Tag Archive | "Home Runs"

The National League Shortstop Revolution

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The National League Shortstop Revolution

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Will Emerson

Recently there has been a rush of hot new shortstops, primarily in the National League. Jean Segura, Andrelton Simmons and Didi Gregorious are the three hottest new shortstops in the majors. They have all had a bit of prospect hype surrounding them and thus far they have actually been exceeding expectations. The thing is, it is always tough to gauge skill level or future performance based on an initial small sample size. Truth be told, they are all currently hitting the ball quite well. But is this just a hot start to their respective major league careers or are the offensive numbers legit and a nice indication of things yet to come?

JeanSegura

For Segura, the primary piece the Brew Crew received in return for Zack Greinke, there were some mixed reviews at the time of the trade in regards to whether or not the Brewers got enough in return for Greinke. Here is a quick evaluation of Segura from Baseball Prospect Nation, right around the time of the Grienke trade:

“At the plate, Segura is a plus to plus-plus hitter for average with definitively good gap power. There are scouts that believe he can have fringe-average home-run power down the line, making him a high average guy with plenty of extra-base hits.”

From this evaluation and plenty of others I have seen, Segura would make a very solid top of the order hitter. There is that “fringe home-run power” suggested above, but should we have expected it this soon? Segura’s current isolated power sits at .229 thanks in part to six home-runs, while many preseason projections projected a home run range of five to ten over around four-hundred at bats. Segura had yet to post an ISO over .110 anywhere above A-ball. I would say the current .229 ISO is bound to drop, or is it? Well, yeah, it probably is, but maybe not as much as many may think. I mean, it is possible that the power, generally the last skill to develop, has arrived for Mean Jean, right? Sure, it is. I am not sold on the power just yet, but the kid can make contact, that’s for darned sure! Now Andrelton Simmons is a bit of a different story, altogether.

Simmons is a slick fielding shortstop who will flash some nice leather in the field, but as far as hitting is concerned, he is not expected to be overly spectacular. The preseason projections had a slash lines somewhere in the neighborhood of .270/.320/.377. Nothing flashy, but nothing atrocious either, especially with his glove. I, for one, felt like those slash numbers were a tad bit high. Thus far Andrelton’s slash line is .250/.294/.386. However, Simmons is heating up a bit at the plate, lately, showing some power at the plate. In May, small sample size though it is, the slash line for Simmons is .267/.283/.489 . Everything is a bit better, but hold the phone a sec, here! A .489 slugging percentage? Wow! Talk about out of character and exceeding expectations, right?! Through the end of April, Simmons had four extra base hits. Two doubles and two home runs. That was over the span of 87 at bats. In May, over 45 at bats, Simmons already has two home runs and four doubles. According to this wonderful piece by Eno Sarris over at FanGraphs Andrelton (I really do love that first name!) has been receiving hitting tips from Justin Upton, which is not a bad place to receive tips from and may also have helped launch that recent Simmons mini power surge. Now before everyone tries to go out and swindle some unsuspecting fantasy owner in a trade for Simmons, it is interesting to note that all six extra-base hits came in a four game span. In the next four games after that he was 1-16 and the one hit was a single. So, it seems a bit premature to start jumping on any Andrelton bandwagons juuuuusssst yet, unless you are expecting a child and looking for a cool baby name. What I find to be a somewhat less cooler name? Didi.

While I am not a huge fan of Didi has a guy’s name, I think Gregorious is kinda nice! Working on his nickname, I am thinking maybe the Gregorious B.I.G? Well, we can work on that later. Gregorious has come outta the gate smokin’ hot. Didi was 6-13 with 2 dingers in his first three games and he was quickly swooped up in fantasy baseball leagues all across the land. Here is Marc Hulet’s read  on Didi:

‘“a gifted fielder, [with] outstanding range, a plus arm and excellent actions.” On his hitting, Hulet added that “he gets pull happy but has some surprising pop from the left side”.    

There was nothing pointing even to a remote amount of pop from any side of the plate from Didi during is minor league stay. So has the pop arrived? It is possible, sure. I don’t think the power Didi is showing right now is gonna keep up, but he should be a solid hitter. Gregorious has three home runs thus far, but really over a full season you should only expect 10-12 home runs, at this point in his career.

