Posts tagged ‘Eric Hosmer’

Saturday: 02.2.2013

Countdown to Spring Training: 20 Days – Anthony Rizzo

Only 20 days until live game action…

With 30 days to go, I started profiling a hitter per day highlighting one from each team. I selected my player of note from each team and then randomized them (which was pretty interesting consider who the final two were after the randomization) so that’s the order I’ll be following.


One of the winter’s rising sleepers (which of course cuts into his sleeper value) is Chicago Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. He had a brief, but ugly debut in 2011 that saw him hit just .141 with a 523 OPS in 153 plate appearances with the San Diego Padres. Jed Hoyer, formerly of the Padres, joined forces with Theo Epstein to run the Cubs that offseason so they wanted to get their prized prospect, whom they’d discovered as part of the Boston Red Sox organization when they drafted him in 2007. He was traded for that offseason and instantly became part of their future foundation with Starlin Castro.

Rizzo ripped through the PCL in 2011 with 26 home runs, 101 RBIS, and a 1056 OPS in 413 plate appearances and yet he somehow topped that in his follow-up as a Cub farmhand hitting 23 home runs, driving in 62, and posting an 1101 OPS in just 284 plate appearances. He’d have been called up earlier, but Bryan LaHair was having an unexpected great start to the season. Once he reached the majors again on June 26th, he showed that his 2011 flop was merely a blip. He hit .285 with 15 home runs, 48 RBIs, and an 805 OPS in 368 plate appearances. His seven percent walk rate was below average, but the 17 percent strikeout rate was very good (3% better than league average for the position).

A lot of outlets are looking for a big breakout in 2013 now that he will have a full season of playing time. The Bill James projection at Fangraphs has him down for a .283-33-109 season. Yes, really. The “Fans”, which consists of 41 Fangraph reader projections, weren’t far from James at .285-28-103. Those are definitely… optimistic… to say the least. I can’t help but wonder if we, the baseball community, learned nothing from last year. Doesn’t Rizzo fit the mold of some heavily favored sleepers from 2012? Namely guys like Eric Hosmer, Brett Lawrie, and Desmond Jennings?

They were the shiny new toys of 2011 with various levels of kick-assery and they became the object of many fantasy managers’ affection leading into the March draft season for 2012. Hosmer had more or less a full season logging 128 games and 563 plate appearances while Lawrie and Jennings merely gave a taste at 43 and 63 games played, respectively. And how did that all work out?


Hosmer is least like Rizzo from an experience standpoint, but most like him in every other avenue as the pair are both 23-year old left-handed first basemen. Hosmer had the relatively full season of success in 2011, but that second time around the league was brutal as the struggles against lefties continued and he couldn’t stay great against righties. His 886 OPS against righties dropped to 700 in 2012 while his performance against lefties improved just six points to a still-meager 591 OPS.

Rizzo posted an 892 OPS against righties in 2012 compared to just 599 against lefties. As lefties with groundballs tendencies, they are going to be more susceptible to the infield shift. I don’t know how much either Hosmer or Rizzo faced the shift in 2012, but I do know they hit .091 and .161, respectively, on grounders to the pull field against lefties. It’s a thin slice of data as they had just 44 and 31 such plate appearances, but still worth noting especially if either or both weren’t facing the shift often.

League average for lefties in those situations was .174 so Rizzo wasn’t too far off, but his margin for error is scant if he is to have the breakout season projected at Fangraphs as he can’t give anything back against righties (and probably needs to jump up some) and needs massively improve against lefties. He was great in a half of 2012, but it is a lot different going through the grind of all six months in the big leagues. Even hitting the extrapolation of his 2012 numbers would be a major achievement.

Taking his 2012 rates over 630 plate appearances yields a 26 homer/82 RBI season which would be fantastic for the 23-year old and I still think that should be on the outer end of his projection. After all, look what another sweet-swinging first baseman did in 2012 compared to his 2011 extrapolation. Paul Goldschmidt skipped Triple-A in 2011 coming up to the bigs for a 177-plate appearance carafe of coffee during which he crushed eight bombs with 26 RBIs and a .250/.333/.474 line. Extrapolating that out would’ve been a 28/93 season yet he was far from a disappointment when he “only” went 20/82 last year. (Sidenote: I’ve got more on him coming up soon. Big fan. Big, big fan.)

