Tag Archives: speed

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

Cheap Thrills, Speed Kills

WARP SPEED!

Every year, I play fantasy baseball.  Every year I come up with a new strategy.  Generally, it consists of eschewing closers in lieu of snagging some extra steals.  Every year I come up short.  Often this is because I stray from my strategy and take a closer over, say Juan Freakin’ Pierre.  Or Jacoby Ellsbury gets soft ribs.  But I digress.  My point is- speed kills.  If you can win the speed categories (3B, SB, R), I maintain that gives you an edge in most leagues.  With that in mind, let us look at some players you can get on the cheap that are going to bring you serious return by way of speed…

Eric Young Jr.

There are really only two things you need to know about EYJ: 1) He’s eligible at 2B AND OF 2) in limited AB Bill James has him stealing 46 bases.  That right there should probably be enough to warrant a late round pick.  But you being the cunning fantasy owner you are, you want more, don’t you?  I’ll oblige.  CAIRO has him stealing 34 bases in similarly few AB’s and ZiPS has him stealing 38.  Believe whoever you like, all these projections are for around 460 AB.  The lack of at bats is due to the presence of the likes of Ian Stewart and Jose Lopez.  I’ll argue til I’m purple (pun intended… you’ll get it) that EYJ’s talent (i.e. SPEED) will give him a leg up (god I’m on fire with the puns) on one of those two.  Now I’m no math major but if the wise Bill James thinks the kid can steal 40+, scouts all think he can steal 40+, and he suddenly gets 550 AB rather than 450, don’t you think he could steal 50 bases?  Maybe?  He’ll be a target of mine in many a draft as a back 2B/MI – but don’t forget he could be Juan Pierre-esque with 40+ steals late in a draft.  If you have a distaste for Pierre as I do, Young Jr. is your late round gem.  And honestly, if you hadn’t heard about him already, you’re probably gonna miss out on him anyway.

Lorenzo Cain

Lorenzo had one of my favorite catches of the year, smashing into the wall in Cincinnati.  As a former center fielder, it is pretty ridiculous if you go back and watch the amount of ground Cain covers to pull in the line drive.  Seriously, it is worth watching.  I’ll wait…

While this has nothing to do with Cain’s fantasy potential, it  kind of does.  Cain’s speed is going to be a fantasy asset on a bad Royals team.  While I will not preach that any KC player not named Butler or Soria is instantly ownable, Cain will steal you some bases.  I am not basing this solely off of his spectacular catch, but it honestly gives me reason to believe his speed.  Bill James has him at 33 steals in 512 AB.  ZiPS has him at 21 in 484.  CAIRO thinks he’ll swipe 14 in 433.  These all could be low estimates.  If Cain plays decently, he could quickly find himself atop the KC order.  Heck, even if he bats 9th, he will be getting closer to the 500-600 AB’s than 400-500 range.  Given the opportunity, the fantasy community (hah.) seems to think the kid has 30+ SB potential.  I agree.  And in a young KC lineup, he should be given every opportunity to shine.  by shine I mean steal 40 bases.  I wouldn’t advise drafting Cain, but monitor his Spring and start of the year.  If he can manage to hit between .260 and .270, he could easily steal 30+ bases for you.

Peter Bourjos

I wrote up Bourjos here earlier this month.  I suggest you read it, as I am a very talented man.  While you’re at it, read about Jose Tabata, if you want some slightly-more-expensive steals.  Bourjos figures to get a real shot and given that, is a real threat to steal 30+ bases.  So he’s got that goin’ for him… which is nice…

Coco Crisp

If you know baseball, you know Covelli can fly.  The question now is can he get the healthy At-Bats necessary to be a fantasy impact player again.  Crisp stole 32 bases in 328 plate appearances in 2010, good for one steal every 10.25 times he stepped up, when he managed to stay healthy enough to play.  His base-stealing prowess is undeniable.  What could be problematic this upcoming year is playing time, as the A’s OF looks crowded if that’s where the team plans on using Chris Carter and his Thor-Hammer power.  But you know what Crisp can do with merely 400 PA – steal 35 bases.  Once again I look at projections, none of which have Coco getting 500 AB or even 400 AB, but all seem to think he’ll steal 30 bases- including Bill James, CAIRO, and ZiPS.   So what happens if he gets regular at bats at the top of a revitalized A’s lineup?  He could steal 45-50 bases and score a ton of runs is the answer.  Once again, track his spring training and how the AB’s play out to start the season, but I think Crisp is a heckuva pickup candidate in 2011.

