The 8th Annual Outies!

I know we’ve been having fun, giving out our totally officials awards at catcher, first base, second base, third base, and shortstop, but things are about to take a dark turn.

It might be sad, it might be depressive but writing this has again put me in a bad place; a place filled with bad trades, bad stats, and absolutely, positively, no (NO!) fun.

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The Cardinals Way – It’s the Outies.

 

And the Outie for “If You Ever Feel Like Making Me the Saddest Panda, Just Bring Up Bad St. Louis Trades – No, Seriously, I’m Not Kidding; Just Hearing the Words “Randy Arozarena, Tampa Bay Ray”, Makes Me Physically Weep” goes to…Adolis García, Lane Thomas, and Randy Arozarena!

In this corner, we have the above trio, who combined for 90 HR, 304 R, and 276 RBI in 2023. And over in St. Louis’s corner, we had nine guys in the outfield who combined for just 58 HR, 243 R, 202 RBI, and (presumably) a sack of old Imo’s pizza*.

*AKA the widowmaker of bowels

We could go on, and on, and on, and on, seemingly forever about the bad front-office decisions made by the Cardinals in the John Mozeliak era (coming soon: giving Lance Lynn millions of dollars) but we just don’t have the time.

But just know it’ll always be Randy who cuts the deepest.

Because EVERYONE knew!!! It was super obvious!!! You could see it, right away, that special kind of “it” that just sticks out on the field. Arozarena showed it at every level in the minors and during the small tastes of the bigs. Dude just had it, and damn it, I was excited. Not because I thought he was some insta-HOFer but because he was just fun – something that’s been desperately missing in stodgy, old St. Louis for far too long.

So, what do you do with a young budding star with electric tools who didn’t hide that he (gasp!)…loved playing baseball? You get fleeced by the Rays and ship him down south for a pu pu platter headlined by a teenager lefthander that Tampa probably already knew wasn’t going to be worth his prospect steam at the time.

Joke city. Joke. City.

Let me repeat for what seems like the 1000th time – Do. Not. Trust. The Rays…EVER!

Whew. Slow down, Nicklaus, and take a deep breath. What’s done is done, and year by year we’ll move further past it. I promise it’ll get better.

But, please, I’m begging all of you – and I know you’ll be gentle with this information because the fantasy baseball community is famously cautious with the mental health of others – don’t bring up Randy. For me, please? The wound might be healing but the pain is still there.

And the Outie for “It’s Almost Like Tampa Bay (and Math) Realized the New Rules Made Stolen Base Attempts Way More Palatable, That’s So Weird” goes to…Josh Lowe!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before; confirmed nerds, Tampa Bay, found an advantage in the margins and started pushing it to the max. In this case, what they crunched were the rule changes that seemed to make it very clear that stolen bases were going to become much cheaper, at least in terms of balancing the already known rewards with likely decreasing risks.

Stolen base attempts hadn’t just been on life support – we’d been living in a new “dead bag”* era and the patient was fading.

*Sidebar: Trying to find the link made me realize someone apparently cited this in a research project, tickling me silly.

Luckily, our commish knows just what to do with an almost-dead body:

The new rules did exactly what we thought they would and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the known edge-pushers in Tampa Bay would try and take full advantage:

Tampa Bay Crime 2021-2023 (min 100 PA)
Name 2021 PA 2022 PA 2023 PA 2021 SB 2022 SB 2023 SB 2021 Att 2022 Att 2023 Att 2021 Att/PA 2022 Att/PA 2023 Att/PA
Josh Lowe 198 501 3 32 3 35 .015 .070
Wander Franco 308 344 491 2 8 30 3 8 40 .010 .023 .081
Randy Arozarena 604 645 654 20 32 22 30 44 32 .050 .068 .049
Taylor Walls 176 466 349 4 10 22 6 13 23 .034 .028 .066
Luke Raley 406 14 17 .042
Jose Siri 178 364 8 12 9 15 .051 .041
Manuel Margot 464 363 336 13 7 9 21 10 12 .045 .028 .036
Brandon Lowe 615 266 436 7 1 7 8 1 7 .013 .004 .016
Harold Ramírez 435 434 3 5 8 8 .018 .018
Isaac Paredes 381 571 0 1 1 1 .003 .002
Christian Bethancourt 베탄코트 151 332 1 1 1 1 .007 .003
Yandy Díaz 541 558 600 1 3 0 2 6 1 .004 .011 .002
René Pinto 105 0 0 .000
Jonathan Aranda 103 0 0 .000
Francisco Mejía 277 299 160 0 0 0 0 0 1 .000 .000 .006
Yu Chang 105 0 0 .000
David Peralta 180 0 1 .006
Ji Man Choi 305 419 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Kevin Kiermaier 390 221 9 6 14 7 .036 .032
Vidal Bruján 162 5 10 .062
Mike Zunino 375 123 0 0 0 0 .000 .000
Brett Phillips 292 208 14 7 17 7 .058 .034
Joey Wendle 501 8 14 .028
Austin Meadows 591 4 7 .012
Nelson Cruz 238 0 0 .000
Willy Adames 142 1 3 .021
Mike Brosseau 169 2 2 .012

