May 24, 2013
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Monday, March 08, 2010
Both players received their major league debuts at 24 and entered their age 25 season ready to break spring training with the team. Papelbon of course struggled with injuries that year, but we'll just look at what their minor league numbers look like.
Bard did start in his first season, but was atrocious at Single-A and high A. His K/BB at both levels was 0.60 with an insane 9.4 walks per nine innings. That is in 75 IP and was a big reason he hasn't started since. He turned it around quickly though in 2008 as he returned to A ball as a reliever and absolutely dominated.
In 28 IP at A ball he had a K/9 of 13.8 and a BB/9 of 1.3 and moved up quickly to Double-A where he proved he could continue to pitch well, despite struggling with walks. His BB/9 rose to 4.7, but he still showed a dominant ERA at 1.99. After a short 16 IP in Triple-A starting 2009 he did show the great K/BB skills again at 5.80. All together as a reliever he threw a 13.1 K/9 and a BB/9 of 3.36.
It's tough to judge relievers in the minor leagues as they have so many small sample sizes at so many levels. Let's see how this compares to Papelbon when he was in the minors: Papelbon threw plenty of innings due to being a starter and should be able to see his skill, but must remember that pitchers gain strikeouts when moving to the pen.
Papelbon had some very good numbers in the minors. His K/9 was 9.7 across all levels, but fell to 8.6 at Double-A and Triple-A in 2005. While his strikeout rate has now climbed to over 10 he did show he would have good control with a 2.5 BB/9 across all levels.
This maybe the biggest difference between the two. Bard has a slightly lower level of control and will result in a higher walk rate. This means he needs to maintain his elite strikeout levels of 2008 and 2009 just to have K/BB numbers near Papelbon's best.
Bard's numbers did follow this pattern so far as he held a K/9 of 11.5 last season, but his walk rate was at 4.0. Papelbon did have a similar first year with a walk rate of 4.5. Will Bard follow in his path and show better control this year? That's unclear, but even if he's not pitching like a perfect clone of Papelbon he's going to be the closer of the future.
Posted by Troy Patterson at 4:54am (0) Comments
Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Looking over the Mock Draft Central ADP report and focusing on when certain positions are taken, it becomes clear that a run of outfielders generally occurs in drafts from picks 50 to 70. In a standard 12-team draft those picks equate to the beginning of round five to the end of round six.
Looking at the data I count a total of 24 players picked on average over this 21-pick stretch and 12 of them happen to be outfielders. Forgoing anonymity, they are the following players.
So this means about half of the players taken over this stretch are outfielders and even with the usual ADP caveats, I think it is worth investigating to find out who the best options are of this grass-roaming group. Using the recently debuted THT Projections we can come up with a general expectation for each player and using those numbers as a baseline, separate the very good from the merely good.
Here are those same 12 players again but instead of their 2009 numbers next to their name, their projected stat line for the 2010 season follows.
As you can see, there are a couple of speed options such as Upton and Victorino, a few power options in Dunn in particular, and then there are those desirable across-the-board players in Granderson, Choo, and Cruz. Check out that line projected for Nelson Cruz! I don't like saying that my eyeballing of a player's peripheral stats is more accurate than a projection system, but in this case I do feel comfortable knocking a decent amount of home runs off of Cruz' projection.
Even with the detraction, Cruz comes off as an appealing option with his ability to contribute across the board. If, however, the fact that Cruz was in the minor leagues not more than a year ago makes you afraid to pull the trigger at this stage of a draft, then Granderson appears to be a similar, yet much safer option. The third five-category contributor, Choo, I find less appealing than most, mainly because of his notoriously high BABIP, which when regressed, would wipe away the extra value he provides in the batting average category.
If you are looking for power, Adam Dunn is the only player of the group besides Cruz predicted to hit over 30 home runs and with his average projected to not drop below the .260 mark, should not wreck havoc on your team's batting average. Carlos Lee and Manny, while capable of hitting 30-plus home runs with ease no too long ago, are now well into their thirties and most likely will top out at about 25 home runs.
The hidden power supply in this group is found where Adam Lind stands with, in my opinion, the ability to hit another 30 bombs or more in 2010. A projection system, understandably, would be skeptical of Lind's power outburst last year but as someone who predicted the outburst, it does not seem altogether too improbable for it to happen again. Couple his power ability with his relatively high .290-.300 average and out comes an attractive outfield option in the sixth round.
Andre Ethier is close to having the home run and average capabilities of Lind but will more likely finish with around 25 to 28 home runs instead. He may be a safer option given his more proven track record, but Lind is definitely more capable of posting home run totals well into the thirties and is also the player I am partial to taking given the choice between the two similar players.
Rounding out the last of the players: Markakis, while perhaps the safest player to draft of this bunch, does not appear to have the ceiling anymore of the other players. In retrospect, I should not have argued in favor of Markakis over Troy Tulowitzki in the comments section of this article.
Hamilton has a ceiling that reaches into the stratosphere, but his riskiness due to poor health and general inconsistency when on the field turn me away from him. Another risk magnet, B.J. Upton, is a player almost impossible to forecast. At least with him if all else fails, you can count on around 40 steals and somewhere indeterminable, yet tangible, there exists the possibility of a year reminiscent of his magnificent 2007.
Finally there is Victorino, who is an overall solid fantasy player as his projected line indicates. The difficultly with him is deciding where to rank him amongst this group of players. A comparison between Victorino and Ethier looks like this: even in terms of batting average, Ethier gets a slight edge in RBI/run totals and so it comes down to home runs and steals. Ethier can be expected to hit about 15 more home runs while Victorino will thieve approximately 25 more bases.
Which is more valuable, the 15 home runs or 25 steals? It is a difficult question to answer and one that makes rankings two players like this a struggle. Most of the time I would opt to take the slugger early and grab Ethier, though a reasonable case could also be made for Victorino.
If I had to make a definitive list ranking these players it would look something like this:
1) Curtis Granderson
2) Nelson Cruz
3) Adam Lind
4) Adam Dunn
5) B.J. Upton
6) Andre Ethier
7) Shane Victorino
8) Josh Hamilton
9) Nick Markakis
10) Shin-Soo Choo
11) Carlos Lee
12) Manny Ramirez
Having sorted (for the most part) these outfielders out, the question now is will you take an outfielder during this popular spot in the draft? And the answer to that question ... I'll let you decide.
