a troubling control problem, and while a spacious Petco may limit his home runs, it won't help him pitch in the strike zone. He is still only 22 years old and now in a great pitcher's park so I still like him long term.
The frustrating Brandon Morrow has not pitched that well since returning to Triple-A, so even if the Mariners bring him back up for the final month, I'd feel comfortable letting another team scoop him up.
When September comes around it might be another chance for talented Marlins prospect Cameron Maybin to get a shot in the majors. Maybin's got speed and some power, so those in NL-only leagues should take a look. There is a chance the Marlins do not call up him, I should warn.
Another player for NL-only leaguers, Jeff Clement, could see some playing time at first base and catcher on Ryan Doumit's off days. If your current catcher gets hurt or it is a really deep NL-only league and you are looking for anyone with playing time, Clement could make a good speculative add. He may return to his former top-prospect hitting ways, you never know.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:39am
With the 2009 season nearly in the books, it's time to analyze some of the more prominent prospects of the year and look into my crystal ball in order to see what 2010 has in store.
Matt Wieters - His lackluster first season has not swayed me. Wieters should be among the top tier catchers in the league next year. But his draft status may not reflect that. Take advantage in all fantasy formats. This kids all-around bat is too good to be held down for long.
Carlos Santana - Legit through and through, Santana's bat could catapult him to elite status in time. And the baseball world may get a glimpse of it in 2010. Despite his impressive Double-A season stat line, personally, I still want to see more contact ability and a bulkier batting average before I pay my man crush membership dues.
Brian Matusz - I severely underestimated Baltimore's front office. Back in May, I was the guy complaining about Matusz's High-A purgatory. A few months later, I'm witnessing a young man trying to hold his own against the big boys. While he is struggling with his pursuit, Matusz's potential is undeniable. He has truly become one of the elite pitching prospects in the game.
Justin Smoak - I have been among Smoak's most aggressive supporters, all the while keeping in mind that his power has not yet developed. And it still hasn't. I drooled over his Double-A dominance, but his game still has holes; most prominently that pesky and alarming lack of power, especially from a first baseman. Smoak will spend more time in Triple-A next year before he gets his full time big league opportunity.
Travis Snider - In 2009 Snider has shown that he can be a productive big league regular, and he has plenty more untapped potential beyond that. The 21-year-old will have an unchallenged slot in Toronto's lineup from the outset of 2010. Expect improved numbers across the board and a hit of the stardom that could follow.
Dexter Fowler - Fowler's season has been perplexing. His base stealing and plate discipline skills have come full bloom; but his strikeouts, home runs, and batting average are lagging way behind. This young man has a loaded tool box, and if you have the patience to wait it out, you might just end up with the league's best lead off hitter on your hands.
Michael Stanton - Many have Stanton ranked up there with Jason Heyward and Jesus Montero on top prospect lists. I just cannot justify placing Stanton that high... yet. Make no mistake, the power is there. Unfortunately, his contact skills and plate discipline are not. The big league sluggers that can't hit for a solid batting average make up for it by taking walks. Stanton has a long way to go before he's capable of playing at that level. 2010 will be another learning year.
Martin Perez - This kid has made a huge mark on the prospect world. His stuff is ace-worthy and his control is incredibly advanced for his age. He will spend 2010 in the minors, but we could be looking at the next Felix Hernandez-esque teenage phenom. If Perez hasn't yet been claimed in your keeper league, make his acquisition one of your top priorities this off-season.
Mike Moustakas - In 2008, with his stock slipping, Moustakas reeled off an unreal late season surge. 2009 has seen him struggle once again in the early going, but a late season charge isn't in the cards. He has a long way to go, but he does possess one of the quickest bats in the minor leagues, which will aid him on his quest for stardom.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 3:38am
Today I'd like to take a second-cut (in a second-best fashion) at John Burnson's nice article last week on near-sighted fantasy players. In his article, Burnson used two forecasting systems, Marcels, and Near-sighted Marcels (NSM, for short), to find some baseball players for next year that were likely to be overvalued by fantasy players that focused mainly on this year's performance. After reading his article, I was interested in answering some questions: How much worse off are near-sighted fantasy players? And is near-sightedness actually helpful in forecasting certain types of players?
