Tag Archives: Rookies

Fantasy Mustache: Catchers

Sleeper Mustache Candidates

#1 Travis D’Arnaud

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

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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

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

Ian Desmond- Nat’s New SS

This doesn’t come as a complete shock because of the rave reviews he has been receiving this spring.  He definitely is worth a pickup in deeper leagues or leagues with multiple MI spots.  There’s 15-15 upside for sure here.  Take the gamble.

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Rookies

Mixed League Rookies (some to stash, some for now, plus a service time explanation)

First and foremost, yes on Jason Heyward. He has power, discipline, and the backing of Ol’ Bobby.  Saw him in Spring Training ’08 and ’09 and he was a manchild, and that was before the parking lot nets had to be installed this year.  Look for him to hit .290 with 20+ HR, ~15 SB if he plays a full year.  His ADP in ESPN leagues around 170, making him a great high upside pick in the 14th or 15th round, as he’s being picked between Franklin Gutierrez and 2-category player Chris Coghlan.

What’s the only thing that could stand between Heyward and instant success on the big stage, a terrifying phenomenon that has recently felled the likes of Ryan Braun, Evan Longoria, Matt “God” Wieters, Tommy Hanson and (just last Saturday) St. Stephen Strasburg ?  A GM with an eye on the big picture, that’s what.  All of the aforementioned players were clearly ready for the Bigs when camp broke their respective rookie years, yet they found themselves in places like Durham, Norfolk, and Richmond to open the season.  Front offices inevitably make up some laughable excuse for sending down the player, usually saying “he needs more seasoning,” as though 2 weeks facing washed up vets at AAA will actually make or break the player’s career.  The Nationals’ recent handling of Strasburg was the funniest of all, as his GM and manager said he was optioned to slow down his delivery from the stretch, as he hasn’t pitched with men on base often enough to be comfortable with it.

The truth is, players are under team control for 6.0 years before free agency.  Each contractual year consists of 172 days of service time.  Thus, if a player is in the Bigs from Opening Day til the end the season he accrues  1.0 years of service time.  However, due to scheduling, there is a discrepancy between a contractual year and the calendar year, as the MLB season actually takes 183 days.  This creates a loophole in that a player can be sent to the minors to begin the season and called up twelve days later, giving him at years’ end only 171 days (.994 years) of service time, delaying his free agency one year.  At the rate current free agent contracts have ballooned, the extra year of team control can potentially save a team up to $10 million for that year, a benefit most sane GMs in today’s economy would gladly pay in exchange for their top prospect waiting an extra 2 weeks to help the club.  *Note: if a minor leaguer is on the team’s 40 man roster, he must spend 20 days in the minors between the option date (day he is sent down) and the day he is called up or else the option will be voided and teams would save no service time accrual.  Thus, 40-man prospects will usually remain in the minors the first 21 days of the season.*

As an addendum to the service time discussion, “Super Two” status is another factor in considering summoning top prospects to the bigs.  Typically, players are at club-controlled salaries (around the $400,000 minimum) for their first 3 seasons in MLB.  In seasons 4-6 (barring a contract extension) they are eligible for salary arbitration, whereby a committee determines the next season’s salary based on past performance.   However, there exists a group of players, “Super-Twos,” who are eligible for arbitration after only 2 full seasons. Players who rank in the top 17% in total service time of those with between 2-3 full years of service time qualify for Super Two status.  So, if a player starts on the MLB roster in May 2007, then plays all of 2008 and and 2009 for the club, he will likely have about 2.7-2.8 years’ service time entering the 2010 season.  While the scale varies year to year, this will usually put him around the crucial top 17% cutoff point for Super Twos, costing the team millions.  Case in point: Tim Lincecum, called up May 7, 2007, made the Super Two cutoff this year.  While he otherwise could have been renewed at as little at $520,000, the Giants gave him a two-year $23,000,000 deal to buy out his first 2 years of arbitration.  Conversely, Mark Reynolds was called up on May 16, 2007, only 9 days later.  However, he just missed the Super-Two cutoff, meaning he was eligible for arbitration until 2011 (though the team did sign him to an extension, it pays only $500,000 for 2010, representing a huge savings over what he would’ve made in arbitration.

As the Reynolds case exemplifies, a player who is called in mid-May may avoid Super Two status; however teams like to err on the side of caution, usually waiting until around June 1 to recall their studs.  Just last year, Wieters debuted May 29, Andrew McCutchen debuted on June 4, and Tommy Hanson debuted June 7.  Did that have anything to do with minor league success?  Obviously not.  The teams knew they could save money in the long run by delaying until June to call up their top prospects.  Keep that in mind when looking at this year’s potential impact rookies, and if you’ve got your sights set on one of these guys who’ll be starting in the minors in a shallow league I would pull the trigger around May 15:

Stephen Strasburg, RHP WAS

He’s already gotten more hype than any college pitcher since Mark Prior, and rightfully so.  However, when Washington recalls him is crucial to his mixed league value.  If they wait the absolute minimum amount of time for his option to count, he could be up by the end of April, the Nats will save a year of service time, and you could have a SP1 for 25+ starts around pick 190.  However, it is more likely the Nationals look to save more by waiting until June, giving you between 15-20 starts.  Keep this in mind when drafting.

