Category Archives: Sleepers

Fantasy Mustache: Shortstop

Loyalty, Above All Else: Sean Rodriguez

I cannot tell you exactly why there are so many articles and mentions of Sean Rodriguez on this silly little site.  I think some time after he broke into the league my buddy Dave and I decided he was primed to break out, given our expert opinions.  He plays multiple positions, a favorite fantasy attribute of mine, and fit the ‘Swiss Army’ profile both Dave and I enjoy so thoroughly it inspired a series of posts.  Rodriguez did not break out.  What he did was become a useful glue player, playing solid defense at 2B, SS and 3B capable of hitting an occasional XBH and stealing a few bases.  He does nothing. spectacular, despite the wishes of many here at DotP.

Bill James is so un-enthused with Rodriguez’s mediocrity that he has chopped the guy’s plate appearances to a mere 256 in 2013:

14 2B / 1 3B / 8 HR / 37 R / 32 RBI / 6 SB / .246 AVG / .328 OBP / .730 OPS

According to James, Sean Rodriguez is on a hill, and he will continue to tumble down.  These projections are one big MEH-fest.  I refuse to hear that.  Not our guy.  Not Sean Rodriguez.  The Rays are a likable team and Rodriguez is a likable guy.  And that’s the problem, clearly.  Studies have shown that nice guys, in fact, finish last (Dr. B. Armstrong et al).  Or at the very least don’t bring home that World Series Trophy.  To save his career, Rodriguez must top being nice and start getting…. evil.  Or real, I guess.  Point being, the man’s getting a villain-esque makeover

evilseanrodriguez

Evil Sean Rodriguez: Part Terminator, part Captain Hook, ALL hitting machine.  This is no mere mustache awakening, this is a hostile position takeover.  Note the glare.  The sinister eyebrows.  The dastardly twirl of his facial hairs.  This is a man fed up with being told by Bill James he will be below average.  This is a man who is going to make sure Elliot Johnson doesn’t take another ground ball at SS.  Evil Sean Rodriguez will seize the position.  He will bat 568 times.  He will prove his doubters wrong.  Haters will perish under his lazereyed gaze.  Observe the Mustache-bot 2000’s calculations:

37 2B / 9 3B / 19 HR / 73 R / 81 RBI / 33 SB / .301 AVG / .398 OBP / .963 OPS

We can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to create a new Sean Rodriguez.  Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.  MANIACAL LAUGH…. MANIACAL LAUGH… MANIACAL LAUGH!

But seriously, Sean Rodriguez.  Grow a mustache.  Play better.  Or I’m going to have to stop writing about you.

Stay groomed,

-V

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, shortstop, Sleepers

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.

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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?

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

Handicapping the Oscar Races for Baseball Fans Part Two

With Oscar Day nearing, here are the rest of our inane, wildly important comparisons between Oscar nominees and their MLB counterparts. As Stanley Kubrick once said, “The Oscars and MLB go together like…” Who knows what he said, but the connection was there!

The Supporting Actors

 

Alan Arkin

 

Above: Everyone’s Grandpa. A man meant for the movies, and good for everyone he encounters.

Arkin won his first Oscar in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine, but he also received two nominations in the ‘60s. He’s never been the It Guy at any given time, but Arkin has been giving memorable performances like this one in Argo since the Millard Fillmore administration, give or take. A Hollywood kid from a Hollywood family, Arkin’s been one of the good guys in the business for half a century. Can’t imagine he has an enemy anywhere. Alan Arkin is…Kevin Millwood. Looks like a really nice guy, and there’s no evidence to suggest he’s otherwise. A long career of solid, and at times All-Star, performances. He even deserves more than what I’ve just written. Oh well, for another time.

 

Happy where he was, and the baseball world better for it.

Robert De Niro

He’s actually asleep in this picture. It’s just how his face relaxes.

 

With a legitimate chance at winning on Sunday, De Niro will be seeking his 3rd win. This marks his 7th nomination (7th!). As usual, De Niro seems to be right in the midst of the big race as well, as Silver Linings Playbook is a favorite to snag Best Picture. He’s been turning in iconic performances since he was Vito Corleone and even before, but his role in Playbook was filled with real, pure emotion, perhaps marking a difference from many of his bigger, louder roles. A man who would have been a HOF lock two decades ago, De Niro has not shied away from expanding his repertoire at any point, even allowing his role to become a supporting one so as to allow young stars like Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to shine. De Niro is…Todd Helton. He still delivers remarkable performances, but still he allows for younger stars to shine as the franchise/films shift towards the next generation of talent.

 

Helton reacting to finding out he made it onto our blog. Wonderful to see such enthusiasm from such an accomplished man. The privilege is ours, Todd.

Philip Seymour Hoffman

PSH releasing Andrew Garfield from captivity, it would appear.

