May 18, 2013
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Thursday, June 24, 2010
Carlos Santana, CLE. It didn't take long for Cleveland to give its fans what they wanted. Lou Marson wasn't getting the job done in the majors, and Santana could do no wrong at Triple-A Columbus, earning his promotion. The two flip-flopped levels and Santana hasn't missed a beat.
Honorable mention: Buster Posey, SF
Kila Ka'aihue, KC. The Kila Monster is showing that his monster 2008 season may not have been a fluke after all. Ka'aihue has been showing off his trademark power and patience once again in Triple-A Omaha. Kansas City is hoping that his bat will one day translate into some semblance of major league success.
Honorable mention: Brett Wallace, TOR
Jarrett Hoffpauir, TOR. Hoffpauir has hit his prime and has been putting together another fine Triple-A season as a result, perhaps even his best on many levels. This time it may have finally propelled him into a permanent major league gig, as an spot has opened up at third base in Toronto's infield.
Honorable mention: Brett Lawrie, MIL
Mike Moustakas, KC. Moustakas' power has taken another step forward, and his contact rate and pitch recognition have hit a whole new level altogether. There is more polish to come, yet one could make the argument that he deserves to be named the first-half Minor League Player of the Year.
Honorable mention: Mike Hessman, NYM
Nick Franklin, SEA. I continue to make excuses to myself on why I should leave Franklin off my Top-100 list. None of it will matter as long as he continues to deliver at the plate. His defense has been all right for his age as well, adding extra foundation to his all-star honors.
Honorable mention: Thomas Field, COL
Mike Stanton, FLA. No hitter in the minor leagues put up a more jaw-dropping first two months of the season than Stanton. You can talk about his gaudy minor league stats all you want, but nothing backs up Stanton's performance more than Florida's vote of confidence in promoting him to the majors at the tender age of 20.
Mike Trout, LAA. The 2009 draft has thus far produced a disappointing crop of hitters, but Trout has the ability to be the saving grace of his class. The successful stolen base rate, contact skills and plate discipline have been the biggest surprises coming from this teenager.
Alex Gordon, KC. I don't want to give Gordon minor league all-star honors, as his skill level and major league experience give him an almost unfair advantage, but I feel compelled. The Royals chose to allow him ample time at Triple-A Omaha this year in order to refine his bat and learn how to play the outfield, and their move may prove to be a huge success.
Honorable mention: Domonic Brown, PHI, Jerry Sands, LAD, and Kyle Russell, LAD
Stephen Strasburg, WAS. Was there any doubt? No pitcher in his first year has ever laid waste to this kind of professional competition before. His next challenge will be to maintain his major league success as the innings start to pile up and the hitters become better prepared.
Honorable mention: Jeremy Hellickson, TB, Randall Delgado, ATL, Julio Teheran, ATL, Michael Pineda, SEA, and Jordan Lyles, HOU
Posted by Matt Hagen at 6:30am (1) Comments
Friday, June 25, 2010
Sorry for the brevity of players in this week's article, but my computer crashed before I saved the final product. Hence, my analysis of Alfredo Simon, Fausto Carmona, Dallas Braden and Jake Fox is gone and I am out of time to rewrite. I will cover these four underowned players (and more) next week.
All stats current through at least June 22, 2010.
Jose Bautista watch (06/15-06/21): .154 AVG, 0 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI, 0 SB. His ownership is down to 91.4% in ESPN leagues. This is the second rough week in a row for Bautista owners.
Chris Davis | Texas | 1B (+3B in Yahoo standard leagues) | 19.9% ESPN Ownership
True Talent: .280/.330/.510
After hitting .188/.264/.292 to start the season, Chris Davis was sent down to Triple-A to make room for Justin Smoak, who currently is hitting .223/.332/.399 on the season. Though Smoak has been a highly touted prospect the past few seasons, there's been very little fire through his first 171 PA (sample size!) in the majors. I've previously called him " a 2007 Derek Lee-like hitter.. The question is whether Smoak really is a better option for the Rangers than Davis. Let's dig a bit into the numbers.
Anyone who reads the Game of Inches blog, knows me or listens to the Game of Inches podcast (P.S., before you point it out, if you browse that last link, I've already apologized for my Alex Rios hate) knows how much I (irrationally) love Chris Davis. Davis is an all-or-nothing hitter who makes great contact (career 22.6% line drive hitter) when he actually makes contact (below-average career 65.5% contact rate). As I noted in the offseason, Chris Davis' 2010 prospects solely hinged upon his strikeout rate. If Davis could keep his strikeout rate in the mid-20% range as he did in the second half of 2009, he would be an invaluable asset. If not, well, he'd hit like he did in the first half of 2009.
