Tag Archive | "Baseball Players"

Ryan Braun – Is he a keeper?

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Ryan Braun – Is he a keeper?

Posted on 04 April 2013 by Trish Vignola

Well, I guess that’s too late to figure out now. I traded him for Steven Strasburg. Sure, Braun was named the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player. However,Strasburg was named the Nationals’ Opening Day starter. Sure, he may (or may not) have a pitch count but Ryan Braun was … connected to the Biogenesis scandal. I did not want to hedge my bets.


You are talking to the same woman who had Joey Votto on her team last year.

The same Joey Votto who missed like a third of the season due to injury.

In fantasy baseball, I’m kind of the kiss of death.

However, did I make the right move? Is 190 innings worth losing a prospective 30 to 40 home runs? The Milwaukee Brewers outfielder collected his first RBI of 2013 season on opening day and added to that total Tuesday night against the Rockies. He went 1 for 4 with a home run in the 8-4 loss. The 29-year-old launched a two-run shot off starter Jorge De La Rosa in the third inning. Braun has gone 2 for 8 with three RBIs through two games.

As of 7 pm today on CBSsports.com, Braun has earned his lucky managers 9 fantasy points. Strasburg has earned me 29. Nonetheless, the week is far from over.

Regarding anything that would keep Braun preoccupied…like I don’t know, the Biogenesis scandal, Major League Baseball claims that Braun is not at the center of the investigation. Michael Hurcomb of CBSsports.com reported on March 20th that Major League Baseball Vice President Rob Manfred denied allegations the league was targeting the Brewers outfielder in its investigation of the Biogenesis clinic in Miami. Biogenesis, for those of you who don’t know, was an anti-aging clinic located near the University of Miami. It is alleged that the clinic sold performance-enhancing drugs to what is growing to be a laundry list of baseball players, including Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun.

These newer reports contradicted an earlier USA Today report which suggested that Braun was “MLB’s Public Enemy No. 1″ in its investigation of Biogenesis. “Everyone whose name has surfaced surrounding the Miami New Times story and Biogenesis is being investigated with equal vigor,” Manfred said in a statement to the Journal Sentinel.

Listen, who says that Braun is not innocent? Can you name another person who was able to dispute his testosterone test and win an appeal of his 50 game suspension? I will not cast any dispersion on his name. Nonetheless, if I kept Braun, I guarantee that he would have been tossed from the game indefinitely.

I am the black widow of fantasy baseball.

So to those of you who have Braun on your team, you are welcome. Braun is projected for 38 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .312 batting average. Steven Strasburg? I hear he’s projected to buy a new insurance policy now that he knows I kept him.

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Save Me: The Jose Valverde Story

Posted on 25 February 2013 by Will Emerson

As we roll on into fantasy baseball draft season us fantasy baseball players all across the land are perfecting our strategies, looking for sleepers, etcetera, etcetera. One common mantra among many a fantasy baseball participants is to not pay for saves and I for one believe in that wholeheartedly. Every major league team will have a closer, maybe two or three, come opening day, but how many will you really trust going into the upcoming season? More than 10? Maybe. I guess it depends on what you are trusting them to do. Obviously the biggest role for the closer in the realm of fantasy baseball is getting saves on a somewhat consistent basis. More or less, I would argue that a good fantasy closer is one that hangs onto that role for the full season, so let us start there. How many closers do you think will keep the closer role from start to finish?


It’s not really something I really thought much about in previous seasons as in many leagues I don’t draft a closer at all, but rather, pick some closers in waiting and keep my fingers crossed. Ryan Cook and Greg Holland were just a couple of guys I had on rosters last season, while I waited for them to become their teams closer, basically punting the saves category for a good portion of the season. It is by no means a foolproof strategy, clearly, and it’s hard to stick by. Predicting which closers will lose their jobs at some point in the season is by no means an easy endeavor. While advanced stats are not necessarily directly going to help your fantasy season, per se, they are our best way to gain some suspicions on what’s to come. I mean few, if any, leagues are going to use FIP or SIERA as direct statistics, we need to use said stats to extrapolate information to predict the future of a player, kind of like playing the stock market, if you will. But we’ll come back to that in a little bit, so sit tight. Back to how many closers you may trust to keep their closer roles for a full season. Half, maybe? Perhaps two-thirds of the closers? And of those how many would you say are dominant, absolutely reliably consistent closers? Half of them, if that? So what’s my point? My point is, the reason you don’t pay for closers is having an elite closer is not only hard to get, but hard to project. I would say maybe five to seven closers will be consistently great in 2013, and for a position with such a high rate of turnover, you’re better off trying to find those saves on the cheap later on in your draft. It is the position that can be the biggest crap shoot in fantasy baseball. Just ask 2012 Jose Valverde owners.