Josh Lowe went full Hamburglar, though, riding his team-leading 32 SB to a top-15 year at his position and a top-25 fantasy season overall, after grabbing just three bags in 52 games in 2022.

It’s not like the Rays didn’t know Lowe and his 85th percentile sprint speed had the wheels. And they certainly knew his swiftness could translate into stolen success; it’s all he’s ever done – in the minors, at least:

Josh Lowe Minor League SBs
Season Level G PA SB
2017 A 118 507 22
2018 A+ 105 455 18
2019 AA 121 519 30
2021 AAA 111 470 26
2022 AAA 80 351 25

With the new rules greasing the reins, what was seen at the lower levels finally made the Show, making Lowe one of fantasy’s biggest breakouts in 2023, with the 32 SB joined by 20 HR, 71 R, 83 RBI, and a .276 AVG. And mind you, that was all just in 501 PA. If he can do that in so few PAs, what would a “full” fantasy season look like?

But therein lies the rub with predicting future plate appearances for a team that pays an annoyingly high amount of attention to silly things like splits. How many more PA should we count on for a left-handed hitter in Tampa Bay that has slashed .181/.239/.295 vs LHP in his first 113 PA against them. Small sample, obs, but the Rays aren’t exactly known for letting their guys just ride it out while they try to figure out any split issues.

The good news is that Lowe literally just showed us that he can be more than relevant even in a lighty-leftie role. Well-rounded roto stats with 50+ HR+SB is a nice way to start, after all. And while his 75 ADP is a far cry from last year, it’s not so onerously high as to dissuade me.

And the Outie for “Not Since “Out Cold” Have We Seen a Bigger Hornymaker in the Snow” goes to…Nolan Jones!

Oh sweet Jiminy, nothing gets the blood pumping in fantasy quite like a power-speed threat in Colorado. Nolan Jones managed a top-30 output at the position, finishing ahead of the likes of Brandan Nimmo and Teoscar Hernández by posting 20 HR, 60 R, 62 RBI, 20 SB, and a .289 AVG. Oh, and he also only played in 106 games.

But also…omg you guys…HE’S JUST AS GOOD ON THE ROAD!!!

Nolan Jones Home/Road Splits
Split PA HR AVG OBP SLG OPS ISO wOBA wRC+ BABIP
Home 211 10 .306 .395 .530 .925 .224 .396 121 .374
Away 213 10 .288 .380 .554 .935 .266 .393 148 .434

The fantasy annals have long foretold of such a being – someone with power, speed, both at home and on the road…All hail the Coors Breaker.

Jones must be the CB, right? How else do you explain the top-60 ADP (29 min)? Clearly, he’s a Colorado hitter who has finally figured out how to be just as productive on the road, and if that’s the case, then anything after the second round is a bargain. I’m in, baby, and think all of you should be too. If you can’t trust a second-year player in Colorado, who can you trust?

What’s that? You have questions about that last column from above? Nahhhh. Don’t worry about that little guy. That little guy is just here to try and derail our hype train. Don’t let it. Let’s party.

And the Outie for “Not Even Ozempic Could’ve Made My Pants Less Tight Than Stone Garrett Breaking His Leg” goes to…Stone Garrett!

I’m a simple man with simple needs – I just want Stone Garrett to be a thing.

To the archives!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garrett started stepping out of his short-side label, really heating up in August after slashing .320/.379/.560 over 60 PA – and then this:

I’ve never been so sad about getting stoned. Garrett broke his leg and missed the rest of the season, throwing the brakes on his late-breakout performance and breaking my tender heart in the process.

While the tools should be just as exciting in 2024, he’ll again enter the season as a lottery ticket play, with a full-time job far from guaranteed. And I will again go ham on buying those cheap tickets, rattling off a manifesto to the gas station clerk about how the notoriously free-swinging Garrett might have still had a 16% SwStr% but dropped his chase rate by over five points! I mean, c’mon Gene, how’s that not worth a 500 ADP dart?

