May 24, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Now availableHardball Times Baseball Annual 2013, with 300 pages of great content. It's also available on Amazon and Kindle. Read more about it here.
Or you can search by:
THT E-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
our CafePress store. We've got baseball caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs and even wall clocks with the classy THT logo prominently displayed. Also, check out the THT Bookstore. Please support your favorite baseball site by purchasing something today.
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
Opposite to last week's "Bigger in September" Part 1 and Part 2, this week we are looking at some players who figure to lose some of their fantasy relevance.
The Rockies are immersed in another fingernail-biting playoff race and Chris Iannetta seems to be moving forward at such a slow pace with his development, he may have stopped moving altogether. With patience running thin at Iannetta's continued struggles, Yorvit Torrealba figures to receive a large potion of the starts at catcher.
Iannetta can basically be cut in most leagues if he has not been already. See you next year, Chris.
Geovany followed his Rookie of the Year winning campaign with this year's disaster of a season. Since Soto is batting .212 through 300 plate appearances, the Cubs are looking to give backup Koyie Hill his fair share of playing time over the final stretch.
However, as Aaron Gleeman points out, "a struggle for Soto is more or less Hill at his best" so expect any playing time loss for Soto to be relatively transient as he regains at least some of his former self.
This young, "athletic" pitcher transitioned well to the leap from Double-A straight to the majors, pitching worthy of a 4.12 xFIP in 150 innings. Those 150 innings are a career high and A's management does not want to lean too heavily on their promising young lefty, especially as they sit in fourth (out of four) in the AL West.
Expect him to receive only a couple more starts until getting shut down for the year. Same goes for Trevor Cahill, by the way.
When the White Sox took on Rios' $60 million contract, I am sure they did so with the intention of playing him. However, 50 at-bats later over which he has only 10 hits, it is looking likely Rios will split time with a man the White Sox signed early in the season for near league minimum: Scott Podsednik.
Now, do not exaggerate my words; Rios will still see plenty of at-bats. But Rios is looking like a prime example of what Eriq was talking about in this article last week. Scrutinize your roster and consider making the possibly tough decision of cutting Rios a la J.P. Ricciardi.
After being rushed to the majors due to a slew of injuries to the D-backs outfield, the 22-year-old Parra turned some heads batting .320 at the end of his first month in the majors. Parra has since come down to Earth with his hitting numbers, but his current .285 average, five home run, five steal batting line is solid nonetheless for NL-only leagues.
Sometimes it is about being in the right place at the right time—as Parra was at the beginning of the season—however, now he is in the wrong place in the crowded Arizona outfield. With Chris Young, Justin Upton, Ryan Roberts, Trent Oeltjen, and Alex Romero vying for playing time, Gerardo Parra may be squeezed out of enough of his own playing time to warrant his dropping in most leagues.
Over to you
Any other players primed to lose playing time? I won't be offended if you tell me in the comments.
Posted by Paul Singman at 1:11am (7) Comments
Two weeks ago, I posted a 2010 fantasy baseball mock draft here. Obviously, it’s a little early to be talking about next season, but one thing that stood out to me is that Joe Mauer went in the third round.
I feel this is much too low for the Twins backstop. In fact, I believe he deserves serious consideration as the top pick overall. After all, he might be this season’s fantasy MVP.
Whether you find this statement ridiculous or not may depend on your view of weighting value according to position. Over the years, positional weights have been measured in various ways (VORP, WARP, Win Shares, etc.) but in terms of fantasy, here’s how I’d describe it: If your catcher outproduces your competitor’s catcher by 10 HR, your competitor has to field a lineup that outproduces your lineup by 10 HRs at the other positions just to stay even.
As of Sunday, here’s Joe Mauer’s line on the season: 25 HR, 79 RBI, 77 R, 3 SB, and a .367 AVG
How extraordinary is this?
Well, let’s compare Joe Mauer to the 11 other most-owned catchers in CBS Sports fantasy leagues: Victor Martinez, AJ Pierzynski, Mike Napoli, Kurt Suzuki, Jorge Posada, Brandon Inge, Miguel Montero, Bengie Molina, Russell Martin, Matt Wieters, and Ryan Doumit.
These 11 players averaged these totals as of last Sunday: 13 HR, 52 RBI, 47 R, 2 SB, and a .271 AVG
Joe Mauer has outproduced the average catcher in a 12-team league by 12 HR, 27 RBI, 30 R, 1 SB, and 96 points in batting average.
Ask most people who is the fantasy MVP in 2009 and undoubtedly the answer is Albert Pujols.
I also compared Pujols’ numbers to these 11 first baseman: Prince Fielder, Miguel Cabrera, Ryan Howard, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Justin Morneau, Adrian Gonzalez, Derrek Lee, Joey Votto, Carlos Pena, and Lance Berkman.
Pujols outproduced his peers on average by 12 HR, 22 RBI, 28 R, 11 SB, and 32 points in batting average.
Close, but Mauer has got a very slight edge.
Consider the fact too that all of Pujols’ peers were owned from day one this season. In contrast, many fantasy teams didn’t get the best from Brandon Inge, Miguel Montero, and Kurt Suzuki. Instead, they suffered through disappointing returns from Geovany Soto, Chris Iannetta, and Ramon Hernandez. Mauer’s edge over the average catcher in a fantasy league grows.
