Archive for October, 2011

Stanton, Pence, Bruce & Bourn: Tier 3 NL OF Keepers

We’ve covered tiers one and two for the NL (and tiers one and two for the AL, and yes, we’ll collate them into mixed league rankings soon), but the position has bountiful keeper options and this third tier is not terrible. The best thing is that these guys are in their peak age ranges — the worst thing is that they each have at least one flaw that may keep them from superstardom.

Tier One
Matt Kemp
Ryan Braun

Tier Two
Justin Upton
Carlos Gonzalez
Andrew McCutchen

Tier Three
Mike Stanton
Let’s leave the speculation about Stanton’s new home park to my Wednesday slot. Instead, let’s marvel in the fact that this gigolo with gorgeous chest hair has the led the National League in isolated slugging percentage since he debuted in 2010. He even got more powerful in his second season, pushing his ISO from .248 to .275 and his home run per fly ball rate from 22.9% to 24.8% (which led baseball). He did all of this while hitting more ground balls and fewer fly balls, which may seem somewhat odd. Then again, Albert Pujols (1.17 GB/FB), Prince Fielder (1.16), teammate Braun (1.11) and Joey Votto (1.17) all have similar batted ball profiles to the Florida outfielder who doesn’t turn 22 until next week (1.18). Dude has “80 power.”

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2012 Catcher Free Agents on the Move

First off, a very hearty congratulations to the St. Louis Cardinals on their hard-fought 2011 World Series championship.  That was certainly a performance for the ages, from the late season comeback to steal the Wild Card spot to the Game 6 heroics that helped push the Series to the brink.  But while the conclusion of the World Series brings the end of the 2011 season, it also brings us to the official beginning of the 2012 season.  That’s right, it’s free agency time!  The Hot Stove League can be one of the most exciting times as teams get ready to rebuild for a run at next season’s championship.  It also keeps us fantasy leaguers on our toes as we too try to rebuild and prepare for a run at our own title next year.  Players have officially filed, so let’s take a look at the fee agent catchers and whose potential move could have notable fantasy impact. Read the rest of this entry »

Erik Bedard is Back

You can definitely call it a comeback. After three extremely injury-riddled seasons, Erik Bedard finally stayed relatively healthy in 2011. While he only threw 129.1 innings, Bedard managed to start 24 games — his highest total since 2007. In those starts, Bedard flashed signs of the pitcher that posted back-to-back 5 win seasons from 2006-2007. Even though Bedard eventually fell to the injury bug again, he proved that he’s still a solid fantasy option when healthy. After a relatively healthy season — for him — is Bedard a strong pick in the late rounds again, or should you let another owner deal with the headache?
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3 Potential 2012 Stolen Base Surgers

The base off-season has officially begun and that means it is time to start looking forward to the 2012 season and projecting player performance. One of the most difficult categories to project any significant change in is stolen bases. Steals are as much of a result of speed and base stealing ability as it is opportunity and the mere willingness to run. I decided to sort all qualified hitters by Spd Score, which was originally created by Bill James and includes stolen base percentage, frequency of stolen base attempts, percentage of triples, and runs scored percentage. Although I am not a big fan of the metric since runs scored percentage is too team dependent to be included in the statistic, Spd Score is pretty much the best speed metric available by default. I compared the top Spd Score hitters to their stolen base totals to determine who may see a spike next year.

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Is Heath Bell Still A King Among Closers?

Since arriving in San Diego via Queens prior to the 2007 season, Heath Bell has put up Playstation-like (or should I say, Wii-esque) numbers. He ranks sixth among all relievers in Wins Above Replacement and leads the league in primal screams, bullpen sprints, pitching mound stolen bases and Elvis impersonations. The 34-year-old seemingly had another vintage season in 2011, rocking a 2.44 ERA and nailing down 43 saves. But look a little closer, and you might begin to wonder if there was a Bell impostor on the mound for the Padres this year.

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All Questions Answered Thread

In lieu of a chat today, we’ll answer some questions over the course of the afternoon. This will allow us to answer more detailed questions, so make sure you give us the relevant information in your comment so we can help you. The RotoGraphs staff is here to help!

Oh, and ottoneu arbitration voting ends at midnight ET on 10/31 so remember that and ask us about those votes if you want.