Before his demotion this season, Chris Davis was striking out at an unacceptable, 2010 David Wright-like 35.4% clip. Though this K% is lower than last season's 38.4%, it seemed like Davis was taking steps back from the strides he made in the second half of last year and in the minors last season. However, a closer look at his numbers reveals otherwise.
Davis' problem at the plate has always been contact issues with pitches outside of the zone. His career O-Contact% of 47.9% is well below the 61+% MLB average (66.4% this season). Though this season has been no exception for Davis with respect to pitches outside the zone (36.7% O-Contact% this season), he was taking fewer hacks at those pitches this season (a career-low 33% swing rate at O-Zone pitches versus a career 35.2% mark). The results have been a career-high 9.4% walk rate and a career-low Swinging Strike rate (SwStr%) of 15% (~20% lower than last year's 19.1% mark).
Given his second-half strides with strikeouts last year and his improving approach at the plate this season, Davis' 35.4% seems unluckily and unnaturally high (bad umping, close-call third strikes—with Davis only getting 53 PA in the majors this season, a single K has a ~2% point impact on his K%). Something more in the 27-28% range seems more feasible.
Perhaps more concerning for Davis this season was the lack of home runs, though again, 53 PA is a terrible sample from which to draw conclusions about a player's power. His .104 ISO is half of what it was last season. These worries, however, might be put to rest by a look at Davis' current minor league numbers. Minor League Splits does not have 2010 data for Davis to translate into major league production, but he is currently hitting .352/.407/.548 in Triple-A. Davis' 2010 Triple-A ISO of .196 is well below his .268 minor league career mark, but it's still light years ahead of what we might dub "Darren Erstad power."
For his minor league career, Davis is a .309/.370/.577 hitter. Minor League Splits says that his minor league track record is worth a .246/.290/.437 major league line with ~28 HR per 650 AB. At the major league level, Davis owns a .253/.302/.475 line with ~33.5 HR per 650 AB.
Justin Smoak, meanwhile, has a career minor league line of .293/.404/.454, which Minor League Splits says is worth a .222/.309/.328 line with 14 HR per 650 AB. His career MLB performance to date (SAMPLE SIZE!!) is .223/.332/.399 with ~24 HR per 650 AB.
Though minor league numbers are hardly the end-all, be-all predictor of major league success, given both players' struggles in the majors, I'll take the guy with the better minor league track any day of the week. This post is not a knock on Smoak, who I think will mature into a Derrek Lee a la 2008-like hitter, so much as it is a reaffirmation of my belief in Davis. Another player with great minor league numbers who bounced around a lot before given a bona fide chance is Nelson Cruz, and we all know how that story turned out (P.S., the Brewers got royally screwed on that deal). Davis has already proved that he has legitimate HR power. Given his contact issues with out-of-zone pitches and a below-average walk rate, Davis may never succeed at the MLB level (or at least not hit consistently—think Jonny Gomes). However, Davis is a guy who deserves a chance. He flashed what he can do in 2008 and late 2009, and that kind of upside is worth a gamble.
Perhaps he needs a change of scenery. Plenty of teams could use a 3B-capable player. Except the Royals, apparently.
Recommendation: Upon promotion, should be owned in all AL-only leagues and deeper mixed leagues (12+ teams, CI position), too.
Matt Joyce | Detroit | OF | 0.0% ESPN Ownership
True Talent: .260/.370/.440
Former super-prospect Matt Joyce (whom I have all too often confused with Cameron Maybin) has been destroying the minors this season. Between High-A and Triple-A this season, Joyce has hit .317/.458/.558 (1.008 OPS) in 120 AB. Per Minor League Splits, that is worth a major league triple slash line of .258/.373/.414 (.787 OPS). That is an immediate upgrade over Hank Blalock (.691 OPS, lost power stroke). The Rays called up Joyce up yesterday, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Joyce slide into at least a platoon role with Blalock, with the chance of taking over full time. The Rays outfield is certainly crowded, and there is no room for Joyce out in either of the corners at the moment, but Joyce is only a trade (Upton) or injury (Pena) away from full playing time if he does not unseat Blalock for the DH role.
Matt Joyce is certainly worth keeping an eye on as he accrues ABs in the majors. Maybe he's finally ready to live up to his potential (he's a 20/20 candidate, full season).
Recommendation: Keep an eye on him in AL-only and five-outfielder mixed leagues with 12+ teams.
