Tag Archives: sleeper

First Base Bouncebacks & Breakouts pt. 1

Everyone is already back on the Adam Dunn bandwagon.  Lucas Duda is going 85-28-90 according to all “experts”.  Let’s look at the guys that could easily outperform these 1B given their current ADPs.  Whether it’s coming off a major injury, having years that bring up memories of  Rob Deer, or just being really old, there’s always value to be found in a buy-low veteran.  And let’s not forget about those post-post-hype sleepers.  Alex Gordon has forced attention to all the 2nd and 3rd year disappointments of yesteryear.  So who do you want?

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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: 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

Put up or Shut up: Chris Young

he probably hurt himself on this pitch

Chris R. Young

 

 

Has this man hurt you?  Tell Will where the bad man hurt you.

Are you tired of drafting Chris Young thinking ‘this could be the year he gets healthy/puts it all together?’

Have you been burned at the end of a draft as pitchers who actually provided some fantasy value passed you by as you clung to the hope of Chris R. Young?

Are you fed up?

Well this is your year, ladies and gents.  Chris Young is going to have ‘that’ year this year.  Well, he better.  In all seriousness, the stars are alligned for Young to have a great year.  Year removed from arm trouble?  Yup.  Playing for an offense better than the Padres’?  Well, the little league team I coached would fit that bill so, Yup.  Pitching in a pitcher’s haven?  Yup.  Young demonstrated that he could be quite a good pitcher in the friendly dimensions of PETCO Park (splits here), and Citi Field proved to be a similar-type field, playing fly balls long and generally squashing many an offense.  If he can keep his ground ball rate above 30%, the long dimensions of Citi should keep his 50-ish% fly ball rate in the park.

Let me throw some numbers at you: 189 IP, 164 K’s, 12 Wins, a 1.21 WHIP and a 7.8 K/9 (to go with a 2.21 K/BB ratio).  That’s what Chris Young’s 162 game average is, according to Baseball-Reference.  Now if he could only stay healthy.  A healthy and smart Young (and the guy went to Princeton, let’s not forget he’s a smart dude, so sitting around 92-93 MPH should be no problem as he’s a smart pitcher) should keep a K rate around 8 and not walk many – his GB, FB, and K/BB rates are all pretty consistent regardless of the amount of innings he has pitched.  This means his WHIP should be between 1.1 and 1.25 in a normally good year.  The wins are really up to the Mets, who hopefully should be not such a mess this year.

That’s it, time’s tickin’ for Chris Young…

 

 

 

 

…time to put up or shut up.

 

 

 

-w

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Filed under Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, Pickups, pitchers, Posted, Put Up or Shut Up, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

You should probably draft some Rangers

The unofficial mascot and motto of the 2011 Texas Rangers offense

And by Rangers, I mean the Texas offense, which has the potential to be absurd this year. Let’s take a look at the Ranger’s possible starting nine, (last years numbers are provided).

SS: Elvis Andrus (.265 AVG, 0 HR, 35 RBI, .342 OBP, .301 SLG, 32 SB)

2B: Ian Kinsler (.286, 9, 45, .382, .412)

1B: Jorge Cantu: (.256, 11, 56, .304, .392)

3B: Adrian Beltre (.321, 28, 102, .365, .553)

C: Bengie Molina (.249, 5, 36, .297, .326)

OF: Josh Hamilton (.359, 32, 100, .411, .633)

OF: Nelson Cruz (.318, 22, 78, .374, .567)

OF: David Murphy (.291, 12, 65, .358, .449)

DH: Michael Young (.284, 21, 91, .330, .440)

Other than Molina, those numbers are insane. Plus, Beltre’s numbers were from when he was playing for the Red Sox last year. What the Rangers lost with Cliff Lee in terms of pitching, they made up for in offense with Beltre. It should be noted that the Rangers put up those numbers without him in the lineup. If Beltre produces like he did last year, the Rangers are going to be an offensive force and with the sixth-highest park factor in the majors, the offensive numbers should continue.

While there are some obvious players to draft on this team (Hamilton, Beltre, Cruz) the lesser players like Young and Murphy should also put up better numbers with all the star power around them. Pitchers will be worn out after facing the Rangers 1-5, allowing ample opportunity for the bottom of the order to produce some big numbers.

Especially in deeper leagues, look for the likes of Young in the middle rounds (who will have added value because he will be eligible at multiple positions and will also be forgotten about because of Beltre) and Murphy in the later rounds. Another player to watch this year will be Taylor Teagarden. Due to Molina’s age (36) and lack of offensive production (see above) Teagarden might get a legitament shot this year, and could succeed without so much pressure. (The same goes for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but that is for another post).

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Searching for Stubbs: Will Venable

Let me get one thing straight- I have a major league mancrush on Drew Stubbs.  It happens.  Like my infatuation with Dexter Fowler or Dave’s fascination with Jerome Williams, it’s just a bit of guy love between two guys… (count it, Scrubsreference).  Stubbs came up a nifty prospect, nothing to break down doors about, but thought to be a useful guy.  He produced 8 homers and 10 steals in only 196 plate appearances in his call up in 2009 before becoming a late round GEM in 2010, banging out 22 homers and stealing 30 bases in 584 PA.  A legitimate 30-30 threat, Stubbs was grabbed in many a later round draft time in 2010.  So in looking forward to 2011, I’m investigating what guys you’ve probably heard of, be it a semi-touted prospect, a down-on-his-luck flameout (still holding a candle for Alex Gordon, anyone?), or a player who has produced in a small sample are capable of producing in multiple categories for very little cash (in auctions) or may not be drafted (in other formats).  That sentence could probably use a good edit but alas, I am lazy.  The point is, here is a guy who will, like Stubbs, provide a cheap power/speed combo in 2011:

Will Venable

See what I mean about good names in baseball? Will Venable has a good one.  He is also exactly the type of player I am lookig for when I say I am looking for the next breakout like Drew Stubbs.  Once again, Bill James sells him very short in his projections, but more on that later.  I, on the other hand, believed in Venable last year, though he got hurt, and will be looking forward to his 2011 season, as I think he will put it all together.

