Category Archives: first base

Can’t Be Worse in 2013… Right?

This picture made me very happy but has little to do with the article. Fair warning.

This time of year presents some of my favorite baseball writing. Beat writers struggling to make PFP drills and AAAA scrimmages as exciting as the real thing, often with weird and hilarious results. Authors rating the “best” offseason, analyzing rookies and naming sleepers. These are all fun, but one of my favorite types of articles is the “bounceback” story. Call me a sucker for redemption.

I read dozens of these every spring, yet it has only now occurred to me the amusing subtext in many of these pieces. Sugarcoat it all you want, throw in fancy words and compliments both back and front-handed, many baseball “bounceback” stories boil down to a most basic human sense of dread – it can’t get much worse.

So without dancing around the issue, here are the guys who can’t get much worse in 2013. Seriously.  If they did it might break math or something:

Michael Young

static lip reading: “shooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot”

Maybe Michael Young got old (let’s be clear: he’s 36, so in real-people years his life is just kicking into full-on grown up gear – but in baseball years…).  I doubt that has to do with his crappy 2012.  If indeed he did get old…. damn did it happen fast.  Bizarrely so.  No, I imagine such suckitude was an anomaly.  Young has long been compared to Paul Molitor (or at least I always have), another guy who played wherever he was asked to, DH’ed a bit, and always went bout his business – the business of hitting.  Young had 9 straight years of 170+ hits, and that is with a 2009 season cut short with a hammy injury.  He had been a model of consistency.  So just how bad was he?  Let’s look at some numbers!  Hooray numbers!

Young had a negative WAR, -1.4.  You need to know very little about numbers and even less about WAR to know that a negative stat is probably bad.  In this case, that number signifies that a replacement player would have been a BETTER OPTION THAN MIKE YOUNG.  Yikes (For those of you unfamiliar with this and any following statistics, I refer you here, to Fangraphs’ Glossary, where much smarter people have explained them in much more intelligent ways).

Wanna know who had a better WAR than Young, just for kicks? Carlos Pena did, and he hit below .200.  Jemile Weeks did, and his WAR was zero – they could’ve put any schmo in the minors in his spot, right statistics?  Both Juan Uribe AND Juan Pierre had a better WAR’s and they’re, well, Juan Pierre and Juan Uribe.

WAR is not the be all, end all – just ask Mike Trout – but it is a useful measure in comparing players against the league norms.  Maybe you don’t like WAR.  Maybe you like ‘old school’ ideas and stats.  Sabermetricians and old fogie scouts can all agree that a great measure of a player (given enough At Bats or sample size, depending on your era) is OBP.  If a guy gets on base, whether you see it in numbers on paper or with yuor own fading eyesight, he’s generally a useful player, as Mike Young had once been.  In 2012, Young had an OBP of .312.  Which is gross. Howie Kendrick was 20 points better, and he swings at everything (154 BB career).  Hunter Pence’s OBP was higher and if he doesn’t swing 48% of the time the bomb in his bat detonates (Hunter Pence is a big, big Keanu Reeves fan).

Toss aside numbers for a moment, though.  If you had the misfortune of rooting for Mr. Young last year, whether it be for your fantasy team (me) or your real team (Rangers) or both (sorry, friends), you could see he looked plain bad.  Some skills fade with age, sure.  Young won’t be stealing double digit bases again.  But his hand eye and batting eye have simply not fallen off the map.  With an ADP well over 200 (230 at the time of this article), I assure you Young is worth taking a flyer on in Fantasy Baseball.  As for the real thing?  The Phillies also took a flyer, betting that Young will hit until he quits ( Molitor had 225 hits when he was 39 years old).  After all, it can’t get much worse.

Thanks, Vin! You’re welcome, Mike.

Eric Hosmer

shucks.

Pairing Hosmer and Young together in this list seemed… poetic.  Young is riding out his last few years in the league, striving to be productive.  Hosmer is the cornerstone of what is a recurrently ‘up-and-coming’ franchise.  We all assume he is really, really good.  He demolished each minor league level, then stepped up into the bigs and had a damn fine rookie year.  Dare I say sophomore slump?  Sophomore slump.  Yes, I dared, it’s right there in the previous sentence.  I even remembered that stupid ‘O’ in ‘sophomore.’  Pay attention.

As good as Hosmer’s 2011 was, so too was his 2012 not (good, that is).  Sentence structure aside, many were left disappointed by the young slugger’s campaign.  He declined in every important offensive category, save for steals.  So at least he was trying.  When you dive into the numbers, his season is just plain yucky.  

Here’s another fun statistical measure: wRC+ (ahem, Fangraphs).  Here’s what you need to know about Weighted Runs Created (wRC):  it’s an improved version of Bill James’ Runs Created (RC) statistic, which attempted to quantify a player’s total offensive value and measure it by runs.  Cool right?  That James guy is a superweirdo, but he’s wicked smaht.  The stat itself makes sense in a very basic way, right?  Well Hosmer sucked at it.  Technically, he was ‘above average’ with his wRC+ of 81 (80 is above average, in general), but when looked at a comparative, larger context, we see the idea of ‘above average,’ measured statistically or not, is subjective.  Here are four players (minimum 400 PA, which Hosmer had easily) with better wRC+ than Hosmer.  Tell me if any of them are guys you MUST have on a team in a non-ironic way:

Andres Torres (87) // Omar Infante (92) // Rajai Davis (86) // Justin Smoak (85)

None of these guys are genuinely BAD players, but Hosmer is a Franchise player and once played like one.  Skate Play better, man.  Not to pick on Carlos Pena, but damn, Hosmer, even HE had better value metrics.  Speaking of sexy new player-value statistics, Hosmer also clocked in under zero at a robust -1.1 WAR  (RAR, Runs Above Replacement, is not only hilarious thing cats say, but also a negative measure of Hosmer badness (-10.4)).