As a reminder, Tom Tango's Marcels forecasting system is intentionally simple (so simple that Marcel the Monkey could do it). It takes a weighted average of a player's last three seasons and regresses it to the mean somewhat. All NSM does is put more weight on a player's more recent performance than Marcels does. Here's the percent weight that each system puts on past performance:
How much better or worse is NSM for fantasy? To answer this, I have to make a few adjustments, some of which are harmless while others are necessary but unfortunate. First, I need a metric to measure performance. I'm going to use mean absolute deviation (MAD) (aka mean absolute forecast error). Another possible metric is root mean squared error (RMSE), but that's for another day. I'm going to compare OPSs, since that's what John did in his article and also it saves me a few computational steps. Instead of forecasting 2010 like John did, I'm going to use 2006-2008 to forecast 2009 and compare the forecasts with the actual data we have so far (since I'm using OPS, which is a rate, it doesn't really matter that we haven't completed the season yet).
Next I have to "fantasize" the OPS forecasts and sample. Fantasizing the sample means dropping players that are projected to have too few plate appearances or are projected to perform too poorly to be fantasy relevant in most leagues. For today, I dropped any player with fewer than 200 projected plate appearances or less than a .700 OPS (for these projections I used Marcels only so that I would have a consistent sample across forecasting systems—nothing really changes if you use NSM for this step instead). Alas this introduces the possibility of sample selection bias. I also didn't include players without three years of usable data - just like John did.
Fantasizing the forecasts implies removing the means of each forecast. Player values are based on performance relative to league average—so that is how we should measure the value of our forecast systems (though in this case, the average is a sample average and not a league average). Lastly, I'm going to weight each player by the number of plate appearances he's actually had in 2009 (though this doesn't make a qualitative difference for any result).
So what's the MAD?
Indeed, NSM has a higher MAD and thus a worse performance than Marcels. But the difference is numerically negligible and not statistically significant. The difference is not statistically significant because, frankly, reweighting doesn't do all that much compared to the overall forecast errors that are inherent in either system. Both NSM and Marcels "regress to the mean" of league performance identically- a step which probably accounts for a large part of either system's success.
I will follow Burnson in calling the difference between the forecasts for each player as that player's "sentiment". A positive sentiment means NSM is more optimistic about the stat than is Marcels. One thing I wondered was how sentiment varied by age and whether there was any variation in forecast performance by age.
We can see a slight age based pattern here: NSM is sentimental about younger players whereas Marcels is more "nostalgic" about about older players. Interestingly enough, this sentimentality and nostalgia are somewhat appropriate. NSM does a little better at forecasting the younger players while Marcels does better with the older ages. In neither case is the difference statistically significant though.
What about variation by player performance? Is NSM more sentimental about better players? As we can see in the scatterplot with the fitted line, the answer is a qualified yes (again there's too much noise in the data for statistical significance). This isn't terribly surprising. For NSM to be sentimental about a player, that player must have done particularly well in 2008 relative to his 2007 and 2006 campaigns. Some of this is luck perhaps, but to the extent that any of the improved performance is persistent, this luck/skill will carry over into 2009 as well.
To conclude: Being sentimental can hurt you, but being a sentimental monkey (that is using Marcels with different weights) doesn't hurt you that much and actually may help you with young players. That said, sentimental monkeys are pretty smart since they regress to the mean. Tango made his monkey fairly simple-minded and that includes his 5/4/3 weighting system. In his explanation of Marcels, Tango does not explain where he came up with the particular weights. Probably, in order to keep it simple, it is just a rule of thumb. So it would be interesting to see what the optimal weighting system would be (i.e. the one that provided the best forecasting performance using a certain metric). It might not be all that far from NSM.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 3:36am
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