Monday, January 16, 2012
Ye believe in me, believe also in Mike StantonPosted by Ben Pritchett at 5:37am
In 2011, only two players hit over 40 home runs, Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson. I told you that both of them would accomplish this feat.
Calling Bautista was relatively easy even though everybody in the industry said that he couldn’t maintain. I argued that he would be better, sacrificing some home runs for batting average.
Granderson was a little bit more of a gut call. He always has had a good power stroke for a little player, but I was infatuated with how his swing would benefit by the move to Yankee Stadium. I was fortunate that feeling was right.
That’s what playing fantasy baseball is all about. It’s about taking the stats—basic and advanced—scouting reports, newswire, gut calls, and personal preference and forming a stable, statistical-accumulating team structure.
Mike Stanton is my first flag-staking player for 2012. Well, you may say that's an easy call. Stanton should be drafted in the first four rounds, which in itself makes him worthy to everybody. According to the 2012 Baseball Forecaster, 80 percent of all players that will yield first-round value are found in the first four rounds of drafts. Less than half of the players drafted in the first round actually yield first-round value. So this is really the most interesting and exciting part of drafting to me. We face a conundrum of making your early picks count even though the odds are stacked against you.
Assuming that just five players picked in the first round actually retain first-round value, that leaves ten draft positions available to be filled by players drafted in the next three rounds. Using the 80 percent success rate discovered by the Forecaster guys, that means only seven of the remaining 45 possible players will deliver first-round-caliber stats.
You have roughly a 15.6 percent chance per round to nail a first-round player while drafting in rounds two through four. When you break it down like that, you realize why we feel such great satisfaction when these players succeed. You would have a greater chance at winning lottery scratch-offs or playing blackjack. So how do we improve our odds? Well, I believe that old-fashioned work always beats any other variable, whether it be draft position, luck, bias, etc.
I have just begun to research for my Fantasy Sports R Us NL-only expert league, and I really just stumbled upon Stanton. Honestly, going into last year, I felt like Stanton’s stock was too high. I was unwilling to pay such a high price for a 21-year-old hitter. Today, I stand corrected. Not only do I think Stanton will improve on his studly sophomore season, he will be a top-15 hitter. That will also make him a borderline first-round talent.
Will Stanton get drafted in the first round? No, and he shouldn’t be. Most consider him a third-round pick. I will have no reservations with someone taking him in the second round. I will slate him as a late first-round/early second-round pick in my FSIC NL-only league. I would hope to hold out to the third round in standard formats. Don’t hold your breath that he lasts that long, though. In auction leagues, it should be significantly easier to gauge his value.
Why is Stanton a first-round player in 2012? The two guys I mentioned earlier in this article were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in isolated power (ISOP) last season. That’s Bautista and Granderson for those of you not paying attention. Stanton was third. The funny thing about ISOP is that it usually hits a peak in ages 24-26. Stanton is only 22. It’s scary to think what his ceiling might be. If he sees ISOP growth in 2012, you should expect 40-plus home runs.
Secondly, the table is now set for Stanton to feast. Assuming that Stanton bats cleanup, let’s put newly acquired Jose Reyes at leadoff. Emilio Bonifacio can handle batting second, and Hanley Ramirez should be just fine batting third.
Stanton couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to get on base in front of him. Lots of what I’m able to decipher about Stanton is speculation, but if he gets the same number of plate appearances as last year, he will hit more than 100 RBIs with all those speed demons batting ahead of him.
Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez should be good enough to give Stanton protection in the lineup and should help him improve his run total. The 2011 campaign saw both Morrison and Sanchez disappoint for different reasons, but one or both should bounce back. Confidence can do a lot for a ballclub, and I think the Marlins, especially Morrison and Sanchez, could finally regain some of what was lost in 2011 if they can catch fire early in the 2012.
Stanton improved his walk rates and strikeout rates in 2011. I can only assume that with his athletic ability and young age, he should continue to show growth, even with his propensity to strike out in bunches. A better OBP and batting eye would further improve his chances of putting up gigantic numbers and should help his batting average.
Stanton’s batting average will always be his largest liability and could be the difference between him having first-round value or fourth-round value. I’m willing to gamble that he hits in the .270s in 2012. I can live with that if he sees the growth I expect him to have in all the other categories.
Here’s my favorite nugget of information I was able to dredge up. Jeff Zimmerman of Rotographs took batted ball information and deduced that Stanton had an average increase of 20 feet on his hit distance from 2010 to 2011. That was the third-best increase of all players, and as I can see, his average of 322 feet was best in baseball. Basically, if Stanton gets a hold of a pitch, it goes a long way, but we all knew that.
Further evidence of that raw power was his 15 “no doubt” home runs. “No doubt” home runs is a category developed by Hittracker that assigns a categorical value to the distance of home runs. “No doubt” represents the highest possible tier for home run distance. Only Bautista hit more “no doubt” home runs than Stanton in 2011.
If you are still wavering, I must also mention the fact that Stanton stole four bases in the second half of 2011. Hoping for double-digit steals may not be totally crazy. An improved batting average, OBP and protection could give Stanton a better incentive to advance as a runner. His baserunning skills are a far cry from average, but most powerful middle-of-the-order hitters can luck into double-digit steals if they are in a breakout season. This may all be wishful thinking, but it’s not totally insane.
So we’ve established that Stanton is powerful, athletic and ready to succeed at a very young baseball age. Let’s look at what kind of line I project he will have in 2012. Stanton should post a line of .271 AVG/ 44 HRs/ 123 RBIs/ 102 Rs/ 10 SBs. I know that these numbers are lofty, but I almost feel like I am undervaluing what kind of season he could have because I’m afraid of being too bold to avoid claims of lunacy.
In my FSIC team, I plan to get a stable first rounder like Joey Votto, pair him with Stanton, and add a stolen-base hound like Michael Bourn in the third. I would be ecstatic if these were my first three picks in my NL only league. But man plans; God laughs.
Do you think Stanton has what it takes? Please let me know what you think below. Also, feel free to give me your 16 percent guy that you plan to target in rounds 2-4. There’s obvious risk with Stanton and the Marlins in general, but that’s why it’s a 15 percent chance and not 100 percent. Happy hunting.