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Monday, November 01, 2010
For those among the fantasy masses who haven't converted solely to auction leagues, 2011 is going to be one of the most interesting draft boards in recent history. Typically, by the time draft day rolls around, the experts and mock draft crowd have created a kind of groupthink draft board that many fantasy owners roughly adhere to. The purpose of today's exercise is to put together an early draft board before that groupthink sets in. At the very least, this can be the pioneer article of Groupthink 2011.
Over the last few seasons, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, and Alex Rodriguez have generally dominated the top two slots of the draft board in standard leagues. Pujols and Ramirez remain contenders for that first pick, but they're joined by Joey Votto, Robinson Cano, Troy Tulowitzki, and Evan Longoria as legitimately defensible first overall selections. Rounding out the first round are names like Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, David Wright, Roy Halladay, Felix Hernandez, Chase Utley, Ryan Braun, Josh Hamilton, and Joe Mauer. Undoubtedly, players like Mark Teixeira and Ryan Howard will see their share of first-round selections, although positional scarcity should push them back to the second round.
It will be interesting to see who becomes the consensus top choice. The perennial fantasy machine, Pujols may win by virtue of being so ultimately consistent. However, with the quality of options available, concern about Pujols' elbow as well as the generally average batting order surrounding him could see him pushed aside for up-and-comer Joey Votto. For those who prefer to address scarce positions, four quality options present themselves. Evan Longoria is the obvious top choice at a position that offers six choices of varying quality (Wright, Rodriguez, Ryan Zimmerman, Jose Bautista, Adrian Beltre). Over at shortstop, it's a bit unclear who is top dog between Tulowitzki and Ramirez. What is clear is that the position is a veritable black hole after that duo. Jose Reyes, Stephen Drew, and Jimmy Rollins head the second tier of players and are only marginally better than the weaker options. Finally, Cano has emerged as a four-category monster and the top fantasy second baseman. He offers a high batting average, plenty of runs and RBIs thanks to a potent Yankees lineup, and a respectable home run total.
So who is top dog? Due to the utter dearth of secondary options at shortstop, that honor should probably fall to Hanley or Tulo. Deciding between the two is almost a matter of preference. Tulowitzki offers considerably more power as part of his four-category package with an ISO above .250 over the last two seasons. That should translate to more home runs and RBIs on the fantasy docket. Ramirez posted a career-low .175 ISO in 2010 amidst some health issues, but we can expect that to bounce back to around .200. While Hanley trails in power, his five-category tool shed, replete with 30-steal ability, will not disappoint anyone, making him the top choice (barring injury). Colorado's lineup tentatively looks like the better run production unit, so let's place Tulowitzki atop the draft board.
Now the issue is to sort out who follows these top choices. Personal preferences are bound to color the remainder of the list, but here's as good a first draft board as any.
1. SS-Troy Tulowitzki
2. SS-Hanley Ramirez
3. 1B-Joey Votto
4. 1B-Albert Pujols
5. 2B-Robinson Cano
6. 3B-Evan Longoria
7. OF-Carlos Gonzalez
8. OF-Ryan Braun
9. 3B-David Wright
10. 1B-Miguel Cabrera
11. SP-Roy Halladay
12. 2B-Chase Utley
Now, let's defend some of these choices.
Carlos Gonzalez is unlikely to repeat his breakout 2010 thanks to a .384 BABIP. However, his five-category skill set makes him an easy first choice for top outfielder. Ryan Braun trails Cargo thanks to a much weaker showing in the stolen base department as well as a declining ISO. Still, he has a strong track record and—unless the Brewers deal Fielder—a formidable supporting cast. Noticeably absent is Josh Hamilton, who featured a similar fortune to Gonzalez on the BABIP front. His all-out style of play makes him a risky pick in such a deep first round. Much like Chipper Jones in his heyday, he's become a constant injury concern.
Speaking of Jones, Chase Utley's hard-nosed style of play and refusal to heed injuries may be taking his career straight down a Jonesian path. Many fantasy analysts are going to be naming Utley as the top value pick in the early rounds and his average draft slot could end up well after the No. 12 listing he has here. Firmly ensconced as the third hitter in a still-potent Phillies lineup, Utley is a good bet to provide four-category value along with a useful number of steals; just don't be surprised if things go awry. Going with a safer choice at No. 12 would be understandable.
Now the fun part: you are cordially invited to destroy this draft board. What's right? What's wrong? What needs more explanation? It's time to start groupthinking our way to an early head start in 2011.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 1:05am (17) Comments
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Inspired by my colleague, Brad Johnson’s previous column, I’m going to take a stab at my top 12, looking ahead to 2011. I think this exercise will give some insight into the way different philosophies, or maybe just dispositions, lead to different conclusions. Brad noted in the comments section of his article that in the first round, he is shooting for the best overall line with positional scarcity heavily factored in. That’s an ambitious mission statement and certainly a legitimate approach. My curmudgeonly self on the other hand, might sum my first round modus operandi up as just not trying to shoot myself in the foot. I’m very conservative in the early rounds of fantasy drafts.
At the first pick overall, it really pays to be quite conservative. You literally have everything to lose and nothing to gain; you can only lose or break even on this pick. Therefore, I want the surest best option possible. As I work backwards from pick No. 1, I pretty much consider three performance related factors, in addition to positional scarcity – production, dependability, and potential. When it comes to production, I want a proven track record, meaning I just can’t put Carlos Gonzalez ahead of the rock solid consistency of Miguel Cabrera. When it comes to dependability, I’m thinking both variance of production year to year and durability. Potential pretty much functions as a tie-breaker, when I’m feeling ambivalent about a group of players I then ask myself which player has the best chance, or a viable chance, to fulfill Brad’s goal.
Before revealing my list, I will offer two disclaimers. One, the above philosophy is a general organizing principle, and may not hold perfectly true between every two ordered players. The truth is that drafts are not won in the first round and the difference between most of these guys if they put up a “normal” season is very small. Two, this is my first draft of the list and it is most likely to change in the coming months. And now, away we go.
1. Albert Pujols
2. Hanley Ramirez
3. Joey Votto
4. Robinson Cano
5. Miguel Cabrera
6. Troy Tulowitzki
7. Ryan Braun
8. Evan Longoria
9. Carlos Gonzalez
10. Alex Rodriguez
11. Carl Crawford
12. David Wright
I’m a Pujols man. If you predetermine your draft order, and you get the first pick and don’t plan to draft The Machine, I advise that you try to trade the pick. Moving up a few spots in the following round will probably benefit you, and by trading you create the previously non-existent potential for you to profit on your pick.
I like Ramirez better hitting in the three hole, especially since it doesn’t seem to affect his steal attempts. Last year looked like his floor and his season was still ranked 25th overall by Yahoo, despite playing 12 fewer games than he averaged over the previous four seasons. Hanley scores on all three fronts – elite production, high reliability, very good chance at having the best season of all.
Joey Votto has done everything a player looking to unseat Pujols should be expected to. He continues to develop his power and plate discipline while providing some sneaky speed. At some point, somebody will unseat Prince Albert as the best hitter in baseball, and young Mr. Votto has as good a chance as anybody to inherit the crown, but I don’t see the sense in betting on it before it happens.
