Posts tagged ‘John Sickels’

Monday: 02.18.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 4 Days – Minor League Guy

Only 4 days until live game action…

Minor League Guy

In the age of the internet where seemingly any information can be found, the Cardinals broadcast scrambled to identify a farmhand during a Grapefruit League game against the Mets. Instead of scrapping the opportunity for a graphic, the team in the truck went with their gut and the result was awkwardly hilarious:

mlg

Of course, many of us baseball diehards knew ol’ Minor League Guy to be Oscar Taveras, the team’s second-best prospect according to Baseball Prospectus. Flash forward about a year and the broadcast team shouldn’t have any trouble identifying Taveras in a Grapefruit League game. First of all, he should be in the game well before the ninth inning, but more importantly he is now baseball’s second-best prospect or at least no worse than third-best.

He was even labeled properly in this picture with teammate Jon Jay in an article discussing his excellence.

Like last year, there is a triumvirate of guys – once again two hitters and a pitcher – and the order will vary from outlet to outlet and person to person. Last year it was Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Matt Moore; this year it’s Taveras, Jurickson Profar, and Dylan Bundy.

mlbpros

MLB.com

lawpros

ESPN’s Keith Law

sickpros

John Sickels (split lists hitters; pitchers)

 

And that is just from the early lists. Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America will have their top 100s out soon and I’d be surprised if they disagreed on the trio.

Though it was probably a bummer to get labeled as simply “Minor League Guy” on television, it looks like Taveras will have the last laugh as he now stands atop, or at least nears the top of baseball’s prospect heap. Imagine if he pans out on the Vladimir Guerrero comp that some have thrown on him, maybe he’ll end up being labeled as “Hall of Fame Guy” on a broadcast 20 years down the line.

Thursday: 03.3.2011

Daily Dose – March 3rd

I feel like days should extend to 26 or 27 hours in late February then into March as there is just so much going on.  I’ve got nearly 30 hours of podcasts to catch up on and the oldest one is about a week old so it’s not like I’ve let it accumulate.  My Read It Later app is bubbling over with content.  My “to do” writing list has plenty to take care of on it.  My book list is growing (and adding another next week when Jonah Keri’s Extra 2% comes out).  The release of MLB 2K11 is next week.  Plus I’ve got a 30 Clubs in 30 Days (Kansas City) on the DVR as well as some Spring Training baseball I’d like to check out.

And all that is before fantasy draft prep which will begin in earnest next week as keeper lists start to roll in.  Jeez.  So much to do and so little time.  Especially when you factor in my regular job and sleeping.  Oh well, no need to complain.  It’s better than being bored out of your mind.   February to Opening Day is one of my favorite times of the year despite the fact that I hate winter weather.  It’s not really that bad in Texas plus it’s usually done by the beginning of March.

Ian Casselberry has a very perceptive post on willful ignorance and how it is oftentimes downright annoying.  I deal with the dismissiveness of Twitter a lot when discussing sports with people.  They always say some derivation of “I don’t care who’s eating a sandwich on their couch” as if that’s all you can find on Twitter.  Yes, it started as essentially a place of Facebook statuses, but it’s become SO MUCH more.

Yet despite how often they dismiss it as useless, they come to me just as often for news on trade deadline action and various other breaking news because they know I’ll read about it on Twitter well before it’s up on ESPN.com.  For some of the dissenters, I’ve watched them morph from Twitter hater to Twitter user.  Instead of rubbing it in, I just nod to myself quietly.  As Ian says, it’s not for everybody, but anyone dismissing it as useless out of hand has no idea what they are talking about and comes across as pretty stupid.

Are you trying to curb your enthusiasm for your baseball team, but struggling to do so as you read countless glowing and optimistic reports about them from Spring Training?  Grey Papke does the dirty work for you with his “Why Your Baseball Team Sucks” piece.  It’s a perfect dose of reality to temper your expectations for the upcoming season.

After reading up more on the Zach Sanders piece I shared yesterday on Fantasy Value Above Replacement, I realized it is essentially an extension of something our friends at FB Junkie threw out earlier last month with “Why Not Fantasy VORP?”.  So if you read FB Junkie’s piece back on February 1st, use Sanders’ as a fleshing out of their notion behind fantasy value.