Even more extraordinary is the fact that Mauer didn’t play his first game of the season until May 1. But owners of Joe Mauer probably were playing someone else, and even if that temp produced a modest line in April like 2 HR, 9 R, 9 RBI, these are stats that can be counted towards Mauer’s owner’s ledger.
Many people involved in fantasy baseball tend to dismiss catchers the way that people involved in fantasy football dismiss kickers. But to see a player outperform his positional peers to this degree demands notice.
Joe Mauer may be the most valuable player in baseball this year, and so it raises the forthcoming question—why wouldn’t you take this player entering his Age 27 season with one of the first few picks?
Posted by Eriq Gardner at 3:35am (11) Comments
Wednesday, September 02, 2009
While the Oakland Athletics don't have a lot to be excited about this time of year, sitting 15 games under .500, they have plenty to be thankful for: the makings of a good young rotation, with Trevor Cahill, Vin Mazzaro, Gio Gonzalez, and, most importantly, Brett Anderson.
Brett Anderson was drafted by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the second round in 2006. Following an excellent 2007 in South Bend and Visalia (120.1 IP, 125 K, 21 BB), Anderson left the D-Backs for Oakland as part of the Dan Haren trade. The lefty continued his dominance in 2008, posting 80 Ks against 18 BBs in 74 IP at High-A Stockton, followed by 38 Ks against 9 BBs in 31 IP for Double-A Midland.
Anderson has always had excellent stuff, with a four-seamer that sits at 92-93, an 89-90 mph two-seamer, a low-80s curveball, mid-80s slider, and low-80s change-up. Anderson's repertoire has always been good enough to get swings and misses, but his calling card is his command. In the MLB, command always trumps stuff, but when a pitcher combines the two, he becomes deadly. Anderson did this all throughout the minors, with an aggregate 243:48 K:BB (5.06:1) ratio.
Dazzling performances, a great pedigree, and a 36th overall prospect ranking by Baseball America meant that Anderson was on the fast-track to the bigs. After breaking the camp with the big team in April, the Double-A to MLB jump seemed a little extreme. While Anderson certainly had the stuff, polish, and command to perform in the MLB, skipping Triple-A is nothing to scoff at. While anecdotes often point to Double-A being the primary testing ground for position players, the Triple-A vetting process can be just as important, especially for starting pitchers. Oftentimes, hurlers with huge strikeout numbers in the low minors falter when they reach Triple-A and the majors. But, hey, these were Billy Beane's A's, and they can do anything. So, Big Brett made the jump, err, took the plunge, to the Oakland starting rotation.
So, on to 2009. Anderson has made quite the name for himself this season. While posting a less-than-ideal 4.42 ERA and 1.30 WHIP, his peripherals have been much better than his current line. While the command and strikeout numbers aren't quite the same as his minor league stats, they leave a lot to be excited about.
Through 146.2 innings, Anderson has struck out 119 batters and walked just 41. His command left the minors in tact, as a 2.52 BB/9 is great for any level of MLB experience, especially a rookie. The Ks have taken a hit, somewhat, sitting at 7.30 K/9, which is about average for a 12-team league. Anderson also features some slight groundball tendencies (1.31 GB/FB), which could be aided by an increased use of his two-seamer (7.2 percent usage).
Nothing in Anderson's performance record jumps out as being particularly lucky or unlucky (other than his ERA). His BABIP sits at .309 and his HR/FB% sits at 11.0 percent, both of which could lower somewhat, though not much. Oakland's defense won't be helping him with the BABIP, however, as their .683 defensive efficiency ranks very poorly at 26th in the MLB.
His ERA has should rebound quite a bit, however. His current 4.42 ERA is shown to be quite high by both FIP (3.96) and tRA (3.93), as well as my own metric, which expects a 3.86 ERA from here on out. His WHIP seems to be more in line with his actual performance, at 1.30, though I have it at 1.28. The 0.02 difference is nothing to write home about, however, and should be wiped away by any chance variation or measurement inaccuracies that should occur.
The one knock on Anderson this season, however, has been his contact percentage. While 83.3 percent is decent, it is a little higher than is ideal and is a sign that his strikeout numbers may be a bit higher than they ought to be. As a result, his 7.30 K/9 seem a little high and should be closer to the mid-6s than the low-7s. His walk rate seems to be right where it should be, given his proclivity to hit the strike zone (50.3 percent zone percentage) and his ability to get ahead in the count (58.3 percent first strikes). If anything, 2.52 BB/9 may be slightly lower than expected, as the peripherals seem closer to the 2.7 range. Still, it's a great walk rate for any pitcher, especially a young one.
Anderson's combination of excellent peripherals and average results put fantasy owners in a very fortuitous position. Most leagues have passed their trade deadline, so unless you are in one that is still trading, you need to check your waiver wire and see if Anderson is available. If your league is still trading, and you could use some pitching help, see if you can pry him away from an unsuspecting owner. If so, he will be quite the asset.
Assuming Anderson is capable of living up to his expected ERA improvement and doesn't fall lower than 6.5 strikeouts per nine, he should be just about league average for a starting pitcher in 12-team mixed leagues. If he's available in your league, he will be a welcome addition and should be worth 1-2 points above replacement level over the course of a full season.
If you employ a league average starter at the fifth and sixth rotation spots, you've got quite a good rotation. Don't let Anderson slip through your fingers. He might be that valuable final piece in your 2009 championship run.