Robby Cano (don’tcha know) has finally fully won me over. I wish he’d steal even 10 bases, but he’s established himself in the average department, and we’ve seen power two years in a row. He hits in an amazing lineup and a wonderful park, and over the past two years has hit 10 of his 25, and then 13 of his 29 homers against lefties. He’s pretty much in his prime and he’s played 159 games or better in four consecutive years.
If Miggy was still 3B-eligible as he was a few years ago, I’d rank him even higher. He’s a bastion of consistency, and still well on the right side of 30. Even as 1B-only, he’d be a pick ‘em with Votto if there was any chance of him swiping a dozen bases.
I think Brad made the general case for Tulo. Injuries are just too much of a concern for me to pass on Cabrera in Tulo’s favor. I’m also not really sure what the SB situation is with him. In 2009, he swiped 20, but at a horrible success rate. Last year, he only pilfered 11, but at a high success rate. Does he run more next year, or is this where the balance nets out?
Like Ramirez, Braun solidified himself with “failure.” It seems like this was an off year for Braun, and in some respects it was. But, it was still good for 13th overall, 100-plus runs and RBI, 39 combined homers and steals, and an average above .300. He did this with some nagging injuries too. Braun has a legitimate shot at being the No. 1 overall player, and if you’re playing in a five-OF format, even with 10 or 12 teams, he qualifies as giving you some positional scarcity value.
I still think Longoria has quite a bit more potential to fulfill, but I actually consider him a somewhat boring pick. He’s very solid at a thin position, but I haven’t seen top overall performer ability yet.
I’m hesitant to even rank Carlos Gonzalez here. Last season was a quantum leap in some regards, but his rise to superstardom wasn’t exactly unexpected. He did post a near .900 OPS in his half season in Colorado in 2009. We all know about the BABIP, so let’s not get any further into that. I guess I’ll just leave you with the following question. Here’s Cargo’s 2010 line: 111/34/117/26/.336. Who do you think has a better chance of putting that line up in 2011 – Cargo, or a 27-year-old Braun who has already put up one season like this (2009), one that was better on a prorated basis (2007), and a couple of valiant attempts in his other seasons?
If A-Rod can play 150-plus games, he’s the best bet in the sport for 150 RBI. His batting average has dropped a bit over the past two years, and he barely ran at all in 2010, but the power and RBI ability hasn’t really faded. I know age is not on my side in this bet, but I’m not ready to hop off this train just yet. Admittedly, I’m going a bit on “gut” here.
I’ve seen a few alarming trends with David Wright. The strikeouts have increased and the walks decreased in three consecutive years, and last season he just seemed more like a “guess hitter” than I’d ever seen him. Perhaps what we saw is him sacrificing a bit of the average to maintain his power in his home stadium. He also got caught stealing a ton in the early half of the season. If he doesn’t raise the OBP to previous levels, it’s going to be tough for him to score 100 runs. Wright is a pretty safe bet, and only briefly removed from a run where he held a legitimate claim as a potential No. 1 overall player, but I don’t think he can out-produce A-Rod without playing significantly more games.
I’m not willing to rank a pitcher this highly, even though doing so is perfectly defensible. I’m also officially worried about Chase Utley’s ability to stay healthy and feel his skills have slipped just a tad. My money would be on Crawford in this spot. His landing spot could mildly influence how I feel about this, but speed doesn’t slump and as long as he doesn’t go to an extreme pitcher’s park that will zap his ability to hit 15 or so homers, I think this is a fair spot for Crawford. Boston may actually even be a better destination for him than New York, as I could legitimately see him batting third in the Boston lineup, but figure he’d bat first for the Yankees.
Before signing off, let me offer a few words about some also-rans. Halladay and Hernandez are legitimate choices toward the back end of this round too, but there are just too many close replacements to be had several picks, and even rounds later. I discussed Utley already, but he’s certainly in the mix here. I’d avoid any of the 1B trio here if only because I think they’re too interchangeable value-wise, so if I was in the market for one, I’d just try to grab the one that falls the furthest. Finally, I don’t think we should forget about Matt Kemp just yet.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:19am (8) Comments
Thursday, November 04, 2010
Chicago White Sox: Top 10 Prospects
1. Chris Sale / SP/RP / Sale is a tenacious competitor who belongs in the rotation long term. He displays great movement and strong command of an impressive three-pitch mix. He is far and away Chicago's best prospect.
2. Eduardo Escobar / SS / Escobar is an underrated prospect in most circles. His glove will carry him to the majors, but his bat has improved, too. He doesn't project to have much power or base stealing ability, although his speed will give him a chance. He could be a tough out one day who produces a good batting average from the shortstop position.
3. Tyler Flowers / C/1B/OF / Flowers' swing looked long and slow this year. He still managed to generate good power and his fair share of walks, but his strikeout rate is cringe-worthy and his batting average won't pass, even at catcher. Which brings us to his defense at catcher. It's looking likely that he will have to be moved.
4. Brent Morel / 3B / Morel's bat did not take the step forward everyone was looking for in 2010, yet Chicago's farm system is so weak that he finds a prominent spot in their top ten. Judging by his track record, he should hit for a solid average and plenty of doubles in the majors, which could make him a regular, but little else.
5. Jared Mitchell / OF / Ankle surgery prevented Mitchell from playing regular season ball, and his Arizona Fall League performance has been less than inspiring, too. Just based on his tools, he seemed to be an overdraft last year, and that opinion still stands.
6. Andre Rienzo / SP/RP / Rienzo was a bit on the old side for the Sally League, but produced a strong season due to his mid-90s fastball. His secondary stuff needs a lot of work, however, and he has inconsistent movement on everything he throws.
7. Addison Reed / SP/RP / With the somewhat surprising development of Reed's slider and change-up, he has a decent shot to remain as a starter. There is no doubt, though, that he would make a bigger impact in the majors as a reliever.
8. Josh Phegley / C / It has been a very small sample size for Phegley since being drafted, but his power may turn out better than expected. His approach at the plate and behind it needs serious refinement, however.
9. Brandon Short / OF / Short's power was inflated this year, but it was good to see someone in this system have a solid year. He doesn't have the glove for center field and his skill set says he doesn't have the bat for a corner outfield position. I have been wrong before on this type of prospect, though, so we'll let his power surge do the talking for now.
10. Jacob Petricka / RP/SP / Petricka has some polish, experience as a starter, and a mid-90s heater, but little in the way of secondary offerings, which will likely force him to the bullpen.
Chicago White Sox: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Gordon Beckham / 2B
2. John Danks / SP
3. Chris Sale / SP/RP
4. Dayan Viciedo / 1B/OF/3B
5. Eduardo Escobar / SS
6. Tyler Flowers / C/1B/OF
7. Brent Morel / 3B
8. Jared Mitchell / OF
9. Andre Rienzo / SP/RP
10. Addison Reed / SP/RP
Detroit Tigers: Top 10 Prospects
1. Jacob Turner / SP / Turner had a good debut, including a consistent mid-90s fastball, occasionally devastating curveball, and better command than many anticipated. He is the saving grace of an otherwise suspect farm system.
