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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

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

First up, the golden boy…

Here is the before picture of one Buster Posey, the top ranked fantasy catcher, and his projections via Bill James:

image

Yeah, he’s a handsome fella

//173 hits// 36 2B // 2 3B // 24 HR // 79 R // 98 RBI // 65 BB // 7 IBB//

“Well golly,” you must be saying, “those look like some pretty darn good stats with a mere bare baby face! Does Buster Posey really need a mustache to improve his season?”

Well “Aha!” says I – you are correct, if only partially. You will note that these numbers represent Posey more or less duplicating his stellar 2012 campaign. “Balderdash!” I will further exclaim, for Buster Posey is a righteous dude and I bet he can do better.

So what can allow him to take this leap up?

A mustache, obviously.

Below is a vision of Posey with a mustache, accompanied by the rigorously investigated and meticulously calculated projections of his improved stats for a hypothetical mustachioed 2013 campaign.

(DISCLAIMER: Due to the graphic nature of this artist rendering, the author advises you finish anything you are drinking or eating before continuing to the photo)

image

damn, that is a fearsome man.

//242 hits// 66 2B // 15 3B // 38 HR // 121 R // 133 RBI // 115 BB // 35 IBB//

As you can see, the numbers don’t lie.  With complex computer logarithms and mathematical machines, one comes to the simple conclusion that if Mr. Posey was to grow a mustache, he would have a season for the ages.  With great mustache comes great confidence.  This would allow Buster to be a more aggressive hitter and baserunner.  With his new found follically-powered batting eye, he not only can be more confident swinging at borderline pitches, leading to increased hits, but he will also benefit from an increased respect from both pitchers and umpires alike, leading to his improved walk totals.  Mr. Posey is by no means fast but by being bewhiskered, he will no doubt have the not only the gall but the aptitude to take the extra base whenever necessary, hence the increased extra base hits.

This exhaustive research has concluded that Buster Posey is on the brink of becoming not only the top fantasy catcher, but a wooly-lipped demigod reigning over the NL West.

Stay tuned for the Comeback Mustache of the Year Candidate and Mustache Sleepers!

Stay groomed,

-v

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Filed under Baseball, catchers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB

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

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

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

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

Cody Ross, Playoff Hero?

codynoccio

When will this end?  Will it end?  Or will Cody Ross be a real baseball player for a full season?  He tears up May, he rocks September (historically).  Let’s look at some of his hot months…

 

July 2008- 27 games, 102 AB, 31 hits, 7 2B, 2 3B, 3 homers, 22 RBIs, .863 OPS.

 

That’s a nifty month.  Anyone who owned Ross was very pleased.

 

June 2009- 96 AB, 29 hits, 7 2B, 6 Homers, 18 RBIs, a .912 OPS and a steal to boot!

But wait! There’s more!

August 2009- 110 AB, 33 hits, 4 doubles, 1 triple, 5 homers, 18 RBIs, and a .830 OPS

 

Those are two excellent months right there, surrounded by several mediocre ones… much like this year in which Ross was basically let go by the Fish…

 

May 2010- 106 AB, 35 hits, 9 doubles ,1 triple, 4 Homers, 19 RBIs, a .935 OPS

 

My point in highlighting these months is this:  Cody Ross is a good ballplayer.  He has yet to be a player to string together months like those mentioned above, but his overall numbers show that he is certainly an ownable commodity in the fantasy realm (though clearly not in ‘real’ baseball).  His postseason flirtation with hero-dom aside, maybe Ross has found a home in San Fran, and maybe he will put it all together and put a series of months together, allowing Ross fans and owners to play/root him on in consecutive months, for a change.

 

Either way, I’m rooting hard for Ross, he’s a likeable guy, and a Rangers-Gents series-love those  bullpens baby!

 

-w

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Filed under DID YOU KNOW THAT?, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts