Posts tagged ‘Carlos Gonzalez’

Friday: 02.1.2013

Top 10 LF – Review

Last Friday night, MLB Network unleashed their Top 10 Leftfielders Right Now along with input from host Brian Kenny, co-host Eric Byrnes, and special guest to the series Bill James. There is no real consistency with these lists and that part has been a bit annoying. I’m specifically referring to deciding where to list guys. Why are they listing Martin Prado and Josh Hamilton as leftfielders and Justin Upton as a rightfielder when they will not be playing those positions in 2013?

By their own admission, these lists are also supposed to be projecting the 2013 season so it makes zero sense to do this, especially since they set that precedent with their first episode and listed Shin-Soo Choo in center. I know these lists are for s’s & g’s and despite how it may read, I’m not getting that worked up over it, I’m just trying to have some fun as we move closer toward real baseball.

Here are all four lists from MLB Network-related folks and then I’ll address them separately:


The Shredder

Technically, I only had one difference with The Shredder because had I know they were counting Hamilton and Bryce Harper as leftfielders I’d have done the same. I talked about them in the centerfielder list with Harper actually making the top 10. Since I hadn’t ranked Hamilton in the CF list and realized that the lists were supposed to be a ranking of where they were slated to play, I included him with the rightfielders. With that out of the way, I don’t really have any major problems with The Shredder’s list. I obviously like Carlos Gonzalez quite a bit more, but it seems The Shredder dings him hard for his road stats, as does Brian Kenny which is pretty silly because he still plays in Colorado. If the list is supposed to be about who they are right now and how they’ll do in 2013, how does his poor road work matter when he more than makes up for it at home?

My inclusions they didn’t list: Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, and Justin Upton

Eric Byrnes

Similarly to The Shredder, if you remove the Harper/Hamilton issue then I’m almost in lock-step with Byrnes. In fact, apart from a major difference on Alex Gordon, we about matched on every pick. He seriously underrated Gordon’s defense, but also made a big point out of the fact that Gordon isn’t a 30-home run guy. Neither was Byrnesie in his best year, 2007, during which played left predominantly. Another point he stressed repeatedly was that he felt Cargo was definitely the best defensive leftfielder in the game. It’s Gordon for me, but his claim isn’t outlandish. Oh, and Byrnes seemed to have played WITH EVERYBODY ON EVERY LIST IN THE SHOW.

My inclusions he didn’t list: Soriano, Gardner, and Upton

Bill James

More of the same as we only have one disagreement beyond his ranking guys who aren’t actually leftfielders anymore and Harper. I was really surprised with his ranking of Harper and Hamilton, but I guess he was leaning heavily on the track record differential between the pair. Some of James’ lists during this series have really surprised whether it was a shocking inclusion or questionable positioning of a player. David Murphy had his first 500 PA season last year in what was easily his best season and now he’s a top 10 LF? I don’t see it, Bill.

My inclusions he didn’t list: Soriano, Gardner, Upton, and Melky Cabrera

Brian Kenny

Kenny’s lists have really shocked me, too. I watch Clubhouse Confidential daily so I think I’m pretty well versed in Kenny’s mindset about the game, but then he goes and drops Carlos Quentin seventh on his list after an 86-game season. In fact, Quentin has never topped 131 games and he’s now four years removed from his best season.

My inclusions he didn’t list: Soriano, Gardner, Upton, and Cabrera


Friday: 01.25.2013

Top 10 Leftfielders Right Now

Tonight MLB Network will continue the 2013 iteration of their “Top 10 Right Now” series at each position capped off with a “Top 100 Overall***”. They will air both the left and right field shows on Friday evening. I always enjoy this series and generally look forward to it after the New Year since I eat up just about any fresh baseball content I can as we wait for pitchers & catchers to report. Instead of putting up my lists after they air their selections, I’ll post mine ahead of time and then compare notes after the shows air.

This is not a fantasy list!!

***I will not be doing a top 100

I felt I was getting a little verbose on these lists given that they’re really just about having some off-season fun, so I’ve cut the explanations down a bit on these.

The leftfield list was one of the easier ones as the 10 came pretty easily to me. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper will not be included because they were included on the centerfielder list. We saw MLB Network put Shin-Soo Choo on the centerfielder list as well, so they’re going with where guys are expected to play in 2013 thus you won’t see Martin Prado on the list, either, as he will now play third base for the D’Backs. Nor will you see Desmond Jennings as he shifts over to center to replace B.J. Upton. Oddly enough, MLBN was counting new position for guys like Choo and Aroldis Chapman yet they still included Trout with the CFs and he is slated to play left with Peter Bourjos in center.


Jason Kubel (ARI) is the only leftfielder who was close for me. His NL debut was impressive, but he just missed out as he lags a bit behind defensively and his bat was good, but not overwhelmingly so.


10. Alfonso Soriano (CHC) – A punching bag for many fans, Soriano hasn’t been the 40-40 guy from his Washington season, but he’s not exactly Vernon Wells, either. In fact, by fWAR he’s earned $98.5mm ($5mm/WAR) on the field while being paid $97mm. Even if you don’t buy the defensive gains, he’s been a plus-hitter for five of six seasons with the Cubs.

9. Melky Cabrera (TOR) – How much do you think PEDs helped Melky? And do you think he’s taken them consistently for two years? Those are the two questions to be asked when analyzing him. I lean toward “some, but not overwhelmingly so” and “no”, so he makes my list. I doubt he’d be the 2012 version of himself even if he kept using, so look at 2011 as a guidepost for his performance.

8. Brett Gardner (NYY) – Speculating a bit here since Gardner missed most of 2012, but when he plays he does everything except hit for power. He plays incredible defense, has game-changing speed, and he’s the Van Gogh of walks—he draws ‘em like crazy!

7. Josh Willingham (MIN) – Staying on the field has been the only real issue with Willy during his career and he’s improving in that avenue improving his games played from 114 in 2010 to 136 and 145 the last two years. Regardless of how often he plays, he’s always raked at the dish and done so enough to cancel out his below average defense.

6. Yoenis Cespedes (OAK) – What an incredible debut! I don’t think anyone saw that coming. He was the commensurate five-tool player hitting .292 with a .505 slugging percentage, playing elite defense in left using his arm to terrify runners into staying put, and stealing 16 out of 20 attempts while also taking extra bases at an above average clip. Imagine if he tops 130 games this year.

5. Justin Upton (ATL) – New to both his team and his position, Upton was finally traded after approximately 212 years of speculation. The potential is overwhelming, but we need to see it more consistently and since we don’t yet, he lands lower than you probably would’ve expected to see him.

4. Matt Holliday (StL) – Only two LF, both regarded among baseball’s best, have topped him with the bat at the position. He pairs the first-rate bat with better defense than you think. Unless you think he plays good-not-great defense boosted by his solid arm and ability to freeze runners.

3. Carlos Gonzalez (COL) – He’s failed to repeat that stunning 2010, but he hasn’t exactly been a slouch in the meantime and his rising walk rate bodes well for his late-20s. He’s yet to play more than 145 games in a season which only make his three straight 20-20 (all w/22+ HR) seasons that much more impressive.

2. Alex Gordon (KC) – The unquestioned best leftfielder in the game defensively speaking whether you trust the metrics or simply use your eyeballs. Mind you, that’s not the only reason he rated this well, he’s also come around big time with the bat including an MLB-best 51 doubles last year. Took him a while, but he’s finally paying dividends on the savior tag that was slapped on him before the ink dried on his contract in 2005.

1. Ryan Braun (MIL) – Duh-doy!

Tuesday: 07.19.2011

Keeper Building Blocks: Outfield, Part 1

Outfield has a lot of great centerpiece players that would be worth giving up any un-keepable entities you have to in order to land them.  In fact, a number of them are “arm & a leg guys” meaning, of course, that they will cost you an arm and a leg.

You have to give something to get something and as long as you aren’t blowing up your team completely (e.g. trading a few expiring contracts/high-priced un-keepables AND some guys you were planning on keeping), then they are worth it.  Situations will vary depending on league format & keeper rules, but don’t overdo it just to get one guy or you may be worse off than you were before you got him.

Based on talent, age and the likelihood of studs on a cheap contract, outfield is the best position in this Keeper Building Block series to find your truly elite cornerstone.  The first 7 or 8 guys fall into that category and while all won’t be cheap in your league, several should be giving you options.  And it is likely that at least one of them is on a contender and hopefully you the missing puzzle pieces for them to seal a title and be willing to give their star.

There are several more OF building blocks than at any other position, so I broke it up into two pieces.


First Base

Second Base, Addendum


Third Base, Addendum

Jose Bautista (TOR, 30) – See the third basemen piece for info on Bautista.  He is almost certainly on a cheap contract and it’d take just about any viable piece you to get him, but it might be worth it if you still have a few keepers around him.  His value is much, much higher at third base, but since he qualifies at outfield, I made sure to list him here.

Carlos Gonzalez (COL, 25) – When a season of .287 with 22 HR, 27 SB, 88 RBI & 100 R is your come down season from a career year, you are an elite player.  Plus he is getting better month-over-month so he just might improve those paces.  Either way, he still ranks 26th overall on ESPN’s Player Rater and 8th amongst outfielders.  His 2010 breakout came on the heels of an 89 game debut in Colorado that went well (.284/.353/.525, 13 HR & 16 SB), but still left him with a reasonable average draft position (ADP) of 120.  So he is either on a minor league contract or a regular one that is no doubt affordable.

Andrew McCutchen (PIT, 24) – I am pleased to have this burgeoning star locked up for two more years in my NL-Only league for just $15.  He is a dynamic, five-category (his .279 isn’t elite, but the league-high is .272 and my team average is .262 so he is definitely a positive contributor in that category) stud who appears to be just scratching the surface of his potential.  Next year will likely be his first full season in a run production lineup spot (third or fourth) and that should allow to knock in 100+ runs for the first time in his career.  That is if he doesn’t increase his pace of 98 this year and make 2012 his second stab at the century mark.  He is the face of the budding Pirates franchise and he can be the same for your fantasy team.

