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.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I’ve spoken about my high stakes league in which I co-manage a team with a friend. In that league, another two of our friends co-manage a second team. This past weekend, we had a discussion about potential trades in which I may have appeared unreasonable.
What I did isn’t really out of the ordinary; I simply placed an extremely high price on one of my team’s better hitters if I was going to be receiving a starting pitcher in return. Many of us have a sense that pitchers are harder to trade—or fetch less—than hitters. They do. Or, they should.
Most simply, trade value comes down to replacement level. If you play in a daily league with unlimited, or liberally limited, roster moves and are in need of a starting pitcher (as we are), the replacement level starter can actually be pretty high, provided you are willing to exert some effort and display a bit of ingenuity. Elevating the replacement level of a position player is much more difficult.
While one may tempted to look at the top few starters floating on his league’s waiver wire to define a replacement level starter, that’s not the reality for the shrewd owner. Let’s try to estimate what the real value of a replacement starter can easily be with a little effort and planning.
Let’s assume for the sake of this article that 180 innings is a reasonable target to expect from each pitcher in the starting corps. This works out to about 30 innings a month. Remember, nobody says that those innings must all come from the same player. If you can find one opportunity to spot start a waiver wire pitcher per week and fill that spot with a middle reliever the rest of the time, you should be able to piece together a high quality pitching line. (This is easier, operationally, when all roster spots are P instead of RP-, SP-specific; one of oft-stated my pet peeves!)
I’m not a hardcore researcher-writer, so I’m going to pluck numbers here for the purposes of illustration—there are so many variations of league size that calculating the average stats of a waiver wire pitcher would be an exercise in the arbitrary anyway. However, in a 12-team mixed league, it’s not unreasonable to think that your standard omni-available pitcher might have a skill level of something like 4.50 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, six K/9 and one win per 3.5 starts.
You have to find only one opportunity a week when you think one of any of these pitchers, against various opponents, with various skill sets, and in various run environments can perform above his average. It’s not that much of a stretch to think you can coach these pitchers up to a line more along the lines of 4.25 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 6.5 K/P and one win per three starts. Of course, depending on the choices you make, you could wind up with better rates and lower Ks or the reverse. Frankly, that’s one of the benefits of this approach as well; it allows you to chase what you most need. Though to be fair, if the alternative is trading for a quality pitcher, that player should be able to help you everywhere.
Proceeding, it’s not too difficult to find waiver wire middle relievers who post numbers more along the lines of 2.50 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 7.5 K/9 and one W per 15 innings pitched.
At the end of the day, you are looking at six innings from your starter per week and three innings from your reliever. This should net you somewhere between 27 and 33 innings per month. For simplicity’s sake, let’s take the mathematical middle and mete out 30 innings of this composition “replacement pitcher” with a ratio of two to one starter to reliever innings and extrapolate that across a six-month season.
That’s not bad for a free additional starter, right? That line doesn’t hurt you anywhere!
So, if I can get this for free, what would it take for me to give up, say a healthy Paul Konerko? A lot more than Tommy Hanson, right? And, if I told you I probably still wouldn’t do it even for David Price, you might think I’m taking it too far, but I really wouldn’t be acting so unreasonably, correct?
These names may or not be random.
My free pitcher may be a 10 or 15 percent drop from a pitcher like Price, with some additional variability regarding wins. For either the star or the composite replacement, win are difficult to predict.
However, when the most attractive first basemen on the wire are players like Justin Smoak, there is just very little chance I can find 85-90 percent of Paul Konerko in the free agent pool. Maybe I can really micromanage meticulously and elevate my replacement level production, but that’s ton more effort than just grabbing one of a dozen relievers and keeping an eye out for decent pitchers facing the Pirates, Mariners or Padres (preferably at Petco).
