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Three AL Players To Hate in 2013

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Three AL Players To Hate in 2013

Posted on 18 February 2013 by Patrick Hayes

We all have them, players we despise, that we wish to see fail, and 99% of the time for no apparent rhyme and or reason. That’s what this post is all about today. From a fantasy baseball perspective I’m placing this target on the back of three unsuspecting American League players. As I write this I have no idea who they will end up being, or what reasons I will come up with, but I guarantee that you’ll be with me by the end. Pitchers and batters alike, I’m playing no favorites.

Michael Bourn, Cleveland Indians, OF

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Face it, no one outside of Greater Cleveland wants to see this team do well. Their outfield no consists of three newcomers who were castoffs from their previous teams due to better acquisitions, continually failed expectations or just ugly mugs. Statistically speaking, Bourn sees his greatest success derive from his fleeted feet. He is a motor on the bases, stealing 40+ bases the past 5 years but that’s about it. Michael hits the ball into the ground over 50% of the time and will drive you bananas hoping for some stroke of power to emerge, it never will though. The main reason I’m hating him this year is because he reminds me of an outfielder that Cleveland had in their run in the 1990s, Kenny Lofton.

Jarrod Parker, Oakland Athletics, SP

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For starters, the spelling of his name, although unique, provides a solid foundation to build your dislike on. Jarrod is coming off a season in which he was a major contributor to an A’s team that overachieved greatly.  Although he spotted an appealing 3.47 ERA, his BB/9 ratio of 3.13 and is preventing him from reaching another tier of success. He strikes out a decent-ish 6.95 per 9, but face it, his whole repertoire is boring. He and the A’s will lull you to sleep when they play at home and do nothing to add excitement when they are visiting your home ballpark. It’s time for Parker and the A’s to step out of the spotlight and let the Rangers and Angels be the teams that tickle our fancy during the late Autumn Pennant Races this year.

Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees, 1B

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Picking Mark was a bit of a surprise for me too. On the surface there isn’t too much to hate. He doesn’t cause a ruckus in the clubhouse, he stays out of the media frenzy in the Big Apple and comes off as a “good guy”. However, on the fantasy front, you won’t get anything out of him that resembles his production from a few years ago. His batting average has been a sliver of what it was in 2009 when he hit 39 HRs and batted in 122, hovering below .260 the past three years. Perhaps the short porch in right has become a distraction? Or is it his smug face that just beckons to have you shaking your fist at him? Either way, playing on “America’s Team” provides the deciding factor as to why I’m hating on him this year. This year he will be the second best first baseman playing in New York, Ike Davis, your time is now.

What say you? Do you agree or disagree? Stay tuned for my National League version later this week.

Follow me on twitter: @pf_hayes

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Why Time Begins On Opening Day

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Why Time Begins On Opening Day

Posted on 11 February 2013 by Patrick Hayes

It starts to build very slowly, just a whisper of a thought as the Holiday festivities and New Years Resolutions come and go. The days trickle by, casting relentless darkness that seem to resist any progress to the long-shadows of daylight. Next, the sporadic dose of what Spring can bring, a day where the sun shines bright, snow begins to melt and the smell in the air beckons a gleeful smile of what is to come.

HomePlate

A Groundhog normally predicts a pessimistic forecast that threatens our patience and toys with our subconscious excitement of what is right around the corner. We continue pushing forward, welcoming distractions of Super Bowls, snow storms and reports of players being “in the best shape of their life“. Media relays reports of pitchers and catchers and your weary smile grows a smidgen more.

And then it happens. Awaking one morning to the chorus of birds chirping and the aroma of a fresh start fills your nostrils. You fail to notice the extra giddy-up in your step at first or being extra chatty in the coffee shop prior to work. But then it hits you, and you realize what has hijacked your brain and ability to focus. Baseball Fever has taken full control of your mind and body. It’ is now time for a new plot of memories and miracles to written into the course of history, with only a guarantee that each day provides an open slate of potential.

We never know exactly when the feeling will hit, but when it does, we welcome it immediately and submit fully. For some it arrives much earlier than anticipated. And for others, just in the knick of time. It is a new beginning of hope, aspirations along with a fresh perspective of what can be achieved. No matter how bleak the previous year or the spell that Winter led on, you have survived and have successfully reached the other side.

