December 5, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Get It Now!Hardball Times Annual is now available. It's got 300 pages of articles, commentary and even a crossword puzzle. You can buy the Annual at Amazon, for your Kindle or on our own page (which helps us the most financially). However you buy it, enjoy!
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.
Thursday, April 01, 2010
I did this last off-season, so with all of my fantasy drafts now in the books, I thought I'd highlight which players ended up on my fantasy teams the most this year. As I mentioned last year, just because a player is on here doesn't mean he was a "have to have" guy for me or that I was targeting him specifically. Take this list for what it's worth, simply that these players, for one reason or another, wound up on my fantasy team multiple times.
Last year, this list included players who turned in good value like Raul Ibanez, Nyjer Morgan, Javier Vazquez, Cody Ross, Kosuke Fukudome, Jorge de la Rosa, and Ross Ohlendorf. Of course, there were also some duds like Matt Wieters, Kelly Johnson, Chris Dickerson, and Kenshin Kawakami.
This year I'm playing in Tout Wars (Mixed), LABR (NL), and CardRunners (AL), so players listed are those who wound up on my Tout Wars team and his respective "only" league. I'm also playing in the FSIC NL again this year with Paul Singman, but bear in mind that Paul was the primary drafter for that league so their appearance on the list may or may not reflect my own strong feelings towards the player (they usually do, although conversely, some players may be absent from the list). I've put an asterisk next to the FSIC players to keep you alert to this. Also, because I have two NL-only teams and just one AL-only team, there is some definite selection bias here with fewer AL players on the list.
Hitters — 2 teams
Jay Bruce: LABR, TOUT
Ian Stewart: LABR, TOUT
Nelson Cruz: TOUT, CR
Julio Borbon: TOUT, CR
David Ortiz: TOUT, CR
Russell Branyan: TOUT, CR
Alcides Escobar: TOUT, FSIC*
Andy LaRoche: LABR, FSIC*
Martin Prado: TOUT, FSIC*
Kosuke Fukudome: LABR, FSIC*
Ronny Cedeno: LABR, FSIC*
J.R. Towles: TOUT, FSIC*
Pitchers— 2 teams
Colby Lewis: TOUT, CR
Takashi Saito: LABR, TOUT
Ricky Nolasco: LABR, FSIC*
Hiroki Kuroda: TOUT, FSIC*
Mike Adams: TOUT, FSIC*
Questions on any of these guys? Feel free to drop them in the comments and I'd be happy to answer.
Posted by Derek Carty at 12:00am (7) Comments
Yesterday I partook in an auction draft for a league run by Yahoo expert Scott Pianowski in which the other participants were also members of the Friends and Family League for the most part. This was the first truly competitive league that I have been in with an auction draft, so it is mostly an experiment from my perspective.
The league has 13 teams, we started with $260 in our budgets, and there were 25 roster spots to fill. First I'll start off by sharing my team so you guys can critique it and tell me where I went right and where I went wrong, and on the right is a table I made of the 20 players on whom the most money was spent for your perusal.
C - Russell Martin - $1
1B - Adam LaRoche - $6
2B - Placido Polanco - $3
3B - Mark Reynolds - $26
SS - Everth Cabrera - $8
MI - Orlando Cabrera - $2
CI - James Loney - $7
OF - Ryan Braun - $41
OF - Adam Lind - $25
OF - Andrew McCutchen - $17
OF - Shane Victorino - $10
Util - Hideki Matsui - $3
Util - Michael Bourn - $6
BN - Chase Headley - $5
BN - Clint Barmes - $2
P - Felix Hernandez - $33
P - Gavin Floyd - $6
P - Jonathan Sanchez - $5
P - Ted Lilly - $3
P - Heath Bell - $14
P - Andrew Bailey - $12
P - Francisco Rodriguez - $10
P - Matt Thornton - $2
P - Daniel Bard - $2
BN - Gio Gonzalez - $3
Instead of focusing on my team though, I want to share my thoughts on auctions in general. First off, fantasy players in general, the "experts" included, are terrible at auctions. Snake drafts have been around awhile and most people have figured them out, but auctions are breaking into internet mainstream for the first time and people's lack of experience with them is quite evident.
For me, I often found myself thinking of the round equivalent when a player would get drafted in a serpentine draft to determine the relative dollar value of the players. To parallel this to something, it was a lot like learning a new language. If you are learning French and you see the French word "courir" you think "courir translates to run, which means moving quickly on your feet." While if you are fluent in French and you see "courir," translating it first to English is unnecessary since you have built an intrinsic association of "courir" to moving quickly with your feet.
In the same way, "Round nine" is something I intrinsically understand because I have done a ridiculous number of snake drafts. I can tell exactly of what caliber a player is if I learn he was picked in Round nine, while telling me he was worth $18 has less meaning to me. As I participate in more and more auctions though, I'm sure I will begin to become more comfortable with them and learn to "speak auction" fluently.
My first observation about auctions is that they require an increased commitment to drafting compared to a standard serpentine draft. When someone misses a snake draft, it is annoying but somewhat tolerable. When just one person is not in the auction, however, multiply that annoyance by 100 times since in your draft room you will have a computer autobidding that bids on every single player until you surpass its programmed dollar limit. Essentially it destroys the auction.
Auctions are also another hour to two longer than their snake draft counterparts, making them quite the exhaustive experience. Plus you are potentially involved in acquiring every single player, so you cannot take as many mental breaks as you can in drafts. Of course, it is hard to stay completely focused for the full four hours or so the auction is in action so a few moments of drifting off are inevitable.
One of the more intriguing dynamics at play during an auction is what I will term your "community responsibility" to pay attention and bid on certain players at times, even when you do not necessarily want them. In theory this should not happen as everyone theoretically has a set price level for each player and the person willing to bid the highest will simply get that player. However, let's say Jorge Cantu gets nominated and since you already have a third baseman you know you are not going to target Cantu. Instead of paying attention to the auction and bidding up to your theoretical price level for him, you instead focus on something else and expect the other people in the auction to pay attention and keep the prices honest.
For most players you can get away with this but every once a while in the auction I participated, it seemed like all of us simultaneously drifted out while a certain player was nominated and then a player would go for an insanely low price. That's how you get Denard Span for $7, Raul Ibanez for $6, or even Justin Upton for $33. Some people will consistently rely on everyone else to bid truly on every player, which is unfair to everyone else and causes the auction to not play out fairly.
Overall my biggest gripe with auctions is the high level of commitment, focus, and time they require, but I feel it is apparent auctions are a more desirable drafting format if you do have a group of guys willing to make the commitment. There is a sort of natural beauty to the way auctions work—an evident fairness because every player can potentially be on your team, unlike in drafts where the preset order decides your team's fate, at least early on. Auctions also allow you to be more creative in the way you construct your roster, allowing for possibly two "first-round-pick" type players or any sort of combination thereafter.