 

With his nomination for his work in The Master, PSH has now received nominations in four of the past eight Oscar races, with a win in 2006 for Capote. He’s a quirky man, to say the least, but Hoffman has been doing it right for a long time, including 2008, when he received two Golden Globe nominations. A true student of the craft, Hoffman has shown in recent years the ability to jump from biography to political drama to romantic comedy (HOW DID HE NOT GET AN OSCAR FOR ALONG CAME POLLY?!?!) without sacrificing his effectiveness. He does have a baseball connection, having portrayed Art Howe in Moneyball despite looking NOTHING like Art Howe! Not necessarily a late bloomer, but he has received well-deserved praise—at least from the Academy—only in recent years, as his prime seems to be dwindling. PSH is…Roy Halladay. Somewhat of a late bloomer, at least late to become a certified star. Also, both men are certainly quirky fellows trending towards crazy, “method actors” in their respective fields.

Can’t deny his talent…or the crazy eyes.

 

Tommy Lee Jones

 

BUT I AM SMILING!

Jones won an Oscar for The Fugitive in 1994, and this year marks his fourth nomination. He has a good chance this time around (in case you haven’t noticed, this category is WIDE OPEN, with 5 worthy nominees), and maybe a win would even get a smile out of Agent Kay. A wily, stoic veteran of the trade, Jones has been frowning his way through hits since Fugitive and then some. Lincoln was fantastic, and in this “credible” critic’s mind, the Picture race should come down to it and Playbook. That being said, I don’t think Jones should be bringing home a trophy of his own. Nevertheless, he has cemented himself as a staple of the industry and a stabilizing force amidst the chaos that is Hollywood fame. Tommy Lee Jones is…Michael Young. The workman of baseball, pure consistency over the course of a career, all accomplished without controversy or smiles. Epitome of professionalism as well as stoicism.

I’M SORRY, OK? I’m just not used to doing this.

 

Christoph Waltz

Just wanted to make sure more people got to enjoy this laudable facial hair/armor.

 

Having won a fully deserved BSA Oscar for Inglorious Basterds, Waltz has a good chance at making it two wins in two tries, thanks to his unique work as Dr. King Schultz in Django Unchained. We naïve Americans unfortunately did not know of this Austrian treasure—the anti-Schwarzenegger—until recent years, but I for one am glad we have the chance to see what we can. A delightful presence onscreen and off, and a solid SNL host if you didn’t see, Waltz is a late bloomer to our country but is making the most of his time. Tarantino knows he has a keeper, and don’t be surprised to see Waltz lurking in this category a couple more times before he’s done. Christoph Waltz is… Ichiro. As soon as he got here, his presence was felt with MVP caliber performance and sustained excellence. We wish he had been here longer, but we should enjoy the time we have to admire his unique brand of individual brilliance.

Shame he has to wear that jersey, but still a talent to be enjoyed by all.

 

  

The Supporting Actresses

 

Amy Adams

 

I’ll be yah Doug!

Only 38 and now four Oscar nominations with her work in The Master? Damn, girl. Four nominations in eight years is quite the run. Adams also has a baseball tie, but we as a site have decided to deny the existence of Trouble With the Curve, shockingly not nominated for any Oscars. She’s been always entertaining for about a decade now, whether as a nun, Chahhhhhhlene, or Princess Giselle. Side note: I am not ashamed to admit that Enchanted is and always will be wildly entertaining, and I can only hope the rumored sequel will soon become reality. A talented and adaptable performer with plenty of time left to fill up her trophy case, Amy Adams is…Prince Fielder. The fact that they look like siblings aside, both are winners who we often neglect when considering the finest in their generation. Overshadowed by other talented people at times, both continue to deliver impressive work. Princess Giselle and Prince Fielder? You’re welcome, future lovers.

 

I I do NOT eat meat! ‘Cept for steak, ham, bacon. You know how it is.

Sally Field

Oh sweet, Sally Field. You’re just so casual.

 

Can’t say I’m a huge fan in general or of her performance in Lincoln itself, but I cannot deny that this is her third nomination, with two wins in her first two tries. Still find her a little annoying, and her barely bearable Oscar victory speech (NO, I will not provide a link. I’m not an enabler.) is, well, barely bearable. She’ll be remembered as a talented, successful actress who was recognized for her notable performances. Still, Sally Field, I really don’t like you. I really, really don’t. Sally Field is…Alex Rodriguez. He was great then he bottomed out, was sort of great, then plummeted again. He is a member of the I Could Have Been One of the Best Ever Without PEDs But Now My Career is Forever Tarnished group. Field has no known link to PEDs, but for me her career was tarnished when she seduced her way to earning Forrest Gump a football scholarship.

Which half is the ass?

 

Anne Hathaway

She can be happy! Be happy, girl. You’ve earned it.

 

The probable winner in this category, Hathaway now has two nominations for uber-depressing performances, for Les Miserables this year and Rachel Getting Married in 2009. A somewhat polarizing actress since her breakthrough in 2001’s The Princess Diaries (everyone loves it, so don’t be ashamed), Hathaway has confirmed her place among the elite performers of her generation, and she will undoubtedly be found on A-lists and Oscar lists for years to come. Forgetting Bride Wars, as I’m sure she has, Hathaway has built up an impressive body of work, including her great performance in last summer’s blockbuster Catwoman Rides the Batpod. She has her prime before her at only 31, and her talent is apparent. Anne Hathaway is…Ryan Braun. An electric young talent with nearly limitless potential, generally admired but with some polarizing feature. Hathaway perhaps acted with a chip on her shoulder following personal troubles. Braun’s middle finger to the world of a 2012 season was fun to watch and underappreciated.