Conor Jackson | Oakland | OF | 10.4% ESPN Ownership
True Talent: .275/.355/.400
Speaking of changes of scenery, Conor Jackson is someone who needed one badly. Fangraphs previously assessed the impact of Valley Fever on Jackson's performance/value, so I won't duplicate any of that analysis. Since coming over to the A's, Jackson has hit .345/.441/.414 in 34 AB. His in-season walk and strikeout rates mirror his pre-Valley Fever rates this season, and BABIP luck aside, he'd be hitting approximately .280 with a .365 OBP. Unfortunately, Jackson has experienced some power struggles since contracting Valley Fever, and the move to spacious Oakland will do very little to assist Jackson in rekindling his former 20-HR power potential. Jackson's ISO currently sits at .089 on the season, and it's unlikely that he'll regain the pop of yore (given the long-term effects of Valley Fever) anytime soon. Thus, Jackson's value in terms of fantasy bottoms out at nil, at least for the foreseeable future and until he proves to be "healthy" again. Whereas Jackson was once a sleeper late-round outfielder with .290/20/10 promise, Jackson offers little more than the prospect of an empty batting average. Think Kevin Millar.
Recommendation: The hot bat (and trendy ESPN weekly add) of Conor Jackson should be owned in 0% of fantasy leagues. Well, he bats 3rd in a line up, so he does have some AL-only value. Still, it's 3rd in the Oakland lineup, so...
Carlos Guilen | Detroit | 2B, OF, DH | 36.6% ESPN Ownership
True Talent: .290/.325/.360
Once upon a time, in 2007, I rekindled my love of baseball through a man named Carlos Guillen. Following a swearing-off of the Cubs in 2004 and a heart-breakingly terrible 2006, I was about ready to give up on baseball. Then, current blogmate "Sexy Rexy" invited me into a fantasy baseball league. I'll be honest, I had no clue what the heck I was doing, and prior to 2007, my baseball knowledge outside of the Cubs was extremely limited in scope. Hence, I ended up drafting a ton of "over the hill" players whose names I recognized from collecting baseball cards as a kid. As it turns out, Magglio Ordonez, John Smoltz, Kenny Lofton, Aaron Rowand, Tim Hudson and Trevor Hoffman had plenty of gas left in the tank.
What does this have to do with Carlos Guillen? Well, nothing really, I suppose, but I played in a head-to-head league in 2007 and Guillen was the shortstop (now second basemen/outfielder) who helped solidify my overall team with a consistency that fantasy players with weak stomachs could only dream of.
A look at Guillen's career splits reveals the following per-month performance (pro-rated per 650 PA):
MAR/APR: .310 AVG, 12.4 HR, 98.6 R, 78.2 RBI, 5.4 SB
MAY: .304 AVG, 16.6 HR, 86.5 R, 76.9 RBI, 9.6 SB
JUNE: .287 AVG, 20.6 HR, 95.1 R, 106.9 RBI, 3.9 SB
JULY: .288 AVG, 17.4 HR, 105.3 R, 73.4 RBI, 5.8 SB
AUG: .284 AVG, 21.8 HR, 84.2 R, 86.1 RBI, 7.6 SB
SEPT: .287, 12.0 HR, 82.9 R, 68.5 RBI, 6.0 SB
What does this indicate? Two things. First, Guillen is the kind of hitter most fantasy players proselytized Conor Jackson to be a few years ago. Yet, Guillen has gotten little, if any, love since getting kicked out of the shortstop position a few years back by Adam Everett. Second, it shows that, perhaps September aside, Guillen is a consistent all-season producer. Unlike the half-players like Adam LaRoche and super streaky players like Alfonso Soriano (90% of his value comes in 40% of his games), Guillen is a bedrock of expectations. For head-to-head leagues, consistency is gold. In roto leagues, a guy like Guillen is valuable injury/ineffectiveness insurance. Guillen is currently hitting .286/.342/.463 on the season with 5 HR, 18 R and 21 RBI in 162 PA. Over a 650-PA season, that extrapolates to a .286, 20 HR, 72 R, 85 RBI, 4 SB fantasy season. Obviously the SB upside of a 35-year-old with knee issues is likely limited, but otherwise, Guillen's numbers almost exactly mirror his career pace since becoming a full-time player in 2001.
And yet, he's owned in only one-third of ESPN leagues, while Aaron Hill is more than 75% owned. Go figure. If you are in need of some 2B or even OF help, you should consider Carlos Guillen immediately. He's one of baseball's better-kept secrets.
Recommendation: Must own in AL-only formats, top 12-2B for mixed leagues and a good bench player or fifth outfielder for deeper mixed leagues.