I welcome auctions with open arms into the mainstream fold and think it is great the main fantasy providers now offer them for free. But if you are considering switching your home league to an auction-based draft, make sure everyone is willing to increase their commitment level to the draft because otherwise it will spell disaster.
Posted by Paul Singman at 5:42am (20) Comments
Jesus Montero / C/1B / New York Yankees
Montero should face Double-A competition for most of the year, but a Triple-A stint is probable at some point.
Carlos Santana / C / Cleveland
Santana should be a classic June call-up case. As long as he picks up where he left off last year, no current catcher on Cleveland's roster will stand in his way.
.272 / .366 / 25 HR / 32 2B / 1 3B / 94 RBI / 85 R / 86 BB / 101 SO / 1 SB / 1 CS
.282 / .383 / 30 HR / 34 2B / 1 3B / 103 RBI / 94 R / 95 BB / 93 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
Buster Posey / C / San Francisco
Despite whispers of San Francisco allowing Posey to split time between catcher and first base in the majors in order to find him at-bats, I expect him to spend a majority of the season at Triple-A Fresno. With success, I expect him to then get a 2011-preparation look by the time August hits.
.293 / .378 / 19 HR / 34 2B / 1 3B / 86 RBI / 82 R / 77 BB / 96 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
.304 / .399 / 25 HR / 36 2B / 1 3B / 95 RBI / 90 R / 85 BB / 89 SO / 3 SB / 1 CS
Tyler Flowers / C/1B / Chicago White Sox
Most are in agreement over Flowers' poor spring training. At this point logic would dictate that Flowers spends the entire year at Triple-A Charlotte.
.268 / .356 / 18 HR / 28 2B / 1 3B / 78 RBI / 72 R / 73 BB / 117 SO / 2 SB / 2 CS
.280 / .379 / 23 HR / 31 2B / 2 3B / 87 RBI / 81 R / 80 BB / 109 SO / 4 SB / 2 CS
Derek Norris / C / Washington
Norris should start at Advanced-A Potomac and finish with Double-A Harrisburg.
Jason Castro / C / Houston
Castro should move fast, and if J.R. Towles fails again as Houston's everyday catcher, Castro could hit the majors in the blink of an eye. Playing it safe, I anticipate that he will split most of the year between Double-A and Triple-A, and then get a September call-up.
Hank Conger / C / Los Angeles Angels
The Angels' catching situation seems to be set in stone, giving Conger a full but necessary year at Triple-A Salt Lake.
.286 / .360 / 11 HR / 26 2B / 1 3B / 68 RBI / 63 R / 62 BB / 84 SO / 1 SB / 1 CS
.296 / .374 / 16 HR / 28 2B / 2 3B / 77 RBI / 70 R / 69 BB / 78 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
Tony Sanchez / C / Pittsburgh
Sanchez should make three stops this year, beginning at Advanced-A Bradenton and ending in Triple-A Indianapolis.
Posted by Matt Hagen at 6:40am (8) Comments
Friday, April 02, 2010
Joey Votto | Cincinnati | 1B
2009 Final Stats: .322/.414/.567
2010 THTF Projected Stats: .290/.373/.488
Despite dealing with vertigo and depression in 2009, Votto added more than 100 points to his 2008 OPS, while matching many of his counting numbers in 45 fewer PAs. 2009 actually looked a lot like his small-sample 2007, but with double the walk rate and slightly more strikeouts. Compared to 2008, on the other hand, Votto's 2009 production is much more similar; the difference is the hit rate, which shot up five points from 2008 to 2009. His BABIP, which doesn't measure HR, shot up a whopping 44 points over the same span, which explains why his BA rose 25 points.
That tells us that luck on balls in play and a rise in home run rate can explain the production difference, and at least some of the 61-point rise in SLG. Because he's a line-drive hitter with moderate power, Votto tends to have higher BABIP and hit rates than your average bear, though 2009 was far luckier than expected. Where we see the real shift in his plate approach is in that home run rate. He converted fly balls to dingers at a slightly lower clip in 2009 (17.5%) than 2008 (18.5%), but he applied those rates over a great percentage of fly balls: 31% in 2008 became 39% in 2009. More of that came at the cost of groundballs than line drives, but both were affected.
Because he's so young, it's hard to know what this means for Votto—is he becoming more a power hitter? His minor-league splits validate the shift in flyball rates, so if those continue, his contributions to batting average are going to drop. On the other hand, he may shift his approach at the plate back toward line drives, something that's advisable from a guy hitting in Cincinnati's three-hole, giving up those SLG gains. Neither one is particularly worrisome from a fantasy perspective, as his underlying ratios look solid. With a year away from the problems of 2009, he should establish career highs in counting stats, regardless of which way those ratios shift.
THTF sees the shift as moving away from HR, with the H% correction also eroding his BA. Both are lower than most other projections systems, and I think they're unduly pessimistic. Oliver's forecasts of 24 HR and 88 RBIs look right, but the 32 doubles is where some of that low SLG comes from. Barring further emotional and inner-ear complications, I'd expect Votto to beat those ratios, though not by as much as other owners may think. Bid carefully here, because every projection sees him backsliding, and other owners will want to pay for those inflated 2009 numbers. Unless you're in a keeper league, don't overpay for a guy who's still not a true power hitter at a power position.
Francisco Cordero | Cincinnati | RP
2009 Final Stats: 7.8 K/9, 1.9 K/BB, 2.16 ERA
2010 THTF Projected Stats: 8.5 K/9, 2.1 K/BB, 3.74 ERA
His 2009 ERA looks awfully nice, but Cordero's 3.10 FIP shows that he had a bit of Lady Luck on his side. That's verified by his .301 BABIP, his second-lowest ever, and two years after 2007's .241, when he somehow managed a 2.98 ERA anyway. He's also had two straight years of elevated LOB% rates, typically a sign of ERA regression, even if he dodged that bullet in 2009.
2009 also featured a very small 3.0% HR/FB rate, low even for a guy with Cordero's unusually low career 5.9%. That's why his xFIP has risen the past two years to a career-worst 4.06, a sign that something is going to give in his production. Cordero keeps his HR rate down by also keeping the ball down, and last season saw him with a 1.15 GB/FB rate, his second-best ever and his second straight year goosing that into more ERA-protective territory. When you pitch at Great American Home Run Park, that's a good thing, and may come from a change in his repertoire.
