Albert Pujols hits a big homer, Jose Fernandez and Alex Wood duel, plus more Tuesday action and Wednesday's What to Watch.
The Tuesday Takeaway
Of the 25 players in the 500-home-run club entering play on Tuesday, none had joined by hitting nos. 499 and 500 on the same night. Albert Pujols, who became its 26th member in the Angels’ 7-2 victory, is the first to do it in two-tater fashion.
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.
What does Doug see ahead for selected pitchers in 2014?
Along with the rest of the BP staff, I’ve submitted my pre-season predictions for division standings and end-of-season award winners. I tend to stay in the neighborhood of likely outcomes for these picks, resulting in easy answers such as “Mike Trout for AL MVP” or “Tigers win the AL Central,” but I’m more intrigued by the long-shot stories that emerge once the season starts.
These young players have officially graduated from the minors and are ready to help your fantasy squad this year.
I’ve been partial to the phrase prospect fatigue as it applies to players who are on the radar for so long that we start to ding them for being (somewhat) known quantities as opposed to the younger players who let our minds run free, unencumbered by the shackles of previous performance. Well after the prospect fatigue guys come post-prospects. They live in stasis in our brains, some purgatory of youthful but not eligible for a minor league roster spot, yet still not useful enough for a major league keeper spot. Before this turns into the final season of LOST though, we should note that these players tend to be divisive, riding the line between being overvalued thanks to a perceived undervaluing or just straight up undervalued. Here’s a look at five in the NL:
Wily Peralta, P, Brewers
Peralta put together a nice second half of the season last year, making it two years in a row he’s put together small sample sizes of good performance that could lead one to hope for more the next year. The problem of course was his brutal first half, as he only struck out 14 percent of batters and got rocked to the tune of a 4.61 ERA. He was better, though not great, in the second half, with a 3.99 ERA, but the real improvement showed up in his ability to miss bats. Peralta saw his strikeout rate jump to 19% once he started incorporating his slider more consistently. In the first three months of the season he never used it more than 22.68 percent but starting in June (32.34 percent), Peralta never saw his slider usage dip below 24.38 percent and twice registered a number above 30 percent. The ability to miss bats to his exceptional ability to burn worms is a much needed addition, and one Peralta is poised to exploit in the upcoming season.
A close look at four relievers who benefit from funky mechanics.
Starting pitchers tend to receive most of the attention devoted to pitchers, both in Raising Aces and within the general community of baseball evaluators. Yet some of the most intriguing pitchers in the major leagues hail from the bullpen. Starters tend to adhere to a prototypical build designed for stamina, but relief pitchers come in all shapes and sizes, often earning their roles as a direct result of the perception that they cannot withstand the rigors of a 200-inning season or a seven-inning appearance.
There are a multitude of reasons why a pitcher might be assigned to relief work, including body type, pitch selection, and/or mechanical trends. When it comes to mechanics, a pitcher with a funky delivery can be sent to the pen just as quickly as one whose motion is perceived as dangerous. These attributes can be intertwined, as the same elements that make a delivery look goofy can also present the risk of injury. Other times, a pitcher's mechanical approach is geared toward deception, creating strategic angles that are designed to exploitplatoon splits or to exaggerate downhill plane.
After making quick work of the minors, Wood could make a smooth transition to the Braves bullpen, but his fantasy value depends heavily on the type of league you play in.
The Situation: With lefty relievers Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty both lost for the season to Tommy John surgery, the Braves are in need of bullpen arms. They’ve purchased Wood’s contract from Double-A Mississippi, adding the 22-year-old southpaw to the big-league bullpen for Thursday night’s game against Toronto.
Background: Atlanta’s second-round pick in last year’s draft, Wood was selected following a three-year career at the University of Georgia. He underwent Tommy John surgery as a freshman in 2010, but hasn’t had an injury hiccup since. Entering pro ball last summer with a mature fastball-changeup combination, Wood cruised through 13 starts in the Low-A South Atlantic League, posting a 2.22 ERA. He impressed during five relief appearances in big-league camp this spring and earned an assignment to Double-A Mississippi. The prospect continued his dominance with the M-Braves, allowing only eight earned runs on 41 hits in 57 innings, walking 15 and fanning 57.