Fantasy author Josh Shepardson answers your questions about baseball, not necessarily of the fantasy variety.
Josh Shepardson: Happy October, everyone. I look forward to spending time this afternoon answering questions and chatting, so let's begin.
Alex (Anaheim): I stuck out the whole season with Rickie Weeks as my 2B and had a very competitive team. Just a shallow position, right?
Josh Shepardson: Indeed, second base was a very shallow position this year. Weeks' season was a tale of two halves, and his average left something to be desired, but his power and speed contributions were solid. His batted ball data this year was in line with past seasons, and he's a player I'll be targeting next year.
Ashitaka1110 (Houston, TX): Jordan Lyles just tossed a shutout against a pretty solid Brewers lineup yesterday, with his fastball regularly hitting 94-95 MPH. How is his secondary stuff? Do you see his potential being better than a #3 now that his velocity is up as much as it is?
Josh Shepardson: Good question. Unfortunately, I wouldn't consider myself qualified to answer the question about his secondary stuff. I hate to deflect, but you'd get a much more informative answer from our loaded prospect/scouting staff. As far as the added velocity goes, it should without question benefit him. Setting his ceiling above a number three starter is being a bit too ambitious. A middle of the rotation arm is a valuable thing, but ones and twos don't grow on trees. His significant jump in groundball rate is promising, but even with the jump in velocity, he has just 10 whiffs in 181 pitches thrown in his last two starts.
dipotonotdipoto (brooklyn): Playoff predictions?
Josh Shepardson: I believe you'll see the Reds and Rangers in the World Series, and I think this is the year the Rangers get over the hump.
Lil' Sebastian (The Barn): Who's your favorite sleeper for next season?
Josh Shepardson: I haven't really begun digging into next season yet, so consider my answer to be very preliminary. Sleeper probably isn't the right description, but I expect Alex Gordon to outproduce his draft position next year by a wide margin. People will look at the HR/SB numbers this year and chalk 2011 up to a fluke, but they shouldn't. The biggest difference between this year and last is a drop in HR/FB rate. Invest in Gordon next year.
Adam (Dunnville): Who else did you consider for Comeback Player of the (fantasy) year besides Buster Posey, and what made him your choice?
Josh Shepardson: I tend to think of a Comeback Player of the year as someone who actually came back from an injury, not someone who bounced back from a down year. A player rebounding from a down year is more of a bounce back player of the year, and Adam Dunn would be a deserving recipient of that award.
jlarsen (chicago): Wade Davis or Jake McGee, who is more of a promising reliever for the future for leagues that have holds as a stat?
Josh Shepardson: I'd prefer McGee. Davis made an excellent transition to the bullpen this year, but McGee's handedness should assure him holds against tough lefties late in games.
captnamerca (Dunedin, FL): Speaking of Weeks...what's up with Jemile Weeks? Just a bad sophmore slump? I wasn't expecting much, but a nice average and steals.
Josh Shepardson: I wasn't a big Jemile Weeks fan coming into the year, but I definitely didn't predict this type of face plant. It could be a bad sophomore slump, or it could be more. One glance at his player card and you'll see his average has some fluctuation year-to-year. His line drive rate is solid this year, so his near 100 point drop in BABIP from last year to this year is a bit unlucky, but his true BABIP line probably lies in the middle. One bright spot in his otherwise dismal year is that he was more efficient stealing bases this year.
dipotonotdipoto (brooklyn): Should I keep Chris Davis at $1 next year? We have a $200 budget and get to keep five players apiece.
Josh Shepardson: Depends on the rest of your roster, and the size of the league. My short answer is no, but I can understand that consideration. His strikeout rate remains alarming, and could result in an ugly batting average. He also will only be first base and outfield eligible next year, and that drops his stock a bit too.
Rachelle (Santa Monica, CA): I am woman who plays in two baseball fantasy leagues with my co-workers, and have a question regarding "keeper" leagues. Is is harder to obtain mediocre position players or pitchers, because I would almost rather have the flexibility of making decisions next year instead of locking in guys who I really don't want. Thanks!
