Does better plate discipline for hitters yield better results?
In this series, we’re investigating the outcomes when baseball players made what appear to have been New Year’s resolutions to do something differently in 2016. But unlike the rest of us, who try to waste less time watching TV or learn another language, we’re looking here at specific baseball outcomes. The first article considered batters who hit markedly more (or less) to the opposite field in 2016 than in 2015. The next two looked at batters who hit more or fewer balls on the ground and pitchers who induced more or fewer grounders.
And I’ll admit, framing these as New Year’s resolutions is a bit of a stretch. There probably aren’t a lot of baseball players who said last January 1 that what they really wanted to do in 2016 was to hit more balls in the air. Today, though, I’m going to tackle one that seems plausible: Better plate discipline.
A look at the menu of backstop options in the senior circuit.
The top end of the NL-only catcher pool wasn’t nearly as thin as the top end of the AL-only catcher pool going into the 2016 season. As my colleague Mike Gianella noted in his AL-Only Landscape for catchers, in the AL, the most expensive catchers heading into Opening Day were Brian McCann and Salvador Perez at $16. In the NL, four catchers went for the same or more: Buster Posey at $29, Kyle Schwarber at $25, Jonathan Lucroy at $19 and Travis d’Arnaud at $16. Unlike the AL, owners concerned about positional scarcity had multiple legitimate options for spending their auction dollars.
Rain delays, mascot races, Rickie Weeks, civil wars, and dopes.
January is a particularly low month for baseball fans. Pitchers and catchers won’t stretch for a month. It’s the time of year when we mewl for some baseball, any baseball, heck bad baseball, just so long as it is recognizable as such. It is a privilege of distance to forget a thing’s flaws. After all, sometimes baseball is slow and plodding. Sometimes it features a bunch of pitching changes. Sometimes it features the Padres.
The average time of game in 2014 was three hours and eight minutes; it dropped to two hours and 56 minutes in 2015 with the league’s pace-of-play rules. Using the Play Index’s time-of-game data, we know that for the 2,428 games in 2016 (185 of which went to extra innings), the average time of game crept back up, not matching its 2014 levels, but generally slowing:
You might want to someone else draft or buy these players in your leagues this spring.
Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Molina was panned in this space last year, and the market was down on him. We were out to lunch. In 15-team mixed leagues, Molina finished 108th overall per the PFM, beating his NFBC ADP of 258 by a fair amount. But last year isn’t this year, and many of the concerns that dogged Molina in 2016 carry over into this season. Much of Molina’s value is predicated on his batting average. While Molina certainly does have a history of .300+ seasons, 2016 was his first campaign over .300 since 2013. He hasn’t stolen more than three bases since 2012 and more importantly hasn’t had more than eight home runs since 2013. Batting average tends to fluctuate, and betting on another .300+ season from an older, slow-footed catcher is suboptimal.
Is there an inefficiency to be exploited by taking so-so center fielders and playing them in a corner?
The Mariners have added Jarrod Dyson and Mitch Haniger to their outfield this offseason and they already had Leonys Martin. The Rays traded Drew Smyly for a group of prospects, which they insisted (to at least some extent) include Mallex Smith, and they already had Kevin Kiermaier. I think the Mariners and Rays made these trades because they thought high-end corner outfield defense was undervalued.
Is the future Oriole or the future Indian a better long-term bet to help your fantasy team in the squat?
We’ve mercifully reached the end of catchers week, during which the staff covered fantasy’s worst position from every angle. Most of our dynasty coverage rolled out yesterday and I’m here to close it out with Round 4 in our Tale of the Tape series. This one tackles the 17th and 22nd best options—fourth and fifth among prospects—according to Bret’s dynasty catcher rankings. As those ranks imply, there’s not much gap between Mejia and Sisco. Let’s see if we can find some separation.
New York may keep Curtis Granderson, Baltimore is unlikely to keep Mark Trumbo, and Matt Wieters is looking for a deal.
Mets may hold onto Granderson
Earlier this week there were rumors that the Mets were trying to find a solution to their outfield situation, which is awfully crowded. One of the players mentioned in that piece who could’ve potentially been traded was Curtis Granderson. However, if Sandy Alderson’s comments to ESPN’s Adam Rubin are any indication, it appears as if the Mets are feeling a bit hesitant to trade Granderson away.
Which of these Buckeye State backstops is a better long-term bet for fantasy owners?
The year was 2014. Taylor Swift was running wild on the Billboard charts, Transformers was inexplicably tops at the box-office, and the state of Ohio boasted two of the best young catchers in baseball. Devin Mesoraco was being compared to Johnny Bench after blasting 25 bombs and slashing .273/.359/.534 in 440 plate appearances. His cross-state counterpart, Yan Gomes, broke out as well, smacking 21 homers with a .785 OPS and stellar defense. Then just as quickly as the hype train got started, the wheels came off, pretty much literally.
Injuries, regression, or some combination of both have ravaged the promise that Mesoraco and Gomes carried only two short years ago. That said, both players offer interesting bounce-back potential that could present decent value, especially in dynasty leagues. Let the Battle for Ohio (or at least for catchers in their late 20’s that are both coming off injury riddled seasons) begin!