He don’t look like he’s done proving himself quite yet.

 

Helen Hunt

Helen Hunt? Jodie Foster? Yes.

 

Real talk: no one saw The Sessions. No disrespect, and it’s nice for Hunt to receive a second nomination (she won for As Good as It Gets), but she will not be taking home the statue this year. She was in Twister, so there’s that. Certainly talented and respected by most everyone (me included, despite this mean take), Hunt is enjoying the ride as she nears 50. She had a solid ‘90s run as a go-to big name, but now Hunt is a solid performer winding down an All-Star, but probably not Hall of Fame career. She is… Edgar Renteria. He had some memorable moments around the same time of Hunt’s peak (see his 1997 World Series heroics), and he got a win as his career dwindled (2010 with the Giants), but in all truly a somewhat typical career. Sorry, you two.

Just happy to be here. Thank you. Red Sox fans wonder how he won two World Series.

 

Jacki Weaver

Heeeeeeeeeeere’s Jacki! Yes, she is actually that short.

 

Two nominations in three years ain’t so bad, and as you may have noticed, I unabashedly loved Silver Linings Playbook. She probably won’t win, but Weaver helped make a film that should not only be recognized as this year’s best, but as one of the best works in recent years. I’m not being mean about this one; Weaver actually hasn’t done that much work that anyone will remember. At 75, she seems content with the excellent performances she’s turned in the past few years. With great talent that most of us have only seen for a brief time period, Jacki Weaver is…the inverse of Rocco Baldelli. He came up as the prospect to watch and then burned out for reasons out of his control. She came to the forefront late but made an impact. She’s a little old for Rocco, but their careers kind of complete each other. Sounds like a movie waiting to be made…

HOW did I end up on your blog again?

Well, that concludes our biting Oscar commentary. Enjoy Sunday night and what is sure to be a memorable performance by Seth MacFarlane. Some have been alluded to, but here are our final predictions for the big ones:

Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis

Actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz

Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway

Director: Steven Spielberg (although David O. Russell would be a worthy victor)

Picture: Silver Linings Playbook

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Fantasy Mustache: Shortstop

Babyfaced Shortstop pf the Future: Didi Gregorius

i (1)

There is a bit of pressure on Didi Gregorius.  Not so much due to the Diamondbacks’ need for him to be a superstar – Gregorius is NOT that – but due to the fact that he is stellar in an otherwise unspectacular position (side note: remember the late 90’s when there was that crazy boom of SS who were just all out nasty?  How much  of that was steroid related, huh?  Sorry for any childhoods ruined.  Damn you, Nomar).  Bauer might be good, for sure, but Gregorius plays a position where few organizations have any sort of competent depth.  As other-worldly prospect hunter Mike Newman put it over at Fangraphs, “In Gregorius, the Diamondbacks found a cost controlled shortstop of the future when their best internal option was suspect prospect Chris Owings.”  And no, Chris Owings is not Micah Owings batswinging alter-ego.  I don’t know who Chris Owings is either.

Gregorius may very well spend much of 2013 in the minors.  A recent elbow injury assures he will be slow out of the gate.  Hence, the Fangraphs Steamer projections:

13 2B / 5 3B / 4 HR / 30 R /32 RBI / 4 SB / .234 AVG / .277 OBP    (in 346 PA)

Womp womp.  That’s lame.  That is not gonna cut it.  Those aren’t franchise stalwart numbers – I don’t care if you’re 23. I love Willie Bloomquist and all, really I do, but the D-backs need Gregorius to be an MLB shortstop sooner rather than later.  You know what the glue of franchises has resting oh-so-manly on their upper lips?  What his (former franchise glue) manager Kirk Gibson once ROCKED?  What his hitting coach (and former franchise glue) STILL ROCKS?

Have you guessed?

Yup.  A kick. Ass. Mustache.

oh my oh my we have a new silent assassin, Mr. Bloomquist

oh my oh my we have a new silent assassin, Mr. Bloomquist

Sure, Didi (is he in the running for silliest first name for a professional athlete?) will start the season slow with a bum elbow but while rehabbing that, let us assume he also rehabs his naked lip.  Then take a look at the numbers he puts up.   Fire up the Mustache Predictorator 4000!

