Monthly Archives: March 2014

H2H Draft Strategy Discussion: Punting Power

A friend of mine is the commissioner of a 10-team H2H keeper league that had four teams leave the league this year. He asked me if I would take over one of the teams, so I said sure. All of the players on the four vacated teams were put into a pool for the new teams to draft their keepers from. The player pool was not that bad, probably slightly below average, and it did contain Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. I, unfortunately, got the fourth pick in the draft and didn’t have a chance at either of the top two guys.

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Fantasy Baseball Top 300 in 2014

Click below to view the list.

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My Picks (Catcher): Wilin Rosario

My catcher rankings didn’t deviate too much from the consensus ranking, but I am clearly more bullish on Wilin Rosario than the majority of writers.

My rank: 2/Consensus rank: 5

Last year Rosario finished as the second most valuable catcher according to my valuation method and he did it in just 466 plate appearances. He was the most valuable catcher on a per 500 plate appearance scale by more than a full roto point over the next catcher with at least 300 PAs. Of course you don’t win leagues by paying for last year’s stats, but there is plenty to like about Wilin heading into 2014. Read the rest of this entry

Positional Rankings: Relief Pitcher

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Craig Kimbrel
  2. Kenley Jansen
  3. Greg Holland
  4. Koji Uehara
  5. Trevor Rosenthal
  6. Glen Perkins
  7. David Robertson
  8. Sergio Romo
  9. Aroldis Chapman
  10. Ernesto Frieri
  11. Joe Nathan
  12. Jim Henderson
  13. Steve Cishek
  14. Grant Balfour
  15. Jason Grilli
  16. Jonathan Papelbon
  17. Addison Reed
  18. Joakim Soria
  19. Jim Johnson
  20. Nate Jones
  21. Tommy Hunter
  22. Fernando Rodney
  23. Casey Janssen
  24. Huston Street
  25. Jose Veras
  26. Bobby Parnell
  27. Rafael Soriano
  28. John Axford
  29. Rex Brothers
  30. Joaquin Benoit
  31. Tyler Clippard
  32. Cody Allen
  33. LaTroy Hawkins
  34. Sergio Santos
  35. Jesse Crain
  36. Carlos Martinez
  37. Chad Qualls
  38. Mark Melancon
  39. Danny Farquhar
  40. Luke Hochevar