There’s a second benefit of filling my needed pitching slot this way as opposed to trading a premium bat for a quality arm. My injury risk from that pitching spot is nil. I’m not relying on any single pitcher. I simply need to find roughly four quality spot starting opportunities a month and select from a plentiful pool of capable set-up arms. If I trade for Price and he gets hurt, I gave up Konerko for nothing, or for very little.
The last point may not be totally fair, as I still hold the injury risk of Konerko. So, if he gets hurt and I didn’t trade him for Price, I’m left holding the bag. But, the point stands. Remember, I’m not trading Konerko for Price, but trading the difference between Konerko and his replacement for the difference between Price and his.
One final point regarding this theory: While it may be intuitive to think that you are exposing yourself to a greater degree of expected variance in performance by using a conglomerate of pitchers and therefore not allowing any individual performer the opportunity for his performance to normalize, that is not the case. Your starter-by-committee has a cumulative expected performance as does the individual pitcher. Any greater likelihood of variance would be due to particular pitchers having larger individual variances in expected performance; the fact that you are using one player versus 15 or 30 is essentially irrelevant.
In conclusion, it can be considered reasonable to highly value elite hitting and demand others "overpay” if they are selling you pitching. Of course, if you are hoarding hitting such that you are amassing surplus production that doesn’t influence your point totals, then you need to redistribute your assets. But, remember, it isn’t too difficult to put together a quite serviceable replacement level pitcher from the scraps on the wire, without giving away anything but a floating roster spot.
Posted by Derek Ambrosino at 1:26am (7) Comments
The Daily Grind provides daily match-up advice based on my every-morning waiver wire search. I welcome advice to help make this column more effective. Ownership rates are from Yahoo!
I will be vacationing for the next five days. Look for TDG to return next Tuesday.
A trio of widely available pitchers have juicy match-ups.
Marco Estrada takes on the feeble hitting Giants.
Andy Pettitte faces a Royals roster whose best hitters are primarily left-handed.
Scott Feldman is virtually unowned. He'll start against the Mariners.
David Murphy gets a rematch with Kevin Millwood.
Carlos Gomez will get a start against Barry Zito.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis faces Charlie Morton.
Only seven games tomorrow, which limits the options.
Philip Humber takes a turn against the Twins. They just got Ryan Doumit back, which makes their bad lineup a shade less bad.
Joe Blanton will face a Cardinals roster that is just a bit injury desolated. I worry about this particular match-up.
Eric Stults is one of those guys who isn't good but always treats my fantasy roster kindly. I like the match-up against the lefty heavy Mets.
Take Matt Adams against Blanton. Matt Carpenter is dealing with a minor injury and so will not impinge on Adams' playing time.
Ryan Doumit is only 26 percent owned and carries useful positional flexibility and a solid skill set.
Brennan Boesch's ownership has been climbing slowly south. He's at 45 percent owned and will face Justin Masterson. I've seen him crop up as an option in a league or two.
J.J. Putz blew his third save of the year. It's been a rocky season for him; his velocity and command have been off. Last night, he supposedly recovered the velocity but still failed to shut the door. The Diamondbacks have a couple of alternatives in Bryan Shaw and David Hernandez.
Henry Rodriguez has been demoted from the closer role. He will contribute to the committee that is currently in use. Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard, and Craig Stammen could also work into the mix at times.
R.A. Dickey was unkind to the Pirates while earning the win: 7 IP, 11 K, 1.29 ERA, 0.71 WHIP
Juan Nicasio's performance was not so super: 5 IP, 5 K, 9.00 ERA, 2.40 WHIP
Travis Wood allowed only two hits, but one was a home run: 5.2 IP, 3 K, 3.18 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
0-for-2 with two walks for Matt Adams.
Rajai Davis did his thing. He was 0-for-2 with one run and two stolen bases.
Marlon Byrd was 0-for-2.
Reed Johnson was 1-for-3 with one walk.
Posted by Brad Johnson at 5:53am (4) Comments
Thursday, May 24, 2012
We're four editions deep into Trader's Corner this year, and I wanted to shake things up a bit this week. I'm opening it up to you, the faithful THT Fantasy readership.