20 2B / 9 3B / 6 HR / 55 R /40 RBI /15 SB / .279 AVG / .312 OBP  (now with 460 PA)

That’s how you start a very solid, shortstop-of-the-future career.  These numbers are not so far off from Elvis Andrus’ and he ain’t half bad.  With excellent defense and these mustache-enhanced numbers, Gregorius is ready to roll.  Those numbers could shoot up with better health and some confidence from his manager (leading to more AB).  And hey, Kirk Gibson knows the power of the ‘stache:

fear. my. facial. follicles.

fear. my. facial. follicles.

stay groomed,

-V

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Posted, shortstop, Sleepers

Why the 2013 NCAA Tournament May Be the Best Ever Part 1

 

Part I: Instability Atop the Mountain

 The defending champion (Kentucky) will not even make the tournament. Whoever they are, the 1-seeds will be beatable and flawed. Butler will be a factor. You could make a case for 15 teams winning the whole thing – and that’s a conservative estimate. We have a fun March ahead of us.

Even Joe Lunardi may have a tough time this year, starting with the perpetual motion among his projected 1-seeds.

The 1-Seeds (For Now)

 

As of right now, Lunardi has Indiana, Miami, Duke, and Florida as his 1-seeds. All four of these teams already have 3 losses, including Miami beating Duke handily (with another showdown coming March 2nd), and both Miami and Florida falling short against Arizona.

Indiana will have a tough time making it through the next few weeks unscathed, with Michigan and Ohio State awaiting them in the next two weeks as well as what is sure to be a chaotic Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers have elite talent and primetime players in Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo (absolute X-Factor in tonight’s victory over Michigan State), but we could see them fall from the top line of the bracket, as 2-3 losses before the tournament are not out of the question. All three of Indiana’s losses have come by five points or less, and the Hoosiers are certainly primed for tournament atmospheres due to their brutal conference schedule (in opposition to a team like Florida, see below), but watch out for a slow finish for the Fighting Creans. That being said, Indiana’s inside-outside combinations allow them to match up favorably against perhaps every team in the country.

The passion of Victor Oladipo may be the key to an Indiana Final Four run.

Miami represents a great but unpredictable story. From unranked to receiving significant first-place votes in both polls this week, the Hurricanes have stormed through the depleted ACC, 12-0 in conference to this point. A matchup with Duke on March 2nd (quite the day for watching some ball, evidently) seems to be the Canes’ only challenge before the ACC Tournament, but even if this team makes it to the Big Dance with only their current 3 losses, questions remain. Miami wasn’t even in the tourney a year ago, and their incredible growth this season begs the question: can they sustain their level of play without reverting back to their old ways? These “old ways” include a double-digit lost to Florida Gulf Coast in November and back to back losses to Arizona (a 19-point shellacking) and Indiana State at Christmas. Miami seems to have the talent to beat anyone in the country, but their lack of experience and the mediocrity of the ACC except for—or maybe including—Duke leave us wondering how the Hurricanes will fare come March.

Jim Larranaga has everyone around the U smiling this year, as his Canes have journeyed from unranked to projected 1-seed.

Duke has only lost twice since Ryan Kelly’s mid-January injury, but their performance has left a lot to be desired for Cameron Crazies. Besides the annihilation at the hands of Miami, Duke lost Saturday to an inspired Maryland team and has struggled against the unimpressive likes of Wake Forest (W 75-70 on Jan. 30th) and Boston College (W 62-61 Feb. 10th in a game they did not deserve to win). The Blue Devils have experience at the coaching level (Duh), and Mason Plumlee was a freshman when they won the title in 2010, but no other contributor has been past the Sweet Sixteen. Plumlee, Seth Curry, and Quinn Cook make up a strong nucleus, but the team has yet to find its chemistry following Kelly’s injury. With the March 2nd rematch against Miami as their only true pre-tourney test (maybe another rematch in the ACC Tournament Championship Game as well), look for Duke to enter the Big Dance as a 1 or 2-seed but as an unknown nevertheless. I don’t expect another Lehigh incident, but watch out for a 7-10 seed knocking the Blue Devils off in Duke’s second game. Just looking at Lunardi’s current projections, one has to wonder how Duke would handle Creighton and game-changer Doug McDermott.

Can these two stars get Duke playing at its peak in time for a deep tourney run? They’ve yet to provide a definitive answer.

Florida has probably received the least attention of these top teams, partially due to the overwhelming coverage of conference foe Kentucky’s underwhelming season.

Florida went to the Elite Eight as a 7-seed last year, further than any of the other three projected 1-seeds. Besides respectable early losses to Arizona and Kansas State and tonight’s battle defeat at the hands of Phil Pressey and Missouri, Florida does have a perplexing double-digit loss to Arkansas, but the Gators have won their other 11 SEC games by an average of 25.9 points! Theoretically, Florida can and should win every game remaining on their schedule, barring struggles with Arkansas at home or at Kentucky to finish the regular season on March 9th. Like the ACC teams above, Florida’s lackluster conference leaves much up to the imagination, but their complete dominance in the SEC deserves more love. With a coach who has in fact WON TWO NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS, and a versatile core of Kenny Boynton, Mike Rosario, and Patric Young (senior, senior, junior), Florida has the potential to go even deeper than their overachieving squad did a year ago. They may be in the best shape of any of these four to make a run.

Don’t underestimate the King of the Receding Hairline, also known as 2-time national champion Billy Donovan.