2. Andrew Oliver / SP / Oliver posted a nice showing in 2010, apart from a rocky major league debut. Detroit was much more aggressive with him than anyone anticipated, and he responded with little more than his bread-and-butter fastball. What is most intriguing is that his change-up and slider have oodles of potential.
3. Nick Castellanos / 3B / Castellanos shows a refined approach at the plate for his age and good raw power. Detroit went crazy with his signing bonus, but star potential is there.
4. Charles Furbush / SP / Furbush has been on prospect mavens' radar screens since being drafted in 2007, but Tommy John surgery dampened expectations. He more than reestablished himself in 2010 with the impressive command he has of an above-average three-pitch mix.
5. Casey Crosby / SP/RP / Crosby's elbow gave him problems again in 2010, which ended up being another lost season. He has the stuff but hasn't been able to stay healthy. He has more upcoming chances to prove himself, however.
6. Daniel Schlereth / RP / Schlereth has big-time velocity and a wicked curveball, but his command has flat-lined. If he ever figures out the strike zone, he could be a good closer.
7. Brayan Villarreal / SP/RP / Villarreal has posted some eye-popping strikeout numbers the past two years, backed by his plus slider. His slight frame and lack of a third pitch will hinder his bid to become a major league starter, but he has proven everyone wrong so far.
8. Daniel Fields / OF / Fields is a toolsy prospect who has plenty to figure out. The best one can say about him right now is he is drawing a nice walk rate, which is an excellent sign of maturity.
9. Adam Wilk / SP/RP / Wilk has the look of a junk-baller sometimes, but it's difficult not to be impressed by his 2010 statline. His walk rate is among the best in the minor leagues. His curveball has the best potential to halt the junk-baller label.
10. Francisco Martinez / 3B / Martinez has decent tools across the board, but it has been his plate approach that has stood out so far offensively, while his defense at the hot corner is the best asset he has right now.
Detroit Tigers: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Rick Porcello / SP
2. Jacob Turner / SP
3. Austin Jackson / OF
4. Andrew Oliver / SP
5. Alex Avila / C
6. Nick Castellanos / 3B
7. Charles Furbush / SP
8. Brennan Boesch / OF
9. Casey Crosby / SP/RP
10. Ryan Perry / RP
Posted by Matt Hagen at 4:04am (12) Comments
Friday, November 05, 2010
Last week, I looked at Jonathan Papelbon, a closer with questions about his future performance. Here's another: Francisco Rodriguez (aka K-Rod).
In K-Rod's case there are once again extraneous factors: Due to his contract having a large option if he finishes 55 games in 2011, one might suspect that the Mets might try to limit his usage (Though the union would fight against this). More relevant for this article, K-Rod is coming off of surgery for a torn ligament in his thumb.
Meanwhile, it's been well documented that Rodriguez's fastball has decreased in velocity over time. (This was one of the main arguments against his being given a big contract after his time with the Angels.). Has this trend continued? And has it affected his results? Lets look:
K-Rod's fastball averaged 92.2 mph in 2008 for the Angels. In 2009, it increased to 92.7, but in 2010, his fastball velocity decreased to 91.1. So, over the past three years, his velocity is down 1 mph. It had dropped by 2 mph from 2007 to 2008, so the decrease in his velocity has slowed down.
The horizontal movement on the pitch has basically remained the same all three years: It moves in on right-handed batters between one and two inches, which is basically cutter-like movement. The vertical movement ("rise"—the amount less the pitch drops than we would expect it to due to gravity alone) of the pitch has decreased from 11.98 inches in 2008 to +10.81 inches in 2009, to 9.02 inches in 2010. In essence, it seems the pitch is dropping slightly more than it did previously (though some of this effect could be caused by stadium calibration differences between Anaheim and Citi Field).
In sum, the change on this pitch's movement and velocity has been relatively small. Has the change in results been small?
Whiff rate: (Number of swinging strikes)/(Number of of pitches swung at by batters).
Swing rate: (Number of pitches swung at by batters)/(total pitches thrown).
Swinging strike rate: (Number of swinging strikes)/(total pitches thrown) percentage.
GB %: Percentage of balls hit into play by batters that result in ground balls.
In-wide-zone: Percentage of pitches in a wide (two feet wide) strike zone.
RV100: Run value of the pitch per 100 pitches thrown. Negative results are good for a pitcher. Positive numbers are bad.
RVe100: Expected run value of a pitch per 100 pitches thrown. This value adjusts for luck by using average values of batted ball types instead of the actual results. Once again, negative is good, positive numbers are bad.
The results, shown in the above table, seem to be very positive for 2010. His ability to get swinging strikes with the pitch was up, his ability to avoid fly balls was up a slight tick from 2009, and the pitch was in the strike zone a much larger percentage of the time than in the past two years. This latter result was probably responsible a good bit for Rodriguez's walk rate being a career low this year. The result was that when you put it all together, the pitch was the most effective it's been in the past three years in 2010 (see both the RV100 and RVe100)
K-Rod's use of the fastball was the same against right-handed batters this year as in previous years. (He threw it roughly 60 percent of the time each of the last three years to righties). However, he was using the pitch far more against left-handed batters than ever before: 58.5 percent of the time. This is in contrast to his 50.98 percent usage in 2009 and his 43.6 percent usage in 2008. Given that this pitch has been much better in 2010, it's hard to see this as being a problem.
So, the decrease in fastball velocity doesn't seem to have hurt K-Rod's results. If anything, they've helped them. So what about his other two pitches, his change-up and his curve ball?
Change-up and curveball
Neither of these pitches has had a significant change in movement over the past two years. However, both have experienced roughly a 2 mph drop in velocity from 2009 to 2010: The change-up went from averaging about 84.8 mph in 2009 to 82.4 mph in 2010, while the curveball's average velocity dropped from 79.8 mph in 2009 to 77.7 in 2010.
Could the change in velocity have affected K-Rod's results with these pitches much?
The short answer is.... no. The curveball, after a drop in performance in 2009, regained its value this year even as it lost 2 mph of velocity. It's done so by increasing its Swinging Strike Rate against right-handed batters (to whom it's thrown most often) and by increasing its ability to get ground balls against left-handed batters.
The change-up's value is basically unchanged from years previous. Its swinging strike rate is down due to it being less effective at getting whiffs against left-handed batters, but not by a great amount. Meanwhile the pitch's ground ball rate against left-handed batters has increased greatly (to 68.2 percent) and is pretty good against right-handed batters as well.
K-Rod's usage of these pitches HAS changed slightly. In 2008, he used the change-up near exclusively against left-handed batters, while in the years since the pitch has been used roughly 12-15 percent of the time against right-handed batters. Meanwhile his curveball use has dropped significantly against both right- and left-handed batters: The pitch is being passed over (somewhat, not completely) in favor of the fastball against left-handed batters (that's where the aforementioned increase in fastball use comes from) and in favor of the change-up against right-handed batters.
Thus, in 2010, against left-handed batters, he used the curve was used only 16 percent of the time (the least of any of his pitches), while against RHBs it was used 27.7 percent of the time (down from 36.4 percent in 2008).
