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March 22, 2010

Fantasy Beat

Hot Spots: First Base, Third Base, and Designated Hitter

by Michael Street

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Toronto PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
Designated Hitter Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng 1B 3B DH All
Adam Lind 25 678 30 89 96 2 .281 .350 .489 18% 7% 1.73 +32 –89 2.03* 0 0 20 90
Lyle Overbay 33 524 17 59 57 1 .252 .347 .425 18% 12% 1.64 +48 –152 1.90* 70 0 20 90
Randy Ruiz 32 359 13 43 42 1 .242 .308 .424 28% 8% 1.79 –9 +22 1.85* 30 0 50 80
Travis Snider 22 562 25 74 71 4 .253 .335 .463 28% 10% 1.69 +24 –80 2.08* 0 0 0 0
Vernon Wells 31 619 18 77 69 11 .264 .324 .421 12% 7% 1.61 +1 –3 2.14* 0 0 10 90
Heater team expert: Avg for First Base .275 .359 .477 17% 11% 1.74 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Marc Hulet Avg for Third Base .269 .339 .434 18% 9% 1.61 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Desig. Hitter .263 .350 .468 19% 11% 1.78 Rng = Range New downgrade

* = Range at primary fielding position

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Adam Lind 23 6 2 1 1 .261 .292 .565 4/1 0/0
Lyle Overbay 17 6 3 0 0 .353 .542 .529 3/7 0/0
Randy Ruiz 37 15 2 0 2 .405 .450 .622 6/3 0/1
Travis Snider 33 9 2 0 3 .273 .342 .606 10/4 0/0
Vernon Wells 23 9 1 0 1 .391 .417 .565 5/1 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

Adam Lind’s 2009 slash line of .305/.370/.562 2009 was Toronto’s best ever full-time DH OPS. Alex Rios’s departure has opened up an OF spot for Lind, despite his stonework glove. This puts top offensive prospect Travis Snider in the DH picture, but Snider’s spring hitting has made that picture increasingly dim.

Snider exploded to hit 3 HRs in 2 days this weekend, but even that wasn’t enough for Cito Gaston to confirm his spot on the Opening Day roster, let alone as the starting DH. That could be because Snider was only hitting .200 before that outburst, and is showing a 70% contact rate. Instead, starting honors could go to Randy Ruiz, who hit .313/.385/.635 in 130 PAs last season, which including an elevated 30% strikeout and 45% hit rates, along with an unsustainable 31.3% HR/FB rate. Though he’s hit well against Triple-A pitching, PECOTA sees those numbers and doesn’t see Ruiz coming anywhere near his 2009 MLB production, not even in his 90th percentile.

After Lind and Ruiz, the Toronto DH pickings are mighty slim. Lyle Overbay’s decreasing ABs against lefties have improved his offensive ratios, but he’s already slotted for 1B and can’t platoon with Ruiz. Vernon Wells’ fluctuating hit and contact rates have led to his inconsistent recent performance, and he’ll need to hit above his 70th PECOTA percentile to be a decent DH option. Snider and Lind remain the best long-term fantasy DH options, but only Lind is a lock for enough playing time to be a good draft day bet in standard leagues; keeper owners will want to stash Snider away.

 

Milwaukee PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
Third Base Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng 1B 3B DH All
Craig Counsell 39 261 3 29 21 2 .260 .346 .381 13% 12% 1.40 +16 –63 2.67 0 10 0 20
Mat Gamel 24 215 6 24 25 1 .242 .319 .402 36% 12% 1.75 +19 –62 2.64 0 0 0 0
Casey McGehee 27 502 15 57 69 1 .259 .322 .411 18% 8% 1.64 –12 +30 2.62 0 90 0 90
Heater team expert: Avg for First Base .275 .359 .477 17% 11% 1.74 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Michael Street Avg for Third Base .269 .339 .434 18% 9% 1.61 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Desig. Hitter .263 .350 .468 19% 11% 1.78 Rng = Range New downgrade

 

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Craig Counsell 24 7 2 0 0 .292 .346 .375 2/2 0/1
Casey McGehee 35 7 2 0 0 .200 .243 .257 8/2 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

Milwaukee’s enjoyed small-market success by building from within, and Mat Gamel should be the next farm-team star. Last season, he had the perfect chance to shine after Bill Hall staggered out of the gate, but Gamel couldn’t capitalize, turning in an awful 42% strikeout rate and a .242 average. His .288 TAv hinted at his potential, however, so the Crew hoped he’d compete with Casey McGehee for the 3B spot in spring training.