The extrapolation game with youngsters is dangerous, and frankly kind of stupid. We already know that they aren’t guaranteed to progress in a linear fashion thus expecting someone like Rizzo to essentially just double his 2012 production in his first full season at such a young age is foolhardy. In order to hit any of these home run projections, he’s either going to have to maintain his 18 percent HR/FB rate or add some flyballs to the 30 percent he hit last year. He wasn’t struggling to hit the ball hard with an awesome 24.4 percent line drive rate, but sustaining that over a full season won’t be easy, either.

Just 10 percent (14-of-143) of qualified hitters were at or above his 24.4 LD rate meanwhile only four of those players were at or below his 30 percent flyball rate. So it’s basically one or the other. Two of them were Buster Posey and Robinson Cano, so there is precedent for Rizzo… as long as he’s an all-world player. And only six players maintained an 18.1 HR/FB rate or better with a flyball rate south of 30 percent. Posey and Cano were two of them along with David Freese, Kendrys Morales, Billy Butler, and Carlos Gonzalez. Note that none of those players were both 23 years old and entering their first full year in the majors.

Despite the negative slant to this piece, I’m not down on Rizzo’s long-term prospects at all. I’m simply preaching caution with him for 2013. Last year wasn’t the first year that prospects failed to live up to their billing, but rather the most recent examples thus they’re still fresh in our memories. We should learn from last year’s mistakes, not make them again. Sure there is going to be some under-25 stud who tears the league apart, but betting a significant amount of your auction budget or a high round draft pick that you found the needle is a good way to finish sixth.

One final note is that obviously all bets are off in keeper and dynasty leagues as you’re going to have to pay a little more on the front-end to enjoy the future. In current keeper & dynasty leagues, he is already cheap and likely not for sale, but in new leagues he will have a bit of an elevated price based on his hot 2013, age, and overall prospects. If you are the type who likes to build the future juggernaut in those leagues, he’s definitely one to target.


Monday: 07.18.2011

Sunday Twidbits: July 17th

Here are this week’s MLB Sunday Twidbits which is something I’ll be doing every Sunday throughout the baseball season.  It’s an 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.  Check the sidebar on the right for previous editions of Twidbits.

CWS – Juan Pierre is hitting .330 the last calendar month & .300 the last 2 months. He was just 5-for-12 w/SBs in Apr, but 10-for-13 since.

CWS2 – On his July pace (4 SB in 12 G), Pierre would steal 22 more bases this yr; his value has stabilized. Buy if you need speed.

Det – Protection or regression? Alex Avila has a .161/.366/.258 in 11 July gms w/Raburn (.607 OPS), Inge (.492) & Kelly (.631) behind him.

Det2 – Avila (cont.) It’s a pretty tiny sample & protection is largely overrated, but Avila’s 9 BB & gm tapes show he’s being pitched around.

Was – Just six of Henry Rodriguez‘s 27 appearances have seen him go without a K. He has 34 in 31 IP; a nice MR option if you’re heavy on IP.

Atl – Freddie Freeman is rewarding patience hitting .289/.385/.567 w/7 HR & 22 RBI in his last calendar month & .307/.367/.524 in his last 2.

Atl2 – Freeman (cont.) On May 17th, Freeman was hitting .226/.321/.358 with just 4 HRs. I may have misjudged Mr. Freeman.

LAA – Walden has straightened out after a rough end of June & I think he will be fine, but Rich Thompson might be worth speculating on.

LAA2 – Thompson (cont.) He has 10.3 K/9 in 35 IP & he’s not Fernando Rodney. Scott Downs might be primary option, but he is their lefty RP ace.

Oak – He’s a perpetual injury risk, but Joey Devine is pitching well & could get work if another inj. risk Andrew Bailey goes down or gets traded.

Oak2 – Devine (cont.) He is getting over back spasms, but has a 2.14 ERA, 1.05 WHIP & 8.1 K/9 in 21 IP otherwise.

Oak3 – Josh Willingham (own rates: E 17%, C 34%, Y! 7%) could be dealt out of OAK which would instantly raise his value as a pwr source. Buy.

StL – Kyle Lohse has allowed <4 ER just 2x in last 7 (5.62 ERA in 42 IP) w/an UGLY 3.4 K/9. The pumpkin metamorphosis is in full force. Sell. NOW!

Cin – Ramon Hernandez sputtered a bit from mid-May to mid-June (.250, 1 HR, 3 RBI in 52 AB), but has rebounded (.327, 3 HR, 8 RBI) in last mo.

Cin2 – Hernandez (cont.) For some reason, he is very much available w/ownership rates of 17% in ESPN, 25% in Y! & 35% in CBS. Buy.

Bos – Thru 4 GS, Andrew Miller had a 3.57 ERA, but a 1.57 ERA & near 1:1 K:/B (13/11). That was v. SD, HOU, PIT & BAL-4 weaker tms.