If you are interested in the THT Projections for all players for the 2010 season (and beyond), check out this page for more information.
Posted by Paul Singman at 4:45am (10) Comments
This past weekend I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona to defend my title in USA Today's League of Alternate Baseball Reality (LABR) NL. I know at least a few of you have been anxious to see my roster, so here it is. If you have any comments, thoughts, or opinions, feel free to post them in the comments. Just keep a few things in mind.
First, I realize I'm light on starting pitching. I went with the same strategy I did last year, which is loading up on offense and using my six reserve picks on SPs and playing the matchups with them. Second, Elijah Dukes at $20 looks bad out of context (especially once you see what some better OFs went for), but I had a few extra bucks, had altered my strategy mid-draft a couple times, and he was the best player left on the board (and I do like him a lot anyway — I had him valued in the high teens). Ditto Ricky Nolasco. I was in on all the top tier starting pitchers, but they all went a little higher than I wanted. When Nolasco was the last one left, I had to splurge to make my strategy work. That's the risk in waiting.
That being said, here's my roster:
LABR NL 2010 — Team Carty
C: Gregg Zaun - $4
C: Nick Hundley - $3
1B: Prince Fielder - $37
2B: Ian Stewart - $22
3B: Andy LaRoche - $10
SS: Ronny Cedeno - $3
CI: Adam LaRoche - $24
MI: Adam Kennedy - $9
OF: Jay Bruce - $23
OF: Elijah Dukes - $20
OF: Ryan Ludwick - $18
OF: Kosuke Fukudome - $6
OF: Angel Pagan - $2
UT: Jeff Clement - $8
P: Ricky Nolasco - $26
P: Joe Blanton - $10
P: Clayton Richard - $8
P: Francisco Rodriguez - $16
P: Takashi Saito - $4
P: Pedro Feliciano - $3
P: Joe Thatcher - $1
P: Kiko Calero - $1
P: John Smoltz - $1
P: Edinson Volquez - $1
RSV: Chien-Ming Wang (SP)
RSV: Kevin Hart (SP)
RSV: Livan Hernandez (SP)
RSV: Fernando Nieve (SP)
RSV: Carlos Silva (SP)
RSV: Brian Moehler (SP)
The rest of the LABR results will appear in USA Today's Sports Weekly next week along with some comments from each of the participants. Feel free to share any early thoughts on my roster below.
Posted by Derek Carty at 2:51pm (18) Comments
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
We all know that it is best to build a statistically balanced roster and avoid depending on two-category players to compensate for deficiencies. But, the best-laid plans can go awry. Of all the standard offensive categories, stolen bases is the one for which owners most commonly seek a specialist’s help. So, I thought it would be helpful to mention a few players who might be helpful in the speed department who are not getting much ADP love.
A quick point before delving in to some players—even if you’ve built a balanced team, there are some other possible reasons why you may want to invest in cheap speed later in the draft. Unlike a team’s power supply, which is largely spread out among several players, a team’s speed quotient is often wrapped up in a few players, even when the team is balanced. Having a host of 15-steal players helps balance risk, but usually there are one or two players whose speed your team can only hope to tread water without. Cheap speed guys can be thought of as insurance policies to those players. They also make great throw-ins in trades.
Also, as we just established, even within a balanced roster, you often need one or two big basestealing threats, and the prices for the top guys can be steep. Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford, and a healthy Jose Reyes bring more to table than just speed. But, it is totally reasonable to feel very hesitant to invest a top 100 pick in a player like Michael Bourn. So, it’s also feasible to strategically look to the late rounds to acquire your speed.
A final tangent and shameless plug, for those of you who just aren’t in enough fantasy leagues already, you can support us at the THT simply by playing fantasy baseball. You may have noticed the link to CBSSportline.com’s fantasy baseball site in the left hand column of our homepage. By joining a league through that link, you can help keep our virtual lights on and irritate your wife at the same time.
Now, let’s take a look at a few players who project to be assets but are currently sitting outside the top 150 in ADP.
Julio Borbon (159)
Borbon has been a given a lot of attention as a sleeper this preseason, so I won’t waste too much ink on him. Amidst the hype, it’s important to remember that Borbon is not a sure thing—though he sure looks the part. He didn’t really have to hit lefties at all last year and he did not steal bases at the clip he did last year when he was in the high minors. Also, Borbon never hit more than seven homers in a minor league season, so the fact that his 2009 MLB numbers would have projected 12-15 homer power should be taken with a grain of salt.
Rajai Davis (160)
Davis ran wild on the scene last season, swiping 41 bases in 125 games for the normally reluctant to run Athletics. Davis has an extensive minor league history of stealing 40+ bases and his basestealing skills were given a preseason endorsement by Rickey Henderson. Secure in his starting job, I don’t see any reason why Davis can’t build on last season; he may actually be a batting average asset as well. If somebody offered me two-to-one odds on Davis stealing more bases than Bourn this season, I think I’d take the bet.
Juan Pierre (199)
Jay-Z rapped that he “ran base like Juan Pierre.” In the remix version filmed as a public service announcement to keep kids off drugs, Jadakiss fired back with “Kids, please stay off base like Juan Pierre.” OK, so I made that second part up.
Anyway, one of the tried and true sabermetric whipping boys will be manning the outfield and leading off for Ozzie Guillen’s White Sox. We know that Ozzie values looking like you are trying hard above things like getting on base or having a stronger throwing arm than Kathy Griffin (sorry, that’s the face that happened to be on the television when I looked over to fill in this blank). So, Pierre should enjoy a full season as a crappy leadoff hitter who will prove a nice source of steals, runs, and a hollow, but weighty .300-ish batting average.
Oh, and by the way, if you’re longing for more nonsense and to indulge in schadenfreude at the expense of others’ woeful grammar and misspelling, hit Senor Guillen up on the Twitter.
