Ye believe in me, believe also in Mike Stanton

In 2011, only two players hit over 40 home runs, Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson. I told you that both of them would accomplish this feat.

Calling Bautista was relatively easy even though everybody in the industry said that he couldn’t maintain. I argued that he would be better, sacrificing some home runs for batting average.

Granderson was a little bit more of a gut call. He always has had a good power stroke for a little player, but I was infatuated with how his swing would benefit by the move to Yankee Stadium. I was fortunate that feeling was right.

That’s what playing fantasy baseball is all about. It’s about taking the stats—basic and advanced—scouting reports, newswire, gut calls, and personal preference and forming a stable, statistical-accumulating team structure.

Mike Stanton is my first flag-staking player for 2012. Well, you may say that’s an easy call. Stanton should be drafted in the first four rounds, which in itself makes him worthy to everybody. According to the 2012 Baseball Forecaster, 80 percent of all players that will yield first-round value are found in the first four rounds of drafts. Less than half of the players drafted in the first round actually yield first-round value. So this is really the most interesting and exciting part of drafting to me. We face a conundrum of making your early picks count even though the odds are stacked against you.

Assuming that just five players picked in the first round actually retain first-round value, that leaves ten draft positions available to be filled by players drafted in the next three rounds. Using the 80 percent success rate discovered by the Forecaster guys, that means only seven of the remaining 45 possible players will deliver first-round-caliber stats.

You have roughly a 15.6 percent chance per round to nail a first-round player while drafting in rounds two through four. When you break it down like that, you realize why we feel such great satisfaction when these players succeed. You would have a greater chance at winning lottery scratch-offs or playing blackjack. So how do we improve our odds? Well, I believe that old-fashioned work always beats any other variable, whether it be draft position, luck, bias, etc.

I have just begun to research for my Fantasy Sports R Us NL-only expert league, and I really just stumbled upon Stanton. Honestly, going into last year, I felt like Stanton’s stock was too high. I was unwilling to pay such a high price for a 21-year-old hitter. Today, I stand corrected. Not only do I think Stanton will improve on his studly sophomore season, he will be a top-15 hitter. That will also make him a borderline first-round talent.

Will Stanton get drafted in the first round? No, and he shouldn’t be. Most consider him a third-round pick. I will have no reservations with someone taking him in the second round. I will slate him as a late first-round/early second-round pick in my FSIC NL-only league. I would hope to hold out to the third round in standard formats. Don’t hold your breath that he lasts that long, though. In auction leagues, it should be significantly easier to gauge his value.

Why is Stanton a first-round player in 2012? The two guys I mentioned earlier in this article were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in isolated power (ISOP) last season. That’s Bautista and Granderson for those of you not paying attention. Stanton was third. The funny thing about ISOP is that it usually hits a peak in ages 24-26. Stanton is only 22. It’s scary to think what his ceiling might be. If he sees ISOP growth in 2012, you should expect 40-plus home runs.

Secondly, the table is now set for Stanton to feast. Assuming that Stanton bats cleanup, let’s put newly acquired Jose Reyes at leadoff. Emilio Bonifacio can handle batting second, and Hanley Ramirez should be just fine batting third.

Stanton couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to get on base in front of him. Lots of what I’m able to decipher about Stanton is speculation, but if he gets the same number of plate appearances as last year, he will hit more than 100 RBIs with all those speed demons batting ahead of him.

Logan Morrison and Gaby Sanchez should be good enough to give Stanton protection in the lineup and should help him improve his run total. The 2011 campaign saw both Morrison and Sanchez disappoint for different reasons, but one or both should bounce back. Confidence can do a lot for a ballclub, and I think the Marlins, especially Morrison and Sanchez, could finally regain some of what was lost in 2011 if they can catch fire early in the 2012.

Stanton improved his walk rates and strikeout rates in 2011. I can only assume that with his athletic ability and young age, he should continue to show growth, even with his propensity to strike out in bunches. A better OBP and batting eye would further improve his chances of putting up gigantic numbers and should help his batting average.

Stanton’s batting average will always be his largest liability and could be the difference between him having first-round value or fourth-round value. I’m willing to gamble that he hits in the .270s in 2012. I can live with that if he sees the growth I expect him to have in all the other categories.