Are there any players out there who have you befuddled? Anyone whose performance you're having a hard time wrapping your head around? Curious if you should sell one of your players or try to buy someone from an opponents' roster? Well, this is your chance to an expert's opinion on the players you want to see covered.
Go ahead and drop some names in the comments section of this post, and some time in the next week or so, I'll cover up to eight of your suggestions. I'll give you my take along with the Oliver projections, and explain whether the players' performances look sustainable or not and why.
Note: This will NOT be a space to discuss particular trade offers, but a medium to take a deeper look at specific players you may be curious about. If you do have a more specific question, I would recommend emailing the Roster Doctor. He's a wizard with that sort of thing. I'm also happy to have more specific discussions in the comments sections, but for this post, let's try to limit it to player suggestions.
The only other criterion is that players should be owned in at least 50 percent of fantasy leagues. This space is reserved for trade candidates, not waiver wire pickups.
As an aside, I've begun work on a review of the first four editions of Trader's Corner. You can find the previous installments here: Week Zero, Week Two, Week Four, Week Six. I plan on looking at each player discussed and how he's performed since appearing in this space.
Otherwise, go ahead and start dropping suggestions in the comments. After enough players appear, I'll discuss your suggestions in a special Reader's Choice edition of Trader's Corner. If all goes well, I'll occasionally interrupt the regular schedule to opening things up to you, the readers, once again.
Posted by Mark Himmelstein at 5:07am (37) Comments
Friday, May 25, 2012
Manny Ramirez| Oakland A's| OF| ESPN: 1.3 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 4 percent ownership
YTD: .250/.357/.250 (Triple-A)
Oliver rest of season: .269/.372/.441
Will Manny be Manny when he joins the A's active roster on May 30?
He's a wild card, something I addressed at Fantasy Baseball 365 last week, but one with some upside. Anyone dreaming on Ramirez turning back the clock to his glory days needs to wake up, but gamers that look at his 2010 end-of-season line and see a player who could provide value to their roster should take note of his impending return. His atrocious 17-plate-appearance stay with the Rays last season may cast some doubt in the minds of many, but they are nothing more than 17 plate appearances. Weighing them too heavily would be a mistake.
What could prove more telling is what he was able to do in his last extended run of playing time, which came the season before as a member of the Dodgers and White Sox. In 2010 he showed superb plate discipline, and displayed the ability to barrel the ball up. His line drive rate that year was 22.7 percent, and actually jumped from 21.1 percent with the Dodgers to 28.3 percent with the White Sox, in spite of a 50-point drop in batting average. The culprit for the drop in average was a jump in pop-ups—his infield flyball rate skied to 21.4 percent. Things got worse with the Rays; that rate more than doubled to 50 percent. Perhaps this is an indicator that he is done being a productive hitter, but 105 plate appearances of a high pop-up rate are far too few for me to feel comfortable making that declaration.
One thing fairly safe to guess is that his home run output will be down. He'll be playing his home games in a ballpark that is pitcher friendly, though it is much tougher on left-handed power than right-handed pop. Even with a dip in power expected, if he is able to spray line drives around the field, he should help fantasy squads in batting average. Factor in that he is projected to be the club's primary designated hitter, and that he may hit cleanup, and he could bring run production stats to the table.
His stats in Triple-A don't jump off the page, but given his layoff, they aren't embarrassing, either. Feel free to take a flier on Ramirez if you are an owner in need of offensive production in deeper leagues where the pickings are slim.
Recommendation: Should be owned in some large mixed leagues starting five outfielders as well as some AL-only leagues.
Coco Crisp| Oakland A's| OF| ESPN: 29.8 percent, Yahoo! : 28 percent ownership
Oliver ROS: .263/.321/.390
There are three things in life you can count on: death, taxes, and Crisp missing parts of seasons with injuries and ailments.
