Do early-season phenoms fade once the rest of the league learns to stop giving them pitches to hit?
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
What can we learn from Marc's second-year draft in CBS Fantasy Sports' NL experts league?
Yes, yes, I know: no one cares about my fantasy team. But since this is an NL-only experts league I participate in over at CBS Sports as a representative of Baseball Prospectus, it seems fitting that you get to read about it. Scott White, Al Melchior, Derek VanRiper, Erik Siegrist, and many others are in this 12-team league (the full auction results of which can be found here). In a nutshell, I’m pleased with how my team turned out in my second year in the league, but there are a few picks I made where I wish I had listened more to my own advice.
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.
Jason took part in a slow mock draft with other fantasy experts and is now here to share what he learned from the experience.
I recently had the pleasure of doing a slow—and I mean slow—mock draft over the past four weeks with a few of my friends and colleagues in the fantasy baseball industry. That group included most of the mlb.com folks, Fernando DiFino, and the legendary Joe Sheehan. The draft started on February 17 and survived a few lost weekends, DiFino’s nuptials (congrats!) and several copy and paste issues from some of us that are still using not-so-smartphones.
The 2006 class is a tough one to beat among a strong recent group of rookie classes.
Earlier this week, the folks at Beloit College released their annual MindsetList, a document designed to explain the cultural differences between the incoming class of college freshmen and the older faculty hired to teach them. The idea is to highlight the small and large ways the world has changed in the last 20 years by mentioning things that were true during the life span of oldsters that were never true for those under 20, e.g., the existence of things like a telephone cord, a country called Czechoslovakia, and a baseball commissioner not named Bud. For me, a man who fervently hopes Jamie Moyer comes back next spring to ensure I won’t have to face being older than every major-league ballplayer, this is always a time to reflect on youth and age, both in life and in baseball—especially so this year, since the current Mindset List includes a reference to the term Annus Horribilus, which I happened to use in last year’s BP Annual, but which I now know dates me almost as much as saying “23 Skidoo.”
The Mets center fielder, out all season while recovering from microfracture knee surgery, begins a rehab assignment Thursday, along with other injury news from around the majors.
Carlos Beltran (arthritic knee, ERD 7/15) In what is sure to be a continuing series, the Beltran watch is now headed for a rehab assignment, which will start tomorrow at High-A St. Lucie. Beltran was watched by the Mets' top brass, including Omar Minaya, during an extended spring training game on Sunday and they felt the center fielder was ready to start his 20-day rehab clock. I've pushed the idea that Beltran needs to be up in Flushing as soon as he's physically able, but several people inside the game have told me that while there's merit in the concept, Beltran is human and needs a "spring training equivalent." The downside here is that he's going to be taxing the knee during that time. Of course, that's what rehab assignments are for. They'll be very controlled, perhaps not so much as the simulated games he's been in, but Beltran will have very specific steps and tests at each point. He'll have the DH option in most games as well, something he won't have when he makes it back to the Mets. Watching how often he needs to play there is going to be a big tell for his progress. The key will be how his knee responds and the Mets' ability to manage the inflammation and bruising that will inevitably occur inside the knee. The brace he is wearing is helping, but the continued idea that he's a center fielder is not. I'm most curious to see when that will be abandoned. One interesting concept that was tossed out by an MLB athletic trainer was the idea that Beltran could hit well enough to be in the lineup every day, but not play the field consistently. He wondered if there's a level and a cost where Beltran might make sense for an AL team. If Beltran were to show that, the idea of him being a modern-day Harold Baines would have to be intriguing for some teams as well as for the Mets escaping at least some of Beltran's contract. It's very equivalent to what the Twins did with Jim Thome, though he was a free agent.
Two players graduate and one player gets demoted from Value Picks. Michael Jong covers the new replacements.
This week, Value Picks graduates two players and demotes one, all while bringing in three fresh names in completely different situations. Cliff Pennington's usage shot up in ESPN mixed leagues, as he is now owned in 33 percent of leagues, up 17 percent from last week. As it is, he's no longer undervalued, and why should he be? His unexpected hot star finally caught fantasy players' eyes, but note that he has been in decline for the last few weeks, especially in the power categories. Chris Snyder only spent a week in this space, and it was not a pretty one. Snyder hit .154/.421/.154 during that week, with only two hits. Still, he too saw his ownership jump up to 22 percent of ESPN leagues. With Miguel Montero still not available, Snyder should provide pop and playing time at the catcher position for a little while longer. If either of these players are still available in your deeper leagues, go ahead and snatch them up. The one demotion is John Baker, who slumped through a .125/.192/.208 line in his two weeks in the Value Picks portfolio. Baker can and should regress to his norms in due time, but with limited upside in terms of both talent and playing time, Baker should take a back seat in your search for a catcher.
Entering the portfolio are two catchers in completely different scenarios. Value Picks may be a bit late to the John Jaso party, but better late than never. Jaso took the starting role for Tampa Bay when Kelly Shoppach went down with injury and has not looked back since. While that .314/.479/.486 line Jaso put up in 48 PA is a mirage, it's certainly a hot one. Jaso has been good in the minors at avoiding strikeouts (minor league career strikeout rate of 12.2 percent in eight seasons), so he will certainly strike out more than in 4.1 percent of his plate appearances. With the increase in strikeouts, that batting average will fall, though PECOTA projects an above average contact rate of 83 percent that should help keep the AVG afloat. Jaso has never shown much power, but in the Rays lineup, you do not need a whole lot of power to drive in runs. His solid, patient approach at the plate should get him on base to score runs as well, even near the bottom of the lineup. Jaso's skill set compares favorably with Shoppach, with less power and more contact ability, but the results should be similar. With the lion's share of playing time, he's a good player to have on AL-only leagues and leagues with two-catcher requirements.
With Opening Day a little more than a week away, here is a look at the projected rosters for each of the 16 National League clubs following conversations with club executives and media members. Keep in mind these are projected rosters and subject to change. American League lineups are here. You can also look at the fantasy depth charts at any time to see our latest updated projections.