May 22, 2013
And here's the full roster.
Now availableHardball Times Baseball Annual 2013, with 300 pages of great content. It's also available on Amazon and Kindle. Read more about it here.
Or you can search by:
THT E-bookThird Base: The Crossroads is THT's e-book, available for $3.99 from the Kindle store. The good news is that anyone can read a Kindle book, even on a PC. So enjoy the best from THT in a new format.
our CafePress store. We've got baseball caps, t-shirts, coffee mugs and even wall clocks with the classy THT logo prominently displayed. Also, check out the THT Bookstore. Please support your favorite baseball site by purchasing something today.
All content on this site (including text, graphs, and any other original works), unless otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Dan Haren is singlehandedly destroying my faith in FIP, xFIP, and SIERA.
Another commenter followed with:
You need to look at the actual player too. Some players are good at bettering the stats while others don’t live up to them. Matt Cain seems to better them while someone like David Bush is not. Bush had 2 season with a 1.14 WHIP and his ERA was like 4.4 and 4.2.
The coin flip analogy
While Matt Cain has posted better-than-average HR/FBs for a few years now (probably the best and longest we've seen since batted ball data has become available), that doesn't necessarily mean he's any better at preventing home runs on fly balls than Dave Bush. Think about it this way: If we have 8,000 fair coins and we flip them, probably 4,000 will land on heads and 4,000 on tails. If we take the "heads" coins and flip them again, about 2,000 will land on heads again. Flip those, and you get 1,000 of them landing on heads. Do this another nine times, and you'll probably end up with two or three coins landing on heads each time.
But are these coins any different than the others we've been flipping? Is there something special about them that makes them more likely to land on heads than one of the original 4,000 to land on tails? Of course not. I told you in the beginning that they were fair coins. So if we flipped those last two or three another 8,000 times each, I'll bet you they land on heads close to 4,000 times each.
While it's hard to view humans in this way, we do know that humans don't have ultimate control over everything in a baseball game and that random chance is involved. If it weren't, we'd have a much easier time projecting performance.
But which coins will they be?
And the same holds true for things like BABIP and HR/FB. Sure, Livan Hernandez and Tim Hudson are having years where their ERAs don't match their peripherals. But ask yourself this: How long do you expect them to continue doing that? If you don't answer "indefinitely, because they truly deserve low BABIPs and HR/FBs," then don't beat yourself up. There's nothing you can do, because the fact of the matter is, they are getting lucky. For the 2010 season, they are those final two coins remaining from the 8,000 flips. And it's as simple as that.
And I put my money where my mouth is. I happen to own both Livan Hernandez and Carlos Silva in LABR NL this year (part of a strategy that involved owning a few crappy pitchers), but despite their successes, I've only used Livan for 87 innings and Silva for 70 (though I have begun to start Silva regularly over the past couple months because he's combined legitimately good peripherals with a change in approach. Our coin flip example would still hold for him to an extent, though, because no one expected him to outperform his projections to this extent unless they scouted him in Spring Training and noticed his improved change-up, improved breaking ball, renewed control, etc.)
To go along with this, I wanted to bring up one last comment from a post I made at the CardRunners site:
Dan Haren is an example of a first half ace. He's a bum every second half… not only does his ERA jump about a run (3.29 to 4.22), but his WHIP goes from 1.10 to 1.31.
Like with BABIP and HR/FB, "second-half ERA" is a stat with lots of variation. It takes many years to stabilize, and because it's normally distributed, there will always be outliers, especially when dealing with smaller samples. In Haren's case, we are dealing with a small sample of four poor second halves (plus two years where his second half was better than his first), so claiming that he's merely a "first-half ace" may be a bit hasty.
So does that mean we know nothing?
No, it doesn't. Just because it's possible that Matt Cain is a true 11% HR/FB pitcher doesn't meant that he absolutely is. Along with knowing that we're looking at a mere sample and that what we've seen could be simple random variation, we have seen something. And what we've seen for Cain is a career 7.8% HR/FB. So what we do is weight his career and regress to the mean to remove the effects of luck as well as possible. Once we do that for Cain, we probably arrive at an expectation for his HR/FB of around 9% or so.
And as I said in my previous article in this long-running discussion, that expectation would change if we have other data (such as scouting or a PITCHf/x study). But unless we have that data, that's the best we can do.
I think that covers everything I wanted to cover, so if you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know. I'm sure there will be some of you who will still be skeptical, so feel free to voice your concerns if you are.
Posted by Derek Carty at 5:10am (18) Comments
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
I’m writing with a broken fridge and so I’m drinking a pint the way my adopted country intended—warmish. With that in mind, Byron writes:
“Straight up dynasty, so no keeper costs, just 12 guys kept every season.
12-team, mixed, 5x5, 29-man roster
If the season were to end today, I'd probably be keeping eight hitters and four pitchers.
Which two hitters should I keep between Ian Stewart, Brett Wallace, Matt LaPorta, Logan Morrison, Justin Smoak, Kila Ka'aihue, Dexter Fowler, Howie Kendrick, Julio Borbon?
Also, which four pitchers should I keep between Mat Latos, Brett Anderson, Johan Santana, Roy Oswalt, Ricky Nolasco, Gavin Floyd, Johnny Cueto?
I'd rather not keep too many pitchers, so I figure four max, unless you can convince me otherwise.”
Ah, dynasty leagues and dynasty keepers—an eternity to regret. There are two components to consider:time and ability. Ability is obvious, more or less: Who do we expect to produce more and when do we expect them to produce it? Timing is more personal: What are your needs now versus in the future?
Without knowing the six other players you are planning on keeping, it is a bit hard for me to fully know how competitive you can be for next season or whether you have specific position needs. But fortunately, I think the answer is anyway fairly clear cut.
In the jargon of statistics, pitcher keepers have high hazard rates. They are more likely than batters to not be kept in years two or three or so on after having been kept for next year. So, everything else equal, you’re right to keep fewer pitchers. It also means that you should value next year over distant potential more with pitchers than with hitters.
With that in mind, Santana and Oswalt are clear choices even though their useful horizons may be shorter. Brett Anderson is even easier; he’ll help you next year and far into the future. The fourth is a closer call, although not that hard either. Floyd seems to outperform expectations while Nolasco seems to underwhelm us. Cueto is entirely too erratic.
Latos doesn’t have a long enough history to even have a chance to be enigmatic. But I’m not going to penalize his short record too much. Latos has talent and opportunity. Unlike Floyd and Cueto, he plays in a dream pitcher’s park. He is younger than Nolasco with equal (at the very least) talent. So Latos is your fourth.
Your batters, on the other hand, are a soup. The easy answer for next year is probably Kendrick and Stewart. Their skills are more or less proven. Fowler and LaPorta have not shown that their promise translates to the big leagues commensurate with their expectations. If you’re looking for a sexy flyer with upside, I’d go with Fowler or maybe Morrison unless one of the others shows us something in the last month of the season. If you’re building for next year in mind, I’d think more strongly about Kendrick.
Finally, as you may have noticed, I’m as lukewarm as my beer about your batters. There may be second basemen available to draft next year who are comparable to Kendrick or as sexy as Morrison (maybe Eric Young Jr.?). Of course, there may be pitchers comparable to Floyd in the draft pool as well, but I would consider keeping Floyd or, if you prefer to gamble, Nolasco, instead of the second batter.