This indescribable feeling builds continuously as Spring Training leaves your head dreaming of pennants races and late nights spent with friends at stadiums and bonfires alike. The sensation boils over at a spectacle like no other, thousands diligently dodge work and make way towards the city. You are well aware of what this day means and your mind begins to wonder aimlessly. Embracing your fearful thoughts of unreasonable expectations and uncertainty, you sidestep and brush them away in order to bask in the moment of celebrating the culmination of America’s Pastime, for today is Opening Day.

Follow me on twitter: @pf_hayes

PS. The Title of this post derives from a book of the same name by Thomas Boswell. I recently finished it and definitely recommend it to any baseball fan. He paints an in-depth picture of an era of baseball that is just prior to my time.

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A New Kind Of California Gold Rush

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A New Kind Of California Gold Rush

Posted on 08 February 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

Many say that the Super Bowl is the greatest game of them all. It is a great game. It is a game that also means that the day after our attention turns to the best game ever invented. Pitchers and catchers begin to report to Spring Training soon to begin the 2013 season!

CountriesOfBaseball

One of the big off-season topics as always is the Free Agent class choosing their fate. This year’s class was headlined by outfielder Josh Hamilton and starting pitcher Zack Greinke. The common denominator between the two was that they both chose teams that play in the state of California. The Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim respectively were the benefactors of the two players.

These two signings were just the latest of high price all star talent heading to the Golden State. At the start of the 2012 season, the Angels won the Albert Pujols award along with the surprise signing of pitcher C.J. Wilson. Just a few weeks into the season they struck it rich with eventual Rookie of the Year and near MVP Mike Trout. The Angels started to become loaded with talent and major contenders in the American League.

Across town in LA were the Dodgers. For much of the year they were contending for a division championship. But then, the “Magic” came and so did the money. Hall of Fame basketball player Magic Johnson among others became the new ownership group of the storied ball club. One of the first digs they made was a blockbuster trade with the Boston Red Sox bringing over All Star talent with show me the money contracts in the form of Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford.

The 2012 season ended with neither Los Angeles team making the post season. Instead, the post season show was highlighted by the eventual champions, the San Francisco Giants. For the geography majors, San Francisco is also located in the state of California. The Giants won their second World Series title in three seasons.

This type of success and big money moves sound all too familiar. These types of moves, trades, and titles are typically reserved for the east coast teams such as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Phillies. In the last four seasons those three teams have been in at least the top seven team payrolls in baseball. World Series success has also followed as each team has won at least one title in the 2000’s. Fans in other markets hated the east coast tilt of the game. It was perceived that monopolies were forming out east and Evil Empires casted large shadows on the small markets. California was just a vacation spot. However, it appears that the tide is turning and the rush is heading west.

It was January 24th, 1848 when the California Gold Rush began. Travelers and miners migrated to the state in the hopes of finding gold and the effects of the Gold Rush were substantial. Fast forward to 2012, 2013 and the trend seems to now be for All Star ball players migrating west for big money and the ultimate gold ring.

Why is there a growing trend of moving west? Is it the weather, the lifestyle, or is it simply just the money? For the last decade there has been countless discussions about playing on the east coast adds a different element of pressure, that the Yankee pinstripes or Fenway fanatics demand greatness and nothing else. If you do not bring home a championship to the Bronx or Yawkey Way then the season was a failure. Many big name free agents have not quite lived up to the pressure of east coast baseball.

Perhaps that could be the cause for the move. Players are going west for a less stressful environment. It does not quite seem so scary when crowds arrive late, leave early, and the rest of the country is sleeping. Even if a few more championships do land in California, the hatred that fans have for the Yankees and others may never arise for the Angels and Dodgers. After a long day on the beach, it is hard to hate. As long as there is still east coast baseball, attention will be directed that way first and foremost. California may be just fine with that. They will continue to do their own thing in their own time zone.

