Daily Dose – March 2nd

Between MLBN’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days series back up and running (Hazel Mae FTW… even with that grill!), my podcast list bringing 7-10 new episodes a day (and several days it’s closer to 13-14) and the ever-annoying trend of some (way too many) people on Twitter finding it necessary to give play-by-play of games (Spring Training games at that, though it’s not acceptable in season, either), this is one of my favorite times of the year.  Yes even despite how incredibly annoying that last one is, at least there is baseball action to annoyingly tweet about even if it doesn’t count yet.

Let’s dive into today’s Dose:

Something I found bothersome coming out of the 2010 season was the labeling of Matt Kemp’s season as a bust.  No, it wasn’t elite, first round caliber which is where he was drafted in many leagues, but 28 HR, 89 RBI, 19 SB, 82 R and .249 AVG seasons aren’t busts.  The runs stats and batting average were down a healthy bit from 2010 (15 runs scored, 12 driven in and nearly 5% on the batting average), but busts don’t play 162 games with a career high in home runs and finish a steal short of 20-20.  Even if he was your first round pick.  So in other words, shut up about it already.

The batting average would cost a team .005 points on the team average against a .300 hitter with 600 at-bats which is meaningful, but his offerings in the other four categories break even at the very least and likely result in a net gain.  Busts are guys like Jacoby Ellsbury, an early round pick who played 18 games.  Or Aaron Hill who dropped 10 home runs, 40 RBIs and 8% (!) off of his batting average from 2009.  Those are busts.  Not Matt Kemp.

ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has a piece on Kemp and how he is working to improve on his shortcomings that hurt him last year.  I think Kemp is a buy in 2011 because if 2010 represents a bust then sign me up 10 out of 10 times.  Joking aside, he’s almost certainly going to be undervalued and power-speed combos are always appealing.

The folks at Fantasy Ball Junkie started an 8-part series going position-by-position to judge how machines (projection systems) are comparing to crowds (media draft data) in player valuation.  Catchers came out yesterday and are linked in the first sentence and the first base analysis came out today.  By the way, FB Junkie is a great site I recommend bookmarking or getting into your RSS reader or however you consume sites on a day-to-day basis.  A lot of insightful fantasy baseball-related work there daily.

Zach Sanders, contributor to the 2011 SP Guide, has to put out a thought-provoking series on Fantasy Value Above Replacement over at RotoGraphs.  It’s a three part series (one, two, three) that has generated over 100 comments, too.  The comments are as valuable as the material presented by Zach.  You may not agree with everything Zach has here (and I don’t), but it makes you think and I like that.  And the commenters bring up some really great questions and flesh them out together.  Sky Kalkman does some especially great work within the comment sections.

Jesse Mendelson is doing his team pitching previews over at The Fantasy Fix if you’re looking for even some more thoughts on the arms of 2011.  They check in well under 73,000 words so you won’t have to carve out nearly as much time to absorb the worthwhile information.

Am I the only one who remember last spring’s love affair with Ryan Raburn that started off so horribly (under the Mendoza Line until June 23rd) that no one who drafted him was around for the remarkable second half surge that has once again led to him becoming the sleeper du jour?  No one wants these sleeper projections for him to be right more than me, a Tigers diehard, but I’m not getting how not only is everyone back on the bandwagon but that no one is even speaking about the unmet hype from spring 2010.  Brad Evans from Yahoo is the latest and he has one helluva projection for the Tigers’ new leftfielder (for now).

Viva El Birdos has an extensive piece on Jaime Garcia. They believe he is an ace in waiting.  It’s an interesting case that can be made.  I think it depends on your definition of “ace”, but whether I agree with that actual term for Garcia or not, he is definitely someone I’m bullish on for 2011 and beyond.  Here is my capsule on him from the SP Guide:

Jaime Garcia (24, MLB) – While he lacks the track record, razor-sharp control and overall talent of teammate Carpenter, Garcia does possess the two most important cogs of Carpenter’s appealing profile: groundballs (56%) and strikeouts (7.6 K/9) and he comes at a third of the cost in most leagues. His skills portend more of a low-to-mid 3.00s ERA and the evening out of his luck showed that (3.52 second half ERA), but this is still a stock to buy heading into his sophomore campaign. A 180 inning season with a 3.50ish ERA, 1.30ish WHIP and 140 strikeouts is very good. The worsening defense with the departure of Brendan Ryan will hurt a groundballer like Garcia, but improved control after getting 163 innings under his belt isn’t out of the question either, which would help offset Ryan.

