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July 24, 2013

Sporer Report

The 2014 First Round: A Look Ahead, Part Two

by Paul Sporer


It was almost a month ago now that I began looking at some of what we learned and how it applies to the 2014 season. I’ve wanted to get part two out, but I had a few other topics that I thought were more helpful for the here and now, so I gave them precedence ahead of this piece. Of course, with an extra month, we’ve seen that much more action and things have evolved even more now. Monday’s bombshell about Ryan Braun mixes things up a bit, too. Let’s cover a few more areas of what we’ve learned before I unveil my first crack at a top 12 for next year.

Shortstop Remains a Wasteland
The top two shortstops by ESPN’s Player Rater have been revelations this year, as San Diego’s Everth Cabrera has utilized his speed and plate discipline to turn himself into a premier asset. He drastically upped his contact rate, garnering even more use of his speed en route to a .289 AVG and .386 OBP, which have subsequently yielded 34 stolen bases. That puts him on pace to lead the NL again. And yet he’s nowhere near a first-rounder, as he remains a complete non-factor in home runs and RBI while the ineptitude of his teammates has left his 39 percent on-base rate underused, as he paces toward just 75 runs scored.

On the other hand, Jean Segura has been much more of a do-everything asset at the thinnest of positions pacing his way toward a .321-92-18-62-49 season. That is the kind of line you could draft in the first round, since we have seen Jose Reyes get drafted there on multiple occasions. The problem, or better stated, the concern with Segura is that this is the first we’ve seen of this kind of transcendent production even dating back to his minor-league days—which, by the way, ended in Double-A. He wasn’t expected to ever hit 18 home runs in a season, much less do so in the first 96 games of his first full season. So whether he falls just short of, meets, or somehow exceeds that line, there will still be questions surrounding the sustainability in year two.

A couple of incumbents have shown why we’ve liked them so much in the past while a 2012 breakout is having a strong follow-up. Beyond that, the position has offered very little save a handful of one-or-two category producers who will be lucky to sniff the top five rounds, let alone get anywhere near the first. Troy Tulowitzki is on a rinse-and-repeat method at this point: show everyone how amazing you are at baseball and then miss some time due to injury. This marks the fourth straight year he will fail to reach the 150-game plateau.

Thankfully he was able to put up full seasons worth of production in two of them (2010-2011), but as he inches closer to 30 years old the expectations of him remaining healthy for an entire season diminish more and more. And with the speed now gone from his game (12-for-17 over his last 1,095 PA spanning 2011 through Tuesday night), there is an increasing burden on his batting average to remain elite if he expects to remain a first round value with 140 games or fewer as the counting stats just can’t make the grade and stolen bases used to close that gap.

An injury in the WBC derailed Hanley Ramirez’s season before it ever got going and then a strained hamstring four games after his return sent him right back to the disabled list. He has made up for lost time though with a stunning 40-game outburst since returning on June 4. He has a .384/.442/.688 line with nine home runs, 30 RBI, 32 runs scored, and four stolen bases over 154 plate appearances. He will lose his awesome dual-eligibility barring a run of time at third base to close out the season, but he keeps the important position, and he’s shown that he is still an elite talent when healthy. Keep in mind that his “down” season last year was a 24 HR-21 SB campaign with 92 RBI despite half a season on the Marlins.

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<< Previous Article
Premium Article Daily Roundup: Around ... (07/24)
<< Previous Column
Fantasy Article Sporer Report: Road Wa... (07/17)
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Fantasy Article Sporer Report: The Jul... (07/31)
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Premium Article The Prospectus Hit Lis... (07/24)

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