The majority of Michael’s VP list turns over this week, but he’s got plenty of replacements lined up, including three who picked up their first home run of the year last week.
Statistically speaking, a single home run (like a single hit) is fairly meaningless. It’s the ultimate small sample, showing how one batter did against one pitcher (and one pitch) under one specific set of conditions. But psychologically speaking, when it’s the first home run of the season, it can mean so much more. The hitter feels confident in his swing or relieved at having gotten his first longball of the season out of the way, and it could mean a turnaround is coming. Look at Albert Pujols: in 27 plate appearances since his first jack of the season, he’s picked up 5 RBI—as many as he picked up in the 114 plate appearances before he finally went yard.
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Suzuki, Thole, Casilla, and Scutaro may prove undervalued in your 2012 fantasy leagues
This week on Value Picks, we look at some names that may have been overlooked because of a recent fall or the fact that they were never highly regarded to begin with. For many of these players, one category provides enough value for them to be worth a look at their respective projected dollar values, despite what their checkered past may show.
Is there any hope that the Twins will be better than horrible this season?
First, let’s get this out of the way: The Minnesota Twins will probably be pretty bad, at best, this season. They lost a lot of games in 2011, and though many of the names and faces have changed, they’ll take the field in 2012 looking a lot like the same team. As a matter of sabermetric best practices, it’s probably a good idea to assume that they’ll lose a lot of games again. PECOTA and the depth charts currently see the Twins losing 91 games, in a two-way tie for the AL Central cellar and a three-way tie for last in the American League. That’s all very reasonable, and nothing you read here is going to dispute the notion that that’s exactly what’s most likely to happen.
What I’m wondering, though, is why it’s being treated as a foregone conclusion. Great analysts are dismissing the team without, well, analyzing. Our own departing-and-incoming managing editors—brilliant, insightful, and devastatingly handsome men, both—had things like this to say in their recent ALCentralpreview: “This team should trade any veterans not nailed down” … “they can’t compete” … “The Royals are about to leave the Twins in their dust” … “It’s going to stay bad before it gets better.” And they’re certainly not alone... they’re just the example I can find right now. On Twitter and elsewhere, the Twins have very quickly become a punch line. They’ve been written off completely.
Which men of misery prevented their teams from escaping the murky waters of suckitude?
My semiannual Replacement-Level Killers series spotlights the worst holes in contenders' lineups, as well as the possible remedies they might take to avoid letting such subpar production destroy their post-season chances the next time around. I make no claims for this companion series being so noble in purpose. Because bad baseball so often makes for good copy, it's more fun to hunt the fish at the bottom of the major-league barrel to find the positions where players' contributions could be considered the worst in the majors. What follows is an "all-star" team of players who have produced tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just a soft breeze running through their team's bank account. Once again, I present the Vortices of Suck.
The Twins struggled in 2011 and there's little help from the farm coming soon
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.
The Twins will depend on both Mauer and Morneau to reclaim the Central title, but CHIPPER's prognosis is negative.
The Team Injury Projections are here, driven by our brand new injury forecasting system, the Comprehensive Health Index [of] Pitchers [and] Players [with] Evaluative Results—or, more succinctly, CHIPPER. Thanks to work by Colin Wyers and Dan Turkenkopf and a database loaded with injuries dating back to the 2002 season—that's nearly 4,600 players and well over 400,000 days lost to injury—we now have a system that produces injury-risk assessments to three different degrees. CHIPPER projects ratings for players based on their injury history—these ratings measure the probability of a player missing one or more games, 15 or more games, or 30 or more games. CHIPPER will have additional features added to it throughout the spring and early season that will enhance the accuracy of our injury coverage.
These ratings are also available in the Player Forecast Manager (pfm.baseballprospectus.com), where they'll be sortable by league or position—you won’t have to wait for us to finish writing this series in order to see the health ratings for all of the players.
Hot Spots examines a few more names before calling for requests.
As esteemed colleague Rob McQuown mentioned yesterday, Hot Spots will be moving to a new format in which we take a few suggestions for players at given positions to cover. On Tuesdays, I'll be continuing to cover the up-the-middle positions of catcher, second base, and shortstop, so if you have any requests from those spots, I'd be glad to get to them in the coming weeks. For now, let's look at a few names that avoided arbitration and resigned with their clubs this week.
The Angels are becoming the cradle of managers, along with other news and notes from around the major leagues.
When ESPN.com's Jayson Stark went about determining who the best manager in the major leagues was last January, he ultimately decided on the Angels' Mike Scioscia. Though Scioscia might stay out of the spotlight while honing his craft in Orange County, he is certainly worthy of being considered the best in his profession as he has taken to his teams to the postseason six times his 11 years on the job.
Apparently not destiny, meaning we get another post-season with quality time in their dome home.
Sometimes, being both a fan and an analyst creates a conflict. For me, that has usually centered around my desire to be a credible writer and my lifelong love affair with the New York Yankees. This played out on these pages all through last year, the final season of the old Yankee Stadium, in moments such as the All-Star Game, where I wanted badly to cheer Mariano Rivera but couldn't because I was in the role of professional in that moment.