Geovany Soto | Chicago (NL) | C | 51.7% ESPN Ownership
YTD: 267/.405/.460 (.385 wOBA)
True Talent: 270/.400/.470
Yes, I do realize this is an AL Waiver Wire Column and yes, I do realize that Geovany Soto is an NL player. However, this brief rant goes well beyond my Cubs homerism and pierces deep into the underlying problem of "old school" baseball. Right now, Soto is top five in WAR amongst catchers, despite being the only top-10 catcher with 200 or fewer PA this season. Soto is the major league leader in walk percentage (a robust 19.0%) among all players who have accrued 150 PA this season (among those with 50+ PA, only Nick Johnson and George Kotteras have walked more per PA). His .385 wOBA is second only to Jorge Posada's .394 mark among catchers and is top 35 amongst MLB hitters with 150+ PA this season.
And yet, as of late, Lou Piniella has routinely benched Soto for Koyie Hill (.238 wOBA this season, .258 wOBA career) and his marginally "better" defense (-1.0 WAR per 80 PA vs Soto's -3.0 FRAR per 200 PA. This is a matter of more than Lou's senility. http://gameofinches.blogspot.com/2010/06/tbos-first-call-into-sports-radio.html">Even sports radio hosts hate Soto. Fantasy players kind of hate him, too, as evidenced by the barely 50% ownership, though they can be slightly forgiven as it is hard to play, as your primary C, a guy who is only starting three games a week.
In the offseason, I took a two-part look at Soto's disastrous 2008 campaign. In Part One, I took a look at the types of injuries Soto suffered throughout the season and how they likely impacted his numbers. In Part Two, I analyzed the effect of sheer bad luck on Soto's sophomore season. Even though Soto improved his plate discipline in 2008, injuries zapped his power and poor luck (and injuries) deflated his OBP. Even without power, Soto's xBABIP-adjusted 2008 triple slash line should have been .269/.365/.432 (.797 OPS).
This season, Soto's plate discipline has developed further and his power, now that he's fully recovered, has returned (.193 ISO, 8 HR). And yet, you'd think he's Milton Bradley by the way people in Chicago treat him. Even fellow sabermetrics fan and blogmate "The 'Bright' One" was guilty of hating on Soto until I pointed out his raw awesomeness per nine.
I bought a Soto jersey prior to the 2008 season that I have worn to every Cubs game (and even an Indians-Royals game that I almost got "ejected" from) I've attended since. The Cubs are 19-2 (16 of those wins came in a row) in games I've attended since, including the home away from home no-no. Soto is a guy who will always have a place in my heart, and if I ran the Cubs I would lock him up long term. Cubs fans have Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella to blame, what's your excuse?
Recommendation: Must own in all NL-only leagues and all mixed-league formats. Soto, when he plays, is unquestionably a top-10 fantasy catcher.
Alex Gordon (3B, 14.2% ESPN Ownership)
True Talent: .270/.365/.450
Alex Gordon is currently tearing the cover off the ball in Triple-A, where he is hitting .335/.461/.584 with 10 bombs in 185 AB. Minor League Splits is 50 AB behind on updating his stats, but his MLB equivalent line between High-A and Triple-A ball was .261/.377/.431 (.808 OPS) and he's been hitting just as well in those past 50 AB. His Triple-A equivalency numbers are even better, with a .020 OPS boost based on power numbers. That's plenty better than Alberto Callaspo's current (and career-like) .276/.301/.427 line. Keep in mind, it was only a combination of bad luck (.227 BABIP) and injury that led to Gordon's banishment to the minors after only 38 PA this season. With Gordon mashing and staying healthy, not even Dayton Moore can ignore the him for much longer. Keep an eye out. Gordon may be back in the majors very soon—even if it means a change of scenery.
Recommendation: Keep an eye on Gordon. If he plays every day, Gordon is a borderline must-own in AL-only formats and a strong bench player or CI for deeper mixed leagues.
See you next week.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 6:35am (14) Comments
R.A. Dickey | New York (NL) | SP | 17 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 2.33 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 6.80 K/9, 2.50 K/BB, 53.2 GB percent
True Talent:4.41 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 5.0 K/9, 1.57 K/BB
R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballer, appears to be benefiting from changing his pitch mix this season to feature only his knuckleball and his fastball (82.1 percent knuckleball, 17.9 percent fastball), and perhaps from the fact that he's more familiar with throwing the knuckleball itself. On the season Dickey is posting a career-best contact percentage of only 77.5 percent, and inducing swinging strikes just over 10 percent of the time (which is up from typically hovering around 6 percent throughout his career). While knuckleballs can be hit or miss from start to start, right now Dickey is throwing well (3.77 xFIP) and worth a spot on rosters desperate for some pitching help.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some 14-team mixed leagues or larger and owned in medium to deep NL-only leagues.