My money was on Michigan State beating Indiana in East Lansing hours ago and supplanting the Hoosiers as a 1-seed. Whoops. MSU could still make a run at a top seed with a Big Ten Tournament Championship. Gonzaga may be challenged in the coming weeks, but expect them to run the table to the tournament and replace one of the ACC squads (or Florida if the Gators’ struggles continue) as a 1-seed. All that said, the winner of Michigan-Indiana on March 10th will secure 1-seed position, and I’d expect whichever two of the MSU-IU-UM Big Ten Triangle finish strongest to secure two of the top seeds, with Gonzaga and the stronger finisher of Duke-Miami (my guess is Miami) filling out the remaining two spots.

 

Including all of these contenders, there are, as of February 18th, already 34 NCAA teams with 20 wins as of February 18th and 21 more teams have 19 wins! That means about 16% of all NCAA teams already have 19 wins. Now not all of these teams are threats to win the whole thing (sorry, Stony Brook, Akron, etc.), but with teams like Kansas, Kansas State, Syracuse, Louisville, Georgetown, half of the Big Ten, and Arizona out there playing well, chances are the aforementioned one seeds will not be the top 4 come selection Sunday.  Furthermore, there’s a good chance a 1-seed will not be cutting down the nets at the Georgia Dome on April 8th considering the amount of good teams and lack of great teams, considering the likes of lesser-known sleepers like VCU, Creighton, Memphis, Wichita State, and Oregon, to name only a few.

She has as good a guess as anyone for what team will emerge in Georgia come early April. She likes Indiana’s completeness but made sure to tell me to watch out for runs by Butler and Georgetown.

Maybe these four projected 1-seeds will all hold their spots. Maybe none of them will. Only time will tell. March Madness has come early this year, so start enjoying now.

-Kenny

To be continued…

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Filed under College, Dance, March Madness, NCAA, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

Fantasy Mustache: Second Base

Genuine Tip for a Better Career and Life: Jemile Weeks

I like the Weeks brothers a whole bunch. I’m not entirely sure where this bias comes from(part of it is the sheer joy of screaming RIIIIICK-AYYYYY when you own R. Weeks on a fantasy team.), but I wish the best for both brothers, despite the elder Weeks brother’s implications in a PED scandal.

 

image

Jemile was supposed to be locking down his role at 2B around now. Instead, the A’s have added Jed Lowrie into a crowded infield, leaving Weeks fighting for at bats (no move to the OF, Oakland has 4 very solid ones). Here’s Weeks and his uninspiring projections for 2013;

 

Bill James (only 377 AB!!!): .265 AVG / .337 OBP  / 16 2B / 5 3B /2 HR / 44 R / 28 RBI / 14 SB

 

Let’s be fair, given his unsure spot those numbers are relatively solid.  And shoot Jemile, you’re one step away from a lifestyle of badassery – forget baseball for a second. You’ve got some awesome hair and a wise little patch on your chin, you look like a cool dude. But that cool dude has yet to be the major leaguer once expected. It’s time to grow up and be a man.  Forget solid.  Solid is boring.  You know what’s not boring?

image

THIS.

Damn. That’s a fine mustache. That’s an extra-base hits mustache. That’s a soulful tenor sax solo mustache. A double digit steals mustache. A smooth double play mustache. Dare I say a fedora-worthy mustache (sadly the Mustache Projection Wizard 5000™ does not possess fedora capabilities, so use your imagination).

As always, the numbers don’t lie:

 

Mustache Projection Wizard 5000™ (NOW WITH 545 AB!!!): .299 AVG / .366 OBP  / 33 2B / 15 3B / 9 HR / 88 R / 57 RBI / 33 SB

 

With that mustache, Weeks can become the solid everyday Second Baseman we’ve all expected.  Scott Sizemore can’t grow lip fur like that, I assure you.

The A’s embrace and thrive on personality, even bizarre ones (see: Josh ‘Caveman Lawyer‘ Reddick). Weeks need only a mustache grooming kit to start being another beloved oddity, become Oakland’s starting 2B, rise as a valuable fantasy commodity, and a jumpstart a fine saxaphoning career.

Behold the fuzzy power.

Stay groomed,

-V

 

I’m not doing another Second Base installment, so here, as a special Valentine’s Day gift, here is Dustin Pedroia:

Rest in Piece, Rod Beck

Rest in Piece, Rod Beck

 

 

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Filed under Baseball, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, second base, Sleepers

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Sleeper Mustache Candidates

#1 Travis D’Arnaud

image

That is a stare that says, “I’m ready to bludgeon some baseballs, and maybe some kittens.”

image

But wait through the magic of technology, add a Buford Tannen mustache and POW! It works.

It is difficult to project rookies, especially talented ones on bad teams.  Issues from playing time to (more practically) service time add a complex variable to when a rook will play, how much they’ll play and therefore if and when they’ll get comfortable.  That said, D’Arnaud has been projected to be a solid MLB starting catcher for several years now, so it is no stretch to give him a solid, if ordinary projection line pre-mustache.  With the mad dog mustache power added to his already steely glare, D’Arnaud figures to be a force to be reckoned with once the Metropolitans call him up to be their non-John Buck catcher (think sooner rather than later.  MUCH sooner with that ‘stache).