In that same 2007-2009 period, Cordero's clearly changed his makeup on the mound, as his strikeout rate has plunged from a career-best 12.2 in 2007 to last year's 7.8, his lowest level since 2001. That, in turn, comes from a shift in his pitch selection—Cordero has a heater that sits around 95, complemented by a change in the mid-eighties and a wicked slider. In the past, he used his slider a lot more, peaking at 46% in 2007, but in the past two years, that's dropped significantly, down to 26.3% last year. At the same time, he's upped his use of his heater from 51% to 64% since 2007.
Using his slider less could mean elbow problems, or might explain why his walk rate has been above 4.0 BB/9 for the last two years. These are all worrisome trends for Cordero, which is why everyone sees him giving up his ERA gains in 2010. THTF is more pessimistic than others I've seen, though the strikeout ratios and control ratios are similar. He's managed to avoid significant payback for his high strand and BABIP rates, and he may keep dodging those bullets if he keeps the ball down in the zone. If he doesn't, he may get that statistical "adjustment" with precisely the vengeance that THTF predicts.
Don't forget that Cordero's 35, so more velocity dropoff and overall decline is to be expected, and he pitches in a park that doesn't forgive many mistakes. He's got skills, but the red flags of walk rates and declining slider usage could mean problems. So you can still bid on him, but be cautious, and don't go the extra dollar on a guy who's on his way down, not up.
Brian McCann | Atlanta | C
2009 Final Stats: .281/.391/.486
2010 THTF Projected Stats: .283/.348/.501
Fantasy owners were contemplating swan dives from their office windows when McCann started out 2009 with a .195/.333/.415, seeming lost at the plate. As it turned out, it was all in his eyes (specifically, his left eye), a complication of offseason LASIK, and Oakley created a custom pair of stylin' frames (and lenses) for him to adjust his vision. McCann adjusted more than that, hitting .289/.350/.492 the rest of the way and coaxing his owners off their metaphorical high-rise ledges.
The rest of the season wasn't all wine and roses for McCann—like many catchers, he wore down as the season went along, hitting .246/.309/.440 from July 28 to the end of the season. Other catchers would love to get these kind of numbers, of course, but McCann owners had to feel a bit more like climbing back out on that ledge in August, given where they drafted him (or how much they paid). Those same owners have to wonder if this late slump will continue for McCann in 2010, and whether they'll find themselves on Fantasy Suicide Watch again.
The Oakleys will be gone in 2010, as McCann underwent LASIK surgery again in October to fix that left eye, which might help the one cause for concern in this 2009 season: his plate discipline. McCann's career K rate is 14.2%, but he whiffed at a 20% clip in the final two months of the season, possibly a product of his late-summer fatigue, or steamed-up Oakleys. He walked less, too, albeit slightly less, at an 8% rate that was a dropoff from the 9.9% he logged the rest of the season, a number that happened to be identical to his 2008 levels.
Except for this, however, much of his 2009 performance echoed his 2008 results. His 34% hit rate was the same, and his powerful 20% line-drive rate was nearly equal; he tweaked his flyball rate down by 2%, keeping his HR/FB rate steady. If you take away his early struggles and late fade, he hit a robust .325/.386/.538, very similar to his 2008 numbers. THTF sees his strikeout and walk rates continuing to decline slightly, which comes at the cost of OBP; his power is clearly due for a rebound, right in line with other projections. Overall, this seems like a very good assessment of his 2010 outlook.
The 2009 late-season fade will—and should—have some fantasy owners a little spooked. There's a reason why catchers have a short shelf life in MLB, and McCann's caught 130+ games for three straight seasons. He's only 26, so it's not like he's turned into Crash Davis, but it might not be unusual for McCann owners to see him decline down the stretch like this in the years to come. He's still valuable when he's slipping, but it could drag down his value come Draft Day.
Wandy Rodriguez | Houston | SP
2009 Final Stats: 8.4 K/9, 3.1 K/BB, 3.02 ERA
2010 THTF Projected Stats: 7.8 K/9, 2.5 K/BB, 4.01 ERA
At the core, Rodriguez's 2008 and 2009 were nearly identical, with 2009 showing a slight improvement in xFIP from 3.75 to 3.63 that came from similarly small steps forward in walk and strikeout rates. But the real difference comes from strand rates and BABIP, two factors largely out of a pitcher's control, and which underlie his career year in 2009.
In 2008, batters had a .326 BABIP against Rodriguez, who had a 73% strand rate, the former elevated and the latter about at league average. Rodriguez has put up low (unlucky) strand rates throughout his career, though they've been creeping upward each year. While strand rates often reflect luck—pitchers can't always control who's on base when they give up hits or home runs—they can also reflect the ability of a pitcher to concentrate on the batter and not the baserunners, or to bear down in tight situations.
So it could be argued that Wandy has learned to pitch under pressure and work from the stretch. But his BABIP fell to .306 in 2009, closer to league average, but low by Wandy's standards. Like all groundball pitchers, Rodriguez has a higher BABIP than average in his career, so anytime he's close to league average, luck is breaking his way. That portends a regression in ERA next season, much as THTF (and other systems) predict, along with a dropoff in strikeout and walk rates that will drop his value further.
His strikeout rates will continue to deliver points to fantasy owners, and he's certainly turned a corner in his career by showing great improvement, so there's nothing to worry about in the grand scheme of things, fantasy-wise. But his career 2009 and probable slippage in 2010 will make him overvalued on Draft Day, and you should bid accordingly.
Justin Upton | Arizona | OF
2009 Final Stats: .300/.366/.532
2010 THTF Projected Stats: .280/.355/.515
Upton's 2009 puts him in some pretty heady company: The other players to have a .250+ ISO season before age 22 include names like Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Willie McCovey, Jimmie Foxx, and A-Rod. Of course, it also includes injury-riddled flameouts like Bob Horner and Hal Trotsky, or the injury- and drug-riddled Daryl Strawberry. Regardless, it's excellent company, and few are questioning Arizona's wisdom in locking him down to a six-year, $51.5M contract.
As with many other young players, it's hard to spot definite trends in Upton's career. His walk rate bounced up from 7.2% in 2007 to 12.9% in 2008, then fell back down to 9.4% last year. Is that a rising trend, with 2008 as the outlier, or is 2007's 152 PAs a small sample space, and this is a downward trend? His strikeout rate did the same thing, starting at 26% in 2007, shooting up to 34% in 2008, then falling back to 26% in 2009. That's hopefully a downward trend, but it's hard to be confident. THTF sees him as probably slipping some in his batting average, though .280 is still rather nice, and Upton is working towards the skillset that can consistently deliver a .300 BA.
Another stat that could indicate a bad trend for a power hitter is his rising GB rate, which went from 36.0% to 37.2% to 45.5% in the past three years. What's helped J-Up is his rising HR rate, which went from 4.2% to 15.3% to 18.8%, getting into elite territory. Given his clear ability to hit the snot out of a baseball, it's hard not to think that the latter will continue to rise, but if he keeps sliding backwards in his fly ball rate, that snot-knocking won't be quite as effective. THTF thinks that should undercut his SLG, on the low end of other systems, but hardly a lowball, and certainly very good value.
