Is you fantasy team stuck in the middle between buying and selling? Paul suggests some players who could help push it over the top.
The trade deadline is today for Major League Baseball and it may well be in your league, but most leagues have one that falls later, which is how it should be, in my opinion. By this point in the season, you have a firm idea of what your team is, or perhaps, less fortunately, isn’t. For those of your near the top of the standings, you’re either trying to hold a lead or get that crown. Those of you at the bottom have an eye on 2014 and are playing out the string. This piece is for those stuck in the middle. Your team is too good to finish last and take home that top draft spot (assuming you use inverse order of previous year’s standings), but things haven’t gelled enough to put you in full contention, either.
It’s time to be aggressive and take some chances. Short on steals? Jacoby Ellsbury is going to cost you too much and the net gains will likely be minimal if they exist at all. Same goes for power if you target Chris Davis or Edwin Encarnacion. Instead, you have to go for assets who won’t cost you an arm and a leg, but have the potential to pay off big time. Jose Iglesias has shown us that any major-league hitter can get hot, but obviously I’m focusing on guys with the likelihood of turning it on and helping to drive your team up the standings depending on your need(s).
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
Lessons learned over the season's first three-and-a-half months, and a look ahead to the first round of 2014 drafts.
It was almost a month ago now that I began looking at some of what we learned and how it applies to the 2014 season. I’ve wanted to get part two out, but I had a few other topics that I thought were more helpful for the here and now, so I gave them precedence ahead of this piece. Of course, with an extra month, we’ve seen that much more action and things have evolved even more now. Monday’s bombshell about Ryan Braun mixes things up a bit, too. Let’s cover a few more areas of what we’ve learned before I unveil my first crack at a top 12 for next year.
Shortstop Remains a Wasteland
The top two shortstops by ESPN’s Player Rater have been revelations this year, as San Diego’s Everth Cabrera has utilized his speed and plate discipline to turn himself into a premier asset. He drastically upped his contact rate, garnering even more use of his speed en route to a .289 AVG and .386 OBP, which have subsequently yielded 34 stolen bases. That puts him on pace to lead the NL again. And yet he’s nowhere near a first-rounder, as he remains a complete non-factor in home runs and RBI while the ineptitude of his teammates has left his 39 percent on-base rate underused, as he paces toward just 75 runs scored.
Paul breaks down several starters whose numbers away from home make them useful stream options in fantasy.
Last week in this space, we looked at some starters who have shown a penchant for doing their best work while in front of their hometown crowd. They aren’t widely rostered in 10- and 12-team leagues, giving you an opportunity to take advantage of those home starts while avoiding the road starts, assuming your league rules allow such frequent transactions. Unsurprisingly, they all play in comfortable environs, but they don’t consistently perform on the road, keeping them from being thoroughly sought-after assets.
Today’s group is the same, but opposite. They play in tougher home ballparks which cause inconsistent work while at home, but their skills shine through on the road, though the composite numbers hide that fact in many instances, creating a buying opportunity. Let’s start in the most obvious of these venues.
Paul looks at five starting pitchers that could help your fantasy squad if you deploy them only when they take the mound at their home yards.
A couple of weeks ago, I started to take a look at the 2014 first round, discussing what we’ve learned so far in 2013 and how it might impact the early part of drafts next March. I also mentioned a second part next time out. The “Sporer Report” was off last week for the holidays, and though it’s obviously back this week, I’m tabling part two for a little while to cover a topic a bit more useful for the here and now as you charge toward your 2013 league pennants.
There is nothing new about streaming pitchers as it relates to fantasy baseball. It’s a viable strategy with known pros and cons. It is often a matchup-based decision, but today we are going to look at some guys who are useful candidates for the other primary factor when deciding on streamers: venue. Depending on their team’s ballparks, some pitchers perform markedly better at home or on the road. I have 10 such pitchers, five for each side, whom you can maximize by deploying them only on their plus side. Let’s start with the homebodies.
Next year's draft season is still nine months away, but the lessons we've already learned this year could carry over.
We’re taking a break from my series on streaming hitters with sharp splits to discuss the future a bit. There is nothing in particular about this point in time that makes it worth discussing 2014 now. Most teams have played about 75 games, but I didn’t even know that before I planned this; again, the point in the season is irrelevant. It’s just something I like to do around the start of summer as the first check-in point.
As much as I love to enjoy the here and now of the season we’re in the throes of, I also like to look forward and see how the current season might be affecting the following spring’s drafts. We are about nine months from the 2014 draft season so a whole lot will change from now until then, but I guarantee that some of what we’ve seen thus far will stick and have a lasting impact on 2014. In fact, in part one of a two-part look at what we’ve learned (or think we’ve learned) thus far, we start with something that I’m certain will be true in March 2014.
After taking a look at some lefty mashers last week, Paul brings you five players who could help your fantasy squad on the long side of a platoon.
Last week, I dove into the world of streaming hitters by way of platoon advantages, particularly with guys who excel against lefties. In part two, we will look at some righty mashers. With these guys being on plus side of the playing-time split, they won’t all be as readily available as the lefty guys should be in your 10- and 12-team mixers, but if you have one of these guys you might consider getting someone from the first piece to pair with them instead of starting these guys all the time.
Here are five guys making life extremely difficult for right-handed pitchers so far this season.
Paul presents a few likely-available hitters whose platoon splits against left-handers could help bolster your fantasy lineup.