Best of luck and let us know how you do in 10 years time!
Posted by Jonathan Halket at 3:48am (0) Comments
This question in the keeper league mailbag series comes from Adam, who writes:
Here are the rules for my keeper league. I can keep four players and it's a dynasty league. If I pick up a player from waivers, I only lose my last available pick (essentially my last round pick) if I keep that player. If I have two players that were drafted in the same round, I would then lose my next available pick (i.e. If I decide to keep two third rounders I would lose my second and third round pick). Here are a list of players that I would reasonably choose from.
The league is head to head and is 6x6 with the extra categories being OBP and K/BB with net saves and net steals
C- Black Magic Woman (Carlos Santana)- undrafted
2B- Dustin Pedroia- 3rd round
2B- Brian Roberts- 6th round
3B- Z-Pack (Ryan Zimmerman)- 3rd round
OF- Nelson Cruz- 8th round
OF- Adam Dunn- 7th round
OF- Corey Hart- undrafted
SP- CC Sabathia- 3rd round
SP- Clay Buchholz- undrafted
SP- Madison Bumgarner- undrafted
I was thinking about keeping Cruz, Santana, D-Ped and Buchholz and then flipping CC in the offseason (because both him and Pedroia are 3rd rounders so I don't want to waste a 2nd round pick on CC).
I'd appreciate your thoughts
THT Fan Adam
I would recommend you keep the following four players, based on a composite of their productive value, positional scarcity and cost-to-keep: Carlos Santana, Nelson Cruz, Ryan Zimmerman and Dustin Pedroia, with Adam Dunn being a serious consideration as a player you might want to keep in place of Cruz, who has proven himself to be quite injury prone over the past two seasons.
For Zimmerman and Pedroia, my suggestion to keep comes on the basis mostly of positional scarcity and production. Neither player will come cheap (costing you what appears to be a second and third round pick), but ask yourself if you think a better player will be available, especially at 2B/3B come the third round (or later) – at least with respect to proven players. Of course, some players (like Gordon Beckham heading into this season) go later and get lots of buzz, but such younger/unproven players with lack of track records (like Gordon Beckham) are hard to gauge (sample size) and often come with plenty of risk. If you want to risk your fantasy season on a risky or unknown player’s production from a scare position, by all means, be my guest. However, I am a very risk averse person and if you do want to play the risk game, you will need a fallback option in case the risk does not pan out. Not only does that burn a roster spot (and auction cash if you are in an auction league), but at a scarce position, the “later picked players” tend to drop off pretty quickly. For example, the 12th best second baseman this season (minimum 300 PA), Ty Wiggington, has a .333 wOBA. By contrast, the 12th best first baseman this season is Mark Texeira, who has a .370 wOBA.
Pedroia has a nice blend of power/speed (15-20 SB/HR upside) and comes packaged with a .365+ OBP (.327 MLB average) on a team which should continue to bat him in plenty (the Red Sox have a major league leading .349 wOBA as a team, despite a malady of injuries to key players). Likewise, Zimmerman is the nucleus of an underrated Nationals offense which will at least feature Josh Willingham in 2011. Zimmerman also comes packaged with a high OBP (.388 this season) and plenty of pop (24 HR in 115 games). Both players are top 3 at their position in terms of wOBA this season and they should continue to be productive in the future (both players are under 27 years old and have a track record of success).
Sure, Zimmerman and Pedroia are injury risks, but Zimmerman’s been healthy and proven himself capable of longevity for two-plus seasons, whereas Pedroia’s injuries (foot bone injury) are surely disabling, but less than concerning for the long term – especially when compared to the infamous shoulder/hip/oblique injury (I’m looking at you, Carlos Delgado). Pedroia has also proven himself to be an efficient basestealer, which I cannot say about other balanced assets such as Alex Rios, which should help your teams bottom line.
Santana is also a “must keep player.” Though I am firmly of the belief that catchers outside of the top 5 are completely and entirely fungible and capable of a .260 AVG with 10-15 HR and 60 RBI, Santana is a top three catcher for 2011 in my mind. In answering the first mailbag question, I noted that “Santana’s numbers this year translate into an MLE of .275.385/.500. Furthermore, Santana was producing a .260/.401/.467 line with six HR (and three SB) in less than 200 PA before going down with a knee injury.” The Indians figure to give their top prospect plenty of time to recover and when Santana is in the lineup, he should mash. Santana is only that much more valuable in a league which rewards OBP.
The last keep is honestly a toss up between Cruz and Dunn. Let me preface the following by saying that I love Cruz. I value Cruz, when healthy, as a top 5 outfielder capable of a balanced .280/.360/.500-35-20 line with plenty of R/RBI to boot. However, the key qualifier to my previous statement is when healthy, which Cruz has shown issues with in the past two seasons. Cruz is on the DL right now for the third time this season with a hamstring injury and I know he went down with a hamstring injury at least once (maybe twice) last season. Maybe Texas’ conditioning coach can work with Cruz in the offseason, but as it stands, Cruz is a high-risk, high-reward player. The eighth-round value helps to mitigate some of Cruz’s downside, but Cruz is the kind of guy who can anchor a team and team anchors need to be reliable.
Given that you are in an OBP league, Dunn (career .381 OBP, though he is walking at a career low 11 percent clip this season) makes an intriguing keeper option. With a seventh-round draft tag, he is not too pricey (about market value, maybe one round later than where he should go in terms of production in an OBP league) and offers plenty of value (high OBP, 35-40 HR consistency, plenty of R/RBI chances). Considering that “defense” is not a category in your fantasy league, Big Donkey (Dunn) could be quite valuable – especially if he lands on the Yankees as their DH come this offseason. Unfortunately, Dunn will lose his OF eligibility in all leagues after this season (0 GP in the OF), which hinders his value (as noted above and as I have noted before, first basemen are as deep of a group of players as it gets). However, Dunn will still produce for you in five/six categories, which I cannot say about most players.
For me, the question of Cruz v. Dunn, 326 U.S. 310, is a question of risk aversity and strategy. If Cruz plans on being one of your team’s key cogs, I would instead consider Dunn. If, however, you are willing to make the gamble, Cruz gives you a fantastic return on your investment. Keep in mind that Cruz still batted .321/.381/.587 with 16 HR and 12 net SB in the 77 games he's played. Per Baseball Monster, that kind of production makes Cruz a top 100 fantasy player. That is, despite three DL stints.
Some brief thoughts on the rest of your players:
-Corey Hart has been a successful player in 2010, but I have never liked Hart (see also this rant). Hart never walks (not even this year, with Hart posting a 7.6 percent BB%), so even if he retains his power burst (.249 ISO in 2010, career .206 mark) next year, a regression in his .328 BABIP (.310 career BABIP) on the season would seem to limit Hart’s value to an OBP league. Hart has also been caught stealing in one-third of his SB opportunities and has not even attempted 20 steals in either of the past two seasons (plus he has a declining speed score). Nuff said here.
-I like Buchholz in theory, especially given the litany of groundballs he is inducing (51.6 percent) and bargain basement price (last round pick), but this is not the Buchholz of his no-no days a few seasons back. Buchholz’s xFIP is two full runs higher than his ERA and while he gets more hitters to swing and miss a bit more than the average pitcher (9.6 percent this season versus an 8.4 percent MLB average), Buchholz’s strikeout rate is nothing to write home about (career 7.04 K/9). He’s more of a trade candidate (for a better keeper) in my eye.
