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Great essay, Aaron, with the unifying thread of focusing on Minny's existing personnel against their long, pathetic history. If one comes at it from another angle (schedule & results), the Houston series in Minny a couple weeks ago was almost identical to this weekend's series against the Tribe, HTN winning 40-16. Clearly "not ready for prime time." The Twins also have had a relatively easy schedule. Three weeks of games in July sandwiched around the break--against LAD, NYY, HTN, DET & BALT should vaporize the apparition.
There has been some offensive breakout this week, but offense was down all over MLB for the first three periods. I often do a quick estimation of my hitters' starts in late April by chicken scratching them into three columns: over-performing, near par, and under-performing. I counted three days ago on Monday. My team had 3 over-performing, 1 at par, and 11 hitters under-performing. So I tell myself, "OK, my guys are just having a bad start."
But then I carried the analysis to the other 14 teams in our dynasty league. Surprise! All 15 teams had the same profile. There were 55 hitters over-performing, 52 about par, and a whopping 130 under-performing. It's better to understand the calculus of where your team stands in relation to the others than where it stands alone.
Somebody getting paid can go look up how much offense is down in MLB, but this "snapshot" is all I need to know. Yes, Mike, patience.
Mark, I'd like to see you get aligned with fantasy "weeks." IE this column is about "Week 2," even though it's your first. No need to have to do time zone adjustments when we're not dealing with time zones. Thanks.
Yes, but there's one more thing about <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=67085">Addison Reed</a></span>. In leagues with Holds, he had 10 more last year than any <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=RP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('RP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">RP</span></a> in baseball. And yes, Holds is a hinky stat in itself, but so is Saves. And having Holds in your league gets it more into the players who are valuable and exciting in today's game. Tout Wars has adjusted somewhat to the changing 25-man roster compositions that prevail that are SO much different from when Roto started in 1978. We just add Holds, add a 24th roster slot, and add $11 to the traditional $260 so that our research/prep is in line with the prevailing model. I wholeheartedly recommend finding a way to get NCRs (non-closing relievers) into your leagues.
Not only that, BigBob50 (and Ms. Varela), but the KC Royals front office is unique in MLB and maybe all of sports. THE ROYALS DON'T LEAK!
Heyman is a gossip columnist who sells himself for fees to make broadcasts "interesting" to casual fans. It doesn't matter if he gets 90% of it wrong, so long as he can remind us that he accidentally got a few things right. Bowden is on another level, but to make his consultant money, he goes with what is logical. So for example, he merely lists the teams that have no clear favorite to be a full-time 2B in the case of Lawrie.
If there is anything more than a 0% chance the Royals are interested in Lawrie, I'd be shocked. The Royals under Dayton have only signed one player with even the hint of that profile, and it was early and desperate (<span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Jose+Guillen">Jose Guillen</a></span>) at a time when the Royals and David Glass were a "no go destination" due to Glass' role as the attack dog for the owners during mid-90s CBA negotiations. Believe me, the Royals have ZERO interest in Lawrie. We already have two better.
If YOU or anyone else were an MLB GM, your job would be to stay abreast of every single aspect of The Whole. Extensions and other signings are time consuming, so they generally come one at a time. But if you believe Heyman's assertion "may not be interested" in extending any of our four pending free agents, you'll believe anything. The Royals would certainly have an interest in re-signing two of the four, probably three. Hosmer, trending toward replacement level, is surely the least likely of the four.
But one thing is certain, you won't know it until it has already happened. Not only do the Royals not leak, but they really don't care for agents who do, either.
So glad to know that Garcia's pitches are "fully in tact." Pitches without good manners have no chance of becoming deboner...er...debonair.
<span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=16615">Brooks Kieschnick</a></span> didn't "pick up pitching at age 30 in the minors" at age 30. Brooks won the Howser Award as a junior at the U of Texas as the nation's best college player. In his 3 years as a Longhorn, Brooks started playing RF. His throws from RF were a sight to behold. But besides being the 'Horns' best batter and best power hitter for 3 seasons, he also turned out to be their best pitcher. For some of his career, his role was to come in from a position and close games.
Legendary Coach Cliff Gustafson was brilliant about using Kieschnick, "discovering" and developing him into one of the nation's best college SPs. By that time, Brooks would play 1B on the days he didn't pitch. There was only one tool that the great Kieschnick did not possess: speed. He was not at all blessed in that regard. So his worst position was the one he was recruited to play: the OF.
After the Longhorns had that all worked out and vetted, Brooks was drafted in the first round into...the clueless, unproductive minor league system of the <span class="teamdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/team_audit.php?team=CHN" target="blank">Chicago Cubs</a></span>. The Cubs spent years "undeveloping" Kieschnick at his worst possible position, the OF. That decision just murdered one of the great amateur baseball players of all time.
Kieschnick re-emerged after his career puttered out and the Cubs finally dropped him. My guess is that he went back home to Corpus Christi, found some counsel in Texas, and decided to give it one more try, doing what he should have been doing in the first place: pitching. After only one season absent from the majors, Brooks made it back with the Brewers. Only Brooks Kieshcnick could have overcome the Chicago Cubs.
It's pretty amusing to read that Brooks "discovered" pitching at age 30. By age 20, he had done it all! I'd go into how he was also the Longhorns' best catcher, but that would be another tale.