The Giants have been the first to strike it rich with two championships. However, the surprise Oakland A’s are reigning division champs and the two teams in Los Angeles do not seem to have a bottom to their bank accounts. They are banking on the gold nugget signings this year of Hamilton and Greinke to get them to the mountain top. The true baseball beauty is that each organization is doing it a different way. California is providing many philosophies, and a nice tan. Before our eyes, the west may be overtaking the east. Only time will tell if this rush is as substantial as the one in 1848.

Could the east be left in the cold and not just weather wise? The Golden State has the trophy, the money, and the players are following.

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2012′s Luckiest Pitcher

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2012′s Luckiest Pitcher

Posted on 06 February 2013 by Will Emerson

I should start by saying, I cannot definitely label this pitcher the luckiest pitcher in baseball, per se. I may be just a bit too hyperbolic, but this pitcher was darned lucky on the bump in 2012 and it looks like his luckiness may be tough to beat. I  have not gone through every pitcher’s numbers from 2012 though so I can’t say with absolute certainty. Really, I haven’t! Anyways, let’s start with one of my, and I am sure your, favorite things in the whole wide world, a blind player comparison! Yay!

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Player A: 9.35 K/9, 3.06 FIP, 3.32 xFIP

Player B: 6.77 K/9, 3.75 FIP, 4.18 xFIP

So which pitcher would you rather have? Choose your answer wisely, grasshopper. Of course you would most likely choose Player A, but, as you are probably guessing, as with most blind player comparisons, there is a bit of a twist. So before the big reveal let’s look at a couple of, what I like to call, superficial numbers for the same two players:

Player A: 13-12,  3.01 ERA

Player B: 20-5, 2.81 ERA

So the ERAs are not monstrously far apart, but I would guess Player B would have received more Cy Young votes wouldn’t you? So who are these two pitchers? Well, here’s the big twist moment for ya….Player A is Jered Weaver in 2010 and Player B is, well, Jered Weaver….in 2013. Yes, that’s right folks, Jered Weaver had to be one of, if not the, luckiest pitchers in baseball last season.

Come on, you have to admit it is hard to argue the luck here for Jered Weaver. 20-5? 2o and frickin’ 5! With an FIP of 3.75 and a K/9 under seven you would hardly expect a sub three ERA and 20 wins. I’ve been over this before, but it bears reiterating (I think?), strikeouts per nine innings, as much as I love ‘em, are not the end all be all. However, pitchers with a low K/9 are generally crafty pitchers who keep the ball on the ground and such. Jered Weaver on the other hand? Well, he is not. Jered was inducing worm burners about 36% of the time, which is kind of low for a pitcher that is not striking guys out.  In fact, in looking even deeper into his numbers, almost 75% of batters that faced Weaver last year put the ball in play and of those balls in play close(ish) to twice as many were in the air. Generally not great percentages, so naturally Weaver would need a wee bit of luck.

Los Angeles Angles pitcher Jered  Weaver throws against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning of a baseball game in Anaheim, Calif., Tuesday, May 13, 2008. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

In 2012 Weaver had a BABIP of .241, which is pretty darned low. Just for a quick comparison, the league average in 2012 was .293.  Weaver was over 50 points below the league average, in case you are not quick with the arithmetic. That number right there points to a great deal of luck on Weaver’s side. Obviously BABIP can be subjective and will not always be extremely telling, but generally you would expect a pitcher to, at some point, come back to the mean, right? Well, if anything, Weaver is getting luckier by the season, believe it or not. Weaver’s BABIP has gone down in each of the last five seasons. Take a look for your self:

2007: .312

2008: .298

2009: .278

2010: .276

2011: .250

2012: .241

Quite a unique trend Weaver has going on here. Along with the lower BABIP, his FIP has gone up each of the past two seasons as well. So is regression, in fact on the way for Weaver in 2013? It’s almost tough to say. Really, he should have a fairly large regression, but he has avoided it thus far with that 2010 ERA of 3.01 being the highest in the last three seasons, so who knows? The big question though, is what does all this mean for Weaver’s fantasy value in 2013?