Tired of these WAR’s and LOL-ing and RAWR’s and tweetsnapping?  Forget the new statistical measures, his basic numbers stunk too, from BA to RBI.  Check his splits.  He stunk prior to the AS break.  He stunk after.  He had a decent month of August… and that’s about it.  LHP/RHP splits – both bad.  I could go on.  He stunk.  On top of all that, anecdotally, you will not find a person who said he looked good last year not named Hosmer (and his Mom even admitted he ‘probably could have been better against off speed pitches’).  The best news?  You can draft him in fantasy at a bargain price.  The further good news?  Sophomore slumps only apply to Sophomores and Freshmen who decide to go to private school and get held back a  year so they can still somehow be ‘Freshmen.’  Also?  He can’t get much worse.

right back at you, dawg

Honorable Mention: Carlos Pena, who might actually get worse than his sub-.200 batting average.  Sorry Carlos.

he seems okay with it.

Ricky (retch noise) Romero

(sobbing)

Where to start with Ricky?  As someone who is unfortunately a Red Sox fan, I witnessed the abomination that was 2012 Ricky Romero several times closely.  As someone who drafted him in fantasy baseball 2012, I said horrible, horrible things about Romero regularly.  He made the 2012 Valensox look like sluggers and in several games I streamed on MLB.tv looked like he was throwing a damaged wiffle ball, having no idea where his (hopefully) better thought out pitches were going to end up.  I know, I know – cool story, bro.

More numbers?  More numbers.

FIP/xFIP or (Expected) Fielding Independent Pitching are really cool measures, far more relevant as they attempt to look deeper and normalize (in statistical, not Stepford, terminology) the crude measure of ERA and how good/bad a pitcher was.    As a general (ahem, Fangraphs) rule, an FIP/xFIP of 4 is average and an FIP/xFIP of 5 is AWFUL (Their word).  Romero’s line?  FIP: 5.14   xFIP: 4.86

Whether you want an expected or calculated measure (a difference of how HR rates are calculated), Romero was about as bad as it gets.  To pile on the crappy numbers, his K rate, usually a high point, fell to just over 6 (mediocre).  His BB/9 inning rate was an absurd 5.22.  His swinging strike rate dropped a full percentage point – it’s easy not to swing and miss when the guy has to groove it over the plate in desperate need of a pitch in the strike zone.  The best thing you can say about his 0.5 WAR season? He pitched.  In an injury plagued year for Toronto pitchers, Romero started 32 games.  So… good job, good effort.  He didn’t even have a better year than the internet’s favorite SP (starting punching-bag), Bruce Chen (more wins, higher K/9, 1.4 WAR on and on…).  The good news for Toronto?  They made a few move this offseason, I think.  As for Romero?  It cannot get much worse.

it’s good to have hobbies.

Ervin Santana

keep askin’

You may be saying, “gosh, Romero was bad, but is there a guy who threw a random 1-hitter in June yet somehow managed even worse numbers?”  IF you are saying that, I’m guessing you were an Ervin Santana owner in 2012.  He gave up 39 homers.  Honestly, I thought about ending the paragraph right there.  That’s really bad.  I’ll add a few more.  He had a -0.9 WAR, a 5.63 FIP (jeebus christ!), and had a HR/Fly Ball rate of 18.9%, which is simply bananas.  I will not pile on Santana, as his issue was more inconsistency (numbers were FAR better second half of the year).  However, his numbers were not good, and given his up and down nature, I assure you – it can’t get much worse actually, he might get worse. Heads up.

Honorable Mentions/Tie: Heath Bell / John Axford / Alfredo Aceves

An he held his arm there for 4 days, but no one would give him that pound

Aceves blew at least 8 games in spectacular fashion for a 2012 team that captured awfulness in spectacular fashion.  He was inconsistent on the field, unhappy off the field and was (well, is, I guess) a weirdo overall.  Just when you though it was safe to own him in fantasy baseball or root for him in real baseball, he would walk 4 guys in an inning and look wholly uninterested.  He had an unseemly 5.36 ERA but that was helped by a few decent spurts.  Even when he was pitching “well,” he would walk a batter for every strikeout.  The numbers fib, in this case.  As someone who watched more of the turd stain that was the Boston Red Sox 2012 season, I can attest to the fact that Aceves, save for perhaps one 15 day stretch in the spring, was a bad guy to have on any team, in any sense.  Plus, his disgusting sweatiness made me uncomfortable watching games and must be very difficult on the hardworking laundry staff at Yawkey Way.

His FIP was a poor 4.33.  He pitched worse as the god-awful season went on.  He blew saves and holds. He had a BB/9 inning of 3.33.  But most important of all, when he came into a game, there was an audible groan in the Northeast.  This guy made an awful season worse.

Axford blew 9 saves and forced the Brew Crew to realign their bullpen.  Bell blew 8 saves and was the first domino to fall (2nd game of the year) in a disastrous Marlins season.  Bell looked old and lost, regaining and losing his job and looking like a man who lost his mojo.  Axford, on the other hand had enough sense to regain his gnarly facial construction when chopping it off caused catastrophe.  I include Axford because he led the league in blown saves and did so in a short period of time in mesmerizing fashion (his June-beginning of August was BRUTAL).  For Axford, it can’t get much worse.  As for Bell and Aceves… Relievers are notoriously up-and-down, so one would assume they’ve already bottomed out.  I’ll say it – they can’t get much worse, either.

distracting.

There you have it, the players who scraped the bottom of the barrel in 2012.  Here’s to new beginnings and sneaky ADP’s going forward.

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, GOOSE, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Pickups, pitchers, Posted, Sleepers

Spring Training 2013: Non-Roster Invitees With Great Names

Spring Training is upon us, thank goodness, and there is baseball to be seen.  MLB.tv is in full swing and might be the greatest technological advancement of all time until Google starts augmenting reality and we begin living in a real-life science fiction movie (happening).  Anyone can see any team from anywhere.  It’s wonderful to see live baseball, poorly timed swings, and poorly chosen facial hair (here, for example).  The real fun comes in the sheer NUMBER of players involved in this magical time of year.  Sure, the games are therefore often mismatched in terms of competition and sure, some games end in ties (which is gross, but understandable).  But as someone who prides myself on having a widespread knowledge of the most intimately useless knowledge of baseball, Spring Training always serves as a magical time to discover some truly obscure players and some stupendous names.  You might not have had the time to look over the spring training rosters, so I did (thanks, wikipedia!) and culled the best and oddest names I came across, limiting the search for Non-Roster invitees only for the sake of rarity.  Sorry L.J. Hoes – you have my favorite name of the spring, but you’re a 40-man roster man.  Without further ado, some of the most interesting non-roster invitees of the spring:

Gary Sánchez   C   NYY

Though NOT affiliated with Will Ferrell and Adam McKay in ANY way, the name warranted inclusion.  He’s actually a solid prospect.

