And sometimes when you're on, you're really f***ing on, and your friends they sing along and they love you.
If there were any doubts as to which Johnny Cueto would show up Wednesday night in Kansas City, he started to put them to bed with his eighth pitch. He had one out in hand, but the way Jose Altuve unraveled under the spotlight of a playoff series, that had come easily. George Springer was due up next, and Cueto fell behind him 3-1. Surely, there were plenty of nervous Royals fans watching, wondering whether the problematic Cueto, who had scuffled since Kansas City acquired him in July was back—and whether that was what the end of a season looked like.
The young Snake takes on the veteran first-year Royal.
After Ben Carsleykicked off the outfield Tale of the Tape series yesterday, I move on to the second part of the rankings, looking at a couple guys who will likely be deep league starters and standard league reserves. A.J. Pollock and Alex Rios are ranked 38 and 39, respectively, on our rankings. They are being taken in the high 100s or low 200s overall depending on your source of ADP. The former is coming off an injury-plagued season in which he only played half the year, and the latter is coming off one of the worst offensive years of his career. Feel the excitement.
This trio saw its home run totals drop precipitously, but is there reason to hope for a rebound?
In any given year, you are going to be saddled with players who fail to come close to reasonable expectations. It’s frustrating, but it’s the nature of the game. The only upshot is finding the players who had a fluky down year, and those who are truly in the midst of a mid-career collapse. Last season, there were three players who stood out to me as disappointments, especially in the power department. Whether you’re in a dynasty league and trying to figure out how to view these players moving forward, or already looking for good buy-low players in re-draft leagues, the following players may be of some interest in 2015.
There aren’t many good things to be said about Wright’s 2014. After entering the year as a top-25 pick, he finished with a dismal .269 batting average, just eight home runs, and 63 RBI. While the average was surely disappointing, what really killed his line was his utter lack of power. While he’s typically been a 25-plus-homer threat throughout his career, he finished this past season tied in ISO with Billy Hamilton. He had a career-low 5.1 percent HR:FB rate, and though that may sound like he suffered through some bad luck, it’s not that simple. For one thing, his average fly ball fell from 291 feet (right behind Edwin Encarnacion) in 2013 down to 261 (right being Nate Schierholtz) in 2014. The biggest reason for this dip could likely be his shoulder. He battled injuries to it throughout the season, costing him a total of 27 games, and it’s an injury that is notorious for sapping power. That injury is something to keep an eye on this winter, but if he’s fully recovered by Opening Day, he could see a big comeback, especially with the fences being moved in at Citi Field.
A look at the hitters who could outperform their PECOTA projections in RBI.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. For the earlier editions in this series, click below:
Five hitters and five pitchers PECOTA thinks will sink in 2013.
Yesterday we looked at five position players and five pitchers whom BP’s projection system, PECOTA, believes are in for big improvements in 2013. Today we’ll tackle PECOTA’s picks to suffer some of the largest declines.
Hitters Mike Trout, Angels
2012 WARP (639 PA): 9.1 Projected 2013 WARP (693 PA): 5.3 Projected WARP decrease: -3.8
Trout is projected to see the largest WARP decrease of any player—and to tie for the fifth-highest WARP among non-pitchers. It’s a reminder of how far ahead of the pack he was in 2012 that PECOTA can project him to be much less valuable than last year, but still more valuable than almost everyone else. Although he fits the profile of a high-BABIP hitter, Trout was likely a little lucky on balls in play—his batting average on line drives was over 40 points above league average. Some regression in that area, coupled with the adjustments made by opponents who’ve spent the winter searching for ways to get him out, might make Trout merely one of the most valuable players in baseball instead of the most valuable by far.
Rios, Ross, and Cuddyer highlight this week's Keeper list.
Alex Rios| Chicago White Sox
Shallow (30 Keepers): No Medium (60 Keepers): No Deep (90 Keepers): Yes AL-only (60 Keepers): Yes Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
While Adam Dunn was struggling through his historically bad 2011 season on the White Sox, teammate Alex Rios was putting together a fairly disastrous season of his own. Overall, he batted .227 with just 13 homers and 11 steals—a far cry from the 21 homers and 34 steals of the year prior. Many fantasy owners gave up on him as a result, but Rios wasn’t done yet, rebounding to hit .304 with 25 home runs and 23 steals in 2012. Add in just over 90 runs and RBI and you get the 12th most valuable line as ranked by our PFM.
The White Sox center fielder is good, again, surprisingly (for now).
Every year, Baseball Prospectus releases a PECOTA projection for Alex Rios, and every year Rios makes us wonder why we bother by missing the mark on the forecast one way or the other. Rios’ volatility is as dizzying as it is bewildering.
The trend dates back to 2008. Rios had made back-to-back All-Star Game appearances, and the Jays had no reason to believe those would be the last. Toronto wanted to secure Rios and his intriguing blend of power and speed, and so they nailed down a contract extension— the damage: seven years and more than $69 million. Rios played well enough through the season’s end to bring his three-year line to .296/.347/.489. Over the time, his seasonal averages included 19 home runs, 41 doubles, and 21 stolen bases.