Manny Parra | Milwaukee | SP | 1 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 3.83 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 9.33 K/9, 2.33 K/BB, 49.4 GB
True Talent:4.85 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 1.79 K/BB
Consider me guilty of being a sucker for Manny Parra the last two seasons, but this year he appears to be turning the corner to some degree. Parra has decent pedigree, as he was once considered a top-five prospect in the Brewers farm system by Baseball America. My interest in Parra seemingly every season is the result of two things—namely, his decent strikeout rate (which is even better this year than in the past) and his solid groundball rate (which again is even better this year than in the past). Somewhat surprisingly, Parra's K/9 has not been boosted by his early-season start in the bullpen, as he's actually posted a K/9 of 11.35 in the month of June as a starter.
As rosy as my commentary has been for Parra thus far, he certainly carries some risk as a starter, or he wouldn't be available in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues. Parra's biggest problem throughout his career has been his propensity to issue walks (4.38 BB/9 for his career). This season has seen Parra post a BB/9 of 4.00, still higher than owners would hope for, but better than his career mark. Looking back at Parra's time in the high minors offers hope to him posting better walk rates going forward, but his time in the majors makes me cautiously optimistic as opposed to anticipating his one day putting it all together. Parra is a player who should be watched in leagues of all sizes, but only owned in deeper leagues for now. Between him and R.A. Dickey, I like Parra going forward for the remainder of the season.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 14-team mixed leagues or larger and owned in medium to deep NL-only leagues.
Jorge de la Rosa | Colorado | SP | 56 percent Yahoo ownership
YTD: 3.91 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 10.17 K/9, 2.00 K/BB, 61.4 GB percent
True Talent:4.58 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.17 K/BB
After a strong finish to the 2009 season Jorge de la Rosa was a draft-day sleeper of sorts for owners looking for strikeouts with some upside to provide useful help elsewhere as well. Unfortunately for those who drafted de la Rosa, he's missed most of the season due to injury. All is not lost for those who have stashed him on their fantasy team's DL, and for those who opt to add him in leagues in which he's been cut loose.
On Wednesday, de la Rosa threw four innings of five-strikeout, zero-walk baseball in which he induced ground balls at a high clip, just as he began the season doing in the majors (61.4 GB percent). The concern remains the same for de la Rosa this year as in the past: Will he be able to keep his walks in check? To open the 2010 campaign, the answer has been not really (5.09 BB/9). However, while he's still walking more hitters than his owners would like, xFIP liked him at 3.42 thanks to his 10.17 K/9 and his high GB rate.
Given the upside de la Rosa possesses and his ability to help in strikeouts, as it stands, he should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues. Forward-thinking owners who have him available in their leagues may want to stash him on the DL while he can still be placed there. By stashing him on the DL now, Yahoo owners have the option to set their lineups ahead and watch his first couple of starts before deciding to activate him and cut another player. While he's stashed (and no longer on the real DL), you'll be able to make other roster moves, but that may not be an issue for some managers.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but the shallowest of mixed leagues.
Edinson Volquez | Cincinnati | SP | 14 percent Yahoo ownership
True Talent:4.11 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 1.93 K/BB
Edinson Volquez appears to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, as it has been reported he was able to dial up his electric fastball to 98 mph in his most recent rehab outing. Perhaps more promising than his regained velocity is the fact that Volquez has issued zero walks in 13 innings pitched rehabbing. According to manager Dusty Baker, Volquez is scheduled to return July 7, so expect to see his ownership skyrocket as that date approaches. The window to add Volquez for free is closing quickly in the 86 percent of leagues in which he's unowned.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.
Nick Hundley | San Diego | C | 5 percent Yahoo ownership
In spite of splitting time behind the dish with Yorvit Torrealba, Nick Hundley has been a useful catcher for deep-leaguers this season. In the high minors Hundley showed an ability to hit for power, albeit with a low average, as is the case with most catchers who hit for power, so his usefulness shouldn't be a complete surprise. So far this season Hundley has slugged five home runs in just 168 plate appearances while displaying a solid eye, walking 10.7 percent of the time. In addition to his home run total and his eye, Hundley has hit for a useful .274 average thanks in large part to a 19.5 percent LD rate and a reasonable 22.6 percent strikeout rate.