Mike Stanton (FLO, 21) – This kid is incredible.  He hit 22 home runs in 100 games (hitting one every 16.3 AB) and while the lofty strikeout rate (31%) made it clear that batting average would be a challenge, the power was undeniable.  He has made incremental gains on his power (HR every 15.8 AB and .267 ISO up from .248), his strikeout rate (down to 28%) and walk rate (up from 8.6% to 9.2%, OK so that is essentially the same) putting him on pace for 34 home runs and 96 RBIs… at 21 years old!

If there is one concern, it’s slight and it’s his age combined with the strikeout rate.  His inexperience and lack of contact could lead to prolonged slumps as he continues to grow.  It doesn’t dissuade me from targeting him, but keep it in mind.  In most keeper leagues, he will be on a minor league contract which is no doubt much cheaper than his actual value and with power on the decline league-wide; he should be a premier target.

Jay Bruce (CIN, 24) – He is essentially a look into Stanton’s future on some level, a pure power hitter with batting average liability.  Bruce doesn’t have the strikeout woes that Stanton does, but they profile similarly.  As a 21 and 22 year old Bruce hit 21 and 22 home runs in 413 and 345 at-bats, respectively.  His walk rate has steadied at 10% the last three seasons and while his BABIP-influenced.281 batting average (.334 BABIP) from 2010 hasn’t held (.265 w/.293 BABIP), the .265 he has posted doesn’t hurt too much in this low-offense environment of 2011.  I have him and Stanton pretty close, but I gave Stanton the edge because he likely cheaper and he is three years younger.

Jason Heyward (ATL, 21) – The ideal situation would be finding Heyward on a contender because his 2011 has been a disappointment (have I mentioned that young talents, no matter how good, don’t improve linearly?) due at least in part to injury.  There is a bit of concern around his massive groundball rates (55% and 58% in his two pro seasons) and how that affects his power potential, but the kid is 21 and even when he is underperforming it is easy to see while watching him that he is a special player.

Colby Rasmus (STL, 24) – Generally when a guy needing a “change of scenery” is thrown around, it is an excuse for his struggles when the truth is that he probably just isn’t as talented as originally believed.  However with Rasmus, I think it is one of the few cases where the change is necessary.  Rasmus has a permanent front row seat in manager Tony LaRussa’s dog house and it seems to have finally crept on the field full time and affected his play.  Instead of aiding his first place Cardinals with a season that builds on his strong 2010, Rasmus looks out of place and appears to pressing with increasingly worse numbers month-to-month:

April: .301/.392/.476

May: .253/.370/.407

June: .213/.268/.416

Generally teams don’t discuss trading mid-20s talents like Rasmus alas his name has come up in some preliminary rumors as we near the trade deadline.  I have no doubts that he can flourish out from under LaRussa’s thumb and his modest 2011 output might allow you to get a discount via trade.  Or he could be a primary reason why you’re building for 2012 already.  If it is the latter, sit tight with Rasmus.

Monday: 06.13.2011

Sunday Twidbits: June 12th

Here are this week’s MLB Sunday Twidbits which is something I’ll be doing every Sunday throughout the baseball season.  It’s a simple exercise whereby I tour the league giving a statistical tidbit per team on Twitter feed (@sporer).  Sometimes a team or two will get more than one if I have more than one nugget I really want to share, but every team will be represented at least once.

Sea – Michael Pineda has faced 3 tms a 2nd time w/a 4.66 ERA & 1.19 WHIP, yet still a 10 K/BB. ERA elevated by DET start. Don’t worry.

Det – Austin Jackson starting to drive the ball more w/2 2B & 4 3B since being given a June 1st off-day: .372/.426/.605 during the stretch.

Det2 – Protection or coincidence? Brennan Boesch hitting .307/.350/.551 w/all 8 of his HR & 25 of 34 RBI in 3 spot ahead of Miggy.

Ari – Willie Bloomquist = old Sam Fuld. This is why you don’t buy into these guys & sell em ASAP: .190/.227/.214, 0 SB since return from inj.

Flo – Chris Volstad has a 4.29/7.56 Hm/Rd ERA split, but has only allowed >3 once at home. 6.9 K & 2.4 K/BB = worthy home spot-starter.

Cle – 5/22 I said: J.Tomlin has largest ERA-FIP diff in MLB. He will implode bc .175 BABIPs & 85% LOB%s don’t last. Trade now… for anything.

Cle2 – Since 5/22: Josh Tomlin has 8.61 ERA, 1.78 WHIP in 23 IP allowing 6 ER in last 3 starts & 8-9-10-12 H in the 4 start stretch. Hope you sold.

NYY – A-Rod was hitting .259/.359/.463 a month ago w/5 HR. Since 5/12: .310/.355/.569 w/8 HR, 18 RBI & 3 SB… stop writing him off, folks.

Chc – The Chicago Empty Batting Avgs: Fukudome-Castro-Barney-Aramis all hitting .286 or better. All are pacing 10 or < HR & <75 RBI. Sell.

Phi – Top 3 SP (Halladay-Hamels-Lee) continue to lead Philly (5-0 in Jun) as finally whole lineup has struggled (.639 OPS-24th rk’d) so far.