Posted by Mike Silver at 1:59am (3) Comments
Thursday, September 03, 2009
Gulf Coast League
Hitter of the Year
Eury Perez / OF / Washington Nationals
Coming off an outstanding 2008 Dominican Summer League debut, Perez has cemented his position as one of Washington's more exciting young prospects by finishing the year with a 27-game hitting streak on his way to winning the GCL batting title. His all-around offensive game was on display as well, with three home runs, five triples, and 16 stolen bases in 181 at-bats.
Pitcher of the Year:
Matt Fields / RHP / Toronto Blue Jays
Sure, Fields is 23 years old and doesn't have much overall upside, but lets give the man his moment in the limelight. Over 51.2 innings of work, Fields put together a ridiculous set of stats, including a 1.22 ERA and an otherworldly 0.79 WHIP.
Best Hitting Prospect
Kelvin De Leon / OF / New York Yankees
Yankees fans love when their team shells out big bucks for Hispanic teenagers. Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don't. In De Leon's case, the future looks bright. He has thus far justified the Yankees' seven-figure bonus, and his loaded tool box should have him competing in full season ball next year.
Best Pitching Prospect
Adrian Salcedo / RHP / Minnesota Twins
I haven't seen Salcedo pitch, but from everything I hear, no one in the Gulf Coast League even comes close. Right now he sits in the low-90s with his fastball, but with his ideal frame, wiry athletic ability, and relatively clean mechanics, his potential is through the roof. And for his age, his command is borderline freakish.
Hitter of the Year
Cody Decker / 1B / San Diego Padres
Decker was a man amongst boys in more ways than one. A 22-year-old is usually expected to dominate a rookie league, but never in this fashion. We would all like to see more walks and less strikeouts, but Decker lead the league in doubles, home runs, RBIs, and finished third in the league in batting average, the only "blemish" on his triple crown bid.
Pitcher of the Year
Carl Webster / RHP / LA Dodgers
Webster was a giant bright spot on an otherwise sub-par group of AZL Dodgers. He struck out more than a batter per inning while posting a 2.08 ERA and 1.03 WHIP. On top of that, the control issues that he experienced last year in the Gulf Coast League may be well behind him, as he walked only 15 in 60.1 rookie level innings.
Best Hitting Prospect
Mike Trout / OF / LA Angels
Fellow Angels first round pick Randal Grichuk deserves to be mentioned, but Trout's superior contact skills give him a slight edge. Trout isn't a superstar waiting to happen, but he has a bit of power, has a bit of speed, and has a very advanced approach at the plate. In the long run, I think Trout turns out better than Grichuk.
Best Pitching Prospect
Fabio Martinez Mesa / RHP / LA Angels
He doesn't have much more than an electric fastball right now, but that should carry him for awhile. His secondary stuff and control are very much a work in progress, but he has a real feel for a curve ball and seems to have the work ethic to turn it into a plus pitch.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 3:01am (0) Comments
In my last article, I talked a little bit about end of season strategies. That article focused mostly on maximizing innings in standard Yahoo rotisserie leagues, where the cap is set at 1250. Obviously, not all leagues are created equal, and while this is true and the math may change, the underlying concept remains intact.
A fellow THT Fantasy writer, Derek Ambrosino, posted some good points regarding spot-starting in the comments section of that article. Unfortunately, my computer decided to stop working the next day, so I wasn’t able to comment or reply. After reading that post by Derek though, I realized that my article was a bit incomplete, so I’ve decided to use this as an opportunity to not only elaborate on that article, but to add to some of the points Derek raised. Some of my thoughts may conflict with his, but this article shouldn’t be viewed as a rebuttal or argument by any means. Rather, it should be taken as a discussion to further promote thoughts and ideas within fantasy baseball, and I hope you guys add your $0.02 in the comments section.
One of the strategies I love to use throughout the season is right in line with the last point Derek made regarding the use of top-tier relievers (not necessarily closers). This is a strong piece of advice and a sound strategy, and I get the impression that not all owners employ it. Guys like Michael Wuertz (6 wins and 84 strikeouts in 64.1 innings), Ryan Madson (5 wins and 64 strikeouts in 64 innings) and Hideki Okajima (5 wins and 49 strikeouts in 53.2 innings) will not only help accumulate strikeouts, but will pick up occasional wins (and saves), all while not destroying your ERA and WHIP. In other words, these types of relievers help eat-up innings in an efficient way. So if you find that you have some time between spot-starts, considering adding a high-end reliever to fill some of that dead time.
As I mentioned in my previous entry, I tend to be behind in my innings count mostly because I tend to focus on hitting in the first few months of the season. My drafts tend to be hitting heavy, and I have absolutely no problem exchanging pitching for hitting. A reason for this is because, as Derek mentions, pitchers will pitch every fifth day and hitters will hit every day. But another reason why I think it’s often easier for owners to trade pitching for hitting is the idea that quality pitching is more abundant and easier to find than quality hitting.
(This is also the driving force behind hitting heavy drafts or early draft rounds being hitting heavy. And I won’t talk about that here, because then we’d have to start talking about devising a value system that balances pitching and hitting properly according to league settings.)
So if we run with that idea, that pitching is generally easier to find, then it seems that the focus for most of the season should be on hitting.
Admittedly, I’ve never experimented with spot-starting throughout an entire season. The majority of my spot-starts occur towards the end, when I want to ensure that I will reach the maximum number of innings pitched allowed by the league. Derek does bring up a good point, in that by spot-starting early on, the chances of finding a Cliff Lee or Jarrod Washburn increases. I’m just not sure if this type of discovery is a direct result of spot-starting or if it is more a matter of simply being attentive to the occurrences in the major leagues and being active in your fantasy league.