Another set of crossing trends involve his pitch recognition, as he's killing pitches without movement—his wFB/C rose from 0.06 to 2.58 and his wCH/C stayed strong at 3.65 and 3.27 between 2008 and 2009—but scuffling against breaking stuff in the past two seasons—his wSL/C plunged from 1.06 to -2.43 while his wCB/C improved into more acceptable territory, from -1.57 to 0.81. Pitchers will notice this, too, and he's going to see less of the straight stuff and more sliders in 2010, at least until he figures those out, too.
Fantasy owners know that Upton's more than just a great hitter, however. He's got wheels, and he's going to swipe somewhere around 20 bases, further adding to his value. The good thing is that AJ Hinch likes to run, so J-Up should get the greenlight more often than not. Hitting third might not seem like he best place to swipe bags, but that's where he hit last year, and did just fine with 20 steals. So no matter how much he might scuffle with the bat—and I'm not saying he will—he's still going to bring value with those SBs.
Bidding on Upton depends on whether you're in a keeper or redraft league. Keeper owners (those in a first-year league, anyway, since J-Up's long gone in existing keeper leagues) should think like the D-backs and pay for his future production. One-year league owners should see that correction coming and don't overpay for the hype of Upton's HOF 2009—he's still a young hitter, and regression is definitely likely. Add that to the overpaying tendency of other owners, and you may be able to find better value elsewhere in the outfield.
This is Rob McQuown and my last week writing Waiver Wire for The Hardball Times, and Tommy Rancel and Josh Shepardson, two talents you know from "Buy On the Rumor," will be taking over to start the regular season. I just want to thank the THT staff—particularly Dave, David, and Derek—for all their help, as well as the awesome THTF readers who constantly challenged me to produce the best product each week, and with whom I had some great fantasy baseball and stat discussions. I'm going to miss all of you, and I hope you'll keep reading me at some of my other writing venues. Have a great season, and let's Play Ball!
Posted by Michael Street at 2:00am (3) Comments
Julio Lugo | Baltimore | 2B/SS
2009 Final Stats: .280/.352/.405
Composite Projection (in STL): .251/.323/.354 ($1 in NL league – from lastplayerpicked.com)
Julio Lugo has had a somewhat underappreciated career. From batting 3rd in Lou Piniella's lineup with the woeful Devil Rays, to signing with Boston and being called “the 3rd-best shortstop in all baseball” by a Red Sox staffer at the time, to being fodder for Ned Colletti antagonism as the he was traded for “megaprospect” Joel Guzman during the Dodgers playoff push of 2006. Well, he had his knee rebuilt last year, and his career-long history of being an average defensive shortstop who could hit a little bit came to an end. He still hit – anytime a middle infielder can post a .350 OBP and steal some bases, that's an asset – but at 34, his ability to again perform at the elite level required of a major-league middle infielder is very much in question.
For fantasy purposes, all that matters is how much he'll play. Obviously, the big factor here will be whether gritty Brian Roberts is too damaged to play 155+ games, as he has each of the past three seasons. And Lugo – questionable knee and all – will likely see time at shortstop. Cesar Izturis hasn't shown the ability to play a lot of games, and he can't hit, and the Orioles will be trailing a lot, opening up opportunities for Lugo to pinch hit and stay in the game. This writer is in two AL-only leagues, and will be placing a claim on him in one (futile, since we go in reverse order of 2009 finish), and dedicating some valuable FAAB dollars to him in the league which was written up two weeks ago. The composite batting projection above is flawed in that Lugo has always hit when healthy – not like Derek Jeter, but well enough – and the $1 value increases in the 12-of-14 context in the AL, compared to 12-of-16 in the NL. Oh, and it's entirely reasonable to expect some of his speed skills to rebound as the injury is further behind him.
Fausto Carmona | Cleveland | SP
2009 Final Stats: 5.7 K/9, 1.13 K:BB, 6.32 ERA
LIPS ERAs (2006-2009): 4.75, 4.27, 5.64, 5.42
2010 Composite Projections: (bad)
Like Francisco Liriano a few weeks ago, Carmona is a player who needs to be evaluated on scouting reports, not on stats. There's no way to make his 2008-2009 performance into anything good. It was utter [anagram for “hits”], and hits were something he was familiar with. But in spring training, he's looked like his devastating 2007 self again - walking just 2 batters in 26.0 innings, and watching grounder after grounder turn into outs with Jhonny Peralta no longer playing shortstop. The LIPS scores may slightly under-rate his 2007 performance, but it's good to keep in mind that his 3.06 ERA that season did involve significant luck, and he's probably closer to a 4.00 ERA pitcher at his best. Cleveland should put enough runs on the board to get lots of wins for a guy like that, since he also piles up innings with his efficient style. Again, a reminder that these are best-case scenarios, and his 2008 and 2009 seasons did happen, and it's not unlikely that whatever haunted him the past two years will again undermine his present success. But for a waiver-wire or late-round pickup, he has the potential to pay enormous dividends.
In a flashback, two players who were called up last September and reviewed in this space, one of whom just made the squad, and should make a great waiver wire pickup, the other who was certainly taken on draft day, but might be cheap in a trade. From 9/4/2009:
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.
Michael Brantley | Cleveland | OF
2009 Final Stats: .280/.352/.405
Composite Projection: .271/.345/.346 266 AB ($9 in AL-only)
As MLB.com notes, “GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- The Indians purchased Michael Brantley's ticket to Triple-A Columbus the day they signed Russell Branyan to a one-year, $2 million contract last month. The plan was to have Matt LaPorta in left field, Branyan at first and Brantley doing his time with the Clippers. “ Brantley posted a terrific .431 OBP in spring training, though he was just 2-3 on stolen base attempts. He has top-tier speed, and as long as he's in the majors, it's unlikely he'll be riding the bench. This is one of the highest-risk players in the AL right now, due to the question marks about his playing time. But he'll be a legitimate fantasy force if and when he manages to secure full-time work. As a natural center-fielder, he may not be a great fit for Cleveland, but if Juan Pierre can earn a starting LF job, anything is possible.
Wade Davis is only mentioned as a reminder. With his less-than-stellar spring and daunting divisional rivals, it may be easy to write him off entirely, but he could be an above-average starting pitcher this year, though it may take him a couple months to settle in.
