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Friday, January 22, 2010
Last night I participated in my second mock draft of the offseason (the first was for Rotoworld Magazine) with a good compilation of websites represented. Baseball Digest hosted the draft and Kevin Orris of Fantasy Pros 911, Ivar Anderson of Fantasy Gameday, and our own Troy Patterson were some of the participants. Having the experience of one mock draft behind me, I did find this one much easier to get through so mock drafts certainly are not a complete waste of time if you take them seriously and take something away from each one.
Below is my team listed, and clicking this link should show you the full results of the draft.
Round 1 — Chase Utley
Round 2 — Justin Upton
Round 3 — Felix Hernandez
Round 4 — Roy Halladay
Round 5 — Curtis Granderson
Round 6 — Chone Figgins
Round 7 — Josh Johnson
Round 8 — Joakim Soria
Round 9 — Geovany Soto
Round 10 — Jason Bartlett
Round 11 — Rafael Soriano
Round 12 — Jorge Cantu
Round 13 — Brett Anderson
Round 14 — Frank Francisco
Round 15 — Colby Rasmus
Round 16 — Mark DeRosa
Round 17 — Alcides Escobar
Round 18 — Julio Borbon
Round 19 — Dexter Fowler
Round 20 — James Loney
Round 21 — Matt Thornton
Round 22 — Jesus Flores
Round 23 — Justin Duchscherer
Round 7 — Having taken the dominant duo of King Felix and Halladay in round three and four I thought I would hold off on starting pitching for a little longer, but Josh Johnson was too tempting in the seventh round. I believe he is as good as any pitcher in the league but is misrepresented with his current ADP around 80. If I'm looking for a good SP value in the seventh/eight rounds of drafts Johnson is a good guy to target.
Round 9 — Even though this was a two catcher league, taking Soto here was a mistake. After the elite catchers go, there is a definite middle tier with guys like Russell Martin, Kurt Suzuki, Jorge Posada, and Miguel Montero that start getting taken around pick 100. There is not much to distinguish among these backstops, so I would rather take the catcher that falls through to the 11th/12th round than start the catcher run as I did in this draft with Soto in the ninth round.
Round 13 — The word is out on Brett Anderson and even though his ADP is currently listed as 236 at Mock Draft Central, I believe it will fall below 200 sooner than later. This kid had a tremendous rookie season at age 21 and his sophomore season should be similar, if not better. I had the pleasure of seeing him pitch in person and although I am not a professional scout by any means, for what it's worth I was thoroughly impressed. He mixes his full arsenal of offerings well and was fooling hitters all night, and drawing weak contact when they did connect. If you are looking for someone whose ADP will be higher come next offseason, Anderson is a great bet.
Round 19 — Fowler did not have the greatest of rookie seasons batting .266 with four home runs and 27 steals, though he did do a lot of things well. He has a good all-around fantasy package that makes him my current outfielder of choice in the later rounds of drafts. I got him at pick 220 and his current ADP is 260, so he is a good fourth/fifth outfielder to round out your outfield rotation.
That's all for now. Any more mock drafts I participate in I'll be sure to share my thoughts in a similar post.
Posted by Paul Singman at 5:08pm
I know that this isn't exactly big news in the short-term, but for dynasty or keeper leagues, it's worth noting. Oakland Athletics outfield prospect Grant Desme, rated No. 6 on our own Matt Hagen's Top Ten Oakland A's prospect list, has announced that he's leaving baseball to "pursue the priesthood", according to a report by Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
Desme, 23, was coming off of a huge 2009 season, split between Single-A and Single-A advanced, in which he hit .288 with 31 home runs, 68 extra-base hits, 40 steals and an overall "triple-slash" line of .288/.365/.568 in 552 plate appearances. He was regarded as the organization's best outfield prospect before the acquisition of Michael Taylor earlier in the offseason. He was expected to start the season in Double-A, but it now appears that his career as a baseball player is over.
