Archive for November, 2016

The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 407 – Cespedes to Mets


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 Leading Off: Question of the Day (9:00)

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Fantasy & Reality: Ramirez, Tomas, Judge & More

Jose Ramirez: 2017 Projection

Jose Ramirez was an afterthought for most people coming into the 2016 season. He had struggled early in 2015 (.176/.243/.235 in the first half) and was demoted and Francisco Lindor got called up. He came back in the season’s 2nd half and has been a different hitter ever since. His second half improvement went unnoticed because of the bad first half stats bringing down his value.

I read back through news reports to see if he was dealing with an injury or a change in approach while in the minors and could not find anything. Instead, I will throw out a bunch of stats showing the change without knowing the reason. First, here is his 2015 average exit velocity from

Before getting demoted, his average batted velocity was below league average (84.8 mph) and after coming back it hovered around league average (87.9 mph). Besides hitting the ball harder, he went to a more line drive approach with his swing.

Change in Jose Ramirez’s Batted Ball Profile
Time Frame GB/FB Hard% Bunt% ISO
2014 1.67 23% 12.5% 0.084
2105 (1H) 1.50 21% 11.0% 0.059
2015 (2H) 1.17 27% 0.0% 0.179
2015 1.13 27% 0.0% 0.150

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Anthony Rendon’s Comeback Season

One player that probably didn’t get far enough coverage from me throughout the 2016 season was Anthony Rendon. I was always aware of the kind of season that he was having, but there just never seemed to be a spot to fit something in about him without it seeming clunky. But with Rendon taking home National League Comeback Player of the Year honors, courtesy of writers, now seems like as good a time as any to examine the year that he had.

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Early Ottoneu Hitter Projections

You might have missed it, but the initial Steamer 2017 projections were released here at FanGraphs a few weeks ago, and the first few sets of 2017 ZiPS projections have been posted as well. This time of year feels a bit like an early Christmas for a projection nerd like myself. I wanted to take a peek and highlight some hitters with interesting projections, and will be doing so using the context of the dollar values I use on the ottoneu surplus calculator (note- those values are based only on Steamer at the moment).

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Out of Nowhere: Speedy Outfielders

We have this dichotomy in fantasy baseball. Even though we measure five categories, we mostly talk about power or speed. With the occasional exception of a Joe Panik, nearly every major league player can be described as speedy, powerful, or both. That’s not just a reflection on the way we play fantasy, it’s also an insight into processes of major league clubs. They supply our talent pool.

Judging from the title, we’re here today to talk about speedy outfielders – specifically the breakout candidates. While a power breakout can come in many forms – think about Mark Trumbo compared to tiny Jose Altuve – speed is highly observable. A guy is fast or he is not fast. On the margins, you’ll have players like Michael Brantley and Chase Utley. Neither were ever particularly speedy, but they knew/know how to pick their spots. Alternatively, current Philllies Cesar Hernandez and Odubel Herrera are plenty fast, but they’re TOOTBLAN kings.

We could get into this in more detail. Here’s the point. Speed is easy to see. Breakouts for speed type players happen in other categories. Usually, they suddenly show better plate discipline or buff their hard hit rate. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of starting regularly or earning a better spot in the lineup.

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Steamer and I: Michael Conforto – A Review

At last, we come to our final outfielder Steamer and I review. Today, I’ll recap my Steamer and I battle over Michael Conforto, which pit my Pod Projection against the Steamer projection system. I was surprised to learn that I was significantly more bullish on Conforto than Steamer was, as I felt he was actually overvalued in fantasy leagues, though mostly due to his expected lineup slot toward the bottom of the Mets order. Let’s see what we expected versus what actually transpired.

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Fantasy Implications: Cespedes, Volquez, Thames, and Jackson

The Hot Stove is simmering, but the first indications of a full boil might’ve come today with a huge signing. Of course, there is now a threat of someone turning off the burner altogether if a new collective bargaining agreement isn’t reached by the December 1st deadline.

That said, I’m not terribly worried about a lockout. We discussed it on the latest podcast and just didn’t see the sticking points as lockout-worthy compared to previous years of unrest. Let’s hope today’s major domino is the beginning of a flurry of action leading into the Christmas/New Year holiday when we usually see it quiet down before a final burst in January.

Remember, you can follow the Hot Stove Implications tag for all of the pieces throughout the winter as Jeff Zimmerman and I will keep you up to date on the market.

Yoenis Cespedes re-signs a 4-year/$110 million dollar deal with the New York Mets

Solid move for both sides here. Obviously, Cespedes cleans up at $27.5 mil per year, but the Mets likely (and rightly) found that more tenable than getting into a five or six year deal for the 31-year old outfielder. We all knew it’d be tough for Cespedes to maintain his insane 57-game pace from 2015 as a Met, but he was still excellent. His .884 OPS was a career-best, though his 134 wRC+ fell a little shy given the boost in offense across the league. He had a 135 in 2015 and 136 back in 2012, his rookie season.

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The Change: Player Types with Duvall, Piscotty, Polanco

On the back end of the top 25 outfielders last year, there’s a trio of young outfielders that found success with very different approaches. Adam Duvall just hit the crap out of the ball. Gregory Polanco was a five-tooler with good patience and contact. Stephen Piscotty was somewhere in between. We all have our favorites when it comes to player types, but let’s be concrete about these things. Let’s filter the players based on a few key statistics and find historical comps that can help us better understand the futures for our three relative youngsters.

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Three Underrated Heroes in the Outfield

The easiest way to build a winning roster is to draft undervalued players. These aren’t upside or breakout targets, they’re simply guys who are going much later in the draft than their projections merit. When it comes to high quality leagues, our markets are usually pretty efficient. We don’t just leave predictably good players to sit around in the draft. However, here are three guys we selected too late.

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The Three, Four, and Five-Category Outfielders

In fantasy baseball we talk a lot about five-category players or performances but we don’t usually define what that actually means. In its most liberal application, the term is a shorthand for a productive player whose worst performance in any one category is still palatable. Sometimes we’ll talk about someone with sneaky five-category potential when describing breadth of upside.

I suspect that most use the term when describing players who provide a positive value in all five standard roto categories. But in most cases, we use the descriptor when “power-speed threat” might be more appropriate. Or that given the dichotomous relationship between the two skills, we lower our standards in one category because a player stands out in the other. If we use the most literal definition, that a five-category player provides at least positive contributions across all five categories, we’re really talking about just seven players, six of whom were drafted in first five rounds.

True Five-Category Contributors
Player Name POS mAVG mRBI mR mSB mHR Avg Round*
Mookie Betts OF $6.60 $5.70 $7.90 $4.80 $2.80 2.4
Mike Trout OF $5.00 $3.70 $8.10 $6.00 $2.20 1.1
Jose Altuve 2B $9.10 $3.00 $5.40 $6.00 $0.40 2
Paul Goldschmidt 1B $2.90 $2.90 $5.10 $6.60 $0.40 1.2
Charlie Blackmon OF $6.40 $0.80 $6.00 $2.20 $2.20 3.4
Ian Kinsler 2B $1.80 $0.90 $7.00 $1.40 $1.80 8.9
Ryan Braun OF $3.50 $2.20 $0.40 $1.90 $2.50 4.9

But in limiting our definition of a well-rounded player to the five-category heuristic, we miss out on some less obvious but still impressively complete performances. And because I don’t really feel like explaining why Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Charlie Blackmon, and Ryan Braun are good at baseball, let’s spend Week 2 of Outfield Week here at RotoGraphs looking at some other multi-category outfielders and couple with the potential to contribute across a greater number of categories than they did in 2016.

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