That said, the usage changes are not likely to hurt K-Rod's performance.... If anything, I'd think they'd help due to the effectiveness of his change-up against right-handed batters.
A word of caution
It's important to stress that, as we're dealing with a reliever here, these results are based upon small sample sizes. This is particularly true of the off-speed pitches, each of which is thrown under 200 (and sometimes under 100!) times to specific-handed batters in a year. So It's certainly possible that some results have been mere flukes.
The clear conclusion from these results is that K-Rod's stuff, while maybe not as fast as it used to be in his early days in Anaheim, is still just as good as it was two years ago. It's possible that the thumb injury will change this, but probably not.
As a result, you should not be concerned too much about Francisco Rodriguez' diminishing velocity affecting his performance when you think about drafting or bidding for him as a closer for your team. His playing time with the Mets might be an issue, but his performance should be similar to this past year, making him a solid closer option at the very least.
Posted by Josh Smolow at 1:53am (1) Comments
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
If you read my columns regularly, in addition to being in need of a more fulfilling Internet experience, you’ve probably read me make many references to buying risk at the right price. To me, the ideal risks don’t cost an arm and a leg and have generally tolerable downside, injury outcomes excluded. This week, I’d like to look at a few sensible, mid-priced risks I find enticing going into next year. My intent here is to highlight players who could likely be available outside the top 100. As a point of semantic clarification, this is not a column about sleepers, but one about projected bargains.
Casey McGehee. Many people seemed to think that McGehee’s hot second half in 2009 was a fluke. He hadn’t an illustrious minor league track record and was not a highly touted prospect. His 2009 success and power surge seemed to come out of nowhere. Yet, in 2010, he basically did the same thing he did in 2009, over the course of a full season. The peripherals were similar enough that it does not seem like it was a fluke.
But, there’s nothing sexy about McGehee. He doesn’t seem to do anything amazingly well, but he's poised to turn in very useful numbers in three of five standard categories. He’s something of an afterthought when people think of a potent Brewers line-up that boasts Prince Fielder, Ryan Braun, a rejuvenated Corey Hart and a Rickie Weeks who waited until the hype died to live up to it. In 2010, much was made of a somewhat newly thin and top-heavy 3B position, and I presume the same storyline will pervade 2011 hot stove fantasy talk. In these situations, solid upper middle class products that avoid luxury price tags aren’t usually plentiful, but McGehee could be one.
Carlos Beltran. Beltran, or Bel-TRAN as the no longer ESPN-affiliated John Miller would say, had a pretty awful 2010. He missed most of the season with an injury, and if you were a Mets fan it seemed like his return date just kept getting pushed further and further back. When he finally returned he was abysmal at the dish and looked like he had lost more than a step in CF. Coming off a stretch in which Beltran was legitimately one of the most valuable players in the entire sport for several seasons, it was a bit of a foray into bizarro world to hear droves of Mets fans clamor that he should be benched and that late-bloomer, post-prospect-hype Angel Pagan was the Gehrig to Beltran’s Pipp.
Short tangent here. My fellow Mets fans have always been ingrates regarding Beltran. He really was one of the best players in baseball; Gold Glove 30/30 centerfielders don’t exactly grow on trees, you know! Yet, he never got his due from the Flushing faithful. I guess much of it comes down to the called third strike in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. But can we have a little perspective here? That curveball was vicious; Beltran admitted that if he had it to do over, he would have went down looking again—he just got beat by a great pitch. The man who threw that pitch was at the time an unknown St. Louis reliever who inherited the closer role ostensibly by accident. But this isn’t 2006 anymore, so can we take a minute to amend our understanding of the situation with new information gleaned from our post crime scene investigation? Beltran got beat by Adam Wainwright who is possibly the second best pitcher in the sport right now, a perennial Cy Young Award candidate, and the possessor of one of the best curveballs in the game. Our best player went down, perplexed, at the hands of an Adam Wainwright curveball—making him merely the signature member of a club that many of the best hitters in baseball have subsequently joined. None of this context seems to matter to the average Mets fan.
Back on track here, Beltran actually emerged to have a torrid September and October. As a reminder to Mets fans, those are the months when other teams play meaningful baseball games. In 2011, Beltran will have had more time to fully heal, and he’ll have the benefit of having an actual preseason to ready himself. He’ll be playing for more than pride; he’ll be playing for his future. And, he’s guaranteed ABs in the middle of a decent offensive team (though in a hitter’s nightmare of a ballpark). He’s certainly a big risk, but his price to peak ratio is worth a gamble. I liken this situation to gambling on Magglio Ordonez last season.
Ike Davis. With so many firstbasemen capable of gaudy stats, how wise is it to invest in somebody who put up a .264/19/71 line and who plays in a big time pitcher’s park? I think deep leaguers, as well as shallow leaguers looking for CI or Util fillers could do a lot worse than Davis. Flushing fans like Ike. His 2010 campaign was fairly impressive for a rookie thrust into the spotlight of NYC with the pressure of swinging clean-up. His slash line against lefties was acceptable, and those who saw him blast off know that his power eruptions are Citi-proof. It’s unlikely that Davis will continue to inhabit the four hole in the order next year, but .275/85/26/90/5 would be an achievable, incremental step forward. Players like Davis, Adam LaRoche, and Gaby Sanchez are great examples of the replacement value argument against taking a first round plunge on Mark Teixeira or Ryan Howard.
Gaby Sanchez. Like Davis, Sanchez put up a quietly impressive rookie season, but will be largely left out of the two-man NL ROY race between Buster Posey and Jason Heyward. Like Davis, Sanchez showcased above average pop in the minors. Sanchez has a few years on Davis, but looking to 2011 they seem to fit a similar archetype—respectable production at a deep position with limited risk and nice, but not stupendous upside.
Geovany Soto. Soto may not fly as far under the radar as I hope simply because of the abject dearth of offensive prowess at catcher. The list is pretty short with Joe Mauer, Brian McCann and Victor Martinez joined by Buster Posey in the top tier of options. Carlos Santana could be an attractive option, presuming he’s fully recuperated, and Mike Napoli can provide punch. But other than that, the well is rather dry. However, Soto’s return to elite catcher producer seemed to have gone largely unnoticed. That may not be the case by draft time 2011, but my gut tells me many will forget about him in 2011.
Drew Stubbs. Stubbs has the potential to become a darling of the fantasy writer community in the off-season. The power half of his power-speed combo has to be taken seriously now, and he has the speed to improve on his 30 steals in 2010. Last season, he basically provided 95 percent of Matt Kemp’s production for 5 percent of the cost. Going into 2011, he has to be one of the cheapest chances at 30/30 available, even if he inherits the super-sleeper tag, inflating his price. One would think that at the minimum he should go ahead of B.J. Upton, and should be considered where Curtis Granderson was going into last season.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:39am (3) Comments
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Cleveland Indians: Top 10 Prospects
1. Alex White / SP / White had a great debut season. Some question whether any of his secondary pitches will develop into the out pitch that he needs, but he has great command and movement on his fastball, which could carry him far.
2. Lonnie Chisenhall / 3B / The future outlook remains true for Chisenhall; good but not great. While he has power, contact ability, and plate patience, nothing adds up to perennial All-Star.