The reason I say this is because when I decide to add or start a pitcher early on in the season, it’s because I deem the expectation of success to be relatively high. And in order for that expectation to be high, that pitcher needs to have a certain minimum set of tools or skills. And how do we usually assess skill level? We usually use history to help predict future performances, right?
So while there might not be a single league where Jarrod Washburn is available at this point in the season, it seems just as likely that there wasn’t a single league in which a team spot-started Washburn against the Twins in his first game or against the Angels in his second game. Likewise, I can’t imagine anyone even considered spot-starting Cliff Lee in either of his first few starts last season either. Washburn, like Lee, wasn’t expected to pitch as well as he has this year, but that expectation has since changed as we now have a little more history to work with. And if we did add Washburn (or Lee last year), it was most likely because we noticed the string of quality starts he had already put together and, then from that point on, we decided that he was good enough to warrant a roster spot.
One last thing I’d like to add is that while the pool of available pitchers may be stronger earlier, that doesn’t necessarily mean that quality pitchers can’t be found on the wire in the latter portion of the season. This will depend on the format and quality of a league, but I’ve found that in many leagues, the teams at the bottom will eventually give up, where the number of transactions will decrease as those teams begin to realize that they are no longer in contention for a finish near the top. This obviously increases the likelihood that you will be able to add and drop as you please. Also, owners may become impatient with players who haven’t performed up to par without realizing that those bad performances could mostly be attributed to bad luck. Generally speaking though, I think Derek is right in that the pool is more plentiful at the start of the season. But whatever the situation may be, the aforementioned situations can and do arise, and and quality pitching can usually be found at any point in the season.
As Derek mentioned, many of the real-life teams juggle their lineups towards the end of the season. While this may slightly decrease the overall chances of accumulating wins, I think there are cases where it can help as well. These lineup shuffles also include minor-league call-ups of prospects that may be competing for a spot in the rotation for the following year. Now, I don’t know if there is any statistical evidence that supports this, but there is at least the idea that it takes some time for hitters to adjust to pitchers they are seeing for the first time (probably a fallacious cliche?). This could be used to your benefit, but I’d imagine there’s quite a bit of variance and risk involved with spot-starting late season call-ups. Obviously, the prospect has to have some potential to begin with, but this strategy may have some merit. And again, remember that at the end of the season, a fantasy team has already accumulated a good number of innings, so a poor start shouldn’t have as much of an impact on the rate categories. So opening up or widening the criteria for starting might not be a bad idea.
For example, I might now be OK with the idea of adding Jorge De La Rosa even for a spot-start at Coors Field. The number of potential strikeouts might now outweigh his 4.93 ERA at home. (And I compared this idea to tournament poker in my first article, and the idea is that at various points of a tournament, a player might sacrifice some long-term value or positive expected value for a greater immediate benefit, like knocking a player out of the tournament to move up the money ladder or to increase the chances of winning the tournament. This idea applies here.)
What are your thoughts on the strategy and timing of spot-starts?
Posted by Marco Fujimoto at 3:05am (2) Comments
Friday, September 04, 2009
Juan Gutierrez | Arizona | CL
YTD: 8.3 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 4.10 ERA
True Talent: 7.1 K/9, 1.8 K/BB, 4.98 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 1.2 Saves, 5.18 ERA
With closer Qualls done for the year, Arizona manager A.J. Hinch has said he'll go with a committee, but Gutierrez is considered the committee chairman. He's got a live fastball but has had control problems in the minors, with a 3.5 BB/9 dragging his control ratios downward. This season, he's declined to 4.1 BB/9, which is not a good trait for your endgame specialist to have. Excitement over his 2.86 ERA in 22 IP since July 1 must be tempered by his 4.9 BB/9 and 1.1 K/BB over that same span, so he's not a lead-pipe lock at closer by any means. Esmerling Vazquez and Clay Zavada are ready to step in should he falter, though Arizona's not going to bring that many save opportunities whoever's collecting them. Grab Gutierrez if you need more saves, but keep these problems in mind. He might overcome them under pressure—or they might make him implode.
Buster Posey | San Francisco | C
YTD: .325/.416/.531 (minors)
True Talent: N/A
Next Week Forecast: N/A
Behind Matt Wieters, Posey is the best catching prospect around, and he's now in the big leagues, after just two years in the minors. Like Wieters, he's revered for his all-around skills, though he's still developing as a receiver. Despite his good SLG, Posey's not considered a true power hitter, but he brings great bat speed, and his .97 BB/K ratio in the minors shows his excellent plate discipline. For now, he's with the club as an insurance policy, so he's not expected to start unless Bengie Molina or Eli Whiteside gets hurt. Molina's battling a sore quad, however, making this not as unlikely as it seems. Posey's undoubtedly gone in NL keeper leagues, and possibly mixed keeper leagues, too—snatch him up if he's not, since catching prowess like this doesn't come around very often. He'll hold almost no value this year, barring injury to either catcher in front of him, so non-keeper leagues should watch him as advance scouting for next season's draft.