-Call me irrational, but I do not particularly like C.C. Sabathia. I cannot bring myself to rank him as a top 10 starter. Call me a hypocrite for owning him in the second half, but in the third round, C.C. is not cheap and somewhat overvalued given his brand name. Of my favorite starters for 2011, you can likely get Josh Johnson, John Lester, Francisco Liriano and Chris Carpenter in rounds 4-6 of next year’s draft. That would give you better production at a lower cost.
-There is no need to keep both Roberts and Pedroia and Roberts is aging and, correspondingly, witnessing a speed decline. The pop was nice in 2009, but Roberts’ 34-year-old, post-steroid era bat is not worth a top 6 pick.
On a final note, I'd like to suggest the following two resources as invaluable sources of prospective player valuation for auction leagues (click the name links below). Both tools have customizable parameters to meet even the most unique league specifications:
-Diamond Draft Player Values
-Last Player Picked's Price Guide
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 4:15am (7) Comments
Now that the trade deadline has passed in almost all leagues, I’d like to discuss a topic that I probably should have brought up a few weeks ago. In non-keeper leagues, some people believe that teams out of contention should not be trading with teams who are in contention. They say that the bottom-feeders should not be affecting the championship race if they are clearly not part of it. Others say that all teams should try to compete to the best of their abilities until the last day of the season and should be able to utilize any possible channel to do so, including trades. I happen to be in the second camp. I understand the sentiment of those in the first camp, but I just think that it’s an emotional argument as opposed to a rational one; it may feel right, but I don’t think it is. I also think it’s something of a typical myopic entitlement of the wealthy, but I’ll save that rant for the very end of the column.
Let me start off by saying that if your preference is to not allow this kind of trading and you are commissioner of a league, the honor system or a vague appeal to the integrity of the league offered in a message board post are not legitimate or sufficient means of instituting this kind of “rule.” Such a trading ban should be introduced as an “article” of a league constitution.
…No team further than X points of first place shall make a trade with a team that is within Y points of first with less than Z amount of time remaining in the season.
The X, Y and Z values should be subject to robust, transparent and iterative discussion and the final outcome explicitly agreed upon by the majority of the league.
With the token tolerance out of the way, let me offer three points on why I disagree with such a proposed trading ban. First, I’ll appeal to principles – two core principles of good commish-ing. You want the owners in your league to compete hard and be dedicated to the league. Many leagues have problems with deadbeats. The type of behavior we are discussing is the total antithesis thereof. As a commissioner, you want to encourage and reward such dedication, as that is the signature ingredient to a great league experience. As an overarching principle to constructing and running a league, I’m against positively reinforcing disengagement.
Also as a matter of principle, I don’t like the notion of codifying a double standard, ostensibly rescinding basic tactical tools to improve one’s team. If there was a Fantasy Baseball GM’s Bill of Rights, I’d figure the right to trade would be included.
Therefore the only behavior that is fully ethical is that each team tries its best to better itself and compete with full vigor until the last possible day of the season, while making use of any strategies and tactics available to the league at large.
Second, the notion of who is and who is not “out of it” is necessarily subjective. Sure, if you do the league constitution thing, you can democratically reach an agreement on the cutoff, but crazy things can happen, and given enough trials they will. For instance, this issue came to head in a league that I’m involved in about a week ago when one of these trades went down. The contending team who made the trade with the non-contender argued that the team who the accusers labeled as a non-contender was in contention for the last money spot as recently as about a month ago. If this team could lose 20-plus points in a month, who’s to say that team is unable to regain them?
It’s not as if this banishment is reserved exclusively for the last-place team. The potential gap in interpretation regarding who is and is not a contender is actually rather wide, and I think a commissioner would realize that if he/she asked the league’s opinion on the matter. To offer another example here, a few columns ago I noted that I was pretty much waving the flag in one of my leagues and trying to stockpile keepers. Today, I’m actually 11.5 points behind the league leader, and 7.5 points out of the money. (In fairness, I did note that I thought, and still think, I have an outside shot at the money.)
I’m not sure the rest of the league considers me a non-contender. But, if they did that would basically leave only five teams, all within a few points of one another with the freedom to trade.
A final point here is that contending teams are often just as reluctant to help a fellow contender as they are intolerant of non-contenders trading with contenders. So, such a trade ban could conceivably suffocate their entire trade market. …Unforeseen ramifications of well-intentioned behavior.
My final point here is somewhat rhetorical. What happens if you take the sentiment underlying the trade ban to its logical conclusion? Why should the notion of the bottom-feeders playing their part and not affecting the championship stop at forfeiting the freedom to trade? Why not decree that these teams shouldn’t be allowed to use the waiver wire either? Grabbing a newly anointed closer putting in the winning bid on a key September call-up might mean a league title too, right? What rational, academic argument is there for precluding a non-contender from trading, but allowing him to “affect the race” in other ways? And, for that matter, why must one wait until the trade deadline to determine a team is out of contention. If non-contenders shouldn’t affect the championship race, why are they allowed to do so pre-deadline; some teams would be unanimously agreed to be “out of it” long before the deadline.
The common thread of all my arguments is the notion that such a ban is predicated on interpretations that are both arbitrary and subjective. The arbitrary and subjective nature of these arguments is compounded by the fact that the behavior they promote undermines many characteristics of the ideal GM. Frankly, I think the ban is rational only from the perspective of self-interest.
Now for my pseudo-political rant… This philosophy also plays nicely as a microcosm of the inclination by the wealthy to be exclusionary and promote means to enhance their own wealth at the expense of those not in their club. The kicker is that they don’t just ignore the moral or ethical implications of such a perspective, but actually conjure a distorted purview in which such behavior is the right thing to do. And, they do this by appealing nebulous and abstract palaver, like the “integrity of the league,” ignoring the self-evident contradiction of classifying an owner doing everything he can to, legally, succeed as a threat to a league’s integrity and restricting others’ freedoms as the means to protect it. Quite an Orwellian dialectic if you ask me!
