The outfielder has transformed his offensive game since coming to D.C., but can he sustain the improvements into 2015?
Welcome to the most glorious of days: the first of maybe two (if we’re lucky) days annually when we get a full schedule of four playoff baseball games. Several of my colleagues have already kicked off our Playoff Spotlight series with looks at the various fantasy values of several players who either are or were at one time playing in this year’s post-season. Pieces on Eric Hosmer, Josh Donaldson, and Edinson Volquez all await your consumption.
Today I’d like to turn my attention to a player I have a long personal history of fantasy entanglement with, Washington leadoff hitter Denard Span. Span’s coming off his best fantasy season since his first full year in the Majors back in 2009. His .302 average, 31 steals, and 94 runs combined to catapult him into the top 15 overall fantasy outfielders in 2014, just like I drew it up in the preseason when I was completely sold on the likelihood of that happening. So how did Denard get his groove back, and what’s the likelihood that what he did this year is repeatable in 2015?
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This week's bunts, a chat with Chip Hale, and a new trend in defensive shifts. Plus: Ted Williams.
Last month I started a season-long series (continued here, here, here, here, and here) devoted to tracking bunts for base hits with the infield shift in effect; this is the seventh installment. To bring you up to speed on the series’ premise and methodology will take but two brief excerpts. Excerpt one:
Owners hunting for saves should have a couple of NL Central flamethrowers on their radars.
Each week, two members of the BP fantasy team will provide a rundown of potentially valuable players that are available as free agents in most fantasy formats across the major platforms. We will run one column on the National League and one on the American League each week, with Josh Shepardson tackling the senior circuit on Mondays and Paul Singman focusing on the junior circuit on Tuesdays.
Ten players who could land with a contender before this year's trade deadline.
The New Collective Bargaining Agreement has already affected the free-agent and draft classes. Soon, the new guidelines will reshape the trade market. The two most noticeable changes deal with draft-pick compensation. Foremost, teams that acquire a player in-season are no longer eligible to receive compensation. The elimination of Type-A and Type-B ranks means that teams holding onto their own players to net compensation will now be tasked with extending a qualifying offer worth the average salary of the 125 richest contracts in baseball (more than $12 million for the time being).
While those new rules will ostensibly lower the trade value of the average player, the decision to add two playoff spots could serve as a counterbalance. In theory, the increased demand will yield a higher return for the smaller number of sellers. In reality, that might not be enough to make up for the draft compensation changes. One thing is certain: the new rules could alter the relief pitcher market. The last time Astros reliever Brandon Lyon qualified for free agency, he achieved Type B status and netted his former team (the Tigers) a supplemental pick. This time around, Lyon will be on the move by the deadline if his team decides that two months of his service is worth less than the best offer on the table.
Speedsters are the theme of this week's outfield VP with Revere and Brantley joining the crew.
Despite booting Dayan Viciedo and his .381 week with two home runs, the Value Picks outfielders hit a composite .295/.390/.477 this past week with five home runs and five stolen bases. With the three leadoff hitters combining for two runs batted in (neither Jarrod Dyson nor Denard Span had any), the group still managed 18 RBI while scoring 28 runs. Obviously, results may vary from week to week, but this is the sort of “found money” that can be realized when Value Picks work out.
Ibanez, Reddick, and Dyson get the VP label this week
There was a common perception that Jayson Werth is injury prone, but he went almost four years between stints on the disabled list (his previous being May 23, 2008). His loss hurts fantasy owners, though not nearly as much as it is likely to hurt the on-base-challenged Nationals. Meanwhile, mixed-league afterthought Rick Ankiel becomes a much better risk; the team really needs his power, even if he brings little else to the table offensively. In the fantasy realm, however, owners can do a lot better when searching for a replacement in most league formats, which is where Value Picks comes in...
Which outfielders and DHs proved to be the biggest black holes in the majors?
Picking up where I left off on Friday, we continue hunting the fish at the bottom of the major-league barrel in search of the positions where teams got the worst production—worse than the Replacement-Level Killers, but without the burden of toiling for a contending team. As with their catching and infield brethren, the following players helped produce tornado-level disasters amid their lineups, often at salaries that represented far more than just soft breezes running through their teams’ bank accounts. These are the Vortices of Suck.
The Keeper Reaper examines the worthiness of Bruce, Holliday, Span, Revere, Colvin, Blackmon, and Leonys Martin this week
Starting off on a tangent, the Player Forecast Manager has been updated with 2011 final stats, as many have already noted in this blog post: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15322. This is good news for discussing keepers. In fact, for easy reference, here are direct links to the PFM reports for the various league sizes used in Keeper Reaper (note that minimum dollars have been set to $5 so that the reports display faster – this can be extended to include players who had worse 2011 seasons, if desired):
Peter Moylan can't catch a break, Denard Span gets into a car crash and emerges with a headache, Daric Barton and Miguel Cairo undergo shoulder surgery, Tim Hudson gets dehydrated, and Scott Atchison strains his groin.
Peter Moylan, ATL (Right shoulder torn labrum and rotator cuff) [AGL: 10 (93 DL), ATD: TBD (-.092 DL)] (Explanation) Moylan can’t seem to catch a break in 2011. After missing four months following surgery on a troublesome disc in his low back, his shoulder started to click on him during normal next day throwing after last Monday’s appearance. Clicking can be indicative of several different problems, ranging from swelling to full blown cartilage tears. However, over this past offseason, he underwent an MRI that revealed tearing in his rotator cuff and labrum.
A recent repeat MRI on Thursday revealed that the tearing has worsened and may require surgery. He will see noted surgeon Dr. James Andrews down in Birmingham for a second opinion, and it sounds like he will need surgery. Surgery will almost certainly put him out for most of the 2012 season, barring some unexpected good news. He doesn’t have to have surgery, but he is risking significantly more damage in his shoulder if he chooses to pursue the rehab route.
The Twins struggled in 2011 and there's little help from the farm coming soon
Kiss 'Em Goodbye is a series focusing on MLB teams as their postseason dreams fade—whether in September (or before), the League Division Series, League Championship Series or World Series. It combines a broad overview from Baseball Prospectus, a front-office take from former MLB GM Jim Bowden, a best- and worst-case scenario ZiPS projection for 2012 from Dan Szymborski, and Kevin Goldstein's farm system overview.