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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Hordes of players will be joining the major league ranks on Sept. 1 when rosters expand. I am going to run through some of the bigger names and tell you what type of impact they are likely to have.
In his third MLB season, Arizona outfielder Chris Young has taken a major step backwards. Instead of putting up good power and speed numbers with a poor average, he has produced average power and good speed numbers with a downright abysmal batting average this year.
+--------+---------+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+ | Season | Team | AB | R | HR | RBI | SB | AVG | +--------+---------+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+ | 2007 | D-backs | 569 | 85 | 32 | 68 | 27 | 0.237 | | 2008 | D-backs | 625 | 85 | 22 | 85 | 14 | 0.248 | | 2009 | D-backs | 315 | 35 | 7 | 28 | 11 | 0.194 | +--------+---------+-----+----+----+-----+----+-------+
Even with a depleted outfield, on Aug. 10 the Diamondbacks decided to send down Young to the minors, where in 10 games he has strutted his stuff, batting .350 with a home run and two steals. Still alarming are his 10 strikeouts in 44 Triple-A plate appearances, so I am skeptical Young will continue to strut when back in the bigs.
Couple that with uncertain playing time—due to Justin Upton and Eric Brynes returning from the DL and Gerardo Parra and Trent Oeltjan staying in the mix—and you've got a situation that seems best to stay away from. Let someone else take a chance on him.
Another disappointment, Chris Davis, will surely be called up by the contending Rangers. In 44 Triple-A games, Davis has really gotten his act together, batting .333 with six home runs. That home run total is less than you would expect, but intuition tells me he was probably working most on being selective and making contact with pitches than trying to blast them into different area codes.
He was successful in shaving a few percentage points off his K rate to 23.5 percent and most notably doubled his walk rate to 13 percent. When called up, I expect Davis to play well, batting around .250-.260 and hitting as many home runs as his playing time will allow.
He will be battling with Hank Blalock and Andruw Jones for playing time—two hitters batting similar to how Davis will—so Davis should be added mostly in AL-only and deeper (14-plus teams) mixed leagues.
I'm excited for next year and hoping the Rangers send plenty of playing time his way in September; he deserves it.
Hyped Brewers prospect Mat Gamel is another youngster looking to have an impact in September. I am skeptical, however, that any impact he will have will be positive.
After a quick start to the season in Triple-A, people were expecting him to win the Brewers' third base job by midseason. However, after a poor major league showing, Gamel found himself back down in the minors after a two-month stint. And since returning to Triple-A, Gamel has looked far from the player who ran over Double-A last year and Triple-A in the beginning of this year. Take a look:
Note: 2009-a represents Gamel's numbers in the minors before getting called to the majors; 2009-b are his numbers after.
Those are worrisome numbers over his last 215 at-bats split between the majors and Triple-A, and Gamel's strikeout rate over that span—a whopping 40 percent in the majors and 36 percent in Triple-A since—show that perhaps this 24-year-old third baseman could use a bit more seasoning before he gets truly tasteful.
Other people seem to be more optimistic about Gamel's immediate future than me; let them worry about him.
That's all for now. On Thursday expect to see the breakdown on another 3-4 players. Thanks to Fangraphs for some of the numbers, and a great resource is Matthew Pouliot's breakdown of every team's September call-up situation, both American and National League.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:46am (1) Comments
The season is about to head into the final month. Anybody competing in a league that allows daily transactions should take a hard look at their roster for potential cuts.
In the final month, justifying a player's roster slot becomes more difficult. Even players who you may expect to perform better than what’s available on the waiver wire should be subject to close scrutiny. Is your team better off cutting a player for the opportunity to use that player’s roster spot for a stream of alternative available players with good daily matchups?
You might see Milton Bradley, for example, as offering better potential than anybody available on your waiver wire. But how much better will Bradley be than the pool of players who are not rostered in your league? If the answer is “just a little,” he probably deserves to be cut.
Over the course of a season, under a large sample size of games, you can feel confident that a player projected above the masses will indeed perform up to those expectations. (It won’t always happen, but it will more times than not.) But with fewer games to play, the rule of small sample sizes dictates that practically anything can happen, and player performance will not always match skill level. Accordingly, one should be less confident that a projection will bear out.
