Tag Archives: Pirates

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Comeback Mustache of the Year

Martin is not impressed.

Before he went to the Yankees, I was a big Russell Martin fan.  An athletic catcher, he both threw and ran well, leading to some of my favorite in-game scenarios where he would both throw someone out bunting then bunt himself and beat it out (doesn’t that just always seems extra, extra awesome for a catcher?).  He was bad for the Yankees.  His homer total was inflated, as would a four-year old’s, by Yankee Stadium Redux so, statistically, and as catchers go, I suppose he was serviceable.  I happen to think he’s a better player.

Here are Bill James’ projections for My favorite Martin in 2013:

//112 hits// 22 2B // 16 HR // 64 R // 60 RBI // 8 SB // .242 AVG //

Leading to a deep “MEH,” from all concerned.  Where is the fleet of foot Martin, the .280 -. 300 hitter Martin?  Who is this manicured man?!

Martin is in obvious need of a mustache makeover (tv rights pending on that one, folks).  I understand that players deteriorate over time blah blah blah but this guy was pretty nifty not even 5 years ago!  So I fired up the math machines and the facial composite sketchers andWHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!?!?!!?

BOOM.

Russ beat me to it!  He is obviously not only a ballplayer, but has a keen understanding of the mysticism of the mustache.  Let us reconsider his projections, now knowing he has reconsidered his look.  I’ll bet Mr. Bill James doesn’t have a way of computing mustache value-added, but I sure do:

//177 hits// 30 2B // 19 HR // 88 R // 77 RBI // 22 SB // .333 AVG // PLUS 4 TRIPLES!

As you can see, Russell got his groove back.  Freed from the shackles of the hair-hating Yankees, Martin can be himself once more.  With his smoothly Gatsby-esque new fur, Martin will undoubtedly make the leap to an upper-class season.  Just look at that careful constructed cookie-duster.  He will regain not only his stroke but his deceptive quickness.  Again, I point you to the devious flavor saver.  Is that not the look of a man capable of swiping double-digit bases?  Is that not the look of a man who will find clever means to get on base?  Is that not the look of a man who would make an excellent addition to your barbershop quartet (alto, duh)?  Of COURSE it is, that is a mustache of confidence, a mustache of class – a mustache of redemption. 

Martin is poised, nay groomed,  for a better 2013.  And he knows it is due to his upper lip.  That is the smile of a man who knows the future is out there, a single green light, if you will, and Martin is ready to take it… even if it’s in Pittsburgh and not West Egg.

If you don’t get the reference, that’s okay.  There’s a movie coming out soon.

Tomorrow I’ll tackle the mustache sleepers.  If Russell Martin is any indication, the future is bright for potentially moustachioed ballplayers.

Stay groomed,

-v

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Filed under Baseball, catchers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Posted, Random Thoughts

Don’t You Forget About Me: Pedro Alvarez

RUFIO! RUFIO! RUFIO!

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 fantasybaseball 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.

Don’t You Forget About: Pedro Alvarez

Oh, Pedro.  Pedro, Pedro, Pedro.  What have you done to yourself.  Our poor Pirates fan friend Trevon had the misfortune of drafting the big fella last year and, well, he’s still reeling.  Could it be so simple that he was out of shape?

the 'before' picture - baby face

Looking at Alvarez’s 2010 debut season compared to his horrendous 2011, it is odd how many peripherals were so similar, or maybe that makes sense – his rookie season was supposed to be a stepping stone, not the norm.  2010 was a good season, for a rookie.  He was supposed to jump off from there, not roll over and eat it in 2011.  His BABIP dropped almost 70 points, so that helps explain his atrocious average.  His power, both on sight test and the ISO stat, dropped almost in half.  Both of these probably had something to do with the increased GB rate Alvarez experienced.  His GB% jumped almost 10% and his FB rate dropped 14%, which clearly affected his power numbers.  These are the things you can see in the numbers, but more can be seen in watching Alvarez with your own two eyes. He got lazy.  You could see it both in the weight he put on and the swings he took.

I watched many of Alvarez’s regrettable at-bats, so I assumed this was the case.  The internet, in all its wisdom, backed me up on the research side (thank you, fangraphs).  Thanks to the fascination with stats, we now have documentation of the actual swings a batter takes and where the balls they swung at were.  In 2011, the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone Alvarez swung at jumped to 29.9%.  In addition, the rate of CONTACT with those pitches outside the strike zone jumped up to 56.3%.  Overall, he just swung at a lot more pitches.  I’m not smart enough to solve whethere or not all the dips and spike are statistically relevant in an actual math sense, I haven’t done a math problem like that in a long time.  Given the similarities of other peripheral stats and his overall atrociousness (not to mention plain common sense of seeing he got fat and lazy) gives credibility to the idea that maybe all Pedro needs to make a step up – not the BIG step up, mind you- and be productive is a healthy-living offseason and a better eye at the plate (stop swinging at the low outside changeup you goof!  It’s like he’s playing wiffle ball!).

