Archive for November, 2013

Healthiful, Flavorful, Venable

So went an old team name of mine back in 2011 when I was still using baseball themed puns. Since reaching the majors in 2008, Will Venable has been a reliable platoon bat in San Diego. He owns a career .334 wOBA against right-handed pitchers compared to a .293 wOBA against left-handers. He swipes 20-30 bases a season and can swat a few home runs too. And in 2013, he suddenly broke out in his age 30 season to provide nearly $14 of value to his owners.

His 2013 performance forces us to ask ourselves a question: Is Venable really a platoon bat?

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Jason Kubel Meets The Face Of The Earth

In 2012, there were exactly seven qualified players who posted an ISO over .250 and a slugging percentage over .500. They were Ryan Braun, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Hamilton, Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Willingham, Jay Bruce, and Jason Kubel. Yes, Jason Kubel. Granted, of the group, Kubel had the least amount of value by WAR, but this kind of demonstrates the kind of company Kubel’s resurgence kept.

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Daniel Nava: More Than a Platooner?

With Jacoby Ellsbury immersed in the free agent frenzy, the Red Sox seem to be making plans for life in Boston without him. The latest rumors have them looking at Carlos Beltran for right field with Shane Victorino moving to center and Daniel Nava playing left. But the Sox are obviously kicking the tires on a few others and apparently, one thing helping them is Nava’s versatility. With his ability to play either corner position, the Sox can keep their options open and not limit themselves to just the short list of quality right fielders out there. But the real question here is, how do the Sox envision their outfield structure for 2014 and how exactly does Nava fit in? Read the rest of this entry »

Desmond Jennings Disappoints Again

Since he was a minor leaguer, I was a big Desmond Jennings fan. I figured he would be the next Carl Crawford for fantasy owners, but perhaps an even better real life player given his stronger walk rates. Unfortunately, that memo never reached Mr. Jennings and for the second straight season, he has disappointed his fantasy owners. In 2012, he was just the 49th most valuable outfielder, no doubt thanks to his .246 batting average and a knee injury that limited him to just 563 plate appearances despite batting lead-off. This year, he once again missed some time due to injury, but even with 11 fewer steals, moved up a couple of spots to finish as the 42nd most valuable outfielder. Of course, that was still a disappointing performance.

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Josh Reddick: Mr. Replacement

According to Zach Sanders’ analysis, Josh Reddick was the fantasy replacement level outfielder of 2013. He was worth 41 cents. Dayan Viciedo was technically closer to zero with a negative 37 cent performance, but I find Reddick’s well-rounded brand of mediocrity to be more elegant. Hence, I am naming him Mr. Replacement.

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Jose Bautista: Not As Good, Still Really Good

The amazing thing about Jose Bautista’s breakout 2010 (54 homers, .422 wOBA) and arguably even better 2011 (43 homers, .443 wOBA) is that even when he’s not really able to come close to sustaining that production, as he’s been unable to in 2012-13, he’s still really, really good. A .371 wOBA over the last two years may not be quite equal to what’d done before; it’s still 21st best in baseball. It’s somehow possible that he never did receive enough attention for what he’d done during those two seasons.

Yet Bautista still only finished 28th in our end-of-season outfield rankings because for the second consecutive season, he found himself limited by injuries. Over the last two years, he’s appeared in just 210 games, and as he enters his age-33 season, that’s a real concern. After 2012’s left wrist surgery, his 2013 was marred by a sore ankle (four days in April), a sore back (four more days in April), and a left hip bruise that cost him the final six weeks of the season. Read the rest of this entry »

Yoenis or No-enis?

On Monday night I took part in a 15-team mock draft for a fantasy sports site to be named later, and while I cannot divulge the results of the draft, as they will be using it for their draft kit, I can talk about one particular dilemma I had when it was time for my pick in the third round. The draft was set up for a two-catcher league with five outfielders, nine pitchers and all the other standard stuff as far as a middle infielder, corner infielder, utility, etc. I had the third pick which I absolutely hated, but made the best of it as best I could. However, when it came to the third round for me — the 33rd pick of the draft — there I was, staring at a personal favorite of mine who let me down last season but also someone in whom I still believe. Dare I make that pick again? Do I take that chance? Am I even taking a chance? Is this pick too high for him? These are the questions that ran through my mind when I said to myself, “Yoenis or No-enis?” Read the rest of this entry »

The Jaff Decker, Travis Snider, Andrew Lambo, Gaby Sanchez, Jerry Sands and Jose Tabata Solution

The Pirates have a corner outfielder coming that should combine plus defense with power and speed. 22-year-old Gregory Polanco even played in Double-A last year, so he’s close. But does the team want to slot him in from the get-go? Doesn’t seem like it. Because Pittsburgh added Jaff Decker to the fold over the weekend. Now there’s a stable of solutions in right field, and some short-term opportunity for those guys to step forward. And if any of them do so successfully, there’s even a chance they continue to play when Polanco is up… it’s not like Gaby Sanchez is going to keep them on the bench.

That’s how you get to the Jaff Decker, Travis Snider, Andrew Lambo, Gaby Sanchez, Jerry Sands and Jose Tabata solution.

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Michael Brantley Flies Under the Radar

In his second full season with the Indians, Michael Brantley quietly earned the 34th most fantasy value among outfielders. Who would have predicted that Brantley would earn nearly identical value to Yoenis Cespedes? It may not have been obvious after a quick glance at his stat line, but Brantley does a little bit of everything at least decently, without standing out in any one category. That type of contribution package is typically undervalued in fantasy leagues, which is why it may surprise some to learn how valuable he actually was.

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Christian Yelich: Modest Success

Top Marlins prospect Christian Yelich quietly reached the majors last season. Usually, prospects of Yelich’s quality come with much trumpeting and fanfare, but the terrible Marlins lineup had owners ignoring him as just another unknown name. Yelich didn’t play enough to be included in our outfielder rankings, but his rate stats were loosely comparable to $10 Norichika Aoki. 2014 will be the lefty hitter’s age 22 season, so expect some growing pains to accompany the high upside.

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