In the debut edition of this series, the fantasy team looks at players who could outperform their PECOTA projections in batting average.
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 finish at the top of one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall just shy of the top 10 (in the 11 to 25 range) and one longer shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. To kick things off here is a bounty of hidden treasure in the batting average department:
The fantasy crew tries to peg the top 15 picks and predict breakouts from later picks.
We know from Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster that since 2004, there is a 36 percent success rate in the ADP projecting the top 15. The most in any one year is seven of 15; the least is four. With that in mind, I challenged the fantasy team to try to guess the top 15. In addition to their stab at the top 15, I had them give their answers on the following:
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Most fantasy players prefer to invest their top pick in a star hitter, but this spring, one hurler might tempt those picking outside the top five.
I have always been vehemently against taking starting pitchers in the first round of a fantasy draft. The injury risk associated with pitchers is part of it, but honestly it has always been more because I trust myself to find better pitching later—so in a sense, arrogance. It’s just easier to pluck capable arms later than it is to find the out-of-nowhere bats like Josh Donaldson or Jean Segura. As we creep through the dead of winter and start to trickle into mock draft season, I’m warming to the idea of a first-round starting pitcher, or, more specifically, Clayton Kershaw. There are a handful of quality fantasy aces out there, but Kershaw is clearly a cut above the rest.
The top of the draft is relatively well established. Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout are the unquestioned top pair at this point, with a split camp on which of the two should go first. You can’t really go wrong with either, so having a top-two pick is a prime position this year. The next pair seems to be taking a foothold on the three and four spots in either order, too. Paul Goldschmidt is the easy three for me, but there is a real debate between him and Andrew McCutchen that I would at least listen to before selecting Goldy. Others may have it reversed, but I haven’t been in a mock draft this offseason that didn’t see these four go at the top of the draft.
In an effort to spice up the All-Star break, Bret comes up with a new event'and puts two of the game's brightest young stars to the test.
There is a certain reverence that people who grew up watching the All-Star Games of yore hold, and somewhere between interleague play and the "This Time It Counts" campaign, it's begun to drift away. But instead of trying to fix the game, which is still both very popular and important to growing the brand of baseball both at home and abroad, itself, a different approach may be to surround the game with a more entertaining product. After all, how often do you get such a large representation of the game's collective star power together in one spot?
As it stands now, All-Star Weekend has essentially morphed into a representation of Justin Smoak's career (minus the recent resurgence, if you choose to even call it that). Everything is great on the minor-league side, as the Futures Game is one of the best additions that baseball has made in the last half-century. However, on the major-league side, it's more about lost opportunity. The Home Run Derby, while it is still fun in moderation, has almost become a caricature of itself and lasts nearly an hour too long. Beyond that, there’s not a single event that uses the crop of current All-Stars.
Bryce Harper's supernatural baseball gifts have been evident since before he could drive. Today he’s a 20-year-old super-freak who is slugging over .700 in the majors. His rare combination of competitive intensity, Las Vegas moxie, and otherworldly talent has set the stage for a legendary baseball career as the next lightning rod in the game. His raw power grades out as a pure 80 on the scouting ledger, and though such elite marks are extraordinarily rare, the legit five-tool player also has a throwing arm that ranks at the top of the 20-80 scale.
Dissecting three matchups between two of baseball's most must-watch players.
On Friday, the pitcher with the second-best ERA in the NL took on the batter with the second-most home runs in the NL. Neither player was old enough to drink remember the TV show California Dreams. Because of the first sentence, and because of the second sentence, the two players might be the most Flip to Their Game players in baseball right now. Who would win the three matchups between Bryce Harper and Matt Harvey? Please don’t say “all of us,” please don’t say “all of us,” please don’t say “all of us,” please don’t say “all o
The two were drafted in the same first round, and the two debuted in the majors within a couple months of each other, so as you might imagine, they played in the same league a couple times as they moved up the ladder. Harper and Harvey both played in the Double-A Eastern League during the second half of 2011, and both played in the Triple-A International League to start the 2012 season. While they were in Triple-A, they faced off at least once, the video tells us. The super sexy conclusion:
You can learn a lot about a baseballer by the people he follows.
It can be hard to learn a lot from a ballplayer’s tweets, which are mostly 140-character treatises on what you want to hear. Luckily, there is a column right next to his tweets that can reveal a little bit more. People tweet what they’re supposed to tweet, but for the most part, they follow whom they want to follow. Their follows are a window to their interests, their reading lists, their playlists and their senses of humor.
For instance, if you were to look at a certain Baseball Prospectus writer’s list of follows, you’d find that he’s inappropriately attached to two cities where he no longer lives, he’s the only 27-year-old on the planet who gets instantaneous thoroughbred racing news, and the only parody account he finds funny is this one.
Friends, winter has come. An entire set of Meetings in Nashville has been dedicated to ringing in the season. The air is cold, there is no baseball, and it is all we can do to keep ourselves occupied while trying not to be driven mad by the latest Ken Rosenthal rumor about Justin Upton, or Jon Heyman report on Zack Greinke. We are forgiven, then, for turning to food. After all, food is frequently warm, cooking it makes us busy, and it does not require the presence of baseballing men on our televisions or radios.
Which is not to say that food and baseball don't make a natural pair. A bite and a beer, both the eating and the acquiring, can ease the boredom of a slow fifth inning in a meaningless August blowout, particularly as the hot dogs in many ballparks have been supplemented by more upscale options and the available beers have expanded from the usual selection of Bud, Bud Light, Bud Lime, Bud Dark, Bud Plus, and Bud Unleaded. Still, when I say "upscale," I for the most part mean "hamburgers from Shake Shack instead of Carls Jr." As far as I know and have been able to Google, nobody's yet offering escargot in the mezzanine on the third-base side. What I would like to demonstrate for you, if you'll permit me, is that some classic dishes in French cuisine can provide a gateway to thinking about baseball and baseball players while simultaneously making you ravenous.