In 2011, Jose Valverde was the closer du jour for a good part of the season on a team that made the playoffs. Valverde put up 49 saves, blowing no save opportunities, while posting a 2.24 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. A monster season to be sure. But I was suspicious of Valverde’s future. His FIP was 3.55 and he coupled that with a very low BABIP of .247. Now, after looking through several relievers’ numbers, the BABIP is not super concerning. Most closers seem to have low numbers in that regard. As for the FIP, well, that is something I read a bit more into. It is impressive to some degree to not blow any saves, but I think many may agree that there could be a good deal of luck involved for such a feat. That 3.55 FIP especially points to some luck for Jose in 2011. Not to toot my own horn too much, but I was very adamant that Valverde was headed for a decline and was a closer I would be avoiding come draft day 2012 and low and behold, what happened? Valverde ended up becoming so unreliable he lost that closer role in the biggest, most high stakes portion of the Tigers season. But was he really much worse than in 2011?

We already saw that Valverde’s 2011 FIP was over a run higher than his actual ERA, pointing to an eventual ERA regression. In 2012 Valverde regressed in that ever so precious fantasy baseball statistic, posting a 3.78 ERA and, as I mentioned, eventually losing the closer title for the Tigers’ playoff run. The interesting thing here though, is his FIP in 2012 was 3.62, not far from his 2011 number in that very same category. I am by no means a Valverde fan and in fact, I have been the complete opposite, downplaying his “greatness” to a large degree over the past few seasons. Right now, Valverde is a free agent and is being penalized for pitching as he should have been pitching, more or less, all along. Well, to some degree, as I am not going to get into the monetary ramifications, but obviously they play a large role as well. So, am I saying that when, not if, but when, Valverde finds a landing spot, he will become a sleeper fantasy closer no 2013? Is he a guy you should draft with a good feeling that he may fall back into a closer role in 2013? Well, let’s slow it down there a bit.

You see, the ERA should drop a tad and since not much will be expected of him, I guess you could consider him a sleeper candidate, in that regard. There’s no saying he can’t get a large dose of luck and save 50 games, but the likelihood of that happening is, well, not great. But the real reason I would not label him a sleeper in the closer capacity is a pesky little stat I have neglected to talk about thus far, his K/9 numbers. Say what you will about Jose Valverde, there was always the chance for good fantasy numbers in the past, because he could strike batters out at a good rate. Valverde’s K/9 has been 8.59 or higher every season of his career…until 2012. In 2012 Valverde’s K/9 plummeted to a terribly low 6.26 a two batter drop from 2011. Now if you had been following Valverde’s career numbers, and really I guess there would not be much of a reason for you to do so, you would have noticed that his K/9 rate has been slowly dropping every season since 2007. But the drop from 2011 to 2012 was a huge red flag, which probably means his days of closing in the major leagues are numbered.

Does Valverde deserve to be on a major league roster in 2013? I think so. Does Valverde belong on a fantasy baseball roster? Maybe, but not as number one closer, that is for darned sure. In my humble opinion, Valverde is still hands off, but as far as fantasy standards are concerned, if he gets signed he could have a shot at some saves, but looking for him to top 20, would be highly optimistic. So when draft day arrives, in case you were thinking Valverde is a sleeper and could magically put up his 2011 numbers, heed my warning and steer clear. It is best to just let undrafted Valverdes lie.

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Let’s Talk About Feelings

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Let’s Talk About Feelings

Posted on 09 January 2013 by Will Emerson

Despite what the title may lead you to believe, this is not gonna be a touchy-feely, emotional, Dr.Phil-esque post. Or at least I don’t think it will be. We’ll see, I guess.