Slade Heathcott   OF   NYY

Do you know any non-fictional person named Slade?  Exactly.

Matt Buschmann   SP   TB

I’m more of a Coors man, myself.

Brock Bond   IF   SF

Simply an awesome baseball name.  Sounds like one a video game would generate.

Kevin Quackenbush   P   SD

You are welcome.

J. B. Shuck   OF   LAA

Oddly, speaks fluent jive

Kyle Knudson & Dan Rohlfing   C   MIN

twins

Great names.  More to the point, great MLB catcher names.

Adam Weisenburger   C    MIL

wesienmil

Made me think of this (one of my favorite scenes ever).

Nick Struck   P   CHC

I await the day where we can see N. Struck and J. Outman in a boxscore.

Wirfin Obispo   P   ATL

Considering naming my first-born Wirfin.

Yangervis Solarte   IF   TEX

From the club that gives you Elvis…

Sugar Ray Marimon   P   KC

Can’t decide between jokes here.  I just wanna fly?  Something about frosted tips?

BAKER’S DOZEN DOUBLE BONUS!!!

Josh Booty (yes, him)   Knuckleballer   ARZ

Josh Booty

Heh, booty.  Booty-Booty-Booty-Booty Kunckin’ everywhere?  Anyone?

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, JUAN URIBE, MLB, Posted, Rookies, second base, shortstop, Sleepers, Spring Training, third base

Fantasy Mustache: First Base

Follicular Follies of Youth: Freddie Freeman & Eric Hosmer

With age comes wisdom and nothing says wisdom like a big furry lip caterpillar.  I think that’s how the saying goes.  Both Freeman and Hosmer are phenomenal young first basemen.  Their facial hair choices, however, demonstrate their overall lack of experience.

Observe;

image

Guys, you forgot the most important facial hair feature!  Clearly, both are intelligent enough players to understand the power of some face fuzz.  Their lack of attention to the most mystical portion of facial grooming, while easy to explain as youthful ignorance, speaks to a need for additional seasoning.

Both players have excellent foundations to build on.  Yet the projected numbers, while solid, were clearly hurt by their inattention and inversion of proper facial attire:

(courtesy of Bill James/Fangraphs)

Hosmer: 29 2B / 79 R / 20 HR / 79 RBI / .276 AVG / .342 OBP / 784 OPS

Freeman: 36 2B / 85 R /24 HR / 95 RBI /  .282 AVG / .358 OBP / .839 OPS

 

Pretty good, right? But now, let’s add some flavor.

image

image

BAM! As a certain loud cook might say.

Different methods, but same result. Hosmer fitted with the apt Selleck mustache, looks the part of stud first baseman to build you (both fantasy and real life) team around. He looks ready to mash. Freeman, on the other hand, is a more wily of sorts, and needs the mustache to fit it. That’s the mustache of a man who’s going to smack extra base hits and play some slick D.  That’s the mustache of your everyday 5-hitter.

Their numbers reflect the increased production with properly groomed facial hair. CUE UP THE MUSTACHE PROJECTION WIZARD 7000!

 

Hosmer:  38 2B / 98 R / 31 HR / 99 RBI / .296 AVG / .390 OBP / .905 OPS

Freeman: 46 2B / 100 R /30 HR / 109 RBI /  .308 AVG / .387 OBP / .915 OPS

 

Look at those numbers!  Clearly all that separates both Hosmer and Freeman from jumping from good young player to team cornerstone is some follicular guidance. The chinstrap look works for bouncers and bass players, folks, gentlemen are mustachioed.

 

THIS is a gentleman.

BONUS: Selleck’s line if he really played in his 80’s heyday – Mr. Baseball, while amazing, does not count:

45 2B / 112 R / 50 HR / 166 RBI / .321 AVG / .409 OBP / 1.012 OPS

 

Soon to come: Second Basemen, so you know there is a good chance of a mustache lasershow.

Stay groomed,

-V

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, first base, GOOSE, MLB, Opinion, Random Thoughts

Fantasy Mustache: First Base

First Up, The Canadian Clipper: Joey Votto

image

Perhaps you have spent the last several years living on an island, either talking to a volleyball or training or become a costumed archer-vigilante, so you don’t know that Joey Votto is really, really ridiculously good-looking. He is also Canadian. Why is this note on his heritage important, you ask? Well America’s northern brethren are known for impressive whisker experimentation (Beard Team Canada.  Check them out.). Observe the grim determination upon Mr. Votto’s face. That is the steely stare of a man regularly in the MVP conversation. The stare of a man whose limited 111 game 2012 does not sit well in his gut. Everyone knows Votto will bounce back, including Mr. Bill James:

46 2B / 27 HR / 97 RBI / 8 SB / 130 BB

Indeed, a fine season looks to be on the horizon. But Votto doesn’t want ‘fine’ he wants stellar he wants extraordinary. He wants to chop down the trees to make his own bats. He wants to hunt for his own meat and curate his own jerky. He wants to command a clubhouse with a mere raised eyebrow.

To reach his fearsome goals, to come back stronger than ever, Joey Votto (or, apparently ‘the Votto-matic” according to Baseball-Reference) must elevate his game, enhance his performance make a statement, and do so naturally, by claiming his fuzzy birthright.

Joey Votto must grow a kick-ass mustache.

image

Goodness gracious and shiver me timbers.