So at this point, I would say, power aside, Gregorious and Segura are the real deal as far as hitting is concerned. They should both post some good XBH numbers without a ton of longballs. As far as Simmons is concerned, he is a great glove man, but not quite there at the plate. Offensively, I would say, Simmons’ has an Omar Vizquel-esque hitting numbers. So drink it in! Welcome the shortstop revolution!

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I’m in dead last place – Help me Wilin Rosario….

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I’m in dead last place – Help me Wilin Rosario….

Posted on 06 May 2013 by Trish Vignola

… you’re my only hope.

Colorado Rockies' Wilin Rosario (20) celebrates with teammates after hitting a two run homer against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the inning of a baseball game Friday, June 1, 2012 in Denver, Colo.. The Rockies won 13-3. (AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez)

I’m buried so far in the cellar of my fantasy baseball league there is no hope for resurrecting any semblance of a normal season.

Call me the Houston Astros of the fantasy world.

I do though refuse to back up the truck. I have a few diamonds in the rough that I’m sure members of my league would be dying to get their hands on. One of which is Wilin Rosario.

Using CBSSports.com as a metric, Rosario has averaged me about 16 points a week. In 80 at bats, he’s given me 7 home runs, has a .350 batting average and 19 RBIs. In comparison, Josh Hamilton has given me 2 home runs, has a .202 batting average and 9 RBIs in 104 at bats. Matt Wieters, who I was totally expecting to be my “starting catcher”, has give me 4 home runs, has a .214 batting average and 13 RBIs.

Rosario has shown some speed, for a catcher. On the 10th, he went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. He also stole his first two bases against the Giants. “I can run a little bit, and I take advantage,” Rosario told MLB.com. “Sometimes they get a little comfortable on the mound, and I get the advantage.” Rosario stole just four bases in 117 games last season. CBSSports.com reports that Rosario sees himself surpassing that number this year. “I don’t know, because the year, it’s just starting right now,” Rosario said. “Maybe 10. Maybe nine.” He might be joking; nonetheless, it cannot be denied that Rosario has gotten a pretty good start to the season this year.

His defense has improved as well. It was on display against the Padres on the 14th. He hit his 4th home run of the season that saturday, culminating in a 4-for-5 day. He drove in three runs and scored one himself. He threw out the only base runner trying to steal against him in a 9-5 win. The day before, Rosario threw out two runners. By the 14th, Rosario caught five of the first seven base runners attempting to steal a base against him this season. “That’s one of the best experiences I can have,” Rosario told MLB.com prior to that game. “I want to be a winner. Not every time are you going to hit. The only thing you can control is your glove — catching everything, blocking balls, stopping runners.”

A draw back to Rosario’s offense is his horrific strikeout ratio. On the 18th, Rosario went 1 for 5 in his team’s 11-3 win over the Mets. He drove in two runs and scored one. He also struck out twice, giving him 15 strikeouts in 46 at-bats at that point. Wilin Rosario leads all NL catchers in strikeouts. If Rosario can keep his strikeouts to a minimum and if his defense can keep him in the starting lineup, he will be a diamond in a rough for your fantasy league. If he tires out early, I’m just going to go bury my laptop in the backyard.

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The Trumbo Drop

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The Trumbo Drop

Posted on 21 March 2013 by Will Emerson

Ah, the story of Mark Trumbo and the wild ride that was his 2012 season.  For those who did manage to grab Trumbo, their apparent genius was rewarded handsomely… at first. Trumbo started heating up in May and carried that through July, looking like the fantasy steal of 2012. From May through July, Trumbo socked 24, count ‘em, 24 home runs! Trumbo added 61 RBIs and also hit .300 over that span, for those of you who are into that sort of thing and  his OPS’s for those months? 1.077, .899, and .864. Trumbo was well on his way to a tremendous season, when he didn’t see that wall and ran right into it.

The-High-Five-Trout-Trumbo-a671e781-deb5-4f9f-b628-aa75c9f2742b

In August, Trumbo hit a meager three dingers, hitting .304, with an OPS of .550. Mr. Trumbo did not fare much better in September and October when he socked two home runs with a .214 average and an OPS of .554. Quite a turnaround for the big fella, wouldn’t ya say? Well, of course the question going into 2013 is, which, if either, is the true Mark Trumbo? The guy who was just mashing for three months or the one who could barely hit himself out of a wet paper bag for the last two months? Obviously the two are pretty much on opposite ends of the spectrum here, so just what exactly are we to expect from Trumbo in 2013?

