Tag Archives: post-hype

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

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

This video is simply silly bad.  Just silly.

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

Don’t you forget about: Mat Gamel

um... yikes?

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

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

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

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

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

…. don’t you forget about Mat Gamel.

-w

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

Don’t You Forget About Me: Brandon Belt

This video is simply silly bad.  Just silly.

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

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

Don’t you forget about: Brandon Belt

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

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

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

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

yes. this.

-w

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2011 Favorites: Outfielders

The outfield is a wonderful place.  Playing center most of my <ahem> illustrious career, I have an appreciation to the boredom coupled with rapid excitement that comes from playing in the space past the infield diamond.  But before I start digressing about outfield arms and covering ground, let’s talk fantasy.  No one cares about outfield defense in fantasy, we want power.  Or speed.  Or power AND speed.  The fantasy outfield landscape is vast and varied.  So let’s jump on in…

 

YOUNG STUDS

 

Mike Stanton

Mike Stanton can MASH.  That’s actually the scientific term used by physicists when describing his swing.  He hit a homer every 18 times he stepped up to the plate and had a stellar .248 ISO.  He hit 21 homers in AA then then jumped and hit 22 more in the majors.  The kid’s got serious power.  CAIRO, for some reason, has him down for abbreviated AB and only 21 homers.  This is still a good ratio considering they have him down for only 418 AB.  Slightly more realistically, RotoChamp has him hitting 34 in 562 AB and GUESS WHAT?  The usually stingy Bill James has Stanton hitting a whoppin’ 38 homers in 2011 (and an improved ISO of .288).  Sure, he’s going to strike out a ton but how many young studs are out there?  Actually quite a few, but not many who are very very likely to hit 35+ homers and doubles and knock in near 100 runs.  He’s not going to hit .300 next year, but with 40 bombs and 100 RBI, you better be able to stomach a .270 average.  Stanton is a stud, and is here to stay.  Get him.

very artsy shot here

Desmond Jennings

Jennings is one of the many young players I could have thrown into this space.  However, he distinguishes himself in one of my favorite areas: speed.  While there are questions about his power developing immediately, his speed is the real deal.  Call him Crawford 2.0.  He tore up the bases in the minors, stealing 45, 37 twice and 32 in rookie ball.  No one seems to think that will change in the majors.  CAIRO and RotoChamp seem to fear that he will lose AB’s to Damon and Manny, keeping him under 400 AB, yet both have him stealing 20+ bases.  Now it gets interesting.  Bill James, notorious for conservatism about rookies has him down for FIFTY-FOUR STEALS!  That’s instant stud-dom!  Jennings has always had a pretty good eye, but you gotta figure that, as a rookie, it is unreasonable to expect a .300 average.  Look for .275 and be thrilled when he does better.  As I said, his power is still (allegedly) developing, so don’t expect more than 10 homers.  But 10 homers, 20+ doubles, 5 triples and FIFTY-FOUR STEALS sounds like a pretty good ‘low’ expectation to me.  Jennings has enormous (read: the next Crawford) ceiling, but temper your expectations- he is a rookie, after all.

Domonic Brown

Great name, right?  And we all know that’s the first step towards stardom.  And the general consensus is just that – Browns headed to stardom.  He looks like a player, standing (or towering) at a lanky 6’5” 200, he projects to hit for nice power but is also fleet of foot.  He’s the whole package, basically.  Now in my thinking about his 2011 season, I figured a safe starting bet was numbers similar to Jason Heyward’s 2010 campaign… good, very good even, but really just a teaser for the NEXT season.  Again, I’m no expert, but this seemed reasonable.  So imagine my surprise when I got to Domonic Brown’s Fangraphs page and saw Bill James’ projections.  Apparently he likes the kid – 26 homers, 33 doubles, 4 triples, 94 RBI, 84 runs (breath), a .288 AVG AND 28 steals?!?  Bill James gone wild!  Ew.  Gross.  Seriously, though, is that a projection or what?  Even if he doesn’t reach James’ lofty projections – and I expect he will not – somewhere between the low end (my theory) and the astronomical (James’) is a happy medium.  20+ homers and 20+ steals is ownable right there, throw in some other stats and it’s all gravy, baby.  Tasty, tasty gravy.

 

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DON’T FORGET ABOUT THESE GUYS

Shane Victorino

I should admit that I’ve always been partial to the Flyin’ Hawaiian.  I admire the speed in which he plays the game and the hustle he shows.  That said, he was a major disappointment last year… or was he?  Yes, his average slipped all the way down to .259 but the dude still swiped 34 bags and hit 18 homers!   He is more than capable of producing a 15 homer, 35 steal, 100 run, 10+ triple season, making him at the very least interesting.  But what do I know?  Let’s see what the projectors say… just as I thought.  CAIRO, RotoChamp, and Bill James all have similar numbers: .280 average, 90-100 runs, 15-ish homers, 30-ish steals… and that wonderful threat of the triple.  I’m not saying go out and reach for Victorino in drafts – quite the opposite.  I’m suggesting that when he drops (and he WILL drop), be mindful of letting him by in the later rounds.

Grady Sizemore

How’re you gonna forget a face like that?