Justin Bopp of Beyond the Boxscore has put together an easy to use Baseball Stat Acronym Pronunciation Guide.  I disagree with the BABIP as I just say it like a work “Ba-bip”, but otherwise he’s pretty spot on.

Sticking at BtB for a moment, Chris Spurlock has offered a great article covering in detail the changes to the bats in college baseball and making it easily digestible whether you’re a math novice or hardcore mathlete.  As mentioned in the article, this should be good news for MLB, primarily from a scouting angle.  While it would suck if it really hurt the college game which is a niche sport already, I am glad it is an improvement for MLB.  Prospect scouting will still be an inexact science rife with failure even at the high end of the draft, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.  Plus I’ve always been someone who enjoys a 3-2 game, so a lowered offensive output in the college game won’t keep me away from following my Longhorns and watching them live a couple times a year.

Ray Guilfoyle of FakeTeams released his catcher rankings today and there were some surprises to be sure.  Regardless of whether or not you agree with his ranking of the top guys, one thing remains clear to me: catcher has some depth to it.  Sure there are still stars at the top, but if you miss out on the Mauers and Poseys, you’re not toast.

Mike Fast from Baseball Prospectus has a cool piece up (for free) looking at the accuracy of Baseball Info Solutions pitch locations.  If you like second, third and even fourth level baseball analysis, in other words really detailed stuff, then you’ll love Fast’s work.  This particular piece has a stunning revelation about the data and specifically it’s usage at FanGraphs.

The San Diego Padres are going to have a tough time replicating their 2010 success (success being relative here as they fell short of the NL West crown on the last day of the season despite leading for quite some time throughout the season) with the loss of their one great hitter Adrian Gonzalez, but there is reason for optimism in the future.  John Sickels breaks down their top two pitching prospects, Simon Castro and Casey Kelly (acquired in the Gonzalez trade), in his Prospect Smackdown series.

This one is nearly a month old, but it got put on the back-burner once I went into full SP guide mode there in early-to-mid February, so in case you missed Jon Weisman’s look at the upcoming “Moneyball” movie, I suggest you take a read.  I have been in the minority with him in that I have been very excited about the movie from the moment I heard it was being made.  It’s gone through a lot, but I think it can be good.  I hadn’t thought of the links to a very popular 2010 movie that Weisman mentions in the piece.  I’d love to see it emulate the success of that film, but even if it doesn’t I think it can be a success in its own right.

One of the best guys over at CBS as far as I’m concerned is Al Melchior.  He’s definitely a stats-heavy guy which is something I inherently lean toward (though he favors taking pitching relatively early so we disagree heavily there), but also the interactive graphics used in his pieces at CBS are fantastic.  The latest is one on positional scarcity and it has a really fun chart to play with at the bottom.  Al is part of the CBS podcasts, too and they just recently finished their positional previews.  They have moved onto Sleepers and Breakouts.  I’d presume that a Busts episode is next as each of the positional podcasts had a Sleepers, Breakouts and Busts portion within it.

One of my favorite things of the fantasy preseason is articles where industry members participate in a mock and then do a write up on their team with the thought process behind each pick.  I find them more helpful than just seeing a list of where everyone went.  In fact, I find the latter next to useless as the flow of a draft, while not as dynamic as that of an auction, is still dynamic nonetheless and it’s hard to get a feel for why things happened without some commentary.  Cory Schwartz participated in a mock picking from the 9-spot and breaks down his draft for us.

Come Chat Tonight: I am still planning on a hosting a chat here at paulsporer.com soon, but tonight I will be chatting at Rotojunkie at 7 PM Eastern.  It will have a pitcher tilt to it of course, but as with my first chat here at the site, I will answer anything fantasy baseball-related.

Baseball Apps: Need to get your iPhone and iPad baseball ready for the season?  Take a look at these baseball apps that should get you well equipped to enjoy the season on the go.

You’ve No Doubt Seen This: But just in case, the baseball fan flowchart is a funny image floating around the blogosphere and Twitterverse.

