The first-year Tiger has a longer résumé in the ninth inning, but is he a better value than the bearded Giant on draft day?
It happens in every draft. That moment when, despite your best intentions to avoid forking over a draft pick for a closer, you realize you’ll probably need to at least be somewhat competitive in saves if you’re going to make a run at your standard league title. And while I prefer waiting and speculating on saves as much as the next guy, there’s very definite value to be had in grabbing an established closer to anchor your bullpen in these formats. When that moment comes, and you’re actually going to sacrifice a pick to make this scenario a reality, it’s really important that you come through with the safest option possible to bag you the saves you need.
So, let’s take a look at a couple of the “safer” proven-closer types you’re likely to encounter around the middle rounds of your draft. In one corner, Joe Nathan, the newly signed and minted closer for the Detroit Tigers. In the other, Sergio Romo, another veteran coming off of his first full season saving games in San Francisco. Nathan is currently the seventh closer going off the board in NFBC drafts, with Romo following as the ninth closer about two rounds later. Over in Paul’s astute breakdown of relief pitcher tiers, Nathan checks in as a four-star option, while Romo leads the pack of three-star options. Let’s take a look at how they stack up, and see whether Nathan is really worth the slightly higher price on draft day.
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Which of these two high-ceiling outfielders should you target this spring?
In today’s “Tale of the Tape,” we’ll take a gander at a couple of American League sluggers and see if we can shed some light on what looks to be a very tough decision for fantasy owners. Should you be more willing to invest in a bounce-back season by 2012’s would-be AL Rookie of the Year (non-Mike Trout division), Oakland’s Yoenis Cespedes? Or is it a better bet to bank on a breakout first full season from the current reigning AL Rookie of the Year, Tampa Bay’s Wil Myers?
Cespedes burst onto the scene in his stateside debut two years ago with a scorching .311 TAv as an already-in-his-prime rookie, flashing 30/20 potential and solid on-base skills despite some issues with nagging injuries. Last season was a different story, though, as nearly everything in his offensive profile took several steps in the wrong direction and he again battled the injury bug, declining to a .275 TAv that returned just the 43rd-highest value among outfielders. Meanwhile, Tampa was quick to enjoy the spoils of last off-season’s infamous trade of James Shields that netted them the BP 101’s no. 7 prospect in all of baseball from Kansas City. Following a mid-June promotion Myers raked to the tune of a .296 TAv, and he looks poised to anchor the middle of the Rays lineup alongside Evan Longoria for a very, very long time. Both rate as three star options for 2014 according to Mike Gianella’s impressively exhaustive look at the outfield position, with Myers holding a nominal seven-spot advantage on the list. The two are currently going back-to-back in the middle of the fifth round of standard NFBC drafts (67th and 68th overall), and PECOTA projects nearly identical lines for the two (.260/.326/.454 for Myers vs. .261/.322/.457 for Cespedes). So let’s check these guys out and see if there might be a lil’ bit more upside with one of them for fantasy owners to gamble on.
Hardy’s been one of the better power options at short for several years now, owning the fifth-best ISO among big-league shortstops since his breakout campaign as a 24-year-old in 2007. Now entering his age-31 season, he’s as good a bet as any middle infielder to hit you 20-plus homers and give you 140-160 R+RBI this year. In the other corner, Bogaerts is a consensus top-three prospect in all of baseball after a breakout post-season debut last fall that saw him hit .296/.412/.496 in October for the eventual World Series Champions. Bogaerts will be ranked among the third-base tiers per our internal discussions, but he would’ve rated as a borderline two-to-three-star player on Paul’s SS rankings. That would have put him right around the same ballpark as Hardy, who checked in at the back end of tier three. Let’s see if we can shed a little more light on where Bogaerts would’ve/could’ve/should’ve slotted in among shortstops, at least relative to Hardy.
Two emerging, 24-year-old, left-handed sluggers square off in this week's installment.
Today we’re going to take a look at a pair of emerging 24-year-old sluggers, Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman and Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer. Freeman put together a breakout campaign in 2013, posting the third-best season of all first baseman, and, after a slow start, Hosmer rebounded with a scorching final four months of the season to finish eighth at the position in standard 5x5 leagues. When you look at the future of the first-base position these are two of the premier young players in the game, and Mike Gianella has listed them back-to-back as four-star options for 2014. Mike’s list gives a slight nod to Hosmer as the preferred option, but it’s clearly a pretty tight battle. Let’s take a look under the hood and see what these two look like mano-a-mano.
If you look only at the surface stats you’d be tempted to give Freeman the nod. He posted a better average last season (.319 to Hosmer’s .305) and owns a better career mark (.285 to .277) over a comparable number of plate appearances. But a “not so fast!” caveat is all kinds of warranted here. Freeman’s 2013 campaign was fueled by a very high (and very likely unsustainable) .371 BABIP, and his 11.6 career SwStr% is almost three points higher than Hosmer’s. Freeman chases about 2.5 percent more balls out of the zone than Hosmer, and he makes contact with pitches in the zone almost seven percent less often. Hosmer’s disastrous sophomore campaign in 2012, meanwhile, was fueled in part by a dismal .255 BABIP—a number that carried over into the first two months of 2013 as well. Assuming the flowers and heartfelt apology Hosmer gave to Lady Luck last June keep him out of the doghouse, he’s the better bet to produce a higher average going forward.