Carlos Gomez (227)
At the outset of Gomez’s major league career with the Mets, his claim to fame was that he was allegedly faster than Jose Reyes. Well, that may or may not be true, but with a career .292 on-base percentage, it hardly matters either way. Gomez has the potential to be a nice source of steals and runs if he can stick atop the batting order in Milwaukee. As somebody keeping Ryan Braun in my main league (hold on while I go look at his stat page again and drool—OK, I’m back), I sincerely hope Rickie Weeks or somebody with better on-base skills is given the privilege of trotting around the bases as Braun and Prince Fielder launch moon shots and ringing doubles in the gaps. Like the Willy Taverases before him, Gomez’s fantasy utility will be inversely correlated with the baseball IQ of his real-life manager.
Everth Cabrera (229)
Cabrera is locked in as the Padres starting shortstop and, from what I can glean, the organization seems to really like him. Cabrera made pretty quick work of the minors; in 2007, in A-ball, Cabrera swiped a whopping 73 bases in 121 games. Last season, at the big league level, he nabbed 25 in 103 games. He hasn’t shown any power and did not hit for a high average last season, but he does have plenty of natural speed and the Padres should be itching to run with their lack of power and cavernous home stadium. Cabrera could easily steal 35 bases next year, which makes him worth a look at your MI slot if your team is short on speed.
Dexter Fowler (278)
I’m not really sure what to make of Fowler. Throughout the minors, he ran more frequently at some points than others and he’s never been a high percentage basestealer. Colorado doesn’t seem to be too concerned with that; see Tulowitzki, Troy. I spot started Fowler a bit last year, and it seems that he runs in spurts. I can’t wholeheartedly recommend him, but he does have something of a wild-card dynamic to his game. He also seems to have gap power at least and at 24, it’s possible he develops a bit more. He’s got to improve from the left side though if he wants to be a true asset to his team and the fantasy community, and avoid the threat of being platooned.
Drew Stubbs (311)
Stubbs is an interesting option late in deeper drafts at least. Throughout the minors, he’s not been a great hitter for average, but he has shown legitimate on-base skills. He did not flash any power to speak of though. In his cameo appearance at the MLB level last year, he showed mediocre on base abilities and flashed previously non-existent power. Eight homers and six extra-base hits spells flash in the pan though, and Stubbs should be expected, like most others in this column, to be a liability in the power department. However, Stubbs has shown not just speed, but basestealing acumen throughout the minors, posting considerable steals total at impressive success rates in the higher minors. Stubbs could be a cheap source of 25 steals.
Eric Young Jr. (388)
E-Y Jr. has the potential to be a terror on the base paths. Over more than 500 minor league games, he’s averaged over half a steal per. In A-ball in 2006, he attempted 118 steals in 128 games, pocketing 87. He’s also shown decent on-base and contact skills. Coming into the exhibition season, the consensus among the Colorado brass was that Young was unlikely to make the Rockies Opening Day roster. But keep your eyes open; a hot spring or a key injury could catapult Young into the lineup. Were such an event to happen, Young would immediately join the ranks of the game’s most formidable basestealing threats.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 5:03am (0) Comments
Thursday, March 11, 2010
This past Sunday, I had the draft in my main league. It is a 12-team mixed league with the usual stats plus holds and BB/K for batters. We are allowed to keep up to four players (but no more than three batters) at a cost of the first several picks (first keeper costs the first-round pick, and so on). This year, my keepers were Kemp, Teixeira and Miguel Cabrera, but I traded Cabrera for Reyes a few weeks ago in an effort to diversify my roster a bit. With first base so deep, I didn't feel as if I needed to gum up both my 1B and CI slots so early. Of course, now Reyes has the thyroid problem—don't get me started. We also get to keep two rookies coming into the season cost-free. I had the eighth pick in the snake draft.
1. Matt Kemp (keeper)
2. Mark Teixeira (keeper)
3. Jose Reyes (keeper)
4. Josh Beckett
5. Chris Carpenter
6. Cole Hamels
7. Adam Dunn
8. Derek Lee
9. Matt Wieters
10. Chipper Jones
11. Julio Borbon
12. Tim Hudson
13. Frank Francisco
14. Jay Bruce
15. Howie Kendrick
16. Matt Capps
17. Dexter Fowler
18. Adrian Beltre
19. Kyle Blanks
20. Jonathan Sanchez
21. Scot Shields
22. Fernando Rodney
23. Manny Corpas
24. Justin Duchscherer
Rookie keepers: Neftali Feliz, Michael Brantley
This season I decided to target starting pitching more than I had in the past. Since my league has holds in it, one or two pitcher spots usually go to setup guys. With a few closers as well, it is entirely likely that each week I will only start four or five starting pitchers. So the replacement-level starting pitcher is quite high in this league, and the return to building a solid core of three or so good starters is high. Beckett was the fifth pitcher off the board. I had planned on getting only one more good starter in the next couple of rounds, but when the next round came up, Carpenter was by far the best player remaining according to my projections. He's a bit of an injury risk, but with Beckett already in the pocket, I felt fairly safe. Plus, I felt that Hamels would still be there in the next round, which he was, and I wasn't going to let him get away. After that, I felt pretty good about my pitching, but felt I needed some guaranteed power; I knew there was plenty of speed left in the later rounds. So I went with Dunn.
Tim Hudson's not gonna hurt me. With those four starters in the fold, I was able to pass on guys like Derek Lowe and Aaron Harang. No more will I suffer when Dusty Baker leaves Harang out to dry in the eighth inning.
For the most part, my batters are caricatures. With the exception of Kemp, most of my early-round guys are either-or types—either power or speed. Reyes and Borbon will hopefully give me plenty of speed, while Dunn, Teixeira, Bruce and Lee will hopefully go get 'em in. Blanks and Fowler are my upside guys, passing on the likes of Milton Bradley. Dunn helps in the BB/K category too.
What costs did I pay? Well, I got a little squeezed at third and second. Still, if I can get performance out of either Beltre or Jones, I'm in pretty good shape. As it currently stands, one will be my DH while the other mans third. But DH/Util is the easiest spot to replenish, obviously—I can easily slot someone like Blanks or Fowler in if one of my hot corners goes down. Kendrick, well, I'm hoping he's ready for a breakout. But if not, at least I hope he helps with my batting average. I also think, perhaps colored by my Ben Zobrist-athon last year, that second base is a position where one can find breakouts in the bushes. I'm more or less satisfied with Wieters in the ninth.