That’s the first reason.
Of course, a smaller degree of confidence doesn’t mean no confidence. If you see Player X as being better than Waiver Wire Players A, B, and C, there remains a reasonable probability that Player X will outperform many of those available players. But you still may wish to cut him.
In many leagues, teams find themselves below the maximum games allowed per position or find they have a number of innings to yet pitch. A team holding a player who barely outperforms the waiver wire pool may wish to analyze whether it would get more production from players who contribute every day. After all, major league baseball clubs have off days and on those days, unless your league allows for a very deep bench of reserves, you’re probably sacrificing an opportunity to have a player with a good matchup in your active lineup to hold onto a player who isn’t playing.
This becomes especially true for pitchers as they only play once or twice per week. It sometimes helps to work backward.
For example, last week, the San Diego Padres announced they would be shutting down young phenom Mat Latos after just two more starts. Both of those starts are away from the pitching haven, Petco Park. Anybody who heard the announcement last Thursday might have asked: Is holding Latos for 10 days and two away starts worth more than opening his roster position for the best 10 spot starts in that intervening time?
A question like this can only be answered by looking at the standings and your league’s positional allowances. A team under their innings pace and with breathing room in ERA and WHIP might wish to take quantity over quality. The same is true on the batting end—a team that feels points stability in batting average might look to amass as many games as possible from batters, and thus, more runs, RBIs, steals and home runs.
This advice only applies to daily transactional roto leagues, of course. And we’re brought back to our argument on the confidence factor. With just a month left of baseball, it’s hard to say that a player with a certain skill set is going to have production that matches those skills. What we can say with more confidence is that more games typically means more production.
For a player only barely better than the rest, you may wish to part ways for the above reasons.
Posted by Eriq Gardner at 2:47am (3) Comments
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Miguel Montero has been a pleasant surprise this season, posting a .292/.346/.487 line thus far in 2009 while seizing the Arizona Diamondbacks’ starting catcher’s job. Despite his success this season, there are conflicting opinions on who Miguel Montero really is.
If you have a long memory, which many fantasy owners do, you’d remember “Miguel Montero” from 2007 and 2008' especially the ’07 version.
Coming into 2009, Montero had two lackluster seasons under his belt, with a .224/.292/.397 line in 2007 and .255/.330/.435 in 2008. While 2007 was horrendous, 2008 was good enough to inject some life into Montero's career. With the offensive abyss that is the MLB catcher, a .765 OPS is pretty good for a major league regular, albeit not good enough for a fantasy one.
There was more than meets the eye in his 2008 season, however. At first glance, his 26.6 strikeout percentage was serious cause for concern. Any hitter who strikes out in a quarter of his at-bats, yet doesn’t hit for lots of power, will post sub-par batting averages. With a 22.2 line drive percentage, 26.6 K%, and .323 BABIP, his .255 batting average seemed about what to expect from him. However, a deeper look at his contact and swing rates suggest that Montero may have been a bit unlucky with his K's.
In 2008, Montero had a 79 percent contact rate, with a 50.9 swing percentage. Neither figure is ideal for a hitter, as you'd prefer a contact percentage in the 80s, as well as a little more selectivity. While a 50+ swing percentage is certainly high, it decreases the chances for strikeouts because the at-bat will end earlier. More swings equals more balls in play and a higher batting average.
Given his plate discipline stats, he should have had a strikeout rate close to 20 percent, as opposed to his poor rate of 26.6. With decreased strikeouts, his batting average should have been much better, possibly around .275 with an .810 OPS—a much better line than was actually posted.
The 2009 season has been more indicative of Montero’s abilities at the dish, as he holds a very good .292/.346/.833 line with 12 HR in 337 plate appearances. But how much of this performance is "real"?
First off, the power is legitimate. Montero has shown good power for a couple years now, and could have a 20-HR season in his future. He has shown good power in the majors, with 27 homers in 805 plate appearances.
His minor league home run totals are very good as well. He slugged 11 in 449 plate appearances in 2004, 26 in 519 PA in 2005, and 17 in 491 PA in 2006. Make sure you put a discount on that 2005 home run total, however, as they were largely an effect of playing in Lancaster of the California League, a hitter’s haven.
