If these players are on your league's waiver wire, they might be worth a look, depending on the format in which you play.
Welcome back to our weekly walk through some of the players who may want to keep an extra eye on in your leagues. Mike and I will be tackling this topic on Thursdays again and focusing on a singular hitter and pitcher in four of the more popular formats: shallow mixed, deep mixed, NL-only and AL-only. These are certainly not the only players who are worth pickups, but it gives us a nice opportunity to write about players we have close tabs on in our leagues.
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.
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.
Looking at some first-time starters in 2013 to see which ones will stick.
For every top talent like Bryce Harper or Manny Machado who claims a regular role from the moment he makes the majors, there’s a veteran who bounces around for years while he waits his turn for a chance to start somewhere. The following 10 players are looking to make the leap to full-time starter status this season. But do they have what it takes to succeed in their expanded roles, or will they be busted back to the bench?
Brandon Moss, Athletics, 1B
Moss’ power output was impressive last season, but it was partially a product of aggressive platooning by Bob Melvin, who limited him to only 62 PA against lefties. Chris Carter’s departure opens a path to more playing time for Moss (and speaks to Oakland’s confidence that he can repeat his success), but it will also make it more difficult to protect him against southpaws. Can he stick? No. A’s batting coach Chili Davis worked closely with Moss to get him to embrace his pull power, so it’s possible that his pre-2012 stats are deceptive. But the 29-year-old’s projection isn’t pretty: .238/.301/.421 with subpar secondary skills, which wouldn’t come close to cutting it at first base.
Monday's trade could impact far more players than just the five who changed uniforms.
Yesterday’s trade, which sent Jed Lowrie and Fernando Rodriguez to the Athletics for Chris Carter,Brad Peacock, and Max Stassi, may seem relatively unimportant from a fantasy standpoint, but there are ripple effects that could impact numerous players on both the A’s and the Astros. Below, I examine the fallout for all of the players affected by the deal.
Playing for one category might make sense this late in the season. Here are some limited players who might nonetheless pick up a point or two for you.
On Thursday, I discussed the importance of managing your categorical needs at this time of year. By this point in the season, you could actually make a case for dropping certain would-be stars like Adam Dunn or Michael Bourn if their categories are no longer of use to you (and if you’re certain enough they won’t fall into the hands of a competitor that needs what they offer). On the flip side, players that you might have turned your nose up at earlier in the year may now be incredibly appealing. Because there is so little time left in the year, a couple of home runs or steals could mean a point or two in the standings. And if this is the case, the crappy batting average that is likely to come with it probably doesn’t matter to you. As I always say, it’s all about context. So today I return with some more one-category wonders that are worth considering for a final championship push.
My Mitch Moreland obsession is far from a secret. He was one of my preseason sleepers and I drafted him everywhere. As little love as the guy gets outside of these pages, he has 25-homer power at worst. Especially if you have the luxury of picking the days you play him (he sits against lefties), he could give you a couple of homers over the final weeks.
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.
If you can believe in Chris Carter, you can believe in this year's Athletics.
I write this on Wednesday evening. It is mid-August. The Ides of August, even, though you're reading this the day after. The Oakland Athletics are 61-55, counting the Wednesday loss to the Royals. The last time the A's had a record this good this late was 2006, when they won the AL West behind Frank Thomas's bat and then went 3–4 in the playoffs—three wins against the Twins and four losses to the Tigers.
They're not looking at the division crown this year. They were up 5 1/2 games in the Short Stack in 2006, and they're down six now. Six games doesn't sound like a lot when there are 46 still to play, especially with seven of those 46 against the first-place Rangers. But it is a lot. The Rangers are a better team than the A's, so those games remaining are more likely to bury the Green & Gold than they are to become their salvation. This is why Oakland is only given a 1 percent chance at winning the division in the current iteration of our Playoff Odds. (Current as of my writing, anyway, which doesn't incorporate the Wednesday games yet, though I'll eat my hat with mustard if that figure differs much as you're reading this.)
A look at how Chris Carter has revitalized his career with some important mechanical adjustments.
There is an old adage about the Red Sox needing 25 cabs for 25 players since the team could not get along. That phrase may need to be updated to reflect the 2012 Oakland Athletics, who may need 25 stories for 25 players; there are just so many fascinating stories in Oakland these days. Spiderman Reddick, the surprise young pitching staff, Yoenis Cespedes showing how his core strength translates at the major league level, Coco Crisp becoming Mr. Walk-Off, and Chris Carter hitting everything out of the ballpark since his umpteenth recall from Sacramento. Carter’s 2012 campaign is just one of many fascinating story lines in the successful season the Oakland Athletics have had thus far in 2012.
What are the fantasy implications of some of the recent trades and signings?
Marco Scutaro | Colorado Rockies | SS/2B | Acquired via Trade
After spending all of 2011 struggling to find someone capable of handling second base adequately, the Rockies have finally found someone. Scutaro is far from a sexy player, and the move to Coors Field won’t help him as much as it will a guy like Michael Cuddyer, who has actual power, but Scutaro should still receive a moderate benefit from the park and league change. But the biggest benefit might come from where he’ll bat in the order. If the Rockies decide to bat Scutaro second, as they did many of their second basemen in 2011, he would see a big increase in runs from batting eighth or ninth for the Red Sox. In NL-only leagues, Scutaro could be a very nice, under-the-radar pickup.
The move severely hurts the value of Chris Nelson, Jonathan Herrera, and D.J. LeMahieu, who were set to battle it out for the starting spot prior to Scutaro’s arrival. In Boston, the move opens up shortstop for a potential Mike Aviles/Nick Punto platoon. Whether that’s a strict platoon will have a large effect on each player’s value. Aviles is the better fantasy option, but he’s right-handed, so it’s possible he only faces lefties. If the split is more 50-50, or if Aviles gets the majority of starts, we’d need to remember that we’re just one year removed from a lot of analysts calling this guy a fantasy sleeper. He had an up-and-down 2011, but he still has some potential across-the-board skills that could be useful to an AL-only owner. Value Change: Gain for Marco Scutaro; Loss for Chris Nelson, Jonathan Herrera, and D.J. LeMahieu; Gain for Mike Aviles; Gain for Nick Punto