M13Dr. Phil


No, the feelings I am referring to in this case are those most commonly associated with evaluating someone’s value. In this case, those someones are baseball players considered for the Hall of Fame. You know what I am talking about, right? Those gut feelings that tell someone whether or not a player is a Hall of Famer. Now statistics can be poured over, analyzed, compared, etcetera, etcetera, but when there is doubt you can always think about the player and their career and ask yourself, “Did he feel like a Hall of Famer?” It is kind of the epic debate when we come down to Hall of Fame arguments. There are those who are old school and those who are new school. There are those who value your basic stats that have been around for forever and a day and those who value WAR and other Sabermetric goodies. Then there are those that will delve into every stat, every aspect of a player’s career and then there are some that will see the statistics and whatnot, but when push comes to shove, it is that gut feeling that will sway their decision.

For some, this is hard to determine, in a way. I mean, take me for instance. Now, I never saw a great deal of the current Hall of Famers play, so any “feeling” I have one way or the other on them belonging in “the Hall” is all based on stats I’ve seen and things I’ve read about them. Obviously player’s statistics and how they stack up against their colleagues of the time is always a good place to start and is really all you can go on if you have no way of seeing them play. So, for me, Hall of Fame candidates of recent years are players that I had the distinct pleasure of actually watching play the game. So, in a way, I should have a certain idea or “feeling” of whether or not they are Hall worthy, without even looking through their stats. Well, at least that is the gist of it.

Now, I’m not sure if any Hall of Fame voters, or just plain debaters, go solely on this gut feeling and I wouldn’t recommend going on solely that, but I feel there is some merit to going by “feel” here. However, with that being said, I feel like the “feel” argument or what have you, can hurt and help players. My feeling is that the “feel” argument is more often used to dismiss a player’s Hall of Fame case. I’m sure it may not work out that way. It could be 50-50, could be 70-30, but it just seems or feels like this is the argument used for players that writers deem unworthy. Although he overcame this, you have to admit that was the main qualm against Bert Blyleven making it. Bert Blyleven just didn’t feel like a Hall of Famer. For me I could see that as being valid, but by the time I was watching Blyleven he was at the end, not the prime of his career. Now that brings up another thing about this. Not only was Bert Blyleven at the end of his career as a pitcher, but I was really towards the beginning of my career as a baseball watcher, as it were, which will change perspective quite a bit. In that regard I thought it would be fun, just for a bit, to take that into consideration. What I mean is, wouldn’t it be neat (yes, I said “neat”) to look back at some players from my childhood and remember how I felt about them and their careers as I was watching them as small lad.

I mean there were some no-brainers, like Roger Clemens, Kirby Puckett, Ryne Sandberg (who also happens to be one of my favorite players of all-time) and Tony Gwynn. But then there were some,  for one reason or another, maybe they made an All-Star game appearance or two or maybe I just saw them a lot and they performed well when I did. For whatever reason these players, in my young, naive eyes, were stars to me. You ready for this list of a few guys who I felt were superstars, perhaps Hall of Fame quality, when I was just a wee little scamp? For perspective purposes, I am talking about me being between the ages of six and 12 and talking about players I now would not necessarily think (cause I have perspective and actual stats to look into) were Hall of Fame material.

Frank Viola- So really not that ridiculous I suppose, since in the years I watched him as a kid, he was pretty darned decent. From ’84-’90 he was 126- 95 with a 3.36 ERA. he threw over 250 innings in all of those seasons except for 1990 when he tossed 249.2. He won 18 plus games four times in that span and won 20 or more games twice. He finished top 6 in Cy Young voting four times, including winning the award in 1988, when he was 24-7 with a 2.64 ERA and 193 strikeouts. So maybe not so far-fetched. By Baseball-Reference standards, for whatever it is worth, Sweet Music is the 144th ranked pitcher all time. Not bad, but not quite Hall worthy and Viola, as you probably know, is not in the Hall of Fame. He received  a mere two votes on his one and only ballot, which was, coincidentally, the same amount of votes received by…

Mike Greenwell- As good as I thought Gator was as a kid, I am actually shocked, looking at his numbers and resume now, that he was actually second in the MVP voting in 1988. A career OPS of .831 is very good and he also hit over .300 five times after becoming a regular. In fact in only two of his 12 seasons did he hit less than .295 and in those seasons he was plagued by injury. He had a career .303 average, but he did not offer much more than that statistically, which is probably why he did not have much of a Hall of Fame case.

