Archive for January, 2011

Which Gordon Beckham Will Show Up In 2011?

Following a standout rookie season in 2009 that featured a .270/.347/.460 batting line with 14 homers and 63 runs driven in, expectations were understandably high for Gordon Beckham last year. Instead of continuing on the path to stardom, Beckham struggled out of the gate and was staring at a .182/.285/.234 batting line with just five extra base hits (four doubles and a homer) on the morning of May 22nd. Many fantasy owners jumped ship, but those that stuck with him were rewarded.

Read the rest of this entry »

Crowdsourcing Results: Mauer and Bautista

Joe Mauer (Expected, You)
My Pick: 25, 23
Average Pick: 19.2, 27.4
Median Pick: 20, 25
Pick Deviation: 9.9, 16.4

Interesting. Even after a year in which he was selected around twelfth and failed miserably to meet expectations, you all expect owners to take him less than ten picks later. I think he’ll go a little later at the 2-3 turn, and I’d be okay taking him there. For the most part, we’re arguing over nothing here, so let’s move on to Bautista.

Jose Bautista (Expected, You)
My Pick: 25, 92
Average Pick: 34.1, 41.9
Median Pick: 35, 40
Pick Deviation: 19.6, 24.5
– – –
My Dollar: 30, 15
Average Dollar: 24.5, 20.7
Median Dollar: 25, 20
Dollar Deviation: 7.9, 7.8

Okay, let’s start with the draft picks. As you can see, I’m not willing to take the chance on Bautista this year, and that’s not because I think he’ll be a total bust. I still think he’ll end up hitting at least 35 homers, but a low batting average combined with the strength of this year’s third base class (more on that sometime soon, and by soon I mean sometime before Spring Training) is not a recipe for an extremely valuable player. You are expecting Bautista to go later than I am, but are willing to pull the trigger on Bautista in the middle of the fourth round. Unless you expect him to hit another 50 home runs, this pick is probably going to be an overdraft.

Now onto the dollar amounts. I’m very happy that these dollar amounts correlate with the ADP numbers. A mid fourth-round pick is worth a little more than $20, so the relationship works out beautifully. Kudos to you for your knowledge and presence of mind. It’s strange that a player who hit over 50 homers last season would cost about $25 the following year, but that’s what has happened in the current age of speculation and doubt (you can speculate about what one might speculate about). I don’t think I’d mind spending $20 on Bautista if he wasn’t one of the first people nominated, but he won’t be. In auctions, I’d throw Bautista up there early and watch owners burn their money.

Mike Stanton’s Encore

Buster Posey and Jason Heyward garnered most of the attention among the NL rookie crop last season and rightfully so, but Mike Stanton of the Marlins was damn impressive in his own right. His 396 plate appearance debut featured a studly .248 ISO (15th highest among the 238 batters with at least 350 PA) and 22 homers, numbers that are pretty historic. The only other players with an ISO that high in that many plate appearances in their age 20 season: Mel Ott, Ted Williams, Alex Rodriguez, Bob Horner, and Frank Robinson. What does that mean for Stanton in 2011, specifically fantasy-wise?

Read the rest of this entry »

Updates: Napoli & Toronto’s Closer

Well, so much for that. Two of my recent posts were rendered obsolete or close to it in fell swoop yesterday. Time for some updates…

Read the rest of this entry »

ADP Crowdsourcing: Jose Bautista

After a request from one of y’all, we’re going to try adding in auction value to our voting today. That will include both expected auction value and your auction value. If you don’t like auctions and don’t want to vote on those numbers, it’s fine, and I have not made it a required question. Let me know if you like it.

I’m surprised we haven’t done Jose Bautista yet over the course of this series. So surprised, in fact, that I had to search through multiple archives of mine to make sure I didn’t miss something. Bautista may have been the greatest waiver-wire pickup in history last year, as there is absolutely no reason anyone should have been drafting him. Sure, there have been great pickups in the past, but has anyone gone from waiver fodder to 54 home runs? I doubt it.

Aside from the massive home run total, Bautista set career marks in batting average, stolen bases, and every other fantasy category known to man. Making it all just a little more impressive, he did it with a .233 BABIP and 15% infield fly ball rate. Apart from the counting stats, Bautista also improved his walk and strikeout rates, posting by far the best BB/K he’s ever had.

Bautista was 29-years old during last season, and combining his age with a change in his swing meant extreme improvements. Now Bautista is 30-years old, and pitchers will likely have figured out some kind of hole in Bautista’s approach, or at least have decided to pitch around him. No one should be expecting Bautista to hit 50-plus homers again, but how many will he mash? If I knew the answer, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.

We are voting on where you think Bautista will be drafted by the average owner, as well as voting on where you would draft him. We are also trying out auction values today, both expected value and how much you would pay for Bautista. Please note we are pick number, not round this time because of Bautista’s likely ADP. Below is a link to the voting form, and please read the wording carefully. For the voting, we’re assuming a 12-team standard league, using 5×5 scoring.

To submit your vote, click here.

Why Galarraga is no Hudson or Kennedy

We’ve seen the move enough over the last two years that the math is clear: Struggling young fly-ball pitcher from a tough American League division + trade to Arizona = Fantasy relevance! So will that math magic work for Armando Galarraga?

Not so fast. The first difference is immediately obvious upon looking at the player cards of the respective trio. Galarraga has a career 5.7 strikeout rate with a peak of 6.35 in 2008 – Dan Hudson showed a 6.75 K/9 in Chicago and was consistently over one per inning in the minor league leagues, and Ian Kennedy had a 6.49 K/9 in New York and also had a strikeout rate over one per inning in the minors.

