Archive for January, 2014

An Enviable Cincinnati Reds Rotation

Believe it or not, the Cincinnati Reds’ Starters contributed more total innings than any other National League rotation in 2013. In fact, there aren’t too many other teams with fewer question marks going into 2014 than the Reds, and that’s despite letting their #3 starter walk in free agency (or so it seems). The Reds, by my count, have a very solid four contributors in any fantasy format, and even though they play in one of the friendliest places to hit, you’d be pretty fortunate to have a pair of them on your squad headed into 2014.

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The Athletics Rotation

Last season, the Athletics featured a rotation that was deep, but not exceptional. Only Bartolo Colon stood out as above average, and he’s moved on to the New York Mets. The A’s are always resourceful and they’ve built plenty of depth to fill in for the lost Colon. Next season should feature one pitcher who could be a fantasy godsend and a handful of others who have their uses.

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Lessons From My First Mock

UPDATE: You can view complete rosters here and Steamer projections for all teams here. I’m ranked 10th currently, but saves aren’t included yet (12 points projected). 

On Tuesday, Howard Bender organized the first draft of the 2014 season for his Mock Draft Army. You can learn more about the army here.

We kept things short and simple; a 23 round snake draft with standard deep league positions, no bench, and 5×5 scoring. The picks ranged from Mike Trout at pick 1-1 to Fernando Rodney at pick 23-12.

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The Mariners Outfield is Crowded, Decent

As a group last year, the Mariners outfield ranked 20th in wOBA (.312, tied with Oakland). It wasn’t a group without power (most home runs at 84; sixth in ISO at .165), but that power came with a 22.7% strikeout rate (fifth-highest).

Most of those home runs are gone, too. Raul Ibanez hit 29 of them, and he’s with the Angels. Same with Michael Morse (13, Giants) and Jason Bay (11, idfk). That’s 53 home runs that walked out the door, with just Michael Saunders (12) and what’s left of Franklin Gutierrez (10 in just 151 PA) remaining among those with more than four round-trippers last year.

Outfield was a clear focus for the club this offseason, and in fact may still be until the Nelson Cruz situation plays out. However, it doesn’t appear that Cruz is a great fit for this unit. It isn’t that he wouldn’t likely be an upgrade on paper, but that the Mariners have too much invested — time or otherwise — in players who need to produce or risk being passed over. Primarily, Dustin Ackley and to a lesser extent the Saunders’ and Almonte’s of the world. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rangers Rotation: Yu Darvish and Some Other Guys

This much we know about the 2014 Texas Rangers rotation on a chilly January day: it’s going to feature Yu Darvish, and it’s going to contain some other guys. That’s no slight to the candidates to fill the latter category — some of them are quite good. It’s just that, at this point, we don’t know exactly who they will be.

So let’s speculate wildly, shall we!

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Brewers Rotation: Dishing Out Love To Estrada, Again

The Brewers’ starting rotation got much more interesting last week, as they inked right-hander Matt Garza to a four-year deal with a vesting option. He and Kyle Lohse should headline a rotation that could surprise some people who wrote them off after posting a 4.13 ERA and 4.23 FIP in the first half last year.

In the second half, the Brewers’ rotation collectively turned a corner. Their 3.42 ERA was better than the Cardinals and Athletics in the latter half of the season, and it hints at what could be brewing in Milwaukee if the majority of breaks go the Brewers’ way. Marco Estrada was a beast down the stretch, Wily Peralta displayed signs of putting it together, and Yovani Gallardo finally tightened the tourniquet and stopped the bleeding.

Adding Matt Garza to the mix gives the Brewers five solid starters with a pair of intriguing arms waiting in the wings with Tyler Thornburg and Jimmy Nelson. It’s not a top-heavy rotation that will awe opposing teams, but it’s a rotation that could pair a couple number-two starters with three mid-rotation guys. Of course, that’s banking on no severe regression from anyone, but the organization has quietly assembled a starting rotation that projects to be at least league average.

But let’s look at the fantasy value because the name brands may not be where the value truly lies.

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Fading (most of) The Rangers Infield

The left side of the Texas infield will look the same as it has the last three seasons, but the right side will be completely different with Ian Kinsler being shipped to Detroit for Prince FielderJurickson Profar will slide into Kinsler’s spot. The real baseball implications of the deal are complicated on Texas’ end, but it was definitely a good thing for fantasy owners in that we have three guys who are fantasy options instead of two.

But is Profar a good option? In 324 plate appearances last year, Profar had just a .291 wOBA and 75 wRC+. From a roto perspective he hit just .234 with six home runs and two steals. Profar’s best skills in the minors were his plate discipline and ability to make contact. Of the two, his contact translated better as his contact rate was basically what it was in the minors. And he didn’t just make contact, he made good contact with a 23.4% line drive rate.

His plate discipline, however, didn’t translate immediately. Of course, he’ll never be able to replicate the single digit O-Swing percentages he posted in AA and AAA the last two years. But we can expect his strikeout and walk rates to improve because Jeff Zimmerman has showed us that K% peaks around age 25 and BB% peaks around 27 while ISO and BABIP tend to peak immediately. That’s a long-winded way of saying that an adjustment period was to be expected. Profar’s going to get better quickly, probably a lot better. Read the rest of this entry »

Eddie Butler And Colorado’s Volatile Rotation

The top four spots in the Rockies’ rotation, barring injury, seem pretty much set for the start of the 2014 season, but most of them carry significant risk. The exception is Jhoulys Chacin; other than a pectoral injury that cost him 3 1/2 months in 2012, he has been an effective, durable pitcher over the bulk of his seven professional seasons.

But then you’ve got Jorge de la Rosa, who has pitched more than 130 innings in just two of seven seasons since he transitioned to a starter full-time in the majors. Brett Anderson hasn’t thrown more than 83.1 frames since 2010. Tyler Chatwood is a decent, if thoroughly unspectacular, back-of-the-rotation starter.

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Plenty To Be Interested In On The Oakland Infield

There’s a lot of moving parts in the Oakland infield, and I suppose that’s what makes them fun. Let’s go around the horn….

C: Derek Norris, Stephen Vogt, and, for our purposes, John Jaso

This is fantasy, so you can stop thinking about Vogt right now. He’s not likely to get a lot of playing time, he’s 29 without much of a career behind him or projection in front of him, and he’s best known — if he’s known at all — for going approximately a million plate appearances without a hit to start his career. Read the rest of this entry »

Relevance of First and Second Half Stats

Coming into the 2014 season, Jean Segura’s 2013 production still baffles me (I have two more pieces on him coming up in the future). He had a an amazing first half (11 HR, 27 SB, .325 AVG) and then his production dropped off in the second half (1 HR, 17 SB, .241 AVG) which no obvious signs of change. Other players showed the same decline like Chris Davis (.461 wOBA to .365) and Jason Kipnis (.387 wOBA to .317).  Players exist on the other end of the spectrum. They seemed to get better in the second half of the season. Elvis Andrus went from hitting .242 with no home runs to .313 with four dingers.

Having more data is always better. Using three to fours years worth of data make the best projections. It is just human nature to remember the most recent results and quickly react off of them. Whether it is fantasy baseball or the economy, people jump immediately to action. I will look at probably the smallest set of data (besides pitch velocity) which fantasy expects use: half season data.

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