Perhaps just as important as the power is his ability to hit to the opposite field. Shown above is Montero’s hit chart at Chase Field in Arizona, courtesy of mlb.com. Notice how he has numerous doubles to left and left-center, with deep flies mixed in. Also, notice all the singles to left. Great opposite field hitter.
The one criticism I have is that he needs to improve his overall skills pulling the ball. He has too many groundball outs between first and second. However, as evidenced by his power to the opposite field, if he can start pulling the ball with authority, he’ll be incredible.
His pull power is good as well, though it could be improved upon, as evidenced by his struggles against high and low inside pitches this season. Is it possible he figures it out and starts pulling the ball? Absolutely. But, there is no guarantee that this will happen, and Mark Teahen is the best example of this tendency.
Still, you should absolutely watch out for this trend next year in the event you have an opportunity to trade for him. If he starts lifting flies to right and cuts down on the grounders, he’ll eclipse 20 home runs, with a chance at 25. A .300 hitting catcher with 20-plus home runs? Sign me up.
Also contributing to Montero’s turnaround this season is his improved abilities against breaking pitches. While he was already good against sliders (1.37 wSL/C) in 2008, he has improved in 2009 (3.49 wSL/C).
More important has been his improvement against curveballs, which gave him fits last season, as his wCB/C have improved from -3.21 in 2008 to 0.01 in 2009. This is a very important improvement, as Montero is sure to see fewer fastballs for the rest of this season and next, as he has morphed from a below-average fastball hitter into an above-average one. He’ll see more breaking pitches and off-speed stuff in the future, which he will be more than ready to take care of.
While Montero has mashed righties this season at a .291/.350/.504 clip, with 12 home runs and 46 strikeouts in 254 at-bats, the verdict is still out for Montero against lefties. Montero has posted a respectable .296/.328/.407 line (not bad) against lefties, but with just one home run in 54 at-bats, with six strikeouts.
The strikeouts are a very important aspect of Montero’s outlook against southpaws. While he has had success in 2009, he struck out 10 times in 28 at-bats in 2008. Though Montero could very well have improved against lefties this season (and been better than he showed in 2008), the sample sizes are too small to make any meaningful determinations. One of the two seasons was the outlier, and the verdict is still out as to what his true abilities are against lefties.
In the end, however, it doesn’t affect him as much as it would if he were a non-catcher, as his weakness can be masked by the fact that he can sit and get his scheduled rest against left handers.
For Montero this season, what you see is what you get. While the batting average is the main surprise this year, if he can maintain the improved contact percentage and stays aggressive at the plate, the .290 average seems in line with his peripherals, with a slight chance for him to hit .300.
This season, Montero profiles as a league-average catcher in 12-team mixed leagues, with good power, batting average, and decent run and RBI totals. His only drawback is that he offers absolutely no speed. Few do at catcher, however, so this shouldn’t be too much of a drawback.
Montero is available in a large number of leagues, especially those that require just one catcher. Although he has been a big surprise this season, don’t be stunned when he keeps it up for the rest of this season and next. He could fly under the radar next year when other owners remember 2007 and 2008 and think ’09 is a fluke—good thing you’ll know better.
If you like taking catchers late in the back half of the draft, make sure to add Miguel Montero to your target list. This season should be the last he flies under the radar, and next year, if he performs as well as he has this year, the lid will be blown off. Get him on your team if he's on free agency and don't miss out next season. He's a great fantasy catcher at a low price.
Posted by Mike Silver at 2:15am (2) Comments
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Today I'd like to take a second-cut (in a second-best fashion) at John Burnson's nice article last week on near-sighted fantasy players. In his article, Burnson used two forecasting systems, Marcels, and Near-sighted Marcels (NSM, for short), to find some baseball players for next year that were likely to be overvalued by fantasy players that focused mainly on this year's performance. After reading his article, I was interested in answering some questions: How much worse off are near-sighted fantasy players? And is near-sightedness actually helpful in forecasting certain types of players?