 

New mustache line:

68 2B / 55 HR / 211 RBI / 205 BB / 16 SB

Additionally, according to the Mustache Statistical Reporting System ™, Votto will hit 5 triples, sing the national anthem with astounding vibrato, win a game, save a game, and rescue a small child in the stands on a hot July day (I know, the system is amazing).

 

That’s a man ready for all endeavors.  That’s a man breaking records.  That’s a man with an ox, probably.  I’d bet the new Votto would be successful in everything from pirating ships to thumb wrestling. The predictorbot 4000 has spit out the numbers and the the numbers don’t lie – without a mustache Votto will undoubtedly return to form. With that broom under his nose, Votto sits on the precipice of a legendary season.

 

 

Next up, the First Base Mustache near-misses of 2012.

 

Stay groomed

 

-v

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, first base, MLB, Opinion, Random Thoughts

First Base Bouncebacks & Breakouts pt. 1

Everyone is already back on the Adam Dunn bandwagon.  Lucas Duda is going 85-28-90 according to all “experts”.  Let’s look at the guys that could easily outperform these 1B given their current ADPs.  Whether it’s coming off a major injury, having years that bring up memories of  Rob Deer, or just being really old, there’s always value to be found in a buy-low veteran.  And let’s not forget about those post-post-hype sleepers.  Alex Gordon has forced attention to all the 2nd and 3rd year disappointments of yesteryear.  So who do you want?

Leave a comment

Filed under first base

1st Base ADP: Chasing What You Can’t Have

Chasing Amy (1997), folks, get with my 1990’s program.

great movie.

ADP is a beautiful, terrible thing.  We as humans love to rank things and it can cloud our judgement to see an arbitrary list.  ADP is an incredibly useful tool, as it pools and averages where others are taking players you might be thinking of taking.  You know and I know that just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t make it right.  ADP is a barometer, not law.  You know this, I know this… but that doesn’t mean every jabroney in your league knows that.  There’s at least one in every draft.  Someone who takes Chone Figgins in the 4th round.  Who asks if Martin Russell is still available.  Who tries to draft a retired player.  Even the smartest fantasy owners fall victim to ADP (Hand raised.  That sentence makes it sound like a virus).  Between the bimbos and the braniacs drafting with you, you’re all going to at one point rely on ADP as some kind of deciding/tie-breaking factor.  So here are some players not to forget about in 2012.  It’s crazy to think everyone can get a superstud to start at first,it’s a matter of numbers- everyone can’t have Pujols or Votto – just as it’s crazy chasing Amy– it’s just a matter of statistics (and gender preference, but I mean, just watch the movie.  C’mon.).  We don’t all get what we want, just ask the Rolling Stones, but sometimes, just sometimes, we get what we need.  And what you need is good value.  And to watch Chasing Amy.  Don’t try to attain the un-attainable, you low pickers, you.  You’re chasing the unnecessary.  Settle.  So go.  Go now, and be ready for the alternative to fall into your lap.

As always, much love to Mock Draft Central, where you can get all kinds of ADP reports by signing up.

1ST BASEMEN

First Base is a solid, deep position in fantasy this year.  4 of the top ten players in fantasy are first basemen, with Prince Fielder just outside the top ten list.  That’s a strong showing.  There is a lull, then another cluster of really solid options with upside in the mid-rounds (helllllllo Ike Davis ADP 175).  This is a position that even a fantasy noob can pick.  ‘Names’ like Carlos Pena and Aubrey Huff, Todd Helton and Derek Lee litter the later rounds- all known entities in various stages of decline.  Though you may miss the big guns through either draft position or human error (Egads! You passed on Paul Konerko?  For shame, sir or madame), there are a bevvy of players to put your faith behind, for a variety of reasons.  Some are older guys coming off down years, some are coming off injury, some are simply too boring to really stand out- there are lots of first basemen to have faith in in 2012, depending on your rationale.  I’m here to remind you of a few guys you already knew about, because they’re simply going to outperform their draft slots.

Freddie Freeman (ATL) – ADP 122

looks like he's 15

The thing with first base, as I said, is that it is loaded with draftable players.  Therefore, this game of value is more comparison shopping than dumpster diving.  Freeman is an excellent example.  Mike Morse (ADP 77) and his tantalizing power is being drafted several rounds earlier than the young Bravo, yet there is an argument to be made that Freeman is the more desirable player (in keeper leagues, this is a common sense, as Freeman is 7 years younger).

50 spots later is a lot.  I will admit to two things; 1) I distrust Mike Morse.  It might be his late breakthrough, I may just have a healthy skepticism of late-onset power hitters maintaining a high average.  2) The sophomore slump is very real and very relevant.  It happens.  The fear with Freeman is that his production will take that all-too-familiar sophomore stink.  Here’s where the projections get helpful/interesting. Bill James, Rotochamp, and ZiPS all foresee Freeman maintaining a similar level of production.  This rarely happens, in my experience.  Clearly, the prognosticators believe in his consistency.  The three options, to get obvious, for Freeman’s 2012 season are to regress, remain close to the same, or improve.  Overly simple, sure, but true.  He could regress- but the experts don’t seem to be worried about that.  He might remain neutral, which is what the projections point to.  Or he may improve, as good young players often do.

So here’s how I see it- normally, I would be more concerned with a rookie’s second season.  Even the best players experience those year two blues.  The experts (much more intelligent and invested in projecting in both James’ and Szymborski’s case) seem confident in his ability to maintain that 20 homer – 80 RBI – .285-ish average.  So there’s our baseline.  Given that, and playing the hypothetical that Morse’s power drops slightly, an owner could get an equally valuable player 50 slots later.  Not bad, in my book, and that’s assuming Freeman remains as-is, not taking that next step towards his potential (.300 average, 20-25 homers, 80-90 RBI, .375+ OBP) his minor league numbers suggest.