And the Outie for “Eeek! Zombie Whit Merrifield!” goes to…Whit Merrifield!

Producing like it was 2021, Merrifield finished as a top-35 OF and top-75 overall after slashing .272/.318/.382 over 592 PA, with 26 SB and his usual 11 HR. You know; Whit Merrifield things. At least, old Whit Merrifield things.

He was also about a replacement player in the second half after throwing the brakes on thefts, stealing just 7 bases after collecting 19 SB in the first half. And the drop in steals was matched by his batting average, going from a .286 AVG in the first half to a .256 AVG in the second half. It’s almost like the .258 xBA and .336 BABIP in the first half should’ve warned us it was coming. If only…

The crowd has been fooled by Merrifield’s first-half zombification, with just a 250-ish ADP so far for 2024. But that low, low price actually makes him a spicy little late-round dart in early drafts, with part of the price depression due to his current free-agent status after he and the Jays both declined their mutual option. If Merrifield winds up in a decent position (basically a not-crappy team with job security), I suspect his price will rise.

And the Outie for “I Knew It Was Coming But a Sub-200 ADP for Kerry Carpenter is Still Already Annoying Me” goes to…Kerry Carpenter!

All of you just stop it – ya hear!

And the Outie for “I Guess I’ll Need to Go Full 100% Brandon Nimmo Again Just to Prove a Point” goes to…Brandon Nimmo!

I think I’m just going to stop looking at Brandon Nimmo’s ADP – it’s far too triggering. What’s not to love, people??? He racks up PAs, gets on base, and eats 130+ wRC+’s for breakfast. And while he only scored 89 Runs in 2024 (after 102 R in 2022), I think his 24 HR (previous high of 17 HR) should’ve more than made up for.

Nimmo was the #53 hitter in 2022 and the #66 hitter in 2023, but his 184 ADP from last season is sitting about a round higher this year. 200 ADP, huh? Fine. You want to make me do it again, I’ll do it again. 100% exposure, here I come!

And the Outie for “I’m Not Saying It’s Coming Right Now But Can All We Still Agree That the End of Kyle Schwarber Will Be As Fast As It Is Devastatingly Hilarious?” goes to…Kyle Schwarber!

Do you know how hard it is to have 47 HR, 108 R, and 104 RBI but not be a top-50 hitter?

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Well, you do that by matching those monster counters with a .199 AVG and 0 SB. And that is amazing.

Schwarber is the platonic ideal of what Joey Gallo came close to achieving but could never quite reach, remaining just a shadow on the wall. And if Joey Gallo taught us anything, it’s that you can definitely trust his type from year to year for fantasy. Yep, all you gotta do is plan on covering that BA sink and your team will be just fine. No worries at all. Nope. Nada. This definitely always works out.

And the Outie for Chas McCormick Was a Top-30 Hitter in the Second Half – Sorry, I Just Wanted to Say That Out Loud” goes to…Chas McCormick!

Look it up.





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Glengarry Glenn Braggs
2 months ago

Re: “EVERYONE knew” Arozarena was going to be a big star – this is just objectively untrue. Go back and read analyses of the trade in its aftermath. Ben Clemens, Fangraphs, 1/10/20, calls Arozarena “a potential average regular” and “the bright shiny object in the trade is undoubtedly Liberatore.” The Athletic on the same day said the “Rays might have overpaid” for Arozena and Jose Martinez, and that “Martinez is the catch in the deal.” These were mainstream takes. I personally was a huge fan of Arozarena back then – I thought he had precisely the kind of duende you talk about – but the trade was not viewed as a steal for the Rays at the time.

Last edited 2 months ago by Glengarry Glenn Braggs
Lanidrac
2 months ago

Agreed. At the time, Arozarena wasn’t projected to become a star player and was behind the depth chart of O’Neill, Bader, Fowler (who don’t forget actually had a nice rebound year in 2019 after his terrible 2018), with at the time top prospect Dylan Carlson coming soon, so Arozarena was only expected to play the bench for at least the next season, while the Cardinals correctly thought that a high end pitching prospect was more valuable to them at the time.

Had both Arozarena and Liberatore developed as expected, it would’ve been a nice win/win trade for both sides, but hindsight is 20/20 (and in this case, also the Year 2020), after all.

Plus, when he’s healthy like he was in his breakout 2021, O’Neill is just as much of a star outfielder as Arozarena is.

Last edited 2 months ago by Lanidrac