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:50am (14) Comments
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Jason Heyward / OF / Atlanta
Average Year Projection:
.308 / .413 / 33 HR / 39 2B / 4 3B / 109 RBI / 103 R / 104 BB / 118 SO / 15 SB / 5 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.320 / .434 / 40 HR / 40 2B / 5 3B / 123 RBI / 108 R / 113 BB / 108 SO / 18 SB / 5 CS
Stephen Strasburg / SP / Washington
Average Year Projection:
211 IP / 3.13 ERA / 1.17 WHIP / 17 W / 9 L / 234 SO / 188 H / 58 BB
Prime Year Projection:
220 IP / 2.77 ERA / 1.10 WHIP / 18 W / 8 L / 256 SO / 189 H / 54 BB
Carlos Santana / C / Cleveland
Average Year Projection:
.271 / .359 / 25 HR / 30 2B / 1 3B / 89 RBI / 80 R / 79 BB / 97 SO / 1 SB / 1 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.280 / .376 / 30 HR / 32 2B / 1 3B / 100 RBI / 90 R / 86 BB / 89 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
Mike Stanton / OF / Florida
Average Year Projection:
.286 / .362 / 29 HR / 34 2B / 3 3B / 101 RBI / 97 R / 67 BB / 138 SO / 8 SB / 2 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.298 / .382 / 35 HR / 35 2B / 3 3B / 116 RBI / 105 R / 77 BB / 127 SO / 10 SB / 3 CS
Buster Posey / C / San Francisco
Average Year Projection:
.293 / .366 / 17 HR / 34 2B / 1 3B / 82 RBI / 80 R / 62 BB / 82 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.304 / .385 / 23 HR / 36 2B / 1 3B / 90 RBI / 90 R / 69 BB / 76 SO / 3 SB / 1 CS
Madison Bumgarner / SP / San Francisco
Average Year Projection:
204 IP / 3.29 ERA / 1.21 WHIP / 15 W / 9 L / 195 SO / 187 H / 59 BB
Prime Year Projection:
216 IP / 2.90 ERA / 1.13 WHIP / 17 W / 8 L / 221 SO / 189 H / 55 BB
Jesus Montero / C/1B / NY Yankees
Average Year Projection:
.274 / .343 / 22 HR / 31 2B / 1 3B / 83 RBI / 76 R / 54 BB / 89 SO / 1 SB / 1 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.284 / .360 / 27 HR / 32 2B / 1 3B / 92 RBI / 83 R / 60 BB / 80 SO / 2 SB / 1 CS
Jeremy Hellickson / SP / Tampa Bay
Average Year Projection:
196 IP / 3.55 ERA / 1.23 WHIP / 14 W / 9 L / 190 SO / 186 H / 56 BB
Prime Year Projection:
208 IP / 3.19 ERA / 1.16 WHIP / 16 W / 9 L / 220 SO / 188 H / 54 BB
Desmond Jennings / OF / Tampa Bay
Average Year Projection:
.291 / .364 / 12 HR / 39 2B / 9 3B / 66 RBI / 102 R / 68 BB / 96 SO / 37 SB / 8 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.302 / .384 / 15 HR / 40 2B / 10 3B / 74 RBI / 114 R / 76 BB / 86 SO / 43 SB / 8 CS
Mike Moustakas / 3B / Kansas City
Average Year Projection:
.287 / .345 / 25 HR / 40 2B / 2 3B / 95 RBI / 84 R / 50 BB / 101 SO / 3 SB / 2 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.295 / .359 / 30 HR / 40 2B / 2 3B / 106 RBI / 90 R / 57 BB / 90 SO / 3 SB / 1 CS
Brian Matusz / SP / Baltimore
Average Year Projection:
206 IP / 3.66 ERA / 1.26 WHIP / 14 W / 10 L / 200 SO / 195 H / 65 BB
Prime Year Projection:
217 IP / 3.29 ERA / 1.18 WHIP / 16 W / 10 L / 225 SO / 197 H / 60 BB
Martin Perez / SP / Texas
Average Year Projection:
201 IP / 3.71 ERA / 1.29 WHIP / 14 W / 10 L / 202 SO / 192 H / 68 BB
Prime Year Projection:
210 IP / 3.29 ERA / 1.20 WHIP / 16 W / 10 L / 226 SO / 193 H / 58 BB
Pedro Alvarez / 3B/1B / Pittsburgh
Average Year Projection:
.270 / .344 / 26 HR / 33 2B / 2 3B / 97 RBI / 82 R / 66 BB / 138 SO / 4 SB / 2 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.281 / .363 / 32 HR / 35 2B / 2 3B / 109 RBI / 88 R / 75 BB / 130 SO / 4 SB / 1 CS
Starlin Castro / SS / Chicago Cubs
Average Year Projection:
.298 / .358 / 10 HR / 41 2B / 5 3B / 77 RBI / 85 R / 54 BB / 86 SO / 21 SB / 6 CS
Prime Year Projection:
.309 / .376 / 13 HR / 43 2B / 6 3B / 83 RBI / 97 R / 62 BB / 79 SO / 27 SB / 7 CS
Neftali Feliz / SP/RP / Texas
Average Year Projection:
184 IP / 3.73 ERA / 1.30 WHIP / 13 W / 10 L / 183 SO / 173 H / 66 BB
Prime Year Projection:
198 IP / 3.31 ERA / 1.21 WHIP / 15 W / 9 L / 213 SO / 179 H / 61 BB
Posted by Matt Hagen at 1:05am (9) Comments
In some ways, having No. 1 waiver priority can be harder than having No. 10, at least for me. Today's question from Jason concerns just how to use that top priority:
I've got No. 1 waiver priority in a Yahoo Dynasty League. With all of BA's midseason Top 25 already drafted, and most of the "Prospects 26-50," which player likely to be called up in 2010 should I save my waiver for?
You ask a challenging question, especially without knowing which of those 26-50 guys are taken. I'm going to assume the names I perceive as "popular" are already taken. I'm also going to assume you're not looking for production in 2010, but that you want a keeper for down the line. I don't think any of the call-ups this season are likely to be impact fantasy players in September.
Of that 26-50 group, Rockies catching prospect Wilin Rosario might get a look—he's demonstrated good power for a catcher in the Texas League although I have no information about his defense. Beyond that, watch for young pitchers like Jordan Lyles or Zach Wheeler getting a spot appearance. It's incredibly unlikely but it's good to be prepared for it.
As you can probably tell, the pickings are pretty slim and they're all going to have some kind of wart. The first two players who come to mind are Peter Bourjos and Jarrod Parker. Both should already be in your player universe. Bourjos is a decent fantasy option for non-OBP leagues as he combines power, speed and decent contact skills. His plate discipline is lousy, which is why you don't find him in the top 50.
Parker has ace potential but is coming off Tommy John surgery so might be neglected in your league. He is progressing with his rehab, currently throwing simulated games to Double-A hitters and humming in the mid-90s.
Hank Conger, another guy who won't cost a waiver, is likely to see some time at C/DH down the stretch, especially once the Angels are eliminated. That's a messy catching situation to sort through over in Anaheim, so it's up to you whether you want to wade in and gamble on him. He's not exactly an amazing prospect but should be an above average hitting catcher.
Yonder Alonso isn't on the list, but I suspect he's taken. If not, it's still an iffy pickup. His bat has come alive since midseason, but he's still playing as a first baseman and it appears he may have no future in Cincy. I take the lack of playing time in the outfield as a signal that the Reds don't think he can play there. He's in the Yahoo! player universe so chances are, he's another guy who won't require waivers.
The perennially baffling Carlos Carrasco seems to be making some improvements down on the farm. He still profiles merely as a mid-rotation pitcher. He's yet another guy who shouldn't cost a waiver.
Fellow future Indian Lonnie Chisenhall could be a decent pickup as a cheap corner infielder, but it's a non-exciting pickup.
Last and probably not least, Kirk Niewenhuis could find himself starting in a decent Mets lineup sometime in the middle of 2011. He's got a little bit of power, a little bit of speed, and a really hard last name to spell. Again, nothing to get excited about claiming.