Bos – The Red Sox have scored more runs in 10 June gms, 87, than Seattle scored in 26 May gms. Bos 9-1 in June despite 1 SP w/sub-4.50 ERA.

Bos2 – Dustin Pedroia sure isn’t playing like he’s injured: .389/.522/.583 w/10 RBI & 7 R in June. Only 1 hitless gm, 4 multi-hit ones.

Tor – Not even sure how Kyle Drabek is in the majors at this point. Has 3+ BB in 13 of 14 starts & more BB than K in 73 awful IP.

Tor2 – By the way, Brad Mills has a 2.87 ERA, 1.15 WHIP in hitting-crazy Las Vegas w/8.3 K/9 in case you’re looking for obvious replacement.

Tor3 – Eager to see how many K lovers hold strong w/Brandon Morrow. ERA now 5.63 w/boom or bust season: 4 4+ ER starts; 4 2< ER starts.

TB – On April 28th DH, Ben Zobrist had 2 HR, 10 RBI. Since: 2 HR, 11 RBI in 38 G. Hitting .386/.460/.591 in June. Another HR surge upcoming?

Bal – Mark Reynolds is a must-own. 3B is paper thin & power is light league-wide. On pace for 30-90-10(sb), you eat the .203 avg for that.

NYM – Hope you got Angel Pagan when he was reco’d in 5/29 Twids. His own rates were ESPN 35%, CBS 65%, Y! 36% then.

NYM2 – Pagan (cont.) Rates are way up as he’s remained on fire since return: .349 avg, 5 sb, 9 r, 7 rbi in 15 g. Big help to middle of Mets lineup.

Pit – Horrid start buried James McDonald‘s ERA (10.12 after 4 GS), but 2.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 7.6 K/9 & 2.0 K/BB in 51 IP (9 GS) since. Buy.

Atl – A modest hot streak for most could be a start of something for Dan Uggla after big wknd: 4-6, 3 BB, 4 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR in the #2 hole.

Hou – How good has SP been in ’11? Bud Norris‘ 3.67 ERA is 100 ERA+. With a 9 K/9, he’s a must-start even on cusp on below avg ERA, though.

Oak – Not yet an all-format must-start, but Scott Sizemore adds depth to ugly 3B wasteland & he’s hitting early on w/OAK: 6-19 in 5 G w/HR & 4 RBI.

CWS – Phil Humber‘s value gets a major boost if recent K stretch is at all legit. 5.5 season K/9, but 7.0 in 22 IP across last 3 GS. Monitor.

Tex – Derek Holland has skills worth betting on despite modest season-long #s. 3 ugly, 3 great in last 6 incl. 7.9 K/9 & 2.9 K/BB in 40 IP.

Tex2 – Holland (cont.) HRs killing him in latest 6 starts having allowed 2 in ea. of 3 blowups & 0 in 3 gems. 24 y/o so more ups & downs coming.

Min – Francisco Liriano‘s last 4: 26 IP, 29 K, 1.38 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 2 W. Still leery, but confidence growing as 3 were rd starts, 4th was v. TEX.

StL – Jon Jay hitting .309 w/some pwr & speed (pacing 10 hr/12 sb). Held .350 BABIP for 105 G in ’10 so maybe .353 this yr can hold. 50%+ avail.

Mil – Prince Fielder has been insane the last month: .330/.458/.742 w/11 HR, 29 RBI, 23 BB to 11 K… SO locked in. Mil 22-7 during stretch.

LAD – Why is Rod Barajas owned so scarcely across all 3 major outlets? On pace for 19 HR. Doesn’t have enough AB for his .233 AVG to hurt much.

Col – CarGo hitting .452/.485/.710 in 7 gms as leadoff hitter incl. 4 straight multi-hit gms in LAD series. Perhaps the jump-start he needs.

LAD-Col – 63 runs scored in 4 gm LAD-Col series, yet just 11 scored in first 4 inn. of all 4 gm. Sweet lives, relievers… 2.6 R/IP in 20 IP from 5th on.

KC – Alex Gordon still on pace for career yr, but it’s built mostly on hot April. Might be getting going for June: .273 AVG & .377 OBP.

LAA – Mark Trumbo has flaws (.299 OBP), but pacing for 27 HR & 15 SB w/potential OF elig. based on lg (6 GP). His value lies in OF, not 1B.

Was  – In 13 GS, Jordan Zimmermann has re-faced opp. 4x. Just an oddity.  Has allowed >2 ER once since May 1st (3 ER @ ATL, but also 11 K).

SD – It’s a whopping 4 gms, but what stands out about Anthony Rizzo early on is the patience. 5 BB & 4.6 pit/PA in first series ever.

SD2 – Rizzo (cont.) He also went 3-for-10 w/a 2B, 3B and HR. Great debut, hope it lasts for the highly touted prospect.

Cin – Scott Rolen carrying an ugly .240/.291/.380 line in 150 AB. Still nice leather, Juan Francisco toting .309 AVG, .819 OPS in AAA.

SF – Twidbits Curse? Touted Tim Lincecum in 5/22 ST’s. Since: 7.66 ERA, 1.59 WHIP in 22 IP. Still 19 K, 2.7 K/BB & 93 MPH FB velo. intact.