Aside from any framing metrics, I think another positive for young SPs who are approximately Sanchez' age is working with a vet C like <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45447">Russell Martin</a></span>. That ticks Sanchez' value/floor up a couple notches for me.
Well done, Patrick. This will entertain and prompt a good discussion at one of the joints in KC once older fans begin to get together. Could it be that Smoak isn't the only one who had a "calm demeanor in the clubhouse," and maybe out on the town? Players used to mix with the population more and carry an off-field reputation. <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=17889">George Brett</a></span> is only idolized in KC by the distant idolaters, but I don't know that I've ever heard one good word about him from anyone who ever ran into Brett or even observed him in public. <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Frank+White">Frank White</a></span> has universal reverence here. When Balboni's name comes up (frequently), grown men smile, chuckle, and usually say something like, "Good ol' Balboni. Loved him. He tried hard."
...oops, besides Vladito (#20 BBl Amer), already covered well in comments above.
So where does that put <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=70913">Luke Weaver</a></span>. I'm not even through my first comparative list, but Weaver ranks highest on BBl Amer (#50) for guys not on the BP list. Thx.
Thanks, Rob. This is always fun. For "Age," was the cutoff Jan 1, mid-Feb, coming start of the season? Might help some of us a teeny bit to know that.
VERY nice work, Matthew. Historical prospective requires a lot of knowledge and lot of time.
I recommend that fantasy owners solve the problem of position changes. We have a rule that passed 15-0 when ARod shifted to 3B, because we knew it would happen again. "Art III.1 - ..."Rule of Common Sense": When it is common knowledge that a player will shift positions for the coming season, he will be eligible at the new position on Auction Day and in Week 1." The rule is inclusive, flexible, promotes free management in prep and at auction, preserves player value at auction, and keeps your league (and BP) from getting stuck in the Pleistocene Era just because the people who gathered at the Rotisserie restaurant in 1978 didn't get everything right. Desmond? No one can honestly say he's convinced at this point. Gurriel? Common knowledge, common sense. Desmond's eligibility in our league will surely be determined by the time we auction.
Yes, <a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/author/greg_wellemeyer">Greg Wellemeyer</a> writes a whole paragraph after Murphy's name, but it's just cutesy, useless, and doesn't say one word about Murphy!
The Astros signed <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/player_search.php?search_name=Charlie+Morton">Charlie Morton</a></span>. Morton is a pitcher.
Greg - You would have realized what you had in Reed if you played in a Holds league. His most outstanding stat goes unmentioned here: that he had 40 holds, 33% higher than the runner-up and 43% higher than the 5 RPs who finished 4th through 8th. That's just astounding.
Yes, we know that Holds is not a revealing stat if you're employed by an MLB team. But like Saves, using Holds in fantasy opens our eyes to something like 100 very good baseball players we otherwise would garner little or no attention from us.
No single player dominated a roto category like <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=67085">Addison Reed</a></span> did Holds. The only problem is that picking the RPs in March who will populate the top 10 in Holds is next to impossible. However, it sure is fun!
Would that be "pump the brakes," as in pump the brake pedal in a car to slow down? Or did you really intend to say something like "exploit these breaks right now while you can"?
This is not at all to contradict Matthew's fine, concise essay and its many valid points. For the Rangers in general, the one thing that stands out to me is the horrific total of their injuries in 2015 both in player days lost and in the quality of those players. Leaving that phenomenon behind them is a huge factor in their success. The numbers right now tell us that the M's are a better team? Check 'em again in four months, lads. The Rangers have half a stable who could be better in the second half, and some will: Profar all the way, Holland, Moreland, a healthy Chirinos, a better bullpen as Nikpin covered...and more.
This is a dandy piece, just like all of Matthew's work. So the opening here is not personal, but contextual. Two years ago this week, a friend and I were chafed a bit by the rants of regulars in a local pub to sack <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=47202">Lorenzo Cain</a></span>. "He's ALWAYS hurt," was one complaint.
My buddy and I sat down with the laptop and began doing some easy research. It was not even mid-June at that point, and TWENTY center fielders in MLB had already gone on the DL. Twenty teams had not lost theirs. Two teams had lost three apiece, and several had lost two. Maybe that underscores the point.
"Injuries happen" to center fielders like shit happens. It's not so much that certain CFs are "injury prone." I wish we had some sort of definition or standard for slinging the label of "injury prone," because it usually sticks like river-bottom gumbo mud even when it's not justified. I wonder what sort of composite list of injuries would result from looking at the histories of all 30-year-old CFs.
No doubt some players are "injury prone." Around KC, I used to say that <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=1401">Mike Sweeney</a></span> was the governor emeritus of the "DNP, Hangnail Society." But with CFs, I think I'm buying the positional theory, not the individual labeling.
Thanks for a thoughtful position piece well out in front of the wave as usual, Matthew.
Nothing about the Twins? Seems rather volatile up in Minny.
Rian's thesis may be sound, but it would be difficult to find a more tainted example. He recognizes that at the end in his acknowledgement of the racism inherent here. That so profoundly overshadows the "team loyalty" thesis that it's rendered moot.
C'mon, white pitcher LACKEY was on the mound, an identical "one-year rental" to Heyward. Lackey is never mentioned. Lackey wasn't booed because he is white. Lackey even made the identical jump that Heyward did...to the rivals. So what other variable is there?
St. Louis is one of the most segregated cities in the USA. The vaunted Cardinal Nation fans dirtied their britches last year very publicly over race by their disgusting displays in response to Ferguson and to Black Lives Matter.
Finally, how can you ignore that the Cards now have no African-American players at all. It's 1956 again (or '46) in St. Louis!
Thanks, Bret. Just an excellent example w/ Fielder and the overlay of <span class="statdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/glossary/index.php?search=WARP" onmouseover="doTooltip(event, jpfl_getStat('WARP'))" onmouseout="hideTip()">WARP</span></a>. I agree that we have trouble translating value between MLB and fantasy. BP helps a lot.
Thank you, Paul. Eye-opening.
Bret, when I compare this fantasy-oriented list to BP's 101 Top Prospects list, there are some very big movers. I think the average subscriber would understand the 32-slot rise of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=101165">Jorge Mateo</a></span>, as the high fantasy value of steals has been underscored by your entire staff for some time.
One who really stumps me is AJ Reed, going from #56 on the earlier list to #12 on this one. That's huge. Comment?
The other is <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=70408">Dan Vogelbach</a></span>. I don't believe he was even ranked on the BP list from January (nor on at least two other lists from respectable sources nationally). Here, you have DV as #37! Surprising. Why?
If you would, remind us how wide the input is across the BP staff on the January Top 101 Prospects and on this list. Thanks, Bret. There's a boatload of great info here, and I'm grateful. But with Rizzo at 1B, no DH, and what could be an awesome and flexible bench, that seems like rather intimidating blockage for Vogelbach.
Very well done, Adam. It was also a great choice. The finish in the NL Central and the gateway to the playoffs may well be determined by the performance of one or both of these pitchers this year. Thanks to your analysis, we'll know what to focus on while watching either or both.
Nice job, Michael. Concise and effective presentation of maybe the biggest pet peeve of numbers-inclined fans. In KC, for instance, you'd think we would have no argument with the results the last couple of years. But game to game if one watches most of the 162, Ned's bullpen usage is contributory to losses in probably 4 to 6 games each year. One can't help but like the guy, but his limitations still chap your hide.
My unquantified impression is that there is probably no player about whom commentary across the websites/experts world is more mixed than <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=100736">Matt Duffy</a></span>. One can read that the breakout was legit, that it was a mirage, and everything between. There is some "turning of the wheel" of aging and change here, too, but I'm stunned to see Duffy in a tier with Longoria and Beltre. Any Duffy owners or people who have delved into his value care to comment? Thanks, everyone.
Bret, this is outstanding work. Spot-on analysis, concise and cliche-free writing, a sprinkling of humor. Beyond that, it's rare that I or anyone else can read a ranking of 50 players, get to the end, and think, "Well now, all the rankings and the reasoning sounds about right." Thanks for the temporary treatment of our withdrawal symptoms in this bleak time of year :)
Those nine voters are clearly chuckling in the coffee shops this morning. They intended to skew the voting, and they did. BP should announce and then follow up not counting "ringer" votes designed to neutralize a couple dozen honest voters. I would not feel compelled to even inform the offenders: They know who they are. Let them keep paying the subscription. Simply state in the results how many ballots were set aside for what you see as dishonesty.
After all, it's not your job to protect some imaginary "right to vote." Y'all would be protecting integrity.
Let's be fair to Matthew. This is a COLUMN-length piece, not an article for the SABR Research Journal. My own intuition is that Matthew's theses and conclusions are correct. We're all aware of the general "size/quality" of recent FA classes, for example. And I don't see that Matthew's point is that teams are "truly spending less on player salaries." That's nicholj's point. Sometimes, we don't need all the gory mathematical details. Matthew's column hits on a LOT of points that a lot of us are seeing in MLB. Instead of ragging on the limitations and engaging in hyperbole, nicholj, you might try to prove the OPPOSITE of any of Matthew's conclusions. BP would probably publish it if your work was as rigorous as you want Matthew's to be. But I don't think you'd get to first base. I don't know anyone who would disagree with MT's conclusion that "The QO system is a joke." The one minor bone I would pick with MT is including Ricketts in his list. The Cubs are spending, and they did last year, too.
WARNING: Testosterone Traffic ahead. Plus a bonus video of a menage-a-trois featuring Goldstein, the Missus, and this year's four-star has-been version of <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=45430">AAron Hill</a></span>.
Even tongue in cheek, Sussman's Hit List beats Pecota. Pecota as of yesterday had the Royals with the worst record in the AL Central the remainder of the season. Pecota also has a well-deserved reputation of ridicule around the Missouri-Kansas border.
Nice job, Matthew. Admirable restraint.
"there’s a competitive advantage waiting for the first team to remember how to survive without the seventh arm in their bullpen"
The older heads in baseball have not forgotten. Without a lot of work, one of the stand-out features of October baseball the last few years has been roster disposition more reminiscent of the 1960s and 1970s than of the last 20 years. In the 2013 World Series, both the Cards and Red Sox used only 10 pitchers. The Sox used 14 hitters in the six games. There was a lot of talk about RPs and their usage last fall in the Series, but the Royals actually trimmed their staff to 11 to beef up pinch hitting and other aspects of offense with RHH Willingham, Jason Nix, and designated runner-defender <span class="playerdef"><a href="http://www.baseballprospectus.com/card/card.php?id=69538">Terrance Gore</a></span>.
We are seeing what I infer is more optimal roster disposition throughout October, though September rules are just ridiculous. As Matthew suggests above, too, NL teams can generally afford a more fortified late-game offense by not populating a DH slot.
I would love to see baseball limit pitching staffs to eleven and bring about much more exciting late-game scenarios throughout the season by having more offense available on the benches.
Interesting theme, Ian, and apt it is. Kendrys Morales also fits your pattern.
Speaking of that great AL Wild Card game from October, how about Oakland's return to KC on Friday night, April 17? If there proves to be anyone left on the A's roster from that game by the time this one rolls around, coming into the K should be like Halloween, Part II. As a plus, the next day is Billy Butler's birthday, and KC fans be lovin 'em some Country Breakfast.
Mo, you got inspired and did some good work here, son. Obviously a bunch of us grateful.
On target, concise, elegant grasp of the position. Then you mail in the haiku opp and get testy besides. Dangit, Mike, you just left Alex Gordon on third with the tying run...
Yes, Rob, Thanks!! I guess Satchel's Harem must transform into Da Satch Bitches...or something :)
I can't even get the Team Tracker to Add a Team. Can anyone help?
Now I have lived long enough to have heard everything. Kevin Pillar over Ichiro? Chris, you probably haven't been around long enough to see how badly PECOTA projects guys over 32, especially over 35. Yes, players decline. But you can go to the ballpark and trust your eyes to a degree. Ichiro? Jeter? Torii Hunter? They routinely out-earned PECOTA's projections by 100% to 200%. PECOTA would probably pick The Fonz, Archie Bunker, or Justin Bieber over a 35+ aged player just based on their bragging. If you really like Pillar over Ichiro, I'll take the under for a couple of bottles of local BBQ sauce.
All good, guys. The Lineup Card is always delightful, though it can have many characteristics. A bow this morning toward Adam for a powerful, well-wrought piece of writing. The whole HoF thing has surely hit bottom when Biggio steps in rather than Bagwell, sitting in a well-appointed home with the ghost of Marvin Miller.
Kudos for this time-consuming and careful work, Bret.
Maybe a few Monte Harrison watchers will be spared from this: Harrison and Bubba Starling are the best two non-linemen I have seen play HS football in the KC area for the last 6-8 years. KC boys play that game well. What we do NOT do is play much baseball compared to the South. HS baseball practice and the first half of the season take place in miserable weather conditions: cold, strong winds, muddy fields. Decent conditions prevail over only a few weeks at the end of each season. Summer leagues and travel teams are few and not strong in any age group. At age 18, kids from around here simply have not played much baseball compared to kids elsewhere. I wish Harrison well, but his road will be LONG.
Wow. Nice improvements over last year, Mauricio. Love the radar graphs. Great work!
Yes, JP has set the haiku bar pretty high for the other lads to deal with this year. Nice last-line twist, JP!
Carlos Santana is also referenced three times. He had only 11 C appearances and also does not qualify in most leagues. Despite that, he's listed here as one of the three top AL targets and listed as one of seven in a "next tier for dynasty leagues." It's ambiguous whether that "next tier" is only behind Posey and Lucroy or whether the top group includes the five Ms. Rather careless beginning to the series, BP. These are matters of common knowledge for baseball fans, and I would expect every fantasy owner to know Mauer's and Santana's status.
HELP! I've tried to play as many formats as possible the last decade, but what exactly is a "redraft" league? Thanks in advance for your answers.
Just think: Tomorrow we can start a new year when every day in the off-season, the Orioles are interested in or talking to or talking about every free agent. And once again, the Orioles won't make any deals until all other teams have finished. Not too much hyperbole there, either. WooHoo.
"Horrible"? Did you even read the essay? At the very least, it's a RATIONAL reason not to vote for the players who are virtual locks. IMO, it may even be a BRILLIANT reason. At the very least, Russell is mathematically literate, which is more than I can say for Buster Olney.
Nice job, Keith. Merry Christmas Week to all!!
Casilla v Romo for closer: A lot of writers/sites are taking the position that at the least, Romo's new contract signifies that the SF closer role is a toss-up between the two, and perhaps that Romo would not have signed without some assurance that he will have the role until he loses it. Jeff, your assertion that Casilla is THE closer is the strongest in the business. Has SF brass made some statement of which I am unaware? Or in this busy season, did you do this work before Romo's new contract was announced? Or what? Any reflection or clarification? Thanks.
Excellent, Zach. Is Craig aware that anybody on the staff thinks this well and this clearly? :)
I don't know what--if anything--Mattingly or any other LAD brass has said about the batting order, and there seems to be some consensus around the net that Rollins will lead off. However, going from Puig's OBP of .380-.390 to what is likely around .320 by Rollins would be a precipitous drop at the top of the order. When I look at who the Dodgers have, the batting order at the top is problematic. My guess is that we'll see the order change around, maybe until as long as mid-season. In any case, Rollins is not who I'd want at the top.