Ultimately my best advice, and you're not going to like this, is to wait for Sept. 1 and react to whoever goes onto waivers in your league. If you want some advice once that goes down, shoot me an email or leave a comment here and I'll get back to you ASAP. For now, your top priority should be hoping that some franchise gets overly ambitious with a Jordan Lyles-type and gets him a spot start.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 1:57am (10) Comments
Friday, August 27, 2010
Jeff has come down with a case of pneumonia, so this week's Waiver Wire AL is kind of a joint effort between the two of us. Jeff wrote up the first four, and I did the last five. Get well soon, Jeff! -Derek Carty
Jeremy Hellickson | Tampa Bay | RP, SP | 19 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 2.05 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 8.54 K/9, 1.37 BB/9, 41.2% GB%
Minor League Splits MLE: 3.47 FIP, 1.29 WHIP, 7.71 K/9, 3.55 BB/9, 36.3% GB%
Hellickson has already proved himself a major league capable pitcher, but the Rays, who need only four starters in the postseason and want to be careful with Hellickson's workload, sent him to the minors earlier this week to re-transition him into a relief role come September. As a result, many owners have abandoned Hellickson. He's been dropped in 7.4 percent of ESPN leagues in the past week and all of my money leagues have seen owners cut Hellickson loose.
However, owners in need of ratio stabilization and extra innings should seriously consider Hellickson. He will not accrue many saves (maybe a few to give the dominant Rafael Soriano a night off), but he will rack up plenty of Ks with a good ERA/WHIP to boot. Rule of thumb is that a starter is about a full run better as a reliever... just saying...
Recommendation: Hellickson is an elite middle reliever worth owning in all mixed and AL-only leagues.
Desmond Jennings | Tampa Bay | OF | 2 percent Yahoo! ownership
2010 Minors (Triple-A): .292/.367/.418
MLS MLE: .253/.315/.353
As evident by the plethora of top prospects (seven top 80 prospects in Baseball America's preseason prospect rankings, two in the top 20), Tampa's farm system is stacked. We've all seen what Hellickson can do. If he were your organization's top prospect, you might be pretty happy. Funny thing about the Rays, however, is they have a prospect who's been ranked higher than Hellickson in each of the past two seasons (even as recently as Baseball America's midseason update to its top prospect list): Desmond Jennings.
Jennings is a light hitting, fast running center fielder with good range and above average walking skills (10.6 percent minor league career BB%). Jennings is essentially the reason the Rays can let Carl Crawford walk this offseason, as he is a center field version of the all-star right fielder (albeit with a lighter bat: .102 MLE ISO).
In 337 at-bats in Triple-A this season, Jennings has produced a solid .292/.367/.418 line and gone 34-for-37 in stolen bases. His MLE line is .253/.315/.353, which I think undersells his AVG/OBP ability given his big wheels (9.1 speed score), extreme groundball ways (50.2 percent) and "good enough" line drive talent (18.8 percent). The high popup rate (16.8 percent this season, 16.6 percent career) is disconcerting, but if Jennings keeps the ball on the ground more than half the time, that number should come tumbling down.
Some people are excited about Eric Young Jr. in Colorado as an AVG/SB guy, but Jennings is the much more tantalizing outfield-eligible option. The Rays are very likely to give this kid, who has little left to prove in the minors, some time in the show to find his legs.
Recommendation: Jennings should be owned in all eligible formats.
Dan Johnson | Tampa Bay | 1B | 0 percent Yahoo! ownership
2010 Minors (AAA): .297/.427/.602
MLS MLE: .249/.358/.463
Dan Johnson is another (albeit "advanced") prospect in the Rays' seemingly bottomless minor league system. The 30-year-old first basemen/DH made his rookie debut with the A's in 2005, hitting batting .275/.355/.451 with 15 homers in 434 PA. In subsequent seasons for the A's, a malady of injuries (and a bout with double vision) limited Johnson's effectiveness and he was eventually released in 2008, then signed by the Rays. His 2008 season with the Rays' big league club was short lived (29 PA) and Johnson would spend 2009 playing in Japan before signing a $500,000 minor league contract with the Rays in the offseason.
The Ray's gamble on the lumbering hitter has seemingly paid off, with Johnson batting .297/.427/.602 with 28 homers in 337 at-bats for the Rays' Triple-A affiliate. Minor League Splits pegs Johnson's minor performance this season as worth a strong .249/.358/.463 MLE (.821 OPS) with a 34-homer pace per 600 AB.
Johnson's strikeout rate is quite solid (17.6 percent), especially for a power hitter, and he's still walking plenty. It seems almost poetic that the man who was unseated by Jack Cust is hitting very Jack Cust-like (with fewer strikeouts) this season. I could see a .260-.270 BA for Johnson despite a high flyball rate (48.5 percent). Johnson was recently recalled and owners in need of power and OBP (especially those in deeper leagues) should employ his services immediately.
Recommendation: Must own in AL-only formats if given reasonable playing time. Borderline option in standard 12-team mixed leagues.
Chris Davis | Texas | 1B, 3B | 4 percent Yahoo! ownership
2010 Minors (Triple-A): .335/.396/.540
MLS MLE: .283/.332/.439
In contrast to Mitch Moreland's doubles-inspired .291/.400/.491 line in Triple-A this year, Chris Davis is proving himself to be a Quad-A player with a .335/.396/.540 line with plenty of line drives (as always) and a hope-inspiring (though still a bit high) 26.4 percent strikeout rate. When Davis keeps the strikeouts around 25 percent, he rakes—see his 2008 campaign and second half performance in 2009. When he whiffs too much, well, you get what he's done in 113 PA this season and what he did in the first half of 2009.
According to the manual MLE calculator on Minor League Splits (do not ask me why, but Davis' 2010 numbers are not listed on MLS), his minor league numbers translated from the PCL to the Arlington to the tune of .283/.332/.439. I think that SLG is a bit low, given the power Davis has previously flashed in both the majors and minors, but I think the BA/OBP projection is legitimate given Davis’ strong line drive percentage and low BB rate. I peg Davis as a (rounded) .280/.335/.485 hitter with plenty of ISO upside. And .485 might even be selling Davis low. Then again, I have an irrational love of Chris Davis.
Recommendation: Davis is a high-risk, high reward player at a premium position. If the strikeout rate stays in check and he gets a big league call-up, Davis is a must-own player in all AL-only and mixed league formats.
Koji Uehara | Baltimore | CL | 7 percent Yahoo! ownership
YTD: 27 IP, 2.00 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.33 K/9, 1.7 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 3.89 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 6.7 K/9, 2.0 BB/9
I was very high on Uehara during the preseason before the O's decided to sign Mike Gonzalez to close, but despite struggles and injuries to Gonzo, Uehara's season was derailed by an injury of his own and some Alfredo Simon luck. Now that Buck Showalter is running the show in Baltimore, though, it looks like Uehara's time may have finally come. He's absolutely dominating this year after posting a quality rookie season in the rotation in 2009, and he's a must-own while he's the favorite for saves. Still, there are some reasons for concern.
For one, he's an extreme, extreme flyball pitcher, although with such good control it won't be as big an issue as it would be for other pitchers. Still, poor HR/FB luck could make Uehara look really bad since he's allowing so many flies to begin with. Also, maintaining a K/9 above nine might be a stretch considering that Uehara doesn't have a real breaking pitch and his fastball is only 88 mph or so, but his heater does get a ton of rise, which should allow him to strike out his fair share.
You can consider me on the Uehara bandwagon with just a bit of skepticism.
Recommendation: Must own in all leagues.