3. Jason Knapp / SP/RP / Knapp's elite velocity is completely back following a shoulder surgery that kept him out most of 2010. He did return in time to record 29 strikeouts over 16 Single-A innings. He is a supreme breakout candidate for 2011.
4. Drew Pomeranz / SP / Pomeranz faces too many question marks for a college hurler drafted at No. 5 overall. But Cleveland obviously feels that they have a lot to work with, and the team is willing to give him a year to prove doubters wrong.
5. Jason Kipnis / 2B/OF / While his defense is shaky and may keep him in the minors longer than anticipated, Kipnis' bat came alive in 2010. He has good bat speed and above average power for a second baseman. It's understandable why some have him rated higher than this, but his defense needs to settle down for him to move up. His offense could get lost in the crowd if he needs to switch to the outfield.
6. Nick Weglarz / OF / Weglarz has improved to the point where he deserves a shot at the big leagues. He still has untapped power and good patience at the plate, but the key to everything will be him staying off the disabled list.
7. Chun-Hsiu Chen / C / Chen has the skills to stick behind the plate, including a plus arm. To little fanfare, his offense took off in 2010, and his best tool, his power potential, finally surfaced.
8. LeVon Washington / OF / Washington is an offensive-minded outfield prospect. He has a good plate approach, speed, and some power to work with, although his tools are overblown by some.
9. T.J. House / SP / House had a solid year, although his secondary offerings, namely his slider, didn't take the step forward they need to. His upside appears limited unless an out pitch develops.
10. Hector Rondon / SP/RP / Rondon had perhaps the most disastrous season of any top-ranked player in the minor leagues. It's not time to give up yet, but it was finally revealed that Rondon's injury required Tommy John surgery, leaving his future in jeopardy.
Cleveland Indians: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Carlos Santana / C
2. Asdrubal Cabrera / SS
3. Alex White / SP
4. Lonnie Chisenhall / 3B
5. Jason Knapp / SP/RP
6. Drew Pomeranz / SP
7. Jason Kipnis / 2B/OF
8. Carlos Carrasco / SP
9. Nick Weglarz / OF
10. Michael Brantley / OF
Minnesota Twins: Top 10 Prospects
1. Kyle Gibson / SP / It's unlikely anyone envisioned Gibson having the kind of debut season he did. He put the injury concerns to rest and was able to show off his varied arsenal over three levels, culminating with three strong August starts for Triple-A Rochester.
2. Miguel Sano / 3B/SS / It's hard to not be impressed with the rookie-league debut of 17-year-old Sano, especially from a power perspective. The tools are there across the board for a superstar future.
3. Aaron Hicks / OF / It was a solid season for Hicks, but everyone expects more from him, and for it to be coming at a level beyond Single-A. His walk rate is the most impressive stat he posts, which is good in a sense but surprising for a young man with his talent level.
4. Alex Wimmers / SP / Wimmers' curveball is among the best in the 2010 draft, but he doesn't have much else to work with, including below-average velocity at times on his fastball. His poise, command, and first-round draft status earn him extra points.
5. Ben Revere / OF / Revere's stock is stuck in neutral. He makes good contact and has the base path skills to be a good leadoff man, but his walk rate isn't improving and the little bit of power potential he once had is nowhere to be found.
6. Liam Hendriks / SP / By some accounts, Hendriks is no more than a junkballer with his varied repertoire, lack of an out pitch, and below average velocity. But a junkballer doesn't sport a nearly 10:1 strikeout-to walk-ratio and 1.74 ERA over 108.2 innings.
7. Adrian Salcedo / SP / Salcedo found a step up in levels to be difficult in 2010. He really didn't do a whole lot different compared to his breakout campaign in 2009, but he was unable to get away with leaving the ball over the middle of the plate, unlike 2009. He has good stuff and a bright future.
8. Max Kepler-Rozycki / OF / Kepler-Rozycki is another young, high-upside position player. Unlike most of his ilk, though, he hails from Germany and is sometimes referred to as the best baseball specimen to ever come from Europe. His bat is quick and he looks and carries himself like an athlete.
9. Oswaldo Arcia / OF / Wow, Arcia posted some great numbers in the Appalachian League. Despite his age, he isn't overly toolsy, but his bat speed and power look legitimate at this point.
10. David Bromberg / SP / Billy Bullock nearly slid in here, but for a reliever to be in the top-10, he needs to have closer upside, and Bullock may not have that much talent. Bromberg has a lot to clean up, but still has some upside left in him. His curveball has the makings of an out pitch.
Minnesota Twins: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Delmon Young / OF
2. Kyle Gibson / SP
3. Miguel Sano / 3B/SS
4. Aaron Hicks / OF
5. Alex Wimmers / SP
6. Ben Revere / OF
7. Liam Hendriks / SP
8. Adrian Salcedo / SP
9. Max Kepler-Rozycki / OF
10. Oswaldo Arcia / OF
Posted by Matt Hagen at 4:03am (2) Comments
Friday, November 12, 2010
We all know ERA is largely bunk as a stat (well, maybe not really...), but what is the best metric for measuring a pitcher's true talent and baseline? Is it FIP? xFIP? What about tERA? Or SIERRA (which I think stands for "unnecessarily convoluted statistic which has no greater predictive power")?
Each has their virtues and limitations. FIP, for example, measures a pitcher's three most controllable stats: strikeouts, walks and home runs, attempting to find the context neutral talent line. FIP, of course, ignores the batted ball rates of pitchers, which affects the home run data.
xFIP tries to deal with that problem by adjusting the home run rate, which studies show to be a regression function of flyballs, to a regressed home run rate (11.5 percent). xFIP, however, ignores clearly relevant elements such as park factors and others, primarily infield flyball rates (well, at least the traditional formulation of xFIP as it appears on Fangraphs does). tERA tries to deal with this by looking at a pitcher's batted ball distribution to predict ERA, but that's hardly context neutral and batted ball distributions require larger sample sizes to offer reliability.
Advantages and limitations abound among the most popular metrics. A good fantasy baseball
Irrespective of this scaling differential, however, I have compiled a list of variations among the big three peripheral ERA stats (FIP, xFIP, tERA) for all qualified starting pitchers in 2010 (P_Variance) to give us a look at who the various peripheral stats agree on the most. This, in theory, gives us a list of the "safest" pitchers to forecast; that is, an indexed list of those most likely to perform as expected by any given ERA predictor.
This spreadsheet is intended to help you make better decisions on how to allocate your auction budget on draft day in 2011. For reference, there's also a variance column (T_Variance) which compares the big three peripheral ERA stats to actual ERA.
You can download the UPDATED pre-sorted spreadsheet by clicking here.