Posted by Satchel Price at 1:37pm
Max Scherzer | Detroit | SP
2009 Final Stats: 9.2 K/9, 2.8 K/BB, 4.12 ERA
1. Mark Prior 2003: 2.13
2. Jake Peavy 2005: 2.22
3. Frank Tanana 1975: 2.55
4. Jake Peavy 2004: 2.87
5. Pedro Martinez 1996: 2.91
6. Dwight Gooden 1984: 3.01
7. Jim Maloney 1963: 3.16
8. Mark Prior 2005: 3.19
9. Max Scherzer 2009: 3.33
10. Tim Lincecum 2008: 3.33
Strikeouts have been typically higher in recent years, but it's still significant that only 30 times has an ERA qualifier of seasonal age 24 or less posted a K/9 rate of 9.0 or more, and Scherzer's 2009 was the 26th-best. Arguably much more important is that only eight pitchers had lower BB/9 rates than Scherzer among those 30. (see top 10 above)
So, Scherzer is a young pitcher, throws hard, posted a historically significant strikeout rate, and has a great pedigree going back to at least college, when he was regarded as one of the nation's top arms. Why would Arizona even consider trading this guy for Edwin Jackson, whose second-half performance looked remarkably similar to his performances before his “breakout” first-half in 2009? Well, we can be pretty sure it wasn't because he was reading The Hardball Times, Baseball Prospectus, and fangraphs.com (which he reportedly does). “Pitching for FIP” was already trendy for most pitchers before the term was popularized, since it involves striking people out, not walking batters, and keeping the ball down ... and every pitcher knows that K's are $$, and the other two elements any pitching coach reiterates anyway. The only real worry with Scherzer is his “sloppy” delivery, and the thinking by many that he'll end up in the bullpen.
For a one-year fantasy pick, Scherzer should be great. As mentioned last week with Valverde, the Tigers may have lost some defensive ability with their offseason moves, but they still won't be butchers. And the park difference for Scherzer should more-or-less make up for the league shift. Add another year of maturity, and there's little reason to expect anything other than a solid 200-IP season with good strikeout numbers and a very good ERA and WHIP. The Tigers don't have much offense, but with the White Sox apparently trying to collect the guys on the bottom of the WAR rankings, and KC still searching for its first clue, he should log his share of wins. We're not even slightly worried about his delivery. It may increase his chance of breaking down, but all pitchers are fragile, and some guys with suspect deliveries stay consistently healthy, while some guys with picture-perfect deliveries (a la Mark Prior) break down for no apparent reason. The difference in “chance to get injured” for one season is not something which would cause us to worry.
David Aardsma | Seattle | RP
2009 Final Stats: 10.1 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 2.52 ERA
The old saw is that pitching is all about confidence. And few things can inspire confidence in a pitcher like seeing a Grand Canyon-sized ballpark with an outfield patrolled by the likes of Franklin Gutierrez and Ichiro. And all but scrapping his breaking pitches and throwing heater after heater (87% of the time, per fangraphs.com, in 2009) worked wonders for him. A lofty flyball percentage of almost 54% kept things exciting, but most of those went to die in the gloves of the rangy outfielders in spacious Safeco.
It's not unheard-of for relievers to become dominant after overcoming control problems in their youth, a la Bobby Jenks and Matt Thorton of the White Sox, or another former Mariner, J.J. Putz. But, there are also plenty of examples of one-year wonders, pitchers like Derrick Turnbow, who posted a career-best 3.2 BB/9 at age 27 (he was over 4.5 BB/9 in the minors), only to revert to his wild ways and succumb to injury woes. Considering that Aardsma was this author's No. 1 “Miss” of the 2009 season, in terms of projecting players, as he was ridiculed with the monicker “BB-rdsma,” it would be easy to assume that he's going to be another Turnbow story. And the fact that he only allowed four HR in all those fly balls (4% of fly balls were homers) does suggest some correction in the stats. But we're not going to sell short the value of confidence here. And defense. And a big ballpark. Look for him to be a solid middle-of-the pack closer again in 2009.