As a reminder, Tom Tango's Marcels forecasting system is intentionally simple (so simple that Marcel the Monkey could do it). It takes a weighted average of a player's last three seasons and regresses it to the mean somewhat. All NSM does is put more weight on a player's more recent performance than Marcels does. Here's the percent weight that each system puts on past performance:
How much better or worse is NSM for fantasy? To answer this, I have to make a few adjustments, some of which are harmless while others are necessary but unfortunate. First, I need a metric to measure performance. I'm going to use mean absolute deviation (MAD) (aka mean absolute forecast error). Another possible metric is root mean squared error (RMSE), but that's for another day. I'm going to compare OPSs, since that's what John did in his article and also it saves me a few computational steps. Instead of forecasting 2010 like John did, I'm going to use 2006-2008 to forecast 2009 and compare the forecasts with the actual data we have so far (since I'm using OPS, which is a rate, it doesn't really matter that we haven't completed the season yet).
Next I have to "fantasize" the OPS forecasts and sample. Fantasizing the sample means dropping players that are projected to have too few plate appearances or are projected to perform too poorly to be fantasy relevant in most leagues. For today, I dropped any player with fewer than 200 projected plate appearances or less than a .700 OPS (for these projections I used Marcels only so that I would have a consistent sample across forecasting systems—nothing really changes if you use NSM for this step instead). Alas this introduces the possibility of sample selection bias. I also didn't include players without three years of usable data - just like John did.
Fantasizing the forecasts implies removing the means of each forecast. Player values are based on performance relative to league average—so that is how we should measure the value of our forecast systems (though in this case, the average is a sample average and not a league average). Lastly, I'm going to weight each player by the number of plate appearances he's actually had in 2009 (though this doesn't make a qualitative difference for any result).
So what's the MAD?
Indeed, NSM has a higher MAD and thus a worse performance than Marcels. But the difference is numerically negligible and not statistically significant. The difference is not statistically significant because, frankly, reweighting doesn't do all that much compared to the overall forecast errors that are inherent in either system. Both NSM and Marcels "regress to the mean" of league performance identically- a step which probably accounts for a large part of either system's success.
I will follow Burnson in calling the difference between the forecasts for each player as that player's "sentiment". A positive sentiment means NSM is more optimistic about the stat than is Marcels. One thing I wondered was how sentiment varied by age and whether there was any variation in forecast performance by age.
We can see a slight age based pattern here: NSM is sentimental about younger players whereas Marcels is more "nostalgic" about about older players. Interestingly enough, this sentimentality and nostalgia are somewhat appropriate. NSM does a little better at forecasting the younger players while Marcels does better with the older ages. In neither case is the difference statistically significant though.
What about variation by player performance? Is NSM more sentimental about better players? As we can see in the scatterplot with the fitted line, the answer is a qualified yes (again there's too much noise in the data for statistical significance). This isn't terribly surprising. For NSM to be sentimental about a player, that player must have done particularly well in 2008 relative to his 2007 and 2006 campaigns. Some of this is luck perhaps, but to the extent that any of the improved performance is persistent, this luck/skill will carry over into 2009 as well.
To conclude: Being sentimental can hurt you, but being a sentimental monkey (that is using Marcels with different weights) doesn't hurt you that much and actually may help you with young players. That said, sentimental monkeys are pretty smart since they regress to the mean. Tango made his monkey fairly simple-minded and that includes his 5/4/3 weighting system. In his explanation of Marcels, Tango does not explain where he came up with the particular weights. Probably, in order to keep it simple, it is just a rule of thumb. So it would be interesting to see what the optimal weighting system would be (i.e. the one that provided the best forecasting performance using a certain metric). It might not be all that far from NSM.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 3:36am (2) Comments
With the 2009 season nearly in the books, it's time to analyze some of the more prominent prospects of the year and look into my crystal ball in order to see what 2010 has in store.
Matt Wieters - His lackluster first season has not swayed me. Wieters should be among the top tier catchers in the league next year. But his draft status may not reflect that. Take advantage in all fantasy formats. This kids all-around bat is too good to be held down for long.
Carlos Santana - Legit through and through, Santana's bat could catapult him to elite status in time. And the baseball world may get a glimpse of it in 2010. Despite his impressive Double-A season stat line, personally, I still want to see more contact ability and a bulkier batting average before I pay my man crush membership dues.