Jose Contreras | Colorado | SP
YTD: 7.0 K/9, 2.0 K/BB, 5.42 ERA
True Talent: 5.8 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 4.92 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 4 K, 4.34 ERA
Chicago had seen enough of Contreras, and it's not hard to see why: In six August starts, he made it to the sixth inning once, coughing up 30 R (21 ER) and allowing opposing hitters a .867 OPS. His core ratios are relatively good, but he's creating problems with his walks (3.5 BB/9, his highest total since 2004), putting extra runners on base that he can't afford. Moving to the NL will help him somewhat, and his splitter might help him succeed to Coors Field. Even if he flourishes with his new team, he's not going to have more than one or two starts unless Aaron Cook (whom he was brought in to replace) suffers a setback. The strikeouts and chance for a win are what should draw you to Contreras, not the ERA. Tread carefully here, and take a gamble in deep NL-only leagues if you're desperate.
Brandon Allen | Arizona | 1B
True Talent: .221/.278/.405
Next Week Forecast: 0.8 HR, 3 Runs, 3 RBI, .218 BA, 0.3 SB
Allen's calling card is power, and 20 HRs and 24 2Bs this season in the minors earned him a call-up to the rebuilding D-backs, where he will start nearly every day. What he doesn't have right now is a good eye at the plate, as you can see from his .37 BB/K ratio in the minors (improving to a .59 this year) and the 15 Ks vs. 3 BBs he's amassed in 11 MLB games. True Talent tells the same story, making him a good add for teams needing power, so long as they can also absorb the hit to BA. Arizona's sputtering offense will also cut down on his RBI opportunities, particularly since he's hitting sixth or seventh, making him a fairly one-dimensional addition. NL leagues 16 teams and deeper can probably find a spot for him regardless, while only the deepest of mixed leagues should consider him.
Franklin Morales | Colorado | CL
YTD: 9.1 K/9, 2.4 K/BB, 2.93 ERA
True Talent: 7.1 K/9, 1.3 K/BB, 5.15 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.0 Saves, 4.48 ERA
Morales stepped into the closer's role while Huston Street nurses biceps tendinitis, an interesting choice for a pitcher with one career save (in the minors). Street isn't expected to be out for long, but this is an ailment that can linger; Frank Francisco of the Rangers hit the DL earlier this year with the same problem. Can Morales hold his own? He's rebounded from a 2008 during which he gave up ground in virtually every category, ground that he's gained back this year. He still struggles with walks (3.8 BB/9 in 2009, 4.2 in career) and his 1.2 HR/9 this year is a career high. He's cured that gopheritis in the past three months, though that's an illness that tends to return. He also had two August meltdowns where he gave up a total of 5 ER in 2.1 IP, and True Talent sees more regression coming. These, and the heat of a wild card chase, are all reasons that the Rockies will try to bring back Street ASAP. Morales should probably gobble up a few saves before Street returns, but if Street's out for longer, Morales may not look all that appealing finishing Colorado's games.
J.J. Hardy | Milwaukee | SS
True Talent: .265/.328/.436
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 1 Runs, 1 RBI, .261 BA, 0.0 SB
The good news for Hardy is that he's back in the bigs. The bad news is that the Brewers waited just long enough to activate him that he won't get free agency for another year. They did that to make him a more appealing trade chip, meaning they'll give him PT down the stretch, but Alcides Escobar should still get most of the starts. Hardy's not going to reach those True Talent numbers, but nobody else saw this kind of crash coming, either—some guys just have a lost season, like Hardy's doing now. He'll recover to his former levels, but it won't be with Milwaukee, and it won't be in 2009. Part-time play and dramatically diminished performance make him only valuable for the deepest of NL leagues, and even then, he doesn't offer much. NL keeper owners considering rostering him for next year's almost certain bounceback should remember that the inevitable trade could take him to another league.
Tim Redding | New York | SP
YTD: 6.0 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 5.70 ERA
True Talent: 5.8 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 5.34 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 5.1 IP, 0.3 Wins, 3 K, 5.39 ERA
Redding has been an average, unspectacular arm for eight seasons, putting up some fair-to-middling ratios—6.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9 and a 5.01 ERA—and a subpar 36-54 record. Those were good enough to make him the latest victim to step into the crumbling Mets' rotation on August 22, where he promptly reeled off three solid starts, giving up just 5 ER in 18.1 IP for a 2.45 ERA, with 15 Ks and 6 BB. Of course, New York's Quadruple-A offense didn't help him much, giving him just one win in those three starts. Any pitcher can get hot, of course, and Redding is still hamstrung by the Mets' offense and defense. He'll also shift back to the bullpen when the rehabbing John Maine returns, giving him just one or two more starts. Roll the dice if you must, but he's a high-risk, low-reward option best used in NL leagues 14 teams and deeper.
Drew Stubbs | Cincinnati | OF
True Talent: .228/.304/.362
Next Week Forecast: 0.5 HR, 3 Runs, 2 RBI, .226 BA, 0.8 SB
Another up-and-coming Reds OF, Stubbs is a speed threat who's somehow walking into homers in 2009. This is a guy who slugged .363 this year in Triple-A and .401 in four minor-league seasons—but he also swiped 121 bags in that time, including 46 this year. That's what should perk fantasy owners' ears up, in spite of only 3 SBs in 15 games thus far. The other concern with Stubbs is his strike-zone judgment, reflected by his .51 BB/K minor-league ratio and 20 Ks against only 3 BBs in the bigs. That's going to catch up with him eventually, as True Talent shows, so keep that in mind if you want to grab him. He's got a clear path to PT, so he'll stay in there nearly every game, and those SBs give him value, particularly at this point in the season. Overall, his OPS marks him only for 15-team or deeper NL leagues, but if you need steals bad enough and can handle the diminishing BA returns, he could be a worthy addition to almost any league.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Michael Street at 1:00am (0) Comments
Michael Brantley | Cleveland | OF
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Brantley was 46-5 in stolen base attempts at AAA. Essentially, that's all that needs to be said about him, but it's also nice that he doesn't strike out, with a Ct% near 90% in Triple-A. Just pretend his Triple-A batting average says .310, since there's no way his stats support a continued .288 BABIP. He has a GB% of 49%, LD% of 21%, bats lefty, has speed to burn, and the aforementioned Ct%. His great speed reportedly hasn't translated into good defense, which could take a bite out of his playing time going forward, but we expect Eric Wedge to get a long look for himself in September. Should be worth 1-1.5 SB/week.