Well, let us take a look at Trumbo’s final numbers, first. Trumbo finished with 32 home runs and 95 RBIs and an OPS of .808. Of course 24 of those 32 home runs were in that three-month span of May through June. Which means Trumbo hit eight home runs in the other three months. Now we all know the power is there for Trumbo, but will the power be consistent or will Trumbo owners have to take the famine with the feast? The biggest difference in August through the end of the season was Trumbo’s home run to fly ball rate. About a quarter of Trumbo’s flyballs were leaving the yard in the first four months, but this rate dropped to 14.3% in August and then right on down to 7.4% in September. Obviously a big factor in the long ball drop off. Of course, it was not just the long balls that dropped off, it was Mark Trumbo’s entire offensive output that fell off a cliff. So what exactly happened?

Well, first off, it seems that either pitchers were starting to figure Trumbo out or he was just not being as patient. Perhaps even a combination of both. Look at Trumbo’s strikeout percentage by month ion 2012:

March/ April – 27.5%

May- 17.8%

June- 23.2%

July- 19.8%

August- 36.4%

September/ October- 33.7%

The K-rate took a huge jump in the last two months of the season, but Trumbo was also not getting on base as much down the stretch. In September Trumbo had a walk rate of 2.3%, helping him to a .233 OBP for the month. I shouldn’t have to tell you dem’s some outrageously bad numbers in both categories. Unfortunately I do not have info on Trumbo’s plate discipline numbers by month, but I think it is safe to say that he was probably pressing as he headed into September. Or was it something else? Trumbo experienced back spasms in July and it is possible that this lingered with him into the final two months and really sapped his power. If the back spasm issue was the primary cause this is good news for Trumbo going into 2013. So, if this is the case, should you expect more of May through July Trumbo? Well, I wouldn’t go quite go that far.

Look, those middle month were torrid and I don’t think there are many people out there who think the .300 average over that span is sustainable, so we’re gonna stay focused on the power. The home run/ power pace for that month was a bit more than expected and I am not quite sure those numbers are sustainable for Trumbo over a full season. If Trumbo had the same HR/AB rate in his lesser three months as he did in his binge months he would have had about 44 home runs for the season. I would say it is safe to project another 30 or so homers from Trumbo in 2013, at the very least, with the potential to sock 40. I am going to predict a number in the middle of those and say that Trumbo will out up 35 home runs in 2013 with 65-70 runs and 95-100 RBIs. Am I predicting a bit high? Well in the home run department, maybe a tad, but I don’t think 35 dongs is completely out of the question for Trumbo. With batting average you may see some hot weeks strung together, but I would not expect anything over .270. You can still expect an OPS over .800 for Trumbo, but this will be mostly driven by his slugging percentage as he has a very low walk rate. So in 5 x 5 leagues the average is a minor detractor, but nevertheless the 2012 late season slump could make Trumbo a mild sleeper in many drafts.

Rotochamp has Trumbo ranked 123 overall, which would mean he would be going around the 12-13th round in 12 team leagues. With an outside shot at 40 homers and 100 RBIs, that would be a nice pickup that late, sure. The problem is Trumbo’s average draft position in Yahoo! leagues is 99.8 and in ESPN leagues it is 84.8, so no one is really buying a ranking of around 123. Realistically, I would say go ahead and grab Trumbo around the 85th pick or so and bet on him not having a repeat of 2012′s dismal finish. It’s okay, you can thank me when you are polishing your fantasy league trophy come October.

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Playing The Name Game: Spring Training Edition

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Playing The Name Game: Spring Training Edition

Posted on 11 March 2013 by Chris Caylor

This is the first of a two-part spring training edition of Playing the Name Game. This article is targeted at those owners whose drafts (or auctions) haven’t yet taken place. Most of my drafts/auctions have not occurred, which is unusual, based on the comments of several fantasy baseball writers I read and respect. Now, I happen to play in AL-only and NL-only leagues, as I find those leagues more challenging than typical mixed leagues.