Positional Rankings: Starting Pitcher

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Yu Darvish*
  3. Adam Wainwright
  4. Stephen Strasburg
  5. Justin Verlander
  6. Max Scherzer
  7. Felix Hernandez
  8. Madison Bumgarner
  9. Cliff Lee
  10. Jose Fernandez
  11. Chris Sale
  12. Matt Cain
  13. David Price
  14. Zack Greinke
  15. Gerrit Cole – Cole’s full season numbers may be a bit deceiving. Down the stretch he began to use his elite curveball a lot more (explained in full here), which led to 9.2 K/9 over his last nine starts. Already has really good control, two 95+ mph fastballs and three very good secondary offerings. He threw 185.1 innings last year, so there is really no reason to think he will be on any sort of strict innings cap this year. Cole’s probability of breaking out this year seems fairly high.
  16. Jordan Zimmermann
  17. Mat Latos
  18. Gio Gonzalez
  19. Danny Salazar – Had a 11.25 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 in 2013. His SwStr% (14.6%) would have been the best in all of baseball by 2% over Yu Darvish if he had pitched enough innings to qualify and his F-Strike% and O-Swing% would have ranked 4th and 3rd, respectively. The point is that Salazar was unreal and his peripherals suggest it was not the least bit flukey. Add in the average fastball velocity of 95.9 which would have led all of baseball if qualified and his above average SwStr% on three different pitches and there is little not to love about his profile. Salazar threw a total of 145 innings last year, so an innings cap seems likely this year. Even with expected regression and a 178 inning projection, he grades out as a top-20 pitcher for me.
  20. Masahiro Tanaka
  21. Sonny Gray – 2.92 xFIP suggests that Gray wasn’t lucky in 2013, but can he continue to pitch at that level going forward? His 9.5% SwStr% indicates that his strikeout rate is probably not sustainable, but batters only swung at 39.9% of Gray’s pitches last season, so he was probably getting a lot of called third strikes. Gray’s curveball is elite, generating 14.1% whiffs and a really low 38.7% swing rate on pitches inside the strike zone. His ability to freeze hitters with his big breaking ball and the fact that he threw it around 45% of the time with two strikes last season should allow Gray to continue to outperform his SwStr%. Regression is probable, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a top-25 starter.
  22. Julio Teheran
  23. Alex Cobb – Fluky injury prevented Cobb from truly breaking out in 2013. Plenty to like here: 56% GB rate, K/9 spike accompanied by SwStr% spike, good control, fantastic change up and a 3.02 xFIP last season.
  24. Doug Fister
  25. Michael Wacha
  26. Homer Baily
  27. James Shields
  28. Anibal Sanchez
  29. Cole Hamels*
  30. Hisashi Iwakuma*
  31. Jered Weaver – Sub-87 mph fastball a worry, but extreme fly ball tendencies and very good control should keep WHIP low.
  32. Johnny Cueto
  33. Andrew Cashner – Low K/9 in 2013 is misleading. Cashner started throwing his knuckle slider again during the middle of the season and his K% jumped from 16.2% in the first half to 20.8% in the second half. With much improved control and a high ground ball rate, Cashner could be ready to take that next step forward.
  34. Shelby Miller
  35. Hiroki Kuroda
  36. Francisco Liriano
  37. Tony Cingrani – Threw his fastball 81% of the time last year, so there are worries about predictability.
  38. Hyun-Jin Ryu
  39. Jeff Samardzija
  40. Mike Minor*
  41. A.J. Burnett
  42. CC Sabathia
  43. Lance Lynn
  44. Matt Garza
  45. Marco Estrada
  46. Ian Kennedy
  47. Matt Moore – Control issues. Really low F-Strike% and pedestrian O-Swing%, so gains here shouldn’t be expected. Velocity also down 1.8 mph and SwStr% dipped 2.3% from 2012 marks. Moore has plenty of talent, but there is no reason to pay for a breakout year that doesn’t appear to be coming.
  48. Corey Kluber
  49. R.A. Dickey
  50. Justin Masterson
  51. C.J. Wilson
  52. Jon Lester
  53. Alex Wood
  54. Tim Lincecum
  55. Jake Peavy
  56. Clay Buchholz
  57. Ivan Nova
  58. Drew Smyly
  59. Dan Straily
  60. Scott Kazmir
  61. Yordano Ventura
  62. Ervin Santana
  63. John Lackey
  64. Tyler Skaggs
  65. Chris Archer
  66. Zack Wheeler
  67. Dan Haren – Control is still elite and still has stuff to get swings and misses, but GB rate is declining and Haren has always had trouble with his HR/FB rate, which has gotten worse recently.
  68. Rick Porcello
  69. Tyson Ross
  70. Bartolo Colon
  71. Yovani Gallardo
  72. Ubaldo Jimenez
  73. Tim Hudson
  74. Taijuan Walker
  75. Wade Miley
  76. Kevin Gausman
  77. A.J. Griffin
  78. Jose Quintana
  79. Kyle Lohse
  80. Travis Wood
  81. Dillon Gee
  82. Ricky Nolasco
  83. Josh Johnson
  84. Archie Bradley
  85. Wei-Yin Chen
  86. Trevor Cahill
  87. James Paxton
  88. Jon Niese
  89. Jhoulys Chacin
  90. Brandon Morrow
  91. Edwin Jackson
  92. Mike Leake
  93. Jenrry Meija
  94. Martin Perez
  95. Hector Santiago
  96. Miguel Gonzalez
  97. Henderson Alvarez
  98. Jason Vargas
  99. Marcus Stroman
  100. Phil Hughes