Brian Matusz - I severely underestimated Baltimore's front office. Back in May, I was the guy complaining about Matusz's High-A purgatory. A few months later, I'm witnessing a young man trying to hold his own against the big boys. While he is struggling with his pursuit, Matusz's potential is undeniable. He has truly become one of the elite pitching prospects in the game.
Justin Smoak - I have been among Smoak's most aggressive supporters, all the while keeping in mind that his power has not yet developed. And it still hasn't. I drooled over his Double-A dominance, but his game still has holes; most prominently that pesky and alarming lack of power, especially from a first baseman. Smoak will spend more time in Triple-A next year before he gets his full time big league opportunity.
Travis Snider - In 2009 Snider has shown that he can be a productive big league regular, and he has plenty more untapped potential beyond that. The 21-year-old will have an unchallenged slot in Toronto's lineup from the outset of 2010. Expect improved numbers across the board and a hit of the stardom that could follow.
Dexter Fowler - Fowler's season has been perplexing. His base stealing and plate discipline skills have come full bloom; but his strikeouts, home runs, and batting average are lagging way behind. This young man has a loaded tool box, and if you have the patience to wait it out, you might just end up with the league's best lead off hitter on your hands.
Michael Stanton - Many have Stanton ranked up there with Jason Heyward and Jesus Montero on top prospect lists. I just cannot justify placing Stanton that high... yet. Make no mistake, the power is there. Unfortunately, his contact skills and plate discipline are not. The big league sluggers that can't hit for a solid batting average make up for it by taking walks. Stanton has a long way to go before he's capable of playing at that level. 2010 will be another learning year.
Martin Perez - This kid has made a huge mark on the prospect world. His stuff is ace-worthy and his control is incredibly advanced for his age. He will spend 2010 in the minors, but we could be looking at the next Felix Hernandez-esque teenage phenom. If Perez hasn't yet been claimed in your keeper league, make his acquisition one of your top priorities this off-season.
Mike Moustakas - In 2008, with his stock slipping, Moustakas reeled off an unreal late season surge. 2009 has seen him struggle once again in the early going, but a late season charge isn't in the cards. He has a long way to go, but he does possess one of the quickest bats in the minor leagues, which will aid him on his quest for stardom.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 3:38am (1) Comments
In part one we looked at the prospects of Chris Young, Chris Davis, and Mat Gamel. Today, we've got new batch of players to dissect and discuss:
Kila Kaaihue is no secret. The 25-year-old MLB ready first baseman is once again proving he is ready for the major leagues, flashing his polished skills in Triple-A.
Although his production dropped off some this this year, Kila still showed his elite on-base ability. Given major league at bats, he could hit in the .280s with decent pop.
The player standing most in Kila's way for plate appearances is Mike Jacobs (cue laugh track). Owner of a .321 wOBA (the MLB average is .330), Jacobs should be left stranded along the side of the road on the next road trip, and the Royals should then pick up Kila and have him play. There is no reason for a 30 year old with limited upside to block a burgeoning prospect, especially on a team not fighting for a playoff spot.
Hopefully the Royals see it my way and give Kila enough at bats to make him fantasy-worthy. In AL-only leagues and 16+ team mixed leagues I would add him given the chance they do.
Hector Rondon is a 21-year-old pitcher in the Indians system who curiously seems to get better as the Indians promote him to higher levels. See for yourself:
Considering the current state of the Indians and their rotation consisting of stars like Jeremy Sowers and Fausto Carmona, they might want to give their prized Venezuelan a taste of the majors in September. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a complimentary change-up, Rondon can rack up the strikeouts while also, more importantly, allowing few free passes.
For those in AL-only leagues, Rondon may be worth a look if given starts against favorable opponents.
Aaron Poreda is a player I would stay away from. At the moment he is experiencing a troubling control problem, and while a spacious Petco may limit his home runs, it won't help him pitch in the strike zone. He is still only 22 years old and now in a great pitcher's park so I still like him long term.
The frustrating Brandon Morrow has not pitched that well since returning to Triple-A, so even if the Mariners bring him back up for the final month, I'd feel comfortable letting another team scoop him up.
When September comes around it might be another chance for talented Marlins prospect Cameron Maybin to get a shot in the majors. Maybin's got speed and some power, so those in NL-only leagues should take a look. There is a chance the Marlins do not call up him, I should warn.