NameGame

Regardless of whether the format is draft or auction, fantasy baseball league winners are usually the owners who get the most bang for their buck. Owners who drafted Mike Trout in the mid-to-late rounds, or spent his/her money on R.A. Dickey instead of Tim Lincecum, probably enjoyed finishing in the money in their leagues last year.

The goal of these articles is to identify players who might similarly boost your team in 2013. Let’s jump right in.

First Base

Player A: .299/.344/.463, 18 HR, 108 RBI, 116 OPS+
Player B: .227/.308/.462, 32 HR, 90 RBI, 110 OPS+

Player A is the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez. Player B is Ike Davis of the Mets. Gonzalez has superior talent around him, but his home run totals have dropped each of the past three seasons. At 25, Davis is five years younger and smacked 20 home runs in his final 75 games in 2012. The difference in average draft position, though, is what really struck me: Gonzalez is going in the 3rd-4th round, while Davis is going between rounds 12-16. Why draft A-Gon when you can fortify your middle infield and outfield in the early rounds and get plenty of power from a guy like Davis (or Paul Goldschmidt) later?

Speaking of middle infield:

Second base

Player A: .290/.347/.449, 15 HR, 65 RBI, 20 SB, 112 OPS+
Player B: .257/.335/.379, 14 HR, 76 RBI, 31 SB, 103 OPS+

Player A is Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox. Player B is Jason Kipnis of the Indians. Personally, I consider Pedroia one of the most overrated players in baseball. The way he runs his mouth, you’d think he was better than the Yankees’ Robinson Cano. But the numbers prove otherwise. Kipnis, meanwhile, will turn 26 shortly after Opening Day and plays for a team that added Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher to its 2013 lineup. True, Kipnis did tail off drastically in the second half of 2012 after a terrific first three months. But the power is developing to complement his 30-steal speed. In ESPN leagues, Kipnis is coming off the board two rounds after Pedroia. That equals two rounds where you can load up on big-time outfielders or an elite shortstop instead. I’m buying.

Shortstop

Player A: .287/.360/.486, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 2 SB, 111 OPS+
Player B: .292/.335/.511, 25 HR, 73 RBI, 21 SB, 126 OPS+

Player A is Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies. Player B is Ian Desmond of the Nationals. Last year was supposed to be The Big Year for Tulo, as he was entering his age 27 season and coming off three consecutive seasons where he compiled an OPS+ north of 130. Instead, Tulo only played 47 games and missed the final four months of the 2012 season. Entering his seventh season, Tulowitzki has played in 140+ games just three times. When healthy, he is the best shortstop in either league. Unfortunately, that’s become a huge gamble for fantasy owners due to the multiple leg injuries. Desmond is entering his own age 27 season and put up his 2012 stat line despite missing about a month with a dreaded oblique injury, so his numbers could have been even better. Oblique injuries don’t seem to recur with the same frequency as leg injuries. Tulo has the edge in power, but Desmond has better speed, which is more difficult to come by.

Third Base

Player A: .306/.391/.492, 21 HR, 93 RBI, 15 SB, 143 OPS+
Player B: .244/.317/.476, 30 HR, 85 RBI, 1 SB, 117 OPS+

Player A is the Mets’ David Wright. Player B is Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates. Here’s an interesting stat: in 2009 and 2011, Wright combined for just 24 home runs. In 2010 and 2012, Wright smacked a combined 50 home runs. Which Wright will it be in 2013? Will the moved-in fences at Citi Field boost his power numbers, or are the 30-homer days gone for the six-time All-Star? It strikes me as an expensive gamble, given his average draft position in the 1st-2nd round. Meanwhile, in 2012, Alvarez found the power stroke that tantalized the Pirates into making him the #2 overall pick in 2008. Like all Pittsburgh hitters, he tailed off in the second half of the season, but his 53-point jump in batting average (and 178-point jump in slugging) shows that Alvarez has figured some things out at the plate. It looks like the Buccos have finally found their cleanup hitter to protect Andrew McCutchen. And at less than half of Wright’s average auction value, Alvarez should be a major-league bargain for fantasy owners.

