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THT's Fantasy Archives
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Chicago White Sox
1. Tyler Flowers: If he can stay at catcher, an All-Star-level bat could be in the works. He combines good patience with the ability to hit for average and power. If he is moved to first base, which seems more and more likely, his bat may get lost in the crowd. He will be above average at best as a first baseman.
2. Dan Hudson: Hudson had a breakout campaign in 2009, but he is not a blue-chip, powerhouse pitcher. Nevertheless, he has the potential to be a No. 2 starter with his consistent low-90s fastball to go along with a strong repertoire of secondary offerings, highlighted by his potentially plus slider.
3. Brent Morel: If his bat development continues to go well, Chicago may have a very solid major league third baseman on its hands in Morel. I cannot envision his stolen base and home run numbers translating to higher levels, but he does have good speed and some power to supplement it. The key will be whether or not the rest of his offensive game takes the next step.
4. John Ely: Ely isn't an ace in training, but he isn't completely a smoke-and-mirrors guy either. He has a consistent low-90s fastball with good movement, supplemented by a plus change-up. He won't miss a lot of bats, but he will keep hitters off-balance, even in the majors.
5. Jared Mitchell: In my mind, Mitchell was not a first-round talent in the 2009 draft, but Chicago saw potential in him and selected him at No. 23 overall. Until he proves me wrong, I will be skeptical of his bat. He is way too raw for a college hitter, and his power and stolen base potential are not what they are cracked up to be. He is a first-round pick, though, so he has to be on the radar screen.
6. Jordan Danks: Defensively, Danks is quickly becoming a great center fielder. His bat is not where it needs to be, however. He has a little bit of power, some decent speed and a solid approach at the plate, but his swing still has holes that need to be ironed out, causing his batting average to suffer.
7. Dayan Viciedo: The hype surrounding Viciedo was ultimately unwarranted. He still could become a solid major leaguer, but he is not a star in waiting. His approach at the plate is too undisciplined, and his power/speed combination falls short of the initial scouting reports.
8. David Holmberg: Holmberg brings a great mix of pitches to the mound, including a curveball and change-up that have the makings of plus pitches. His fastball falls flat right now, but further velocity is expected as his frame fills out. He's the most intriguing pitching project in Chicago's system.
9. Josh Phegley: His bat speed is lacking and littered with holes, but Phegley has a nice line-drive swing. His defense isn't anything special, but he should stick behind the plate. If everything works out right, Phegley could be an average all-around major league catcher.
10. John Shelby: Shelby has a nice power/speed combination and some solid contact skills to back it up, but his stats don't back up his skill set. He's at the age where he needs to start picking it up, as his prime is quickly approaching. Overall, it's hard to know what to make of Shelby.
1. Jacob Turner: Sporting the most electric fastball of any high school pitcher in the 2009 draft class, Turner is a pure but exciting project. His curveball has the best chance of developing into his out pitch, but it has a long way to go. He is one of the more raw but talented players in minor league baseball.
2. Scott Sizemore: Perhaps the best second base prospect in baseball, Sizemore has the kind of power/speed combination that could make him an All-Star. The only downside to his stock is that he will be 25 years old by the start of the 2010 season.
3. Casey Crosby: Crosby came back beautifully from Tommy John surgery to post stellar Single-A stats. I'm holding back a bit on his stock until I see his mechanics stabilize and his powerful left arm perform against better competition, but he might be one of the game's best pitching prospects by this time next year.
4. Alex Avila: Avila rose from relative obscurity to post a solid Eastern League season. He was then promoted to the majors for a brief but head-turning stint that firmly placed him on the prospect map. I don't think he has All-Star ability, but we may be looking at Detroit's long-term answer at catcher.
5. Ryan Strieby: Strieby continues to clobber the ball at every minor league stop he makes. Detroit has played it safe and moved him up one steady level at a time, but the fact is that it's difficult to project his bat moving into the big leagues. I don't think he will hit for much of a batting average, but he could settle in as a legit 30-homer threat. Or he could become another in a long line of Quadruple-A first basemen. All you can do is invest cautiously and cross your fingers.
6. Andrew Oliver: Despite coming out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League, Oliver will get every opportunity to become a starter. On the downside, he is very raw for a player his age, and every bit of his game needs refinement. On the upside, he has a lively fastball and the makings of a plus slider.
7. Cody Satterwhite: While his command still needs refinement and his slider and change-up are still developing, Satterwhite has the superior fastball required to be a future closer.
8. Wilkin Ramirez: The tools are still there, but time is beginning to run out. Ramirez has the potential for plus power, and he has some deceptive, workable speed, but he has gaping holes in his swing. And his overly aggressive plate approach isn't doing him any favors. His defense is a liability as well. The odds are stacked against him at this point, but I'm not giving up yet.
9. Cale Iorg: Iorg's defense has Detroit excited, but his bat has been downright dreadful since he was drafted in 2007. It makes me wonder what I still see in this kid. Well, if he can eventually improve his patience and consistency at the plate, his bat has some pop in it—a rare commodity from a shortstop.
10. Casper Wells: Wells doesn't have much power projection left in his bat, he strikes out too much for his average pop, and his patience at the plate is still lacking. Yet, his prowess on defense will make sure that he gets a shot in the majors soon—as a fourth outfielder at least.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 6:00am
I've moved across the Atlantic, to a country where "hardball" connotes a five-day-long game with occasional breaks for tea. But that won't stop my rants from coming. Today's will be about fantasy values and pitching depth. Does it matter if a pitcher is an ace on his own team?
On a recent martially inclined fantasy baseball podcast, one of the round-table members argued that one reason why Clayton Kershaw would likely be more valuable than Jonathan Sanchez is that Kershaw is probably going to be the "ace" on his team, while Sanchez is at best behind Lincecum and Cain on the Giants. (By the way, their conversation was spurred by Troy Patterson's provoking article.) I'm not going to relitigate the Sanchez-versus-Kershaw debate, but rather just focus on whether a pitcher being an ace or not affects his value. This canard about the value of aces is actually repeated too often to ignore.
Of course aces are better pitchers than their mid-rotation counterparts. Johan Santana is better than Mike Pelfrey. That's why Santana is the ace of the Mets. Aces are often associated with some harder-to-quantify characteristics like "a big-game pitcher" and the ability to bring losing streaks to a halt. You can bring those attributes to the conversation if you want to argue whether Josh Beckett or Jon Lester is the ace of the Red Sox, if you like. Ace status is updated infrequently: In March, a pitcher is chosen as an ace based on his expected performance for the season, and he usually remains the ace, barring injury or a trade, unless performance issues become extreme (e.g. Chad Billingsley and Kershaw this year).
In any case, the important thing is to not confuse the causational flow: A pitcher's ability affects his qualifications to be a team's ace, not the other way around. In fantasy, you don't care whether the games are big or small or whether the pitcher's team previously lost its last five games (a losing streak) or just lost five out of its last six (not necessarily a losing streak).
If pressed, I'm sure some of those who argue the "ace theory" will come up with some scanty points to support their case. I'm not going to use any data to dispel these points, in part because data on a pitcher's spot in his rotation is hard to find. A bunch of points that really go either way are:
In any case, these are likely extremely marginal issues. Was Dan Haren any more or less valuable to your fantasy team when Brandon Webb was injured? Was Cole Hamels any better or worse because the Phillies acquired Cliff Lee? Should you care if Roy Halladay ends up on your keeper's team (assuming he stays in the rotation)? I don't think so.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 6:30am
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