Another player for NL-only leaguers, Jeff Clement, could see some playing time at first base and catcher on Ryan Doumit's off days. If your current catcher gets hurt or it is a really deep NL-only league and you are looking for anyone with playing time, Clement could make a good speculative add. He may return to his former top-prospect hitting ways, you never know.
Posted by Paul Singman at 3:39am (0) Comments
Friday, August 28, 2009
Matt Diaz | Atlanta | OF
True Talent: .292/.340/.440
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 4 Runs, 4 RBI, .295 BA, 0.6 SB
The knock on Diaz has always been his struggles against righties (career .728 OPS vs. RHP, .893 OPS vs. LHP), something that hasn't changed in 2009 (.790 OPS vs. RHP, .990 vs. LHP). What has changed is his PT, thanks to injuries to Ryan Church and Nate McLouth. Diaz has played against everyone the past two weeks, and has hit well, but stats don't lie, and he'll regress. Plus, Church is healthy, with McLouth not far behind, on target for an Aug. 31 return, at which point Diaz will slide back into a platoon, making him suitable for 10-team NL leagues and only the deepest of mixed leagues.
Eric O. Young | Colorado | 2B/OF
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
If you remember his dad, E.Y. Jr. brings much the same game: excellent speed (303 SB in five minor-league seasons), a decent batting eye (.71 BB/K in minors), but not much pop (.293/.385/.416). He's here to replace Dexter Fowler, who hit the DL, and his likely 2B eligibility in many leagues coupled with his steals makes him an immediate add. The only question is how long he'll play: Fowler shouldn't be out much longer than the minimum, and Carlos Gonzalez's hand won't keep him out all that long. He's likely to remain with the Rockies once rosters expand but may be on the bench then. Grab Young in any league where you need steals, but don't lean on him.
Carlos Ruiz | Philadelphia | C
True Talent: .248/.334/.380
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .244 BA, 0.1 SB
Ruiz's .289/.354/.488 line in 2006 is starting to look like a statistical anomaly, because he's given back gains across the board every year since. The puzzle is that his secondary stats have generally improved—his K/BB grew from .68 to 1.18 in that span, and his contact rate also ticked upwards from 85 to 88%. The answer lies in his hit trajectories, as his LD% fell from 19.4% to 16.8% and his GB% rose from 46.8% to 54.3%. He's reversed some of those trends this season, dropping his GB% to 42.4% while maintaining a steady 16.2 LD% and retaining that 1.16 BB/K and 88% contact rate. The result has been the .259/.359/.500 line he's put up over the last month. True Talent tells you that he's about where he should be overall, meaning he's likely to stabilize. You can ride him for a while to see if the hot streak lasts, but keep in mind that TT pegs him as worthy of only 14-team NL leagues and very deep mixed leagues.
Brendan Ryan | St. Louis | SS
True Talent: .272/.326/.374
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 2 Runs, 2 RBI, .275 BA, 0.5 SB
When Julio Lugo was added, it looked like Ryan's days were numbered. But LaRussa has played Lugo at 2B instead, partly because Ryan has been so hot, hitting .362/.422/.500 in the past month. The key may be that Ryan's hitting leadoff or No. 2, in front of Albert Pujols, a great place to hit. The spike in power is awfully strange for a guy who's traditionally been a singles hitter, but they've come mostly via doubles and triples, meaning he's leveraging his above-average speed to his advantage. True Talent tells you he's going to taper off, which you'd expect from a guy who's had a career .265/.326/.345 line. That beneficial lineup spot may help him beat TT projections, but not by much. Once he cools, he'll be good for 12-team NL leagues and 20-team mixed leagues.
Charlie Haeger | Los Angeles | SP
YTD: 5.8 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 1.93 ERA
True Talent: 5.5 K/9, 1.2 K/BB, 5.24 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.3 Wins, 4 K, 4.63 ERA
Aren't knuckleballers fun to watch? Hitters and umpires don't know where the ball is going—and neither does the pitcher. That's always something to keep in mind with the purveyors of this dying art; the knuckler is a feel pitch, and they could lose their feel at any time. That's where those lousy K/BB projections come from, and True Talent tells you he's gonna lose his feel sometime soon. Pitching for the Dodgers helps him corral wins, and Haeger's been around for a little while (he turns 26 next month) but not enough to get any consistency. If you like playing roulette, you'll like Haeger, since he'll find the black with a baseball about as often as that other little while ball does. More sensible owners will stay away, particularly with Padilla in the fold and Kuroda on the mend.