Remember When…Lance Johnson was a triples machine?  From 1991-1996, Johnson led the league in triples for five of six seasons and hit 12 in the off year (1995, when he had an absurd power surge with 10 HR after never topping 3 before).  I was upset when he left the AL before the 1996 season (10 team AL-Only league) because he had a career year including 50 stolen bases, 117 runs scored, .333 average and 69 RBIs, all career highs.  His nine homers were close to a career high.

It’s purely coincidental that the first two of these segments happen to be about Chicago White Sox, but “One Dog” was a key cog of my early fantasy teams (probably explains why I didn’t win any titles as a kid) and again because I watched a lot of WGN when the Tigers weren’t on, I was very familiar with Johnson and the Sox.

Despite playing three fewer seasons, Johnson has one more career triple than Kenny Lofton (117 to 116).  I found that pretty surprising, but Lofton only had two double-digit seasons in triples and they were 11 years apart (league-high 13 in ’95 and then 12 in ’06).  Of course Lofton has nearly twice as many stolen bases (622/327), nearly four times as many home runs (130/34) and had a significantly higher success rate on the base paths (80%/76%), though both were really good.

Knowledge Bomb: Here is an absurd statistic from Mike Axisa about Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.  Absurd might even be an understatement.  It’s just unfathomably great.  Are you ready for this?  You may have already seen it, but it resonates even on second and third viewing:

 

As Scott Van Pelt & Ryen Russillo say on their radio show, “let that soak in your mentals for a minute”.  That’s so amazing.  Only another 160 saw a 2-0 count.  Maddux was just not a fan of getting behind.  He only retired in 2008 so he is still a few years from getting on the Hall of Fame ballot and while it’s already a joke, the HoF voters would thoroughly embarrass themselves yet again if they made Maddux sit through another round of voting instead of putting him in on the first ballot.

Tuesday: 02.8.2011

Daily Dose – February 8th

I can’t believe how close pitchers and catchers are to reporting.  Baseball season is right around the corner, I can feel it!!  It’s the only thing getting me through this awful cold weather.  Let’s hit the dose for Tuesday:

I’ve been a fan of Daniel Tosh (@danieltosh) since he was an unknown comic doing Taco Bell commercials years ago.  I saw him at the local comedy club around that time and the next time he was in Austin, I was one of the three comics who got to open for him.  Once I heard he was going to have a show, Tosh.0, I didn’t really care what it was going to be about, I knew I’d watch it.  I have not been disappointed as it’s easily one of, if the funniest show on TV.  As much as it makes me laugh on a week to week basis, this clip might be my favorite of all-time:

A while back, Unreality Magazine did a piece covering the 10 Hottest Girls in TV Comedies.  I figured it was a pretty good idea for a column.  While I disagree with some inclusions and the order, it is hard to argue with the content otherwise.  Alison Brie and Katrina Bowden were far too low given that they actually excel in both the hotness and the comedy whereas some were included merely because they are very pretty and part of comedy shows even if they aren’t particularly funny themselves.

No arguments for the picture of Kaley Cuoco they used as she looks great there, but anyone who watches Big Bang Theory knows that that particular picture is definitely Ms. Cuoco at her peak.  I’d have had a bit further down the list despite the fact that she’s pretty funny on BBT.  By the way, I’m sure I’m one of many, but I was saying that the eldest daughter on Modern Family looked like a younger Mila Kunis from the very first moment I watched the show.  It’s a pretty easy link so I’m not trying to suggest I started it or anything.  Any time you are getting compared to Mila Kunis, you know you’re awesome.

A pair of tweets about two of the best Cleveland Indians players had to give fans some hope for the upcoming season.  Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) tweeted that Grady Sizemore is running and taking swings with April 1st, Opening Day for the Tribe, not out of the question.  Meanwhile the Cleveland Indians Twitter feed (@tribeinsider) tweeted that Carlos Santana has been cleared for batting practice and catching activities.  Olney mentioned that Santana is a bit ahead of Sizemore in the rehab process.