David Price | Tampa Bay | SP
2009 Final Stats: 7.2 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.42 ERA
Similarly to Matt Wieters, there was probably no way David Price could have lived up to his hype. But how do we evaluate him now? The (primarily or wholly) formulaic forecasting done by various sources such as BIS (The Bill James Handbook, CHONE, Marcel, and GP) all seem to indicate that WYSIWYG—a pitcher with an ERA around 4.5 or just under (his xFIP was 4.49 in 2009). But the “Fans” polling at FG suggests a reasonably dramatic improvement in 2010, to an ERA of well under 4.0.
When I began writing this, I assumed that Price had seen tougher-than-average competition in 2009. But it turns out it was even tougher than I'd guessed. The first query I did on the BP “Pitcher Quality of Opposition” was with 120 IP minimum, and he's tops on that list, with an average opponent OPS of .776 in 2009. And there were 108 such pitchers in MLB, going all the way down to a .707 mark against. Also, his second half was far better than his first half, when he was—essentially—just getting his feet wet in the majors. In the second half, his batting line against was a very good .241/.296/.380. Not to jump to any conclusions, but that's a lot better batting line than fellow lefty and Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee sports for his career. And Lee's frequently been near the bottom of the AL Quality of opposition listings (during his AL seasons, of course).
The last two “linked” fangraphs.com stories about Mr. Price (August and September) talk about “missing groundballs” and “missing sliders,” but this is a guy who held his own in baseball's toughest division in his rookie season, and showed development over the year. His velocity on his fastball averaged almost 93 mph. For fantasy purposes, the quality of opposition won't get any easier, especially with some noted RH bats who hit lefties joining the division in Beltre, Cameron, and Atkins. Now, we were the first to roll our eyes at the over-hype status Price had, but we see him as a great candidate to “break out,” even with the adverse setting. He'll probably be better to own in a simulation-game context, one which adjusts for things like opposition strength, ballparks, etc. And we're not suggesting he'll be a No. 1 or even No. 2 fantasy starter for a team trying to compete in all 10 categories, but he could be a good No. 3, and in some leagues he won't be “priced” as such (no pun intended), due to his “disappointing” 2009.
Neftali Feliz | Texas | SP
2009 Final Stats: 11.3 K/9, 4.9 K/BB, 1.74 ERA
GP 2010 starts off about Feliz, “He is the greatest thing ever. No, really.” At the risk of falling into the same “trap” as people did with David Price a year ago, Feliz really has shown enough to be considered among the best pitchers in baseball already, and he'll be just 21 on opening day! Now, extrapolating “he's the best” to fantasy results is more problematic. He went backward in innings in 2009 missing some time with a minor injury and logging just 108 IP after 127 IP the year before. And don't expect the Rangers to take chances—if he adds 40 innings in 2010, it would be a shock; a total under 140 is more likely. And some more bullpen time is a possibility, though the organization will give him every opportunity to be a rotation anchor instead. Anyway, while he really is awesome (without cheapening the word), it's very possible that he won't be a pitcher to target in a 2010 fantasy draft. It will all depend on how others view him.
Billy Butler | Kansas City | 1B
2009 Final Stats: .301/.362/.492
Few things are more rewarding for an organization than seeing a highly regarded first-round pick round his game into shape and become a star. Many of the game's best hitters entered the draft out of high school, and were known to have a high likelihood of being middle-of-order hitters even at such a young age. Butler was one such player, and that he fell to 14th in the 2004 draft is a symptom of ever-present concerns over his defense. But hit he can, and he'll be just 24 in 2010. His second-half stats were particularly good, as he raked at a .314/.385/.540 clip.