Garrett Mock | Washington | SP
YTD: 7.8 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 5.23 ERA
True Talent: 7.3 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.85 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 5 K, 4.28 ERA
Mock carries the same label as many Nats players: has talent/potential but plays for Washington. Mock's strikeout numbers make him enticing, and True Talent tells you that he should continue to subtract from his ERA. The control is a tad worrisome, as is the name of the team on his jersey, but Mock's got a bit of skills in the K department. He's not a bad addition for a team that only needs to advance in Ks, and can absorb the occasional bad outing expected from a guy in only his first full season in the bigs. Ten-team NL-only leagues can find some value here, but deeper mixed-league teams should only take him on if they don't mind the risk.
Daniel McCutchen | Pittsburgh | SP
YTD: 6.9 K/9, 3.8 K/BB, 3.47 ERA
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
McCutchen's name is one that has been bandied about for September callups by the Pirates, and more than likely, he'll make The Show. He's not a top-notch prospect for them, but he does offer some very nice skills. He gets that sweet K/BB ratio not from his borderline strikeout skills, but from low walk rates (1.9 BB/9 in his minor-league career). He may not be quite good enough for you to think about adding him as a potential mixed-league keeper, but he could still pick up some wins for the Bucs down the stretch with a handful of Ks. If he's not been rostered already, NL keeper leagues should watch those September callups to see if he's there, while other owners can gamble on those Ks or watch him for a start or two to see how he does.
Brett Myers | Philadelphia | RP
YTD: 6.5 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 4.66 ERA
True Talent: 7.5 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 4.19 ERA
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Among the potential fixes for the problem called "Brad Lidge," Myers is on the comeback trail and could take over at the back end of the 'pen, since Philly's rotation is fairly strong. Myers has closed before, and has looked very good in his minor-league outings. And Madson has struggled in his save opportunities, blowing five chances, so Myers is a really good gamble for teams scrapping for saves and a definite insurance plan for Lidge owners. At the very least, True Talent shows you he'll offer some Ks and a decent enough ERA that you won't regret the add.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Michael Street at 2:00am (3) Comments
Matt LaPorta | Cleveland | OF
True Talent: .246/.319/.431
Next Week Forecast: 1.0 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, .248 BA, 0.2 SB
Matt LaPorta played first base and outfield in Triple-A this year, and posted a .231 ISO after posting a .288 ISO in Double-A in 2008. His Ct% was 83% in Triple-A this year (up from 79% in 2008), and he walked 11% of the time, so growth in AVG and OBP is expected. He'll be 25 in 2010, and the only real question is whether he'll settle in as a 30-HR per season player, or closer to 40 HR/yr.
Brandon Morrow | Mariners | SP
YTD: 8.8 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 5.28 ERA
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
When we last visited our hero, he'd just lost the closer's role. He was subsequently demoted, re-tooled back into a starting pitcher (as had been the plan pre-season), and has since spent eight starts scaring Triple-A hitters with his wildness and 95 mph fastball (average velocity). Morrow has great stuff, great pedigree, and reportedly is a smart player. But even in this ballpark with this defense, he's not going to do much good for a fantasy team until he brings the walks down under 4.5 BB/9 IP (currently 6.1 BB/9 IP).