This year's draft was one of the earliest I've ever participated in, and the uncertainty that surrounds relief pitching at this time of year is remarkable. There are enough closers that have question marks—guys like Matt Lindstrom and Brad Lidge—that differences of opinion can vary widely (to say nothing of the situation in Minnesota now). I'm expecting good stuff from Francisco—he's got the skills for it. If not, I have Feliz as a sort of backup. Shields and Rodney are my hopes for holds—mainly I'm playing on Mike Scioscia's propensity to use setup guys; not all managers do. Likewise for Corpas, though if Street re-injures himself, I should be in a good position to get some vulture saves.
As always, even right after the draft, I find myself playing the what-if game. I forgot about Francisco Liriano and could've had him relatively late, etc. ... I actually have two more picks left in the reserve draft (which we're doing by e-mail). So feel free to post some suggestions (alas you don't know who's gone yet). I would love to post who I'm thinking about taking, but that could obviously backfire!
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 6:40am (7) Comments
Projecting a player's major league statistics is a tricky proposition. I try my best to find a middle ground between pessimistic and the superstar aspirations that we pin to just about every prospect under the sun at one time or another. Below are the game's top 16 outfield prospects, complete with average- and prime-year projections if sufficient time has been spent at Double-A or beyond.
Jason Heyward / Atlanta
Matt Diaz and Melky Cabrera won't hold back Heyward if he picks up where he left off in 2009. I'm targeting July for his mammoth debut.
.312 / .415 / 33 HR / 40 2B / 4 3B / 111 RBI / 100 R / 99 BB / 114 SO / 13 SB / 3 CS
.328 / .439 / 41 HR / 43 2B / 5 3B / 125 RBI / 106 R / 110 BB / 101 SO / 17 SB / 4 CS
Desmond Jennings / Tampa Bay
Tampa Bay's shaky platoon in right field indicates that, with a strong start, Jennings is in line for a full-time MLB gig by June.
.289 / .369 / 14 HR / 39 2B / 9 3B / 69 RBI / 102 R / 74 BB / 98 SO / 35 SB / 8 CS
.301 / .388 / 19 HR / 42 2B / 11 3B / 79 RBI / 114 R / 83 BB / 88 SO / 42 SB / 8 CS
Donavan Tate / San Diego
Just because he's a teenager doesn't mean San Diego won't push Tate. He can handle it. Count on him to spend most of the year in Single-A Fort Wayne, followed by a graduation to Advanced-A Lake Elsinore by August.
Mike Stanton / Florida
Unlike most, I am not a huge believer in Stanton yet. Expect his assault up the minor league ladder to halt in 2010 in order for him to adjust to the radical shift in pitching talent that he will face at Double-A Jacksonville.
Michael Saunders / Seattle
Seattle's outfield is crowded, but, as a believer in Saunders, I expect him to give Seattle no choice but to find room for him by July.
.282 / .349 / 22 HR / 37 2B / 4 3B / 85 RBI / 84 R / 60 BB / 119 SO / 12 SB / 4 CS
.295 / .372 / 27 HR / 38 2B / 5 3B / 94 RBI / 91 R / 67 BB / 111 SO / 16 SB / 5 CS
Jaff Decker / San Diego
With his major league approach at the plate, expect Decker to move faster than expected. He could hit Double-A by July.
Ryan Westmoreland / Boston
While many see a budding star in Westmoreland and want to see results as soon as possible, I believe Boston will play it slow and keep him in Single-A Greenville for the season.
Aaron Hicks / Minnesota
Anticipate that Minnesota will be happy to leave Hicks in Advanced-A Fort Myers for the season; unless of course he tears the cover off the ball, but I'm expecting less progress than most.
Fernando Martinez / NY Mets
Martinez faces an uphill battle in trying to force his way into New York's lineup. At this point it will take an injury. I honestly have to expect Martinez to stay in Triple-A for a majority of the season.
.286 / .342 / 16 HR / 37 2B / 3 3B / 73 RBI / 80 R / 49 BB / 108 SO / 7 SB / 2 CS
.301 / .363 / 23 HR / 40 2B / 5 3B / 83 RBI / 85 R / 59 BB / 97 SO / 10 SB / 3 CS
Michael Taylor / Oakland
Oakland has a weak outfield, meaning that a quick start could catapult Taylor to the majors. Playing it conservatively, anticipate a full-time call-up in July.
.272 / .344 / 19 HR / 39 2B / 2 3B / 76 RBI / 74 R / 64 BB / 113 SO / 5 SB / 2 CS
.284 / .365 / 25 HR / 41 2B / 3 3B / 85 RBI / 80 R / 72 BB / 106 SO / 7 SB / 3 CS
Domonic Brown / OF / Philadelphia
Brown should split his season between Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
Caleb Gindl / Milwaukee
Gindl is making the big move to Double-A, and I expect him to spend all of 2010 there.
Andrew Lambo / Los Angeles Dodgers
Lambo will have to prove that he can bounce back at Double-A Chattanooga before he gets his crack at Triple-A, but expect a promotion at some point.
.270 / .326 / 17 HR / 37 2B / 2 3B / 73 RBI / 72 R / 48 BB / 114 SO / 4 SB / 2 CS
.283 / .351 / 24 HR / 39 2B / 3 3B / 81 RBI / 78 R / 59 BB / 106 SO / 5 SB / 2 CS
Ben Revere / Minnesota
If he continues to show improvement, Revere could be moved faster than most realize, and Triple-A Rochester could be his eventual destination.
Mike Trout / Los Angeles Angels
A full year of Single-A competition is a good starting point for Trout.
