Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
And here's the full roster.
Most Recent Comments
2011 Top 10 prospects: Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers (10)
THT Fantasy has moved to Rotographs (4)
Flashes of brilliance: Introducing True Quality Starts (2)
THT Roundtable: How seriously do experts take mock drafts? (21)
Player-A-Day: Tim Lincecum (3)
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
THT's Fantasy Archives
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
It's tough enough to analyze pitchers from one year to the next. Analyzing a pitcher who hasn't thrown a major league pitch in over a year is that much tougher. Yet here we are talking about new Oakland A's starter Ben Sheets. After sitting out the 2009 recovering from an elbow injury, Sheets has signed with the Oakland A's on a one-year deal that figures to pay him upwards of $10 million dollars.
The A's are taking a calculated gamble here. Any time we talk about Sheets the injury question is in play, but for now I'm going to just go off of what we know. When healthy, there is no question that he possess top of the rotation, 4-5 WAR stuff. Similar to the Matt Holliday trade of a year ago, if the A's aren't contending mid-season, I could see Billy Beane flipping Sheets to a contender for even more prospects.
Career wise, he strikes out over seven batters per nine while walking under two. He has been prone to the long ball at times, but that's what makes Oakland the perfect choice for him; especially considering the reported alternative of signing with AL West rival Texas.
A pretty neutral pitcher for the most part, Sheets has had fly-ball rates in the 40 percentile in each of his last four seasons. Add in a career HR/FB of 9.5% plus a career HR/9 of 1.01 and choosing to pitch your home games in the pitcher friendly Oakland Coliseum over the home-run haven in Arlington seems like a wise decision. Also keep in mind the spectacular A's outfield defense that employs three center fielders in Coco Crisp, Ryan Sweeney and Rajai Davis and we have an excellent pairing of abilities.
It's fitting that the Oakland mascot features an elephant because I've been ignoring the injury elephant in the room. Anyone expecting 200 innings from Sheets is being unreasonable. He has not hit the 200 innings mark since 2004 and over the last four seasons has averaged about 150 innings per. I think this is a fair bench mark for Sheets considering the A's medical staff think he's healthy enough to sign.
I don't know if Sheets can be considered a "sleeper" due to his past success, but all things considered he is likely to have a really good season (health assumed) by the bay without the draft hoopla of a Zack Greinke or Felix Hernandez. Reports out of Oakland say that Manager Bob Geren has already tapped Sheets for the A's opening day start. With a 1-2 punch of Sheets and Brett Anderson, the A's just made the interesting AL West even more intriguing.
Posted by Tommy Rancel at 6:52pm
The Cubs made what's likely to be their final major position player acquisition earlier today, reportedly coming to an agreement on a one-year deal with outfielder Xavier Nady. Nady seems likely to become Chicago's fourth outfielder and the right-handed part of a right field platoon with Kosuke Fukudome. He missed all of last season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but he posted the best numbers of his career in his last healthy season.
Nady, 31 for next season, was coming off of four consecutive seasons of above average offensive production, peaking in 2008 with a .374 weighted on-base average and a 4.0 WAR split between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees. Once a top prospect in the San Diego organization, Nady seemed to take some legitimate steps as a hitter in 2008. He emerged with good power, hitting 25 home runs and posting a .205 ISO, and he also set career high marks in walk rate and walk-to-strikeout ratio.
A big catalyst for Nady's improvement may have been a change in his approach in the plate, as he became more geared towards hitting the ball in the air beginning with the 2007 season. He hit about 45% of his batted balls on the ground during the 2005-2006 seasons, but that mark dropped closer to 39-40% in 2007-2008. This coincided with a major increase in his line drive rate, from 17.0% in 2006 to 24.6% in 2008. The change in approach would seem to help to explain the increases in Nady's BABIP and power output, as he began to get under the ball more and take advantage of his solid power.
What seems most likely to hold Nady back is health. In Chicago's outfield, which has numerous question marks, Nady would seem likely to get 400-500 at-bats necessary to be a fantasy option, especially because he's capable of filling in for Derrek Lee at first base if necessary as well. He's a guy that could be appealing, given that he's a good batting average guy with HR/RBI upside as he'd likely bat in the 5-7 range in Chicago's lineup. Although he's never been particularly durable, his only season with over 515 plate appearances was 2008, and there surely will be questions surrounding Nady's elbow for next season. But Nady appeared to take a very legitimate step forward in 2008 as a hitter, so if he's healthy going into 2009, which is obviously a big question mark, then there's reason to believe that he could be a pretty solid late-draft option for NL-only leagues.
Posted by Satchel Price at 1:27pm
Let's say you are in a draft and with your first-round pick you select second baseman Chase Utley. Not a bad choice, I've seen it done plenty of times before. That the remaining second basemen become much less valuable to your team is a concept most people understand.
The extent that the remaining second basemen drop in value depends on your league settings—whether there is only one second base roster spot or multiple positions you could stick a second baseman (e.g. a middle infield spot) is the determinate. And obviously the more positions you can stick a second baseman, the less each available second baseman drops in value to you. Only to you.
In the short term, most people are aware of this drop in value in drafts. I know this because rarely do you see someone take two second basemen early in a draft. Even when there are more than two spots to play second basemen on your roster, most people will hold off on a second one until at least the middle rounds, and when there are only two spots for second basemen (2B + Util spot) most people will not even take a second one.
Whereas people understand this in the short term, when it comes to putting together a full draft people forget that who you draft in the first round affects even who is most valuable to your team in the last round. I hate throwing the term value around like a curse word in a painfully unfunny Bob Saget comedy stand-up, so let me give you something more tangible to grasp.
Let's say you are about to start a draft. At this point you know next to nothing about how it will end up looking—you don't even know what pick you are going to have yet. All you have are your positional rankings and a list of sleepers to target at the end. Your top three sleepers are a shortstop, an outfielder and a pitcher.
Although you should not completely base your first few rounds on who you think you might will grab in the later rounds, it does make sense for your first three picks to not be a shortstop, outfielder and pitcher. You might draft a player from one or even two of these positions in the early rounds—if there is a great outfielder out there in the second round, go get him—but understanding how that affects the rest of your draft is important.
So you go into the drafting looking to target a first, second or third baseman early. The draft begins and you get your first and third baseman early, but a good second baseman eludes you as the draft heads into the dreaded middle rounds. With no second baseman on your sleeper list you'd be comfortable with in a starting gig, now is the perfect time to "reach" on a second baseman in the middle rounds, say Jose Lopez in the eighth round. Sure it might not be the best pick and sure his ADP is almost 30 picks later, but with the special need you have the pick is more than defensible.
Now, you do not want all of your middle-round picks to be this sort of defensive type, but if you are going to reach at some point on a player, reaching in this situation can be called ideal.
I understand that the concept discussed in this article is not something most people don't know, but I do believe it is something people should be more consciously aware of in drafts. Understand that your late round targets affect your first round targets, and who you actually get in the first rounds affects the value of certain players later in the draft. Any position that gets lost in the shuffle can excusably be targeted in the middle rounds and when you chain the parts of a draft together in this way, you will put yourself in the best position to get the most out of a draft.
Ultimately, though, it is the individual players themselves who determine how good a draft was.
Posted by Paul Singman at 10:25am
This is Page 1 of 1 THT Fantasy Focus pages