Glenn Davis- Now with good ol’ Glenn, I guess he was just likeable and I probably saw his Topps All-Star card in 1989 and thought he was, well, an All-Star. In my head I feel like he was a yearly All-Star, but he only went to two All-Star games. He was top 10 in MVP voting three times though and even 2nd in 1986. He hit 30 or more home runs in three seasons and had twenty or more dingers in his first six full seasons. Wow! So, being a kid, maybe I was not that far off. Glenn Davis had superstar qualities and stats in some areas.  But the fact is, he had a short peak and did not even play more than 106 games in any of his last four seasons. In fact, in three of those last four seasons he played in fewer than 93 games and played in only 49 games in 1991 and 30 game in 1993. From ’86-’89 thought he was a slugging superstar. Hitting 122 of his career 190 home runs in those four seasons, but outside of this, he was above average for a couple of seasons, and not so much outside of that, which really does not a Hall of Fame case make. So much, or little, so that Glenn Davis did not even appear on a Hall of Fame ballot.

Jack Clark Nicknamed Jack the Ripper, I remember him being big and menacing at the plate. Four times he finished top 10 in MVP voting, with a third place finish in 1987. He appeared in four All-Star games and could certainly slug. He hit 20 or more home runs in 11 of his 18 seasons and three times led the league in walks on his way to a career .379 on-base percentage. That, his 340 career home runs and being10th in home runs in the 80s, was not quite enough to garner him more than seven votes.

Those are just a few who, at the time, I felt were lifelong  superstars, and they did definitely have their time in the sun, but hard to say they deserved much more consideration than they got, for the Hall. Maybe other guys, like Teddy Higuera, Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon,Von Hayes or Jim Presley would have been better examples, and while I would absolutely love to drone on and on about my boyhood heroes and delve into their statistics, I will refrain (for now), as I think you get my point. Now sure, I was a kid and perception then is most assuredly different as opposed to when you are older but, although extreme, sort of shows you what I am driving at. The “feel” has it’s time and place and I won’t say it is something to completely dismiss, but I feel like it’s somewhat silly. But think about it. Look at the active players and tell me off the top of your head, who feels like a Hall of Famer. I’m guessing a large percentage of these players, barring injury or something, will end up in the Hall. Of course I am sure a fair share won’t. Conversely, I am sure that there will certainly be plenty of players that don’t feel like Hall of Famers who will also get in. Doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t deserve it though. For this reason I feel like the “feel” argument is more for that small Hall that we have already seemed to have lost a chance at, some time ago. And this will more than likely be my record for the use of the word “feel” in one post. At least I feel like it will be.

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter

Posted on 02 October 2012 by Tim Danielson

Per box items:
24 packs per box
8 cards per pack
a combination of 3 hits of autographs and/or relics

Topps sell sheet

The standard sized base set cards have a color ‘art-style’ picture of the player on the card fronts. Bordered with a simple graphic there is a splash of a complementary color behind the player. The player’s last name and set name are centered along the card bottom. The occasional horizontal card does have a color background picture behind the player. The card backs are photo-less. The plain back cards lists moderate biographical information and career statistics. All the the usually numerical information is written out. For example a Batting Average of .296 is displayed as “Two Hundred Ninety Six.”

What I pulled:
192 unique cards no duplicates
135 + (6 sp) base set cards = 141/340 = 41% of the base set (1-300, 301-340 = SP)
24 inserts
24 mini cards
3 relic cards

Base card front and back:

Inserts: (not all scanned)
Highlight Sketches Smith, Braun, Sandberg
World’s Tallest Buildings 1, 3, 10
Historical Turning Points 4, 9, 13
What’s in a Name 3, 4, 17, 40, 45, 47, 47, 48, 49, 53, 74, 91, 93
3 code cards
10 mini cards
6 “A&G” back mini cards
2 black border mini cards
People of the Bible 11
World’s Greatest Military Leaders 20
Giants of the Deep 1
Musical Masters 15
Culinary Curiosities 1

The hits:
Bob Hurley Sr. relic
Michael Phelps relic
Ryan Theriot relic


2012 Allen and Ginter returns with an expanded autograph list. The mix of retired stars and current players is nice. The occasional horizontal layout card breaks the set up just enough so that it does not feel all the same. Personally I am a baseball card purist and think that a baseball card set should have baseball players in it. I admit that the Phelps relic is cool, but a chef, pool player, poker player and video game player? In my opinion this is watered down even for A&G. A&G also brings back their many inserts and SP minis to chase. Once again there is a code to break actually a murder to solve this year. I would have preferred a few less inserts and to that many more base set cards. A decent box to be sure, but I am just not a big fan of ‘art-style’ cards.