The reports out of KC were that Butler was becoming a much better fielder this year at first base, but his +/- and UZR show a slight decline, though there wasn't much data before 2009. First base defense is very tricky to measure, so we're going to assume that the “lyin' eyes” reports are at least as valid in this case, especially since the sample size isn't huge nor does his defense rate out as being horrible (just below average at -7 runs/150). Whatever it is, he's entrenched at 1B, as the organization believes he's fine there and there really isn't anyone else (yes, we know that Kila Ka'aihue is rotting away in Triple-A like some leftovers from a great restaurant that Dayton Moore forgot he had in the fridge). If the Royals didn't have the idea that “upgrades” including Yunieski Betancourt, Scott Podsednick, Josh Fields, and Chris Getz were what they needed, it would be easier to get excited about Butler. But, playing in obscurity, he may come cheaply on draft day; just remember that he won't get the runs or RBI of a player on a better team, even if he hits .310 with 30 HR, which is distinctly possible for him.
Here is a 16-page preview of Graphical Player 2010. You can order the book from Acta Sports here.
Posted by Rob McQuown at 4:00am
Dan Uggla | Florida | 2B
2009 Final Stats: .243/.354/.459
Florida had dangled Uggla most of the winter, knowing that he would soon be too expensive for them, but they didn't get any takers and refused to trade him just to get rid of him. This was a wise decision, though it left them facing arbitration, which they escaped by signing him to a one-year, $7.8 million deal this last week. This doesn't make him a Marlin forever, or even for 2010, as Florida is expected to continue shopping him around—now, however, the other team at least knows how much it might hurt their payroll to take on the Sluggin' Ugg.
2009 was more ugh than slug for Uggie, at least in the first half, when his .768 OPS and .429 SLG were his worst half-season performances in his four-year career. He redeemed himself somewhat with an .867 OPS and .496 SLG in the second half, but some owners might have given up on him by then.
The resulting season was actually good for a 2B: his third straight season of 30+ HRs and around 90/90 in R and RBI. It ranked him third behind Chase Utley and Brandon Phillips among full-time NL 2B, though the $11 return in mixed leagues was likely far less than some owners paid. But forward-looking owners, particularly in keeper leagues, have to wonder if that first-half skid was a brief bad patch or signs of an impending collapse.
Uggla is a very streaky hitter; his OPS can fluctuate month-to-month by as much as 600 points, as it did between May and July in 2008, though 2009 was much steadier, with a mere 200-point shift from the first two months of the season and August. That's to be expected from a hitter whose contact rate has been at or below 74% in the past three years—2008 saw him plummet to a career-low 68%.
What has helped Uggla has been his improved plate discipline, evidenced by the rising walk rate you see in his mini-browser. That gives him extra value in OBP leagues, and could portend a similar improvement in his K%, which has stuck in the low 20s. If he did, that would undoubtedly mean cutting back on his all-or-nothing swing, which would diminish his calling-card power.
So take that BA tradeoff for the HRs it brings, and sit tight if Uggla looks uggly again early on in 2010. If you've owned him before, you know it's a rough ride, and patience is the watchword. Owners who have stuck with him have been rewarded with the roto values you see in the mini-browser.
In 2010, Uggla's fate may further be affected by the team he's with; there were rumbles of shifting him off 2B into the OF, and if he's traded to a new team, they could make the same move. His value is a lot less if he's not a MIF, so 2010 could see another sharp downward shift in his value as measured by position qualification.
Keep that sentiment in mind, too, since other owners in your league might have been turned off by his up-and-down 2009, and you could find some value in their reluctance, as long as you also remember the $14 GP projection. He might earn you a few more dollars, since a hot streak is as likely as a cold one for a guy like this, but he's not going to blow the roof off, either. Look for value and a slight rebound, but don't bust the budget on him, either.
Todd Helton | Colorado | 1B
2009 Final Stats: .325/.416/.489
Reports of Helton's demise were greatly exaggerated. After a 2008 in which he dropped below .400 in OBP for the first time since the last century and below .400 in SLG for the first time in his MLB career, people figured age had finally caught up with the 34-year-old. Yeah, right. In 2009, Helton answered those critics by rebounding nicely, pushing him above a .900 OPS and into 26th in the NL in roto value.
But for all that, he's not the power hitter he once was. His SLG was his third-lowest since his rookie year, and he hasn't been north of .500 in that department since 2005. That's because he no longer hits more than 40% fly balls, and doesn't turn more than 10% of them into home runs—those haven't happened since '06 and '05, respectively. His walk rate has trended downward, too, with 13.8% also his lowest rate since '99 (though how many free-swingers would kill for a "career low" like that?).