Randy Ruiz | Toronto | DH
True Talent: .247/.302/.414
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .246 BA, 0.1 SB
Don't expect another SB from the lumbering DH, as Ruiz's steal was just his sixth in six years. But Triple-A can't contain him anymore, as he's hit .320 each of the past two seasons, slugging about .550 in almost 1,000 combined PA. His minor-league credentials are actually better than Garrett Jones', but so were Micah Hoffpauir's, and he piffled out quickly this year. Expect MLB pitchers to get ahead of Ruiz soon, but if you desperately need to roll the dice for some power, he's playing every day and has raw strength to spare.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia | Texas | C
True Talent: .250/.322/.303
Next Week Forecast: n/a
With backup Taylor Teagarden hitting a measly .194/.263/.375, the younger “Salty” was in little danger of losing his job due to his lackluster hitting. But his season has become a total washout with his right (throwing) arm being injured, and the extent of its recovery in 2009 uncertain. With the playoffs very much in their reach, the Rangers weren't going to risk such a key position on an iffy medical report, and traded for future HOF catcher Pudge Rodriguez. That makes Salty an easy cut in non-keeper leagues that aren't two-catcher AL-only formats. The best to hope for from him in 2009 is that Texas gets wiped out of the race and Chris Davis flounders again, giving Saltalamacchia some AB at both catcher and 1B, but it's a longshot.
Ian Snell | Mariners | SP
YTD: 5.5 K/9, 1.1 K/BB, 5.37 ERA
True Talent: 6.9 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.95 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.3 W, 4 K, 5.72 ERA
Depressed to the point of contemplating suicide in Pittsburgh, it's hard to imagine a player more in need of a new domicile. TT is very optimistic about a guy who's seen his xFIPs go: 4.96, 4.22, 4.17, 5.04 before 2009, and then 5.18 in Pittsburgh and 6.35 in Seattle. But Snell still has nasty stuff, so if he can throw strikes, perhaps even TT's line will be pessimistic. Speaking of pessimistic, we think the best route to take with his mental illness—for fantasy—is just to view it as if it was an injury: See how he's responding to treatment, and if he reels off some good starts, allow for some cautious optimism that his peak seasons are more representative of what he can do than his “down” years.
Brett Tomko | Oakland | SP
YTD: 5.7 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 3.69 ERA
True Talent: 6.2 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 4.36 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.4 W, 4 K, 4.39 ERA
That's not a typo—it really says “4.36” for Brett Tomko's “True Talent” ERA. Since Tomko has consistently underperformed his FIP in his 1772 career IP, nudging it upward would be prudent. But his career ERA is just 4.67, and his fastball is still averaging over 92 mph this year at age 36. With Oakland's ballpark, he should be a servicable option down the stretch, though don't expect wins.
Billy Wagner | Boston | RP
YTD: 18.0 K/9, 4.0 K/BB, 0.00 ERA
True Talent: 9.4 K/9, 3.3 K/BB, 3.17 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 Saves, 2.95 ERA
An unusually large percentage of public mixed leagues have seen the best lefty closer of all time get scooped up. But it's probably a wasted roster space in all but deeper AL leagues. Sure, he'll help your ratios if he's healthy, but he won't be getting saves in Boston. Also, they will coddle him to make sure he's available in the playoffs, when they will really need him. Even if holds are a category, there are probably better options available.
Ty Wigginton | Baltimore | INF
True Talent: .271/.330/.457
Next Week Forecast: 0.9 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, .271 BA, 0.2 SB
Depending on eligibility requirements, Wigginton could be quite versatile. He's played all four infield positions and LF. With Huff's departure, he is almost playing every day now, mostly at the infield corners. In one of the strangest changes from form in recent years, this consistent lefty-basher has been horrible against LHP this season (.239/.314/.303), while maintaining his usual line against RHP. Expect that to correct, and his “True Talent” line to be realized, making him an adequate stopgap in mixed leagues, and a decent starter for AL-only leagues.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Rob McQuown at 4:00am (0) Comments
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Predicting breakouts are the key to fantasy success and these two outfielders have been the key to many teams in 2009. Raul Ibanez should have been expected to grow increase his power after moving to the bandbox that is Citizens Bank Park, but his first half was beyond anyone's expectations. Across the country Andre Ethier was expected to grow with Manny Ramirez back in LA, but a season on pace for 30 homers in Dodgers Stadium wasn't one many expected.
R HR RBI SB AVG BB% K% HR/F% BABIP Raul Ibanez 72 27 79 4 0.278 8.70% 22.80% 18.90% 0.299 Andre Ethier 77 27 87 5 0.286 10.70% 19.90% 16.40% 0.308
|MLB: AUG 26 Dodgers at Rockies|
August 26, 2009: Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier during a regular season game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. The Dodgers beat the Rockies 6-1. Ethier had two homeruns in the game. (Icon/SMI)