Instead, Gamels’ torn lat muscle will leave him off the Opening Day roster, giving the job to Rookie of the Year candidate McGehee, who finished 2009 with a .305 TAv despite knee tendinitis. Offseason arthroscopic knee surgery made McGehee healthy, but it’s not likely he’ll put up numbers like he did in 2009. Though McGehee’s walk and strikeout rates matched his minor-league averages, his power production didn’t—his best SLG down on the farm was .429. And in the second half, McGehee slugged just .469. PECOTA sees him slipping back below peer average, but he only needs to reach his 60th percentile to exceed that average.

Gamel will be waiting in Triple-A if McGehee struggles, and the increased work should help solidify his skills. Craig Counsell is valuable to the Crew for his veteran presence and versatility, but he’s really only a good fantasy play at shortstop. McGehee will have a fairly short leash once Gamel is healthy, but should give you a decent batting average without last year’s power.

 

San Francisco PECOTA 2007-09 Scoresheet Short-Term PT%
First Base Age PA HR R RBI SB BA OBP SLG K% BB% TB/H vRH vLH Rng 1B 3B DH All
Aubrey Huff 33 589 19 69 78 2 .270 .339 .441 14% 8% 1.68 +35 –87 1.85 70 0 0 70
Travis Ishikawa 26 73 2 9 9 1 .254 .320 .388 25% 8% 1.50 +20 –73 1.87 10 0 0 10
Buster Posey 23 104 3 13 12 0 .255 .337 .404 24% 0% 1.00 –16 +37 10 0 0 40
Pablo Sandoval 23 641 24 89 90 4 .314 .368 .512 12% 7% 1.63 –3 +7 1.83 10 0 0 95
Heater team expert: Avg for First Base .275 .359 .477 17% 11% 1.74 vRH = OPSvR Figures by Heater
Paul Bugala Avg for Third Base .269 .339 .434 18% 9% 1.61 vLH = OPSvL New upgrade
  Avg for Desig. Hitter .263 .350 .468 19% 11% 1.78 Rng = Range New downgrade

 

SPRING TRAINING AB H 2B 3B HR BA OBP SLG K/BB SB/CS
Aubrey Huff 30 12 3 0 3 .400 .486 .800 3/5 0/1
Travis Ishikawa 7 1 0 0 0 .143 .143 .143 1/0 0/0
Buster Posey 34 13 3 0 1 .382 .400 .559 5/1 0/0
Pablo Sandoval 33 8 3 0 1 .242 .242 .424 1/0 0/0 Spring Training stats per Heater

Needing a power-hitting first baseman, the Giants settled for Aubrey Huff after failing to sign Adam LaRoche. Huff, however, is a lefty “in a park that swallows left-handed hitters not named Barry Bonds whole,” as HEATER team expert Paul Bugala puts it. Additionally, Huff struggles to hit for power against southpaws, with a career 72-point platoon split in SLG that undercuts the power he’s supposed to bring.

The other 1B candidates’ Scoresheet splits show they can’t hit lefties, either—and Travis Ishikawa can’t hit anyone for power. Shifting lefty-mashing Posey to 1B makes little sense for his catching development, but swinging the bat rather than ride the pine will help his hitting. Based on Posey’s spring-training performance, Bugala sees Posey getting ABs in a double switch or occasional start at 1B.

The playing time will help Posey’s value more than the qualification, just as Pablo Sandoval’s 1B qualification shouldn’t change where you’ll play him. Eventually, Bugala sees John Bowker in a 1B platoon with Huff if Bowker can handle big-league lefties the way he did at Triple-A. Huff may not even succeed against righties, having slugged over .450 against them once in the past three seasons: in 2008, when a spike in fly ball and HR rate gave him his second-best SLG and HR production ever. PECOTA doesn’t foresee productive ratios for Huff no matter who he’s facing, giving him until his 70th percentile to get above peer average. Huff will have decent value in NL-only leagues, but remains a fringy option in all but the deepest mixed leagues.