Wednesday: 05.18.2011

We’re Going Streaking!

Carlos Pena is in the midst of one of his famous Pena Power Pushes with five home runs in his last 12 games.  He has a .368/.490/.789 line during the stretch with 9 R, 11 RBI and 10 BB.  I’m sure many of his fantasy league owners didn’t get all of or any of this stretch as they were frustrated by the .157/.286/.171 line prior to the run.

Of course if you know anything about Pena then you know you have to sit through these kind of slumps so if you draft him then the onus is on you to practice extreme levels of patience.  Since emerging as a prolific and consistent power hitter in 2007, he has been possibly the streakiest home run hitter in the game.

  • He had 10 streaks of 10+ games without a home run from 2007-2010:
    • 10 – 3 times
    • 11 – 2 times
    • 12 – 2 times
    • 13 – 1 time
    • 18 – 1 time
    • 19 – 1 time
  • He had 12 streaks of 5+ home runs where he hit at least one every other game:
    • 5 in 6 games
    • 5 in 10 games
    • 5 in 11 games
    • 6 in 5 games
    • 6 in 8 games
    • 6 in 10 games
    • 6 in 10 games (followed by an 18-game cold streak, his longest of ’08)
    • 6 in 11 games
    • 7 in 6 games
    • 7 in 13 games (followed by an 11-game cold streak, his longest of ’09)
    • 7 in 13 games (preceded by a 13-game cold streak, his longest of ’07)
    • 9 in 11 games

The 21-game homer-less streak he started this season with is his longest since his rise to prominence, but it was also injury-related as he was dealing with a thumb injury so that only compounded things for a guy who is naturally inconsistent.  Morale of the story: if you are willing to take the risk of drafting him, set it and forget it.  Secondary morale: NEVER draft him in a H2H week.  He will kill you three weeks at a time before finally winning one by himself.

Carl Crawford is hitting .290 in 62 May at-bats notching a hit in 13 of his 15 games.  There hasn’t really been much else yet (2 SB, 4 RBI, 7 R), but considering the fact that he hit .155 for entire month of April his owners will take any glimmer of hope that their first round (or second round at latest) pick is ready to perform like one.

Drew Stubbs has reached base in his last 10 games posting a very strong .349/.440/.535 with 2 HR, 4 RBI, 4 SB, 7 BB and 9 R in 43 at-bats.  He was a target sleeper for many, namely Matthew Berry of ESPN and Cory Schwartz of, being tabbed as potentially this year’s Carlos Gonzalez.  So far he has lived up to the billing pacing for a season of .279 batting average with 27 home runs, 77 RBIs, 123 runs scored and 54 stolen bases which would no doubt make him one of the best fantasy players in all of baseball.  He is currently rated 5th on ESPN’s Player Rater and checks in 8th overall in Yahoo!’s ranking.

Before hitting the disabled list with an injury, Victor Martinez had a .250/.292/.417 line and hadn’t hit a home run in 12 games as the Tigers were an underwhelming 8-9.  He has torched the place since coming back from injury hitting .415/.489/.683 with 7 XBH (including 2 HR), 14 RBI, 9 R and 6 BB in 41 at-bats.  His surge places him 3rd among catchers on ESPN’s Player Rater behind teammate Alex Avila.

Martin Prado has reached base in 20 straight games dating back to April 26th including hits in 19 of them.  He was hitting .240 before the run, but going .360/.394/.551 w/4 HR, 17 RBI, 13 R, 5 BB, 3 CS in 89 AB has brought him to .296/.338/.450 which is just a tick below his career marks while his 117 OPS+ is right in line with his career 116 given the down hitting environment of 2011.

Perhaps Alberto Callaspo is the oasis you are looking for in the third base wasteland.  It was pretty weak before the season started and a rash of injuries might have taken it past shortstop as the worst fantasy position on the diamond.  He is available in a lot of leagues, too: CBS: 60%, ESPN: 49%, Y!: 32%.  In his last 12 games he is hitting .391/.404/.522 w/11 RBI.  Only 2 R and 0 HR & 0 SB, but again, it’s awful at third base so beggars can’t be choosy.  He is hitting .309 on the season and on pace for 75 RBI.

Adrian Gonzalez is positively destroying the competition in his last 10 games to the tune of a .386/.429/.932(!) line with 7 HR, 16 RBI and 12 R in 44 at-bats.  He was hitting .250 exactly a month ago; he is hitting .327 now.

Rajai Davis has surged since returning from injury with 10 stolen bases and 10 runs scored in 15 games.

Mike Trout is living up to the prospect hype following his 2010 breakout, especially in his last 10 games: .357/.417/.643 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, 7 R, 2 SB, 5 BB in 42 AB.  Of course, he has been raking all year long hitting .315/.400/.569 with 6 HR, 17 XBH, 17 RBI, 17 BB so he is almost making it difficult on himself to have a stretch that actually stands out.