This does nothing to diminish this column. We'll be going into our third year of a 15-team dynasty this year; and we've seen the overvaluation of "young," just as Matt presents. Rollins went for $1 at the end of the auction last year. Some complimented the owner-buyer, but there was a chorus of guys who believed Rollins would be of no consequence. His buyer won the league, and Rollins was the player who earned the most profit on that team.
Small matter: LAD Para #3: "bait to acquire [Gordon's] replacement."
Nice wrap, Craig.
For the second consecutive year, the Baltimore Orioles lead the rumor mill on every site, every day. They have done nothing. Last year, yeah, they finally signed a player nobody else wanted after being associated with 139 other players in rumors, daily. And yeah, it turned out rather well. I like the part where Bradford cautions that a swap is not "remotely imminent." No kidding. Daniel, save yourself some time over the holidays. Write template: "The Orioles are said to be more than interested in ________ and have talked to ______________ about ______________..." Write every free agent's name on a chit, draw them out of a hat, plug them into the template, submit your next 75 days of columns, and you'll be every bit as accurate about the Baltimore Orioles as BP or any other site was last year or has been this year. If you're gonna blow Duquette's smoke, make it easy. Baltimore needs everything, so they are interested in anything, and will follow up and deliver on nothing.
...and Nick. Excuse me, Nick.
Absolutely outstanding analysis, Sam. Kudos!
...and with the RHHs flying off the shelves. Royals are "minus three": Aoki, Butler, and Shields, and "plus none." Aoki and Butler may not be All Stars, but they were two of our three highest OBP players. There's not much left out there, and the offense was already weak. Switch hitters Morales and Melky are about all that remains of the free agents. Amazing how the dearth of hitting has that market nearing completion, but the pitching market seems closed for the holidays.
One of the best TAs ever. Great job, Sam!
"...as the only unanimous AL MVPs ..." RoYs?
Good work as usual, Russell. You've made many good points. One of those seems almost trite, that "today is the first day of the rest of our lives" kind of thing. However, unless we assume that there are still unconquered territories throughout the metric continent, it would be a fool's errand for any of us to be here. Looking back at 2014, I sure wish there had been some sort of indication in one of the many preseason or early season sources that I devour that JD Martinez would break out. In my primary (dynasty) league, Martinez was a serendipitous pick-up in JUNE (!) by a team that had one glaring OF weakness and had churned 11 or 12 guys through the position before then. Only later, many writers on BP and other sites talked about how Martinez had changed his entire approach at the plate. He probably falls almost exclusively into the realm that the only indicator of a breakout would have been talking to scouts.
From a subscriber standpoint, one hardly knows how much work goes into the various lists. I recently went back to check several BP writers' 2014 preseason rankings of a few positions. They generally left a lot to be desired, to be courteous. Saul may just be embarking on the road to Damascus, having no idea what light may descend ahead.
...and about every third year, the underdog team would win. And about every other time that happened, there would be one or two more teams in the OTHER league that had better records than the WS underdog. So a refrain along the lines of, "But the Bulldogs weren't even among the top three teams in baseball" would forever echo through the valleys anyway.
Any BP-reading Giants fan(s) coming into KC: Welcome!...and I hope you have a wonderful experience just as I do when in SF/OAK. If you would enjoy having a history teacher/metric-head host for a few hours around the city while you're here, feel free to get in touch. The great news no one nationally is talking about yet (probably because NO ONE lives in Kansas City) is that our leaves have been turning on a hell-bent pace about the last three days turning splendid for hosting the Series. We're nearing "peak" leaf colors/viewing. The weather is perfect. If you're coming in, DO drive all over and just enjoy the scenery. Or ask any local about good destinations. The SF Chronicle had a pretty good list on Saturday of ten places/things in KC. May all good baseball fans enjoy the next ten days!!
We tend to think in stereotypes, and stereotypes tend to stay with us much longer than what gave rise to them in the first place. There was a time back in the 80s/90s, for example, that the company that printed scorecards to be sold at MLB games printed a minimum number set by MLB for all but two parks: Wrigley and Busch. Keeping score at games was already a rapidly diminishing tradition. It seems like the minimum was something like 800, but it could have been 500 or 100. For fans at Wrigley, they had to print something like 2000, and perhaps 3500-4000 for St Louis.
As a person who has watched a LOT of live baseball in (order of most games) KC, Houston, Chicago, Arlington, and StL over the last 50 years, I think there really was something as late as the 1980s that made Card fans and Cub fans more knowledgeable and interesting. That time long passed. Corporations and the wealthy now own all the good seats, and it's a poor wager that anyone sitting in the best 20K seats in any stadium ever played or has an above-average knowledge of the game. Wrigleyville and the fan population in the park are so yuppiefied and snobbish that I won't even go there anymore if somebody offers a paid ticket. White privilege and arrogance ooze in the park in StL, though it's SES-based and not "baseball arrogance." The old order is gone.
Over the years, I was also impressed by the knowledge and passion of fans during extended visits to Cleveland and Baltimore. And I was always shocked at how much more knowledgeable Rangers fans were than Astros fans (and I lived in Houston and loved the 'Stros and never particularly cared for DFW, so this sentence was WAY more the result of observation and experience than prejudice.)
