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Fantasy Forecast

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Fantasy Forecast

Posted on 22 February 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

In Florida and Arizona all spring training camps are now kicked into gear. Along with that, Fantasy Baseball leagues are forming and drafts are being prepped for.

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This year, my fantasy career becomes a teenager. I have been competing in various fantasy leagues since the year 2000, and with that I have managed several championship teams, have also had a few down teams, and a whole bunch in the middle with heartbreak and triumph.

For me, fantasy football and baseball leagues have always been about fun. The chance to have bragging rights over friends, maybe win a few bucks, and watching the games from a different perspective is a great learning tool. I can still remember having those drafts in friend’s basements and jokingly hearing from the peanut gallery that every player would be a bust. Or, making a draft day trade that was crazy ridiculous, yet still managing to win a championship that same year. Gathering around big boards with magazines fanned out and a dozen pizzas ordered, hoping that you will create that winning club for the upcoming season are like mini Christmas’ for some.

With that in mind, here is a little forecasting to hopefully set the 2013 season off on the right track. For me, the top pick overall this season has to be a guy that has yet to play on an Opening Day. The Angel’s Mike Trout is the guy this season. His rookie season was one of the best seasons in history and not just by a rookie. He is a five tool player. Trout edges out the Detroit Tigers’ Triple Crown man, Miguel Cabrera. Rounding out my overall top 5 would be Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, and Andrew McCutchen.

Next on the clock, the top pitcher would be Justin Verlander of the Tigers as well. He just turned 30 but he is a true ace. He wins games, eats up innings, and dominates the strike outs. Two other aces to headline a staff would be the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw or the Rays’ David Price. Stephen Strasburg, while he is a star attraction, is not quite a top three pitcher just yet. Personally, I still have questions about his arm. Coming out of college I suspected that he may be prone to a major surgery and that is what happened a few seasons ago. After last year’s well publicized inning limit he should have a solid season and hopefully will pitch a full year. The top catcher would definitely be the Giants’ Buster Posey and top closer to rack up saves would be the Braves’ Craig Kimbrel.

Many times, seasons are won and lost on those draft day risks and reaches. The sleepers or rookies you hope will pan out because you want to jump at them first before the guy on his ninth slice of pizza does. These picks may have you booed into the next beverage run, but they could also lead to a victory dance at the end of the season too.

ChrisSale

On the mound, sleepers may include the White Sox Chris Sale who last year was a starter, then closer, then starter again and turned in a heck of a season. This year he will likely be the ace and have another good season while many still may have doubts. Also, Madison Bumgarner continues to develop and improve out by the bay. He is overshadowed by others out there but his talents and skills are right up there. Mike Minor in Atlanta could also put together a nice season as well.

Offensive sleepers include the Houston Astros Jose Altuve. When it comes to the Astros, there are not very many good things but Altuve is one. From another club that could struggle all year is the Colorado Rockies catcher Wilin Rosario. Finally, it may be my turn for the drink run, but Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs will be a guy to get dibs on. I am confident in that. Let the big names go early, sit back, wait, and grab Rizzo mid draft.

The top rookie on draft day will likely be the closer of the Tigers, Bruce Rondon. He is a young flame thrower and will surely get plenty of chances with that offense in support. Also, likely making a debut this year will be the New York Mets top prospect pitcher Zack Wheeler.

As draft days near, may the force and luck be with you. Best of luck constructing that winning club, but most importantly have fun! The best thing about baseball is that it is everyday for 162 games and the weather is mostly sunny.

Feel free to comment with your thoughts for draft strategies and Play Ball!

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10 Bargains in the Playoffs

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10 Bargains in the Playoffs

Posted on 04 October 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Cha-ching!

Spending big money on player contracts comes with no guarantee of success or even an assurance that the money will be well spent.  In some cases going big pays off (see “Yankees”), and for some teams the “less is more approach” pays off just as well (see “Athletics”).  Regardless of how much a team spends or how it distributes the spending, every team that makes the playoffs has at least 1 player turning in a big money performance for a fraction of the cost.  So, here I pay tribute to those who overproduce despite being underpaid.  Here are 10 of the “Biggest Bangs for Your Buck” players.