The Kansas City Royals have already called up two of their best prospects in Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy, who makes his major league debut on Wednesday night.  Could Mike Moustakas be next?  There isn’t quite the natural opening that there was for both Hosmer and Duffy as Mike Aviles is playing well and even if you were to suggest moving him to second base, they still have Wilson Betemit.  That hasn’t stopped Mous from letting his bat make a bid for a call up as he has posted a .394/.474/.909 line in his last nine games with 9 XBH (4 HR), 12 RBI, 10 R, 1 SB, 5 BB and just 3 K (24 in his other 26 games) in 33 at-bats.  Man, perhaps even Dayton Moore can’t mess this up.  What a ridiculous crop of talent.

Dustin Ackley is also making a strong bid to get called up, but unlike with Moustakas in KC, the Mariners can definitely use his bat… and how.  Ackley is white-hot in his last 10 going .463/.540/.707 with 2 HR, 8 RBI, 10 R, 8 BB, 5 K in 41 AB.  During the streak he has one 0-fer and seven multi-hit games.  His season line is now up to .280/.399(!)/.445.  He has 33 walks against just 25 strikeouts.  Given their anemic offense and his brilliant control of the strike zone, it might be time to speculate on Ackley in leagues where he is available and would be useful (this wouldn’t include 10 team mixed leagues) such as any AL-Only league and deeper mixed leagues with a bench.  I would definitely speculate in any OBP league that fits these size criteria because at the very least he will draw walks as soon as he reaches the bigs.

Next time, I will look at some pitchers in the midst of a hot streaks.

Wednesday: 03.23.2011

2011 Bold Predictions-Part 1

One of the more exciting things to think about as the season approaches is which players are going to have the break through seasons?  Who are going to be this year’s Carlos Gonzalez, Joey Votto and Jose Bautista or David Price, Jaime Garcia and Ubaldo Jimenez?  For the past few years I have tried to answer that question with “Bold Prediction” columns over at Fanball.  I could’ve sworn I posted at least the 2009 iteration here, too, but I can’t seem to find after an extensive search.

I’m hardly the only one undertaking this task as Ron Shandler and crew have their Longshot Caucus over at and Matthew Berry has his You Heard Me! piece over at his page on ESPN.  I believe he will be releasing that soon and it’s always a fun read.  Both are, in fact.  Hopefully I am able to deliver to that end as well.

In case you don’t remember from previous versions over at Fanball, the bold predictions column isn’t a bunch of aimless predictions, but rather it looks at a player’s whole profile, in the pros and minors, and tries to project out some best case scenarios for them.  These aren’t surefire bets, they are longshots that need a myriad of factors to go right if they are to happen.  You should reasonably expect between 15% and 20% of them to come to fruition.  The point is to get you thinking outside of the box(score) and not focus so much on what we’ve seen, rather entertain what we could see.

I am not going to have the Brady Anderson 50 home run season-type prediction in here because nothing in his profile would’ve told me that was possible so I wouldn’t project it.  Some of these may be “duhs” to you which simply means you’re already looking at possible outcomes beyond what we’ve seen to date.  In the end if there is a prediction you agree with and it causes you to go the extra buck on a guy and outperforms his cost, but doesn’t necessarily meet the exact figure in the prediction, it’s still a win (i.e. I had Gio Gonzalez projected for 175 Ks last year coming off of a season in which he had a near-6.00 ERA.  He finished with 171 and a 3.23 ERA.  If you bought in, you certainly profited significantly).

Some of the other calls from last year include:

  • Shaun Marcum will pick up right where 2008 left off
  • Luis Valbuena will hit 18 HR and steal 18 bases
  • Juan Pierre will steal 70 bases
  • Kelly Johnson will hit 21 HR and .300
  • Manny Ramirez will hit 40 HR
  • Nate Schierholtz will hit .320 with 15 HR
  • Ubaldo Jimenez wins 20 games
  • Billy Wagner will save 40 games (“And might very well be the league’s best closer.”)
  • Mike Stanton will hit 17 HR
  • Mike Jacobs will hit 35 HR
  • Lastings Milledge will hit 20 HR, steal 20 bases
  • Joey Votto will hit 35 HR, drive in 120 runs

That’s a decent sample of wins and losses.  As you can see, some were incredibly far off the mark by October, but you could have envisioned a scenario where they came true and you wouldn’t have have been utterly baffled as to how like you probably were after Ben Zobrist’s 2009 line of .297, 27 HR, 91 RBI, 91 R and 17 SB.  Yes, I highlighted some of the big wins there.  I definitely did not have a 58% success rate as this sample of 12 might lead you to believe.  In fact, I went 18-for-73 yielding a 25% success rate.  Let’s see if we can top that for 2011:

AL East

Baltimore Orioles:

J.J. Hardy hits a career-high 33 home runs – A bum wrist (and other various bumps & bruises) have sapped his power the last two years after a pair of mid-20s home run seasons in Milwaukee back in 2007 and 2008.  He moves to a very hitter-friendly ballpark and he is reportedly finally 100% healthy and clear of the wrist issues.  He is in the midst of his prime and I’m buying the clean bill of health.  He is going very late in fantasy drafts at the most scarce position on the diamond.  If you out on the “studs” at short in an AL-Only, wait on Hardy.