Recycled unfunny joke aside, when Crisp is on the diamond, he is a worthy player of fantasy owners' attention due to his elite stolen base ability. Between 2010 and 2011, Crisp stole 81 bases, placing him sixth in the majors in that time frame. He was one stolen base behind Ichiro Suzuki, but received 542 fewer plate appearances.
A big part of the reason he has less than 1,000 plate appearances over the last two seasons is his propensity to miss time with injuries. This season hasn't been much different, but Crisp has not been injured in 2012—he has missed time with a sinus infection and an inner ear infection. The inner ear infection resulted in a trip to the disabled list in early May. He was recently activated, and should be in the A's lineup on a near-daily basis.
His sub-Mendoza line batting average makes him a cheap target in leagues in which he is owned, and his low ownership rate suggests he's available for free in many others. Crisp won't fill up the stat sheet, but he has enough pop to hit a handful of home runs, and he hits well enough to finish with a passable batting average. His ability to thieve bags is why he should be owned in most leagues, though, and anything else he does should be considered nothing more than gravy. Owners who could use a jolt to their stolen base bottom line need to invest in Crisp.
Recommendation: Should be owned in all but shallow leagues.
Gordon Beckham| Chicago White Sox| 2B| ESPN: 8.1 percent ownership, Yahoo! : 8 percent ownership
Oliver ROS: .244/.305/.380
Beckham's solid debut in 2009 feels like a distant memory, and to some degree, for good reason. He has stunk up the joint, and it appears he has failed to make adjustments to big league pitchers adjusting to him. It looked like much of the same broken Beckham through April, but something funny has happened in May: He has looked like a competent hitter once again. May didn't only bring showers this year, but also brought back memories of a promising young hitter.
He has hit for power this month, ripping five home runs and sporting a .229 ISO in 92 plate appearances. He has cut down on strikeouts without sacrificing walks. In fact, his walk rate has gone up ever so slightly in May.
More encouraging still is that he has stopped popping the ball up at an absurd rate. In April, he had an infield flyball rate of 30.0 percent. That mark is down to 11.5 percent in May. Pop-ups were a problem last season as well, and any change to his batted ball data that includes a reduction to them is a positive.
He is also hitting more line drives, providing yet another reason for guarded optimism. His .241 batting average this month needs to be mentioned, as it does put into perspective that not all is great in the world of Beckham. However, he was talented enough to warrant a first-round selection in the 2008 amateur draft, and he should be monitored going forward. Owners in large mixed leagues using a middle infield position, and those in AL-only formats, should add Beckham now and see what this glimmer of hope leads to.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most large mixed leagues that use a middle infield position and most AL-only leagues.
Drew Smyly| Detroit Tigers| SP| ESPN: 40.6 percent ownership, Yahoo!: 33 percent ownership
YTD: 2.89 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 2.68 BB/9, 9.07 K/9, 37.6 percent ownership
Oliver ROS: 4.17 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3.4 BB/9, 7.2 K/9
As a prospect, Smyly got higher marks on his pitching intellect and polish than his stuff. He used his brain, and his ability to locate the baseball, to mow down High-A and Double-A batters last season. This year he came into spring training with an opportunity to win a spot in the Tigers rotation, and he did just that. He has rewarded the club for putting him in the rotation, and he has showcased a more intriguing repertoire than I would have expected given his scouting reports.
According to his Brooks Baseball player card, his four-seam fastball is averaging 92.13 mph, plenty of velocity for a southpaw. He also mixes in a cutter, a slider, a change-up, and infrequently a curveball or sinker for good measure. His four-seam fastball demonstrates a slightly above average whiff/swing rate, and his change-up and cutter a slightly below average whiff/swing rate. His slider and curveball, though, result in well above average empty swings.
He has had some good fortune with stranding runners, and is likely to see regression to his ERA, but there are reasons to believe he can be a useful pitcher in large mixed leagues and AL-only leagues. The optimist in me believes he'll outplay his Oliver rest of season projection slightly.