As injuries cut deeper into the player pool with each passing day, fantasy managers are left to fend for themselves, to pick up the pieces and push on with their ballclubs. There are obviously different ways teams can plug in the holes that are guaranteed to strike everyone at some point during the season. The most direct approach is, of course, via trade—trading from surplus to plug the hole. Hitting the waiver wire is the most readily available option for mixed leaguers, and it doesn’t cost any of your current talent. The freely available talent won’t be as good as what you could get by trading some assets… or will it?
Today’s piece is going to apply to the mixed-league crowd and specifically those of you in leagues of 12 teams or fewer. We are going to focus on split advantages and leveraging those to increase the probability of replacing your broken All-Star with near-All-Star production. Sorry, single leaguers, but your waiver wires are usually picked clean of the prime meat by May 1 and bone dry by Memorial Day. This will also play well for the daily fantasy crowd, as these guys will often be extremely cheap options who can deliver premium production in the right matchup.
A league-wide decrease in stolen bases has left some fantasy owners, like Paul, scrambling for help in that category.
I’m not big on mantras. Catchphrases are way cooler. But if there is one mantra/axiom/adage/proverb I espoused this draft season, it was, “Focus on power, there is tons of speed available in smaller chunks.” In 2012, there were 1.33 steals per game. That was down slightly from 2011’s 1.35, but both were up markedly from the 1.22 that held steady from 2009 through 2010. In 2011-2012, there were about 300 more steals in the league than there were in 2009-2010. Plus, they were more evenly distributed.
The 2009 season saw Jacoby Ellsbury lead baseball with 70 stolen bases, and Juan Pierre was just two off of that mark when he led the majors the following year. Michael Bourn and Carl Crawford joined Ellsbury at the top with 61 and 60, respectively, in 2009, before dropping to a trio of 42s (Nyjer Morgan, B.J. Upton, and Matt Kemp). Pierre was the lone member of the 60-steal club in 2010, but Bourn (52) and Rajai Davis (50) were still great, followed by Carl Crawford and Brett Gardner at 47, and then another trio of 42s (Upton again, Ichiro, and Chone Figgins) bringing up the rear of the 40-plus club.
Paul gives you some advice on how to get trade negotiations going and cautions against actions that could stop them dead in their tracks.
As we approach June 1, trading is no doubt becoming a bigger part of league activity for the season. Two months have passed, allowing you to start assessing your team’s strengths and flaws, but injuries and, more than anything else, impatience often fuels trade talks. With that in mind, I wanted to offer up some tips to hopefully improve your trading experience when you start firing up talks.
Don’t tell the league to make you offers on your guys: If you are serious about improving your team via the trade, then sending a mass email with guys you’re willing to part with followed by a call to action for other owners to engage you for those players isn’t the way to go. Rarely do emails that announce the availability of a team’s best players make such an impact that other owners are compelled to do the legwork on a hypothetical deal.
Opposing pitchers haven't fared quite as badly in the thin air of Denver in 2013 as they have in past years, but that doesn't mean you should lower your start-sit bar.
Patrick Corbin’s filthy, complete-game gem on Monday night in Coors Field drew a chorusofTwitterfacepalms as many fantasy managers shied away from the excellent-thus-far-but-still-unproven lefty in the terrifying Denver venue. Of course, if they read last week’s Two-Start Planner, they would’ve had Corbin in their lineups, as I gave him a full “Start” recommendation despite the risk associated with Coors. Back-patting aside, I’ve been keeping a close eye on Coors Field this year and as I mentioned in the aforementioned Planner “it really hasn’t been as scary as it was last year,” and we may need to lower our threshold for starters to consider when they’re traveling to Denver.
It’s not like the Rockies offense has completely fallen off, either. Their 5.02 runs per game is the National League’s best clip and baseball’s second-best, while their 5.55 runs per game at home also tops the NL and checks in third overall behind Detroit (6.20) and Texas (5.58). Last year, the Rockies were scoring six runs per game at home—baseball’s best by half a run—so the competition hasn’t been as fierce when opposing pitchers toe the slab in Coors Field. But it hasn’t been anywhere near easy, either, and yet we are seeing a lot more success from the starters facing the Rockies.
Travis Wood and Jeff Locke have both posted sub-3.00 ERAs to date. Which one is more likely to keep it up?
We are about to hit a big date in the fantasy baseball world: May 15. While it doesn’t carry any inherent significance on the calendar (unless you’re John Smoltz, George Brett, Josh Beckett, Justin Morneau, Michael Brantley, Brian Dozier, or Brandon Barnes; happy birthday, gents!), it is another mile marker on the fantasy landscape, as many see it as a point beyond which they should begin addressing needs and making serious moves with their ballclubs. With the general chorus of advice being that you should be patient with the players you drafted, there are a handful of these early mile markers at which fantasy managers feel they have been patient enough based on their perception of what it means.
The first is usually Tax Day, April 15. Yes, two weeks is long enough for some, and then it’s time to get in there and start rearranging the puzzle pieces. For others, May 1 is a big day. Essentially a sixth of the season has passed, we’ve flipped the calendar, and now trading large chunks of your original squad doesn’t seem like such a panic move. The other two biggies are May 15 and Memorial Day (or June 1, but those are close enough that we can lump ‘em together). Not only are these markers used for deciding whether or not you should make that big eight-player deal with Fred from accounting, but the fantasy community also uses these dates to start judging the legitimacy of performances.