Miami's outfielder is attempting to accomplish a feat few others can claim.
Justin Ruggiano is having one of the league’s most surprising seasons. He entered Sunday with 245 plate appearances, a .324 batting average, and strikeouts in 25.3 percent of his plate appearances. Intuitively, we all know striking out more than a quarter of the time makes it tough to be a productive hitter, and nearly impossible to post a high average. Yet Ruggiano is angling to join an exclusive club of players with more than 250 plate appearances in a season, a strikeout rate above 25 percent, and a batting average of .300 or better:
Michael graduates his first VP of the season, but he still points out plenty of undervalued corner infielders to be found on your league’s waiver wires.
For our nation’s scholars, graduation is just around the corner, but we start things early here at Value Picks, bidding adieu to our first departee. He leaves the list after quickly exceeding ownership thresholds, but I’ve got lots of other players ready to prove themselves to VP readers, including several bubble candidates in Playing Pepper.
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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.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
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.”
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.
The hapless aren't all necessarily hopeless, but picking which players can overcome bad starts takes some digging.
Much has been made about the struggles of Vernon Wells this year. It's hard not to notice when a guy signed to a lucrative long-term contract is hitting .248/.304/.383 almost three months into the season, but for those with memories that go back further than 2008, this shouldn't be that shocking. In 2007, Wells hit .245/.304/.383 over a full season, and his 25th percentilePECOTA forecast resembles his current line. He's not driving the ball, just like he struggled to do in 2007. His HR/FB and pop-up rates look similar to that year, which is also bad news for Jays fans and fantasy owners hoping for a rebound.
Christina returns to cover the swaps and the shake-ups.
Cunningham was one of the better position player prospects in the White Sox chain, so getting him for something of an organizational-filler type represents a minor coup for the Snakes. Richar isn't worthless, but he also isn't gifted with a lot of star potential, not in a system that stole Alberto Callaspo from the Angels and which also has to figure out Mark Reynolds' eventual infield home. They're already into the range of having to ask themselves what benefit there is to offering Orlando Hudson arbitration this winter, or whether they might not be better off non-tendering or dealing him, so even though Richar was already up to Triple-A, he wasn't gifted with a great future within the organization. In contrast, Cunningham could end up hitting his way into an already-talented future-minded outfield with Chris B. Young, Carlos Quentin, Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Upton. Quality outfielders can end up paying off in spades, and if Cunningham develops beyond being "just" an exceptionally disciplined hitter who delivers base hits and generates walks, he'll end up making the White Sox look really bad.
That said, the question is whether he'll develop or not. He's only 21 and already in High-A, and hitting .294/.376/.476 in the Carolina League is really promising. However, it doesn't involve a lot of doubles--which might project to more damage as he fills out--nor does it involve a lot of homers, so while he's patient enough to draw walks in 11 percent of his PA this year, and relatively quick (stealing 22 bags in 30 attempts), he's also a non-center fielder with offensive skills that must improve if his bat is going to play in a corner in the big leagues. It's sort of the same quandary the Sox faced when they had Jeff Abbott coming up; minor-league hitting machines are all well and good, but what do you do with them if they can't consistently slug better than .450 in the big leagues? It's worthwhile to invest in finding out if Cunningham can beat that rap, especially considering his age, and also considering what the Snakes had to give up to get him. All told, another nifty deal pulled off by Josh Byrnes.