Chris Getz | Kansas City | 2B
2009 Final Stats: ..261/.324/.347
Composite Projection: .277/..339/.370, 405 AB ($10 in AL-only)
Getz is another light-hitting player whose fantasy value is tied up in his speed. When the trade was made to KC, it appeared he was buried behind the much harder-hitting Alberto Callaspo. But the inscrutable Trey Hillman announced that Getz was his second baseman at the beginning of spring training, and Callaspo's injuries have just solidified the role for the speedy Getz. As posted at Baseball Daily Digest on February 14 (As Good as it Getz - http://www.baseballdailydigest.com/2010/02/14/as-good-as-it-getz/ ), it seems reasonable to expect Getz to post Juan Pierre numbers and play average defense at second base. With marginal hitters like Getz, there's always the danger that he'll slip out of the starting job, but if he stays somewhere around .340/.370, as projected, he should be fine. It's not like the Royals have Gordon Beckham looking to take his position away.
C.J. Wilson | Texas | SP
2009 Final Stats: 10.3 K/9, 2.63 K:BB, 2.81 ERA
LIPS ERAs (2006-2009): 4.03, 4.36, 4.81, 3.46
2010 Composite Projections: 3.79 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, $9.
When he threw strikes in 2009, C.J. Wilson was utterly dominant, holding opposing hitters to a meager .234/.325/.326 batting line. He continued his career-long trend of being much better against lefty batters (.195/.291/.286 in his career, an outstanding line, compared to an ugly .281/.367/.430 line vs. righties in his career), but was so good overall that he was still effective (.249/.329/.373 vsR). All this is especially important for him, as he embarks on a journey into the treacherous waters known as “Rangers starting pitching”. We're going to advise much caution with C.J. Expect shorter outings than most SP, and less-than-typical run support, especially with Kinsler being dinged. That will make him only marginally more valuable than a great setup reliever, and in facing more righties his ratios can be expected to rise to levels which are barely helpful.
I am not one for long goodbyes, but I'd be remiss to not thank the great folks at The Hardball Times for the opportunity to participate in THT Fantasy. Most especially, however, I'd like to thank you, the readers. Knowing that there are people out there who love the games of baseball and fantasy baseball as much as I do and are willing to spend part of their week reading my work is what motivates me. I'm humbled and thankful to you all!
Posted by Rob McQuown at 5:05am (3) Comments
Any good projection system requires some sort of map to help you navigate its many twists and turns.
Last week, I made a somewhat ham-handed attempt at providing some directions for identifying undervalued batters. As I discovered, though, finding your way around is a bit more like following a pirate's treasure map than it is like downloading directions from MapQuest. The directions aren't always clear and sometimes you need to get a little creative. Unfortunately, sometimes that leads you down paths you never really meant to explore.
With that in mind, I'm overhauling my approach. Instead of using Average Draft Position as an indicator of other's expectations, I'm using other projection systems. I'm also scrapping the way I ranked players, and going with something that's a little more straightforward.
For each of the pitchers I highlight in this article, I have used two ranking systems. The first takes a pitcher's average projected rank in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts (the three 5x5 categories that Oliver projects) and orders them based on their collective average rank in those categories. That will be referred to as 5x3 from here on out. The other one does the same thing with rate stats K:BB, HR/9, ERA and WHIP, and then attempts to measure the impact of those by including a pitcher's rank in projected innings pitched. I'll call that one Rates+. Both of those rankings will be in parenthesis next to the pitcher's name. I then did the same thing using the projections at Fangraphs (Marcel, CHONE, ZiPS and Fans) and took the average of those.
And just so I'm clear, the rankings to which I refer are mine, and are not literally the product of Oliver (which I had no part in creating). Our projection system does not attempt to rank players overall, but by downloading the spreadsheets and devising your own formulas, it certainly facilitates your ability to do so.
I apologize for taking so much time to explain myself, but I just wanted you to understand what I mean when I say things like "Oliver is probably going to end up proposing to Colby Lewis."
Since we're finally on the subject, I may as well start with Oliver's projections of Mr. Lewis.
Colby Lewis (6, 5x3; 5, Rates+)
If you're like the millions of others who don't follow the performances of major leaguers who move to Japan, you probably had forgotten about the man slated as the No. 3 starter for the Rangers. In two seasons there, Lewis led the league in strikeouts twice, compiling 369, while walking just 46 and registering an ERA of 2.86. For those of you who forgot your calculators, that's a K:BB of 8.02 against competition generally considered to be the rough equivalent of Triple-A. Those are the kind of numbers that make Oliver drool. Oliver projects top 10 finishes in ERA, WHIP and K:BB, putting him in the top six in both my ranking systems. CHONE puts him in the top 25, but the other projections barely even consider him draftable (and Fans doesn't even provide a projection). I grabbed him in the final round of both the drafts I did last weekend, which seems pretty standard. If Lewis comes even close to meeting his projected line of 3.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 165 strikeouts, he'll be a steal even if you draft him in the teens.
Jake Peavy (9, 5x3; 17, Rates+)
Coming after Lewis, this may be a bit of a letdown. Obviously, you know all about the former Padres aces. But after a move from pitching in the most pitcher-friendly park in the more pitcher-friendly league and into one of the more hitter-friendly parks, it's understandable that his stock has taken a bit of a hit. Oliver doesn't seem worried. His cumulative rankings in the other four projections are 33 and 37, respectively. Oliver projects an ERA of 3.37 (16th best), a WHIP of 1.21 (24th) and 169 Ks (31st). His projected HR/9 rate is .85 (141st), but that's actually lower than his career mark of .90. There's no reason you should be shy about taking him in the 10th or 11th round, or about where he's currently going in Yahoo drafts.
Stephen Strasburg (12, 5x3; 9, Rates+)
There's obviously some risk involved here, mainly because everyone knows about the No. 1 pick in last year's draft, and he has no professional track record, so his projections are entirely based on his performance against college batters. That said, Oliver is about as bullish as could be on the flame-throwing National Treasure. I rate Strasburg highly, despite the fact that he's only projected to toss 100 innings at the major league level this year. In that limited time, Oliver projects a 2.86 ERA (second), a 1.08 WHIP (second), 126 Ks, and a K:BB ratio of 4.50 (fourth). Of the four projection systems I used as points of comparison, only ZiPS bothers to project Strasburg. Although it suggests more innings pitched, it is far less optimistic, projecting a 4.18 ERA (190th), 1.32 WHIP (116th), 113 Ks and a K:BB ratio of 3.14 (33rd). Although his ADP is pretty low (179 in Yahoo), I seriously doubt you can get him that late. If you buy what Oliver is selling, making him a top-100 pick, especially if you're in a keeper league, isn't out of the question.