Here’s my favorite nugget of information I was able to dredge up. Jeff Zimmerman of Rotographs took batted ball information and deduced that Stanton had an average increase of 20 feet on his hit distance from 2010 to 2011. That was the third-best increase of all players, and as I can see, his average of 322 feet was best in baseball. Basically, if Stanton gets a hold of a pitch, it goes a long way, but we all knew that.

Further evidence of that raw power was his 15 “no doubt” home runs. “No doubt” home runs is a category developed by Hittracker that assigns a categorical value to the distance of home runs. “No doubt” represents the highest possible tier for home run distance. Only Bautista hit more “no doubt” home runs than Stanton in 2011.

If you are still wavering, I must also mention the fact that Stanton stole four bases in the second half of 2011. Hoping for double-digit steals may not be totally crazy. An improved batting average, OBP and protection could give Stanton a better incentive to advance as a runner. His baserunning skills are a far cry from average, but most powerful middle-of-the-order hitters can luck into double-digit steals if they are in a breakout season. This may all be wishful thinking, but it’s not totally insane.

So we’ve established that Stanton is powerful, athletic and ready to succeed at a very young baseball age. Let’s look at what kind of line I project he will have in 2012. Stanton should post a line of .271 AVG/ 44 HRs/ 123 RBIs/ 102 Rs/ 10 SBs. I know that these numbers are lofty, but I almost feel like I am undervaluing what kind of season he could have because I’m afraid of being too bold to avoid claims of lunacy.

In my FSIC team, I plan to get a stable first rounder like Joey Votto, pair him with Stanton, and add a stolen-base hound like Michael Bourn in the third. I would be ecstatic if these were my first three picks in my NL only league. But man plans; God laughs.

Do you think Stanton has what it takes? Please let me know what you think below. Also, feel free to give me your 16 percent guy that you plan to target in rounds 2-4. There’s obvious risk with Stanton and the Marlins in general, but that’s why it’s a 15 percent chance and not 100 percent. Happy hunting.

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Comments

  1. Kevin Wilson said...

    This is such a minor thing, but why are you using the acronym ISOP for Isolated Power when the rest of the world uses ISO?

    Good article though.

  2. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Behemoth- It’s still too early to speculate how the new Marlins Park will play. Yes it is slightly larger, but that big outfield wall that was in Sun Life is gone. Since Marlins Park will also have a retractable roof, weather shouldn’t play much of a factor.

    It could literally play anywhere from Chase to Petco.

    I think you are still underestimating the raw power that Stanton has. Most if not all of of Stanton’s HRs in 2011 would have most likely cleared the dimensions of the new Marlins Park. I’m just guessing of course, but it looks fine according to his HR chart. These are “TRUE” distances though so you should still take it with uncertainty.

    http://www.hittrackeronline.com/detail.php?id=2011_494&type=hitter

    I’m curious, however, if anybody knows how many of Stanton’s HR caromed off that large LF wall.

  3. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Kevin Wilson- Kevin, I know the rest of the world uses ISO, but to be honest I don’t like using ISO in exchange for Isolated Power. To me it feels like the lay person needs a better understanding of what word I’m referencing.

    But you are right, I probably should stay standardized with ISO. Bear with me though. I really have trouble writing that. Thanks for keeping me in check.

  4. Tom B said...

    He better!  My plan of sitting on my Waiver pick all season to get Montero in my dynasty league has instantly backfired.

  5. Andrew said...

    Also led the league in “Sharp” Contact according to MLBAM. He hits the ball harder than anyone.

    Also, no way you end up with Votto and Stanton…

  6. Ben Pritchett said...

    Andrew- Don’t kill my buzz. But wouldn’t that be a special one/two pick tandem.

    Andrew, do you think Stanton wiggles his way into the first round of a NL Only league? I think he might if he sees a great Spring, and the hype machine begins churning.

  7. Pochucker said...

    In my 12T mixed big money league I have 5th pick. Im planning on Votto in 1st. I love Stanton but I believe taking Kinsler in 2nd is smart play for me as much as I want Stanton. I would say chances of Stanton being there at #29 pick are probably 50% or less. Its no brainer if Kinsler not there.

  8. Andrew said...

    I could easily see Stanton going late-1st in NL-only. Isn’t he going late-2nd in 15-team NFBC? There’s at least one guy in every league who LOVES him. The power is otherworldly, but the contact rate worries me. I prefer to play it safer in the early rounds.