Wade Davis | Tampa Bay | SP
YTD: 7.9 K/9, 2.3 K/BB, 3.40 ERA (AAA)
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
If you lost track along the way, this is Entry No. 932 in the Rays' Endless Stream of Studly Starters. Davis will get the ball Sunday, and should be claimed in formats where young players can be kept. As far as how good he'll be, he's probably on a par with Tillman and Matusz of Baltimore, but has the advantage of facing the O's instead of the Rays. Only mess with him for 2009 if you are desperate, and/or you have an awful pitcher active who needs to be replaced.
Brian Duensing | Minnesota | SP
YTD: 6.6 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 3.81 ERA
True Talent: 6.3 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 5.29 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 11.0 IP, 0.6 Wins, 6 K, 5.25 ERA
Sometimes rotation member Duensing's ERA is pretty much all fluke. His quality of batters faced is just .260/.329/.423 (95th OPS in AL among 50 IP pitchers). His BABIP is low (.284), his HR/FB% is low (7.8%). He does have things working for him, in that the Metrodome has one of the lowest park factors in the AL (93), and he's excellent at preventing the running game (1-2 on SBA against). Expect him to gradually get better for four more years, peaking around age 30. Not much help in 2009, though.
Akinori Iwamura | Tampa Bay | 2B
True Talent: .274/.349/.387
Next Week Forecast: 0.2 HR, 3 Runs, 2 RBI, .270 BA, 0.4 SB
There's really not much to say about Iwamura, except that pre-injury he was stealing a lot more this year (8 SB so far in just 193 PA). He won't hurt even a mixed-league team, but he won't help much, either. The talk of the Rays potentially declining his option is folly, assuming he shows himself to be 100% healthy. There are plenty of teams that could use him (after a sign-and-trade) at his option price of $4.5 million.
Brandon McCarthy | Texas | SP
YTD: 5.9 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.61 ERA
True Talent: 6.2 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.92 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 6.0 IP, 0.4 Wins, 4 K, 4.30 ERA
We won't pretend to understand exactly how the new “Ryan System” works in Texas, but it's certainly showing more promise than the old towel-tossing that Tom House used to use. But McCarthy has brought his xFIP DOWN to 5.39 this season, and he's still a flyball pitcher in Texas. So, there's no real reason to worry if you don't get him, but he's probably worth a play in road games against the offensive offenses of Seattle and Oakland.
Jeff Manship | Minnesota | SP
YTD: 3.8 K/9, 1.0 K/BB, 3.75 ERA
True Talent: 5.1 K/9, 1.5 K/BB, 5.69 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 10.1 IP, 0.6 Wins, 6 K, 5.64 ERA
A 14th-round pick in 2006, his 2007 experience in A and high-A had people talking, but he's always been regarded as having very little upside. Still, he's good at inducing ground balls (over 48%), and could be innocuous in AL-only leagues for his home games, at least. Only worth consideration in AL-only leagues, but the Twins are a good organization on which to have pitchers, so expect him to out-perform his indicators.
Kameron Mickolio | Orioles | RP
YTD: 9.2 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 2.84 ERA
True Talent: 7.1 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 4.43 ERA
Next Week Forecast: 0.1 Saves, 5.16 ERA
Mickolio came over from Seattle, so he must be good, right? Well, he does some things well, but he chose a bad time to have a “tired arm.” With a fastball that averages over 95 mph when his arm is healthy, the only concern about this power reliever is whether he can throw strikes. Lowering this rate to 3.3 BB/9 in Triple-A this season is a promising beginning, and one more meltdown by Johnson could lead to Trembley “kicking the tires” in September to see if Mickolio is a road-worthy closer for 2010.
Sean Rodriguez | Tampa Bay | INF
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
Out of the frying pan, into the fire for Rodriguez. It may be easy to hit at Salt Lake, but .300/.400/.600 (approx) translates pretty well from any Triple-A park. You can never have too many good shortstops and starting pitchers, and it's not surprising that the Rays are emulating the Angels in that. Rodriguez was always considered a “will do” defensive shortstop, so he's probably going to play second base, where he's expected to be a big asset with the glove. That means he will only become viable with an injury or a trade ... just like the “frying pan” he left in Anaheim.
Carlos Torres | Chicago | SP
YTD: 7.8 K/9, 1.6 K/BB, 3.86 ERA
True Talent: n/a
Next Week Forecast: n/a
The Sox season may be forfeit, and few in Chicago were watching the “Crosstown Classic,” but Carlos Torres pitched his way into Geoff Blum Folk Hero status by shutting down the Cubs yesterday. He isn't really considered a top prospect, but he had a great Triple-A season, and has earned a rotation slot until (if) Peavy's elbow heals from the liner that hit him. Someone to avoid if you're playing conservative, but he had a 9.1 K/9 in Triple-A, so his junk is deceptive enough to miss bats, and adding a full-time SP with 7.5 K/9 potential at this point in the season could help certain fantasy teams.