Positional Rankings: Outfield

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Mike Trout
  2. Carlos Gonzalez
  3. Ryan Braun
  4. Andrew McCutchen
  5. Adam Jones
  6. Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. Bryce Harper
  8. Carlos Gomez
  9. Shin-Soo Choo
  10. Yasiel Puig
  11. Giancarlo Stanton
  12. Starling Marte
  13. Alex Rios
  14. Justin Upton
  15. Hunter Pence
  16. Jose Bautista
  17. Matt Holliday
  18. Jay Bruce
  19. Matt Kemp
  20. Mark Trumbo
  21. Carlos Beltran
  22. Jason Heyward
  23. Michael Cuddyer – Yes, Cuddyer’s .382 BABIP was the driving force behind his .331 average in 2013, but Coors field inflates BABIP by 5.5%, the most in all of baseball, so he should still be able to maintain a BABIP above his .312 career mark — Steamer, ZiPS and Oliver (baseball projection systems) all have Cuddyer’s BABIP over.320. My projection: 84/22/71/8/.287 in 610 PAs.
  24. Allen Craig
  25. Billy Hamilton – Very hard player to rank. He could be a disaster at the plate, but his defense should be very good which should give him a longer leash. He has had decent contact skills and decent patience at the plate, though, and should put the ball on the ground enough to have a passable OBP for a plus defender. If he does manage to stay in the lineup for a full season, it is hard to imagine under 60 SB for Hamilton, with the sky as the limit on the base paths.
  26. Jayson Werth
  27. Shane Victorino
  28. Wil Myers
  29. Domonic Brown
  30. Yoenis Cespedes – Popup issues, a high fly ball rate and a park that deflates BABIP by 2% all point to a low BABIP. Combine that with a K% spike and Cespedes could weigh down a team’s batting average this year. He still has power, a bit of speed and has a chance to set a career high in PAs, but he probably won’t return draft day value as the 62nd player off the board. My projection: 76/28/88/10/.245 in 620 PAs.
  31. Brandon Moss
  32. Josh Hamilton
  33. Norichika Aoki
  34. Ben Revere – A foot injury cost Revere much of his season in 2013, but he appears healthy this spring and will lead off for the Phillies in 2014. Revere has very good contact skills and a high ground ball rate that gives him a high xBABIP, so his batting average floor should be pretty high. He is averaging 44.5 SB per 650 plate appearances in his career, so a 40 steal season could be on the table with close to a full season of at bats. My projection: 81/0/41/39/.297.
  35. Alfonso Soriano
  36. Nelson Cruz
  37. Desmond Jennings
  38. Alex Gordon
  39. Torii Hunter
  40. Coco Crisp
  41. Adam Eaton
  42. Leonys Martin
  43. Austin Jackson
  44. Curtis Granderson 
  45. Brett Gardner
  46. Kole Calhoun
  47. Khris Davis
  48. Carl Crawford
  49. Eric Young Jr.
  50. Oswaldo Arcia
  51. Will Venable
  52. Michael Bourn
  53. Christian Yelich
  54. Nick Swisher
  55. Corey Hart
  56. Avisail Garcia
  57. Chris Carter
  58. Nick Markakis
  59. Michael Brantley
  60. Melky Cabrera
  61. Colby Rasmus
  62. Alejandro De Aza
  63. Dexter Fowler
  64. Rajai Davis
  65. B.J. Upton
  66. Denard Span
  67. Gerardo Parra
  68. Josh Willingham
  69. Andre Ethier
  70. Junior Lake
  71. Justin Ruggiano
  72. Josh Reddick
  73. Michael Saunders
  74. Peter Bourjos
  75. Michael Morse
  76. Cody Ross
  77. Nick Castellanos
  78. A.J. Pollock
  79. Matt Joyce
  80. Marcell Ozuna

Positional Rankings: Shortstop

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Hanley Ramirez
  2. Troy Tulowitzki
  3. Jean Segura – Second half numbers are not as predictive as full season numbers, so don’t let Jean’s poor second half deter you from valuing him as a top-5 SS at the very least. He should see an increase in runs scored as he will be hitting near the top of the Brewers lineup the entire year in 2014 and will have Ryan Braun hitting behind him for the whole season too. Segura should come close to 10/40/.290 and should easily be inside my top-25 overall.
  4. Ian Desmond
  5. Everth Cabrera – Cabrera shaved 8.6% off of his K% from 2012 to 2013. He also trimmed his SwStr% substantially which gives me confidence that he can maintain most of his contact rate gains. Over the past two seasons Cabrera has stolen 81 bases in 884 PAs. On a per 650 PA basis, that equates to 59.6 steals. If he comes close to that many PAs this year, his floor SB floor should be pretty high. I conservatively projected him for a line of 83/5/53/49/.263  in 660 PA, which puts him in the top-5 and gives him some upside to do more.
  6. Jose Reyes
  7. Elvis Andrus
  8. Ben Zobrist
  9. Brad Miller – Good contact skills, good hit tool and high minor league BABIPs indicate a high batting average floor. Always maintained high a BB% in the minors and should lead off for the Mariners, in my opinion. He is a really good bet to reach double digits in HR and SB with a chance to go 15/15. All three projection systems on Fangraphs really like him too. Miller will end up on most of my teams this year.
  10. Xander Bogaerts
  11. Starlin Castro
  12. Asdrubal Cabrera
  13. J.J. Hardy
  14. Andrelton Simmons
  15. Alexei Ramirez
  16. Jimmy Rollins
  17. Derek Jeter
  18. Jed Lowrie
  19. Jonathan Villar
  20. Erick Aybar
  21. Alcides Escobar
  22. Jordy Mercer
  23. Jhonny Peralta
  24. Zack Cozart
  25. Yunel Escobar