While his numbers aren't eye-popping, they are certainly useful in deeper two-catcher leagues. Beyond the stats, there is yet another reason to own Hundley in deeper leagues; in his last three games he has been slotted fourth in the Padres lineup behind OBP machine Adrian Gonzalez, and previous to that he had been hitting fifth, making contributions in RBIs more likely. Those in single-catcher leagues should probably pay Hundley no mind, but in larger leagues, or NL-only leagues, he is a guy to own or at least have on your radar.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all 14-team or larger mixed leagues using two catchers, should be owned in all but the shallowest NL-only leagues.
Melky Cabrera | Atlanta | OF | 4 percent Yahoo ownership
In spite of a wretched April, Melky Cabrera has been able to get his batting average up above .270 and is beginning to look like a useful fifth outfielder/reserve in deep leagues. While Cabrera may not be a sexy name, or a major contributor in the power or speed department, sometimes just being on the field and getting regular at bats while posting a useful batting average is enough to be worthy of being owned in deeper leagues. It is complete speculation on my part, but if Jason Heyward continues to struggle and Cabrera continues to hit around .300, as he has since the beginning of May, while posting a 7.9 percent walk rate, you may see the Braves move Cabrera to second in the order and slide Heyward down to take some of the pressure off the young phenom.
Regardless of lineup slot, Cabrera should provide value in batting average while posting moderately useful numbers in runs and RBIs. For those looking to boost up a wretched batting average of a guy like Carlos Pena, or those simply looking to own a fifth outfielder who plays every day, Melky Cabrera is a good fit. I recently fell into the camp of needing an everyday outfielder in Blog Wars and am employing Melky as my fifth outfielder.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 14-team or larger mixed leagues using five outfielders, should be owned in all but the shallowest NL-only leagues.
Seth Smith | Colorado | OF | 5 percent Yahoo ownership
To put it quite bluntly, Seth Smith being unowned in 95 percent of Yahoo leagues is absurd. Prior to the demotion of Dexter Fowler to Triple-A, there was some excuse for Smith to not be more widely owned, but at this point, Smith has cemented an everyday job by slugging the stitches out of the baseball and posting a .267 ISO. For a player with the power that Smith has shown (10 home runs, .539 slugging and the aforementioned .267 ISO), one would expect he probably strikes out at a high clip, but that is not the case for the good-contact (82.4 percent contact rate), low-strikeout (14.5 percent strikeout rate) slugger.
As the season goes on, Smith's power may cool off a bit, but I'd expect him to make up for that by adding some points to his batting average, as his current BABIP sits at just .261 and his xBABIP according to the xBABIP calculator found here suggests he should be sitting at a .318 BABIP. There is little to not like about Seth Smith, and he should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all 10-team mixed leagues or larger using five outfielders, should be owned in all NL-only leagues.
Gerardo Parra | Arizona | OF | 10 percent Yahoo ownership
True Talent: .278/.324/.393
Much like the previously mentioned Melky Cabrera, Gerardo Parra is probably only going to appeal to owners in need of a fifth outfielder who gets everyday at bats. Parra was an accidental omission from last week's article as Conor Jackson was dealt from the Diamondbacks to the A's, freeing up a regular spot in the outfield for him. Parra's greatest asset is his speed, but unfortunately, he has yet to master the art of stealing bases, so his stolen base totals likely will be held in check until he further refines that part of his game. At the same time, his speed offers the hope that he may turn a corner and rip off some solid stolen base totals for owners in desperate need of help in that category.
For the rest of the season I'd expect Parra to make moderate contributions in runs scored and stolen bases while providing a solid batting average in the .280 to .290 ballpark. As far as home runs go, Parra is more likely to hit zero home runs the rest of the way than to hit 10 or more, but I'd guess he'll hit three to five the remainder of the way. Those looking for steady playing time out of their fifth outfield spot should give Parra a look and hope he puts it together on the base paths and swipes 10-plus bags the rest of the way.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 14-team or larger mixed leagues with five outfielders, should be owned in all but the shallowest NL-only leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 6:45am (13) Comments
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Although you didn't know it at the time, scattered throughout your draft at the time when you were drafting were land mines in the form of players that would blow up later in the season. You didn't know it yet, the players themselves didn't know it yet; nobody did.
You can blame these players' failures on ESPN, Little Bit O' Luck, Canada, Lady Gaga, or whoever, but the truth is that not even I could see these meltdowns coming so there was virtually a zero percent chance you could. On a more serious note, players underperforming is simply a part of fantasy baseball, so get used to it (and join more than one league each year).