Are we left with a .250-2.260 hitter capable of hitting 20 homers?  His minor league trajectory and overall pedigree led us to believe he was going to be in a higher tier, hitting .280 with 30 homers and 100 RBI once the Pirates became legitimized.  Part of the problem is the unproven nature of the Pirates lineup, sure, but Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, even Jose Tabata and Garret Jones, are solid players.  And all of them have made considerable steps forward as major league hitters.  Pedro Alvarez needs to get his act together – there will be no sleeper posts next year if he doesn’t improve.  But 2012 is a new season, a new slate (hopefully a more fit slate, too).

So for 2012, don’t you forget about Pedro Alvarez.

-w

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

Closers – Can’t Live With ’em, Can’t Win Without ’em

 

As I’ve talked about, I hate closers. Let us start off with that simple fact. Every time I try to go big with one they end up biting me in the rear. So I punt them, then go to the scrap heap or the last 5 rounds. It’s just my way of coping. So every year I am acutely aware of closer situations on mediocre and bad teams, as they are my favorite place to pick up saves. This year figures to be no different, with uncertainty in the air for some teams and certainty (that they’ll be bad) on other teams.  Bad and mediocre teams inherently play closer games, especially ones with a decent pitcher or two (like, say the team I just wrote up, the Diamondbacks).  Notice it’s closer as in fewer runs, not ‘Closer’ games for the back end of the bullpen, though the play on words is not lost on me.  So without further ado and a distinct lack of jibberjabber, here’s a list of guys and situations to be aware of in the late rounds when you’re scavenging for saves…

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J.J. Putz

It was not long ago that Putz was a bona fide stud closer (2007).  Remember that.  In more recent history, he put up outstanding numbers as a setup guy for the White Sox, in case you weren’t paying attention.  He’s now headed to my favorite place to snag closers, land of the 2-1 game, the NL West.  There’s no reason to think Putz won’t return to full closer form in 2011 as he builds off last year and what better place to do it than a league known for tight games on a staff of mid-level pitchers?  While Bill James doesn’t have him projected for any saves (result of him being a FA), other sources have him coming back in full.  CAIRO has him at 32 saves, as does RotoChamp.  CBS thinks he’ll get all the way back to 40 saves.  I think this is a very reasonable range for Putz in 2011.  Peripherals aside, projections aside, I rest my hat on the fact that he’s done it before.  He’ll be around later than most and will be well worth the investment.

The Pittsburgh Situation:

Evan Meek/Joel Hanrahan

This one’s pretty up in the air.  Meek is the better pitcher, but Hanrahan has the experience.  As someone pointed out (astutely) on Twitter (@MLBreports), the most likely scenario is to have Hanrahan close, build up his value, then trade him and allow Meek to slide into the role.  Meek has the stuff and the makeup, having been groomed as a setup man for the past season and a half.  All this being said, the breakdown could go several ways.  Hanrahan could go on a tear and save 20+ games, as some predict… and so could Meek after he’s gone.  Neither of these players, being in (arm)Pittsburgh, is very sexy.  But I would watch Meek or draft him for the long haul (seasons are won in August in fantasy, too) and pick Hanrahan off the scrap heap to start the year if you need cheap saves.  This could all be wrong, however, if Meek just flat-out outpitches in Spring Training.  I’ll be sure to update you while we’re down in Florida and the spring battles heat up, but as of now, I’m comfortable in saying Hanrahan is going to start out getting the saves.

Drew Storen

What was it I so smartly said about young guys missing bats?  Hmm…. Storen came up and had no trouble missing bats, posting an 8.46 K/9 in about 55 solid major league innings.  He was developed as the closer of the future and for the Nats, the future starts now(ish).  The Nats also figure to be in lots of close games with a shaky staff and improving offense (honest) and the ‘perts seem to agree that he will get the opportunities.  CAIRO and RotoChamp have him for 31 saves and CBS thinks he’ll score an even 30.  This seems about right, though that number really has to do with the Nats (lack of) winning ways.  Storen has great stuff and will definately be available at the end of a draft for you to pluck and enjoy like a tasty peach.  Not sure why I went with the colorful terminology, but the point remains – Storen will pitch well.  Whether he saves 20 games or 30 games will depend on the Nats.  That’s just a risk you’ll have to take when you play Closer roulette.  Heck, if they improve drastically down there in D.C. (unlikely) he could save 35!  What a bargain!  Wishful thinking, maybe, but Storen should be worth owning should you pass on closers for better teams.