Erick Aybar

The Angels love to run.  Aybar figures to hit first in their lineup, or at least near the top.  This seems like a scheme for stealing success (hooray alliteration and rhyme!).  Aybar stole 22 bases in 2010 at the bottom of the lineup and has a 32 steal season in AAA just 5 years ago.  Bill James undershoots here and has him at 19 steals, as does CAIRO which has him at 18.  CBS has him pegged for 20 and I think these are all not taking into account his spot in the lineup and the lineup’s sudden need for speed.  Let me be the first to beg Mike Scioscia “LET ERICK RUN!”  I don’t care if he spells his name in a silly way, given the green light and top-of-the-order at bats, I bet you a box of jelly donuts Aybar can steal 30 bases.  We shall see.  But he will most likely be available at the end of drafts and is worth a flier on a MI spot, a notoriously weak position in the later rounds.

Cliff Pennington

Great name, let me start off by saying.

Moving on, did you know that Cliff Pennington stole 29 bases last year even though he only hit .250?  I did.  But that’s only because of my considerable knowledge on all things irrelevant in all of life except fantasy baseball.  29 bases!  Let me do some quick math… carry the 7… that’s one off of a 30 steal campaign!  Bill James thinks he can match that in 2011 but I think he can do better.  Let me explain.  With a better lineup & favorable spot in the order ( doublecheck), a better BABIP (check) and a better base stealing eye that only a year of experience can give you (uh… check), shouldn’t a player be able to increase his steal total?  Pennington is likely to be the #9 hitter for the A’s, free to run.  His BABIP last year was a decent .296.  It is not unreasonable to think he could improve that, even slightly, and get on base more often, increasing to the .260-.270 BA range and an OBP of around .340.  These are not unreasonable terms and are only slight improvements on what most projections have him putting forth in 2011.  I am optimistic, if for no other reason because I want to believe.  Like Aybar, you could do worse than Pennington at the end of a draft to fill your MI spot.  I expect 20 steals at a minimum and 35 is not unattainable.  Be aware.

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So there you have it, some really cheap sources of steals (with an unintentional wild wild west coast skew).  More to the point, these guys provide one quality in spades – speed.  Speed kills.  Speed gets steals.  Speed gets runs.  These categories make or break fantasy seasons.  You want more?  Check out my posts about some other cheap-ish speedy guys: Peter Bourjos, Jose Tabata, Will Venable, and Dexter Fowler.  I am of the firm belief that speed can be the ‘X’ factor in winning a fantasy season.  So draft Juan Pierre if you must.  Waste a pick on Nyjer Morgan.  Spend hours debating whether or not Rajai Davis will produce in Toronto (he will, but he was too obvious for this post).  I’ve outlined for you some guys you can have in the last rounds, as pickups, or for less than a few bucks, if you’re into that auction crap.  What you do with the fountain of knowledge that I’ve supplied is up to you.  Just remember, in fantasy, you want cheap thrills.  And speed kills.