True Talent and Next Week Forecasts courtesy of Heater Magazine.
Posted by Rob McQuown at 3:59am (8) Comments
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Today is the Sept. 8. Labor Day weekend is behind us, the kids are back to school, there's a new found briskness in the air (in New Jersey at least), and the baseball regular season is in its home stretch. Most teams have about 25 games left to play until postseason baseball begins.
With that finite number in mind, let's run through some numbers and see what we can expect over those 25 games.
Most starters will mostly likely get four or five more starts in before the season's end. Some will get more—like CC Sabathia last year with the Brewers—and plenty will get less. I'll say on average starting pitchers will get four more starts; or you will start them in your lineup four more times. And I'll also say those pitchers will average six and one-thirds innings per start, which is about league average.
As I'm sure is known, better pitchers will generally have longer outings. This chart has probably been produced a million times, but here are the innings pitched per start numbers for every pitcher with at least 100 innings thrown in 2009 compared to their ERA:
Following the dotted green line will show you the reverse correlation. If you want to get detailed, you can project seven innings a start for your elite pitchers and six innings for pitchers with ERAs over 4.00, but for now I'll stick to six and one-third for everyone since that 2.22 ERA pitcher of yours should only be expected to average seven innings a start if he will continue to pitch at a 2.22 ERA level. Otherwise, he should get the innings per start of his rest of season projection, not that anyone can reasonably predict what will happen over a mere four starts.
Anyway, 4 X 6.333 is 25.333 or, rounding down, 25 innings. So you can expect your starters to pitch about another 25 innings from now till the end of the season. Let that number give you a perspective on how selective you should be when deciding between sitting or starting a pitcher as you approach your league's maximum innings limit.
Twenty-five multiplied by your number of starting pitchers and you'll get approximately how many more innings of work your starting pitchers will give you if you start them every time. Depending on how far over or under your limit you project should determine how selective you are with playing your starting pitchers.
Relievers must also be taken into account. Closers and the best relievers (i.e. the ones owned on fantasy teams) pitch, on average, one inning every 2.34 games. That means we can expect relievers to pitch about another 10 to 11 innings before the end of the season.
Again, multiply 10 by the number of relievers you start, and add that to your projected starter-innings pitched total to get your very own, custom rest of season innings projection. If you are currently on pace to finish above or below your league's max innings limit, use these numbers to help you decide how many starters and relievers is best for you to carry.
Even if you have to sit decent pitchers because you are projected to overshoot, remain hesitant to drop those pitchers since then you are providing free talent to other teams who may have been smart enough to stay below the limit pace and will benefit from your cuts. Do not keep too many pitchers languishing on your bench either, though, if you are in that situation.
All in all, the most important thing is to maximize your limits, and if you did not do a great job of planning in the beginning of the season, at least now formulate a plan of how you will use your pitchers from now till the end of the season.
Posted by Paul Singman at 12:35am (0) Comments
Aaron Hill became a popular pick in 2008 after he hit 17 homers the year before. Then his power fell in the limited time he saw before dealing with-post concussion symptoms from colliding with teammate David Eckstein. This year, Hill has gone beyond every expectation and powered out 31 homers so far.
While Hill is experiencing a breakout, the fans in Minnesota are getting what they always expect from Justin Morneau. He has always had the ability to hit 30 homers along with a solid average, but this year he has started to walk a lot more and added a solid OBP to his attack.
Name GP AB R HR RBI SB CS K% BB% BABIP HR/F P/PA Aaron Hill 134 582 82 31 91 4 2 15.3% 5.2% 0.290 14.9% 3.5 Justin Morneau 128 483 83 29 97 0 0 17.0% 12.5% 0.288 17.3% 3.7
Another MVP award based on RBI totals in 2006 led to Morneau being a perennial top-five pick at first base. His totals were always solid in all categories except for steals. Since then he has been fairly solid, but has often fallen slightly below expectations in one of his categories. This year Morneau has put up 2006 numbers but added to his walks.
His strikeout rate has been solid over the years with slight ups and downs, but at a career level of 16% he has good contact skills. The change has been in walk rate the past few years going from 8.2% in 2005 and 2006 to 9.8% in 2007 and 10.9% in 2008. He again made very strong strides in 2009 by walking in 12.5% of his plate appearances.
Even with the increase in walks, his OBP is still not a career high. Thanks to a BABIP of only .288, his average and OBP are lower than they could be. This isn't all bad luck though with a LD% that has fallen to 16.2%. His line drives have fallen before, so I don't expect this to be a continued drop in BABIP.
He has small fluctuations, but Morneau is one of the more reliable choices at first base since 2006.
It's not much of a surprise that looking at HitTracker you find Aaron Hill is tied for the AL lead in "just enough" homers. His power growth went beyond any owner's wildest expectations and with 12 homers being "just enough," he has a 39% rate. That is way above the league average and calls for a regression in power. His HR/F rate has also shown his amazing power growth going from 8% in his breakout 2007 year to the 14.9% he is at this year.
Hill has trouble getting on base and his walk rate on his career stands at 6.7%. With a .335 career OBP his run totals have always dragged his value down. This year he is on pace to top 90 runs for the first time, but if he's unable to continue to hit 30 homers going forward he will likely return to 80 runs.