Easily, actually.  Sizemore is a serious red-flag injury risk at this point.  But for the bold, all signs seem go.  Bill James seems to think he can play 150+ games but RotoChamp and CAIRO have him at limited (mid 400’s) at bats.  It’s really a matter of how much faith you have in his health.  I happen to think he’ll break down again, others are very optimistic.  James has him for 23 homers, 105 runs, 81 RBI, and 23 steals in roughly a full season, hitting .265.  Given a full year, this seems about right to me.  There comes a time in every draft you take a player you’re scared of, and I’ll say that when you get to it, you might as well take a flier on a healthy Grady Sizemore.  You remember healthy Grady Sizemore… right?  He was a fantasy dreamboat.  Good luck if you snag him, and I hope he does well – he seems like a good dude.

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THE INCEPTION PLAY(s)

Matt Joyce

Do you know Matt Joyce’s ISO off the top of your head?  That’d be incredible, rain man, but let me just tell you – it was .227.  He hit 10 homers and 15 doubles (3 triples too, woot.) in just 261 plate appearances.  That’s good for an extra base hit every 9.32 AB, a delightfully high rate for a guy who just needs a chance to play.  Joyce has real pop – it’s just a matter of whether the Rays will let him use it.  He figures to split time on the corners, so I’d hope for 500 AB and be happy with 400.  Why?  Well, let’s once again go to the projectors:  RotoChamp has him at 21 homers in 444 at bats, an amazing amount and Bill James thinks 18 in 388 AB (with 28 doubles to boot).  Point is, his power projects.  Now if only it would come out on a regular basis… put him on your watch list or stash him while you monitor his playing time.

Travis Snider

So, first off, yes I’m including him because I want him to follow us on twitter (@duckfromthepond).  But more than that, this is the year for Snider, who is only 21 (actually his birthday is coming up so 22), to make a big step in his progression.  With an improved batting eye, Snider could be a late-round power bargain.  He put up two very promising months, May and September, which are hopefully indicators of what might be.  Now the 24:2 K:BB ratio isn’t going to cut it, but that’s easily improved marginally.  What sticks out in those months are his 6 homers in September and .543 SLG.  Bill James doesn’t seem to think he will get regular PT, so I’m ignoring his projections (16 homers in 311 AB).  CAIRO and RotoChamp, however, have him at 19 homers in 466 AB and 23 homers in 521 AB, respectively.  These numbers are a better base if you look back at Snider’s power potential from the minors.  Plus, the dude just looks like he can swing the lumber (link evidence of a BOMB).  Snider is a great guy to take a flier on this year at the end of a draft, as, once again, he’s only 21.  He’s improving every year and could pop off at any time.  He was a major prospect who has since cooled in the majors so grab him before he heats up again.  And see if he’ll follow us on twitter, damnit.

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There we go, the outfielders to keep an eye on this year in drafts.  With the exception of Sizemore, I would readily own them all (and I’d take Grady, just knowing that the injury bug could burn me).  Outfield is a funny position in fantasy, as you can play it fast and loose with guys like Juan Pierre and Raja Davis, you can go for boppers like Snider, or you can play it safe with guys who emerge like Pagan or Torres.  Only the season will tell, and it is fast approaching!  Two weeks til Spring Training starts, so get ready.  DotP is taking off so be prepared – fantasy baseball excellence is at the tip of your finger.

Later, ducks, and happy drafting.

-w

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, Posted, Sleepers

Put up or Shut up: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

looks like a catcher

I like to think that the people who run baseball organizations are all smarter than me.  This idea gives me comfort when it comes to prospects and moves and whatnot – the higher ups, scouts, and people in the know are just better informed.  So when I look at Jarrod Saltalamacchia, I am perplexed.  On the one hand, my Red Sox bias begins to take over: “sure he’ll hit, there’s a reason the Bravos were so high on him,” I tell myself.  On another hand, he will share time with Jason Varitek.  On yet another hand, presumably someone else’s (don’t get any ideas), he hasn’t hit above .270 in the majors.  All this weighs heavy on my considerable brain.  But as TO might say, if it looks like a catcher and smells like a catcher, by golly, it’s a catcher.

First things first:  there has to be something there.  Scouts from multiple organizations can’t be totally off on a guy, right?  Let’s talk about the minors – the pedigree is there… back in 2007.  A .309 ISO in AA????  WOW.  Scouts all saw/see Salty as a potential 20-30 homer guy.  Now we may have to concede at this point that he will not be a .300 hitter.  Not many catchers are.  The power is legit.  So is the fact that he swings the stick from both sides of the plate.  A catcher, with power, who also switch hits?  Sounds like a recipe for success to me.  Only it hasn’t quite worked out like that for Jarrod.

The situation for Salty is ripe for a comeback, though.  He’s playing in a great hitters’ park in Fenway.  He doesn’t have the same pressures he once did as a hyped rookie.  Heck, he won’t eve be asked to catch 150 games, Tek will likely get a lot of AB’s too.  So why Salty?  The power.  Bill James and I are on the same path with this one.  he has Jarrod hitting 12 homers in 110 games (371 PA).  That’s a good number of homers for infrequent at-bats.  I’ll argue that given those times in the box (and probably closer to 400 PA than 350 – V-Tek, sorry but you’re old), Salty can provide in the high teens for round-trippers.  Now tell me how many fantasy catchers are good for that?  How many that you can get in the last round?  I’ve been of the belief that there are maybe 3 catchers worth owning if you have to draft them above the 15th round.  5, now, because of Posey and Santana.  After that, you might as well wait until the end of a draft to snag someone.  I offer that it’s time for Salty to put up, and time for you to take one last flier on him.

 

 

Short and sweet, but that’s the point.  No numbers really, just time for Salty to put up or shut up.

 

-w

 

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