Recommendation: He should be owned in most large mixed leagues and all AL-only leagues.
Andy Pettitte| New York Yankees| SP| ESPN: 44.2, Yahoo! : 36 percent ownership
YTD: 2.53 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 2.11 BB/9, 8.02 K/9, 56.1 percent GB
Oliver ROS: 3.92 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 6.8 K/9
I indicated above that Man-Ram won't be turning back the clock, but Pettitte is doing just that. Coming into the season, the Yankees appeared to have too many capable starters for just five spots in the rotation, and now, Pettitte finds himself filling a need for the Bronx Bombers. He is pounding the strike zone, inducing ground balls, and most surprisingly, missing bats with regularity.
Pettitte's fastball doesn't have as much giddy-up as it once did—he's 39 years old—but he was never a pitcher who got by on velocity. At his best, he filled up the strike zone and was able to coax batters into hitting the ball into the ground. That formula is working once again, in spite of his loss of velocity. He is using a five-pitch mix to befuddle and tie up opposing hitters. He is throwing three varieties of fastballs. His four-seam heater is getting the most use, but is backed by a cutter and sinker as well.
He is further keeping batters off balance by sprinkling in his curveball, 11 percent usage, and his change-up, six percent. His four-seam fastball has resulted in a whiff/swing rate of nearly a league average pitchIQ score, while his sinker and cutter are well above the norm. His curveball is missing bats at a poor rate, but he is making up for that fact by getting called strikes with the offering 46.88 percent of the time.
Pettitte is making the most of what he's got. He isn't going to continue to post a sub-3.00 ERA or strike out more than eight batters per-nine innings. Even still, Oliver's projection is reasonable, and as such, he looks like a fantastic option to round out fantasy staffs in large mixed leagues and AL-only formats. It remains to be seen how he'll hold up to the rigors of a full season's worth of work after sitting out the entire 2011 campaign, but backed by a top 10 scoring offense, and the owner of sparkling controllable stats, he is worth gambling on.
Recommendation: Should be owned in most large mixed leagues and AL-only formats.
Posted by Josh Shepardson at 5:43am (4) Comments
Clayton Richard | Padres | SP | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 4.63 ERA / 1.27 WHIP / 5.2 K/9
Oliver rest of season: 3.96 ERA / 1.36 WHIP / 5.9 K/9
Okay. Let’s ignore the ugly ERA. Let’s ignore the historically ugly WHIPs (it’ll get worse for Richard). Recognize that if he’s available on your waiver wire in an NL-only league, he’s likely the best you can do… for this reason: Over his career, he’s put up a 3.23 ERA and 1.21 WHIP at home, where his strikeout to walk ratio goes up over half a mark and his home run rate dips. This year, the difference is even more staggering: His 2.30 ERA at home compares favorably (to say the least) to his 6.68 mark away. His WHIP at home? 0.91. His WHIP away from PETCO? 1.61.
Get him. Start him for his home starts, and therein you have a more-than-valuable starting pitcher.
Recommendation: Worth adding in NL-only leagues and deeper mixed formats.
Todd Frazier | Reds | 3B | 2 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.4 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .250 / .294 / .547
Oliver ROS: .246 / .305 / .447
Look at the slugging percentage, not the on-base percentage. You aren’t looking Frazier’s way because of his plate discipline—he strikes out five times for every walk he draws. You’re looking for power stats, and you’re looking in the right place. Oliver loves Frazier’s power potential, putting him down for 19 home runs over his next 412 at-bats and 20-21 in the forecasted 2013-2015 seasons. His isolated power of .297 ranks 13th among those with 50 or more plate appearances, behind the likes of Josh Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun and Edwin Encarnacion.
With Scott Rolen beat, battered, and broken—shoulder troubles and poor early season luck have him below the replacement level and on the DL currently (with no timetable)—Frazier is finally getting his time to shine.