Ivan Nova | New York Yankees | SP | 2 percent Yahoo! ownership
2010 minors (Triple-A): 2.86 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 5.00 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 5.6 K/9, 4.3 BB/9
With Javier Vazquez struggling, Nova will be making a second start for the Yanks and could find himself making a few more throughout September if he scrambles together some luck. I wouldn't bank on it, though, as there's little to like in Nova's profile. He's had just one better-than-average year above Rookie ball — this year at Triple-A — and even at that, he hasn't dominated. He had a modest K/9 of 7.1 at Triple-A and is frowned upon by Oliver, but his stuff looks like it could be passable.
He throws his sinker 94 mph—very fast for a sinker—but it's just okay in terms of actual sink and it doesn't get much fade. His change-up also has okay sink but has good arm-side run, and his curve gets decent, if unspectacular, two-plane movement. His repertoire allows to get a lot of ground balls, which he'll need if he's going to have any success at the major league level. He won't generate many strikeouts—league average at bes —and with less-than-stellar control, Nova might be a one-trick pony.
Nova's not a guy I'm rushing to get, but you could probably do worse.
Recommendation: Not ownable in mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team and deeper AL-only leagues. Mostly just a flier in 10-team leagues, but he'll probably be ownable as long as he continues making starts.
Chris Tillman | Baltimore | SP | 2 percent Yahoo! ownership
2010 minors (Triple-A): 3.29 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9
Oliver ROS: 4.92 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 6.4 K/9, 3.2 BB/9
Chris Tillman has been nothing short of dreadful in his 90 major league innings thus far in his career, and his minor league numbers dropped off in his second go-round at Triple-A this year, but it's looking like he'll get another shot in a few days when rosters expand, perhaps seeing the O's go to a six-man rotation to accommodate him.
His strikeouts dropped off at Triple-A this year, and Oliver no longer seems to be very high on him, seeing Tillman as deep AL-only fodder only. Still, Tillman has a very good pedigree, and I do like his stuff to an extent. He's got a big-breaking 12/6 curve and a high-rising fastball to go with a solid change, but with little differentiating the three pitches in terms of horizontal movement and the curveball having a big hump, it's possible that major league hitters simply aren't fooled by him, having to focus on only one plane. This is mere speculation on my part, but no matter what, Tillman doesn't make for anything more than a high-risk, high-reward pickup for a team in need of a home run.
Recommendation: Should probably be avoided in all but the deepest of mixed leagues. Should be owned in 10-team and deeper AL-only leagues, or shallower if you're employing a high-risk season-end strategy.
Kila Ka'aihue | Kansas City | 1B, DH | 1 percent Yahoo! ownership
2010 minors (Triple-A): .322/.465/.601
Oliver ROS: .239/.368/.390
Finally the Royals are giving Kila a shot, trotting him out there at the start of all but three games since his call-up at the beginning of the month. He's not quite the fantasy prospect he was a year or two ago after a down-ish 2009, but he's still a guy with good power who's been batting third in the lineup lately (albeit for the Royals). He also walks a ton, so he should score his fair share of runs. He's not going to set the world on fire, but at 1 percent ownership, he can be helpful if you need some pop down the stretch along with some RBIs and runs.
Recommendation: Can be owned in 15-team or deeper mixed leagues if you need power. Should be owned in all AL-only leagues.
Mike Moustakas | Kansas City | 3B | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership (not in Yahoo! database yet)
2010 minors (Triple-A): .318/.368/.593
Oliver ROS: .258/.302/.443
Moustakas has been one of the biggest breakouts in the minors this year, and while Chris Getz, Mike Aviles, Wilson Betemit and Yuniesky Betancourt aren't the most imposing infield in the world, his fantasy impact may be limited. The PCL season doesn't end until Sept. 6, and the Royals may want Moustakas to participate in the playoffs following that. If they do decide to call him up, however, he would likely see at least semi-regular ABs, in which case he'd be a must-own in AL only leagues and a high-upside flier in mixed leagues.
Recommendation: Watch closely in mixed leagues, stash if you have a deep bench and few other options. Should be stashed in 12-team and deeper AL-only leagues with a bench.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 3:01am (3) Comments
As Jeff promised in his AL Waiver Wire column last week, we'll feature players who have a chance at being promoted to the majors come Sept, 1 roster expansions.
Jenrry Mejia | New York (NL) | SP/RP
YTD: 3.25 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 5.53 K/9, 1.13 K/BB, 66.3 GB
In a somewhat surprising decision, questioned by some, the Mets had Jenrry Mejia open the season with the parent club in relief. Mejia was able to induce a drool-worthy number of ground balls (66.3 percent) using a three-pitch mix that featured his fastball (95.1 mph) 77.8 percent of the time, curveball (79.4 mph) 8.5 percent of the time, and his change up (86.8 mph) 13.7 percent of the time. Unfortunately, while his ERA looks good, his underlying stats, and 4.81 xFIP, indicate he was rather lucky. After he threw 27.2 innings for the Mets, they optioned him to the minors to get stretched out and continue his development as a starter.
Mejia has thrown 27.1 innings in Double-A for the Binghamton Mets to the tune of a 1.32 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP. As one would expect, his ERA was a bit luck-inflated, but his underlying stats are promising with a 61.0 groundball rate and a solid 8.07 K/9. The next hurdle for him appears to be reducing his walks as his 4.34 walk rate (BB/9), but given his age and the level he's pitching at, time is on his side. In his last two starts, Mejia has gone seven innings, so there is a reasonable possibility the Mets allow Mejia to get his feet wet once again against major league hitters, this time in a starting role.
Recommendation: Should already be owned in dynasty and deep keeper leagues, and should be added immediately in others. Possible impact in re-draft leagues, but temper expectations for this season.
Jeff Locke | Pittsburgh | SP
YTD (Double-A): 2.89 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 9.06 K/9, 4.7 K/BB, 43.9 GB
Part of the widely criticized package that landed the Braves Nate McLouth, Jeff Locke has posted solid numbers both in High-A and Double-A this year. In a chat for Baseball America on Aug. 25, Jim Callis said he liked Locke and viewed him as a No. 3 or No. 4 in the majors thanks to a four-pitch mix. Baseball America's 2010 Prospect Handbook had Locke just outside the top 10 prospects in the Pirates organization and described his fastball as operating in the low-90s with sink. As a left-handed starter, he has an outside chance of surpassing Callis' chat view of him.
Locke has thrown only 46.2 innings in Double-A, but his rate stats—1.93 BB/9, 9.06 K/9, 4.7 K/BB—are almost identical to what he posted in High-A: 1.46 BB/9, 8.65 K/9, 5.92 K/BB. That means he's transitioned almost seamlessly while making the jump to Double-A. It remains to be seen how aggressive the Pirates will be with Locke, and a September call-up would be the extreme end of the spectrum, but given their place in the standings, they may opt to reward Locke with some time facing major league hitters before opening him in the minors once again next year.
Recommendation: With his strong 2010 campaign, he should be on dynasty league owners' radar heading into next season.
Rudy Owens | Pittsburgh | SP
YTD (Double-A): 2.67 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 7.07 K/9, 5.36 K/BB, 47.4 GB
Another Pittsburgh pitcher who may be considered for promotion, probably more so than Locke due to having spent more time in Double-A, is Rudy Owens. Owens just cracked the Pirates' top10 prospects coming into the season according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook. Owens has been every bit as impressive as Locke, but slightly differently, posting a marginally better walk rate to offset a slightly lesser strikeout rate and inducing more ground balls.