Related Content:  Casey McGehee,  Mat Gamel,  Dh,  Lyle Overbay,  Travis Snider,  Adam Lind,  SLG

18 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links

leites

Cito Gaston was not as coy about Snider's immediate future as [General Manager] Anthopoulos was prior to the 13-3 rout over the Orioles. Gaston did not hesitate when asked if there was any way Snider would not make the Opening Day roster.

"I wouldn't think so," Gaston said. "But it's still early. He's playing hard and he's working hard. He's doing everything we ask him to do. Certainly he's a front-runner for us, too, because he's part of our future here."

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20100318&content_id=8828194&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

Mar 22, 2010 08:17 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

leites--

Thanks for the link; I read the same article. As I read it (after untangling three straight "not"s), Gaston still isn't confirming that Snider is either on the roster or in the starting lineup.

Right after he says he doesn't think Snider won't make the OD roster (not the strongest of endorsements), he hedges his bets by saying "it's still early" and that Snider remains in their plans. Plus, as the writer indicates, Anthopoulos has some say in the decision, and he wasn't heartily endorsing Snider, either. These could all be mind games, of course, and Snider's going to play eventually--the question, as ever in fantasy, is when.

As I said in my writeup, Snider's one of the two best long-term DH options (one problem is that he and Lind are both defensive liabilities), but his short-term future is still a question mark.

Thanks for the comment!

Mar 22, 2010 09:00 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

Snider's short-term abilities may be debatable, but he is still Toronto's best option for LF this year. And maybe their best for RF as well, if Edwin Encarnacion starts the year on the DL.

Mar 22, 2010 10:18 AM
rating: 0
 
leites

Michael -

I see your point of view on this, but on the other hand Anthopoulos made his more non-committal comments before the 3 HRs in two games. And as Wagman pointed out, if Encarnacion isn't ready, I would think they really won't have much of a choice but to start Snider somewhere.

Also, given Snider's performance in AAA last year, what would be gained by sending him back down there? He's already proved himself at that level.

Mar 22, 2010 10:42 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

True enough on all accounts, leites and Wagman. Remember that I'm projecting short-term PT, not long term--again, Snider is undoubtedly going to land at the MLB level, at least until he proves himself unable to handle it.

I would disagree that Snider's the "best" option anywhere in the field, due to his defensive liabilities, but he's their top prospect and is absolutely in their long-term plans. And if Encarnacion is hurt, then that should bump up Snider's PT appropriately, and Snider's a better COF option than, say, Randy Ruiz :)

As for a possible demotion, there's plenty to be gained by a temporary stint at AAA. If it's the choice between, say, a 20-40% share of the PT at DH and full-time work at AAA, a demotion might be in order to give him consistent ABs. That's often the right decision, esp. when a kid's just 22, like Snider, and is still looking up and down at the plate. I'd rather see consistency than a sudden explosion like this, and it's important to note that Snider went 0-2 in the next game before getting pulled. That doesn't tell me that this is a guy who's locked in or who has the confidence of his manager.

It's hard to read manager's minds, and one of the things that makes these kinds of discussions interesting is that only Gaston and Anthopoulos know for sure what will happen with Snider. Reasonable folks can, and will, disagree, and that's fine with me.

But when I read a manager saying he "wouldn't think" Snider wouldn't make the roster by Opening Day, right after the kid hits 3 HRs in two days, I don't read that as an enthusiastic endorsement, especially when Gaston follows it up by saying "it's early," when it's just over two weeks to Opening Day. Too early to commit a roster spot to your top hitting prospect? As I said before, Gaston may be playing head games with Snider and the other DH candidates, or he may just be speaking honestly. If I had that crystal ball to know which one it was, I'd be making a lot more money than I do now :D

And of larger concern, again, is Snider's share of PT. When Gaston's unwilling to unequivocally commit a roster spot to Snider, it doesn't scream to me that Snider's a lock for most, or any, of the ABs at DH. Do with that what you will in your draft, but I'm not confident that Snider's a great investment at this point.

Anyway, I appreciate all the feedback and the comments, and thanks for taking the time to express your opinions.