First, a sample of the most desirable guys who seemingly fall within the "you know what you are getting" category (sorted by P_Variance):
Name Team ERA FIP xFIP tERA P_Var T_Var Ted Lilly - - - 3.62 4.27 4.16 4.21 0.003033 0.090033 Shaun Marcum Blue Jays 3.64 3.74 3.90 3.77 0.007233 0.011492 Rick Porcello Tigers 4.81 4.29 4.34 4.43 0.005033 0.055492 J. Masterson Indians 4.70 3.93 3.98 3.81 0.007633 0.162433 Trevor Cahill Athletics 2.97 4.19 4.11 4.01 0.008133 0.326533 Roy Oswalt - - - 2.76 3.27 3.45 3.34 0.008233 0.093500 Jon Lester Red Sox 3.25 3.13 3.29 3.30 0.009100 0.006092 Ryan Dempster Cubs 3.96 3.96 3.83 4.04 0.011233 0.007558 C. Carpenter Cardinals 3.22 3.69 3.84 3.62 0.012633 0.070092 Phil Hughes Yankees 4.18 4.24 4.32 4.09 0.013633 0.009425 Ricky Romero Blue Jays 3.77 3.65 3.73 3.88 0.013633 0.009158 Scott Baker Twins 4.49 4.02 4.10 4.25 0.013633 0.042700 Max Scherzer Tigers 3.50 3.71 3.84 3.95 0.014433 0.037400 Carl Pavano Twins 3.81 4.00 3.97 4.20 0.015633 0.025633 Tim Hudson Braves 2.79 4.03 3.84 3.79 0.016033 0.311358 W. Rodriguez Astros 3.60 3.50 3.68 3.77 0.018900 0.013225 Cole Hamels Phillies 3.15 3.67 3.46 3.72 0.019033 0.067133 R.A. Dickey Mets 2.84 3.65 3.88 3.63 0.019300 0.206467 A. Wainwright Cardinals 2.42 2.86 3.14 2.93 0.021233 0.091625 Dan Haren - - - 3.91 3.71 3.67 3.96 0.024700 0.020692 Tim Lincecum Giants 3.43 3.15 3.21 3.46 0.027033 0.024158
The best buy values of this list seem to be Justin Masterson and Scott Baker. The underlying numbers on these two pitchers seem to agree that both are in for much better and quite useful (4.00 ERA or better) fantasy baseball seasons following terrible ERAs in 2010. I doubt either will cost you much in 2011.
In terms of stable values, Shaun Marcum and Jon Lester seem to take the cake. Their ERAs seem to most match their underlying numbers. They will not come cheap, but they will likely not disappoint either.
Guys to avoid (omitted above, see data file) on this list of "you know what you are getting" include Bronson Arroyo, Matt Garza and Wade Davis. They seem the most likely to regress of the bunch.
And then we have a sample of the wild cards:
Name Team ERA FIP xFIP tERA P_Var T_Var Jason Vargas Mariners 3.78 3.95 4.82 3.57 0.410633 0.301533 Anibal Sanchez Marlins 3.48 3.38 4.22 3.38 0.235200 0.164900 Mark Buehrle White Sox 4.28 3.90 4.69 3.88 0.213433 0.146092 Tommy Hanson Braves 3.33 3.31 4.04 3.21 0.205300 0.145892 Jason Hammel Rockies 4.76 3.67 3.80 4.45 0.174633 0.271133 Mat Latos Padres 2.92 3.00 3.36 2.53 0.173233 0.115958 J. Verlander Tigers 3.38 2.95 3.71 3.08 0.165233 0.114600 L. Hernandez Nationals 3.66 3.95 4.76 4.37 0.164100 0.231900 Johan Santana Mets 2.98 3.54 4.32 3.76 0.161733 0.307333 C. Billingsley Dodgers 3.57 3.07 3.81 3.21 0.154533 0.113700 C.Kershaw Dodgers 2.82 3.07 3.74 3.05 0.154233 0.157267 David Price Rays 2.72 3.42 3.99 3.27 0.144300 0.272600 Matt Cain Giants 3.15 3.62 4.18 3.46 0.142933 0.186292 Dallas Braden Athletics 3.50 3.80 4.41 3.74 0.137433 0.150025 Jered Weaver Angels 3.01 3.06 3.51 2.79 0.132300 0.091225 Doug Fister Mariners 4.11 3.65 4.27 3.65 0.128133 0.101467 Cliff Lee - - - 3.18 2.58 3.23 2.65 0.127300 0.117267 James Shields Rays 5.18 4.24 3.72 4.40 0.126400 0.365167 Fausto Carmona Indians 3.77 4.11 4.39 3.70 0.120433 0.102292 Gio Gonzalez Athletics 3.23 3.78 4.18 3.51 0.113633 0.163767 C.J. Wilson Rangers 3.33 3.53 4.16 3.78 0.100633 0.127933 Mike Pelfrey Mets 3.66 3.82 4.46 4.20 0.103600 0.131567 Y. Gallardo Brewers 3.84 3.02 3.42 3.69 0.113633 0.129425 Clay Buchholz Red Sox 2.60 3.65 4.18 3.94 0.070433 0.484758 Derek Lowe Braves 4.00 3.89 3.65 4.20 0.076033 0.052567
The best upside gambles of this list seem to be Tommy Hanson (is he a 3.21 tERA guy or a 4.04 xFIP guy?), Mat Latos (his "downside" is seemingly a solid 3.36 xFIP, but he has only one year in the majors) and David Price (is he a low 3's or low 4's ERA guy?). Kershaw also seems to have a "pure upside" arm if he's truly improved his control.
On the other hand, there are some questionable risks: Anibal Sanchez (is he the 3.38 tERA guy or the 4.22 xFIP guy?), Jason Hammel (the 4.45 tERA guy or the 3.80 xFIP guy?) and Johan Santana, who is already coming off injury. Clay Buchholz's underlying peripherals have changed so much year-to-year that it's hard to peg his true talent too.
And then there are some guys who are just not worth the risk (at least not in my eyes): Fausto Carmona, Doug Fister, C.J. Wilson and Jason Vargas.
As always, leave the love/hate in the comments.
Posted by Jeffrey Gross at 3:44am (17) Comments
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Last Wednesday, my colleague Derek Ambrosino went looking for some early sleeper picks that are likely to be drafted after pick 100. Today the focus will turn to the deep sleepers, using a standard 12-team auction league as the measuring bar. The players spotlighted here should be available for less than $3 and certainly less than $5. Seeing as these are players that most fantasy owners will turn a blind eye to, there is considerable risk in expected performance. Thankfully, since we're talking about an insignificant portion of the auction budget, the opportunity cost of taking a draft-and-see approach on any of these guys is fairly low.
It's always wise to start a sleeper search with small market clubs. Constrained budgets seem to lead inexorably to surprise performances. Let's begin today's search in a small market pitchers haven before moving to the outfields of Toronto and Detroit.
The Padres have employed an indomitable bullpen over the past few seasons. With a glutted free agent market for closers, the Friars aren't likely to be properly enticed into trading Heath Bell. That leaves a pair of high impact relief aces, Mike Adams and Luke Gregerson awaiting your last dollar to invest. As it stands, Adams and Gregerson could close for most clubs. Both would be a nice bonbon to conclude a draft, yet there's one Padre who has $15 potential in a $2 package.