The Bottom Line:
I give 2012 Topps Allen & Ginter a shop around rating. It really depends on what type of a collector you are if you should buy A&G. If you are a player or team collector, buy your singles. If you like the product or are a set collector, 2011 A&G will appeal to you. Buy a box and trade your Tigers and Rickey Henderson to me!

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 5):
Base set collect-ability: 2/5
Big-hit Hunter: 2/5
Prospector Hunter: 3/5
Overall Design: 5/5
Fun: 5/5
Value: 4/5
Re-buy: 5/5
Overall Quality: 5/5

Overall: 31/40 (78% = c)

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

The Official card collecting site of Full Spectrum Baseball

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The Mets Say Goodbye to Larry Wayne….Thank God!

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The Mets Say Goodbye to Larry Wayne….Thank God!

Posted on 09 September 2012 by Trish Vignola

New York Mets fans have been on a first-name basis with Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones since 1995. It was then that Jones hit his first of many big league home runs at Shea Stadium. To make matters worse, it was a ninth inning game winner. Since that day in May, Jones has been readily identified by one name…kinda like Yogi, the Babe or Snooki.

Chipper Jones is one of the only visiting baseball players I can think of whose New York identity rose to the one-word level. A certain familiarity exists with him in these parts. It is one that has bred a degree of contempt for the Braves third baseman in Gotham. Jones has been a formidable foe, something it pains me to write. However, MLB.com says it better. “He has been the primary party pooper in the Mets’ recent history.”

Whether identified as Larry, Mets fans’ preferred way of taunting him, or Chipper, Jones has been synonymous with defeating the Mets since…I don’t know, forever? New York, as well as New York Mets fans, has come to regard Jones as they once regarded Pete Rose. They loathe him, but secretly would have given their right arm for him.

Few opposing players have battered the Mets during their 51 seasons as Jones has during 19 of them. Jones undermined the Mets at every turn. A shot at Shea, a sac-fly at Citi, and that doesn’t even touch what he did to them in Atlanta. Jones and Mike Schmidt have hit 49 home runs each against the Mets. Only Willie Stargell hit more has hit more. Only Stargell and Schmidt have driven in more runs against the Mets than Jones at 158 as well. Although Jones didn’t do much against the Mets last night, he is probably contemplating what lasting damage he can inflict on the Flushing faithful in his final five games against them.

Yes, it’s always been Larry Wayne against the entire borough of Queens.

Before the first pitch was thrown in last night’s game, the Mets saluted the player who so often has personified a wet blanket in Queens.
“After what Chipper did against us that year [1999], he had to be the MVP,” former Mets third baseman Robin Ventura said this summer to MLB.com. “If I was managing then, I probably would have held up four fingers [intentional walk] when he was on deck.” That’s a no brainer for even slowest armchair quarterback.

Ventura and some of his contemporaries recall vividly how Jones single-handedly created a path of destruction through the Mets’ September. The Braves led the Mets by one game with 12 games remaining for both teams. They played three games in Atlanta.

• Sept. 21: Jones hit home runs in the first and eighth innings against Rick Reed and Dennis Cook. The Braves won, 2-1. I had one helluva headache that night.

• Sept. 22: Jones hit a two-run home run in the first inning against Orel Hershiser and walked and scored the Braves’ final run in the eighth. The Braves won, 5-2. I think I threw a high heel at the wall.

• Sept. 23: Jones hit a three-run home run in the fifth inning against Al Leiter. The Braves scored four times in the inning and won, 6-3. I cried in the shower.


“It was the high point of my career,” Jones said earlier this season to MLB.com. You think?! “I had four hits in the series, all home runs. That was as good as it gets for one player. You know you’ve carried your team in a real important series.” If none of the other Braves showed up to the ballpark that series, it wouldn’t have mattered.

“Lots of guys have a big series, or they get real hot and you can’t get them out for two or three days,” Leiter said years afterward. “But Chipper was like a bomb that went off, only at the perfect moment. He just leveled us that series.”

Larry Wayne will not be missed, but he’ll never be forgotten.

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