My worst stadium experiences and least impressive fan interactions were in Toronto. I've been to a LOT of parks, too...three generations of ballparks in some cities like StL and Cincy. One can still find a number of people who keep score in the reasonably-priced seats in upper decks, but they are mostly senior citizens now; and there are scores of them, not hundreds.
Not a big deal, but Bumgarner was easily the SF ace by the middle of 2013. Their stats were eerily similar in 2012. Bumgarner outpitched Cain by 200 slots on most player raters in 2013 and went for a lot more than bids on Cain coming into 2014 in the leagues I play in.
RJ, y'all better get the A/C turned up in the computer room. Pecota is blowing sky high in these playoffs (5:30 ET Friday, Giants about to deliver another upset/bring down a favored SP). We haven't had the complete Pecota numbers, though it had the O's slightly over the Tigers today. Underdogs looking very good against the lines, too. Kinda reminds me of the 1980s (five underdogs of 1-2 or worse won the Series).
Tiger fans are hiding so they don't have to watch their bullpen.
If Duffy was stranding 85.3% but is now stranding only 76.2% of his baserunners, that should not be an improvement, right? So are the numbers switched, or is the statement just wrong?
By the late 70s in Houston, the Astros had been bad for a long time (but were starting to get better and would play for the pennant in 1980). Games in the Dome against the Braves sometimes had more Braves fans than Astros fans, and it was never less than a tossup on Sunday through Thursday. That was all due to WTBS. Everybody in a Braves hat had the same story: "I watch them almost every night on cable and became a fan."
Jake McGee has six saves in July, and that would be in 16 game days considering the break. I hardly think that qualifies as a "committee," especially with Ball Four in there, whom you make the point that you and Goldstein have jettisoned. Always look forward to this column. What a challenge!
Nick B is selling numbers, and all of us buy to some extent or we wouldn't be here. But if you watched the Royals game after game as a local, you would not buy on Billy. I have never seen ANY MLB hitter look more helpless at the plate over this long a stretch. Worse and what's really surprising for a guy who's been a fine OBP hitter for years, Billy also just looks clueless.
That's all anguishing to think or say or write. Country Breakfast committed to our team and city when most were bailing. He and his wife are wonderful, charitable people. Yet the well is dry.
No clue about Kendrys. Only saw a few ABs when we played the Twinkies the first series in July. Could not be more of a reach than Billy.
So no Nick Kingham in the pic for the Pirates, RJ? Any chance?
I apologize, but I'm not getting this. How did Swish DH at Arizona?
"More people need to talk about Aviles’ bat wiggle, because Aviles’ bat wiggle is amazing."
Will oblige y'all on that one, and with thankfulness that the agony now plagues Cleveland. It's rather obvious that you lads have not spent much time in KC, Boston, or in the vicinity of Lake Erie.
Mike Aviles does not have bat "wiggle." He has "bat revolutions." Aviles is not the first player whose bathead before the pitcher's delivery revolves around the position where it SHOULD be. However, he's the first who revolves his bat the wrong DIRECTION. For a RHH, for example, the bathead should revolve counter-clockwise, mimicking the arc of a successful swing. Aviles' revolutions are CLOCKWISE. So not only is he not "quiet" at the plate like most successful hitters, but his pre-pitch bat noise is preparing his muscle memory for just the opposite of what they need to be doing in a couple tenths of a second.
Aviles' bat revolutions are definitely irritating, perhaps maddening. We suffered in KC through parts or all of 3 1/2 seasons of the bat-ackward revolutions. One fact is that many fans coped only by timing their breaks to concession stands, bathrooms and smoking aread to coincide with Aviles At-Bats. The urban legend is that Dayton finally traded Aviles after being begged by 98.7% of all metro and regional baseball coaches.
Once the percentage of distraught coaches exceeded body temperature, Dayton was able to snooker Boston (Yeah, I know, this part is HARD to believe, but Dayton was born in Kenya) to taking Aviles for Yamaico Navarro and Kendal Volz (yeah...kinda figured you hadn't). For the next few years, the Royals did not field a single complaining call about having the worst position player in baseball in Chris Getz. We were SO happy not to have to watch Aviles.
Boston soon caught on themselves and sent Aviles to Toronto in late October 2012 for John Farrell and David Carpenter, and no fiction writer has even tried to explain that. Two weeks later Toronto had to throw in Yan Gomes to get Clevland to take Aviles for Esmil Rogers.
Conclusion I: Toronto was more anxious to get rid of Aviles than Clevland was Rogers. II: It's still better to live in KC than Cleveland.
Well, Roy, Japan is Japan; and this is not to diminish your point. But in AMERICAN baseball-cultural history, Rhodes will always be Tuffy "April" Rhodes the way Dent will always be Bucky "Fucking" Dent in Boston. The BP staff has included the counter-examples of "April Famine/Season Feasts" of Stanton and Ibanez. And the "April Feast/Career Season" of Roberts really doesn't belong.
The other three vignettes are Tuffyesque. Heep probably still riles New Yorkers, but as much or more in trade lore than "April" oddities. Plus, Heep was so long before the fantasy craze that his performance did not impact tens of thousands of leagues. Silva's 2010 was still quite useful overall and ended in tragedy rather than the comedy of glory-to-joke. Of all the above, though, the 2006 Chris Shelton Story is probably worthy of knocking Tuffy off the high throne. Sussman's memories, the stats, the framework of the five-game TB record to "full moon over the state of Michigan" conclusion are masterly.