Tim Stauffer: The former fourth overall pick of the 2003 draft, Stauffer is as post-hype as they come. He first reached the big leagues in 2005, but it wasn't until 2009 when he first experienced success on the big stage. Still his solid 3.58 ERA in 14 starts was backed by poor control, 6.53 strike outs per nine and 4.19 walks per nine, causing the Padres to relegate him to the bullpen for 2010. Stauffer sparkled in the new role. As a reliever, he increased his strike out rate to 7.89 per nine while limiting the free passes to 2.70 per nine. This led to a 1.87 ERA from the pen although his 2.89 FIP and 3.62 xFIP hint at potential regression. Stauffer's dominance earned him seven spins in the rotation where he maintained the low walk rate (2.52 walks per nine) in 39.1 innings but lost significant ground with the strike outs (5.26 strike outs per nine). His 1.81 ERA as a starting pitcher is balanced by a 3.15 FIP and 3.87 xFIP.
Thanks to the dominant 1.85 ERA in 2010, Padres GM Jed Hoyer has Stauffer penciled into the starting rotation. Stauffer could prove easy to overlook in fantasy leagues, thanks to a spotty—and short—track record. Regression is inevitable, as his .265 BABIP, 84.1 LOB%, and 4.2% HR/FB are likely to slide toward league norms. Nevertheless, Stauffer does benefit from the Padres elite defense, cavernous environs, a strikeout to walk ratio around three and some newfound worm-burning ways (54.5% ground ball rate). Keeping those factors in mind, Stauffer could continue to outperform his FIP/xFIP. As a fantasy player he should provide strong two category production in ERA and WHIP. His strikeout production may hurt a little and he'll probably neither help nor hurt in the Wins column.
Travis Snider - Way back in 2008, Travis Snider briefly burst into the spotlight by putting together a nifty .301/.338/.466 line in 80 plate appearances as a 20-year-old. He subsequently made the all-hype sleeper team of '09 before putting together a disappointing .241/.328/.419 triple slash that included a mid-season demotion. He did manage to rock the Pacific Coast League to the tune of a 1.094 OPS in 204 plate appearances before being recalled.
Prior to 2010 draft season, Snider was once again considered a potential sleeper. He responded with another clunker, an unspectacular .255/.304/.463 line coupled with a wrist injury that lingered through late summer.
Now entering his age 23 season, Snider once again appears to be a good late-round sleeper candidate. Albert Einstein is credited with defining 'insanity' as "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Indeed, promoting Snider for a third straight season may be a bit insane. Thankfully this is something we can take advantage of since "sane" owners should be passing on him.
There are several reasons to like Snider in 2011. From a pure scouting perspective, the kid is strong. His isolated power should easily eclipse the .200 mark. It also appears as though he has a stable niche on the roster, putting him in line for about 140 starts. Taken together, 25-30 home runs along with a fairly strong contribution to RBI seems very plausible. Depending on where he bats in the order, he could be in line for a decent amount of runs scored, thanks to Toronto's power-centric approach. His batting average might hurt a little, but then again it could bounce back. As noted previously, Snider hits the ball hard. In 2010, he managed a ridiculous 24.1% line drive rate. Further, if he can increase his fly ball rate above last year's 34.9%, a true power outburst might be in the offing. Ironically, "the next Jose Bautista" could very well be a fellow Jaybird.
You shouldn't count on Snider as a starter in a three-outfielder format, but you could do a lot worse with a $1-4 flier.
Ryan Raburn - Tigers' GM Dave Dombrowski has indicated that Raburn will be considered for a corner outfield spot next spring. With Brennan Boesch's epic journey from horse drawn carriage to mouldering pumpkin in 2010, Raburn certainly should top the internal depth charts if the Tigers fail to bring in a better alternative.
Raburn is most famous around fantasy quarters for putting together a torrid streak in August and September worthy of Luke Scott's name on the way to a .280/.340/.474 batting line. That line's probably a fair representation of expectations in 2011—along with as many as 20 home runs, perhaps half a handful of steals, and R/RBI totals in the 70-85 range. For a fantasy outfielder that probably sounds exactly like a $1 investment, with the hope that you can catch a month like his eight home run August or .358 AVG September.
However, it's not as a general outfielder that we're considering Raburn. Thanks to the Tigers' scrambling at second base, Raburn will carry the greatly valued "2B" designation. This substantially increases his value, as he should provide mid-tier, $10 value at the keystone if he starts 150 games. Raburn also qualifies as a center fielder in leagues that have a five-games-played cutoff. Positional flexibility, solid numbers and robust playing time should conspire to make Raburn an excellent $1-3 selection.
Be warned, keep an eye on the Tigers' manipulations in the Hot Stove. Adding an impact outfielder could push Raburn right off this value list and back onto the Tigers bench. If he's still in line for starting reps come draft day, don't hesitate to add Raburn as your back-up second baseman/outfielder.
Join us next time when we preview a pair of ace-quality flame throwing prospects along with a player to be named later.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:47am (6) Comments
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Last week's column delved into some potential bargains to be found in the Senior Circuit, and this week I’ll follow up with some picks for the American League. For whatever reason, this list is heavy in pitching. Perhaps that is because I’m thinking that American League pitching is undervalued due to perception of league strength, or perhaps because I just see fewer undiscovered offensive gems in the AL. Once again I’m attempting focus on players who may be available outside of the top 100.
Dan Haren. After several years as one of the safest stud pitcher picks available, Haren experienced a down year in 2011. Among the statistically savvy, the chasm between Haren’s peripherals and glamour numbers was the subject of much discussion. With Anaheim in the midst of a rare non-contending season, all was quiet on the western front as Haren’s BABIP woes began to succumb to the law of averages, enabling him to right himself. His move to the AL will certainly not go unnoticed in his numbers, but he’s still a workhorse and strong source of strikeouts, WHIP and wins. And, remember, the AL West is not the AL East. Plenty of fantasy players will not overreact to Haren’s down season, but plenty will. Going into 2011, I view Haren similarly to how I viewed Cole Hamels coming into 2010, as a proven stud who was the unfortunate recipient of bad luck that is unlikely to continue. Haren may not slip outside the top 100, but this is the cheapest he’ll come.
Ben Zobrist. Zobrist is another player who didn’t have as poor a season as the raw numbers indicate. Zobrist suffered a big drop in BABIP despite a generally similar batted-ball profile. Maybe his 2009 mark was a bit high, and maybe his homer total was a bit flukish too, but I still have faith in Zobrist. Zorilla pulled off a rare feat in 2009, he busted badly enough to eliminate any doubt the “he was a fluke” crowd had and push plenty of the fair-weather supporters off the wagon, while still retaining a fair amount of his undervalued core skills, and therefore giving the bargain hunter a reason to believe. Zobrist swiped 24 bags and put up 152 combined runs and RBI. What killed his value was that he hit at ghastly .238. If you just correct a bit for BABIP, which would have had added benefits in runs and RBI, you’re talking about quite nice production for a player who is still eligible at 2B (along with OF and 1B). I still like Zobrist, and as a bargain middle infielder as opposed to a pricey trend pick, the price is much more attractive.
Max Scherzer. I was all in on Scherzer going into last year. He was one of my favorite late-round picks and in some cases I was even able to ride out his detour to the minors. Upon his return, Scherzer ostensibly dominated. In his post-demotion portion of the season, Scherzer pitched 153.2 innings of 2.46 ERA baseball, racking up 158 punch outs and compiling an 11-7 record. That’s downright King Felix-ish. Scherzer has had some troubling injury history, but the sky is limit for this kid, who Oliver happens to love. I can see a Scherzer hype train brewing in the offseason, but if he doesn’t get outed as a super sleeper, he’ll be one of my favorite bargain pitching targets again.