New York Yankees – $209,792,900 total payroll commitments.  For a lot of teams a $10M deal for a single season represents a huge chunk, but the Yankees do not fall into the category of “a lot of teams”.  The team certainly must appreciate the production from big money guys like C.C. Sabathia, Derek Jeter, and Robinson Cano, but they fall well short of Hiroki Kuroda in the “biggest bang for your buck” (BBFYB) category.  Kuroda has given the team a 3.34 ERA over 32 starts which works out to $2M per 1 WAR.  In Bronx Bomber terminology, Kuroda gives them a Sabathia season at less than half the cost of Sabathia.

Detroit Tigers – $133,475,000.  It might be difficult to stand out with Justin Verlander on the roster, but Austin Jackson sticks out like a sore thumb this season.  Giving a team a .298/.376/.476/.852 line with 16 HR, 65 RBI, a 130 OPS+, and outstanding defense at the same time will do that for a guy.  A 5.2 WAR season for just $500K?  Definitely.

Texas Rangers – $120,836,000.  Tempted to think of David Murphy or Alexi Ogando for this one?  Sure, but the unsung hero for the Rangers has been Craig Gentry.  Gentry’s career year at age 30 this season certainly has helped keep the team in contention.  His line of .302/.379/.479/.858 with 15 HR and 59 RBI comes with an extremely reasonable price tag of $484.3K.

Baltimore Orioles – $84,102,333.  Matt Wieters deserves this recognition both for his performance and his handling of the pitching staff.  Consider it a small miracle that the Orioles have a staff ERA of 3.89 in baseball’s most competitive division.  Producing 3.2 WAR for $500K would be sufficient to win the BBFYB award, though.

Oakland A’s – $52,873,000.  You might think it difficult to pick out a BBFYB winner on a team full of underpaid talent.  Josh Reddick makes the decision quite easy, though.  4.5 WAR for $485K makes it a no-brainer, and I’m all about not using more brain power than necessary.

San Francisco Giants – $131,355,298.  Buster Posey definitely belongs in the MVP conversation, but he already owns the BBFYB title for the Giants.  He leads the NL with 7.2 WAR for a measly $615K.  Too bad for the Giants he reaches arbitration eligibility after this season, because that salary number should increase an awful lot.  With a substantial raise, Posey will likely lose that BBFYB title, but that is a good problem to have.

St Louis Cardinals – $111,858,500.  Up until a few weeks ago, the reigning World Series MVP, David Freese, had the Biggest Bang for your Buck title sewn up.  Then Pete Kozma happened.  Kozma has given the Cardinals 1.1 WAR in just 25 games (79 PAs).  Considering that he makes the minimum and wasn’t expected to contribute at a Major League level this season, he edges out Freese just slightly.

Atlanta Braves – $93,529,667.  The Braves have at least 3 legitimate candidates in this race.  Jason Heyward and Craig Kimbrel are worthy, but Kris Medlen has just been unreal.  Going 10-1 merits attention in just about any situation, but doing so over the 2nd half of the season when some teams fall of the pace is like a jolt of adrenaline.  From his 1.57 ERA to his 4.2 WAR, Medlen has proven himself to be worth far more than the $490K he’s getting paid.

Cincinnati Reds – $87,826,167.  Flip and coin between Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart.  You really can’t go wrong with either one.  Frazier provides the Reds with pretty good corner infield bat.  Cozart gives them a decent bat but a plus defender at shortstop.  Cozart gets the BBFYB nod for being a better all-around player, but both are really good deals at $480K a year.

Most of the aforementioned players get enough media attention that casual fans have probably at least heard of them, but I thought it worth pointing out just how much they produced without breaking the bank.

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SP_291079_BORC_rays_11

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Ben Zobrist: A Love Story!