Johermyn Chavez / Seattle
Seattle should take it slow with Chavez and let his tools develop one level per year.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 6:50am (4) Comments
Friday, March 12, 2010
Jeff Clement | Pittsburgh | 1B
2009 Final Stats: .227/.295/.360
2010 THTF Projected Stats: .248/.325/.446
The 2005 draft featured a ton of great talent: Justin Upton was the first overall pick, but other players like Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Cameron Maybin, Jay Bruce, and Andrew McCutchen all went in the top 15. Some call it the best draft in history. And except for J-Up, everyone on that list went after Jeff Clement, who was picked third overall by the Seattle Mariners. Seen as one of the top offensive catching prospects, Clement busted out a .315/.387/.508 line in his first minor-league season before hitting a .263/.334/.382 bump at Double-A and Triple-A in 2006. He rebounded to a .275/.370/.497 2007 at Triple-A, following it up with a .335/.455/.676 line in 2008.
His gaudy power skills (67 HRs and 109 2Bs in 1,761 PAs) were supplemented by a cumulative 11% walk rate that portended good things, especially from the catcher position. But his 21% strikeout rate was cause for concern, something that would come back to bite him later. Seattle also wasn't convinced that his defense was good enough behind the dish, and he was hit by a few nagging injuries. Eventually, Seattle brought Clement to the bigs in 2008, but he could only manage a .227/.295/.360 line, and that strikeout rate ballooned to 31% while his walk rate shrunk to just 6%.
But his problems didn't end there—the Mariners inked Kenji Johjima to an extension in 2008, so Clement shifted to DH. Then the Ms brought back Ken Griffey Jr. as Seattle's DH in 2009. So they began to work on Clement as a potential 1B, then traded him late last season to Pittsburgh, who sought to develop his 1B potential. Clement spent more time at Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate but hit just .224/.313/.459, with a 28% strikeout rate. That was over 115 PAs, as compared to the .288/.366/.505 he put up in 421 PAs with Triple-A Tacoma, so it's likely that was due to small sample size, as well as the shock of changing teams and leagues.
Pittsburgh hasn't given him the 1B job in 2010 just yet, but it's his to win in Spring Training, if he can prove himself worthy on defense and offense. Garrett Jones stands ready to take over if he falters, but the Pirates would much rather have a productive Clement and Jones in the lineup, since his backups are Ryan Church and Brandon Moss. THTF's projections don't look very impressive for a 1B, and include a modest 22 HRs, 36 2Bs and 88 RBIs. In case you think that's a lowball projection, it's about in the middle of the extremes of other projection systems.
He's a real gamble for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the instability of that K%. Pittsburgh would like to see some of that minor-league power come to the fore, as would fantasy owners. Watch him carefully in Spring Training, and if he snags that starting gig, he'll make an adequate CIF in deeper and NL-only leagues. But you'd still be better off taking almost any of the other MLB players who were chosen after him in that awesome 2005 draft. Too bad Seattle (or Pittsburgh) doesn't have that same opportunity.
Bud Norris | Houston | SP
2009 Final Stats: 8.7 K/9, 2.2 K/BB, 4.53 ERA
2010 THTF Projected Stats: 8.0 K/9, 1.7 K/BB, 4.97 ERA
Listed as the No. 2 prospect by Baseball America in 2009, Norris leapt from Double-A in 2008 to Triple-A and the majors in 2009 without missing a beat. At Triple-A Round Rock, he put up 2.62 ERA, striking out 8.4 per 9 IP, while walking 4.0 and giving up 7.8 H over the same span. Though not mind-blowing, that's still good enough for a callup, and he racked up the strikeouts with the 'stros, even as he showed the same problems with walks and hits.
Neither the strikeouts nor the walks are surprising, since Norris is a prototypical power pitcher, delivering a fastball that's been clocked at 98, along with a slider and still-developing changeup. Like many youngsters with thunderbolts for right arms, Norris isn't always sure where that heater is going. His minor-league walk rate is 3.7 BB/9, and last year's 4.0 (which he matched in the majors) is a career-high for him. That's concerning, and he reportedly still needs to work on his changeup, though his slider was his worst pitch in 2009 (1.55 wSL/C). Compare that to his nifty -8.8 wFB/C, a nice indicator of his potential dominance.
As for his problems giving up hits, he had an elevated .329 BABIP in 2009, undoubtedly due to a team that put up the worst Defensive Efficiency (.677) in the NL. Their cumulative UZR/150 is -0.1, almost dead average, but he clearly doesn't have Hoovers behind him. He was slightly unlucky in home runs, a 12.9% that's sure to drop somewhat, although his 42.7 FB% in MLB is a radical shift from his 31.5% rate in the minors. He must have been leaving some balls up in the zone, which could point to either injury or fatigue.
Norris experienced elbow problems in 2008, which kept him from pitching for almost two months and had him on strict pitch limits when he returned, so he he finished the year with just 83.0 IP. In 2009, he threw 120 IP in the minors and 55.2 more in MLB, a total that more than doubled his injury-shortened 2008 season, and well above the career-high 102.2 IP he logged in 2007. Norris is a big, stocky guy, a generous 6 feet and 225, up 30 pounds from last year's numbers, so athleticism doesn't seem to be his strong suit. A sudden jump in IP on top of an elbow injury isn't a recipe for long-term success, and bears watching.
The projections from THTF aren't optimistic that he'll be successful this year, particularly in the control department, leading to that bloated ERA. And his WHIP is going to be affected by the walks and the elevated 9.5 hit rate THTF sees, too. I don't agree with the elevated 1.1 HR/9 rate, unless his FB rate continues to climb, so that ERA might be a tad high. In the end, Norris will bring you strikeouts, but you've got to expect the usual young-pitcher struggles with control and hits. Fitting him into the middle of an NL-only rotation or the back end of a mixed-league rotation seems the safest place, if you don't ignore him entirely to see how he starts out the season.
Nick Hundley | San Diego | C
2009 Final Stats: .238/.313/.406
2010 THTF Projected Stats: .231/.290/.407
One of the few things that Padres fans have to look forward to is their young core of Kyle Blanks, Adrian Gonzalez (at least for now), Everth Cabrera, Chase Headley, and Nick Hundley. The least significant of the group from a fantasy perspective, Hundley is still very much in San Diego's small-market, low-budget future. His value comes in ways that aren't usually measurable in fantasy, however, which is important to know. Not all real-life prospects are fantasy studs.