  9. Nick Fleder said...

    Madison Bumgarner may be a top tier pitcher next year and he might slip out of the 4th round even in 10 team NL Only leagues (right now, his 5×5 NL Only ADP is 41.76). Also, right outside of the fourth round is Pablo Sandoval—who people forget was on pace for 35 home runs or so. I think 30 is a realistic goal, and the man can clearly hit .300 as a baseline. Starlin Castro, should he come to camp a little beefed up, may continue his rise, and could be a sneaky 3rd round grab in NL-Only leagues—if he can go 20/25 in HR/SB, he’ll probably have 1st round value. All it takes is a HR boost!

    Ian Kinsler’s one of my targets in mixed leagues. Firstly, his health may be the best it’s ever been (see: plasma-rich injection in ankle). Secondly, he was the 19th best player, per Baseball Monster, while suffering from a case of BABIP blues (.243 compared with his career .282 mark). If he puts together another superb season counting-stats wise, and sees some natural regression to his mean, I think he’ll contend with first round value, and he can be had at ~26 in a mixed league draft (as late as 36!).

    All told, I completely agree with the Stanton assessment. It wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he hit 50 dingers next year, and perhaps 60 one day (I know, crazy). I haven’t seen raw power like that in a number of years.

    I’d like to see more of these, Ben—good stuff.

  10. Simon said...

    Perhaps one way of looking at the Baseball Forecaster stats suggests that playing safe in the first 4 rounds is not really the exact science we all like to think it is!?

  11. Ben Pritchett said...

    Everybody listen to Simon. Playing it safe is all relative. There’s really no such thing as safe in this crazy game we play. I would say there are players that can hurt you more than others, but that’s honestly relative as well.

    It all boils down to doing your homework and finding the guys you really think will succeed or at the very least have a chance to put up monster numbers if they come with larger risk factors.

    Thanks for the contribution. You could write a book on that statement.

  12. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Andrew- I don’t worry about the contact rate. The chance of such massive production outweighs that risk to me. He’ll never have great contact rates with the high K%. he’s not that kind of player.

    I will say that would be the only valid hesitation moving forward.

    @Pochucker- I haven’t done my due diligence toasted researching Kinsler yet so I will defer to Nick Fleder’s comments. From what y’all say he seems prime but I have never been a huge fan of his. I will say that he does appear to be ticking back upwards on his roller coaster of consistency. That’s a good thing.

  13. Ben Pritchett said...

    Gosh Nick, I don’t know if I’m with you on Bumgarner and Sandoval. I liked both last year and wrote about both, but I’m afraid they’ll both be too pricey for me. I like Sandoval more than Bumgarner.

    I like Castro and what he could be. I don’t think he has the seasoning to improve enough of his categories quickly enough to return a first rounder. 20/25 is a gutsy prediction though. I like that. I will be targetting but my expectations are lower than yours i think. One day…

    I’ll check back with you on Kinsler.

    I have another name for you guys: David Wright. I think I’m going to write about him next.

  14. Nick Fleder said...

    @Ben

    Implying that Bumgarner or Sandoval or even Castro might provide 1st round was rash, but I think they’re all excellent values in NL only leagues in particular. Castro won’t go 20/25 next year, but perhaps one day soon.

  15. Pochucker said...

    Hope you guys are right on Sandoval—my league allows us to keep one player we drafted in 10th rd or later or got off ww for the next year only.
      My guy is Sandoval—nice to know I dont have to worry about relatively week position. Although I probably will draft someone like Moustakis late for my bench.

  16. Behemoth said...

    The main problem with that might be how the Marlins new park plays. It is pretty huge, so it might limit power even more than the old one did.

  17. Ben Pritchett said...

    @Pochucker- I’m not in love with Sandoval. He’s a solid optin if he doesnt kill you in cost to keep him. I’m not targeting him, but pairing him with Moustakas should be solid.

    @Fantasy Jedi- I read your stuff and it sounds like we are very like-minded. They’ll all wish they had the guts to label him for greatness. I give him more RBIs because I not only like the lineup situation but also because he’s going to have to hit 115+ RBIs to make up for the contact issues and strikeout-killing batting AVG.  Good stuff, Jedi.

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