Ted Lilly (15, 5x3; 63, Rates+)
Certainly not as sexy or interesting as the other guys on this list, the Cubs lefty does provide the chance to get some value. An injury will likely cause him to miss at least a few starts at the beginning of the season, but that shouldn't keep him from hitting Oliver's projected 170 IP. My rankings love him in the standard roto stats, but dock him for projected deficiencies in IP and HR/9 (1.32, which is basically his career norm). Still, his projected 3.54 ERA (29th), 1.14 WHIP (eighth) and 3.26 K:BB (24th) are all solid. The other projections don't exactly hate him, either, and I give him cumulative rankings of 37 (5x3) and 80 (Rates+). You can probably snag him in the last few rounds of your draft (he's not going in the top 200 picks of the standard Yahoo draft), which makes him a pretty low risk.
Max Scherzer (24, 5x3; 30, Rates+)
The Tigers' newest starter has some similarities to Peavy (moving to a more difficult league) and Strasburg (he'll definitely be on other owners' radars), but Oliver doesn't seem to think there's much to be worried about. I rank him mainly on the strength of his strikeout numbers. Oliver projects 213 Ks (fourth) and a K/9 of 9.59. His projected ERA (3.79, 63rd) and WHIP (1.29, 69th) won't win those categories but shouldn't hurt you much either. His cumulative ranking in the other projections are 57th (5x3) and 65th (Rates+), in no small part because no one else is predicting Scherzer will toss a career-high 200 innings the way we do. There's no question drafting Scherzer has an element of risk attached to it, and I doubt he'll go outside the top 200 the way he is in Yahoo drafts. Still, there's no reason to believe he can't be a solid No. 3 fantasy starter if he can just build a little off last season (170.1 IP).
Mat Latos (31, 5x3; 28, Rates+)
Oliver seems to think Latos will emerge as the newest Padres ace sooner than later. Although he's projected to register just 130 IP, he earns his ranking largely on the strength of his ERA (3.48, 24th) and WHIP (1.24, 37th). His ranking isn't especially strong anywhere else, but we don't project any serious red flags, either. He ranks 142nd cumulatively in both of the rankings using the other projections, which generally project fewer IP and much less control. He's another guy who's probably worth the minimal risk that comes with late-round flyers.
Clay Buchholz (32, 5x3; 53, Rates+)
Three seasons after he burst onto the scene by throwing a no-hitter in his second major league start, Buchholz is finally expected to break camp as a member of the Red Sox rotation. Oliver seems to think he'll earn the right to stay there. Oliver projects a better ERA (3.54, 29th) and WHIP (1.28, 61st) than any of the other projections, better strikeout numbers (7.74 K/9) than all but Fans and a lower HR/9 (.90) than all but ZiPS. Based on his breaking camp with the big club, we may even be a bit conservative on IP (150), which could mean a strikeout total closer to 150 than the 129 Oliver currently projects. It's tough to say where someone like Buchholz will likely be drafted, but if the other owners in your league are using other projections (cumulatively 157 and 213, respectively) he may in fact be available in the last few rounds.
Rick Porcello (52, 5x3; 92, Rates+)
With Justin Verlander and now Scherzer, it's not too hard to forget about the Tigers' 21-year-old potential ace-in-the-making. Porcello didn't exactly blow anyone away last year, but he did make 31 starts and toss 170.2 innings as a 20-year-old, while maintaining an ERA under 4.00 (3.96). He never developed a strikeout pitch, though, and that's probably what's scaring most fantasy owners, as well as the projection systems. Oliver isn't as worried. If he can toss the 200 innings we project, Oliver projects a solid ERA (3.78, 61st) and WHIP (1.27, 54th) that should be enough to overcome his anemic strikeout numbers (4.82 K/9). If he manages to develop that elusive strikeout pitch, watch out.
Ian Kennedy (60, 5x3; 51, Rates+)
The one-time Yankees prospect looks like he'll join the Diamondbacks rotation to start the season. It's hard to tell whether the other projections knew this, but either way Oliver is much more optimistic than they are. Oliver's projected ERA (3.76, 58th) and WHIP (1.31, 100th) are way better than any of the others are predicting, sometimes by more than a run and in all cases, by more than .10 baserunners per inning. Combine those numbers with decent strikeout totals (7.59 K/9) and an ability to keep the ball in the park (.64 HR/9, 39th) and you have a legitimate young stud on your hands.
Other notable findings
This is where I got in a little bit of trouble last time, but I'll go ahead of give some of the pitchers Oliver is less optimistic about.
If there's one thing all the projections seem to agree on, it's that Tim Lincecum should once again be the best pitcher in baseball. Using my rankings, he was tops across the board with the one exception being CHONE's projections giving him a No. 3 5x3 ranking. Oliver projects a 2.86 ERA (second), 1.14 WHIP (ninth), 247 Ks (first) and a HR/9 of .47 (12th).
I realize I ignored relievers in this article, but frankly I just started to run out of space. I promise to address reliever projections in a later column. I'll leave you, though, with notes on Jonathon Broxton and Neftali Feliz.
Posted by Jeremiah Oshan at 4:24am (8) Comments
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
Even though the season started just yesterday, I'm sure most of you are itching to make adjustments to your team. That's what overreacting to small sample sizes will do to you. Worry not overreacters, Julio Borbon will get plenty of hits this season.
Still, if you are looking to add another element to your team, consider the following two players—unowned in most fantasy leagues—who could supplant the talent already on your team. One of the players is a "Steady Eddy" with not much of a ceiling to tap into but almost guaranteed decent production. The other player has a great minor league track record and has recently won over playing time. For the sake of suspense he will remain anonymous and I'll kick things off with the consistent producer.
Standing 6 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing 220 pounds, and batting left-handed you would think Ryan Sweeney would be a prototypical home run hitter. Instead, however, this 2003 second-round pick out of high school prefers to square his bat to the ball and hit mostly line drives and ground balls. So far that approach has netted him a respectable .290 batting average over his first two full seasons in the majors, but it has also left people wondering if there is power potential inside of him remaining untapped.
Sweeney is unlikely to change his hitting approach at the plate, so whatever power numbers he could produce with slightly tweaked mechanics and a different mindset will remain a mystery; despite his contact-driven approach, he can still be of use to fantasy owners.
First off, his average should remain in the .290s and will push the low .300s. It is harder for most people to conceptualize the value in a high batting average compared to, say, a high home run total, but be aware that a .300 average over the 550+ at bats Sweeney should accumulate batting second in the A's lineup is valuable to any fantasy team.
In terms of power, Sweeney did progress some last year, turning more of his singles into doubles and raising his slugging percentage above .400. This season he will be entering his third season in the majors and assuming some continued improvement, he could reach the low double digits in home runs, though somewhere around nine homers is most likely.
Nine home runs may be nothing to tell your grandchildren about, but with an young player like Sweeney that number is more likely to be eclipsed than remain unreached. At least his gap power should keep his run and RBI totals respectable, even in the A's lineup.