While both Owens and Locke have posted tremendous numbers in Double-A, and are left-handed, they are quite different pitchers. Owens is your typical "crafty left-handed pitcher," throwing his fastball in the upper-80s and touching 90 with pinpoint accuracy. His highest graded pitch coming into the season was his change-up, but he also throws a developing curveball.
I'm not terribly excited about him, given the dearth of pitc hers of his type who are standouts in the fantasy game, but his strong underlying stats in Double-A have at least earned him a spot on owners' radars. He probably isn't worth owning in re-draft leagues even if he is promoted in September, but a September promotion could give a glimpse into his value going into the 2011 season. That may prove valuable for deep-thinking NL-only owners already preparing for next year.
Recommendation: Should be monitored by NL-only leaguers as a potential player of interest in 2011, and perhaps a desperate spot starter in September if promoted.
Mat Gamel | Milwaukee | 3B
YTD (Triple-A): .322/.396/.536
A year after being touted as a popular summer impact promotion, Mat Gamel has yet to see a major league at-bat this year. Instead, he's destroyed Triple-A pitching.
Gamel's bat has never been the problem; it has been his horrendous fielding. With Casey McGehee putting together a fantastic season (2.9 WAR to date) at third base, it is unclear where Gamel's playing time will come. One thing is pretty much certain: Gamel's bat is ready, and he's likely to get a September promotion to show off his stick. In August (84 at-bats) he has slashed .393/.453/.702 with five home runs and 11 doubles with a 10:10 BB:K.
Those in deep leagues shouldn't wait to see where Gamel gets playing time, and should instead add him and hope his talent lands him on the field in a bit of a utility role (perhaps third or first base and corner outfield) to see how his bat plays at the major league level. Those in dynasty leagues where he is available should add him; he is likely to be a regular at the major league level next year, whether with the Brewers or elsewhere.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team or larger mixed dynasty leagues, should be added in deep re-draft leagues, and should be owned in medium to large NL-only leagues in anticipation of a September promotion.
Brandon Allen | Arizona | 1B/OF
YTD (Triple-A): .264/.407/.551
Arizona's offseason signing of Adam LaRoche spelled another season spent honing his skills in Triple-A for Brandon Allen. Those who are fans of Russ Branyan type three-true-outcome hitters should love Allen: He's struck out, walked or hit a home run in just under half of his plate appearances this season.
Promoted last season for 116 plate appearances, he figures to see some time again this year as a near certain September call-up. LaRoche remains a possible waiver trade-deadline candidate as he's signed only through this season, but even if he's not dealt, Allen figures to see regular playing time at first base and likely the corner outfield, where he's played in 28 games this season in the minors.
Allen is an immediate threat to make an impact in home runs, but surprisingly for a player of his slugging skills, Allen has also stolen 13 bases this season, meaning a stolen base or two isn't out of the question. Right now he is a need based add in re-draft leagues, as power is the only tool I feel comfortable in touting as big league ready. That said, in small sample situations, like those presented in September, a power hitter with batting average issues has a chance to get hot before pitchers are able to adjust and take advantage of holes in his swing.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most 12-team or larger mixed dynasty leagues using a corner infielder, should be owned as a home run source in deep leagues, and should be owned in medium to large NL-only leagues in anticipation of a September promotion.
Wilson Ramos | Washington | C
Already up once this season, albeit almost entirely for his former employer the Minnesota Twins, Wilson Ramos looks to be a likely September call-up for the Nationals. His MLEs are rather putrid, and his limited major league time hasn't inspired much confidence, but his raw power and high prospect standing make him a player of note both this season and in future seasons for those in dynasty leagues. In addition to his raw talent, Ramos' 72 at-bats in Triple-A Syracuse inspire some confidence— his MLE slash there was .268/.291/.418 and he was able to rip three home runs and three doubles, hinting he might be tapping into his raw power.
Those in deep two-catcher re-draft leagues (think 14-team or larger) should consider adding Ramos as a rotational catcher to start when he's scheduled to play behind the plate for the Nationals, or when one of your regular catchers is scheduled to sit. While shuffling catchers in daily change leagues can be tedious, it can be helpful in squeaking out wins in head-to-head leagues or a point or two in roto leagues.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some deep two-catcher mixed leagues, and should be owned in medium to large NL-only leagues. Should be universally owned in medium to large two-catcher dynasty leagues.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 4:12am (0) Comments
Monday, August 30, 2010
The latest question comes from Paul, who has one week before playoffs in his head-to-head league. Paul sports the following roster and can make just three roster moves:
C Kurt Suzuki
1b Prince Fielder
2b Robinson Cano
3b Chase Headley
SS Starlin Castro
OF Andre Ethier
OF Scott Podsednik
OF Andrew McCutchen
UTIL Aubrey Huff
BN Matt Kemp
BN Mark Reynolds
SP Ricky Romero
SP Tommy Hanson
SP Jonathon Niese
RP Joakim Soria
RP Rafael Soriano
RP Daniel Bard
RP Joaquin Benoit
BN Mat Latos
BN Trevor Cahill
With Suzuki slumping badly and strong options available at other positions, Paul's wondering if there are some moves he can make to improve his team for the stretch. Some of the better waiver options include Michael Brantley, Jim Thome, Danny Valencia, A.J. Pierzynski and Yadier Molina.
I should probably warn you before continuing that I'm not exactly a quant when it comes to making fantasy baseball decisions. A hypothetical quant might tell you that Kurt Suzuki is a better baseball player than A.J. or Yadier and therefore you should bank on positive regression in the coming weeks while citing Rest of Season ZiPS to support his or her case. I make my decisions based on perceived risk, strength of upcoming opponents, and "feel." And I figure if you wanted me to regurgitate RoS ZiPS you would have looked them up yourself. Of course, feel only works if you watch a player play. I've seen a grand total of one A's game in the last month, so I can't tell you if Suzuki's uncharacteristically low BABIP is mostly bad luck or mostly bad contact or something else entirely.
Clearly the catcher's spot is the most difficult decision you have to make. And honestly, you could probably agonize for hours over the right answer and it wouldn't make a bit of difference. It's ultimately up to you to decide if you think Suzuki will put up his normal performance in the coming weeks or continue to struggle. I can tell you that A.J. is probably a safer replacement option than Yadier. Baseball Prospectus' John Perrotto recently quoted a scout who said that Yadier's bat has been sluggish of late. With LaRue already sidelined via Johnny Cueto's foot, Molina isn't likely to get the rest required to freshen up his stroke. Then again, A.J. could lose at-bats to Tyler Flowers in September if the Sox want to get him working with the major league staff. Not the best set of options, two guys struggling at the plate and an aging veteran who could see his time absorbed by a youngster.
Moving along, you'll notice I mentioned some other names, including a pair of Twins. So long as Justin Morneau remains sidelined with his concussion, Danny Valencia will see regular turns at 3b and Jim Thome will get to break out the whoopin' stick on all righties. Personally, I'd be happy to plug and play the slumbering giant known as Mark Reynolds and just hope for the best, but if you plan on going with Headley multiple days of the week, you may want to consider Valencia. Both players are going to give you very similar rate stats, but Valencia benefits from a far more potent supporting cast. The hope is that this would translate to better counting stats. It's a bit of a zero sum gamble but something to consider.