Gaby Sanchez (MIA)- ADP 198

Sanchez is a classic example of the fantasy/reality divide.  A manager would greatly his durable, if unexhilarating numbers.  Who wouldn’t want a guy who will play 150-160 games, hit 20-ish homers, knock in 70-80 runs, and hit around .275?  The fact that these numbers come from relatively uneven monthly splits and he plays solid defense mean absolutely nothing to us in fantasy baseball.  Wait, scratch that.  Have you looked at the splits?  His months jump all over the place!  No wonder he’s not consistently owned!  Thinking back on the Marlins teams for the last two years, however, that’s not entirely his fault- the team itself was up and down offensively.  So the new-look team in Miami could be the best thing that happened to Sanchez since his parents gave him an ambiguous name.  Jose Reyes completely alters the dynamics of that offense.  Hitting behind Reyes, Han-Ram, and Mike Stanton (throw in Emilio Bonifacio and Logan Morrison too), with proven 20 homer power, Sanchez is bound  to fall into ample RBI opportunities and that team will put up more than a few crooked numbers on the board.

Everything about Sanchez is solid.  Solid can be boring in fantasy baseball.  But you need solid players to build a championship team (both in reality and fantasy) and it takes relatively minor improvements to go from solid to game-changer.  For example, let us say the Miami Marlins turn out to be an improved offense, as many predict.  Even if Sanchez treads water in his development, he’s hit 19 HR and scored 72 runs (that is weirdly consistent, right?) the past two years, so pencil him for about the same numbers there.  In a better offense, it follows he’d score more runs AND with more men on base, see more pitchers from the stretch i.e. not at their best.  Given his solid plate discipline, you would expect either more walks or a few more RBI.  But be honest, you don’t want to hear about the boring.  So let’s give him some minor, realistic improvements based on an improved lineup with improved consistency.  His BABIP has been .299 & .287 in 2010 & 2011, respectively and his batting average was .273 and .266 those same years.  Based off his minor league numbers, an uptick in BABIP of very reasonable proportions (say a shade over .300) could point Sanchez towards being a .300 hitter rather than a .270 one.  That’s a start.  His already excellent batting eye means he’ll walk, have a good OBP and generally swings at good pitches.  Think about his line with minor improvements or, at the very least, improved consistency – 30-ish doubles, 20+ homers, 80-90 RBI, 80-ish runs, an OBP around .375 and a .290 average – none of these are ridiculous numbers.  Doesn’t that sound like a pretty worthwhile player to own?

People are drafting Mark Trumbo, Paul Goldschmidt, and Ike Davis well ahead of Sanchez.  I like Davis as a sleeper a bunch for 2012 and Trumbo/Goldschmidt have undeniable power upside.  But when it comes to drafting this type of player, I like to think about both the basement and the ceiling.  At best?  You get an absolute steal of a first basemen at nearly pick 200.  At worst?  You have a guy on you bench who is going to have 2 or 3 hot months and likely end up with 17-20 HR, 70-80 RBI and a solid OBP.  The risk is minimal, the reward is there.  There’s little danger of Sanchez suddenly dropping off in a category or two making him a detriment to your team, but if you want to roll the dice and see Trumbo or Goldschmidt hit .211 with 20 homers and 200 K’s, by all means, ignore me.  It’s all about being realistic, folks.

Aubrey Huff (SF) – ADP 256

heh.

Aubrey, Aubrey, Aubrey what are we going to do with you.?  If we follow his career, he’s due for a nice bounceback year.  His numbers since 2007, when he turned 30, yo-yo pretty reliably. For example, his HR totals from 2007 on?  15, 32, 15, 26, and a measly 12 last year (despite these ups and downs his 162-game average for homers is 24).  You cannot deny the pattern of up and down, resulting in 2012 being an up year.  As always, one must be reasonable about expectations.  Admittedly, Huff is old.   His numbers are not going to be what they once were and he will likely continue to lose at-bats to younger players (see; Belt, Brandon).  However, over these past 5 yo-yo years, his advanced stats do not differ wildly, leading me to believe he’s a decent player who has often rode the wave of statistical fluctuation.

That was a fun phrase to write but really means very little, so let’s be more simple.  I think Aubrey Huff is closer to a 20 homer guy than a 10 homer guy, closer to a .290 hitter than a .260 hitter.  Given the opportunity in 2012, you could do worse fishing for a first baseman at the bottom of a draft/ top of the waiver wire.  But OH, the at-bats.  Bill James projects him at 391 AB.  Rotochamp says 405  AB.  These are not unlikely numbers.  Huff is a guy to monitor in spring training, because if he genuinely looks old, those AB numbers may turn out to be overestimation.  My point in including him on this list is the converse.  If Huff has a solid, healthy camp and figures into a regular lineup rotation spot, he could end up with 450-500 AB very easily.  With that many at-bats, he could provide 20-ish homers, right?  Right?  If this were a telecast, the producer would now be cutting to a room full of Giants fans slowly shaking their heads.  Luckily, this is fantasy baseball, so the potential for snagging a 20-homer guy in the last round or off a waiver greatly outweighs the more realistic mindset of reality.  Again, a nonsense sentence that only holds significance if you play fantasy.

All this being said, if you’re going into a baseball season with Aubrey Huff as your starting first baseman, you are in serious trouble.  But it’s always nice to have a back up plan.

BONUS INJURY TWO-FER SPECIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Justin Morneau (MIN – ADP 161) and Kendrys Morales (ANA – ADP 215)

This is merely a public service announcement.  You all know Morneau and Morales were excellent, near-elite first basemen.  They are also both attempting to overcome uniquely challenging situations but appear right on schedule.  There is no game with their ADP, as caution is perfectly warranted.  Morales faces not only recovery from that crazy-horrific leg injury but a logjam of big ol’ power hitters in Anaheim.  Morneau has been battling concussion symptoms ever since he got his noodle rocked in 2010, in addition to the nagging injuries that have sprung up during his comeback(s).  Morales will eventually be back in the lineup, it is just a matter of time and his comfort level.  I will be watching closely and reading reports carefully as he makes his way back to the bigs, because he has serious pop in his bat, regardless of other categories.  Morneau is a scarier case, as he has faced numbness in his fingers and surgeries on important parts of his body (neck, wrist, knee).  I hope Morneau gets well, because he is not only a fantasy asset, but by all accounts a real good guy, but if I had to put money on who would have a more productive season, I’d pick Morales.  having Pujols in your corner as you try to regain your swing can only help.

