Which player do scouts feel is the best unknown major leaguer?
The question was posed to a dozen front-office types and scouts during the final days of spring training: Who is the best player in baseball that nobody knows about? The winner of the highly informal poll was a bit of a surprise, especially since he entered this season having played in just 43 major-league games. Yet there is a strong feeling that Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie won't be a secret much longer.
Buck, Pierzynski, Murphy, and Furcal join the VP ranks this week
Last week, a number of readers pointed out that some of the PECOTA ranks for the Value Picks series did not match up well with the ADP listed based on the name “Value Picks.” It should be noted that we do not necessarily fully agree with PECOTA and do rate players higher or lower depending on their prospects for the 2012 season, including any bonus (or potentially lost) playing time in addition to their skill set. Having said that, this week we bring players whose PECOTA ranks are higher than their respective ADP, with the smallest difference being four ranks.
Roundtable discussion of the pressing questions facing the NL East teams as we approach the start of the season
1) After a disappointing sophomore campaign, what can we expect of Jason Heyward going forward?
MJ: Jason Heyward had an injury-riddled sophomore season in Atlanta, but there is a lot to like about his chances at a rebound campaign in 2012. His offensive line was deflated by a .260 BABIP, but his peripherals were once again stellar. His 11.6 percent walk rate represented a regression from 2010 but cannot be considered poor, and his .162 ISO likewise dropped from the previous year but did not experience a precipitous fall.
Daniel Murphy's MCL is gone, but at least the Mets were able to see that he had value before he was lost.
I come to you today from a recumbent position as I continue to recuperate from a back injury—my lumbar region has been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s, not to mention Dun & Bradstreet, Abbott & Costello, Sacco & Vanzetti, and Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn. This accounts for why my hotly-anticipated “trade deadline losers” piece (maybe you weren’t excited, but the cat was psyched) did not appear on time. I will confess to you that I have seen very little baseball this past week as I have discovered that painkillers make me sleepy—a handy but very dangerous thing to know. I did, however, rouse myself long enough to see that the Mets lost everyday utility-man Daniel Murphy for the remainder of the season with a torn MCL.
Murphy was having a Billy Goodman kind of year, playing all over the field and hitting .320 while doing it. It was a heartening performance given that Murphy had missed all of 2010 with, ironically, an MCL tear—his other knee. His season was not only a credit to the player himself but to circumstance; the team’s impatience with Brad Emaus in the early going and the long injuries to Ike Davis and David Wright created opportunities. The initial breakthrough, which came at second base after Emaus failed to hold the job following an extremely short trial, speaks well of manager Terry Collins, a coach I’ve not often reviewed favorably. Despite having obvious reasons to doubt Murphy’s ability to field the position—his minor-league experience was limited to 19 games—Collins accepted the defensive hit he would inevitably take in return for a better bat than the standard utility infield options would have provided—indeed, more than Murphy’s successors Ruben Tejeda and Justin Turner have provided.
In my last column, I wrote that if being a General Manager is an art, then it is the art of turning today’s dross into tomorrow’s hope. The same is true in a different way of managers. Sometimes a manager needs to be able to see what a player can’t do, so he will stop asking him to do things of which he’s incapable. Conversely, at other times the manager needs to overlook what a player can’t do so he can use those skills a player does have. Sometimes, even adept talent evaluators miss the forest for the trees. According to legend, the evaluation of Fred Astaire’s first screen test read, “Can't sing. Can't act. Balding. Can dance a little.” This was all true, sort of.
Juan Nicasio suffers a fractured neck, Jose Reyes' hamstring acts up again, Daniel Murphy has another knee issue, Ike Davis appears to be out for the season, Chase Headley fractures a finger, Alex Cobb has hand numbness, and Jair Jurrjens finally hits the DL.
The VP list loses a pair of backstops, but Michael introduces a newly-healthy shortstop and some clarity in the Mets infield to the mix.
In this week's Value Picks for the up-the-middle positions, we welcome back a few players who have returned from the DL within the last week and might show some interest to mixed-league and single-league owners. In the meantime, some of our regulars in our VP portfolio continue to ride hot streaks, but how much longer can they last?
Top prospects getting the call and the usual injury replacements in this week's look at the Tout waiver wire
Baseball had an interesting week with two no-hitters, several near no-hitters, and two mega prospects called up earlier than expected. Gaby Sanchez had two home runs and ten runs batted in, Jacoby Ellsbury put his running shoes on and swiped five bases, and Ben Zobrist scored eight runs. Dan Haren owners were frustrated as he did not win either of his starts, but still struck out 18 over the week–a total that Cliff Lee nearly equaled in his only start of the week with 16 strikeouts in just seven innings pitched.
Brandon Wood and Eric Duncan find new life in the NL Central, Brandon Belt gets reacquainted with Fresno, Daniel Murphy tries to clean up the Mets' second-base mess, and the Rule 5 regifting season hits full swing.