That's not to say that Hundley is worthless, since any starting catcher is bound to be in play in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues. And Hundley brings value with his power, as evidenced by his 2006 season, when he hit 11 HRs and 32 2Bs at low and high Single-A. He then clobbered 20 HRs and 23 2Bs at Double-A in 2007. He got the call in mid-2008, but disappointed by hitting just 5 HRs and 7 2Bs in 216 PAs, good enough for a weak .359 SLG.
In 2009, he was hitting .241/.346/.387 when Chad Billingsley hit him on the wrist on June 9. Hundley was on the DL for a "wrist contusion" for nearly a month before San Diego bothered to X-ray his wrist, and found a small break in his ulna bone. He took another month to get back to action in early August, finishing the season with a .286/.346/.500 September. I'll refrain from commenting on a team that takes a month to figure out their top catcher has a broken wrist, except to say that perhaps the Padres deserve a few of the losses they try to write up to small-market economics.
As for Hundley, he's an all-or-nothing guy at the plate, with a career 28.2 K% in the majors (21% in the minors) and a decent 8% walk rate; both will keep his BA low enough to also hold his value down. The longballs, on the other hand, are a very real part of his game. His .168 ISO was good enough for eighth among NL catchers in 2009, and he should bring that same decent power (for a catcher, anyway) in 2010.
The problem, however, will be that he's not the Padres' only option behind the plate. They signed Yorvit Torrealba shortly before Spring Training, and the two are likely going to share time in some fashion. Projections from THTF give him 346 PAs in 2010, or a little over half-time. Torrealba has superior BA skills, but not power, despite his late-season burst in Colorado, but he's got experience and could push Hundley for time if he struggles. San Diego would be foolish to allow Torrealba to take over entirely, since Hundley is their future, but he's definitely a threat for PT.
In the half-time that THTF forecasts, Hundley's only expected to deliver 11 HRs, and his OPS isn't all that remarkable for a catcher. But he's still a catcher, and it's one of the thinnest positions in fantasy, and Torrealba might revert to more tepid production levels after shifting from one of baseball's best hitting environments to one of its worst. That makes Hundley an outside shot to beat those PT projections, which would drive up his value. Still, consider Hundley as a cheap NL-only option if you can offset his BA drag, but only the deepest of mixed-league owners shouldn't bother looking at him at all.
Cole Hamels | Philadelphia | SP
2009 Final Stats: 7.8 K/9, 3.9 K/BB, 4.32 ERA
2010 THTF Projected Stats: 8.0 K/9, 4.0 K/BB, 3.68 ERA
Hamels went from 2008 postseason hero to a 2009 zero when he was the losingest pitcher in the rotation—even Joe Blanton had a better record and ERA than the lefty who had been the ace of the staff and the pitcher of the future. Fantasy owners were taking virtual dives off of skyscrapers when Hamels seemed to regress in nearly every area of his game in 2009, including a jump in ERA of over a run. But, as so often happens in these situations, it's a combination of bad luck in 2008 and good luck in 2009 that at least partly explains the apparent dropoff in production. That his FIP was identical between 2008 and 2009 supports that deduction rather nicely.
In 2008, Hamels had a .270 BABIP against him and a 76% LOB, while those numbers changed to .325 BABIP and 72.1% LOB in 2009. That huge .55 swing in BABIP corresponds almost exactly to the .46 difference in BAA against him in the two years. The elevated strand rates from 2008 tend to foretell an ERA correction in 2009—precisely what happened—while the near-average LOB% in 2009 mean likely ERA stabilization. In other areas, luck broke Hamels' way in 2009, as his HR rate slipped a bit from 11.2% to 10.7%, part of a steady three-year drop in that department. That's a bit less important for Hamels, whose FB rate has been an unwavering 38.7% over the past three years, but it does play a small part in his projection.
An area we can't measure by statistics could change this year, too, which you can see on his Fangraphs page. Hamels is reportedly working on his curveball, which has never been considered a plus pitch for him, although his dominance with it has improved from 1.52 wCB/C in 2007 to -1.37 in 2009. And if the offseason throwing program helps him get off to a better start than he did in 2009 (12 ER on 4 HR and 12 Hs in 9.2 IP over his first two starts), that's bound to help him, too. After those first two shaky outings, he had a 3.96 ERA and 1.24 WHIP the rest of the way—not great numbers, but much more palatable, and good enough to put him third on the staff in ERA and WHIP instead of fourth.
Some of this optimism is reflected in the THTF forecast for 2010, which sees a season somewhere in between his good-luck 2008 and bad-luck 2009 seasons. His xFIP has been slipping over the past three seasons, an indication that his skills may be eroding a touch, which may be why he's trying to sharpen that curveball. Pitching in Philly is an unforgiving environment, even for a guy with relatively low, stable flyball numbers; Hamels gives up dingers at a 1.26 HR/9 rate at home, and 1.06 HR/9 everywhere else.
So don't expect him to push his ERA close to 3.00 again unless he hits another stretch of good luck, but he's still going to deliver those Ks and a solid WHIP. He's never been an elite arm—despite what Philly fans will tell you—but he is a solid second-tier arm who's only been on the DL 50 days in the past 5 years and generally delivers good, if not great, numbers. That kind of dependability has its own value, and Hamels' sub-par, unlucky 2009 makes him an excellent buy in any league for 2010.
Mark Reynolds | Arizona | 3B
2009 Final Stats: .260/.349/.543
2010 THTF Projected Stats: .255/.335/.518
Arizona fans could only wring their hands in 2009 as their team found new ways to disappoint, whether it was injuries to Brandon Webb or sending their four-year centerfielder Chris Young down to the minors. But for pleasure, they could watch Mark Reynolds club 44 HRs, even has he set an all-time mark with 223 whiffs (breaking his own 2008 record). In the process, he became baseball's Three True Outcomes leader for 2009, as 51.8% of his PAs ended with a walk, strikeout or home run.
While this makes a fun statistical toy for analysts, what it really means is that his BA is continually depressed, like Adam Dunn, Jack Cust, Carlos Pena, and Russell Branyan, the guys who round out 2009's TTO Top Five. The best BA from any of these guys in the past five years? Pena's .282 in 2007, the one BA that's not hovering around (or below) .250. (Reynolds' .279 in 2007 is another outlier, but that was clearly driven by a .378 BABIP and a relatively small 414 PAs). This drives the value of all these TTO guys down in standard roto leagues, though they make very good plays in OBP or OPS leagues.
