How many top-ranked shortstop prospects actually go on to play shortstop in the majors?
Last weekend the Twins announced that their top prospect Nick Gordon, the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft, would cease playing exclusively shortstop and begin spending some time at second base as well. Positional versatility is not a bad thing, but Gordon’s draft stock was based on the belief that he was a shortstop, period, so the fact that there’s uncertainty about his ability to stick there before he even got to Double-A is discouraging. As a rail-thin 21-year-old with a poor walk rate and just five home runs in 293 games as a pro, Gordon will likely need to have significant defensive value to be a big-league asset.
Gordon’s older brother, Dee Gordon, was also a top prospect as a shortstop who later moved to second base. Dee, who cracked BP’s top 101 prospects list in 2010 and 2011, remained a shortstop long enough to log 147 major-league starts there in 2011-2013, but then shifted to second base full time in 2014 and hasn’t played shortstop since. When talk of little brother Nick possibly moving off shortstop got louder a couple weeks ago, Dee spoke up, telling Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press: “I’m not their front office, but my brother is a shortstop and it’s going to be tough for him to play second.”
While home run totals have experienced a meteoric rise over the past two seasons, stolen bases have followed an inverse trend, especially during the last five years. Here’s an oversimplification: After major-league teams swiped just 2,505 bases in 2015, the lowest single-season total since 1974, they managed just 2,537 thefts league-wide in 2016.
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These players vastly outperformed their draft position, making them the best fantasy values of the past season.
Trying to determine any Fantasy Baseball MVP is inherently difficult because the notion of what is the “most valuable” depends on the specific league settings, the makeup of individual teams, and even the type of draft. However, we can certainly highlight some of the players who carried significant surplus value by comparing the preseason average draft position (ADP) of a player and his end-of-season ranking. Those players, we can reasonably assume, impacted the overall success rate of fantasy teams more than other picks.
What happens when the best baserunner in the game meets the best pickoff artist? The rest of the league gets a lesson.
This was supposed to be Billy Hamilton's year. After a 13-game cameo in 2013, during which he stole 13 bases on 14 attempts, the 23-year-old entered spring entrenched as an everyday fixture. Two months into the season, Hamilton has failed to meet expectations. While he continues to inspire think-pieces and fun comparisons, his play—including his basestealing—has disappointed. Hamilton, likely the sport's fastest player, has gone 20-for-26 on stolen-base tries. Good, but not transcendent.
In advance of his foray into Tout Wars, Mike explains how he'd adjust his values for OBP leagues and unveils this week's update.
In eight days, I’ll be participating in my fifth Tout Wars expert league auction (on the National League side of the fence). However, this will be the first year we will be using on-base percentage—instead of batting average—as a category.
The attached spreadsheet offers my adjusted bid values for on base percentage leagues. More than the changes, what will probably jump out to readers is how few players’ values changed in both leagues. Forty-five NL hitters saw a change in value, while 38 AL hitters were moved up or down. Given that 125 AL hitters and 118 NL hitters saw a value change of $1 or more in 2013, shouldn’t there be more fluctuation in my bid limits for OBP?
Notes on eight players who had notable performances in Monday's AFL and DWL action.
I love this time of year. Hot Stove talk. NFL and College Football are in full swing. The NBA season is underway. And Baseball Prospectus has begun to release Top 10 Prospect Rankings, starting with the Astros. Oh yeah, and there's still plenty of baseball being played around the world.
The easiest way for contending teams to get better is to start with where they've been worst. Here is where they've been worst.
As the trading deadline approaches, teams are open to any and all moves that might make them better. Some clubs have sought upgrades at positions where they’ve already received decent production, but the higher the bar that the trade target has to clear, the fewer the potential fixes, and the greater the price. The path of least resistance for a contender hoping to improve is often to patch a particularly weak position with an average player who can give them more than they’ve been getting, without costing too much in any other area.
The weakest performance by a collection of players at any position on a contending team this season has been at second base in Detroit, where seven players—notably Ramon Santiago, Ryan Raburn, and Danny Worth—have played at replacement level or below, combining for a total of -2.2 WARP. It’s no coincidence that the Tigers traded for a second baseman on Tuesday, filling what had been a gaping hole with Omar Infante, who should be at least average for them the rest of the way. We can see the same pattern on display in other acquisitions: the Dodgers traded for Hanley Ramirez because their shortstops—notably the injured Dee Gordon—had combined for -0.6 WARP.
Don Mattingly's affinity for the bunt could be keeping the Dodgers from scoring more runs.
Like many a Dodger fan, I found myself pulling out clumps of hair on Tuesday night. The Dodgers—a first-place team at 19-10 to that point, surprisingly—were facing the Giants (14-15) in L.A. Despite having Clayton Kershaw on the hill, they were on the short end of a 2-1 score, because with a man on base in the second inning, their ace left a high fastball to Brett Pill a bit too far out over the plate, and Pill drove it 384 feet into the left-field bleachers. The Dodgers had plated a run against Ryan Vogelsong in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of doubles, but they could get no more, and as the innings passed, the situation grew more desperate.