Catcher

Player A: .319/.416/.446, 10 HR, 85 RBI, 8 SB, 81 R, 141 OPS+
Player B: .301/.328/.471, 11 HR, 39 RBI, 0 SB, 38 R, 117 OPS+

Player A is the Twins’ Joe Mauer. Player B is Salvador Perez of the Royals. Mauer is now on the wrong side of 30, playing a position that is notoriously brutal on an athlete’s body. That said, Mauer bounced back nicely from a wretched 2011. Mauer is still an elite player, but he lands on this list because he is playing fewer and fewer games at catcher. While the Twins aim to preserve their big-money star, meet the new Joe Mauer: Sal Perez. The Royals’ 22-year-old backstop kept up his impressive contact rate after returning from a knee injury last year and looks like a future superstar at the position. Because he is buried in woeful Kansas City, he may slip a few rounds in your draft or auction. Perez’ 2013 projections are equal to or better than Mauer in every category except RBI. Don’t miss the boat on him.

You may have detected a trend is these five comparisons: I recommend younger, up-and-coming players as better bargains. That isn’t to say you should avoid any of the “bigger” names; only that you should be able to get similar production at a lower cost later in your draft/auction. If it works out, you allow yourself to acquire elite talent at a different position, while another owner might find himself reaching for a backup or platoon player to fill a roster spot.

These are only one man’s opinion. For what it’s worth, though, I did win my league in 2012.

Coming up In Part 2: pitchers and outfielders.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10.

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Is there trouble on River Ave?

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Is there trouble on River Ave?

Posted on 28 January 2013 by Trish Vignola

Is there trouble on River Ave?

Or is there celebration?

ARod2

Although Alex Rodriguez hopes to return from hip surgery sometime after the All-Star break at Citi Field, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman claims that the veteran third baseman could miss the entire season. Cashman dropped this bomb in an interview with WFAN in New York on Friday.

Rodriguez, who is now 37, underwent surgery on his left hip on Jan. 16. He was initially expected to miss about six months. On Friday, Cashman revealed that he is actually prepared for the possibility that the third baseman might not suit up at all this summer.

Cashman says that he remains optimistic. Nonetheless, when asked if there was a chance of Rodriguez missing the entire season, he told WFAN, “Yeah…I think because [of] the serious nature of the surgery and the condition that he’s trying to recover from, you know, there is that chance.”

Rodriguez hit .272 with 18 homers and 57 RBIs during the regular season last year. However, he drew attention when he struggled mightily during the postseason. The three-time American League Most Valuable Player Award winner was 3-for-25 in postseason play. He was only able to muster a devastating .120 batting average. That included a 0-for-18 stretch with 12 strikeouts against right-handed pitchers. He was lifted for a pinch-hitter, including Raul Ibanez, on multiple occasions before eventually being replaced in the starting lineup.

Are the Yankees looking for a way out of this dysfunctional marriage with Alex Rodriguez?

Could their patience with an ailing star have worn thin? Especially after pretty girls in the front row were garnering more of Rodriguez’ attention than the game?

Earlier this offseason, the Yankees signed veteran third baseman Kevin Youkilis to a one-year, $12 million contract to step in for Rodriguez while he recovers from the injury. Youkilis hit .235 with 19 home runs and 60 RBIs in 122 combined games with the Red Sox and White Sox last season.

Although not a permanent fix, it’s interesting to note that if Rodriguez misses out on the year, the Yankees can recoup some of its losses through the team’s insurance. The insurance kicks in only after the player has missed at least four months of the season. It’s minimal unless the misses the entire season. The Yankees would hit the biggest macabre jackpot if Dr. Bryan Kelly, who performed the surgery to repair the labrum and an impingement in the left hip, had the wrong prognosis. If the ability of Alex Rodriguez to resume his career as long as he does the rehabilitation turns out to be wrong, the Yankees win…big time.

From the Yankees’ standpoint, that would effectively get them out from under the remaining five years, $114 million on his contract. The insurance would kick in for 85% of that. Rodriguez would become a voluntarily retired player with a paid-up contract that comes off the Yankee books (and subsequently would lessen their luxury-tax burden).

It would be the same sort of welcome windfall the Baltimore Orioles reaped in 2000. Two years into a five-year, $65 million contract, Albert Belle was forced to retire from the game at 34 with a degenerative hip condition.

Belle disappeared from baseball. Nobody missed him.

Are the Yankees hoping for lightening to strike twice?

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