I recall Shelton not being auctioned in either of my leagues, being added as a $10 default, and then being traded for one of or the best base stealer in a category adjustment trade that became a joke in that league. The trade was probably for Reyes, Figgins or Pierre.
Shelton surely affected many tens of thousands more fantasy leagues in 2006 than Tuffy did in 1994 and probably would deserve the all-time "April Feast/Career Bust" identification more than Tuffy, as you point out. But that's not the way popular culture icons arise.
Tuffy "took the cake" by absconding to Japan. His subsequent success there after failure in the USA underscored US major league superiority in a way that satisfies our nationalism or half-empty ethnocentrism or pathetic racism, too. Tuffy had many offers to return to MLB but never did. Maybe he was going all Wilt Chamberlain with the Ladies of Nippon. I saw a picture long ago of Tuffy in a kimono, attended by a couple of Japanese beauties. To this day, that image makes me LMAO. The more it becomes clear which way the talent flows, the mythology of Tuffy's narrative and his stature as Baseball Comedy King of April grows. No flag waving here, either: It's about stacks of $100 bills, not "USA! USA!"
But don't think Chris Shelton or anyone else will ever knock Tuffy off his comic perch.
Kudos to Matt Sussman for a virtuoso, amusing skinny on Shelton! I think I'll start re-telling the fantasy baseball story of Shelton-for-Reyes. I'm not sure that's who the other party was, but by now it's better narrative than Shelton-for-Pierre or Figgins. We're all addicted to the facts if we are BP enthusiasts, but that doesn't mean we have to get all the STORIES correct. In our mythologies, the facts should not get in the way.
Ross and Matt nailed the only sensible situation, which would apply in arcania with deep bullpens. What one used to see was almost unbelievable. Some MLB managers still have only some clues. I remember watching a game in KC with my father (who would be 90 if alive) in the 90s, in which the manager took out one struggling RP and brought in a fresh one to issue the IBB. Dad was all over that, implying that the manager was too dumb to be managing kids, let alone pros. "You bring a guy in to throw STRIKES!" Sure enough, the new pitcher walked the batter AFTER the IBB, too, which brought in a run and opened floodgates. Dad was a lifelong player, coach, and fan. But KC's pitching and pitch COACHING in the 90s was finally so frustrating to him that he stopped watching MLB completely. That day had a lot to do with it. I don't believe he ever again went to a game, let alone pay for a ticket. He considered it irrational to pay to be "entertained" by stupidity. It was rather clear for two decades that the Royals did not emphasize throwing strikes.
Thank you, Ben, for a thoughtful overview of the most volatile position. It's very good on value, strategy in mixed leagues, and especially helpful for those of us in dynasty leagues that you addressed the long term.
Darn it, you went all Joaquin Andujar on us and mailed in the haiku, though. The missus should have made the dinner reservations a half hour later this weekend.
Spring with Matt Berry:
"Don't spend money on closers!"
Way to lose your league.
#108 on Drew Smyly: Why not more love? Lack of projected PT?...or is there some statistical reason? A year ago, it seemed like every wag at every website was urging DET to shelve Porcello and start Smyly. His 'pen performance was outstanding in '13, especially K/9. Is it just reflective fashion from one site to another, or is there a reason to ding him?
D'Oh. Mike already used "lurk" in the second line. I was just trying to think of a good one-syllable synonym for "linger." Too hasty on the post. Maybe "creep" or "pose"...
Mike has two shots at the title, Paul. Most BP authors correct mistakes, but he hasn't yet. Egregious! Cannot qualify as it stands. And PAUL found the violation before any reader! Kudos.
They have a good point, Mike. Get 'Er Done:
"Future aces lurk."
I'll rank them all after the RPs next week, Paul. Not gonna give away the criteria yet. We have one more to hear from next week, and he better step up :)
Dandy overview, Mike. Thanks.
You absolutely crushed Sporer with your haiku!
Nice job, Bret! OF must have been laborious.
Not a criticism, because I don't know how I would approach ranking Heyward. You go to the ballpark and watch him play on a lucky day for you, and he has all the tools and potential of Trout, even a great OBP eye at the plate. Physically...just awesome. The horrid beaning aside, Heyward looks for excuses NOT to be in the lineup rather than play. It sure is cozy on that couch while the paycheck is coming. Chipper called Heyward out on the slacking in Heyward's first year. Yes, I know he played 158 in 2012, and the production was superb. Maybe it goes back for me having him as a $2 keeper in 2011 and having to trade him to a non-contender just so I could fill the roster spot with somebody who actually played. I have a feeling that he'll be one of those players (Longoria, anybody?) who never earns his auction salary. I just cringe seeing Heyward at #12. DTM.
Again, I appreciate the good, hard work. You're more game than some RFs, Bret.
Oops: "Why make an idiot DECISION that..."