Someone on the Blue Jays:

Frank Francisco / Octavio Dotel / Jason Frasor/ Jon Rauch

I listed them in a particular order – the order in which the closer ‘competition’ should turn out.  All of these men will enter… one will emerge the closer… OK, so there’s really not that much drama, Francisco is the clear choice here, but it warrants mentioning that the Jays have collected 4, count ’em FOUR, guys who have had a nice season as a closer.  They all provide value, whether it be from holds or K’s, but my bet is on Francisco to be the man in Toronto with Dotel the backup.  Francisco should save between 25 and 30 games in Canada, with a decent WHIP and a K/9 north of 9.  Solid numbers.  Should the Jays improve, as they very well could, he could see that save total jump 5-7 saves.  Dotel could certainly pick up a handful of saves along the way – things happen- and is ownable in many leagues because of his outstanding K value.  As long as the walks don’t get in the way, he’s a solid own in leagues where you need that extra bump in strikeouts, regardless of WHIP.  Both Rauch and Frasor are similar in that they are established relievers who are wholeheartedly unexciting if not in a closer’s role.  They will provide value as 7th/8th inning hold guys but this is a classic case of a reliever being more valuable in real life than fantasy, that’s just how it works most of the time.  Francisco might go earlier than those Pirates’ guys, but I’d put him around the same level as Putz.  No need to reach, as one of them will be there at the end for you to snatch.


Chris Perez

Classic case of closer for a bad team.  Did you realize he saved 23 games last year (they won 69 games)?  The Indians are a very young team and are bound to improve this year but even if they do not, Perez figures to be right around 30 saves.  But who am I to say?  Let’s see what the expert panel thinks: Bill James?  31 saves.  CBS? 30 saves.  CAIRO? 33 saves.  RotoChamp?  33 saves.  Sounds like I’m not the only one who thinks he’s going to have a solid year.  Actually, forget solid – he’s going to have a very GOOD year.  His K/9 should hover right above a batter an inning and my guess is his ERA will be 4 or below.  If he gets his ground ball percentage up close to 40%, his WHIP could easily be sub-1.20.  Sounds like a very solid Closer to me (just like the Cardinals thought he’d be).  I’d bet he’s getting a look at the end of some drafts and if he’s on the scrap heap to start your season, grab him.  I’m looking forward to a good 2011 from Perez.

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There’s my list.  I know I left some guys out – Venters and Kimbrel in Atlanta are sure to impress – but these are guys on the REAL cheap.  I hate closers so if any of these gentlemen blow up in your face this season… well… s#!& happens.  But if you’re like me and you look for saves on the cheapest of cheap, I think this list is a good place to start (let me know if you think otherwise).

 

-w

 

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Filed under Closers, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, pitchers, Posted, Sleepers

2011 Favorites: First Base

get it? first base?

Wanna know how I got this sweet ass piiiiiiic?  Cuz I’m faaaasssst.  No intro this time, just hope you realize this is not meant to be a comprehensive list of First Basemen, one of those deeper positions in fantasy.  No, these are some guys I’m spotlighting because they fit into these categories I have created because I have created this blog.  So there.  Read on party people (all 13 of you) and remember- it’s time for Christmas music on the radio, that means mock drafts are coming soon…

Young Studs

Freddie Freeman

Derek Lee out, Freddie in?  With all the upside and hype this 2007 draft pick… wait no that was the first round pick Mr. Heyward.  Outside of baseball circles, Freeman did not receive the same kind of hype.  The Bravos love him.  Scouts love him.  Yo momma loves him.  Honestly, though, all reports indicate that Freeman has a sweet, smooth stroke and is ready for a shot at the big show.  The Braves are on the cusp (if not already firmly entrenched) of a serious youth movement and though Adrian Gonzalez might be a fit, well, I can’t say it any better than MLBTR : “The Braves are a logical landing spot for Adrian Gonzalez, but they’re also very high on first base prospect Freddie Freeman. The last time they traded for a first baseman with a year-plus left on his contract, they basically rebuilt the Texas Rangers.”

If that’s not reason enough to give Freeman a shot, I don’t know what is.  Freeman projects to have decent power and a good contact swing.  I’d wait to hear how the Braves’ offseason goes before you slot him into your draft board, but given the shot, he could be a 15-20 homer, 85 RBI, .300-ish average guy.  Like I said, he’s got a smooth swing.