And of course, his back was healthy last season, something that bothered him all of 2008, if not before that. The mini-browser shows the effect that had on his hit and contact rates, both of which returned to career norms in 2009; he seems to be healthy again. Backs are troublesome things, especially with increasing age, so those problems could recur, and there's no way to predict that.
Otherwise, Helton's skill set is as solid as ever: a BB/K ratio consistently above 1.2 for the past six years (and a none-too-shabby 1.03 before that), a line-drive rate averaging around 25%, and a career contact rate of 88% (91% on pitches in the strike zone). Helton's due to slowly slip into the West over the next several years, but he's under contract to the Rockies through 2012, and it seems a crime to imagine him anywhere else.
He'll hopefully play in a Colorado jersey for as long as he wants to, and he should have a similarly open door on your fantasy team. Colorado's 2010 lineup should be as productive as the 2009 version, when it was the second-best in the NL, putting ducks on the pond for him to drive in. Depending on your league, his diminished power makes him better as a CIF than a starting 1B, but fewer guys in the league are a better bet to bolster your BA while still contributing in R and RBI.
His days as a top-25 roto producer are gone, as his GP projection indicates, so don't overbid on days gone by. Think of him as a municipal bond from Omaha: perhaps a bit boring because of the modest returns, but those returns are virtually guaranteed (barring acts of God), limiting your exposure, so long as you don't sink your whole budget into him.
Tommy Hanson | Atlanta | SP
2009 Final Stats: 8.2 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 2.89 ERA
Hanson's arrival was one of the most-anticipated debuts on the planet, and he didn't disappoint. His first outing—a six-ER, three-HR shelling at the hands of the Brewers—was his worst showing of the season, and he rebounded to win his next four starts, not giving up a run in three of them and holding his opponents to a .217 BA. Amazingly, despite his late June 7 debut, he ranked 25th in roto production among NL pitchers. The Age of Hanson has arrived.
So why the pessimistic GP projection? For one thing, the GP scoring system looks for performance and consistency at the major league level, and (in John Burnson's words) is "doubtful of distinguished performance from newcomers, and from players with only one MLB season. ... These players are often inadequately tested, and those who post impressive debuts often have luck to credit more than skills."
Really? From Hanson, rated Atlanta's top prospect by Baseball America, and in anyone's Top 25 at the start of 2009? Rob McQuown on the AL side says that he's heard Hanson called more valuable than Roy Halladay, and bound for a better career than Dave Stieb, one of the best pitchers of the 1980's. Well, don't believe the hype—or not yet, anyway.
For starters, you can look at his 3.94 xFIP, showing that he wasn't pitching nearly as well as his ERA indicates. Digging a little deeper, his 3.2 BB/9 is outside the acceptable range, while the .280 BABIP and 7% HR/FB indicate a fair amount of luck there. An 80 LOB% might be the best indicator of luck; starters with a rate this high tend to lose more than a run of ERA in the succeeding years.
Unlike Randy Wells and J.A. Happ, both of whom benefited from a fair dose of luck (and elevated LOB%) in 2009, Hanson has the skills to do well in spite of this. He's got four plus pitches, including an excellent fastball and slider, and keeps the ball down, meaning his HR/9 should always stay a little low. But the walk rate is still troubling, and that luck's going to even out. GP might be a bit too pessimistic, but every projection I've seen pushes his ERA well north of 3, and most have his WHIP above 1.2.
The defense behind him will be mostly the same in 2010, with Melky Cabrera (-1.6 UZR in 2009) an upgrade in LF over a leadfooted Garret Anderson (-11.8 UZR), while Troy Glaus will still be learning a new position at 1B, and a probable downgrade from the Casey Kotchman/Adam LaRoche that combined for a 4.5 UZR last season.