Using the same format as this article's counterpart, The Best team hindsight can buy, here is a fantasy team composed of the worst players you could have taken in each round of a standard 12-team draft.
Catcher: Everyone (Round 0) - None of Joe Mauer, Victor Martinez, Brian McCann, Matt Wieters or Russell Martin—the catchers taken before round 12—have rewarded those who drafted them. Contrastingly the next three catchers taken—Jorge Posada, Mike Napoli and Kurt Suzuki—are all playing respectably. Go figure.
First Base: Mark Teixeira (1) - This hustling first baseman isn't packing quite as much power to his punch as he did last year, when he blasted a smooth 39 home runs. This year he is on track to hit just 28 between him and that Yankee stadium right-field porch. Even though at times it has seemed like he was about to catch on fire, the true explosion has yet to come. Won't it?
Second Base: Aaron Hill (4) - Our boy Hill had a solid 2007 season, an abysmal 2008, and next came his uber-spectacular 2009 season, and surprise surprise, Hill is struggling in 2010. The 11 homers aren't bad, but you have to brown bag his .192 average to see what's in it for you. Some players were just meant to have fantasy articles written about them, and I can already see the McFlurry of articles this offseason predicting a Hill bounce back, and next offseason about how he is overvalued. By 2013 we might have found something better than fantasy baseball to do so I'll refrain from prognosticating any further.
Third Base: Pablo Sandoval (3) - Although owning Sandoval will never be as fun as in his catcher-eligibility days, coming into this season he seemed to have the right combination of batting average, power and body mass to make him a joy to own. Fast forward to the present, though, and his 30 R, 6 HR, 37 RBI, 2 SB, .273 AVG line is not inducing many smiles from his owners.
Shortstop Jason Bartlett (9) - Bartlett's line consisting of a .227 average, one home run, and three steals is about as barren as the Marlins stadium looks during a replay that shows someone hitting a home run into the outfield bleachers and you see a fan a hundred rows away from where the ball landed scrambling toward it.
Outfield: Grady Sizemore (2) - In general I am trying to avoid putting players affected by injuries on this team, but Sizemore was playing terribly enough before he needed knee surgery to warrant inclusion. Comparing him to players with at least as many plate appearances as he had, his .255 wOBA ranks 13th worst, worse than superstars Jose Lopez and Garrett Atkins but at least better than Brandon Wood and Pedro Feliz.
Outfield: Adam Lind (5) - The Golden Boy of THT Fantasy last year, this year Lind is performing like he is embarrassed to have played so well. Ditto what I said about his Blue Jay teammate in terms of the acceptable home runs (9) but terrible accompanying average (.203). Oh, and he will probably be called undervalued next year, too.
Outfield: Carlos Lee (6) - Lee had been beating the effects of age better than most people expected up until this season and now he has crashed harder than most people thought he would. Currently batting .234 with 10 home runs, he should play better the rest of the season since as is the case with most of the other players on this team, bad luck has contributed to the poor numbers. However, I would not expect the .300 average of the past few seasons but instead something around .260 to .270.
Starting Pitcher: Josh Beckett (7) - If this season will be remembered as one of dominant pitchers, Beckett missed the memo. After eight starts he came away with a 7.29 ERA and a lower back strain that let him test the new health care laws along with the rest of the Red Sox organization.
Starting Pitcher: Wandy Rodriguez (8) - Somewhat quietly Wandy was one of the league's best pitchers last year, finishing with a 3.02 ERA and 193 K's in 205 innings. Maybe he was upset at the lack of recognition and figured he would be discussed more if he simply pitched terribly. Well, congrats Wandy, you are now being talked about for your 5.64 ERA and declining strikeout rate.
Relief Pitcher: No one (?) - No closer taken before round 13 has lost his job yet. Injured Huston Street (round 13), poor Chad Qualls (15), and painful-to-watch Trevor Hoffman (15) were the closers to avoid so far.
The scary part in looking at these players is how safe a lot of them were considered before the season started, especially the pitchers. We still are less than halfway through the season so there is time for some of these guys to turn things around.
The biggest snub from the team is definitely Aramis Ramirez and I'll let you guys tell me who else should have been included from there.
Posted by Paul Singman at 8:45am (24) Comments
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Certainly you needn’t be a pack rat to understand the feeling of being extremely reluctant to throw away an item that actually has little monetary or even sentimental value. For example, I have shoe boxes full of pens (though not nearly as many shoe boxes full of shoes – just let my fiancé tell you) that I should just throw out, but don’t. They’re perfectly good pens. I don’t know how I accumulated so many, but while they may be superfluous, they’re functional and thus are not trash, I tell myself. But, of course, they aren’t really worth anything and I’ll likely never use them, so what’s the point of them taking up room in my closet or desk drawer?