Starling is still just 21 and did have a vision thing corrected. This year will probably tell. as a three-sport star and avid outdoorsman, Starling did not actually play much baseball before he was a pro. By the end of high junior year in high school, Starling was probably the top pitching prospect in the country. The family (probably advised by an agent) decided to protect his $ arm, and he moved to CF. They made their payday. What's a little tough to swallow is that had the Royals developed him as a pitcher, Starling would probably be a young member of a rotation by now. Why make an idiot position that you're going to pull somebody off his best position? Why couldn't you try that but still let him keep his arm and pitch some relief. We watched the stupid-era Cubs do the same thing with Howser Award winner Brooks Kieschnick. Had wiser Coach Wayne Graham of the Rice Owls not let Tony Cingrani (full time 1B) keep moving to the mound in relief, where would Cingrani be now? Sometimes a player is much better off with smart college coaching than with a dumb pro organization.
This has been an outstanding series, Paul. Concise, well-written, has long & short-term perspective, raises issues...The series has delivered everything the title promises.
About those haikus, though, Son. Please do not turn those in to your middle school teacher. It is important to your mother and I that you pass the class. - Daddy
Agree with johnwood. Super job, guys! Yes, generally favorable to not pick on one of the turns. Only dispute is Pujols, as you admit many of us have. Every rate stat has declined since 2008, precipitously! That's six years...and that's not injuries.
Current Poll on CBS Sports website that has run for quite some time (I’m guessing about a month, since 2014 HoF selections were announced: “Who is least deserving of getting into the Baseball Hall of Fame?” (15,435 votes): Alex Rodriguez 32%, Barry Bonds 24%, Sammy Sosa 19%. OK, now here’s the rest of the list: Pete Rose 12%, Mark McGwire 8%, Roger Clemens 6%.
Now what is the only trait the first three share…and the only trait the last three share? Racism is still a virulent, omnipresent fact of American life.
Many of the comments above equate Clemens and Bonds on personality and the effects of a bad one, but it sure doesn’t look like that’s the case here…Bonds with 400% more unfavorables than Clemens. Sosa 2 ½ times as unfavorable as McGwire. Even Rose (my vote) just a fraction of the African Americans despite his much greater offense!
...and Duquette would not confirm that the Orioles are actually yet "in talks" with Sid Finch, only that they are "in touch" with Finch's agent. Rumors are that the telephones in the Orioles' front office do actually connect to all the telephones in this world...and some in other worlds. The trickle of real news is down to drips, and the pipes are broken in Baltimore.
Great job, Ben. Your work on this series has been outstanding! That really shows at 3B. A lot of fantasy owners have been disappointed with their 3B guys in recent years. You'll make a lot of friends today, Ben, and this year...if they don't forget who steered them into better perspective.
Nice job of conveying the nuances and details, Daniel. To conflate 4 to 6 websites and lord knows how many writers, I think I've read something to the effect that "the Orioles expect to announce a signing in the next few days" every day for the last 100 days. It's refreshing to read the words of one guy who can write about the O's without panting. Wonder whether the Orioles have any fans left who believe what they spin out the back door. Here's an infusion from Missouri for fellow worn-thin fans in Maryland: "SHOW ME."
Yes, Andrus referents in Lindor (2d one) and Mondesi skinnies are confusing. That said, tremendous job, Ben! A lot of work, thought, and tempering went into your very helpful descriptions. What an incredible group of position prospects. Makes 1B look like a near void.
Any stricture against allowing a player to play the very position that the club says he'll play, that he plays in spring exhibitions, and that every owner in every league know he's going to play...is simply absurd. It's a clown legacy from the original Rotisserie Handbook. The above exchange shows how silly it is to even go through that. We have a "rule of common sense" about that in every league I play in. No owner ever voted against the change, none has complained, and plenty of us chuckle at the fact there is still a Baseball Taliban out there who would take us back to the 13th century. Just drop the legal fiction already, lads. If SS Alex Rodriguez shifts to 3B b/c Jeter is at short, or Bogaerts takes the field on 31 March at SS, let's see: he's playing it in MLB. How can he NOT play that position on a fantasy team? Imagine some retro stathead sitting at Boston's opener explaining to his wife or a 7-yr-old how he can't start Bogaerts at SS when they're watching it on the field. "My hubby/daddy is an idiot."
Goldstein fan here, so any detected edge is more like tweaking an old friend (whose help I have appreciated)...but dangit, Craig, I can't buy a share of the BP mancrush (You're not the only one) on Hill. Yes, he batted .291 last year and identically 7 and 8 years ago! Since then: .263,.286,.205(!), .246, and then his career year of .302. He averaged a bit over 3 SBs/yr for 7 yrs of his career except for weird outliers 2011 and 2012 (21 and 14). The home run variance is almost beyond belief without a theory of juicing. You call him a "steady producer in recent years." The only thing steady about Hill is one can count his 42 walks as predictable (even more so) than Adam Dunn's 41 homers. Surely your girlfriend walked through the room in her nightie while you were writing about Aaron Hill. She has better odds of finishing 4th than Hill!
This is an excellent overview, Paul. Great grasp of and presentation of the big picture, nuanced from top down. Concise, frank. Nice job of research and writing!
“tact” = a keen sense of what to say or do to avoid giving offense; skill in dealing with difficult or delicate situations. He had to use tact to converse with the Second Amendment wingnuts.
“intact” = not altered, broken, or impaired; remaining uninjured, sound, or whole; untouched; unblemished: The vase remained intact despite rough handling.
“in tact” = ?Huh?...Maybe: His situation required him to call forth all his skills in tact (or being tactful).