 

-w

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Filed under Cajones, Fantasy Baseball, MLB, offseason, Opinion, outfield, Pickups, Posted, Random Thoughts, Rookies, second base, shortstop

THE ADAM LAROCHE ALL-STARS

the clown prince of 1st-2nd half-splits

If you follow fantasy, you are familiar with the king of second-half swing, a titan in the ugly-duck-to-beautiful-swan industry, the ultimate All-Star week pickup, Adam Laroche.  The numbers are remarkable.  Not that I put to much stock fantasy-wise in batting average, but check out these splits:

2006

–> 1st half: .251

–> 2nd half: .323

2007

–> 1st half: .239

–> 2nd half: .312

2008

–> 1st half: .251

–> 2nd half: .304

2009

–> 1st half: .250

–> 2nd half: .311

2010

–> 1st half: .253

–> 2nd half: probably 50 points higher…

Those numbers simply don’t lie.  Like clockwork, every year, Adam Laroche hits approximately 50 points higher in the second half.  It’s remarkable.  Even this year, when he started out hot (.296 in April), he has corrected himself, clearly.  Mr. Laroche must just take a few months to get his legs under him.  As I set out to write this post, I got to thinking about second half standouts.  And this year is a prime year for second-half second chances (Aaron Hill, your ears should be BURNING).  Using my considerable mental prowess, I have devised a collection of players I feel are going to be second half  studs, whether it be due to injury comeback, past history, or plain and simple waking the bleep up.  I may be wrong (I will almost assuredly be wrong about some) about a few, but in the gambling sense, I honestly can tell you the majority of these cards are going to land you on top (and that’s a power position, wink wink).  So here they are, the Adam Laroche All-Stars, guys we think will have good if not great second halves,  complete with various levels of statistical evidence to back us up.

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Aramis Ramirez

LOOK OUT!

Aramis is a staple of the teams I build.  He is also a very frustrating player.  A notorious slow starter, Ramirez heats up when it heats up.  He has also been, on a scale of one to Alex Gordon, very poor this year.  So here is my thinking;  baseball is a statistical game.  There is obviously a human element, however.  These two work together thought, not in opposition as some might think.  Life is a game of averages.  I’ll break it down.  If somewhere in the world usually gets 11 inches of rain in September, but it only has received 2 inches, you can safely assume there is going to be more rain coming.  In the same way, if Albert Pujols averages .320-30-115 but is under that projection thusfar, you can bet that even if he doesn’t exceed those numbers, the stats are going to settle closer to the average than where he currently stands.  This is not just a statgeek phenomena is my point, it’s the human condition.  Aramis is a good player.  He should be hitting 25-35 homers and driving in 90-100 runs.  I’m betting his numbers end up closer to that than the Mendoza Line.  So expect a nice second half.

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Nick Markakis

Yeah, this guy.

Let me first start off by saying I am a huge fan of Nick Markakis.  Just to get that out of the way.  Markakis is having a fine season, with 28 doubles and a .395 OBP, but we as fantasy owners do not want ‘fine,’ we want ‘stellar’ or ‘marvelous’ or even ‘exemplary’ (thank you, thesaurus).  Markakis is known as a great second half player.  His K:BB ratio is an excellent 51:50.  Clearly, with the 28 doubles and his fantastic eye, there is no issue with his swing.  I maintain that Markakis is going to go on a tear at some point in the second half and the homers will come.  I don’t mean he’s going to hit 40- At this point, he does not appear to be more than a 30-35 homer guy, which is fine with all the doubles he hits- but watch out for Markakis in the second half.  He’s currently the 206th ranked player in Yahoo leagues.  I don’t think I’m reaching when I guarantee that he will finish much higher than that, nor do I think it is a stretch to say he will finish in the top 100 players after the second half he has.  But only time will tell, I’m no Gypsy.

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Aaron Hill

WHOOOOOO. SECOND HALF BABY!

Maybe it’s just me being sympathetic, but I just picked Aaron Hill up in a league where he was dropped. I have watched many Aaron Hill at bats over the course of his career.  Aaron Hill is not a .189 hitter.  He simply is not.  He still has 12 homers, which is very respectable.  I’m envisioning a correction here, where the season average settles in to a more reasonable .275 range, meaning a strong couple months for Mr. Hill.  Or at least I hope so, because Pedroia isn’t coming back soon and I need a 2B.

