Surveying the ninth-inning situations around the league.
We’re back to some semi-interesting news over the last week, with one of the top closers taken this spring being ousted from his role. Additionally, we have some injury return news as well as a few updates on our favorite situations. As always, keep up with everything on the closer grid. Quick programming note on the grid, I have recently moved to a new apartment and haven’t had WiFi all weekend, which is why I’ve been slow to update it. It should be back up to regular pace on Wednesday. Now, on to the news.
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Every year the Orioles win and every year it's classified as a surprise, but maybe it shouldn't be.
One could make the argument that, nearing the halfway mark of the 2016 season, there are only two major (positive) surprise teams in baseball: the Texas Rangers and the Baltimore Orioles. The Rangers aren’t even that surprising; they’re having the kind of breakout season that makes the skepticism difficult to remember. The team is sequencing its runs like a crooked dealer, their touted young players like Nomar Mazara and Jurickson Profar are ready ahead of schedule, and the pitching staff ... okay, the pitching staff still doesn’t make any sense. But it wasn’t hard to conceive of a good Texas Rangers team, even if many experts chose not to.
Not so the Orioles. After leaping out of the gate with a seven-game winning streak, the club has since held at an 87-win pace, and enjoys one of the best records in baseball. Despite PECOTA treating them as a sub-.500 team going forward, their banked victories still give them a coin flip’s toss at the playoffs. Real or fake, they can’t be dismissed.
What can Starting Lineup figurines and Abraham Lincoln teach us about baseball research?
Somewhere at my parents’ house, there’s a Starting Lineup figurine of Jose Canseco, depicting him during his Bash Brothers days with the Oakland A’s. I got it for Christmas one year back in the days when Jose Canseco was my favorite player. I would have been nine or ten at the time and he was ... let’s just say the words “Jose Canseco” evoked a different image back in the late 80s/early 90s than they do now. Canseco had won the 1986 Rookie of the Year award at 21 and the 1988 MVP at 23, hitting 40 home runs and stealing 40 bases in the same year. At the time, Canseco seemed like the guy we would all look back on some day and tell our kids that we saw him play.
Notes on prospects who stood out yesterday, including Raimel Tapia, Josh Hader, Daz Cameron, and Adonis Medina.
Prospect of the Day: Raimel Tapia, OF, Colorado Rockies (Double-A Hartford): 4-for-5, 2 R, 2B, SB, CS.
After what would best be described as a forgettable April, in which he hit .214, Tapia has been white-hot with the bat, hitting .348./400/.485 since May 2nd. He’s not immune to the occasional poor at-bat, but this young man can really hit, and assuming his future is in the hitter’s utopia that is Coors Field, he’s capable of putting up gaudy numbers while playing a quality corner outfield.
A look at how the wise guys spent their money in expert leagues this week.
Welcome to The FAAB Review, the series that looks at the expert bidding in LABR mixed, Tout Wars NL, and Tout Wars AL every week in an effort to try and help you, the Baseball Prospectus reader, with your fantasy baseball bidding needs. Bret Sayre and I participate in LABR mixed while I have a team in Tout Wars NL, so I can provide some insight on the bids and the reasoning behind them. LABR uses a $100 budget with one-dollar minimum bids, while the Tout Wars leagues use a $1,000 budget with zero-dollar minimum bids. I will also be including Bret’s winning bids in Tout Wars mixed auction league where applicable.
LABR and Tout Wars both use a bidding deadline of Sunday at midnight ET.
The Situation: Nationals co-ace Stephen Strasburg is suffering from recurring back and rib problems. Washington has sputtered, bringing the Mets back into the National League East race, right as New York comes to town for a three-game set. Enter Lucas Giolito, the best right-handed pitching prospect baseball has seen since, well, Stephen Strasburg.