Posted on 22 August 2012 by Will Emerson

It’s no secret amongst my baseball loving colleagues that I have had what you might call an advanced stat man crush on Ben Zobrist for several seasons now. And quite frankly can you blame me? Okay well, maybe don’t answer that question, I suppose. The point of the matter is Zobrist is an advanced stat stud and in my mind could be one of the most underrated fantasy, maybe even real life, baseball players around. Now sure, you could easily argue that his real life value is greater than his fantasy value and that is a valid argument. But that don’t sway the man crush. As you may know, Zobs has recently started getting playing time at shortstop for Joe Maddon, which only enhances his real life, and more importantly, fantasy value. Already eligible at the somewhat shallow second baseman position, the addition of shortstop eligibility makes him a world class fantasy asset allowing flexibility on whatever fantasy roster he may be on. But what many fantasy owners may not even realize is the added shortstop eligibility alone is not what should be making them take notice and commence salivating. Oh no, no. If any salivating should occur, it should be at how well he stacks up against the shortstop field this season. But first off, just for kicks, let’s take a look at his value at the cornerstone.

As a two-bagger, he is ranked in the top ten fantasy wise, which is decent . I mean, that’s better than two-thirds of second baseman out there. Among second basemen this season he is tied for 5th in runs scored, 10th in RBIs and tied for 4th in homers. Now as you may or may not know, I am not so down with the counting stats, but that’s not a bad showing for Zorilla. He certainly will drop a little in the ranks because of his average hovering in the .260s, which has actually been a ton better since his slow start to the season (.203 average through May) in that department. But here’s why I really love Zorilla; his advanced stat goodness. Amongst second baseman this year with at least 200 plate appearances he is second in OBP (.373), 3rd in SLG (.460) and OPS (.833). Oh and  his ISO of .199 is also third amongst those same second baseman and his .365 wOBA? That also ranks 3rd. The only second basemen with better numbers in these categories would be Robinson Cano and Aaron Hill. Well with the exception of OBP, where he only trails the immortal Skip Schumaker. So overall he’s already pretty valuable at a week fantasy position, but I know what you are all wondering, ” but Will, how does he stack up against other shortstops this season?” Why I thought you’d never ask!

You see with Troy Tulowitzki missing a good chunk of the season, shortstop has been a tad bit weak. A good spot for a fantasy team to pick up runs, steals maybe some batting average, with not a ton of pop or all-around help, for the most part. Enter the Mighty Zorilla! Zobs  very well has the potential to be the best fantasy shortstop down the stretch. At the very least he is probably the most underrated. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at these numbers stacked up against the other shortstops with at least 200 plate appearances this season:

RUNS:
Derek Jeter (NYY)- 74
Elvis Andrus (TEX)- 70
Jimmy Rollins (PHI)- 70
Ben Zobrist (TBR)- 67

HOME RUNS:
Ian Desmond (WAS)- 17
J.J. Hardy (BAL)- 16
Ben Zobrist (TBR)- 14
Danny Espinosa (WAS)-14
Jed Lowrie (HOU)- 14
Jimmy Rollins- 14

RBIs:
Starlin Castro (CHC)- 61
Ian Desmond (WAS)- 53
Mike Aviles (BOS)- 52
Alexei Ramirez (CWS)- 52
Asdrubal Cabrera (CLE)- 51
Ben Zobrist (TBR)- 49
Elvis Andrus (TEX)- 49
Jhonny Peralta (DET)- 49
JJ Hardy (BAL)- 49

Okay not necessarily eye-popping numbers I suppose, and yes, again, this is wihout Troy Tulowitzki thrown in there, but you may notice the mighty Zorilla is the only one in the top six in all three of these categories, which is none too shabby. Of course it should also be noted that Hanley Ramirez is not included, but looks to be headed towards being shortstop eligible once again next season and would top Zobs in homers and RBIs. But if you’re in a league with some cooler, hipper, non-counting stats, and by gum you should be, than you may want a bit more here, right? I mean, quite honestly who could blame you? Go on, tell me? No one? That’s right! So let me throw you some numbers that will show you why Zobs is gonna be a fantasy shortstop gem and a half for the rest of this season and into next.

That sexy .373 OBP Zobs is putting on the table? That is higher than every single shortstop with at least 200 plate appearances this season, and this is including Hanley Ramirez. Also, only Ian Desmond and Tulo have higher slugging percentages than Zorilla and only Tulo has a higher OPS. Oh and in case you were curious, Jed Lowrie and Ian Desmond are the only shortstops with a higher ISO and the only other shortstop with an ISO even over .175 is Tulo, who is tied with Zobs with an ISO of .199.