Colby Lewis, Ricky Romero, and Brandon Morrow. This list of names represents three pitchers who may be questioned as flukes. I believe in this trio of fairly inexperienced power arms. I owne Lewis in a few leagues this past year and watched a lot of him. He is good; that’s all I can really say. I also happened to catch a fair amount of Blue Jays games and was impressed with Romero as well. Morrow represents the biggest uncertainty of the three, but the potential is quite enticing. He made progress with his walk rate last year, but it is still too high. He also benefited from an unsustainably low homer rate. Morrow is somewhere in that A.J. Burnett in his Florida days territory. I do believe that, at least up until his injury, he was making progress as a starting pitcher and should continue to do so. He’s worth a gamble when filling out your rotation simply because of the strikeout potential. A final word on Morrow and Romero here, don’t overstate the effect of having to deal with Boston, Tampa Bay and the Yankees. Sure, that’s about a third of the schedule, but Toronto is not all that far away from being a very good team. This team would compete in any other division, and they will win games for quality starting pitchers. None of these three players will break the bank, but they all project to fill out a staff quite nicely in the later rounds.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 4:58am (11) Comments
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Los Angeles Angels: Top 10 Prospects
1. Mike Trout / OF / Trout had a tremendous season, leaving no doubt about who LA's top prospect is. His speed and defense are fully expected to be assets, but his mature approach and eye at the plate come as a surprise at this stage of his development.
2. Hank Conger / C / Conger still has not taken the big step forward that his skill set foreshadows. His defense isn't where it needs to be, but he does a good job all-around with a bat, with more power development possible.
3. Garrett Richards / SP / Richards has good stuff across the board, including a mid-90s fastball and three secondary offerings. His command is holding him back and keeping any one of his secondary pitches from becoming his out pitch. But there is a lot to like in this young man, and he is underrated in many circles.
4. Jean Segura / 2B/SS / Segura posted a breakout year at the plate and in the field. Defensively, he plays second base now but has the arm to play the left side of the infield. Offensively, he shows all the tools necessary to be a dynamic middle infielder. He does need to prove his worth at higher levels before the mainstream buys in.
5. Kaleb Cowart / 3B / Cowart is a two-way high schooler who will require patience, especially as he adjusts to an infield position full time. He has plus power potential from either side of the plate and many of the other raw tools necessary to one day become a star.
6. Fabio Martinez / SP / Martinez is a perfect example of a young man with a great three-pitch mix, plus velocity, good movement, and plenty of endurance. But he also is someone who needs to find consistent command on everything he throws before he's ready to challenge hitters at higher levels.
7. Tyler Chatwood / SP/RP / Chatwood has a slight frame, but you wouldn't know judging by his mid-90s fastball. He also has a good looking change-up and curveball, but, guess what, we have another young Angel arm with control issues. The young power arms in their system are very impressive, but they all need to figure out the strike zone.
8. Alexi Amarista / 2B / Amarista is a compact second baseman with a slick glove and great plate approach, which has been demonstrated at higher levels. He has some speed to work with and gap power, but there isn't much home run power, which will ultimately hinder his status. There is a lot to like. A solid big league second baseman is in the works.
9. Mark Trumbo / 1B/OF / Trumbo has one thing that he does well, and that's hit for power. The home run numbers are attractive and bringing people back for more. His simple, powerful swing looks like it will translate to the majors, but scouts aren't so sure about his contact skills, plate discipline, or defense.
10. Cam Bedrosian / SP / Los Angeles has a good, deep system, despite the lack of top-50 prospects. If a few of these young prospects figure things out and prove themselves at higher levels nothing will hold them back from high society. A number of players got a look at No. 10, including Jordan Walden, Trevor Reckling, Chevez Clarke, Randal Grichuk, and Daniel Tillman, but the raw power arm of Bedrosian fits the farm system's philosophy and is too much to ignore.
Los Angeles Angels: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Mike Trout / OF
2. Hank Conger / C
3. Garrett Richards / SP
4. Jean Segura / 2B/SS
5. Peter Bourjos / OF
6. Kaleb Cowart / 3B
7. Fabio Martinez / SP
8. Tyler Chatwood / SP/RP
9. Alexi Amarista / 2B
10. Mark Trumbo / 1B/OF
Oakland Athletics: Top 10 Prospects
1. Michael Choice / OF / Choice was the best four-year college hitter in the 2010 draft. He has superstar power potential in his bat, but also the tools to excel as an overall hitter. On top of his bat, he has usable speed and the ability to be a good defender from a corner outfield position.
2. Grant Green / SS / Green had some ups and downs in his debut season. His power and batting average stand out from the crowd, but his strikeout and walk rates will not cut it, and his defense has come into question, although, defensively, he should turn into an average major league shortstop.
3. Chris Carter / 1B/OF / It has become clear that strikeouts will always be a problem for Carter. Couple that fact with his all-or-nothing swing, and you are looking at some ugly batting averages, too. But his power is real and will provide Oakland with a much-needed long ball boost.
4. Jemile Weeks / 2B / Weeks has a rare skill set for a second baseman, and has even demonstrated the intangibles at the plate to be a patient, well-rounded hitter, but injuries are taking over his young career.
5. Ian Krol / SP / Despite his youth, Krol doesn't have a lot of upside due to his small frame and below-average fastball. What he does have is great command and deceptive movement on an average three-pitch mix.
6. Corey Brown / OF / Brown has a nice blend of power and speed. He is a solid defender, and his walk rate seems to get better each year, too. But his strikeout rate is worrisome, and he looked lost at times against Triple-A pitching last year.
7. Max Stassi / C / Stassi is a solid defender, no question, but probably not the difference maker some were hoping for when he was drafted. On the flip side, the power potential those same people were also hoping for has surfaced, giving his offense a glimmer of light that wasn't apparent when he was drafted.
8. Josh Donaldson / C / Donaldson knows how to take walks and has plenty of power, but whether or not he has what it takes elsewhere to stick at catcher remains to be seen.
9. Adrian Cardenas / 2B / Cardenas manages to hit for a good average wherever he goes. He limits his strikeouts and takes his share of walks. But the power numbers everyone was hoping for are nowhere to be found, and his stolen base rate and success percentage have dissipated.
10. Michael Taylor / OF / What happened to Taylor? Two things are clear; he loses his swing at times, and his pitch recognition is poor. His swing looks long and slow sometimes, which has sapped his power. Don't forget about him, though. He will have opportunities to turn it around.
Oakland Athletics: Top 10 Players Under Age 26 (as of 4/1/11)
1. Brett Anderson / SP
2. Trevor Cahill / SP
3. Michael Choice / OF
4. Gio Gonzalez / SP
5. Grant Green / SS
6. Chris Carter / 1B/OF
7. Jemile Weeks / 2B
8. Daric Barton / 1B
9. Ian Krol / SP
10. Corey Brown / OF