Bos2 – Miller (cont.) Latest start v. TB came to a head: 7 ER, 2.7 IP. I never believed & 3 K in his last 3 GS assures I never will. Cut. Avoid.

TB – Sharp in his last 3 (1.96 ERA, 1.2 WHIP, 6.0 K/9, 3.0 K/BB in 18 IP), Alex Cobb has been recalled, has AL-only value immed. Monitor in mixed

Phi – Dom Brown has some post-hype sleeper value ROTW. Hit the Mendoza Line on 6/23; since-.315/.403/.407 w/12 R. Legit Pwr/Spd capability, too.

NYM – Hope you jumped on Twidbit “recommendee” Bobby Parnell a few wks back! Enough back-patting. BTW, still seeing Jonathon Niese available all over.

NYM2 – Niese (cont.) I’ll defer to this week’s Trolling the Wire for more on Niese. Buy.

NYY – In early June, Brett Gardner was on pace for 28 SBs, but he has 16 in June & July for total of 26. Great trade target if there’s need for speed. Buy.

Tor – Of course if Gardner is too expensive & you don’t need the AVG & R he brings, then you might be able to get Rajai Davis for free on some wires.

Tor2 – Rajai (cont.) He has rebounded from his horrible June (3 SB in 27 G) notching 7 SB in 14 G so far. PT is tight in TOR OF, but Davis hasn’t felt it yet.

Pit – If I’m going to back-pat when Twids hits one, gotta point out the reverse. Alex Presley was given just a tepid endorsement after Tabata injury.

Pit2 – Presley (cont.) Xavier Paul has been nicked & Garrett Jones hasn’t hit; Presley is hitting .343/.400/.522 w/4 SB, 12 R & 9 RBI. Pwr driven by 3 3B.

Pit3 – Presley (cont.) He is making a bid to take some (if not most) of Jones’ PT when Tabata returns.

Hou – Jeff Keppinger got a late start to his season (5/27), but he is AVG asset if standings are tight in that cat. Empty avg, but viable at 2B.

Cle – Michael Brantley is on pace for .276, 91 R, 21 SB, 10 HR, 65 RBI yet still has availability at all 3 outlets (Y! 42%, E 74%, C 83%). Buy.

Cle2 – Carlos Carrasco was dropped en masse after 2-start hiccup. Solid bounceback @ BAL. A matchup play who is rosterable in many formats.

Bal – Zach Britton has a 2.35 ERA & 1.12 WHIP after 10 starts, but meager 4.9 K/9 & 1.7 K/BB rates said “SELL!”; since: 6.86 ERA & 1.77 WHIP in 39 IP.

Bal2 – Britton (cont.) Oddly enough, his K/9 has risen to 6.7 during the skid, but still-awful 1.6 K/BB has been his undoing regardless of missed bats.

Flo – Doubt Leo Nunez will be dealt, but if so then Steve Cishek could get a look. Has 23 K in 22 IP  w/just 5 BB (4.6 K/BB). Deep speculation.

Flo2 – Did you cut losses on Hanley Ramirez? Hope not. Last month: .364/.451/.602 w/5 HR, 24 RBI, 19 R, 5 SB (0 CS). Might salvage after all.

Chc – Geovany Soto‘s stock has tumbled everywhere except CBS (78% owned), but 3 HR in last month boost value. Could hit 7-10 HR from C ROTW.

KC – Eric Hosmer is on a lot of re-draft wires, but K% & pwr improvement during mini-surge could reintroduce viability as CI/U type. Monitor.

Min – Brian Duensing surging w/2.70 ERA & 1.24 WHIP in last 50 IP, but 4.16 & 3.91 xFIP in Jun & Jul suggest caution. Sell in AL, Replace in mixed

Min2 – Similarly Carl Pavano on fire w/2.82 ERA & 1.12 WHIP in 61 IP, but 3.63 & 3.66 xFIP last 2 mo is worrisome. Elevated LOB% is the major aid.

Mil – HRs (2.4 per9) & BBs (4.5 per9) plaguing Shaun Marcum in last 6; could be tied to nagging injuries. I’d buy if discount is there as hip/neck are fine.

Col – Chris Iannetta has big H/R split, but flailing in Coors now, too. Since June he has 53 PA H & R: .244 & 1 HR @ hm; .143 & 2 HR on rd. Pass.

Col2 – Iannetta (cont.) Names who could be available to replace him: Mike Napoli, Ramon Hernandez, Geovany Soto, Wilson Ramos & Jonathan LuCroy.