Reynolds' 2009 contains some good and bad trends. Unsurprisingly, his K% hit a 38.6% career high (making for a perfectly awful 61.4% contact rate), after rising from 35.2% in his three-year MLB career. On the bright side, his walk rate has risen over the same span from 8.9% to 11.5%. But the most telling rise is his HR/FB rate, which began at 16.2%, rose to 18.2% last year, then rocketed to an unsustainable 26.0% in 2009. Home run hitters like Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, and Adam Dunn tend to have HR/FB rates in the low 20s, and only Ryan Howard regularly has rates higher than Reynolds' 2009 HR/FB—Howards' are in the 30s, peaking at 39.4% in 2006.
Hitters' HR/FB rates tend to regress toward their rolling 3-year average, and Reynolds has only been in the league for three years (counting 2007's three-quarter-time performance), so it's possible his HR/FB is on the rise and he's about to become the next Ryan Howard. That's not impossible, since Reynolds is the only guy on the 2009 Top Ten TTO list who's under 30. What's much more likely, however, is that Reynolds will settle down into the low 20s in HR/FB rates, deflating his HR total (and his roto value) into the high 30s.
You can see that rebound in the THTF forecast for 2010, which shows him hitting 38 HRs, 104 RBI, and the slash line you see above. Because of his 2008 performance, other owners in your league might expect another great season. If you're really clever, you'll take advantage of that in your auction draft and bid his value up a bit, particularly at the beginning, when it's safer to do so. Just don't get stuck overvaluing him, because he's a good bet to sink back down to a more reasonable production level. Arizona fans just hope they have other things to focus on when he does.
Posted by Michael Street at 1:59am (7) Comments
Kevin Kouzmanoff | Oakland | 3B
2009 Final Stats: .255/.302/.420
2010 THT Projections:: .266/.311/.447
Using the new handy-dandy tool to visualize batter hit distribution in an alternate park, it doesn't appear that Kevin Kouzmanoff will benefit much from Oakland Coliseum.
Feel free to give the tool a try and see the key for the various colors as well, but suffice it to say that blue is good. The lack of ballpark aid really doesn't come as a big surprise, and he'll further be facing
Jason Frasor | Toronto | RP
2009 Final Stats: 8.7 K/9, 3.5 K/BB, 2.50 ERA
LIPS ERAs (2006-2009): 4.22, 4.01, 5.44, 3.62
2010 THT Projections: 8.1 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 3.80 ERA
We gave a rosy prediction for him to have a 1-in-3 chance to keep the closer's role after the season, and he kept pitching very well and the Jays upped it to “50-50”, but then brought in Gregg. We are pretty sure that Gregg will get first crack at closing, with Downs and Frasor picking up scraps based on matchups. Tough division, bad team, some good pitchers vying for saves, and it all adds up to Frasor being an unappealing pick at this point, despite the great arm.
Scott Podsednik | Kansas City | LF
2009 Final Stats: .304/.349/.412
2010 THT Projections:: .271/.325/.363, 16 SB
At the risk of over-editorializing, Scott Podsednik is the sort of player who gives fantasy sports a bad name among any right-thinking Sabermetrician. Even if you think standard valuations undervalue speed (which this author believes, though things have improved in recent years), the outs that “Pods” racks up on the basepaths drive everyone from Ozzie Guillen to Ken Harrellson to John Dewan crazy (we're guessing, since we didn't track Mr. Dewan down and ask him). And he can't hit. And his throwing arm is terrible. And he's not nearly as rangy as his speed would suggest. [steps down off soapbox...] Anyway, the steals projection is low, as Podsednik will likely approach his 30 SB from 2009 again if he manages to hit enough to stay in the lineup, though it's easy to understand why a projection system would assume that his manager would be smart enough to give him the red light more often. We're going to bank on the light staying green, however, and he should be a cheap source of steals.
David Dejesus | Kansas City | LF
2009 Final Stats: .281/.347/.434
2010 THT Projections:: .271/.337/.404, 2 SB
Dejesus is moving to RF, and the Royals are hoping his back problems are a thing of the past. He attempted 13 steals last year, so expect him to get more than 2 SB this season, even if it means a lot of outs ... see Pods commentary. It also wouldn't be shocking to see him exceed his projection, as his career stat line is .286/.358/.425 and he was playing hurt for most of 2009 and is just entering his age-30 season.
Luke Scott | Baltimore | DH/OF/1B
2009 Final Stats: .258/.340/.488
2010 THT Projections:: .248/.330/.458
Scott has big-time power, as can be seen from his ISO and projected ISO. He's popped 48 HR in the past two seasons, playing only about 2/3 of the time. While people will say that spring training stats don't count, Felix Pie's spring training stats have to be considered to count against Luke Scott at this point, as he's a much better defender than Nolan Reimold, who would end up as the primary DH if Pie wins the job. For now, Luke has a hold on another 2/3 of a season (vs. righties), but it's tenuous. Not for the shallow (leagues) or the faint (of heart).
Delmon Young | Minnesota | LF
2009 Final Stats: .284/.308/.425
2010 THT Projections:: .289/.323/.421
Delmon Young is being drafted in barely 10% of mock drafts. This is a serious mistake in judgment unless your league uses OBP, and even then it's unlikely to be wise to disregard him.
We won't pretend he's going to be a superstar still; he was always overrated as this author has pointed out since his minor-league days. But he's still a talented hitter whose power should improve as he matures. He's been healthy over the years, and Gomez won't be around to push Span over to LF this year. He posted full-season highs in ISO and FB% in 2009. While he's not a particularly valuable MLB player, fantasy ball is primarily about playing time, and Delmon rates to be useful in fantasy leagues. Not worth more than a very late pick pick, since he's not being drafted in most leagues, but worth rostering.
