CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

Vote in the Internet Baseball Awards for a chance at a free copy of Dollar Sign on the Muscle
Voting ends in 16 days and 5 hours

<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Monday Up... (04/05)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Fantasy ... (04/06)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Checking... (04/07)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Transaction Action: AL... (04/06)

April 6, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Base, and Shortstop

by Michael Jong

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

Boston 2009 PECOTA Games '09 Scoresheet
Shortstop Bats PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG BA OBP SLG C 2B SS vRH vLH Rng
Bill Hall RH 365 8 32 36 2 .201 .258 .338 .239 .302 .403 0 3 0 –33 +68
Marco Scutaro RH 680 12 100 60 14 .282 .379 .409 .284 .368 .407 0 2 143 –13 +34 4.81
Heater team expert: Avg for Catcher .256 .324 .397   vRH = OPS v RH
Evan Brunell Avg for Second Base .274 .337 .409   vLH = OPS v LH
  Avg for Shortstop .272 .329 .396   Rng = Range

 

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Bill Hall 54 12 2 1 1 .222 .317 .352 10/8 1/0
Marco Scutaro 60 13 2 1 1 .217 .299 .333 7/6 0/1  

With the lack of depth at shortstop, many fantasy players who missed out on the early-round names are filling the position with one-category speedsters like Elvis Andrus and Alcides Escobar who will not kill you in AVG and runs and will contribute heavily in steals. Lost in this legitimate strategy is Marco Scutaro, a guy who does not have speed to burn but provides better balance in his categories. As of this writing, Scutaro is owned in only 62% of ESPN leagues, despite coming off a career year in which he scored 100 runs, batted .280+, and stole 14 bags. None of those stats are groundbreaking in traditional roto leagues, but they are worthy of a player who should do a bit more than ride the fantasy team pine.

The reasoning against Scutaro lies in the outlier 13.2% BB% which fuelled Scutaro's impressive .379 OBP and got him on base to score those runs. Since he had never walked at that kind of rate before, I imagine many wrote him off as bench fodder for 2010. The truth is that Scutaro only changed one thing in his approach: he stopped swinging at pitches both outside and inside the strike zone, a very repeatable change. Scutaro dropped his swing rate in the zone from the low 60% to 55.2%, allowing him to see more pitches and draw more walks. When he does swing, he has no issues making contact, yielding a consistent, if unimpressive AVG. PECOTA projects the move to Fenway should keep his AVG inflated in the .280 range. Batting with his OBP skills at the bottom of the Red Sox lineup puts him in front of good hitters in Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, ensuring that Scutaro will once again provide decent run totals. Given the consistency of Scutaro's contact and plate discipline, his contributions should be more assured than the performances of younger, upside-laden shortstops.

Oakland 2009 PECOTA Games '09 Scoresheet
Catcher Bats PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG BA OBP SLG C 2B SS vRH vLH Rng
Jake Fox RH 241 11 23 44 0 .259 .311 .468 .252 .323 .453 3 0 0 –8 +21
Kurt Suzuki RH 614 15 74 88 8 .274 .313 .421 .278 .339 .401 135 0 0 –5 +12 .53/.20
Heater team expert: Avg for Catcher .256 .324 .397   vRH = OPS v RH
Melissa Lockard Avg for Second Base .274 .337 .409   vLH = OPS v LH
  Avg for Shortstop .272 .329 .396   Rng = Range

 

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Jake Fox 53 8 0 0 3 .151 .224 .321 12/4 0/0
Kurt Suzuki 53 11 3 0 3 .208 .254 .434 6/3 0/0  

Of the two catchers on Oakland's 25-man roster on Opening Day, one is an unusually sturdy and unexciting choice, while the other is a strange player with some interesting potential. Marc Normandin ranked Kurt Suzuki in the three-star tier in his catcher rankings primarily because of his excellent durability; Suzuki has gathered up 588 (3rd among all catchers) and 614 PA (second) in 2008 and 2009 respectively. He is a solid bet for another 600 PA, which would give a strong boost to his counting stats despite a below-average offensive repertoire. Unlike the average catcher, Suzuki's decent contact skills (career 87.2% contact rate) guarantee him a solid AVG even with a low BABIP. ESPN has him owned in only 72% of leagues, which means he and his durbability (with perhaps even slight upside, if you believe PECOTA) may still be underrated.