Over at Beyond the Boxscore, Justin Bopp (@justinbopp) created a sweet picture of Albert Pujols’ spray chart from last year.  Click on the picture itself and it enlarges to about 3x the size.  He also did one for Carlos Gonzalez last month.  I’m a sucker for infographics like this which is why I can’t get enough of Craig Robinson’s work over at Flip, Flop, Flyball.  If you’re familiar with Robinson’s work, you might want to pre-order the FFFb book due out in July.  Hell, even if you’re not familiar with it, you’ll love it once you click the link and you’ll still want to pre-order the book.

ESPN is running a series of columns grading each team on their offseason grouped by division.  Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) and Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) have done the first four (East & Central) and I’d assume they’re going to do the whole series.  Crasnick covered the American League East and Central while Stark had the National League East and Central.

Sticking with the Worldwide Leader, they have been posting videos from their Fantasy Baseball Summit a few weeks back and it could be (read: most definitely is) because I’m kind of a dork, but I’m loving them.  They started with a Mark Teixeira v. Kevin Youkilis debate and have since released clips on Jayson Werth, Joe Nathan and Adam Wainwright.  The Wainwright clip is especially interesting and I suggest everyone in mixed or NL-Only leagues take a look.

One thing I really enjoy about John Sickels’ Minor League Ball site are his series articles.  The ones I can think of off the top of my head that he does are Crystal Ball, Prospect Retro and Career Profiles.  He’s been doing a lot of reader request Career Profiles of late and I recommend you check them out: Eric Chavez, Francisco Liriano, James Loney, Rickie Weeks and Jayson Werth are just a few that I really enjoyed.  You can look through the rest here and find players that interest you most.  In addition to Project Prospect, who I mentioned yesterday, Sickels’ site is another must-read for anyone interested in the minor leagues.  Whether you already consider yourself a prospect maven or you’re interested in becoming one, his stuff is great.

Twitter Recommendation: CNBC sports business report, Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell), is an absolute must-follow on Twitter.  Don’t let the sports biz moniker deter you either, he covers more than just sports and posts tons of interesting facts and great links about a wide variety of topics.  If I could only pick five people to follow on Twitter, Rovell would easily earn a spot.

Knowledge Bomb: Be careful with stats, they can be dangerous.  Houston Astros third baseman Chris Johnson came out of nowhere last season to put up 94 games of fantasy goodness including 11 HR, 52 RBIs and .308 AVG.  Some will look at his line and think that a full season will bring about even better numbers for the 26 year old in 2011.  In fact, I’ve seen him being trumpeted over Pittsburgh Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez based on one stat: OPS.

In his 362 plate appearances, Johnson posted an .818 OPS.  Make no mistake, that’s a pretty solid figure especially for an unknown like Johnson.  Not many think he can repeat next year (including me), but those that do have dangerously wielded that .818 OPS around like a sword.  In his 386 plate appearances, Alvarez “only” had a .788 OPS, 30 points away from Johnson.

While OPS is a useful stat for quick and dirty catch-all production estimations, not all OPS marks are created equally.  The problem here is that OPS brings batting average into the equation so a fluky batting average, like Johnson’s which was powered by a .387 BABIP, can artificially boost one’s OPS.   Alvarez had just a .256 average which cut deep into the OBP end of OPS.  But when you go second level and look at the Isolated Power of each, Alvarez clearly has the brighter future based on their first 90+ games.

Isolated Power is Slugging Percentage minus Batting Average.  Alvarez popped a .205 IsoP, 5th among National League third basemen.  Johnson had a .175 mark, good for 9th.  Alvarez probably won’t hit .300 in 2011, he may not even top .270, but as Johnson’s luck regresses his average will sink and he may end up struggling to stay above .270 himself.  Without the batting average advantage, you start comparing the two in runs scored, driven in and home runs and Alvarez wins a walk.

Alvarez has legitimate 25 home run power already with the potential for more while Johnson is a middling power contributor who will likely top out in the mid-teens.  He’s one to avoid for 2011 as his 2010 numbers, including his OPS, will undoubtedly inflate his value to a level that won’t be commensurate with his performance this year.  If you want a bargain at the thin hot corner, talk up Alvarez’s down average and strikeout tendencies and then swoop in and take him and reap the hefty rewards.

Pitchers and Catchers report in five days…

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