First Base is both top-heavy and deep.  There are ample fill-ins, sleepers, and prospects who could step up big for whatever reason in 2012 (They always do.).  I highlighted names I kept coming up with in fantasy drafts, but know that this is a very narrow list.  Carlos Pena (ADP- 222) could hit you 30 bombs.  James Loney (ADP-240, and often overlooked) could turn a corner.  Anthony Rizzo (ADP – 330) could make Theo Epstein look like a genius for re-obtaining him.  Heck, Chris Davis (ADP-300) could make the leap to 40-homer superstar.  That last one will truly be the sign of the 2012 apocalypse and I’d love to see the Vegas odds, but you get my point; first base is crucial but also manageable.  You can’t be frustrated if you don’t get a top-tier guy.  You just have to dig a little deeper.  There’s no sense lamenting over something you could have never had in the first place.  Just ask Ben Affleck.  And for god’s sake, go watch Chasing Amy.

-w

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, Opinion, Pickups, Posted

Don’t You Forget About Me (*ReReDeux): Mat Gamel

This video is simply silly bad.  Just silly.

Baseball is as guilty as any sport or form of entertainment when it comes to out-of-control hype machines.  It is nearly impossible to predict with complete accuracy how a young player will handle the jump to the big leagues or how they will pan out in the long run.  We as baseball fans, and more importantly fantasy baseball fans, have impossibly short memories.  Prospects are here today, gone tomorrow.  We overdraft a hyped young’n only to have him flounder in the big show, then we forget about him.  The process is very frustrating.  However, it also leads to the delightful subset of players known as the post-hype sleeper.  Post-hype sleepers are a greatly valuable fantasy commodity.  They’re the change found in the couch.  The beer in the very back of the fridge.  You know they’re there, but they’ve been pushed to the back of your mind, only to be stumbled upon later when you least expect it- and probably need it.  But not for you, clever fantasy baseball-person, you.  You’re getting ahead of the curve.  You haven’t forgotten.  You lie in wait, mock drafting, plotting, scheming.  You know there is value to be had with these gently used former shiny prospects.  Where these players were reached for last year, they’ll slide to the later rounds in 2012.  So dust off your 2011 2009 Baseball America preview, get your notepads ready, I’m going to squeeze some knowledge juice from my mind grapes.

Don’t you forget about: Mat Gamel

um... yikes?

Wait… Mat Gamel?!  Doesn’t it seem as though he’s been a prospect forever? Does he know he’s missing a ‘ T? ‘  Yes and No.  I must admit, when I was considering writing about post-hype guys, I almost pushed Gamel to the backburner because it felt like he had already been up and down so many times over.  But I didn’t realize just how little chance he’s had to prove himself in the bigs.  He only has 194 plate appearances for Milwaukee!  Over 4 partial seasons!  Every time he’s been up, it’s been for insurance or for interleague, as a semi-DH.  With that small a sample size, the presence of Prince Fielder, and the stubbornly inconsistent Casey McGehee, it’s a wonder Gamel is still in the organization.  It seems now is the time for him to get his shot.  And oh, what timing…

Ah, the age-27 season.  Don’t listen to Tristan Cockcroft circa 2008, or do, whatever.  I get it.  He has a fancy ‘real’ blog.  If you love him so much, why don’t you marry him?  There is ample evidence (great fangraphs look here) and common sense on my side here.  That article explains that players’ progressions do peak between ages 26 and 29 – for some aspects of the game.  This makes perfect sense.  A batter should be in excellent physical shape around that time AND should be mastering their grasp on the strike zone and pitchers in their leagues.  Given a few years (anywhere from 2-5 or whatever) in the game, a player should be committed to routine, have professionals helping them with their fitness and nutrition, etc. etc.  This is not science, but it makes a whole lot of sense.

This larger discussion is merely a digression, however.  It’s great fun to look at the guys who have taken off in their age-27 years.  However Gamel’s age is more of a concern at this point, as most of his seasoning has come at the AAA level.  That is not to say he’s performed poorly.  Quite the opposite.  Everything points to him being a very solid corner infielder in the bigs.  He hit an extra base hit every 8.784 at-bats and hit .301 with an OPS of .886 over 4 AAA seasons.  He had an overall almost 1:2 BB:K ratio in AAA, very solid for a power hitter.  He seems primed to take over, ready to break over and displays the proper hitting technique to succeed at the higher level.  He projects to be the starter (Prince isn’t walking through that door, BrewCrew) and projects to put up, as I said, solid (if unspectacular) numbers.  Bill James has him hitting 19 homers with 72 RBI (and a .282 BA), in reduced at bats (443).  This is a conservative AB assessment, but clearly serviceable numbers.  Given a fuller season, couldn’t Gamel give a 20+ – homer, 85 RBI, .280  BA?  This seems like a reasonable, likely expectation.  And at an ADP of  242.99 (as of posting, via MDC), I beg of you…

DON’T, DON’T, DON’T DOOOONNNNNNNNN’T ……..

Don't mess with the bull, young man. You'll get the horns.

…. don’t you forget about Mat Gamel.

-w

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, Posted, Put Up or Shut Up, Sleepers

Don’t You Forget About Me: Brandon Belt

This video is simply silly bad.  Just silly.

Baseball is as guilty as any sport or form of entertainment when it comes to out-of-control hype machines.  It is nearly impossible to predict with complete accuracy how a young player will handle the jump to the big leagues or how they will pan out in the long run.  We as baseball fans, and more importantly fantasy baseball fans, have impossibly short memories.  Prospects are here today, gone tomorrow.  We overdraft a hyped young’n only to have him flounder in the big show, then we forget about him.  The process is very frustrating.  However, it also leads to the delightful subset of players known as the post-hype sleeper.  Post-hype sleepers are a greatly valuable fantasy commodity.  They’re the change found in the couch.  The beer in the very back of the fridge.  You know they’re there, but they’ve been pushed to the back of your mind, only to be stumbled upon later when you least expect it- and probably need it.  But not for you, clever fantasy baseball-person, you.  You’re getting ahead of the curve.  You haven’t forgotten.  You lie in wait, mock drafting, plotting, scheming.  You know there is value to be had with these gently used former shiny prospects.  Where these players were reached for last year, they’ll slide to the later rounds in 2012.  So dust off your 2011 Baseball America preview, get your notepads ready, I’m going to squeeze some knowledge juice from my mind grapes.

this is belt feeding a giraffe. because it is on the interweb.