Mar 22, 2010 11:03 AM
 
R.A.Wagman

Michael, your points are, on the main, valid, but for one common misconception: Snider's "defensive liabilities". The fact is, that while he looks like he would be a poor outfielder, he has decent range and a very strong arm. He already has a few baserunner kills this spring, and I seem to recall a few from last year as well. Both offensively and defensively, Travis Snider is the Jays' best option in LF. Lind is a defensive liability in left. Ruiz will be platooned, and Snider should sit against some of the league's tougher lefties (Cliff Lee, Jon Lester, etc). When Encarnacion is healthy, Jose Bautista will probably play the majority of the games in right field and Snider will be the primary LF. Lind will DH and substitute in the outfield corners and Ruiz will play some DH and some first base against lefties as Overbay sits those out.

Mar 22, 2010 11:32 AM
rating: 0
 
leites

Michael - I have Snider in a dynasty keeper league (40-man rosters, keep as many of them as you want from year-to-year), so the playing time issue is not an existential one for me. On the other hand, at the moment, my only back-ups in LF are Desmond Jennings and Josh Redick, so I will be more than a little annoyed if Snider starts the year in the minors. :)

Mar 22, 2010 12:05 PM
rating: 0
 
leites

Snider went 2-3 in RFD today (did not strike out), pulling his batting average for spring training up to .306. If you are right, wonder how well he has to hit to force the issue?

Mar 22, 2010 12:27 PM
rating: 0
 
R.A.Wagman

worth noting that both hits were against Nate Robertson - a lefty!

Mar 22, 2010 12:45 PM
rating: 0
 
leites

He also stole a base :)

Mar 22, 2010 13:38 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

Clearly, Snider's still a keeper, but you could be SOL if he starts the season in the minors :) And, yes, if he keeps hitting like this, it should make the question moot.

Mar 22, 2010 17:20 PM
 
garethbluejays1

Not sure whether Snider will be jerked around as Lind was before breaking out last year. Snider has the potential that Ruiz and Overbay don't. Neither of the thirtysomethings will be important to Toronto very shortly.

Mar 22, 2010 14:39 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

Couldn't agree more about Snider's potential here, and Toronto would be unwise (to put it mildly) to think they're going to get much more out of Ruiz or Overbay, or to put their stock in him.

How they play this year will say a lot about how Toronto will be in the Anthopoulos Era, and if they can compete in a tough AL East.

Thanks for the comment!

Mar 22, 2010 17:24 PM
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

Wagman--

I don't know where you get your fielding info, but pretty much every fielding metric I can find rates Snider below average:

UZR/150: 2009 LF (0.1) 2009 RF (-14.3) [his 2008 13-game LF (-10.8) and 7-game RF (51.5) are statistically insignificant]

2008 OF RF/9: 1.53 (league average 2.32)
2009 OF RF/9: 1.86 (league average 2.33)

OF RF/G in minors: 1.60 (league average around 2.0)
OF Fld% in minors: .929

BP consistently gives him negative rankings in defense, with 2010 projected at -2 runs for 2010. BP 2010 notes that Lind and Snider "barely register on the defensive spectrum" (Lind is also projected at -2 on defense).

Which stats are you using? Occasional kills don't really measure strong defense (Snider had 3 assists and 4 errors in 2009).

As for the rest of your scenarios, they could certainly come to pass, and I think you see at least some of them (like Ruiz & Overbay's PT split) reflected in the Heater grid above.

Thanks again for all the great ideas here!

Mar 22, 2010 17:20 PM
 
R.A.Wagman

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't using any metrics at all - just the old canard that fielding metrics generally require three years of data to show anything useful.
I think a lot of Snider's early career fielding issues can be summed up considering his general lack of confidence, the Jays' groundball leaning staff, and other correctable flaws. Not that I think he'll ever be a Gold Glover, but I think he can - and will - be an average corner outfielder, instead of a defensive liability, once he gets consistent playing time.

Mar 23, 2010 04:35 AM
rating: 0
 
leites

.306/.366/.611 is not a bad line for spring training, 22-year-old or otherwise . . .

Mar 22, 2010 17:42 PM
rating: 0
 
leites

This is an interesting take on the Snider/Gaston relationship

http://mlb.fanhouse.com/2010/03/22/attitude-adjustment-key-for-jays-snider/

Mar 22, 2010 20:40 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Michael Street
BP staff

Very cool piece, leites, and sure does seem like Snider's ready to perform this year, and I can see those anger issues in his BP picture, which oozes swagger and cockiness.

Thanks for adding this to the discussion!

Mar 22, 2010 21:03 PM
 
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