Josh Shepardson: I would say the opposite is true in my keeper league experience. Mediocre position players and pitchers become easier to acquire and star level keeper talent becomes tougher to trade for. League settings will impact things greatly, but on the whole, these type of mediocre players tend to be the ones most people feel comfortable dealing as I see it.
jlarsen (chicago): Do you think Ryan Roberts will rebound from a somewhat disappointing 2012 and revert to something closer to his past years?
Josh Shepardson: 2011 looks like the high water mark for Roberts to me. I am not expecting a rebound, and what you see now is probably the best you'll get going forward.
mcquown (Chicago): Are you going to be considering Kris Medlen along with the Kershaws and Strasburgs next year among NL SP, or let someone else pay the premium at auction time?
Josh Shepardson: I am not going to consider Medlen with that duo. They are in a class of their own, and that's not a slight against Medlen.
Rick (Sarasota, FL): I am about to finish third in a league for the fourth year in a row, and my Achilles Heel has been catching. Can you give me some advice about the value of good catchers and any tips for 2013?
Josh Shepardson: Wow, consistent run. I don't think there is an ideal strategy for drafting catchers. I've read many pundits say avoid paying top dollar, but I've had success doing so. I've also had success investing avoiding the top dollar guys. I tend to like catchers that might see time at other positions, and thus, receive more plate appearances than others (think Ryan Doumit, Carlos Santana, Joe Mauer, etc). I also like younger catchers with some breakout potential.
Julio (Austin, TX): I am in fantasy league for the Arizona Fall League, which I enjoyed last year because it gave me insight about top prospects. Is there a guy in the AFL that you'd suggest as a "sleeper" player? Thanks a lot, I love BP!
Josh Shepardson: He isn't really a sleeper, but all the time Anthony Rendon missed this year may depress his value a bit in your draft.
Seth (Omaha, NE): I have Eric Hosmer is a keeper league and he was a huge disappointment for me in 2012. Do you suggest that I keep him or should I discard him and try to find a better guy for next year? He was just horrible this year, not even an average contributor at his position and cost him from finishing second place in my league.
Josh Shepardson: As disappointing as the year was, it happens sometimes in a players development. I'm still a big fan of Hosmer, and the future should be quite bright. It's easy to lose sight of the fact he's 22 years old, and most players don't find instant star level success. I would imagine that if you pass on keeping him, someone else will take the gamble on him figuring things out next year, and I probably wouldn't risk that.
jlarsen (chicago): Is Nate Jones a good "vulture" to keep in an AL-only dynasty lg? I have to decide between Hector Santiago and Jones to leave off my roster for an expansion draft.
Josh Shepardson: Not sure how much of a vulture Jones will be, but I think he's a better pitcher than Santiago, and will provide more value. I'd boot Santiago, and hold onto Jones.
Jordan (St. Elsewhere): Which prospects do you see being major fantasy players next year?
Josh Shepardson: Billy Hamilton is supposed to see time in the outfield in the AFL this year, and his stolen base ability could make him an immediate impact player. I love Wil Myers and Oscar Taveras, as well as Jurickson Profar. I'm not sure how the Nationals will handle Anthony Rendon with Ryan Zimmerman entrenched at third, but he has some potential to get to the bigs and make an impact quickly.
SimplyFalco (Amherst): I'm within 1 of multiple people in the HR and Win categories in a league. No one can catch me in the "conflicting" categories, like AVG or Hitter's strikeouts or Losses (which we have). Could you name 1 hitter and 1 pitcher you think most likely to hit a homer or win a game?
Josh Shepardson: Jonny Gomes is widely available, and if you have daily transactions, you'll get him against Martin Perez tonight. Wei-Yin Chen has pitched well against the Rays, is widely available, and pitches tonight, so he's a guy I'd gamble on.
Tomasulo1 (Washington DC): last week of my league - tight race. I need to make up some points in ERA, WPCT and WHP - very close in each category. Would you roll the dice and start Corbin and Volstad against the Rox and Stros and hope for a couple of more win chances? Or instead fill the slots with relievers such as Mattheus, Stammen or Karstens?
Josh Shepardson: I would not roll the dice with Corbin or Volstad. Gamble on a reliever, or multiple relievers instead.
Josh Shepardson: Thanks for joining me this afternoon for the chat. It has been a lot of fun answering questions. Enjoy the rest of the season everyone.