Recommendation: Worth adding in all formats.
Matt Adams | Cardinals | 1B, OF | 17 percent Yahoo ownership | 10.3 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .286 / .375 / .357
Oliver ROS: .270 / .311 / .463
Chances are Matt Adams is already snagged in your league, thanks in part, no doubt, to his incredible hitting prowess displayed in the minors. He hasn’t hit below .300, which includes 32 homers in 2011 and a whopping nine in just 37 games this year—just ridiculous power. One can expect a healthy mix of power and average to carry through to the majors, and Lance Berkman’s out for the foreseeable future; something along the lines of six to eight weeks. Matty: it’s your time to shine.
Recommendation: Worth adding in all leagues.
Norichika Aoki | Brewers | OF | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .297 / .373 / .446
Oliver ROS: .298 / .366 / .397
Here are some telling stats: Aoki has won three batting titles in Japan, and he’s started 10 of his 13 major league games in the month of May. Which, in case a breakdown is needed, equals a talented player getting more opportunity. Nyjer Morgan’s been well below the replacement level, the first base hole has meant Corey Hart’s getting occasional burn in the infield, and Aoki’s risen to the occasion with a near .300 batting mark.
He won’t hit for power, and will steal scarcely—think a better Kosuke Fukudome, as our preaseason Oliver player card suggests—but he can be of assistance in the batting average department. That’s worth something, ain’t it?
Recommendation: Worth adding in all NL-only leagues and deeper mixed formats.
Jedd Gyorko | Padres | 2B/3B | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .269 / .352 / .463 (Double-A and Triple-A)
Oliver ROS: No projections.
Gyorko, the short slugger who put up a 31 home run, 114 runs batted in, and a .304 /.358 /.512 major league equivalent last year between High-A and Double-A, finally touched the Triple-A level and is knocking on promotion’s door. Newbie Alexi Amarista and Andy Parrino are splitting time at second base in Friar-town, and though Gyorko’s minor league numbers this year leave a lot to be desired—particularly a higher batting average, which he is more than capable of providing—he’s improving in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League.
He should be up within the next month if he continues his early mashing, which includes two homers and an .933 OPS in his first 30 at-bats.
Recommendation: Worth stashing in most formats.
Chris Heston | Giants | SP | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.0 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 0.61 ERA / 0.82 WHIP / 7.4 K/9 (Double-A)
Oliver ROS: No projections.
With nothing but slim pickings at the major league level, I figured it’d be a proper time to scan Double-A for standout talent to put on my radar. At the top of the list lands Chris Henson, who’s doing everything right in Double-A (with a little bit of help from lady luck)—he has a 4.36 strikeout to walk ratio, a 2.13 FIP, pinpoint control (one wild pitch and no hit by pitches allowed in nearly 59 innings) and a .177 batting average against.
Before you dismiss the stats as a product of weak competition or a low batting average on balls in play, take a look at his major league equivalents from the aforementioned ~59 innings: a 2.18 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. He’ll pitch in the best pitcher’s ballpark in the whole land when he gets his shot, and though you may not see him until September with a powerful Giants rotation, leading them toward what looks to be a tight Wild Card race, you can be sure he’ll be on Brian Sabean’s radar should injury hit or should the team find itself in need of a late summer shakeup.
Recommendation: Worth stashing in the deepest NL-only leagues and keeper leagues, and worth monitoring in the rest.
Posted by Nick Fleder at 5:44am (2) Comments
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
It’s hard enough following one’s own fantasy team without having to keep track of an entire sport’s daily transactions. To assist you, here’s a column dedicated to recapping the most notable trades, signings, promotions, demotions and role changes across the majors over the past week as they relate to fantasy. We'll do this on a weekly basis. If you feel I've missed anything important, please don't hesitate to keep the conversation going in the comments below.
|Ball meets bat. (US Presswire)|