By almost any measure, Jered Weaver’s best two seasons came in 2010-11, when he threw well over 200 innings and was worth more than five WAR each year. My guess is that most people still think he peaked in 2012, when he was 20-5 with a 2.81 ERA, despite a terrifying decline in his strikeout rate, and if being a “20 game winner” isn’t what it used to be, it still does count for something in fantasy.
Still, headed into 2013, I think most of us were worried about an impending drop-off thanks to lessened velocity and that strikeout decline, and we got it: Weaver’s 2013 was, by most metrics, his worst since at least 2009. Of course, not many of us expected that he’d fracture his left elbow in his second start of the season and miss nearly two months, either, and that’s obviously a factor in his down year.
So then the question becomes, as Weaver heads into his age-31 season: Is he done as an ace? Done entirely? Or is there more there? Read the rest of this entry »
Lest it seem like CC Sabathia simply fell apart out of nowhere in 2013, do remember that there were warning signs in 2012. Yes, he was still great that year, pitching 200 innings on the nose with one of the best K/BB marks of his career, but he’d done so while losing a mile off his fastball, landing on the disabled list twice, and submitting to elbow surgery following the season.
So perhaps it shouldn’t have been a complete surprise that 2013 was far from his usual standards, especially when you look at a terrifying velocity chart: Read the rest of this entry »
Gerrit Cole finished 60th in our end of season starting pitcher rankings. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that he finishes quite a bit higher than that in 2014, because the only reason he finished that low this year is simply because the Pirates didn’t call him up to make his major league debut until June 11, giving him time to pitch only 117.1 innings on the season.
While we look back and remember Cole as blossoming into an ace, it’s probably fair to remember that his time in the bigs didn’t exactly start out with total dominance. For his first few weeks, there were some questions about how few bats Cole was managing to miss despite owning one of only two fastballs to average more than 96 miles per hour (minimum 100 innings). In his first start, Cole struck out only two Giants; in his next, just a single Dodger. He didn’t strike out more than five hitters until his ninth big league start. Read the rest of this entry »
When Jayson Werth left the Phillies after three consecutive seasons in which he was worth around five wins and jumped to the Nationals for a massive seven year, $126m contract after 2010, it was easy to bash it. He was headed into his age-32 season, he’d had injuries in his past, and he’d been very good, but never a superstar. That got easier when he had a very disappointing 2011 debut, then missed half of 2012 with a broken left wrist.
Then, at age 34, he went out and had something of a career year, topping the .400 wOBA mark for the first time. So heading into 2014, how exactly do you project that? Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Carl Crawford ranked #64 in our end-of-season outfield rankings, just above A.J. Pollock, who is only valuable for defense, Matt Joyce, who’s a mildly interesting platoon player, and Ichiro Suzuki, who retired in 2009.
Objectively, that’s not that great. In a 12 team league with three starting outfield spots, it’s well below starting-caliber. But in this specific situation, we can put objectivity on hold for just a second to acknowledge that Crawford actually managed to stay on the field long enough to even find a home in the rankings. Victory! A minor victory, perhaps, but a worthwhile one nonetheless. Read the rest of this entry »
Remember when Asdrubal Cabrera was a rising star? 2011 doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but for Cabrera it was. That year, he broke out as a fantasy star, hitting 25 homers with 17 steals and a .273/.332/.460 line in his age-25 season. Since then, he’s combined for 30 homers and 18 steals, and in 2013 he really cratered, putting together a lousy line of .242/.299/.402. Yet it seems to me that he still gets talked about like he’s a top-tier shortstop. Maybe that’s just me, or maybe it’s because “Asdrubal” is such a unique name, but it’s clear he no longer deserves that respect, finishing only 15th in our end of season shortstop rankings.
Throw in lousy defense — which doesn’t matter for fantasy, but does for teams actually wanting to employ him — and he was essentially a replacement-level player, and headed into his age-28 season with Mike Aviles around and Francisco Lindor coming, he may very well have played his final game as an Indian. Read the rest of this entry »
It’s probably hard to overstate just how hyped Chase Headley was after his massive 2012, isn’t it? Were it not for the presence of Miguel Cabrera at the hot corner, Headley would have been the best hitting third baseman that season, thanks to his 31 homers, 115 RBI, and 17 steals. While there was something to be said for the fact that a ridiculous second-half hot streak was unsustainable and that he’d hit just 4 homers the year before, it was hard to see him not continuing to be very good in 2013, especially since the fences were coming in at Petco.
And then… *thwomp.* Headley’s home runs fell from 31 to 13. His RBI dropped by more than half, to just 50, his batting average fell to a career-low .250, and for the first time in a full season, he stole fewer than 10 bases. Read the rest of this entry »
If Howie Kendrick is anything, he’s a case study for how batting average doesn’t really tell the entire story. Here’s his batting average over the last five years:
Pretty static, right? A few bloops here & there and a little bit of BABIP luck or not slightly changes the numbers, but Kendrick has been essentially the exact same guy for five years in a row, if you only worry about batting average.
Now let’s look at that same chart, but with wOBA included: Read the rest of this entry »
Remember when Mark Trumbo came up in 2011 and finished second in the Rookie of the Year balloting, thanks largely to things like “29 homers and 87 RBI”, and we all laughed because his .291 OBP made him seem like a one-dimensional slugger who had caveman skills and little else? It seemed he’d be further marginalized in 2012 when Albert Pujols arrived and Kendrys Morales returned, but after a laughable attempt to play third base, Trumbo found a home in the outfield, as well as getting 38 starts at first base and DH. He maintained the power, but increased the OBP to .317, helped by a walk rate that went from an atrocious 4.4% to a still-not-great 6.1%.
Headed into an age-27 season and bolstered by the trade of Morales as well as the health concerns of Pujols, Trumbo looked like he might be in for a big season, but whether you consider his year successful or not really depends on how you perceive such things. From a standard 5×5 fantasy point of view, it was a very good year. Trumbo hit 34 homers, scored 85 runs, and drove in 100 — career highs, all — more than enough to make up for a poor .234 batting average. Read the rest of this entry »