In my shallow mixed league, Johnny Damon has become a box full of pens. My outfield is extremely strong in that league and I’ve been trying to trade from that strength all year without much success. Recently, I was able to move Hunter Pence for Aaron Hill in order to upgrade my middle infield, especially as Troy Tulowitzki nurses a broken wrist for the next month or so. I still have five outfielders better than Damon and Damon is now sitting in my utility spot and will be battling for playing time with the recently healthy Aramis Ramirez.
The question is why do I have Johnny Damon on this team at all. There are likely better fits for my team on the wire, since this is a shallow league. So, why haven’t I made this move? I guess the answer is that I still think Damon has some trade value due to his decent performance (mainly in the runs category), his name recognition and long history as a valuable commodity. However, realistically, my hope of swinging a deal that includes Damon is nearly exhausted. I was just unsuccessful trying to shop him along with Ian Stewart to upgrade my middle infield again. I may soon be left with no course of action but to drop Damon and pick up one of the serviceable corners on the wire and then shop a corner and try to upgrade elsewhere.
As I look back over the course of my relationship with Johnny Damon this year, I see it is the latest instance in one of my most chronic and debilitating fantasy behaviors. I’ve said many times here that I often get too attached to players who I feel are just good enough to help somebody else and therefore I hesitate to drop those players, even if they aren’t the best possible options for my team. I guess some might consider this a version of the endowment effect.
I write this column as much as a treatsie to myself as a piece of advice to you all (those who can’t do, teach; isn’t that what they say?). Consider opportunity cost. Yes, was I to drop Damon, he would likely find his way on to another team soon. And, yes, he may help that team in a fairly tight race in the runs category. But, what am I losing by owning Damon and rotating him between the bench, part-time utility player, and outfielder when my regulars have a day off or haven’t a game scheduled?
Let’s see. I could be spot starting. Somebody recently dropped C.J. Wilson for whatever reason and I wanted to pick him up to start against the Astros this past weekend, but couldn’t bring myself to drop Damon to do it. Wilson grabbed a win, and three wins separate five points in our current standings.
I’m taking that big ole “1” in saves in this league (yet I’ve still spent most of the season in second place). So, I could be using that roster spot to speculate on potential closers-to-be.
I could also just drop Damon for the best possible bat on the wire, or the player with the highest steal or homer potential. I could try to deal myself to an upgrade in other, more creative ways, as I mentioned above.
My point here is that perhaps it is not always the wisest course to attempt to extract the most possible value from your fringe commodities on the trade market. If you can’t make that flip in a timely manner, you may be losing more in opportunity cost than you retain in value-add to your team.
I’d also like to make a tangential point here regarding Damon and his current value. Damon is a significant contributor in the run scoring department; on my team’s roster, only Ryan Braun has scored more runs than Damon and my team is mid-pack in that category. But, anecdotally, of all the traditional counting stats, the least trade-able one-category producer is he who excels in scoring runs. Many owners just happen to see runs as a byproduct of overall offensive productivity, and to a substantial degree I wouldn’t say they are wrong. Owners also aren’t so likely to regard a difference of 10 runs scored over the course of a season as a profound difference between two players. Very rarely do you hear somebody say that a player is valuable because he scores a lot of runs and rarely is the runs category managed as attentively as, say homers or steals, during a draft or auction. In fact, how many of us can even name the top 5 or so in runs scored off the tops of our heads? When discussing A-Rod’s amazing career, how often do you reference his incredible seasonal run totals?
So, for better or worse, runs are tough to sell and much of Damon’s value is wrapped up in them. By the way, if he was stealing bases at 2001-2008 pace or hitting with some power as he did last year, he wouldn’t be burning a hole in my pocket—if he could give me roughly 40 combined homers and steals, I wouldn’t even care much how they were distributed.
I’m writing this piece a few days before it will be published; perhaps Damon’s stint won’t last until publication. My outfield boasts Nelson Cruz and the now returning to humanity Andre Ethier, both of whom spent time on the DL, so it was helpful to have some depth at the position. But right now I feel that roster slot could be better used in another way and moving Damon is feeling like extracting blood from a stone.
When reading fantasy articles, experts can make it seem like it is very easy to trade players, even fringe commodities. In reality though, it is often quite difficult and while it is always best to never give away anything of value, sometimes relenting to do so may be doing you more harm than good.