Brett Wallace

 

He almost got slid down into the “remember me?” section.  It seems like Brett Wallace has been all over in the last two years, and he kind of has.  Firmly settled in what they’re trying to build in Houston, it is time for Wallace to shine and prove all the scouts, bloggers, and GMs right.  With short porches to both left and right (and that silly-ass mound in center), a good hitter to all fields like Wallace should adjust well to his home park, much like his predecessor Lance ‘Fat Elvis’ Berkman did before he became part of the Dark Side and got old.  Wallace has put up good numbers in THREE organizations’ AAA affiliates and has nothing left to prove on that stage.  His time is now and he is worth taking a shot on.

Brandon Allen

Given some playing time in the outfield, Allen played OK for the D-Backs (and made an all-season great catch).  But with the team not picking up Adam Laroche, Allen could see more time at first as well.  He’s been kicking around for a while but is still only 24 and has always projected to be a monster power threat (the dude is 6’2” 235!) and looks to be getting a shot to showcase some of that pop for the free-swinging Diamondbacks.  Allen will  be on my watch list to start the season, to see how he adjusts.  His K-rate could be a killer but if he settles  into a role for the D-Backs, he could be a valuable power pickup as the season progresses.

 

Don’t-Forget-About-These Guys

Gaby Sanchez

I don’t mean this to be mean or harsh, but did anyone realize how solid a year Gaby Sanchez had?  He trailed off in September as young players are wont to do.  Would anyone in fantasy complain about a first baseman who hit .270 with 15-20 homers and 80+ RBI?  You could do a LOT worse with your CI spot or backup first baseman (I’m looking at you Chris Davis).  Take this past season as a starting block, too.  The guys just a young fella!  Sort of.  But he’ll be 27 this year, and you know what that means… right?  It means he’ll be good, science proves it.  In fact scientists in China are working on a serum to make athletes 27 forever… probably.  I foresee Sanchez improving on his already solid year and putting together a season worth owning.  Plan accordingly in your draft strategy.

Garrett Jones

Garrett Jones did not have a 2010 fantasy season to take home to Mom.  It was more like a season you regret waking up to in your dorm room the next morning – that is, it was ugly, but had a few redeeming points.  For example, Jones still hit 21 homers, proving his breakout campaign’s power was no fluke.  Jones suffered for two reasons I see: a worse walk rate and a worse BABIP.  With a better walk rate, it ensures Jones isn’t striking out as much.  With his breakout year, his BABIP was almost 50 points better than his drunken mistake of a year in 2010.  His AAA numbers continue this story, making me think an improvement in BABIP and more patience at the plate, even slightly, will improve Jones’ year enough for him to be a late round steal for someone- make it you.

 

The Inception Play

Mitch Moreland

To be fair, I was rooting hard for the Rangers in the Playoffs and developed a playoff-crush on Moreland, who had a nifty playoffs, playing his way OUT of a platoon (Jorge Cantu, we hardly knew ye).  He was solid in the minors, has a great swing and has worked hard to be a good, smart hitter.  Moreland figures to have played well enough for the Rangers to not try Chris Davis again, so fantasy owners won’t have to play him either!  Unless Chris Davis has nekked pictures of Nolan Ryan or something.  Moreland will get lots of AB’s and I am very curious as to what he will do with them.  Maybe not draft-worthy, but who knows, stranger things have happened (like the Giants beating up Cliff Lee).

 

That’s all I’m giving you.  I know there are any number of options at first base, but these are the guys I’m thinking of for the upcoming draft season.  If you disagree, do it on the interweb!  I’d love to have a discussion about guys to watch in 2011 and I’m sure many of the 13 of you all have opinions!

 

I’m done, enjoy Vodka & Milk remixes

 

-w

 

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, first base, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts, Rookies, Sleepers

Blogging From the Country of Ohio! It’s Trevor! (So why is he a Pirates fan?)

boom baby.

According to reports today, the Pittsburgh Pirates have elected to place their pitcher eighth in the batting order placing Ronny Cedeno in the 9th spot with Akinori Iwamura batting in the lead-off spot and Andrew McCutchen second. While many will see this report and dismiss it as another roster blunder by the Pirates, there is a method to their madness. This move has real implications for McCutchen. By batting him second, the Pirates give him more RBI opportunities. Instead of having a black hole on offense batting in the 9 spot, Cedeno (who underwent a small career revival upon moving to the Pirates last year batting .258 and raising his OBP almost 100 points) and Iwamura give the Pirates an opportunity for players to get on base in front of one of their rising stars. While this does not have massive fantasy implications, it does give an owner in a deeper league flexibility when looking for a player to pick up the RBIs needed to win a close match.

–TreTrain

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