Let us begin at the beginning (well, the convenient beginning)- 2007.  In 2007, in AA, Venable stole 21 bases.  This is most excellent for a big dude (he’s 6’2” 210).  he also had a full year, with 572 PA, knocking 8 homers, 3 triples, and 19 doubles (19.07 PA/XBH).  That rate could be better, but for the time being move on if you can and focus on the 21 steals, thanks.

In 2008, Venable moved up to AAA (with a cup of coffee for the Padres later).  In the minors, Venable had 496 PA, hitting 26 doubles, 4 triples, and 14 homers (11.27 PA/XBH).  He stole only 8 bases.  Then, in his cup o’ joe with the parent club, Will the Thrill had only 28 games and played sparingly, posting similar PA/XBH numbers to 2007.

We arrive in 2009 when Venable gets really interesting.  In AAA once again, the slugger hit 10 doubles, 3 triples, and 12 homers… in 226 PA.  That’s good for an outstanding one extra base hit every 9.04 PA!  He stole only one base.  Then came the call to the big club.  With the fathers, Venable collected 324 PA, smacking 14 doubles, 2 triples, and 12 homers (he stole 6 bases).  That’s good for 11.57 PA/XBH an excellent number for basically a rookie and on-par with the Stubbsian line I’ve drawn.

On came 2010, a very promising year for Venable.  And on the whole, he didn’t fare too badly.  In 445 PA, he stole a whopping 29 bases, proving 2007 was not a fluke, and placing him in the suddenly-very-interesting-power/speed guy realm.  He hit 11 doubles, 7, I repeat SEVEN triples, and 13 homers to go along with those 29 steals, good for a rate of 14.35 PA/XBH, right around the magic number.

Looking forward to  2011, I obviously turned to the guru, Bill James.  He, however, only projects Venable for 353 PA, far short of what I envision for the guy given San Diego’s need for some thump and 1B/OF play.  In that brief sample, however, James sees Venable maintaining his rate, projecting 12 doubles, 3 triples, and 10 homers, good for a rate of 14.12 PA/XBH.  This is to go along with 16 stolen bases.  If Venable can get his K:BB rate a little better and maintain a .320-ish BABIP, he should have no problem posting similar rates, hitting in the .260 range with lots of extra base hits.  The steals should come as well, even in James small sampling, he has the hefty Venable swiping 16 bags, so extrapolate that over many more AB and it is not crazy to think Venable can steal 25-30 bases given regular AB.  With 25-30 doubles, 5-10 triples, and 15-20 homers, doesn’t Venable sound like a West Coast version of Stubby ?  Sure sounds similar to me.

-w

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Minor Power Outage for the Cubs

  

and he lovers amurrica

 

The Cubs are not sending sweet Lou out with a bang… cue Mike Minor?   huh.  guess we should write him up… 

He has put up pretty outstanding minor league K numbers (9.99, 11.30, 10.93 K/9 rates in A, AA, and triple A the past 2 years)  with good K: BB numbers as well. He has 3 very useful fantasy starts under his belt, going at  least 6 innings in each, with those good K numbers… 

  

Here’s what the interweb turns up about Minor: 

scout.com 

baseballbeginnings.com 

razzball, always on the ball 

a look from scouting the sally (video) 

video and reaction from the mlb draft itself 

  

the kid is a ‘polished’ pitcher, according to most and has the K/9 swagger in the minors to make the jump quickly. Watch Mr. Minor to end the year, so you can draft him accordingly next season. 

  

-w

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Alvarez Watch: Could make debut this week?

I'm the face of a dying franchise.

I know it has been a while and you all missed my fantasy ramblings, but I am back. The first order of business I have to get out of the way is that my second favorite baseball team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, may be calling up Pedro Alvarez this week, according to a report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette. For those of us who drafted him before the season (like me, when I drafted him back in December….) this has been a long time coming. I am excited about his potential and really think the Pirates need to answer all the Strasburg hype with something of their own (albeit not as exciting). He could have an impact right away and give the Pirates something they haven’t had in a long, long time: a reason for fans to go to the ballpark. Anyway, if he hasn’t been picked up in your league, then pick him up.

Also, that Trevor Crowe post isn’t looking to shabby now, is it?

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I just picked up Trevor Crowe

Is it because my name is Trevor and I am desperately searching for a major league player with my name to put on my team? Probably, but lets look at this small sample size in the majors this year.

As of right now (not including today’s game where he is 0/3) he is 5/11, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1K, 1SB, .500 OBP and 1.227 OPS.

While those numbers may fall, why not give this guy a shot if you have an open roster spot?

Do it.

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Filed under Cajones, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Opinion, Pickups, Random Thoughts, Sleepers

Alert: Cubs call up Starlin Castro

The future?

According to multiple reports today, the Cubs have called up top prospect Starlin Castro. After tearing up AA this year, the Cubs are going to give him a shot to become the everyday short stop giving him a chance to jump start a team that was just swept by the Pirates. Keep an eye on this guy, he could thrive right away in Chicago and could be a nice pick up.

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