Adding another veteran option with upside might thus be tempting. The Jays have some recent history of buying low on players with makeup concerns (Colby Rasmus) or performance-enhancing drug ties (Melky Cabrera), and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweeted Thursday that they might be prepared to go bargain hunting in the same bin.
Singleton might be squeezed out of Houston's outfield, and Ryan Vogelsong might be squeezed into the Giants rotation.
Jonathan Singleton could be odd man out in Houston
The Astros outfield has been in a fluid state during the past week, with the club acquiring Evan Gattis from Atlanta, bidding farewell to Dexter Fowler and, on Tuesday, formally introducing Colby Rasmus as the latest addition to the club. Assuming the Astros are done swapping outfielders, Rasmus and George Springer are virtual locks to be penciled into the lineup come Opening Day, with the final outfield spot to be sorted out come spring training. However, general manager Jeff Luhnow tipped his hand at Tuesday’s press conference, indicating that Jake Marisnick stands to be the front-runner to receive the bulk of playing time at that spot.
“I got to say, based on how Jake did at the end of last year, he’s going to be strong consideration for a starting spot,” Luhnow said. “But you know, I think part of the theme of how we’re constructing the roster is there’s options at every position. … Based on what Jake did second half of last year with us, yeah, he deserves every opportunity to be a starting outfielder, and he’ll probably get (that opportunity).”
A closer look at the keystone options in the senior circuit.
We have explored the catching and first base landscapes in the National League the past two weeks, and this week we will take a deeper look at the state of the second base position.
If you are searching for power sources, you may struggle finding them from this player pool. Only two members of the current pool of second basemen hit more than 12 homers last season, as Neil Walker and Anthony Rendon led the field with 23 and 21 long flies, respectively. You will also not find a surplus of speed from this position, as only Dee Gordon (64 steals) and Kolten Wong (20 steals) cracked 20 swipes a season ago. While there are very few fantasy stars, there are several second- and middle-tier options at second base that may not produce jaw-dropping stats, but have shown consistency in recent years delivering production across multiple categories, which makes them quite valuable. As J.P. Breen wrote in his State of the Position article on Monday, the landscape of the second-base position is subtly changing but very deep, and this holds true in the NL.
Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league-dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, where 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 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or only formats.
Can we improve on PECOTA's forecast for a hitter just by looking at which pitches the opposing catcher called?
The fastball is the meat and potatoes of the batter-pitcher contest. Variations in fastball velocity and movement explain a lot of the differences between pitchers, and a good heater can set up a whole arsenal of other pitches to boot. Fastballs are the most commonly thrown pitch by a wide margin, and so they determine to a great extent the results of any given matchup.
It’s no surprise then that pitchers tend to vary how much they use their fastballs on a hitter-by-hitter basis. Some hitters see fastballs rarely, others overwhelmingly, and the difference between hitters tells us something about their power (as well as their proficiency against fastballs). Being that they are the main offering of most pitchers, fastballs are the easiest to tee off against, and so they are thrown more rarely against powerful hitters.
You know the drill by now. Two names that land back-to-back on Bret’s dynasty list for the position get thrown under the microscope—this time from a dynasty perspective. Today we’ll entertain quasi-starting options Marcus Semien and Nick Franklin. It’s worth noting that Semien will pick up shortstop eligibility relatively quickly, but for now he’s a second-sacker.
What losing the All-Star game means for Baltimore.
Back in July 2013, news leaked that Baltimore was interested in hosting the 2016 MLB All-Star Game. The O’s had discussed internally the idea of hosting the multi-day event with the hopes of showcasing Camden Yards during its 25th season. The last time the O’s hosted the Midsummer Classic was in 1993, and early media reports noted the stars seemingly aligning in Baltimore’s favor:
The site generally alternates between National League and American League cities, and with Cincinnati hosting in 2015, the AL would likely be up the following year.
Last fall, the Diamondbacks, Cubs, and Red Sox all finished last in their respective divisions. The Diamondbacks dismissed manager Kirk Gibson in what was widely seen as an appropriate move given the franchise’s decline and Gibson’s grittiness-bordering-on-violence. The Cubs fired manager Rick Renteria, not because of performance but because Joe Maddon became available. Public reaction was one of uncomfortable sympathy; nobody was out for Renteria’s head, but c’mon, it’s Joe Freaking Maddon. The Red Sox retained John Farrell, whose team severely underperformed expectations. Surely he benefitted here from a wildly successful 2013.
Point being, keeping or dismissing a manager is a complicated decision, in which on-field results have to be weighed against history, context, and intangibles like leadership and respect. But of the tangible results, which types truly matter, and how much does each shade the picture? I aimed to build a model to answer that question.
For my data, I included all seasons from 1996 (first full season of the Wild Card Era) to 2013, using information I could find within or derive from the Lahman database. This includes things like win percentage, playoff appearances, year-to-year improvement, and awards won. I opted to include every opening day manager (i.e. no interim guys, whose fates are often pre-determined) and used my data to predict whether or not each would appear as manager for the same franchise next year. I chose to fit a decision-tree model with boosting. (For those interested, the final tuning parameters chosen by repeated CV were: shrinkage=0.01, #trees=350, and interaction depth=3.) I excluded the two expansion-team managers because they messed up variables that relied on previous seasons, and because I felt they deserved unique categorization but were too few to be distinguished by the model. I also excluded 1999 Astros manager Larry Dierker, whose health forced a mid-season hiatus, resulting in two separate 1999 stints in the Lahman database.