Tex – Neftali Feliz thru 2 mo w/9 K, 14 BB in 19 IP. OH NOES! Since: 17 K, 4 BB in 18 IP. Closers are volatile, be patient w/proven ones (Marmol).

Sea – Is Blake Beavan latest useful SEA SP? Not yet: 2.70 ERA & 0.95 WHIP are “supported” by 3.6 K/9 (vomit!). It’s ALL the .190 BABIP & 89% LOB%.

SF – Madison Bumgarner has rebounded from 0.3 IP/8 ER meltdown throwing 26 IP w/2.73 ERA & 1.14 WHIP as well as sparkling 30 to 3 K/BB. Buy.

SD – Dustin Moseley has K’d >3 just four times in 18 starts which is why he has a weak 1.7 K/BB despite solid 2.9 BB/9. Pass. Drop. Cut. Never.

LAD – Longshot to close again, but Kenley Jansen has 11 scoreless IP since MLB return w/16 K. His 6 BB are still an issue 3 H says stuff is back.

Ari – Josh Collmenter‘s really lacked of Ks early (5 in first 16 IP as SP), but 6.7 K/9 & 2.7 K/BB rates since 5/29 are intriguing. Monitor.

Monday: 05.9.2011

Prospect Spotlight: Jose Iglesias & Yamaico Navarro

The prospect parade continued on Sunday as the Boston Red Sox announced they were calling up slick fielding shortstop Jose Iglesias to take the spot of Marco Scutaro, who is headed to the disabled list.


This call up has exponentially less fanfare than that of Eric Hosmer for many reasons, chief among them being that he isn’t near the talent from a fantasy aspect and the fact that he’s essentially going to be a defensive replacement.

The 52nd-ranked prospect by Baseball America is unquestionably excellent with the glove which has allowed him to climb the minor league ranks and reach AAA at the age of 21, but his bat lags way behind.  It’s always going to, too.  His ceiling is going to be a Rey Ordonez-plus.  He likely won’t be quite as inept at the plate, but .700 OPS will be a challenge (Ordonez had a career .600 OPS).

His lack of skill with the bat combined with his role as a defensive replacement make him a complete nonfactor in all fantasy formats.  I have seen him drafted to minor league rosters in some AL-Only leagues and I’m not entirely sure why (and I’m talking long-term, not just ’11).  Perhaps it is because he is the top rated or at least one of the top rated prospects on a high profile team, but those lists are all-encompassing meaning his remarkable defense matters.

Unless you play a Strat-O-Matic or Scoresheet league, his defense means nothing for fantasy players.


I was hoping that Yamaico Navarro would get a call soon even over Iglesias as he brings a lot more potential with the bat, but he suffered an oblique strain and on May 7th he hit the 7-day DL in the minors.  That may be more why Boston went with Iglesias.

Navarro had a strong season last year (hitting .275/.356/.437 in AA and AAA) crossing three levels including a 20-game stint with the Red Sox from late August through the end of the year.  He was clearly overmatched in the small sample (.143/.174/.143), but that’s not too surprising for a 22-year old who had just 16 games of AAA experience prior to reaching the big leagues.

He is back in Pawtucket and off to a great start this season hitting .329/.436/.612 in 101 plate appearances.  He has 14 extra base hits including eight doubles, two triples and four home runs.  He has driven in 12, scored 19 and two stolen bases.

Perhaps as impressive as anything in his start is the 1:1 K/BB split (13 apiece).  His plate patience has been something he seems to be working on constantly as he was sitting 2.4-2.5 in 2007 and 2008 before dropping to 2.0 in 2009 and then a really nice improvement to 1.3 last year.

Primarily a shortstop in his minor league career, Navarro has also seen time at second base, third base and all three outfield spots this season.  With that flexibility plus a great start at the dish, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Red Sox soon selected him to be their super-utility man especially in light of the fact that their backup outfielders, Mike Cameron and Darnell McDonald, are hitting a robust .158 combined (9-for-57).  It will depend on how those two play in the coming weeks and how quickly Navarro heals from the oblique.

But again even adding his 2011 start, he still has just 39 games above AA and he is still just 23 years old.  I think Navarro is someone to strongly consider depending on league format.  He may still be available in dynasty/ultra leagues, so check your wire.  Meanwhile, AL-Only leaguers using a more limited minor league roster (3-7 slots) might want to make room to invest as he will almost certainly get the call before September, especially if he keeps raking the ball when he returns from injury.  Don’t start releasing guys who are top 5-7 in their organization for him, but he is as good as any other lower rated org. guy… unless the org. is Kansas City.