Obviously keeper owners will want to ride out the correction, but redraft owners can let others overpay for Hanson's 2009 numbers. He's solid, he'll pick up Ks and deliver a good ERA, but I'd be surprised if he was in the top 25 of NL roto producers in 2010. Sophomore slumps are cliches for a reason, and you should expect one from Hanson.
Adam LaRoche | Arizona | 1B
2009 Final Stats: .277/.355/.488
Caught between the Diamondbacks and the Giants, LaRoche chose the Snakes, landing on his fourth team in three years. That six-game hiatus in Boston seems unfair to count, just as this peripatetic itinerary seems unfair to a guy who's hit .274/.348/.494 in that spell, averaging 25 HRs and 84 RBI.
Those aren't amazing numbers, especially after his 2006 season, when he clubbed .915 OPS, with 38 2Bs, 32 HRs and 90 RBI, but they're still awfully solid. Only his position makes him seem so expendable, along with his performance since that '06 peak. He hasn't crested 30 HRs since then (his best was just 25), though the doubles have kept coming (he's averaged 37). In many ways, LaRoche seems like a guy who's never gotten his props, and teams playing Hot Potato with him haven't helped his development and confidence, either.
Neither has his inconsistency: LaRoche is the poster boy for slow starters. He improves his career OPS 130 points in the second half, while rising steadily from a .660 in March and April to a peak of .933 in August. As often happens in statistics, the arc isn't that smooth year-to-year: 2009 saw him start out with an un-LaRoche-like .916 OPS in the seasons' first two months before plunging to .502 in July (when he bounced from Pittsburgh to Boston to Atlanta). It was tough sledding, and his inconsistency is no doubt both cause and effect of his life as a human pinball. That's also why owning him requires a Zen-like patience in the early months of the season, when it seems so tempting to swap him for the fantasy equivalent of a bag of practice baseballs.
What's odd about LaRoche's bipolar tendencies is that his underlying skills have remained steady—the "Skills" section in his mini-browser shows remarkable consistency in his CT% and BB%, while his 38 H% in 2006 is part of the story behind that spike. The other part of the story is his HR rate, which was 21% in 2006, about 6% better than his usual season; that coincided with his first season of hitting more than 40% fly balls to drive up Atlanta's hopes for future returns. Instead, he's cruised along at a FB% in the 40-43 range since then, explaining his 20-25 HR output.
Luck—or at least the appearance of it—can also explain his slow start. Along with the OBP splits above, his career BABIP also rises steadily month to month, from .243 in the first month of the season to .362 in the last month. BABIP isn't entirely a measurement of luck; it also measures hit trajectory, since line drives are going to fall for hits more often than any other trajectory. So you might believe that LaRoche get luckier as the season goes along (in which case he'd better be buying bushels of Powerball tickets in September), but the more likely explanation is that he takes a while to get going over the season, hitting the ball harder with each successive month.
Now that he's with the Diamondbacks, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that he's in power-friendly Chase Field, which could stretch some of those doubles into dingers. A new start with a team lacking a 1B standout in the minors could give him the jolt of confidence he needs. LaRoche's signing led almost immediately to a DFA for Eric Byrnes, indicative of Arizona's commitment to LaRoche, at least initially. Adjusting to a new team is clearly not a problem with LaRoche, and hitting coach Jack Howell and bench coach Kirk Gibson might help him to a hot start.
The bad news: he'll probably hit fifth, providing protection for the whifftastic Mark Reynolds, who could cut down on his RBI opportunities. And while the Diamondbacks don't have a clear-cut first sacker breathing down LaRoche's neck, they do have other options. Conor Jackson, who should be at full strength in 2010, is expected to shift to LF, but he can still play both positions, and Gerardo Parra could push him for playing time in the outfield. Brandon Allen is Arizona's 1B backup plan—if he can bring his batting eye up to par with his power, he could also keep the pressure on LaRoche.
The key here will be the patience of A.J. Hinch with LaRoche's inevitable slow start, as well as the performance of Allen, Parra, and CoJack. Hinch showed in 2009 that he was willing to promote young players over struggling veterans, and he liked running out different lineups. LaRoche, with a .200 OPS split against righties, could slide into a platoon rotation with Jackson, or wind up in the familiar role of trade bait for another team.