Oakland is probably counting on that durability as well, because Jake Fox cannot be considered more than a part-time option defensively at catcher. Fox spent last season with the Cubs and showed one major tool: power. In just 241 PA, he drove 11 HR (off a not-absurd 13.3% HR/FB%) and drove in 41 runs. He doesn't do much else well, and that includes displaying plate discipline; Fox swung at 56.7% of all pitches he saw, including 37.7% of pitches out of the zone. This manifested in an awful 5.6% BB%. Still, PECOTA likes the power enough to project 14 HR in only 327 PA. Lacking other skills, he would be a poor option at first or third base, but at catcher he looks far more appealing as a waiver wire pickup in AL leagues or in deeper mixed leagues. Even with Suzuki in front of him, Heater Expert Melissa Lockard has him spending a lot of time covering first and DH, and with Jack Cust recently designated for assignment, this can only increase Fox' playing time.

Washington 2009 PECOTA Games '09 Scoresheet
Middle Infield   PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG BA OBP SLG C 2B SS vRH vLH Rng
Ian Desmond RH 89 4 9 12 1 .280 .316 .561 .242 .309 .386 0 0 17 –12 +29 4.75
Christian Guzman SH 555 6 74 52 4 .284 .306 .390 .288 .324 .404 0 0 117 –20 +51 4.72
Adam Kennedy LH 587 11 65 63 20 .289 .348 .410 .262 .328 .370 0 50 0 +28 –86 4.30
Heater team expert: Avg for Catcher .256 .324 .397   vRH = OPS v RH
Paul Bugala Avg for Second Base .274 .337 .409   vLH = OPS v LH
  Avg for Shortstop .272 .329 .396   Rng = Range

 

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Ian Desmond 66 21 7 1 1 .318 .408 .500 10/10 6/2
Christian Guzman 51 15 3 2 1 .294 .302 .490 4/1 1/1
Adam Kennedy 60 16 6 1 0 .267 .333 .400 10/5 0/0  

When Ian Desmond tore up the final month of the season with a .298 TAv, most fans expected him to start Opening Day in 2010. That made the offseason signing of free agent second baseman Adam Kennedy all the more confusing. It seems Desmond's continued torrid pace in Spring Training won him the shortstop job, squeezing Christian Guzman to the bench. Heater expert Paul Bugala has Guzman still taking 25% of the playing time at second and 20% of the PT at short along with snagging 10% of the PT in both corner outfield spots in an effort to fit his bat into the lineup.

While Desmond has done nothing but rake at the big league level, PECOTA is unimpressed, pegging him for a below-average season for a shortstop. His biggest contributions are likely going to be in HR (projected at 15.5 HR/600 PA) and steals (projected 15 steals in 580 PA). But with just a .248 projected AVG and a lack of extensive track record for success in the minors, you are probably better off getting one of the one-category speedy shortstops even in your deeper NL leagues. Desmond also has some concerns on defense, where he is generally considered poor at shortstop; an early ugly performance on defense may leave him on the bench and with less playing time. Guzman has always been good for a solid AVG between .280-.300, but he is allergic to walks (career BB% of 4.5%) and thus struggles to post even an average OBP. With playing time, he'll benefit from batting in front of Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn, but that is in limbo at the moment. Keep an eye on Desmond's continued performance, as he may be worth a bench spot in NL leagues if he can stick at short. If he declines, Guzman can help in two categories if you're in dire need.

Hot Spots is brought to you by the writers of Heater, a weekly online fantasy baseball magazine.

Michael Jong is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Michael's other articles. You can contact Michael by clicking here

Related Content:  Shortstop,  Marco Scutaro,  OBP,  SLG,  Kurt Suzuki

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article On the Beat: Monday Up... (04/05)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Fantasy ... (04/06)
Next Column >>
Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Checking... (04/07)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Transaction Action: AL... (04/06)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Playoff Spotlight: Josh D...
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: The '80' Pitches In This Yea...
Premium Article Transaction Analysis: Playing a Hinch
The Lineup Card: Awards We Wish We Could Giv...
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: AL Wild Card Game Recap
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: ALDS Preview: Angels vs....
Premium Article Playoff Prospectus: NL Wild Card Game Previe...

MORE FROM APRIL 6, 2010
Premium Article Expanded Horizons: Closers To The Edge
Premium Article Checking the Numbers: SHINOMetrics
Premium Article Transaction Action: AL Roster Cleanup

MORE BY MICHAEL JONG
2010-04-27 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-04-20 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-04-13 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-04-06 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-03-30 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-03-23 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-03-16 - Fantasy Article Analyze This: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
More...

MORE FANTASY BEAT
2010-04-08 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: The Carmona Question
2010-04-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Outfield
2010-04-07 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Checking In On The Young Ones
2010-04-06 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Catcher, Second Bas...
2010-04-06 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Fantasy Cleanup on Aisle 4
2010-04-05 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: First Base, Third B...
2010-04-02 - Fantasy Article Fantasy Beat: Hot Spots: Starting Pitchers
More...