If these players are on the waiver wire, they might be worth a look, depending on the format of your league.
Norichika Aoki, OF, Kansas City Royals
The Royals have been on quite a tear in August, and having their leadoff hitter doing what he’s supposed to be doing has certainly helped them in this stretch. Aoki, who had been quite a fantasy disappointment over the first four months of the season, is doing the two things the Royals and fantasy owners want him to do recently: get on base and steal bases. Since August started, Aoki is hitting .295/.386/.410 with 14 runs scored and six steals in just 18 games. Compare that to the 40 runs scored and nine steals Aoki had over the first 82 games of the season, and you start to wonder what your team could have looked like if he had been doing this since the start of the year. And while it’s true that non-elite speed gets devalued a bit in shallower mixed leagues, Aoki’s strength in batting average (or OBP, depending on what you fancy) and runs helps make him a player who should be owned across the board right now in rotisserie leagues. —Bret Sayre
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The Outcomes get ready for Scoresheet playoff season and answer reader/listener questions.
This week in the podcast:
The Outcomes get ready for Scoresheet playoff season. They take reader questions, decide whether to dump a contender, and then discuss budding superstar Tsuyoshi Wada. Then, the Outcomes describe what they look for in a playoff contender—strangely, no one ever suggests "a good team"—and compare building a playoff roster to setting weekly lineups. Finally, they take you through the best things they saw this week, featuring cyborg houseware, the vengeance of Erik Kratz, and the true feeling of anger and resignation that comes only after being forced to listen to Sean Casey and Billy Ripken for three hours. Playoff fever! It's probably not contagious!
What are the major topics of conversation among the analytically minded going to be come 2015?
My favorite question of the entire 2014 Saber Seminar came in extra innings.
The two-day 9-to-5 event had blown past 5 p.m. on getaway day, but everyone seemed to be having fun. So Effectively Wild co-host and Grantland writer Ben Lindbergh and FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron continued on with their valedictory Q&A.
One of the final questions came from an attendee named Phil DiPirro, who asked a natural going-away question. What did the two writers think would be the big topics when everybody reconvenes in Boston for the 2015 edition of the seminar on “Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball?”
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and Cardinals righty Frederis Parra.
Hitter of the Night: Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (Tampa, A+): 3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, HR.
Judge continues to prove that he’s an all-around complete hitter rather than just a hulking slugger with holes in his swing. His combination of a plus eye at the plate and unforced power for which he doesn’t have to sell out allows him to attack pitchers with a balanced approach and let his natural size and strength do the work for him.
Pitcher of the Night: Frederis Parra, RHP, Cardinals (GCL, R): 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, BB, 8 K.
Parra has some of the best stuff I’ve seen all season, especially for an 18-year-old, though he’s still learning how to bring it to the park each time out. He has the stuff to miss bats, but he doesn’t always do it, though he’s remained effective even when he doesn’t. As soon as he learns to be more consistent from start to start, he’ll move quickly.
After unveiling their prospect lists last week, Ben and Craig reveal those who just missed, plus dark horses, and surprising exclusions.
Last week, Craig and I each gave a breakdown of our top 50 dynasty prospects, doing our best Bret Sayre impressions as we looked for a cause to discuss where 2014 draftees should rank, how some recent injuries have impacted the dynasty landscape and more.
We have some of the reasoning behind our rankings in last week’s post, and we further discussed our feelings in last week’s episode of TINO, too. But there’s always more to talk about when it comes to rankings, and so Craig and I have decided to milk this subject for all it’s worth this week as well.
Part two in the position-by-position look at players who might be worth stashing in keeper leagues.
If there’s anything we love more than baseball around here on the fantasy staff, it’s collaborating with each other. So, at the behest of myself, we’re going to be doing one final group series of the year to close out the last seven weeks of the season. For this series, we will each select one player who is below 25 percent owned in either ESPN or Yahoo! leagues and who could be someone to consider grabbing before the end of the season with an eye toward a keeper spot. Now, given the depth we’re dealing with here, these recommendations are not for owners who can keep five or seven players from season-to-season—it’s more for those of you who play in leagues where keepers take up more than half of your roster (and possibly more, in the case of some recommendations contained within).
Arismendy Alcantara, Chicago Cubs
“It's been a debut befitting a hyped 22-year-old prospect for Alcantara, which is to say he's struggled mightily to adjust to big-league stuff. His .213/.280/.346 line and .240 TAv have barely produced value in even the deepest of leagues to date. But none of this should be of any concern to managers with an eye on 2015 and beyond. The pedigree is still that of a perennial top-10 second baseman, and his double-digit pop and 30-plus-steal potential has already flashed in the majors despite his overall struggles. While there is a possibility that the Cubs' surplus of organizational depth could land him in the outfield it's all but certain he'll be in Chicago's starting lineup on Opening Day next spring, and he'll be there with 2B eligibility. He's one of the best flyers around for a Rendon-esque leap in value in his first full season and he makes for a strong end-game waiver claim or FAAB target if he's available in your keeper league.” —Wilson Karaman
J.P. wasn't expecting much from the Brewers righty, but he's been pleasantly surprised.
Admittedly, this article stems from a recent article by our own Craig Goldstein and an ongoing series by Jason Parks. It revolves around the idea of making preseason projections and ultimately being wrong. Goldstein took the high road in his article last week and explained that baseball analysts can occasionally hide behind process as a way of lessening the impact of making an incorrect prediction. He writes:
I often think my reasons at the time were justified, and that just because it didn’t break my way, doesn’t mean I was wrong, just that it turned out differently. This is hiding behind “the process.” I was wrong, and good reasoning at the time or not, that needs to be owned.
Can you use the sound of the bat for actual sabermetric research? Heck yes you can.
Baseball is possessed of a rich and diverse collection of sounds. The shouting of the fans, their intermittent applause and jeers, and the crackling of the PA system all contribute to the cornucopia. Even limiting ourselves to the action on the field, baseball is aurally pleasing: the pulse of the ball pushing the air out of a glove, for instance.
First among all baseball sounds, without question, is the crack of the bat. Something about the whip striking the ball is downright electric. If you are like me, after watching so many thousands of baseball games, that crack still exercises a visceral and jolting effect on my nervous system. It is baseball’s leverage alarm: the contact could result in a routine groundout, or it could be a massive home run, but either way, the stakes just increased and you’d better pay attention to what happens next.