2009 Final Stats: (played in minors – 15.2 IP)
LIPS ERAs (2006-2008): 4.97, 4.24, 4.21
2010 THT Projections: 7.1 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 3.79 ERA
Shaun Marcum has been cleared medically, and looks healthy. He's slated—somewhat shockingly—to start opening day and is being taken in only 12.8% of mock drafts. Here's what we wrote on July 17, none of which has really changed: “Marcum is a strike-thrower (99 BB in 310 IP in 07/08) who allows too many home runs to be a truly top-notch starter. Don't expect much ERA help, and the IP should be low as he's coming off an injury, but he could be a nice boost for WHIP in any format and pick up a few wins. “
Carlos Santana | Cleveland | C
2009 Final Stats: .290/.413/.530
2010 THT Projections:: .243/.338/.422
Probably not worth it for 2010, though AL-only 2-catcher leagues would make for enough positional scarcity to consider the upside.
Austin Jackson | Detroit | CF
2009 Final Stats: .300/.354/.405 (AAA)
2010 THT Projections:: .254/.308/.366 – 9 SB
Austin Jackson gets scouts excited a lot more than Statheads, but few in either camp think he'll be ready to do much in 2010. Detroit is a tough ballpark, and the lineup rates to be weak; look elsewhere.
Posted by Rob McQuown at 4:00am (8) Comments
Monday, March 15, 2010
While Roy Oswalt has been the ace in Houston for some time James Shields has just taken the role for the Rays. The similarities in their struggles this year are quite striking. We can take this chance to see what these similarities tell about their 2010 season and beyond.
Both pitchers are control specialists with great walk rates. Shields has a career rate of 1.96 and Oswalt is only slightly higher at 2.06. Oswalt was right at his career rate with a BB/9 of 2.08 and Shields was only slightly up at 2.13.
So they declined slightly in K/BB, but they were still very good. Oswalt has had better groundball rates in the past and that seems to have played a role in his drop last year. He went from a 50 percent groundball rate the previous season to a 43 percent. That was the biggest reason for his struggles last year as his xFIP went from 3.55 to 3.88. The xFIP shows his 4.12 ERA was also a bit unlucky, but with a career xFIP of 3.58 and a career ERA of 3.23 it's surprising to see him trail his xFIP like this.
His LOB% seams to be the main explanation at 72.7 percent this year down from a career rate of 76.2 percent. His struggles of 2009 centered around a slightly lower K/BB, a drop in ground balls and a bit of bad luck. All things we should expect to regress in a new season and be fine. His age is a bit more concerning that things will start to age, but it's better to expect the Oswalt of 2008 over the one we saw last season.
Shields, on the other hand, does have some bigger concerns. His makeup was built on elite K/BB numbers due to a very low walk rate. His ground ball rate was never at Oswalt's level and he had to have a good K/BB number to make up for it. So far he has with 5.11 in 2007 and 4.00 in 2008 and while his 3.21 in 2009 was very good, it's not the level he has shown.
His pitching approach has changed over the past few years with fewer fastballs, which is his worst pitch with a career run value of -0.66 per 100 pitches. At the same time, he has also dropped his number of change-ups, which is by far his best pitch. Going from 30 percent of his pitches down to 23 percent in 2009. It's unclear why he is making this change, but the pitch has always maintained run values over 1 per 100 thrown.
Much like Cole Hamels, he must rely on his change-up and get back to throwing it 30 percent of the time. If he can return to 30 percent of his pitches being change-ups then he can start to regain the form we saw in 2008 and 2009, but if not he will be the solid pitcher of 2009 without ace level stuff.
While an older option, Oswalt probably makes the more solid and reliable selection in 2010. He didn't change anything and is dealing with more luck-based changes. His defense is no where as good as Tampa's, but solid enough for fantasy purposes. If Shields returns to his pitching arsenal that was so successful in the two years before 2009 then he could match Oswalt, but that has more to do with what he does and not luck.
Posted by Troy Patterson at 4:11am (27) Comments
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Yesterday afternoon I drafted for the Yahoo! Friends and Family League, my second year in the league. Last year I finished fourth of 14 teams, so this year I am looking to break into the top three and hopefully take the title. Having received the first overall pick in the draft, I knew that with a solid draft I'd have a good chance of contending.
The league is a 14-team mixed league with rotisserie scoring, standard 5X5 categories, waiver additions, and daily updates. In other words, it is probably similar to your own league.
My team looked like this after the draft last year, and comparing it to this year's team I feel this year's team is significantly better. And considering that I finished in fourth last year ... well I won't get ahead of myself.
Here's the team (the full draft can be found here.)
C: Kurt Suzuki - Round 12
1B: Albert Pujols - 1
2B: Ben Zobrist - 3
SS: Marco Scutaro - 18
3B: Ryan Zimmerman - 2
MI: Placido Polanco - 16
CI: Adam LaRoche - 11
OF: Adam Lind - 4
OF: Shane Victorino - 9
OF: Elijah Dukes - 13
OF: Cody Ross - 17
Util: Chase Headley - 15
Util: Todd Helton - 14
BN: Ryan Sweeney - 24
BN: Casey McGehee - 25
P: Justin Verlander - Round 5
P: Ricky Nolasco - 6
P: Yovani Gallardo - 7
P: Marc Rzepczynski - 21
P: Carlos Marmol - 8
P: Huston Street - 10
P: Phil Hughes - 19
P: Daniel Bard - 20
P: Juan Gutierrez - 22
BN: Gio Gonzalez - 23
Overall my hitting is leaning way toward the power side of the power/speed balance, but my strategy was to load up on power since I feel steals will be much easier to trade for after the draft if I want to quicken my team. I opted against taking some of the more young and unproven middle infielders like Alcides Escobar, Elvis Andrus, Scott Sizemore and Everth Cabrera and instead waited for the steady veterans. Between McGehee, Scutaro, and Polanco I should get decent production from my MI and SS spots. Ben Zobrist as the first pick in the third round was a bit of a reach, but I like the flexibility he offers and anything close to the numbers he posted last season would be awesome.
I went on a pitching run in the middle rounds, landing me with a polarized staff composed of three near-aces and high upside picks like Rzepczynski and Gonzalez that were praised in the draft room. Hughes and Bard are two valuable middle relievers—Hughes with the potential to jump into the rotation and Bard a great closing job if Papelbon gets injured.
Those are my thoughts for now; any thoughts you have I am interested to hear in the comments below.