So while other shortstops can always pop out of the woodwork, I would say Zobs could very well end up being a top five fantasy shortstop for 2013. Now sure, wOBA, ISO, OBP and OPS do not always necessarily translate into fantasy awesomeness, but you have to like the potential, especially where you will probably be able to draft Zobs. Fact of the matter is, I’m guessing he still falls behind some of your more well known commodities when draft day rolls around, so you can probably still grab him a bit on the cheaper side. With the potential to be a top five fantasy shortstop next season, he could very well fall behind at least eight or nine shortstops, second baseman as well for that matter, come draft day. So jump on the Ben Zobrist man crush bandwagon while you can my friends!

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The Best in MLB by Position

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The Best in MLB by Position

Posted on 21 June 2012 by Dennis Lawson

Professional hurler of round objects.

One does not simply toss out names randomly when attempting to name the best player in baseball by position.  That is sheer folly.  It would take a number of fans beyond reckoning to determine such a thing by popular vote, and the end result would simply be the outcome of a somewhat predictable popularity contest.  Instead, this goal should be accomplished via a more scientifically acceptable means of quantification.  In this case, I consider both counting stats and advanced statistics in play for this exercise.

Browse through all nine positions using the buttons below.

RF - Carlos Beltran

Picture 1 of 9


RF - Carlos Beltran (Cardinals, Age 35) - The .311/.396/.591/.988 slash line probably comes as a welcome surprise, but the 19 HR and 48 RBI has to be shocking to some.  If Beltran can maintain anything close to his current numbers, he could eclipse his best season based on WAR.  Doing so at age 35 almost makes you wonder what could have been for the oft-injured Beltran.  He only played in roughly 1768 regular season games during the first 14 seasons of his career, and he still managed to make himself the only switch-hitting member of the 300/300 club.

What say you, baseball villagers armed with pitchforks and corked bats?  Agree?  Disagree?  Ready for a verbal/written battle royal to push your pick(s)?  Bring it, because all my picks bring the challengers to the yard.

 

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2012 Topps Museum Collection Product Review

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – 2012 Topps Museum Collection Product Review

Posted on 01 May 2012 by Tim Danielson

2012 Topps Museum Collection

Per box items:
4 mini-boxes per master box
5 cards per mini-box
1 on-card autograph
1 autograph relic
1 quad relic
1 jumbo relic

Topps sell sheet

The base set cards are thinker than standard sized cards. the card fronts feature a full color action shot of the named player superimposed over a gray scale background. The cards have a frame for the border. The white area outside of the frame is less glossy than the picture. The set name, player name, team logo and player position all adorn the card card front in gold foil. The card backs are photo-less. The same framed design houses a color team logo, moderate biographical information, moderate career highlights, and career statistics.

What I pulled:

11 base set cards, 11/100 = 11% of the base set
4 serial numbered parallel cards
1 Museum Collection art cards
1 on-card autograph
1 autograph relic
1 quad relic
1 jumbo relic

Base card front and back:

Parallels and Insert:
Kershaw #/199
Holliday #/299
Stanton #/299
A-Rod #/299
Thome Museum Collection

The Hits:
Julio Teheran auto #/399
Troy Tulowitzki Jumbo Lumber #/20
Robinson Cano quad relic #/99
Craig Kimbrel auto patch dual relic #1/25

************************************************** *******

One of the first high-end sets of the year, 2012 Topps Museum Collection leads off with bang! I love the simple clean design. I also enjoy the mix of current players and retired stars. The on-card auto is clean and looks sharp, and the serial numbering of the hits is a nice touch. I really felt temped to rate 2012 Topps Museum collection higher than I did as there is little to fault with the product. I did assign a rating to base set collect- ability though because although it will be expensive to complete, it is not impossible.

The Bottom Line:
I give 2012 Topps Museum Collection a buy rating. Completing the base set with be an expensive challenge. The hits are amazing you should be able to make your money back by flipping or trading for what you want. Buy a box and trade your Rickey Henderson cards to me!

The Final Score:
Final Ratings (Out of 5):
Base set collect-ability: 1/5
Big-hit Hunter: 5/5
Prospector Hunter:4/5
Overall Design: 5/5
Fun: 5/5
Value: 5/5
Re-buy: 5/5
Overall Quality: 5/5

Overall: 35/40 (87.5% = B)

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