Pre-Mustache: .260 AVG// 16 2B // 45 R // 13 HR // 50 RBI

Post-Mustache: ..301 AVG // 25 2B // 66 R // 20 HR // 80 RBI

Again, the numbers don’t lie – the mustache variable cannot be discounted.

#2 Devin Mesoraco

Oh, hey there. Just thinkin’ bout baseball n’ stuff

Oh, hey there.  Just thinkin' bout what kind of eggs you'll want in the mornin'

Oh, hey there. Just thinkin’ bout what kind of eggs you’ll want in the mornin’

With experience comes confidence.  Even if that ‘experience’ is fabricated.  Trust me, I was a middle school boy once.  It will be no surprise, then, when Mr. Mesoraco takes a big leap in not only playing time, but also production, with the addition of those ladykiller whiskers.

Bill James Projections (Pre-Mustache): .255 AVG // 29 2B // 2 3B // 16 HR // 56 R // 59 RBI //

Mathematical Mustache Magic Practical Prognostication Algorithm (TM): .315 AVG // 39 2B // 4 3B // 22 HR // 70 R // 70 RBI //

Devin’s new stat projections reflect what his ‘stache is telling you – I’ll take more, but only if you ask me to, toots.

#3 Jeff Mathis

mathis

I have no projections to give.  Mathis is merely a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad bad hitter.  At this point, why not try a mustache, man?

Stay groomed, First Basemen coming soon.

-v

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Filed under catchers, Fantasy Baseball, GOOSE, MLB, offseason, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

Shortstop ADP: The Position You Hate to Love

my favorite non-Batman movie of all time.

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.

There are 3 Shortstops worth actively seeking in a draft, and one of them is going to play Third Base (whoops, didn’t really mention Hanley “Wah-Wah’ Ramirez in my 3B post…).  After that, there are a series of relatively boring guys who fill a position you need (Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alexi Ramirez all fit the ‘usable-but-unspectacular’ mold in declining amounts of value), aging players not worth the draft position based on the past (Rollins, Jeter), and a bunch of one-trick ponies (Elvis Andrus, Dee Gordon come to mind).  For most people’s teams, shortstop is going to be a drain, plain and simple, compared to other positions.  I’m no Nostradamus, but I’m betting Asdrubal Cabrera doesn’t hit above 20 homers (there is no reason in his past to expect that).  Nor do I think Jhonny Peralta will sniff batting .300 again.  Shortstop is the best exercise in finding value.  In larger leagues, you’d consider yourself lucky to wind up with J.J. Hardy or Stephen Drew.  But really, do either of those players excite you?  And they’re already going pretty late in drafts.  When it gets down to the rinds, why take Jason Bartlett when you could roll the dice?  Shortstop’s your chance to take a, well… chance.  It’s not like most of the guys you’d draft are going to wow you anyway- you won’t be overwhelmed, you might not even be underwhelmed.  Maybe you’ll just be whelmed.

Bam. Streak alive.  You know you hate how much you love this movie.

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

SHORTSTOPS

Shortstop is a funny position.  Since Cal Ripken Jr., there has been a revolution of middle-of-the-order hitters playing the position.  In fantasy terms, there are shortstops now who provide just as much value as, say, a top outfielder.  There was Nomar-Jeter-A-Rod.  Now there’s Tulo-Reyes- and, until recently, Hanley Ramirez.  But shortstop is also one of the most important defensive positions on the field (the other two being Catcher and Centerfield, in my opinion), so a guy like Omar Vizquel can be equally valuable to a team in terms of the runs they save.  Sadly, most leagues don’t have a ‘Web Gems’ category, otherwise Rey Ordonez would have been an absolute stud.  So we have a mix in fantasy.  At the top, there are the studs, in the middle some very solid all-around players and towards the bottom?  Defensive specialists and young, unproven talent.  When is that next trio of top-tier talent arriving?  Again, I’m no Nostradamus.  So while we wait for the next big thing, here are some stopgaps.  Who knows?  Maybe someone will surprise you.  LIKE HEATH LEDGER DID IN THE MOVIE!!! It all comes full circle, folks!

P.S. I’m perfectly comfortable admitting that scene is my favorite.