The regression just has to be coming, right? It makes no worldly sense if it doesn’t, right? What I can say for sure is that I am steering clear of Jered Weaver come draft day. The  thinking being that the ERA will float closer to his FIP or xFIP in 2013, due to that BABIP coming closer to the league average. Even if it doesn’t, the high probability of this happening should be enough to scare some people away from Weaver, especially at the price you will more than likely have to pay for his fantasy services.  Fantasy services? Okay, that sounded bad, but you know what I mean. RotoChamp, for instance, has him ranked as the number nine starting pitcher (39th overall) for fantasy. It is early but, barring injury or some sort of Spring Training meltdown, I would wager that is about where he will be drafted in most leagues. I just don’t like that kind of risk, for a guy that will more or less be the de facto ace of whatever fantasy squad he is on. Then again, the luck has been with Weaver consistently and it’s not like most, or probably any, leagues have BABIP or FIP as categories. But is there more to be concerned about with Mr. Lucky than just those advanced statistics with the giant blinking arrow pointing towards regression?

Well, one thing that does count in just about every fantasy baseball league is strikeouts, where Weaver has seen a major decline over the last two seasons. While the three season sample size here could be a fluke, there are some red flags within Weaver’s numbers that lead me to think otherwise. First of all, Weaver’s swinging strike percentage has gone down each season since 2010, from 11.2% to 9.1 % to 8.5%. This could be due in part to him just not fooling hitters as much and or the second red flag…his velocity. Weaver has also been slowly losing miles per hour on his fastballs since 2010. Weaver’s average  four-seamer and cut fastball have both lost about two miles per hour from 2011 to 2012.  What’s also interesting is that his average change-up is up in velocity about a full mile per hour since 2010. So, in reality he has lost three miles per hour difference in velocity between the two pitches over the past few seasons, not a trend you like to see in a pitcher. So, what are we to make of the 2013 Jered Weaver?

Luck, good or bad, can definitely play a huge factor for many, if not all, players and the luck has certainly been on the good side for Jered Weaver. Even with the disconcerting advanced stats, he is still a viable fantasy option though, because the bottom line is he, inexplicably, posts good numbers. Somehow he is getting the job done. Maybe it has something to do with the Danny Glover/ Tony Danza vehicle Angels in the Outfield, I dunno? What I do know, is I just can’t warrant drafting him as high as he will be going this year, especially if I can wait a little longer and land a Max Scherzer or Matt Garza. I know it sounds weird to be down on a guy who finished third in the American League Cy Young Award voting last season, but I just don’t have faith in Jered Weaver. There is an implosion on the way and I want to be far, far away when it happens. Now, I think I want to go watch Angels in the Outfield.

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Mets Asking To Avoid The Rules

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Mets Asking To Avoid The Rules

Posted on 25 January 2013 by Bill Ivie

It has become very apparent that the new Collective Bargaining Agreement in Major League Baseball is going to impact free agency, just ask Michael Bourn and Kyle Lohse.

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In a strange twist, however, rumor has it that the New York Mets are asking for an exemption to the draft pick compensation rule in order to pursue Bourn.  The team controls a pick within the top 10 picks of the 2013 first-year player draft, which it would have to sacrifice to sign a player that has the compensation tag attached to them.  A sacrifice that the team does not want to make.  The team has filed a request with the Commissioner’s Office to have that requirement waved for them in the interest of signing the speedy outfielder.

The question here is raised: what makes the Mets so special?

Sure, the team has been playing poorly and Bourn would drastically improve a floundering franchise.  The team could help themselves a lot by signing Bourn and securing a pick high in the draft.  So could a lot of other teams in baseball.  The draft pick compensation clause was developed for this specific reason.  Teams have a choice, develop their own talent and grow towards the future or delve into free agency and bring home a proven commodity.

The New York Mets want to have their cake and eat it too.  This is not high school anymore and a letter from Mommy is not going to get you out of gym class.  The rules are in place for this exact reason.

If Major League Baseball approves a move of this nature, it is opening a Pandora’s Box that would allow many teams to seek protection from rules that they feel are not applicable to them.

Then again, I guess the Brewers and Ryan Braun have already established that precedent.

Bill Ivie is the editor here at Full Spectrum Baseball
Follow me on Twitter by clicking here.

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