Overall we are looking at a line of a .300 average, 10 home runs, 85 runs, 60 RBI, and somewhere between 7-10 steals. It is important not to overdraft this type of player, though Sweeney is not being overdrafted the same way James Loney—a very comparable player—is in some leagues. As a fifth outfielder in a deep mixed league, or a mid-late selection in an AL-only league, or as a $1 flier in an auction, Sweeney is a solid role player unlikely to disappoint.
The name John Bowker—not the most memorable name—is one you might want to start paying attention to a little more. With his scorching spring in which he hit .312 with six home runs, Bowker has secured himself the Giants' starting right field job, though his leash is undoubtedly relatively short.
Instead of attributing those numbers to small sample size, a look at his past minor league seasons—and especially his 2009 Triple-A season—shows that Bowker has actual talent. Last season in Triple-A, Bowker batted .342 over 450 plate appearances, blasted 21 home runs, and walked nearly as much as he struck out. Overall his performance was good for a Cruzian (in Triple-A) wOBA of .447.
Bowker has gotten chances at the major league level before and has performed poorly in the past, but there are no reasons to suggest this time he won't have more success. Most projections systems predict a batting average in the .260s-.270s and about 15 home runs for Bowker, which is solid already. However as a 26-turning-27-year-old, he has the breakout potential to surprise everyone and post a valuable .290 average, 20+ home run season.
And his spring is just another reason for optimism.
Posted by Paul Singman at 4:44am (3) Comments
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Earlier this week, I got engaged to my girlfriend of seven years. So, I feel it’s fitting that I write this week about relationship building. As owners of fantasy teams, we have relationships with players and, as in our real relationships, sometimes we are rewarded for giving our trust and support while other times such investments are unfortunately unrequited.
Also similar to building an interpersonal relationship, it’s important to know what flaws in players are going to be dealbreakers and whether somebody’s distasteful behavior is just an aberrant result of a bad day or a peek into a much deeper deficiency of character. Today, I will look into some truly bleak omens about declining player value as well as signs that may appear to be similar symptoms but are most likely benign.
We know deep down that building healthy relationships, making wise choices about those with whom we surround ourselves, and when to cut ties from a dysfunctional relationship are largely about simple values we all profess to know and abide by, even as we behave in contradiction thereto. So, most of what you will read below is very elementary, and admittedly far beneath our readership here at THT. But … never is the challenge to know these things, and always to practice them when an irrational impulse rears its ugly head.
So, don’t tell me: “Duh, this is Fantasy 101 stuff, I clearly know all this.” You want to render this column a waste of time? Practice, don’t preach. If you do, I’ll be happy to write this off as a waste of virtual ink.
Legitimate red flags
Decreased playing time/emerging platoon situations: When it comes to a player’s ability to produce, playing time is the lowest common denominator and, aside from talent, the most important determinant of whether a player will have value. In deeper AL- or NL-only leagues, virtually all starters have value, so it is important to monitor playing time dynamics and position battles.
Declining playing time as a harbinger of a player’s loss of productivity is often something of a self-fulfilling prophecy as well. Without regular playing time and consistent ABs, it becomes more difficult for a struggling player to right himself.
Continuance of suspected outlier trends … or not: Flushing’s faithful breathed a collective sigh of relief Monday when David Wright hit an opposite-field homer at Citi Field to begin the Amazin’s season. Alarming results of last season kept the prices down on several players with fairly proven track records. We saw power outages from the likes of David Wright and Aubrey Huff. Vernon Wells, Alex Rios, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Pena saw their batting averages tumble. Ichiro ran less often than ever, and at the second-lowest success rate of his career. Brian Roberts too saw a double-digit dip in his stolen base total for the second consecutive season. These are trends that should cause legitimate concern should they look to be continuing early this season.
Another thing to be wary of is players who were helpful in the stolen base department last year but did so at poor success rates. Teams may be stingier with the green light this season as a result. Players who posted double-digit steal totals but did so at especially ugly rates include Clint Barmes (12-for-22), Corey Hart (11-for-17), Russell Martin (11-for-17), Hunter Pence (14-for-25), Ryan Theriot (21-for-31) and Troy Tulowitzki (20-for-31).
Failures by unproven, newly anointed, or low-salaried closers: When it comes to closers’ job security, one’s leash may be as long as his contract. While this may not be completely fair, such is often the truth. Whether to be concerned about a closer’s early struggles is often an individual case that is dependent upon track record, salary, and quality of the alternatives. When you have a spotty or bare resume as a closer, a relatively low price tag, and are flanked by a quality set-up man, a few early hiccups could cost you your job. The closers with the most tenuous holds on their job, that is who likely have the shortest leashes, appear to be Jon Rauch, Matt Lindstrom, Carlos Marmol and Jason Frasor.
Low batting average: We know there is a lot of luck involved in a batting average that is amassed over a comparatively small number of ABs. If you have a player with a proven track record who is simply off to a slow start, do not fret or panic. It often takes a season’s worth of ABs, of hot and cold streaks, to level out a player’s average to around where it should be. It is certainly worth checking a player’s peripherals—walk and strikeout rate, as well as batted ball trajectory rates—but the most simple and obvious explanation for many unforeseen batting average drops and spikes is simply luck. Remember, after 100 ABs, the difference between hitting .240 and .290 is a combination of five great defensive plays/non-error miscues and bang-bang out/safe or fair/foul judgment calls. And this is before we even consider whether balls have been “dropping in” or not.
Raw ERA taken out of context: Just about every starter will throw up a handful of stinkers every year. With few innings under pitchers’ belts, one or two bad outings can leave blemishes on rate stats that could take a half-dozen starts to recover from. Obviously, nobody should be concerned about Josh Beckett, even if his next start was just like Sunday evening’s. This is obviously even starker with relievers, for whom the relevance of ERA is almost always overstated, period.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 5:09am (4) Comments
Thursday, April 08, 2010
The next big thing in fantasy baseball is predicting playing time. We here at THT are devoting resources to keeping depth charts with up-to-date predictions for playing time. I am pretty sure a few other big names, like Baseball HQ, are trying to do the same. Why? Two reasons: Predictions of changes in playing time from pure stats are shoddy, and getting better predictions is extremely valuable for fantasy.
Fantasy baseball players and, more generally, baseball statheads the world over always have sharp opinions about which players deserve more or less playing time based on their stats. For better or worse, managers and general managers often have their own opinions, and divining them from stats alone can be tricky. Having an "ear to the ground" by following comments in the local papers and blogs, listening to or watching games and using the occasional Google search can really help predict who's in the king's favor and who's likely to ride the bench for a bit longer. These sources also help us predict position eligibility changes—how else would we find out whether Jake Fox might earn catcher eligibility this season?