Positional Rankings: Third Base

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Miguel Cabrera
  2. Adrian Beltre
  3. David Wright
  4. Evan Longoria
  5. Ryan Zimmerman
  6. Josh Donaldson
  7. Aramis Ramirez
  8. Kyle Seager
  9. Pedro Alvarez
  10. Xander Bogaerts
  11. Manny Machado
  12. Brett Lawrie
  13. Martin Prado
  14. Pablo Sandoval
  15. Chris Johnson
  16. Todd Frazier
  17. Nolan Arenado
  18. Chase Headley
  19. Will Middlebrooks
  20. Matt Dominguez
  21. Mike Moustakas
  22. Cody Asche
  23. David Freese
  24. Kelly Johnson
  25. Trevor Plouffe

Positional Rankings: Second Base

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Jason Kipnis 
  2. Robinson Cano – New ballpark and worse lineup support should move him out of the top-10 and towards the late teens for me. Still really good, really reliable and still has a really high floor, just not a top-10 player anymore unless that lineup overproduces.
  3. Dustin Pedroia
  4. Ian Kinsler
  5. Jose Altuve
  6. Aaron Hill
  7. Jedd Gyorko
  8. Ben Zobrist
  9. Matt Carpenter
  10. Daniel Murphy
  11. Chase Utley
  12. Brandon Phillips – Stole just 5 bases in 2013 and is penciled in to hit second this year for the Reds, so his fluky 103 RBI in 2013 should’t be approached in 2014. Phillips is aging, and without the SB totals he used to produce, he might have trouble finding the top-10 among second basemen.
  13. Martin Prado
  14. Anthony Rendon
  15. Brian Dozier
  16. Jurickson Profar*
  17. Howie Kendrick
  18. Omar Infante
  19. Neil Walker
  20. Kolten Wong
  21. Jed Lowrie
  22. Scooter Gennett
  23. Kelly Johnson
  24. Dustin Ackley
  25. Dan Uggla

Positional Rankings: First Base

Throughout the next couple of days I will be adding player capsules to some of the players ranked to help justify a particular rank.

  1. Paul Goldschmidt
  2. Chris Davis
  3. Prince Fielder
  4. Edwin Encarnacion
  5. Joey Votto
  6. Freddie Freeman
  7. Jose Abreu – There is little for me to analyze statistically here, so I am deferring most of my projection to the projection systems, and the projection systems love Abreu. Scaling the Oliver, Steamer and ZiPS projections to 650 PAs, their average projected 5×5 line for Abreu is: 93/36/97/5/.274. That projection would grade out just above my projection for Prince Fielder this year and would likely make Abreu a top-15 player. I don’t feel comfortable being that aggressive on Abreu since he is more of an unknown than nearly every other fantasy relevant player, but as the seventh first baseman, don’t think that you are paying for his upside, there might be first round potential here.
  8. Eric Hosmer
  9. Albert Pujols
  10. Mark Trumbo
  11. Adrian Gonzalez
  12. Allen Craig
  13. Brandon Belt – A new grip led to a strong surge in the second half of 2013 for Belt where he posted a .396 wOBA and, perhaps more importantly, a 19.8% strikeout rate and a .199 ISO. I rarely advise looking at second half splits to identify fantasy sleepers and busts, but when a player makes an adjustment mid-season and proceeds to have the best three months of his career, I think it merits more consideration. Belt is projected to hit third for the Giants this season which should allow him to post strong R and RBI numbers. Despite being ranked as my number 13 first baseman, I still think Belt has earned himself a spot at the back end of the Eric Hosmer tier.
  14. Anthony Rizzo
  15. Brandon Moss
  16. Matt Adams
  17. Justin Morneau
  18. Adam Lind
  19. Mike Napoli
  20. Mark Teixeira
  21. Nick Swisher
  22. Corey Hart
  23. Kendrys Morales*
  24. Chris Carter
  25. Yonder Alonso