Don’t you forget about: Brandon Belt

I in no way mean to say that you don’t remember who Brandon Belt is or what kind of prospect he is/was.  If you’ve ended up on the dregs of the internet and landed on this site, you’re either a baseball devotee or I tricked you with a misleading #tag.  Either way, I’m not assuming you have no idea, rather, I’m planting the seed for your upcoming drafts Inception-style so you remember Belt before your counterparts.

Belt is a great example of the roulette game of drafting.  Taken in the 11th round in both 2006 and 2007 drafts (by the Red Sox and Braves, respectively), before being taken in the 5th round by the Giants in 2009.  He was not a big-name prospect but hit his way onto everybody’s lists, with an astoundingly impressive 2010 through three minor league levels (23 homers, 112 RBI, 22 steals, .455 OBP) and what scouts like to call an ‘advanced approach’ (93 BB, 99 K).  Despite the success, most were surprised when the Giants started him off in the big show in 2011, thereby eliminating a year of arbitration.  He struggled in the majors both in the spring and when he was called back up in the summer.  However, he demonstrated the same skill set in his 200+ at-bats in AAA, so it is not as though his 2010 was a flash in the pan.

He has a great eye, which is usually a good sign for a young hitter even when they struggle, sneaky power (43 2B, 23 HR in the minors in 2010) and should be given ample opportunity in the still-punchless San Francisco lineup.  I’ve seen several projections that have him hitting over 20 homers, despite a .270-ish average.  I’d bet he starts out slow again, as he continues to adjust to the majors, but given his rapid trajectory through the minors he seems to be a quick learner.  The 20-homer power is legitimate.  So are the double digit steals.  Bill James has him hitting .266 in 2012.  That is a reasonable, conservative estimate.  However, given an expected plate discipline improvement (that is common among smart young hitters), a .280-.290 average is not an outrageous progression.  Given that his ADP is 204.4, he could be an absolute steal as a backup 1B in almost every draft.

Don’t you…. forget about Belt…. Don’t, don’t, don’t… doooooooooonnnnnnnn’t (fist pump, slow-motion, freeze-frame)

yes. this.

-w

Leave a comment

Filed under first base, MLB, outfield, Posted, Sleepers

The Mercurial Miami Marlins Moving Money Making Moves: Angels Add Additional Assets to Arsenal, Alliterations Abound

go ahead and do a quick google search for "will smith welcome to miami".... waiting.... now tell me he hasn't had that video taken down or altered at every turn. He has this type of pull. I believe it.

UPDATE: Loria throwing money for his club til the players show him love

 

This is why you wait.  More Alliteration!

I planned on writing about the flurry of activity for the Miami Marlins.  They have gone out and obtained an outstanding manager, an excellent closer, a dynamo shortstop and one of the most reliable lefties in the game.  They’ve committed almost 200 million dollars to these folks in the hopes of creating considerable interest as they move into a new ballpark.  This was going to be the story, and an interesting one at that.  You can say one thing for the Marlins in 2012 – things are going to be exciting.  The new-look Miami Marlins are looking to make a splash.  I’m hating myself a bit for that pun, but alas, it had to be done.  It’s great the Marlins are moving into a new house and have lots of shiny new toys (personally, I dig the new logo and hats), perhaps they will be a better team, perhaps not.  If we’ve learned anything the past couple of years in sports, buying a bunch of singularly talented players does not equate in a championship (see the Eagles and Heat of Philly and Miami, respectively).  That excitement I’m anticipating stems not from their success but rather their turmoil, their trials.  Already, Hanley Ramirez has expressed his distaste for being asked to move positions- and Ozzie Guillen backed him up, kind of.  Though he is expected to move to third, Hanley is a crybaby (as I’ve said before, a few times) and Ozzie Guillen is no fan of bullshitters- sounds like a recipe for some fun and soundbites to me… oh, did I mention they’re making Reyes cut his dreadlocks?  Hilarity forthcoming.

But I digress.  Yes, I initially thought I would be writing an article (with an AMAZINGLY CLEVER alliteration for a title).  I was going to go on and on about the Marlins, what they were trying to do, and what they mean for baseball.  I still will, later on in the article, but the Winter Meetings, and baseball in general, have taken a drastic turn.  In case you missed it, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California just signed Albert Pujols for 10 years.  For over a quarter of a billion dollars (if my math is correct).  Clearly, new Angels GM Jerry Dipoto was not going to waste time making an impact.  Despite evidence of budgetary constraints (specific article here) or that the Halos were going to obtain one ‘ big’ name impact player, likely a pitcher, Dipoto has locked up Albert and seems to be close to signing C.J. Wilson to an almost $78 million, 5 year deal.  Once again, some simple math tells us the Angels are locked into over $325 MILLION for two players going forward, and all on the last day of the meetings, no less (oh, they traded for Chris Ianetta, too.  He is a damn good catcher in my opinion.).

This is a very wealthy man. Dare I say a Mexican Jack Donaghy? Look at that mustache. I have invented a new name for him. I hereby dub thee, Arte "F#@% it, let's boogie" Moreno. Now look back at this pic and tell me that name doesn't fit....

There are a handful of issues with the Angels offseason so far.  To clarify, these are ‘issues’ in the sense that they need to be addressed in some way, not issues like the issues Dave has with the ladies.  BAA-ZING.  Nailed it.