On to Thome, the case for him is rather simple. He annihilates righties and if you're willing to manage him he could be your best hitter when he starts. With Fielder, Huff, and Kemp all kind of putzing around lately, there's plenty of room for Thome starts in the Util slot.
I mention Michael Brantley because I really dislike relying on or even owning Scott Podsednik. Brantley has the speed to hopefully snag you some steals while also contributing in average and power categories. Go with what you're comfortable with here. I've been ripping owners for rostering Pods all year and he keeps making me look dumb. I have a natural aversion to players who are overdue to turn back into pumpkins.
I think the theme here is that you really don't have to do anything. The only move I'd really push for is to add Thome, perhaps at the expense of Huff. Thome and Kemp could platoon at Util. I might lean toward gambling on the steady, empty production off A.J. Pierzynski over Kurt Suzuki at this point, but it's not a move that has to be made. The Brantley and Valencia suggestions are just things to mull over. Neither player is anything more than a lateral move, but sometimes those pay off.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 3:26am (5) Comments
I never thought I would be caught. I had been so careful to cover my tracks, only logging on when I thought she was asleep and erasing the incriminating history when I was done. After two decades of being faithful to my first love, I was restless, but not reckless.
When the phone call came, I could hear the hurt in her voice and I knew I was in trouble. "I though I had married someone who shared my traditional values—I can't believe you're seeing someone else."
I stammered, tried to compose a plausible alibi, but she would have none of it. She had seen me all those late nights sneaking off to my my new-found attraction.
"I want the truth," she yelled!
"You can't handle the truth," I thought . . . but I told her.
For half my life I had been faithful to one type of fantasy baseball based on the book that inspired a lot of us in the 1980's written by Daniel Okrent and friends who coined the term rotisserie baseball at a formative gathering at a New York City restaurant—La Rotisserie Française. Our leagues used auction to mimic free markets with salary constraints and enough owners that we would struggle to fill our rosters with talent, forcing most teams to take risks and settle for mediocrity some places to afford excellence elsewhere. Rules were structured in such a way as to limit roster moves to no more than once a week. The leagues allowed keepers so owners could build for today or tomorrow. All these rules serve one over-arching goal: To make the experience of playing fantasy baseball much like running a real baseball team.
But after 20 years of realism, I was ready for an escape. And when a different sort of fantasy league flashed her lashes at me, I resisted for as long as I could, but in the end, I was too weak. There she stood, dressed in nothing but a snake draft and the promise of a wealth of choices that just weren't possible with a traditional gal. There would be only 14 owners for a mixed-team league and the only limit on roster moves was the strength and speed of your typing finger, of, if you are more adept than me, your typing fingers.
Five months have passed since that fateful night when I threw caution and tradition to the wind. I've learned a lot about my new mistress, my old sweetheart and even myself. But the two most salient lessons are this:
(1) Deep auction leagues are more realistic.
(2) Sometimes realism sucks.
When real baseball teams lose a good player to injury, there is not often another stud waiting to take his place. The same holds true in deep auction leagues, a brutish fact that's been driven home again and again in my Can12 A.L league. Spending chunks of time in the disabled list have been Kelly Shoppach, Mike Cameron, Derek Holland, Hector Rondon, Asdrubal Cabrera, Mike Montgomery, Kendry Morales, Shin-Soo Choo, Matt Weiters, Michael Saunders, Alex Rodriguez and JJ Putz. Two of my key acquisitions joined them: Connor Jackson and Jacoby Ellsbury, who surfaced long enough to tease me with four steals in one game before re-joining my dragoon of disabled.
I covered my first loss, Shoppach, by spending way too much of our free agent budget on John Jaso and tried to replace Cameron and Choo with Jackson, but there was little I could do as injuries mounted.
By comparison, losing players in my shallower draft league has actually been kind of fun: There's enough surplus talent that when one player goes down it the replacement choices are varied and interesting. Brett Anderson goes down twice so I picked up Gavin Floyd, Brett Cecil and Wandy Rodriguez. Magglio Ordonez is lost so I pick up Andres Torres. In recent weeks I lost Nelson Cruz, Carlos Gonzalez and ARod in short order, so needing runs and batting average, I picked up Jose Tabata, Coco Crisp and Neil Walker.
No major league team enjoys that depth of talent or the ability to trade for it, though I guess you could make the case for the latter with the New York Yankees. It's not at all realistic.
But it is fun.
It also provokes a number of strategies on draft day:
(1) The more shallow the league, the better it is to take risk on players with high ceilings who might fail because of injury or because their performance hasn't caught up to their skills. In a deep league, those risks are fraught with risk. If a player crashes you are very likely riding with him down the elevator shaft. But in a shallow league, when an elevator falls, simply get off and catch another player on the way up.
(2) The availability of good players make it more likely rival owners will prematurely cast out talent which you can then scoop up. In my draft league you could assemble a pretty good starting staff just from cast-offs in April and May: Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez, Phil Hughes, Gavin Floyd, Brett Cecil, and Wandy Rodriguez—I picked up Hughes in April, Floyd in June and Cecil and Rodriguez in July.
(3) Daily roster moves also makes it easy to churn players for counting stats, especially starting pitchers.
(4) It's less crucial in a shallow league to draft for a balance since there will be ample means to shift priorities. In a deep auction league you generally must trade to shore up weaknesses and that leave your future in the hands of rival owners in your league.
(5) While you are less dependent on trades in a shallow league, a shrewd owner may find it easier to pull one off since he is not limited to the player on his own roster when trying to make a swap. Earlier this year I was looking to move Mark Reynolds because he was killing my batting average and was ready to dump Brian Matusz because it seemed clear he was at least a few months away from turning the corner. I approached a rival whom I knew had the misfortune of being a die-hard Orioles fan and in desperate need of home runs and RBI. I wanted Ryan Braun. He wasn't quite ready to pull the trigger. A few days later, Pedro Alvarez was called up and I claimed him within minutes. Adding him to the package cemented the deal.
(6) Generally avoid taking pitchers in the middle rounds because the crap shoot's not a whole lot better than the late rounds and there will be un-drafted talent that will perform well. In our league, among the 11 owners who actively managed their teams, more than half of starting pitchers taken in rounds 10 to 15 were dropped before the All-Star break. After round 15 there was good talent including Mat Latos, Clay Buchholz, Francisco Liriano, Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte, Stephen Strasburg, Brandon Arroyo, Shawn Marcum, Diasuke Matsuzaki, Ted Lilly and CJ Wilson. I largely avoid taking pitchers in early rounds too—I I took none in the first five rounds and two of my first three taken didn't pan out: Javier Vasquez mostly bombed and Anderson missed most of the season due to injuries.
My new flame has been fun—I've quite enjoyed my shallow draft league and for many of the reasons it isn't realistic. It doesn't hurt that I've been in first place for most of the time since early-June and have opened up a sizable lead as we head toward season's end. But I think it's more than that. I love the fact that frustrations and setbacks can be short-lived.
I realize, of course, that one can play in a deep draft league or a shallow auction league but I think the reverse is more often the case: Draft leagues are more apt to attract casual fantasy fans who don't want to know the names of major league backups or a prospect list that goes deeper than a top-10. Playing both for the first time had been an eye-opener.
How about you? Have you played in both deep and shallow leagues, auctions as well as drafts? Do you prefer one over the other? Why?