Ian Desmond (WAS) -ADP 253

#awesomesauce

I guess I have a man-crush on Ian Desmond, for fantasy purposes.  I snagged him in countless mock drafts and several of my leagues.  On the face of it, he is not really worthy of such fascination.  However, consider the rising Nationals and the power of good vibes.  Over the past two years, Desmond has demonstrated that he is very capable of hitting double digit homers and 20+ steals.  What kills Desmond’s value is the holes in his swing.  His poor OBP, high K rates, and overall lack of discipline hurt what appears to be an untapped fantasy talent.  He hits doubles, with speed for triples.  His minor league numbers suggest his untrained eye is a function of his adjustment to major league pitching (very high OBP in AA and AAA).  There is a seriously good feeling going into the 2012 Nationals.  Ryan Zimmerman will be back healthy.  Jayson Werth has to be better, it’s a borderline statistical fact.  And, of course, the inevitable coming of Bryce Harper, prospect extraordinaire.  It is not unreasonable to think the Nats offense is bound to improve, and I think Desmond is going to be part of that.  At base level, without any improvement, Desmond gives similar production to Stephen Drew (who is going over 100 spots earlier) without the injury risk.  Given an improvement, Desmond could jump up a level in fantasy shortstop value.  Part hatred for the Drew clan, part unabashed drinking of the Washington Nationals Kool-Aid, but Ian Desmond has my Fantasy Spidey senses tingling this year.  Wait around folks, don’t sell yourself short and draft J.J. Hardy.  There are more valuable players to snag while you wait for shortstop.  Either you get one early or you don’t.  Wait for Desmond, and enjoy his breakout 2012 campaign.  Mistress Cleo told me so.

Mike Aviles (BOS) – ADP 244

no one sits by Mike when he doesn't change his 'lucky' socks...

I’m going to keep this one brief because I don’t want to waste space when Bobby Valentine inevitably pushes Jose Iglesias into the shortstop void in Boston.  That’s an entirely different story, and my personal feelings are that Jose should get one more (partial, maybe) year to refine his offense before being unleashed on the big-league diamond.  The kid was imitating MLB players’ swings for chrissake!

Anyhoo… Mike Aviles was impressive in limited time with the Sox in 2011.  Defensively, he doesn’t hold a candle to Iglesias.  Offensively, he strikes me as a good line-drive pull hitter who could benefit ENORMOUSLY from batting towards the bottom of a potent Boston lineup.  Will he hit .325 as he did in his rookie year, 2008?  No.  But given the time (with utility-wunderkid Nick Punto) in a good lineup, it seems like Aviles could be a sneaky source of a .280-ish average with 80 runs (and double digit steals).  Saltalamacchia scored 53 runs in 386 PA last year and he hit .235!  Aviles, as is the case with the following players, will be on a sliding scale of value in 2012 based on playing time.  His versatility adds value, the opportunity adds numbers.  He’s definitely one to track through spring training to see if Valentine loves or sours on him.

Forgive the ADP disparity but these two are in very similar situations…

Eduardo Nunez (NYY) – ADP 309.17  &  Sean Rodriguez (TB)- ADP 261.46

both of the baseball players are pretty ugly. real weasel faces. so here's a dramatic picture of the awesome Craig Ferguson, on weeknights @ 1235 on CBS

Both of the men mentioned above have value in versatility.  The could get time at second, short and third (in addition to the outfield), depending on team needs.  But they’re elligible at SS and that’s what matters for our purposes.  Where they play for their ‘real’ team is not nearly as important as where you can plug them into your virtual lineup.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  Where they play on their real team does matter, and here’s why; the Yankees are old and the Rays’ alternatives are underwhelming (what a useful word).

Nunez gets to play the ‘super-utility’ role on a New York team that has A-Rod and Derek Jeter.  Both need rest.  On top of that, at their age, and with A-Rod’s history, it is highly likely that either one or both is shut down for a period of time due to injury.  Enter Mr. Nunez.  Now you may be saying, ‘that already sort of happened last year, why’s he of value?’  The man stole 22 bases in only 338 plate appearances and only got caught 6 times.  That’s nice.  In the dwindling rounds of a draft, Nunez could be an absolute steal (pun intended), especially if due to circumstance he gets 400+ at bats.

Sean Rodriguez is a favorite of Dave’s, which makes me dislike him as a player.  But I am putting my bias aside for your benefit.  Rodriguez demonstrated excellent power as a prospect for the Angels but has not seen the same production in the bigs.  I’d blame a lot of that on his inconsistent playing time, as he has had strings of games where he has contributed as a useful power/speed combo.  So what’s holding back Rodriguez this year?  Defense, I guess.  Who is he competing for playing time with in 2012?  Reid Brignac and Elliot Johnson?  Rodriguez might be the perfect storm of sleeper for 2012 (unlike, say, the premature sleeper in past years…).  He’s turning the magical age of 27, has crappy competition at the position for now, plays all over the field and is in his 3rd year of any semblance of regular playing time.  It makes a lot of sense that things could click for him in 2012.  And at his ADP and with multiple elligibilty, a guy who could hit 15 homers with 15 steals sounds like a good grab for your hole at short (WORDPLAY!)

Yup.  That’s all I’ve got.  Shortstop can be a very frustrating position folks.  That’s an understatement.  But I think I’ve laid out several players above who could greatly outperform their ADP at the position, if not break out.  And honestly, unless you have Reyes or Tulo, you may be forced with that kind of compromise.  Or there’s always Willie Bloomquist…

Always, awlays, beware the Bloomquist.

-w

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Filed under Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Posted, shortstop, Sleepers

Catcher ADP: Hiding Beauty Like a Pair of Glasses in a Rom-Com

She’s All That (1999), but you already got that reference.

yeah, like we didn't know she was cute. C'MON. the glasses work for me. sigh. I miss the 90's sometimes. but only sometimes.

