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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
With a week left until the season starts, I thought it would be fun to engage the readers in lively, constructive fantasy debate. This series of articles will focus on low-risk, medium-reward $1 sleepers who could be a boon for stars-and-scrubs minded drafters and diamonds in the rough for active waiver-wire fishers. The goal of each article is to present a short, objective analysis of two players comparable in expected value. I hope this provides a chance for readers to debate in the comments below. I look forward to reading everyone's thoughts!
Domonic Brown vs. Aaron Hicks
Both players are having big springs, but neither is getting much attention outside of single-league format leagues. Hicks is not even in the top 1,000 players ranked on Yahoo (I suspect that will change in the coming days, with Hicks having locked down a full-time position with the Twins to open the season), and Brown is ranked just outside the top 250 by Yahoo. Despite the low rankings, both are arguably relevant in non-shallow mixed formats (12+ teams, four or more outfielders). The players, however, are vastly different.
Hicks is the younger player, and a top three organizational prospect in a system that boasts two promising top-100 overall prospects ranked ahead of him (third baseman Miguel Sano and outfielder Byon Buxton).
Now entering his age-23 season, Hicks started his minor league career young and was slow to develop. He played well in Double-A last season at age 22, batting .285/.382/.459 with 13 home runs and 32 steals. However, Double-A is the highest level of professional experience on Hicks' resume, and he's making the leap to the majors to open the season. That jump is pretty substantial for a non-pitcher prospect who is near-universally ranked outside the top 50 entering the 2013 season.
Hicks' biggest strengths are his patience at the plate (career 14.8 percent minor league walk rate), speed and defense. He also has good gap power and should be able to post a double-digits home run season over a full season of at-bats—an increasingly rare attribute of players with 30+ stolen base upside. His minuses are a relatively high strikeout rate for his power level (career 20.1 percent in the minors), and below average, but improving, contact skills. Hicks could be an underrated major league staple with a prime time ceiling akin to Shane Victorino. But is he ready for The Show now, and might a level jump hurt his development?
Brown is no stranger to the prospect tag himself. Once ranked among baseball's brightest up-and-coming hitters, Brown has stumbled his way into post-hype obscurity over the past three years. Once a perceived 20-20 threat I compared, in terms of potential long-term fantasy value, to Shin-Soo Choo, Brown owns a career .236/.315/.388 triple slash line with 12 home runs and three net steals over 492 major league plate appearances. That makes him look more like a Ben Francisco wannabe.
Now he's 25 years old, and the Phillies' expectations of Brown have mellowed. However, a monstrous spring training seemingly has pushed the Phillies to hand Brown an everyday gig in the outfield. What is different this year, and should we buy into numbers that are traditionally to be taken with a grain of salt?
If Brown's post-hype spring numbers are legit, he should be a threat to post a slightly below-average batting average with 15- to 20-home run power and double-digit steal upside. He'll likely bat in the upper part of the bottom of the Phillies lineup, which should make for good RBI opportunities but minimal runs scored. That makes Brown a potential three-category player.
However, according to Baseball-Reference.com, the quality of pitching that Brown has faced overall this spring ranks somewhere below Quadruple-A. Once he is consistently matched up against major league talent, which Brown will we ultimately see at the plate?
Time for you to chime in. Who would you rather have this season in re-draft leagues: Domonic Brown or Aaron Hicks? Check out the stats below and post your comments!
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 4:25am
Now that we are in the peak of fantasy baseball draft season, the Court hears about all sorts of issues and dilemmas that arise during leagues' drafts. The draft is the cornerstone of every fantasy league; league members spend extraordinary amounts of time and resources preparing to select their teams. An issue or conflict surrounding a draft must be handled expeditiously, correctly and consistently.
Recently, the Court resolved a case captioned Storm Troopers vs. One for Altuve which dealt with a fairly common draft-day problem in this era when practically all aspects of fantasy sports rely on technology, including draft room software and Internet connections.
The Keystone Fantasy Baseball League's online draft took place on March 20. During round six, the team known as One for Altuve allowed the 60-second timer to expire without making a draft pick. As a result, he was awarded Johnny Cueto, who was the next highest ranked player at the time. Immediately, One for Altuve wrote a message in the chat box of the draft room indicating that the draft room had frozen on him, preventing him from being able to make a selection. He asked the commissioner to back the draft up, undo the previous selection, and award him Paul Goldschmidt who was his desired selection.
Because no other draft picks had been made, the commissioner granted the request.
At that point, the team known as the Storm Troopers asked the commissioner to pause the draft for a discussion about what had just occurred. The Storm Troopers had the next pick and said they were going to select Goldschmidt. The commissioner indicated that his decision stood because One for Altuve raised the issue before anyone else made a selection.
While I understand the Storm Troopers' complaint, the decision was fairly simple in this case. One for Altuve did his due diligence to alert the commissioner of the problem immediately. Because no subsequent draft picks were made, no one else was prejudiced. The Storm Troopers said they were harmed because they were going to select Goldschmidt with the next pick. While that may be true, it can never be proven nor does it matter, because they hadn't submitted a pick before the commissioner paused the draft.
The commissioner made the correct decision because sometimes technological issues happen and are out of people's control. Commissioners have discretion to handle situations like this. Clearly he could have gone the opposite way as well. That would not have necessarily been the wrong decision, but the choice he did make was the best decision. This decision set a precedent for the way the Keystone Fantasy Baseball League will handle situations such as this. It should also alert fantasy players to be cognizant technological issues and be as proactive as possible in alerting your commissioner.
Typically the Court will uphold a commissioner's decision, assuming it was made impartially and in the best interests of the league overall. There is no discernible advantage or benefit gained by the commissioner in making this decision, so the Court can conclude this was done impartially. It also demonstrated an ability to fix a problem without harming anyone.
Posted by Michael Stein at 3:03am
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