2B Keeper Rankings: 3rd Tier (Part 2)

Tier 1
Dustin Pedroia
Ian Kinsler
Robinson Cano

Tier 2
Michael Young
Brandon Phillips
Rickie Weeks
Chase Utley

Tier 3 (Part 1)
Michael Cuddyer
Ben Zobrist
Dan Uggla

I see only two decent 2B keepers left, Kendrick and Johnson. I have a couple more articles planned on 2B left off my rankings. In my next article, I will look at some players that could be kept depending on the costs. The other article is on the flaws/questions that kept some of the other 2B off the list.

Howie Kendrick: Howie has generally been predictable with around 10 HRs, 15 SB and a 0.290 average. He produced at that level last season, except he hit 8 more HRs. His HR/FB% jumped from 7% in 2010 to 16.5% on 2011. In 2009 and 2010, his average home run and fly ball distance was 281 ft. In 2011 it jump 10 ft to 291 ft. The jump in HR numbers is real.

If there was one stat to watch going into 2012, it would be his K%. It jumped to a career high of more than 20% for 2011. He swung at and missed more pitches out of the strike zone than in the previous couple of years. He had problems with chasing pitches out of the strike zone early in his career and it looks like it may be returning.

Going into next season, I expect his HR projections to be a little low. Feel free to take a chance that he will continue on with his 2011 HR numbers.

Kelly Johnson – Kelly is a wild card in 2012 because of 2 unknowns surrounding him.

First, which Kelly Johnson will show up? The player that hit 26 HRs, stole 13 bases and had a 0.284 AVG in 2010. Or the player that hit only 0.222 while striking out 27% of the time in 2011.

Here is what I know:
1. He swings for fences and should have over 20 HRs given a reasonable amount of PAs.
2. He will steal 10+ bases.
3. He has no plate discipline right now. His K%, Swing% and Contact% has gotten significantly worse over the past 3 seasons. I would expect a low AVG.

His floor is 0.220-0.240 AVG, 15-20 HR and 10-12 SB for 2012. He has some upside if he can get the K’s under control and if his BABIP, 0.277 in 2011, is closer to his career average (0.311).

The second main factor affecting his value is what team he signs with and his role on that team. I would not set him as a keeper until this information is known. Is he headed to an offensively challenged team or back to Toronto? Will he be used in the 5th or 6th spot to drive in runs or hidden at the bottom of the lineup? Will it be a platoon situation? At least get an idea of how he will be used before setting him as a keeper.

d’Arnaud, Pastornicky: Prospect Chatter

Today’s Chatter topics? Injury news about one of the top catching prospects in baseball and some analysis on an underrated shortstop ‘spect who could factor into the 2012 fantasy landscape.

1) Travis d’Arnaud’s Thumb Surgery May Push Back His Arrival — But Not By Much

When it comes to big-time prospects, there’s no such thing as a minor injury. So with recent news that the Blue Jays’ Travis d’Arnaud underwent surgery on a torn ligament in his left thumb, that’s obviously something the team — and his keeper league owners — could have done without. The 22-year-old catcher hurt his thumb during the 2011 Baseball World Cup, where he hit just .188 (3-for-16, but all three knocks were doubles) as a member of Team USA. As the story linked above points out, d’Arnaud is expected to be ready for spring training, which is obviously great news for a young player who may just be the best catching prospect yet to make his MLB debut after he was named MVP of the Double-A Eastern League in 2011 by hitting .311 with 21 HRs and 78 RBIs.

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2012 NL Starting Pitcher Keeper Rankings: Tier Four

As a reminder of something I said in the last column, these are guys who very easily could be part of tier three, in fact, if it makes you feel better, consider this less “Tier Four” and more “Tier Three (b)”. Because of the depth of pitching, I find it somewhat unlikely that I’ll be targeting many of the guys in the first two tiers, not because I don’t like them, but because I expect their costs to be high. You can build a staff out of this extended third tier for a much more reasonable cost and you aren’t likely to see a pronounced drop in quality. Read the rest of this entry »

First-Pitch Strikes, Plate Discipline and Players Due to Bounce (or Fall) Back: Part II

My original intent for this highly anticipated (you were anticipating it, right?) sequel was to use the the findings from Part I to identify players who might have under- or over-performed in 2011, and I will still do that (feel free to skip the next five paragraphs if that is all you are looking for).

However, after posting part I, I got some great feedback, both in the comments and via email and decided to re-do some of the analysis, so I am going to start by recapping a couple of the changes I made and what I found.
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