Zach Britton pitches 120+ quality innings at the big leagues – His absurd sinker and devastating slider are major league ready while his changeup is catching up quickly.  He will almost certainly start the season in AAA, but he shouldn’t be there long.  The O’s rotation is hardly stable as it currently stands so once the Super 2 Deadline passes, he should be inserted into the big league rotation where I think he will be an instant success.  “Quality innings” is a bit vague so to clarify, I’m thinking he can net a 3.50ish ERA (give or take .15 for random variance) with 6.5 K/9 and 2.0+ K/BB.  The strikeouts will rise as he gains experience, but he will utilize that sinker to induce a ton of groundballs as he gains his feel for the big leagues.

Nick Markakis finally has the .300-30-100 season – I made this one last year and I’m headed to the well again.  I was only off by 18 home runs and 40 RBIs last year!  Joking aside, he is just too good of a player to be hitting 12 home runs in a season.  A 30-home run season would be seven higher than his previous career high and 10 more than his last three seasons.  He is still at the front end of his prime so don’t rule out an explosion that would shock the narrow-minded.

Jake Fox’s regular season home run total won’t match his Spring Training total… – … because he’s not good.  He has eight as of this writing and even if he doesn’t hit another one this spring, he still won’t top that figure in the 2011 regular season.  Don’t waste your money.

Boston Red Sox:

Jacoby Ellsbury hits .320 with 16 HR – The speed will be there, too, but with a career high of 70 there is nothing that would be all that bold.  If he met this projection, he would be a Carl Crawford-lite.

Jon Lester posts a 2.50-2.75 ERA with 24 wins en route to an AL Cy Young – I had too many wins-based predictions for pitchers last year which was dumb because I’m always beating the “skill doesn’t always translate to wins” drum so I was leaving the projection in the hands of the offenses, defenses and bullpens when I was really trying to comment on the pitcher’s skill.  I included the 24-win mark in Lester’s prediction because I think he has the appropriate backing of offense, defense and bullpen to reward his increasingly excellent skill.

New York Yankees:

Alex Rodriguez hits 52 home runs – It’s hard to really predict anything that can reasonably be considered bold with A-Rod, but he’s 35 years old and has back-to-back 30 home run seasons leading many to believe he is firmly into his decline phase.  There is some skill erosion, but the decline is much smoother with transcendent players like A-Rod and I think he has at least one more MVP-type season in him.  He is a bona fide bargain at a very thin position as he goes mid-to-late second round in many leagues.  The best part about A-Rod, other than the fact that he’s finally healthy again, is that there’s a very high floor so why not invest?

Nick Swisher hits 38 home runs – He’s actually getting better the deeper he goes into his prime and though he hasn’t topped 29 in the last four seasons and 38 would be a career-high, the potential is there especially in that park.  He’s another guy with a high floor having played 150+ games each of the last five seasons.  The batting average isn’t quite the risk that many make it out to be as his .219 season in 2008 is now the clear outlier of his career.

Tampa Bay Rays:

Evan Longoria hits .324-41-133 – No, I’m not among those freaking out about his 11 homer  drop from 2009 to 2010.  After all, his OPS dropped a whopping .010 to .879.  This guy is a superstar and as such he will have some truly excellent seasons in his career.  I am looking at his age 25 in 2011 as the first such season.  All three figures would be career highs and while it wouldn’t necessarily come out of nowhere as he’s a clear first round pick, it would definitely be a profit-laden season.  Some outlets have questioned his mid-first round status, but I think it’s justified even if he “just” repeats 2010 because third base is so lame after the star cut.

James Shields posts a 3.25 ERA – His base skills actually showed significant improvement in 2010 yet his surface stats were the worst of his career because of an atrocious 1.5 home run rate.  He’s not a flyball-heavy pitcher, in fact he’s had a sub-40% flyball rate each of the last three years, yet when someone got a hold of one it was gone.  His skills are just too damn good for a 5.18 ERA or even the 4.14 ERA from 2009. I’m seeing a major course correction.

Toronto Blue Jays:

Ricky Romero shaves nearly a full walk off of his control rate and takes his ERA below 3.00 – I could see the strikeouts rising up above eight per game, but I’m not betting on it just yet as he seems to understand that inducing groundballs is the more efficient way of pitching.  I love that he has the groundball and strikeout in his arsenal.

Travis Snider completes his Adam Lind Path to Stardom – I hope he doesn’t take every step Adam Lind has after Lind’s 2010.  Both had a strong call up, then regressed in their true rookie season and bounced back to average in another half season of play.  Lind followed it up with an explosive 2009 hitting .305 with 35 HR and 114 RBIs.  I’m not sure Snider will hit .305, but he could also top the 35 homers that Lind hit.  I think a big season is in the offing and he’s two years younger than Lind was during his ascension.  Put Snider down for .270 and 38 bombs.  His RBIs will be determined by batting order.

Brandon Morrow improves his walk rate and cuts over a run off of his ERA – With his incredibly electric stuff, Morrow could accelerate his progression with improved command.  Regardless of how much he can improve his walk rate, I think there is a legitimate ceiling on Morrow’s 2011 because the Jays will cap his innings.  I could see the cap ending up somewhere around 175.  In a surprise announcement today, he will start the season on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.  Hopefully this curbs his value a few days before one of the biggest draft/auction weekends of the season.  As I mentioned re: Kevin Slowey yesterday, don’t draft for April.  If anything, take advantage of any inherent discount brought on by his missing a start or maybe two.