For one, the Angels now have three desirable first basemen.  It would be foolish to think in baseball that you could have too much of a good thing.  Life, that’s a different story (too many Skittles?  Bad news.).  Obviously, Pujols will start at first.  I’d bet a quarter of a billion dollars on that one.  Kendry Morales was great before his injury and figures to be good again after rehab.  Though Mark Trumbo lost the AL Rookie of the Year to the very deserving Jeremy Hellickson, Trumbo had a stellar rookie campaign, slugging 29 homers and 87 RBI and was named team MVP.  I understand he would never unseat Lord Albert, however this is an interesting predicament the Angels have, as Trumbo is under team control for several more years and is therefore an additionally useful player.  Normally, the Angels could shift him to a corner outfield spot but the Angels find themselves in a logjam in the outfield as well.  This is a good situation for the team, but it creates an odd dynamic when they look to make more moves.  Other teams know the Halo’s have to trade someone.  There is simply not enough room for all those players on the Angels.  Just sayin’.  How the Angels deal with their seeming surplus is an intriguing storyline to follow up until the season.  The team will also have a good two-headed monster at catcher with promising Hank Conger and Chris Ianetta dueling for at bats and have a slew of young talent, headed by Mike Trout, looking to put a stamp on the big leagues both offensively and in the bullpen in 2012.

I hate disappointing just one person. And I really hate disappointing everyone. But I love Burlington Coat Factory. You go in there with 645 dollars, you are literally a king.

I will argue til I am blue that signing C.J. Wilson to a five year deal was financially imprudent.  Only two years removed from being a set-up man, I think it is unrealistic that he will be the same pitcher 5 years down the road.  This is less a reflection of Wilson’s talent (he is an excellent pitcher, undeniably) and more a statement on the fragility of pitching in general.  Poo-Pooing aside, it took me a moment after reading Wilson had signed with the Angels to fully comprehend the video game-worthy pitching staff the team has assembled.  Not that the order particularly matters, these pitchers are all likely to get hot at any given point in a season, but here’s the basic 1-5 for the Halos: Jered Weaver, C.J. Wilson, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and Ryan Seacrest.  I think I’m kidding.  But my point is this: their fifth starter could be anyone, really.  Jerome Williams showed flashes in 2011.  Brad Mills was recently acquired for Jeff “Mendoza Line” Mathis and shows promise.  They could bring someone else in or a prospect could emerge.  Who knows?  But take a look at that starting 4 again.  Every team not located in Philadelphia would KILL to have Ervin Santana as their number 4 starter!  Hmm… let me think… as a Red Sox fan, would I rather have John Lackey or Ervin Santana?  The Yankees, Freddy Garcia or Ervin Santana?  Lackey is a bad example because I would rather have Pee-Wee Herman start for me than that fat goof at this point, but still.

There are certain variables we cannot know.  We don’t know what the chemistry of either the Marlins or Angels will be like.  Both have strong managers so one would think that is not going to be an issue, but as I said, history tells us that throwing money around at excellent players does not necessarily mean the team will succeed.  We don’t know how positional movement and changes will affect the teams mentally and roster-wise.  What we do know is this: both the Marlins and Angels just became serious, serious players in their respective leagues.  My father and I debated all through the 2011 playoffs about the value of a singularly talented player in the playoffs.  He argued that someone, like Pujols, can completely alter the DNA of a series simply by being that good.  I firmly stuck to my notion of baseball being a team sport and pitching winning championships.  I was wrong.  Pitching determines winning and players like Pujols and Reyes alter pitching.  It’s an equation worthy of the transitive property.  Both teams have good if not great closers.  Both have good managers.  Both have lineups with power and superstars.  Given the new playoff system, I would be extremely wary of meeting either team come September.  Money in both life and baseball does not mean success.  But it undeniably alters landscapes.  The baseball landscape has just changed, folks.  Here’s to hoping Ozzie has lots to talk about.

-w

No Will Smith, but the best I could do:

Leave a comment

Filed under Baseball, BOOMSHAKALAKKA, Cajones, first base, MLB, offseason, Pickups, Posted, shortstop

Well, That Was Fast…

 

BUY BUY BUY SELL SELL SELL

Just a day after completing a deal for the arbitration eligible Mike Napoli, the Blue Jays have turned around and dealt the squat C/1B to the Rangers for the expendable Frank Francisco.

This deal has several implications. Firstly, it means the Rangers have no intention of moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation, a move that would have had startling fantasy meaning (would’ve been like the Sox moving Paps to the rotation back in the day). Sticking with the closer talk, the move is very interesting for those of us looking to scrape up some saves off the trash heap, as there are two intriguing candidates now in Toronto in Francisco and the newly acquired Octavio Dotel. Not being an ‘expert’ on handicapping saves, my best guess is that Francisco emerges as the Jays’ closer, as he has had success there in the past and isn’t as volatile as Dotel. But what do I know, Dotel has outstanding K potential and both are likely usable in all formats, regardless of who wins out in the closer competition, if there is one.

As for the deal’s implications in Texas, Napoli creates a sort of ripple effect. The deal all but takes the Rangers out of contention for Vlad the Impaler. The deal also makes for an interesting C/1B situation. Mitch Mooreland, playoff hero, figures to lose at bats, which is sad because I was curious to see what he could do with ample AB’s. Alas, he will likely have his plate appearances restricted as he learns the league. Of much less fantasy importance, save for position eligibility, Yorvit Torrealba figures to lose time behind the dish.  Either position, the move is excellent for Napoli’s already good hitting numbers.  Check out his career numbers at Rangers Ballpark… I’ll wait.  Do those numbers look good?  How bout for a catcher?  Napoli’s value is sky high in terms of fantasy right now and he may be well worth an overdraft if you miss out on the big name catchers.  He could be in for a monster season in a monster lineup.

As an interesting aside, the deal shows an interesting strategy on the Rangers part that I have been utilizing in fantasy for years: flexibility. With Mike Young and Napoli, the Rangers have players capable of playing multiple positions as well as DH. This is obviously a movement away from the big slugger-type DH’s in favor of having moveable parts. It works in football, we’ll see what the Rangers do with the flexibility in 2011.  Hopefully Napoli stays put now because, while I like the guy in fantasy, three articles in 2 days would be pushing it.

 

-w

5 Comments

Filed under catchers, Closers, Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, pitchers, Posted