Fantasy owners can bet that LaRoche will eventually reach the numbers in his GP projection, assuming he is in both Arizona and in their (and your) starting lineup. He's a classic trade target to grab from impatient owners, or to wait and see if he hits the waiver wire in April. If you do take him for 2010, you should have a backup plan for the first few months of the season—or a good Zen mantra to keep your blood pressure down.
Drew Stubbs | Cincinnati | OF
2009 Final Stats: .267/.323/.439
Losing Jay Bruce to a wrist injury brought the first rumbles that the Reds' CF Of The Future would be called up from Triple-A, but it wasn't until Willy Taveras went down a month later that Stubbs made it to the bigs. When he did, people wondered what took the Reds so long: Stubbs cranked eight dingers in 196 PAs (after just three in 472 Triple-A PAs in 2009), swiped 10 bags and added a 7.6 UZR in just 42 games.
Going into 2010, the Reds CF Of The Future seems to be their CF Of The Present. With no real competition from above (only Dusty Baker could ever see Taveras as an obstacle to Stubbs' advancement) or below (the other young CF prospect, Chris Dickerson, is likely slotted into LF and has had problems staying healthy), the job should be his in spring training and beyond. But his 2009 performance is a great example of small sample size, since some of those trends aren't likely to be sustainable.
Stubbs has decent power potential, but it's not the jaw-dropping kind brought by fellow Reds prospect Juan Francisco, or even the relatively (next to Francisco) modest power of Bruce. Stubbs makes good contact and has excellent speed, so those 94 doubles (and 16 triples) in the minors come as much from his feet as his hands. The .480 SLG he posted in limited time (84 PAs) at Triple-A at the end of 2008 evaporated upon more prolonged exposure in 2009—he hit only one more Triple-A homer in 2009 in 472 PAs.
The same is likely going to happen to his homers in 2010. He's got the bat speed and the ability to make solid contact that will eventually translate into home runs, but those are a year or two away. Consistent contact is more of an issue with Stubbs. The one aspect of his minor-league career that did show itself in last year's debut was his strikeout rate: his 27.2 K% with the Reds is almost exactly in line with his 27.3% in the minors.
That K rate has improved each year of his development thus far, so it should continue to do so in the majors, but it's not going to happen overnight. That means the BA is going to suffer, which will probably always be the case with him. GP doesn't see much for him in 2010 in either BA or power, with a level of freshman pessimism similar to that expressed with Hanson above.
But note that all of the projections on Fangraphs except Marcel concur with GP's modest power projections, and only Bill James sees him with category-sealing SB numbers. Still, speed, as they say, never slumps, and Stubbs should steal bases—as long as he can get there in the first place. And as long as he's got the playing time, which is a big factor in that GP projection.
Shawn Weaver, GP's Cincinnati writer, has split the CF time among Stubbs, Dickerson, and Taveras, which may certainly happen if Baker continues to favor veterans (particularly punchless ones like Taveras, still signed at $4M through 2010) or if Stubbs struggles. The other wild card is Francisco, who will be shifting to LF in Triple-A after Rolen's two-year extension. Though he's got farther to go than Stubbs in development, and shows even worse strikeout tendencies, it's possible that Francisco pushes Dickerson to CF and a struggling Stubbs to the bench, or even Triple-A.
There's a lot of moving parts here, and banking on a high-strikeout kid isn't the best way to spend your budget. If he snags the full-time job and keeps mashing, he'll beat that GP projection easily, particularly the roto dollar number. But he is much more likely to struggle, which could cut into his counting stats significantly. His speed and potential makes him a worthy gamble, especially in keeper leagues, but restrain yourself and let someone else overbid on that 196-PA sample.
For more of this kind of statistical knowledge and team commentary, grab your copy of Graphical Player 2010 today!
And leave any player suggestions in the comments field below. Pitchers and catchers report in less than a month!
Posted by Michael Street at 2:00am
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