Rob Manfred plans to do what he wants in 2018, Eric Hosmer doesn't need a decade, and Derek Norris is expendable.
Manfred and MLB hope to push ahead with rule changes
Commissioner Rob Manfred announced Tuesday that there will be no major rule changes for the upcoming season, but several could be in line for 2018—whether or not the players’ association is willing to agree to them. Most of these discussed rule changes are aimed at improving the pace of play, such as adding a pitch clock, limiting mound visits, and changing the strike zone.
Taking a deep dive into the Cardinals right-hander's repertoire, sequencing, tunnels, and overall approach.
In one sense, Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez is an easy pitcher to understand. He can touch 100 miles per hour with his fastball. He throws both a four-seamer and a sinker, has a slider and a changeup to go with them, and all four pitches could be counted as above average. He’s fiercely competitive and a great athlete. Bob Gibson was a bigger guy than Martinez at a time when everyone else on the field was smaller. Gibson had only two dominant pitches, and rarely even bothered with others. He’s also a Hall of Famer. Still, it’s really hard not to compare Martinez to Gibson.
In another sense, though, there’s a whole lot we don’t know about Martinez. No, that’s not true. We know a ton about Martinez, far more than we would have known 10 years ago. Yet, we would have been much more confident in our assessments of Martinez then than we are now. Sometimes, even valuable new information only makes the essential truth about something feel further beyond our reach.
Notes on Connor Seabold, Colton Hock, Quinn Brodey, and possibly other guys who sound like they wear critter pants.
Connor Seabold, RHP, Cal State Fullerton
Seabold is a slender right-hander with a relatively narrow frame that has some projection to it, though there isn’t quite as much there as you’d expect out of a 6-foot-2 kid that’s barely scraping 175. The delivery features elasticity and notable coordination, with fluidity through a high, sweeping leg kick. There’s notable spine tilt into a deep arm swing, and he’ll get late on occasion. But the arm gets compact and is lightning quick to release. He repeats pretty well to drive above-average command projection. He lived off the fastball in this start, as he has in previous starts I’ve seen of his, sitting 91-93 all night with an occasional cutter in the 87-88 range. The pitch gets quality sink and finishes with some late life, and he was able to move it around and above the zone consistently all night. The command was especially strong to the arm side in this start, though his feel to work the whole of the zone was on display. He worked in the occasional upper-70s breaking ball, which can show a fairly round shape. He mostly deployed it as a chaser, and he struggled to start it consistently enough in the zone when he did. He dropped one would-be changeup at 83, as well, though it was a lost pitch. The fastball and feel are the draws here, as his heat is the type that can miss barrels consistently without premium velocity. I’ve yet to see the makings of a strikeout pitch from him, but he projects well as a durable ground-baller who generates weak contact.
Our fantasy gang identifies value picks on the bump.
Rich Hill, Los Angeles Dodgers
With an early ADP of about 130, Rich Hill stands out to me as a guy that has a good shot to return value. Last year, Hill finished in the top 60 in Yahoo 5x5 scoring, the 16th most productive starting pitcher, in just 110 innings pitched. It’s a testament to how well he pitched in those innings. Hill had a 2.12 ERA and 2.39 FIP, with a strikeout rate just under 30%. He had the second best ERA among starting pitchers who threw at least 100 IP last year, with the fourth best FIP. Since making his return to the majors in late 2015, Hill has a 2.00 ERA, 2.37 FIP and 30.3% strikeout rate in 24 starts, spanning 550 batters faced.
I know the profile is weird, but I don’t think this was a fluke. Batters just can't seem to differentiate his pitches at all, and he’s great at playing his fastball and curveball off each other, hiding each one behind the other. Hill’s deception has helped him become elite at preventing batters from squaring him up. Via xStats.org, Hill’s Statcast derived exit velocity and batted-ball angle expected slugging last year was .307, the third lowest in baseball among pitchers with at least 100 IP. The only two ahead of him were Clayton Kershaw (.302) and Jose Fernandez (.303), and the MLB average is .417. Batters rarely make loud contact against Hill. Combining weak contact with his ability to miss bats at a high level is a huge recipe for success.
The Outcoes take listener questions and discuss the factors they consider when preparing player lists for the Scoresheet draft.
The Three True Outcomes podcast is here with our third episode of 2017. We take some listener questions about playing players out of position, potential trades and about draft prep. We spent most of the time talking about preparing for the draft and the ways that we would build player lists and the factors we would consider. We wrap with the best things we saw this week and we look forward to some upcoming pop culture events as well.
A look at where rotation arms have been selected in drafts held to date.
We have now reached the starting pitching portion of our fantasy preview, and obviously this is the most comprehensive position on the fantasy landscape. A lot will change over spring training as injuries inevitably happen. For now, though, this is where we stand in terms of ADP. As always, this data comes from NFBC drafts and the average round reflects a 15-team league. This is a big one, so let’s jump right in.
Which of these outfielders is the better long-term fantasy bet?
We’re more than a week into our coverage of the grass, and I’m here to help close it out with a Tale of the Tape between the Jackie Bradley and Joc Pederson, the 38th and 41st ranked players in Bret’s dynasty outfielder rankings.
Which young hitters does PECOTA see as having breakout potential in 2017?
“Breakout” can mean different things to different people. It can mean a prospect or untested young big leaguer establishing himself as a valuable regular. It can mean a relative unknown becoming an impact player. It can mean a well-known star making the leap to full-blown superstar, perhaps even following up a “breakout” one year with an even bigger “breakout” the next. Your own definition may vary, but in PECOTA’s case “breakout” is all about out-performing track records.
Our staff feels these players might be overvalued in dynasty formats this spring.
Manuel Margot, San Diego Padres
In terms of real baseball value, Manuel Margot is one of the more exciting outfield prospects in the game. He’s right on the verge of contributing in a meaningful way, and should do it in most areas of the game. He’ll hit a little, he’ll fly on the bases and his athleticism and defensive instincts will play well in San Diego’s spacious outfield. Unfortunately, much of that skill set doesn’t translate into fantasy value.
We, at Baseball Prospectus, have been talking about outfielders for a while now (seven days and change to be exact, depending on when you are reading this) and the party continues to rage on. Yet before we rage, we shall calibrate—since rankings aren’t useful without knowing what you’re reading. The list you are about to read here presupposes a 16-team standard (read: 5x5 roto) dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. So feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2016 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or -only formats.
As one grows older, it becomes a habit to search for baseball players who fasten themselves like tent stakes into the past. Rickey Henderson, my favorite player as a boy, was still around stealing bases and hunting for jobs when I was out of college, hunting for jobs. Roger Clemens held out as the last active member of RBI Baseball for Nintendo, 20 years after its release. Bartolo Colon remains the last link of Major League Baseball to the city of Montreal. These players serve as a connective tissue between generations and eras, keeping one fastened to youth for just a little longer.