Pedro Alvarez, 3B PIT

If there is a Braun/Longo this year, it’s Alvarez.  Right now he’s best known for his draft holdout that almost cost the Pirates his rights after being selected #2 overall in 2008, but that will soon be forgotten.  He’s got a sweet lefty stroke with good loft.  While he strikes out a bit, he has a great eye as well.  He offers upside in line with Evan Longoria’s rookie year (.275, 20+HR); the only question is how soon he takes over the hot corner in Pittsburgh.  Andy Laroche has struggled mightily this spring but will keep the spot warm while Pedro’s arbitration clock stays frozen at AAA.  Since he’s a 40-man guy, he won’t be up before April 23, but I will be grabbing him around April 15 to be safe.  If Pittsburgh decides to wait, then make sure you pick him up around May 15.

Carlos Santana, C CLE

Santana is the switch-hitting catcher the Indians picked up in 2008 for Casey Blake.  A year from now, people will look back on that trade and laugh.  He won the Eastern League (AA) MVP last year, and offers a ton of power along with Youk-esque discipline.   The Indians will be running out Lou Marson and Wyatt Toregas until they decide to go with the future in late May/early June.  He will be a top 10 catcher as soon as he is called up, but and projects to be a Kung Fu Panda minus about 40 points of average (which he more than makes up for in OBP, not that it counts for fantasy).  In other words, if he’s called up June 1, expect a .280 avg with 15 bombs, not too shabby for a first-year catcher.

Now, for the guys will (most likely) break camp with the club (draft/pick up ASAP):

Aroldis Chapman, LHP CIN

Everyone already knows the good about Chapman, the Cuban defector who throws 102 from the left side with a 90 mph slider.  The Reds appear to be leaning towards him as their #5 starter to start the year, and he offers the upside of a full year of Francisco Liriano circa 2006.  The bad: he is prone to bouts of wildness because he has trouble repeating his delivery, and has recently experienced back problems in ST.  Nonetheless, he obviously offers tremendous upside and will provide plenty of K’s even in the worst case scenario.  He’s going around pick 210 and is worth the gamble.

Brian Matusz, LHP BAL

Here’s one talent evaluator’s take Matusz that I can’t best (credit Buster Olney’s blog):

“He’s like Cole Hamels, but with a better fastball. He’s got a chance to be really special, with that stuff and command. Last spring, the pitcher I liked, as an up-and-comer, was Josh Johnson. Now, it’s [Matusz]. If he’s not the best young pitcher in the American League, I’d be shocked.”

Matusz is also going around pick 210, and I personally prefer him to Chapman.  He has great control and great K-potential.  Unfortunately he’s in the AL East, so he’ll take some lumps along the way, but he’s gonna be a good one.  He made his debut last year and will assuredly break camp in the O’s young rotation.  On the year, look for an ERA in the 3.8 range with a 1.3 WHIP and, 7K/9ip, and 12-14 wins

Wade Davis, RHP TB

Firstly, Davis just won the Rays’ fifth starter job so draft with confidence.  He is a typical power righty with a a great 12-6 hook, along with a decent slider and change.  I like him right up there with Matusz, maybe just a tick below.  He threw a 10-K shutout last September over the O’s and has put up consistently strong numbers since being drafted out of high school in 2004.  One word of warning: against Big League lineups, Davis has been prone to hideously bad starts with no apparently good reason.  Maybe he is prone to tipping his pitches, maybe his command just disappears without warning, but both last September against BOS (8 earned in 2.2ip) and just the other day in ST against MIN (5 earned, 9 hits in 2ip) he’s had a couple disasters.  But don’t worry, over a full season in the Rays rotation his projection he should put similar numbers to Matusz.

Alcides Escobar, SS MIL

Remember Elvis Andrus?  Well Escobar will provide the same type of production this year as Milwaukee’s starting SS, and come about 100 picks later around 180.  Think 30+ steals and a hollow .280, with his run production TBD by his spot in the lineup.  As a young speedster, he’s been splitting time between leadoff and the 8-hole in ST.  Soon enough though, Carlos Gomez will find himself hitting 8th and Escobar will be hitting 1 or 2, in front of Braun and Fielder.  That won’t suck.

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, Rookies