Featuring Matt Moore, Jose Fernandez, and everyone who faced Brett Wallace.
You could have an intro here, or we could go straight to the sweet and sexy pitches. Nobody pays for the intro (literally, in the case of BP's paywall), so forget the intro. To the pitches!
3. Matt Moore, fastball, against Asdrubal Cabrera, in which Moore eagerly unveils the new slider he's been working on; "guys," he tells everybody before he throws it, "it's such a swell slider, sliding all over the place and real hard like, so I can use it on two strikes and it'll break way out of the zone and batters will swing at it because they don't anticipate how much it's going to slide," upon which Moore proceeds to throw it and everybody tells him that, as far as sliders go, it actually breaks the wrong way, that clearly Moore is doing it wrong, sending Moore into a funk until he figures "ah shucks to it all, I'm going to throw it anyway."
With 8.42 strikeouts per game through their first seven games, the Astros are on pace for a major-league record.
In our haste to dismiss the small-sample-size happenings of April, or in some cases be the loudest in a group of people loudly dismissing them, sometimes there’s a small something that we forget. Those things actually did happen. What I mean by that is that while these events may not tell us much about true talent, it’s important not to dismiss their impact as quickly as we dismiss their predictive value.
Take two teams that appear to have about .500-level talent. One gets off to a 5-1 start, while the other gets off to a 1-5 start. That means nothing, you say. It’s baseball, and teams have mid-season stretches like that all the time, without us paying much attention.
Ten players who took the long route from top prospect to major-league contributor this year.
With over a month remaining in the regular season, Mike Trout’s campaign already looks like it might be remembered as the best ever recorded by a rookie. But Trout’s 2012 may have another lasting legacy: spoiling future rookie seasons for the rest of us. While watching Trout run roughshod over opposing AL pitchers, it’s easy to forget how rare it is for first-year players to be stars, let alone leading MVP candidates. However, it takes time for most young players (including Trout himself last season) to find their footing: only one other rookie, 26-year-old Yoenis Cespedes, has amassed even a third of the value of the Angels’ outfielder this year.
Even highly rated rookies usually struggle in their initial exposure to big-league pitching, and those who find success at first often suffer in their second trips around the league or in their sophomore seasons, as opponents start to exploit their weaknesses. Some of them recover quickly from these setbacks. Others take years to adjust, and many never put together the production that was expected of them.
Michael looks at the impact of some late-breaking deadline deals and those consummated after the deadline in this week's column.
Some commentators worried that the additional Wild Card spot would dampen trading deadline deals, but it seemed to have the opposite effect, with lots of swaps affecting teams down the stretch. Only one new Value Pick resulted from these deals, but we should see more in the weeks to come as the ripple effects of some trades become clearer and fading teams call up prospects or make non-waiver deals like one that I look at in Playing Pepper.
Michael sweeps four VPs off the list while bringing in two Rockies and two hot-hitting first base call-ups.
Being a fantasy owner requires balancing three P’s: production, playing time, and the patience to see if a hitter will improve the former after an increase in the latter. This week, I’m losing my patience with two hitters while sticking by another one who’s about to get more playing time. Owners without my patience can find other options in another set of P’s—the Playing Pepper section—but you can find some fantasy value in any of this week’s players, which is our goal here at Value Picks.
There's hope in Houston, just not for next season (or the one after that)
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.
Lance Berkman reminds Astros fans that he wears big shoes, but Brett Wallace may be capable of filling them; Alfonso Soriano rarely gets on base but often drives himself in.
It was an eye-opening week in Minute Maid Park, as Zod and the other residents of Planet Houston were treated to superb performances from first basemen of the Astros' past, present, and—perhaps—future.
Lance Berkman, the twelve-year Astros veteran who was traded to the Yankees late last year before signing with the Cardinals over the winter, made his return to Houston as a visiting player on Tuesday. He was well-received by the fans, who gave him an extended standing ovation in his first at-bat. When he laced a single to right field off of an inside fastball from Bud Norris, the crowd erupted into more cheers. Needless to say, the man with the second-most home runs in franchise history is still very popular in the Bayou City.
As spring training winds down, Michael looks at some valuable players who are being overlooked in drafts.
Spring training position battles are wrapping up, so I’m shifting my attention towards underdrafted players (according to mockdraftcentral.com). Some of these will be familiar to my readers from last season, but all of them are far more valuable than fantasy owners are acknowledging.