His speed on the bases has also hurt his value. He has only topped 4 steals once before and his speed score for his career is only 4.0. This has been lower this year at only 2.7 and has surely cost him several more runs. This lack of speed has also likely been part of the reason for his low BABIP this year, which is at .290 and only .311 on his career.
Not many leagues use OBP as a category, but ignore it at your own risk. Hill needs more runs to really get the most value, but just doesn't have the skills. Expecting less in all categories next year except his average is not encouraging for next year.
We can see pretty clearly that Morneau may have equal numbers to Hill this year, but Morneau is the more consistent player and more likely to repeat these numbers again. Hill has the advantage of second base eligibility, but these two won't be clones next year for sure based on the numbers. Looking at Fantasy Ball Junkie's 2010 very early Fantasy baseball draft we see Aaron Hill going in the fifth round. He also went right behind Ben Zobrist who I would recommend as the much better pick with five solid categories and a great OBP to back it up.
Posted by Troy Patterson at 2:01am (12) Comments
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
Jonathan Sanchez is the pitching equivalent of the three-true-outcomes hitter: He matches eyepopping strikeout rates with equally huge walk rates. While Sanchez is a wild, fireballing young lefty, there is more than meets the eye when delving into his rate statistics.
Sanchez began his career in 2004 as a 27th-round draft pick by the San Francisco Giants. Though he arrived with little fanfare, Sanchez quickly rose through the ranks, registering as San Francisco's sixth-best prospect in 2006, before peaking as the system's second-best and MLB's 59th overall in 2007. Sanchez backed up these lofty prospect rankings with stellar performances in A-ball in 2005 and a three-level season in 2006 culminating with a stint with the big club. His 2005 season really put him on the map, as he posted 166 punchouts against 39 walks in 125.2 innings. His overall minor league career line boasted an incredible 333 strikeouts in 252.2 innings (11.9 K/9) while walking just 98 (3.5 BB/9) over parts of three seasons.
Sanchez brings a quality three-pitch mix to the mound featuring a 91-92 mph fastball, 81-82 mph slider, and 83-84 mph change-up. Through his tenure in the majors, this repertoire has been one of the hardest in the MLB to hit, as the hurler has amassed a career 75.3 percent contact rate over 388.1 innings through parts of four seasons.
The major leagues haven't been all fun and games for Sanchez, however.
While Sanchez has been one of the hardest pitchers to hit since his premier in 2006, he has also had some painful struggles with his command. From the get-go in 2006, he gave batters little reason to swing the bat, walking 5.18 batters per nine (23 BB in 40 IP). This rate has never dipped below 4.00 in his career, as his best showing was in 2008, when he walked "just" 4.27 batters per nine innings. This trouble with walks has been the theme in the pitcher's young career, as is the story with many lefties with exceptional stuff. Word gets out quickly that they cannot command the zone and they have problems getting batters to chase pitches off the plate and struggle with walks. Randy Johnson is probably the best example of this. The Big Unit struggled with his command until 1993, his age 30 season, after posting walk rates of 6.8 BB/9 and 6.2 BB/9 in 1991 and 1992, respectively, a period which spanned 411.2 innings. While high walk totals are nothing to scoff at, they are not unheard of.
But if there was ever a redeeming quality in fantasy and major league baseball, it is the ability to miss bats—and Sanchez has this in spades. His strikeout rate has been off the charts since 2007, as the pitcher is the proud owner of a career strikeout rate of 9.41 K/9, including 10.02 K/9 this season and 10.73 K/9 in 2007. Ever wonder how a pitcher can throw a no-hitter? Don't let the opposition put the ball in play. If you can get 10 outs per 27 via the K, the chances are much higher for a no-no. Don't be surprised if Sanchez throws another one in the next couple seasons.
But there is more than just high strikeout and walk totals that make Sanchez such as interesting pitcher. In reality, he is not nearly as wild or doesn't have as little control as his numbers make it seem. His command ratings are not far from league average, so it is a bit surprising that his walk rates have been so high over the last two seasons.
Sanchez's primary indicators of control, being his Zone percentage (48.5 percent, a little lower than is desirable) and F-Strike percentage (59.2 percent) are right around league average. Sanchez seems to have fallen victim to a stigma of being "wild," as hitters are less inclined to swing at his offerings, evidenced by his low Swing percentage (43.5 percent). This, coupled with a very low contact rate (73.0 percent), means that at-bats against Sanchez tend to drag on longer, resulting in more walks, as well as strikeouts. It would be beneficial to Sanchez if batters would swing more, meaning fewer walks. Still, he does benefit from the additional called strikes.
Overall, Sanchez looks to be a good candidate for improvement over the rest of this season and for years to come. His expected strikeouts are still phenomenal, around 9.6 K/9, while his walk numbers should improve a lot from this season, as his rates are more indicative of a pitcher who allows 4.0 BB/9, not 5.
As it stands, Sanchez is performing right around where he should, with a 4.03 ERA, close to his 3.83 FIP. His WHIP of 1.35 is reasonable as well, though it could climb closer to 1.40, but not above that. If Sanchez can make the aforementioned improvements in his walk rates, he could see his ERA drop to the low 3.8s and his WHIP improve to around 1.30. Either way, Jonathan Sanchez is an above-average fantasy pitcher for 12-team mixed leagues, worth about 1-2 points above average. Not too shabby for a hurler who has been left to rot on waiver wires across the fantasy landscape. Grab him if you can; you won't be disappointed.