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Kyle Blanks, Julio Borbon, Drew Stubbs

Three different cases here, all very intriguing.  Mr. Blanks has been written about in this space before, as Dave has a man crush on the big fella.  And he is a BIG fella (6’6” 270).  Blanks has the minor league numbers to suggest that once he settles in, he is going to be a useful power prospect, a 25 homer 100 RBI type.  It might have been a good thing for him to go down with an injury, for as far as I know, players spend some of their downtime watching tape.  If Blanks comes back feeling more comfortable with major league pitching, look out, he could be in for a monster second half.  Borbon is an entirely different case.  He’s been working out the kinks all season in Texas.  Though he scuffled in 31 July AB’s, look at his June numbers and you will know why the Rangers are sticking with this kid.  A .400 OBP with 30+ steal potential speed is a deadly combination and as Borbon adjusts, I expect him to have stretches where he plays closer to his June numbers rather than April.  It only makes sense both statistically and rationally, as he is better than a .200 hitter and is becoming more comfortable at the higher levels of pitching.  You cannot, I repeat cannot, teach speed, making Borbon someone to look out for, regardless.  I should be fair in my assessment of Drew Stubbs– I think his he makes me all the more interested in his fantasy potential.  Stubbs appears to be a legitimate 25-25 threat in the years to come.  He is blessed with good speed and good pop, it’s just a matter of time and patience as to when he breaks out- so why not this second half?  His K numbers are high, I have mentioned as much.  But Cincinnati  is a young emerging team with a young outfield, it is not hard to imagine both Stubbs and his teammate Jay Bruce improving their numbers this summer as the race in the central heats up with the weather.  Let’s not forget, Cincy plays in a good hitters ballpark and the likes of Bruce, Stubbs and Jonny Gomes (also an interesting player in this upcoming second half) are all due for an impressive stretch of hitting.  Look out for the Cincinasty outfield is the long and short of it.

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Edinson Volquez

Volquez is expected to make his triumphant return any day now, after a stellar (that word again…) rehab start (100 pitches, 7 innings, 1 hit, 9 K’s).  If the maturation of Johnny Cueto is any indication, the Reds, with their aforementioned outfield, could be looking to surge ahead following the break.  Volquez will certainly have a few starts where he struggles with control, as any pitcher is wont to do coming off an injury (and him especially), but the strikeout numbers are undeniable.  He is someone to grab now if people have slept on him in your league- he will be a valuable fantasy contributor one way or another.

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Brett Anderson

Keep that elbow up and fresh, big boy

Dave and I are both big Anderson supporters.  I should hope he is owned in most of your leagues, stashed in a DL spot somewhere.  If not, grab him now and get him on your side.  Anderson has ace-type stuff and an ace-like mentality.  He appeared to only be improving on an excellent rookie campaign (150 K’s to 45 BB’s).  And his troubles with giving up the longball have been addressed (none in the 30+ innings this year compared to 20 last season, not ridiculous for 175 innings, but still improvable).  Anderson is poised and confident on the mound and is a gamer.  I expect him to come back strong as the A’s make their traditional march into relevance in the second half.  Anderson is an excellent option as your second or third pitcher and can probably be traded for on the cheap, as few people read our blog…  grab him while you can and enjoy the second half of solid starts.

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Erik Bedard

nice hat.

Staying in the AL West…

Erik Bedard was an outstanding pitcher.  Do you remember that?   Neither do the M’s.  Every year, Dave and I say, “If Bedard gets healthy, I’m gonna make out like a bandit stashing him.”  This year is no different.  This guy had a 1.09 WHIP and 221 K’s in 182 innings in 2007!  That’s only 3 years ago!  It seems like he hasn’t been healthy in a decade!  Enough exclamations.  Bedard appeared to be coming back healthy before experiencing discomfort as he as supposed to come off the DL… but it was relatively minor.  Here’s to hoping this is the year, Erik.  Dave will be thrilled.

and last, but not least:

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Alex Gordon

Yup, it could happen.  Look at his minor league stats this year

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That’s all the time I have folks, you’ve been a great audience.  Enjoy the second half.  Hopefully I’m correct about at least one of these guys so I don’t look like a complete bozo.  Otherwise, be on the lookout for SECOND HALF DUDS

-w

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