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, as I’m betting they outperform their average draft positions.  Here’s to hoping ya’ll find your Rachel Leigh Cooks, you Freddie Prinze Jr.’s, you.

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

CATCHER

Catcher is a tough position to read into ADP-wise.  Mock drafts reflect real leagues and they can have multiple catcher positions.  There’s a reason back-up catchers are back-ups- there’s a dropoff in quality in both  fantasy and reality when you get past your starting catcher.  That being said, ADP still reflects how people value a player, so it’s worthwhile to compare.  Buster Posey (59.7ADP) and Joe Mauer (79.9 ADP) might be the ‘names,’ but they’re injury risks, to say the least.  Wait a few rounds and grab Matt Wieters (97.8).  Better yet, wait an additional round and take Alex Avila (108.5).

Avila is a really good hitter.  He has an excellent Line Drive rate (21.7%).  He has a solid K:BB ratio (131:73), especially for a catcher.  And he has good “gap power”/ is a good “doubles hitter” – I’ll let you choose the saying you’re more comfortable with, they both mean the same thing to me.  He’s everything you should look for in a fantasy catcher – be reasonable, folks, don’t ask for more.  He’s also the last catcher I’d draft in the first 15 rounds.  Honestly.  The position is such a mix of uncertainty, over-rated-ness, and mediocrity that my feeling is if I don’t get a select few catchers in the first half of the draft at a value pick (meaning a round I feel comfortable in – I’m not taking Napoli in the 4th round, despite my affection for him).  Knowing that, there are plenty of players to target as you get down to you final picks who could yield  a big return as your starter.  Here’s a few I’d target as the draft(s) dwindle on…

Chris Iannetta (ANA)- ADP 238

having a large head also helps as a catcher

I don’t have any reason to always think on the upside of Ianetta.  Maybe it was those years of the Red Sox pursuing him.  Who knows.  Year after year though, I consider him (quietly) a sleeper.  His power is legitimate.  He’s a pretty good receiver and Mike Scioscia always gets good production from his catcher rotation (what Jeff Mathis? oh, shut up Jeff Mathis you’re bringing us all down.).  Kidding aside, Scioscia does understand the ins and outs of catching.  The question is whether Scioscia or the potential of a great lineup the Angels could trot out helps him more.  He has a good eye, has demonstrated power at every level and has never really had the opportunity to shine.  In the last few rounds, I’m giving him a shot.

Devin Mesoraco (CIN) – ADP 243.4

WHOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. WHOOOOAAAAAAAAAA. WHOOAAAAAAAAAA. FAAAAACE.

There is a reason he was not part of that Latos deal (and another prospect, Grandal, was)- the Reds think they have the real deal with Mesoraco (so does Keith Law).  He has what scouts like to toss around as an ‘advanced approach’ at the plate.  He has a strong arm.  In 5 minor league seasons he has demonstrated the ability to hit for a good combination of average and power.  Everything in the minors points to him being a starting catcher capable of hitting around .300 with 20 homers.  Toss into that mix that good eye and the ability to run a little bit (leading to doubles, not singles) and Mesoraco should be able to have a .850+ OPS.  In a good lineup, scoring a bunch of runs, that sounds like a very draftable catcher.  If you’d rather take Ryan Doumit (235), by all means do, I’ll be happy to snag Mesoraco as the draft closes and laugh when you are in that wonderful situation where Doumit is playing drop-ably bad and you have no viable alternative.  Just sayin’.

Ryan Lavarnway (BOS) – ADP 344.3  (listed as a DH on MDC)

20 bombs.

You may say I’m being a homer with this one.  You’re only partially right.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia actually showed a lot of promise for the Red Sox last year.  He posted a .215 ISO (measure of power, read about it) and seemed to grow a bit more comfortable as the season progressed.  That being said, he didn’t put up particularly exciting numbers, save for the power.  Lavarnway can match that power by every account.  He showed excellent power throughout the minors and looked powerful in his 43 AB for the Red Sox in 2011.  OK, that was a reach.  Hyperbole aside, Lavarnway seems to project as a similar type of player to Saltalamacchia in the worst case scenario.  Throw in Kelly Shoppach (hah.) and Jason Varitek (double hah.) and the question with the Red Sox becomes a matter of playing time.  If Lavarnway gets 350-400 AB, it is now unreasonable to see him hitting 15-18 homers, conservatively, with a better average than Salty (.235).  He’s worth a flier as a last pick of the draft in my book.

There you are, some ideas for Costco-priced catchers.  I did the thinking for you, all you have to do is remember.  Catchers are like relievers when it comes to drafting in my book – if you don’t get a sure thing early, move on and look for talent elsewhere.  It’s not worth extending yourself out of desperation to fill the catcher position on your roster just because you already have someone at another spot.  So hunt the bargain bin, look like a genius, and remember to tell your friends who told you to draft and start Lavarnway this year.

-w


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