Next Up: AL Central

The goal is to put these up throughout the day tomorrow.  I didn’t realize how lengthy they were going to get as I originally intended to go AL/NL in a two-parter.  That would’ve been too long (that’s what she said) so I’m breaking it up by division.  I will also have my Middle Reliever Guide out this week.  I was hoping for today, but again this project expanded a bit more than I expected.

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…

Monday: 02.7.2011

Daily Dose – February 7th

Today is being unofficially tagged as the official start of baseball as it marks the end of football for… who knows?  For me the baseball season never really ends.  The Hot Stove and offseason is enough to keep my baseball juices flowing even after the playoffs end.  I don’t hate football or anything like that.  I fully understand the game, have a rooting interest in both the pro and college games, but it’s easily #2 to baseball for me.  So those who are turning the page on football to focus their attention baseball are merely joining me and others who are entrenched in baseball year-round.  Before we turn that page, let’s start the Dose with a little Super Bowl coverage:

The commercials have by and large been a major dud the last four or five years as the ad execs appear to have just mailed it in anymore and decided to aim only at the lowest common denominator.  I expected the same this year, but I was pleasantly surprised when the best of bunch wasn’t just the least annoying work of the night, but rather legitimately quality work.  As a native Detroit resident, I’m partial to the Chrysler ad with Eminem and that ended up as my favorite of the night:

I could understand how those from Detroit might not enjoy it as much as me and Michigan brethren, but I was surprised that there was actually some legitimate backlash against the spot.  Of course the loudest critic I saw of the ad also thought the Motorola ad for their fake iPad was good so perhaps commercial critiquing isn’t their strong suit.

I also enjoyed what seems to be the overwhelming fan favorite of the night drawing off of the early week buzz it got by releasing before the Super Bowl, the Darth Vader/Volkswagen commercial.  During the game was first time I had seen it and I definitely enjoyed it.  It worked very well even as a 30-second spot, but there’s a full minute one if you haven’t seen it:

And just so this doesn’t become a complete recap of all the commercials everyone has already seen, two others that I really enjoyed were the NFL Fans one and the Bridgestone Reply All.  I was really surprised that the Reply All ad ended up being for Bridgestone, but I guess they were going for straight humor regardless of how it related to their product.

One more video before I get into some actual baseball stuff at the BASEBALL by Paul website.  I will admit out front that I don’t find Kenny Mayne particularly funny.  I used to enjoy him on SportsCenter to the point where I still use some of his catchphrases, but his brand of humor is pretty much one note and wears quickly.  All of that said, I loved his Super Bowl Mayne Event about Mike McCarthy.  Of course, it is entirely because of Matt Damon.  Just another reason why he’s my favorite actor.

And now for some baseball:

Dirk Hayhurst is one of the more popular ballplayers around thanks to his Bullpen Gospels which I believe started out as a blog and eventually become a book (which I own, but have yet to read).  His Twitter, The Garfoose, is pretty popular just for the unique name, but also because he has brought his blogging goodness to the 140-character format.  I believe he is scheduled to be on the Jonah Keri Podcast on Tuesday, too.  But I especially enjoyed his 10 Commandments for Social Media for Professional Athletes.   There’s a lot of wisdom to be found within those commandments, especially in light of how many athletes have thoroughly embarrassed themselves or outright buried themselves on the medium.

Razzball has released their Top 100 Fantasy Baseball Players for 2011.  Surprisingly, Albert Pujols does not top the rankings.  I’m 100% fine with their top guy.  I loved their outlook on the ultra-popular Rockies so far this offseason, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez as well as their thoughts on Matt Kemp.  Of course they were WAY too high on Ryan Howard for my tastes so there is give and take throughout the list.

Even if you are not big into prospects, I encourage you to check out Project Prospect’s Top 100 Prospect List released today.  It is a very handy fantasy tool if your league drafts minor leaguers, but also all fantasy players should be up on the next wave of talent.  It’s basically the last bastion of knowledge in which one can gain an edge on their opponents.  And it’s not like the window for it will close because prospecting is far from an exact science.  Adam Foster (@AdamWFoster) and his crew are doing excellent work on the prospecting front over at PP and I highly recommend you check them out.

Speaking of prospects, NBC Hardball Talk reports that Toronto’s Kyle Drabek may not have a firm innings cap placed on him this season.  You may recall last year that there was a lot of talk around San Diego placing a cap on Mat Latos’ innings.  It likely caused him to be much cheaper in drafts and auctions than if news like this had come out or if nothing at all had been said.  Instead, everyone was so worried about his season ending at 150 innings that they waited too long or pass altogether.  He ended up throwing 185 brilliant innings for a competing Padres team.  Bet on the talent and let the playing time factors play out as the season progresses.

And finally, in what has unintentionally become my Baseball Prospectus Plug O’ the Day, I suggest you hightail it over there as fast as you can because if you had reservations about paying, you can get it all for free today and see what I’ve been talking about all this time.  The free preview coincides with the release of their PECOTA Projections.