The pressure has ramped up 200% since the beginning of Spring Training after losing Adam Wainwright to a season-ending injury and watching Chris Carpenter limp off the field with a bum hammy (though that appears to nothing more than a few day issue).  Hopefully he doesn’t succumb to pressure and realizes he can only go out there and pitch every 5th day, he can’t do his part AND make up for Wainwright.

Podcast Recommendation: The guys over at Beyond the Boxscore recently posted episode 7 of their podcast this week with several recognizable guests.  Dave Gershman and Matt Klassen team up for weekly baseball extravaganza.  If you like long-form podcasts centered around baseball, then this is up your alley.  Though I’m not a fan of the weekly bumper music, it’s certainly not enough to take away from my enjoyment of the content found within the show.

Seven episodes in the co-hosts are still working out some kinks and getting their flow down, but I think it improves weekly and will be humming along nicely by Opening Day.  Plus, it’s an hour and a half-plus of weekly baseball talk,  who doesn’t want that???  I prefer the long-form podcast style, though it’s certainly not for everyone.  I have the luxury of working from home two days a week and love having hour-plus podcasts to fill the air while I work.  Before Opening Day sometime I will put together a list of the baseball podcasts I listen to in case you’re missing some of them and want some more listening material.

Remember When: This is a new feature of the Dose where I will randomly reminisce about players from the 80s and 90s.  Some will be well-known, others will be ridiculously obscure, but hopefully you will enjoy the memories.  Let’s start off with Jack McDowell.  It’s been 16 years since he was fantasy-relevant and 18 since he was fantasy elite, winning the 1993 AL Cy Young Award.  He capped off his career with four forgettable seasons going 21-19 with a 5.27 ERA and 1.51 WHIP in just 328 innings with Cleveland and Anaheim.  But he had plenty of quality seasons and golden moments leading up to that descent.

Twice a 20-game winner (’92 and ’93), McDowell went 98-58 in the six season stretch from 1990-1995 five of which were with the White Sox and the other with the Yankees.  He had a 3.54 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 6.4 K/9 (2.3 K/BB) in 1374 innings.  In ’91 (15) and ’92 (13) he led the majors in complete games and again led the AL in ’95 (8).  He “only” had 10 complete games in his Cy Young season, but led the majors with four complete games.

He never had gaudy strikeout totals (6.2 K/9 for his career), but still he only once posted a sub-2.0 K/BB and that was in his first full season back in 1988 (1.2 thanks to just 4.8 K/9).  He spent the following year in the minors adjusting his mechanics due to an arthritic hip (Baseball-Reference.com).  He broke out the year after and enjoyed a strong six year peak, but was out of baseball by 33 years of age.

I remember McDowell leading my mom’s fantasy team to a title in that ’92 season and she decided to keep him for ’93 which paid off handsomely of course, but didn’t result in another title.  I always liked Black Jack as a kid especially because we had WGN and I saw plenty of White Sox games.  I will freely admit that as a kid, I actually liked Hawk Harrelson.  Hey, I was a kid, give me a break… he gone!!!

Knowledge Bomb: The top five outfielders in home runs from 2008-2010 are as follows –

  1. Adam Dunn – 116
  2. Ryan Braun – 94
  3. Jayson Werth – 87
  4. Carlos Quentin – 83
  5. Jose Bautista/Nick Swisher – 82

The games played for those five in order is 475, 466, 449, 360, 402/453.  Quentin did his damage in a helluva lot fewer games.  Point being as outfield remains thin again yet in 2011 and power dries up a bit more each year, Quentin is a pretty underrated asset to address to points of scarcity in the fantasy market.  ADP’s are dangerous to use as a bible as they have limited value, but Quentin is the 46th OF off the board with an overall ADP of 188 (16th rd in 12-team leagues).  He needs to show he can go more than 130 games in a season, but even if he does just put up another 130, you’re looking at 25 home runs and 80 RBIs.

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