Having better predictions of playing time (any half-decent one right now is a huge improvement over what used to be on offer) and incorporating them into your strategy can really help you earn profits and find value. Why? Generally speaking, there are two kinds of upside value: upside skills and upside time. Finding players with solid, known skills who lack a regular role (upside time) can offer a more sure asset to place on your bench than the volatile youngster with a starting job (upside skills).
Upside skills players are more fun to have. Their potential seems limitless, their power to propel us into first inexhaustible. 20-20 seems a sure bet and 30-30 a fair chance. Elijah Dukes
, Lastings Milledge, Jeremy Hermida, Jason Heyward, Colby Rasmus—these are just a few of the players our dreams, past and present, are made on. Clearly some of these players realize their upside. Many do not.
More important is what these players are doing to your fantasy team while this uncertainty over their skills is resolved. There are two possibilities. You can sit them on your bench or you can start them.
If you sit them, you obviously are going to wait at least until they "break out," until they start showing some nice production. But then, with such a small sample, you still don't know whether this production is "for real"—whether they have the skills to maintain starter value. You can start the player anyway and hope he doesn't regress or you can wait still more. But it could be a while before the sample size becomes large enough to be truly sure. If you start him right away, well, pretty much he can just stink right off the bat and for a while. Again, you wouldn't be sure for quite a number of weeks about whether the player was going to regress back up to a good performance level.
Upside time players offer much more certainty about when you should start them. For example, if Jason Kubel gets injured, Jim Thome might be in line for many more at-bats. On a per-at-bat basis, we have a pretty good idea what to expect from Thome. Other examples are Jake Fox and Mike Lowell. Injured players are classic examples of this. When they come back, you can see fairly early on whether they have their old form or not. Guys like Justin Duchscherer, Scott Kazmir, Erik Bedard and eventually Brandon Webb are on this list. Sure, there's the potential for re-injury, but we usually (but not always, if the player hides it) know when a re-injury happens. It isn't nearly as easy to observe regression to the mean in real time.
Of course, the players that are upside legends, showering their owners with buckets of profit, usually are both upside skill and upside time risks, though we often portray them as just upside time risks in hindsight. John Bowker is starting to percolate onto lists. Ben Zobrist is last year's success story here. A succession of injuries offered him the opportunity, which he clearly seized. But once Akinori Iwamura was injured, was Zobrist a solid bet? Not to me, and I was one of the lucky ones who had picked him up early on, mostly out of desperation for a shortstop. I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop on his performance (and to a small extent it did in the second half of the season) and probably would have sat him if I had had any suitable replacement.
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 6:10am (4) Comments
Stephen Strasburg / SP / Washington
Strasburg will get his feet wet at Double-A Harrisburg and Triple-A Syracuse for a couple of months, but expect him in Washington by June.
Madison Bumgarner / SP / San Francisco
Bumgarner will start at Triple-A Fresno, but don't expect him to remain there for long. I'm calling a July permanent call-up.
204 IP / 3.38 ERA / 1.20 WHIP / 15 W / 9 L / 197 SO / 183 H / 61 BB
216 IP / 2.99 ERA / 1.12 WHIP / 17 W / 8 L / 223 SO / 185 H / 57 BB
Brian Matusz / SP / Baltimore
Matusz is in the majors to stay.
206 IP / 3.61 ERA / 1.22 WHIP / 14 W / 10 L / 202 SO / 189 H / 63 BB
217 IP / 3.24 ERA / 1.15 WHIP / 16 W / 10 L / 228 SO / 191 H / 58 BB
Neftali Feliz / SP/RP / Texas
Despite Feliz's poor spring, Texas is counting on him as its setup man. No one knows for sure what his future role is, but I think he is in Texas to stay.
184 IP / 3.73 ERA / 1.32 WHIP / 13 W / 10 L / 183 SO / 175 H / 68 BB
198 IP / 3.31 ERA / 1.24 WHIP / 15 W / 9 L / 213 SO / 183 H / 63 BB
Martin Perez / SP / Texas
I expect Texas to slow down Perez's development and keep him at Double-A Frisco for the year.
Christian Friedrich / SP / Colorado
Double-A Tulsa should be home to Friedrich for a majority of the year, but the sooner he dominates, which he is more than capable of, the sooner he moves. And he could end up in Colorado late in the year, right in the middle of a pennant race.
Hector Rondon / SP/RP / Cleveland
It is difficult to judge Rondon's 2010 expectations due to his questionable role. I say he starts for a couple of months at Triple-A Columbus, but he should be called up permanently in some capacity by July.
193 IP / 3.73 ERA / 1.33 WHIP / 13 W / 10 L / 173 SO / 189 H / 68 BB
204 IP / 3.34 ERA / 1.25 WHIP / 15 W / 9 L / 198 SO / 194 H / 62 BB
Jeremy Hellickson / SP / Tampa Bay
The Rays' rotation is set for the time being, and if everything works out the way they want, Hellickson will spend most of the year in Triple-A Durham. Only a bullpen role would propel him to the majors later in the year. Of course, an injury to a current starter could change things.
190 IP / 3.79 ERA / 1.31 WHIP / 13 W / 9 L / 176 SO / 184 H / 64 BB
199 IP / 3.40 ERA / 1.23 WHIP / 16 W / 10 L / 200 SO / 186 H / 59 BB
Jhoulys Chacin / SP/RP / Colorado
Chacin should receive a good amount of starter's work at Triple-A Colorado Springs, but he should be in the majors to stay by July, most likely as a reliever in the short term.
195 IP / 3.84 ERA / 1.31 WHIP / 13 W / 10 L / 172 SO / 188 H / 68 BB
207 IP / 3.41 ERA / 1.23 WHIP / 16 W / 10 L / 191 SO / 192 H / 63 BB
Tyler Matzek / SP / Colorado
It looks as if Matzek won't join Single-A Asheville initially, but I fully expect him there by midseason at the latest.
Zack Wheeler / SP / San Francisco
Wheeler is making his full-season debut at Single-A Augusta, and he should remain there for the entire season.
Jacob Turner / SP / Detroit
Turner is in Single-A West Michigan, but he might not stay there for long. There are whispers going around that he could move up a rung or two this season if he uses his strong spring as a jumping-off point. Stay tuned.
Jenrry Mejia / SP/RP / NY Mets
Mejia made the 25-man roster out of spring training, but I think the promotion came too fast. I expect him to spend plenty of time at Triple-A Buffalo, and he may even bounce back and forth a couple of times.
Shelby Miller / SP / St. Louis
St. Louis seems prepared to leave Miller in Single-A Quad Cities for the year.
Casey Kelly / SP / Boston
Kelly is making the huge jump to Double-A Portland, where I expect him to remain throughout 2010.