But, say you believe in Galarraga’s peak strikeout rate despite its precipitous drop (to 4.61 K/9 last year), there’s still the matter of his ground-ball rate. All of the three are fly-ballers (not fly ballers), but here Galarraga (40.4% ground balls career) comes out (incredibly) ahead of the pack when compared to Hudson (34.2% ground balls career) and Kennedy (36.9% ground balls career). So… he strikes out a few less but gets a few more grounders, maybe he should be included in the trio as interesting late-round picks in upcoming drafts?

Thta’s still a negative, Ghostrider. It’s a matter of age and proximity to their minor league records. When Hudson made the leap to Arizona, he’d only accrued 34 1/3 major-league innings and 23 years on this earth – Kennedy 59 2/3 and 25 respectively. Galarraga is 28 years old and has pitched 475 1/3 major league innings. He’s no lapsed prospect that hasn’t gotten the chance to perform – he’s a journeyman just trying to hang on.

The bounce back won’t look like Hudson’s or Kennedy’s for Galarraga, who has pitched to a 5.17 FIP over his career, but could it look okay anyway? Take his career strikeout rate (5.7), strikeout-to-walk ratio (1.62) and ground-ball rate (40.4%) and look for comparative qualified starters in the National League last year, and it’s not pretty. Being as good as Randy Wolf (5.93 K/9, 1.63 K/BB, 39.4% GB) and his 4.17 ERA (4.85 FIP) would be a success story for Galarraga. Other close comps are Dave Bush (5.52 K/9, 1.64 K/BB, 39.5% GB, 4.54 ERA, 5.13 FIP) and Rodrigo Lopez (5.22 K/9, 2.07 K/BB, 37.6% GB, 5.00 ERA, 5.21 FIP) so he’s not in happy territory.

Galarraga may take the fifth starter role in Arizona next year, and he may pitch better than his terrible 2010 season (imPerfect game notwithstanding), and he may even have some superficial similarities to other AL starters that have made the same move recently – all of these things may be true, but he’s still probably not a good pick in your next draft.

ADP Crowdsourcing: Joe Mauer

In today’s ADP Crowdsourcing, we go back to looking at a star, and and are using pick number as our unit of measurement because of it.

Joe Mauer was a certifiable star heading into 2010 fantasy drafts. The catcher had hit close to 30 home runs, signed a massive extension and helped the Twins move into their new ballpark. His 2011 was far less spectacular, even though he ended up posting 5 WAR. Mauer ended 2010 with 9 homers, 88 runs scored and a .327 batting average. That line would have been more than acceptable from any other catcher, but after the numbers Mauer put up the year before, it was seen as a disappointment.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mike Napoli: Free At Last

By now you’ve heard about and have had time to digest the blockbuster trade that sent Vernon Wells and his entire contract to the Angels for Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli. It was a stunning transaction that pitted one of the game’s youngest and brightest GM’s against a team mired in apparent desperation after a rather uneventful offseason, but man, it still took a day or two to wrap your head around that monster. As fantasy players, we get to celebrate Napoli’s freedom from Mike Scioscia and his Jeff Mathis love-fest.

Read the rest of this entry »

Could Johnny Damon Enjoy Tampa Bay?

It looks like the Rays are close to an agreement with Johnny Damon. While the move isn’t a front-line kind of thing, there are some slight positives that might make the player interesting in most fantasy leagues. As with the player, though, each possible reason for optimism comes with huge asterisks.

Though he isn’t the most powerful outfielder, Damon’s .130 ISO last year was a precipitous drop from his .207 the year before and was slightly below his near-league average .149 career ISO. The difference meant he didn’t hit double-digit home runs for the first time since 2001. We shouldn’t overstate the case for his new home park, though, as they treat left-handers virtually identically. Left-handers enjoyed a 90 park factor for home runs in Detroit, and an 89 in Tampa – but his overall offense may fare a tiny bit better, as lefty wOBAs are suppressed by four percent in Detroit, and three in Tampa. A few more doubles would treat his batting average better, at least.

Now, the lineup around him also provides some reason for optimism. The Rays scored 51 more runs than the Tigers last year. An increase around 7% to Damon’s runs and RBI would have been welcome, since he also failed to score 90 for the first time since 1998. But this possible positive is also mitigated by a negative. The Rays’ lineup famously lost Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena over the offseason. Even without “chicken littling” the Rays’ chances to be competitive in 2010, it seems the two offenses may be closer together this season.

Last, we come to Damon’s speed. He hasn’t been a true speed daemon since the early aughts, and he only lost one stolen base off of 2009’s total, but his speed score has stayed above average (5.7 last year, 5.0 is average). He’s also stolen 23 bases in the last two years, against only one caught stealing. Here, the lineup effect may actually be somewhat significant – the Rays stole a league-leading 172 bases last year, the tigers only 69. It’s not too much of a stretch to expect a few more stolen bases next year.

All in all, the effect will be muted by the mere fact that Damon is another year older and should decline some accordingly. That isn’t to say, however, that he might not hit few more doubles, cross the plate a couple more times, and steal a handful more bases. The underlying true talent could decline, and yet his fantasy stats could see an uptick. If Damon hits .280 with a .360 OBP, double-digit home runs and twenty stolen bases, would he be useful in your league?

RotoGraphs Chat – 1/21/11