A visual breakdown of the players at this premium position, based on their projected stats for the 2014 season.
For a primer on this series, click here. (Note: this is based off the PECOTA projections from the annual).
The first thing that popped out to me as I was doing this graph was how well rounded Ian Desmond projects to be. Desmond helps out across all five standard categories while dominating none of them. The other thing that pops out is how there are still usable options through the upper portion of the tier-two rankings, and even a guy like Jonathan Villar has his uses down toward the bottom.
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The best value picks at a position where offense can be hard to find.
Long renowned as one of fantasy’s most shallow positions, shortstop is about to get an infusion of talent like we haven’t see in many years. The influx of strong young performers will create an opportunity both to secure new cornerstones of your fantasy franchises, as well as capitalize on veterans who fall through the cracks as owners flock to what is shiny and new.
Why are shortstops so bad this year, and does it mean anything for the future?
We know that positional strength comes and goes in cycles, like most other things in life. The early and mid-90s were great for first basemen and elite starting pitchers, the late 90s and early aughts for shortstops. The time since then has mostly been dominated by Albert Pujols, but it’s been pretty excellent for outfielders and second basemen, too. We can debate those classifications, I suppose, but you get the idea.
Over the last few years, though, I’d argue that the fates have shaken things out more or less evenly. In 2010, the MLB top 20 position players by WARP included at least one of every position but catcher (Joe Mauer came in at 22); in 2011, the top 12 had one at every position. The top 20 for 2012 includes 11 outfielders, three third basemen, three catchers, two second basemen, and, shockingly, just one first baseman. I’m pretty sure that each of the last three seasons has been branded the Year of the Pitcher at one point or another, but I’m not sure that’s totally justified, either; there are great pitchers, of course, but not so many or so dominant that they seem to dominate the sport.
Not all glovemen are destined to stay hopelessly inept at the plate. Ben looks at defensive stars who have added offense to their games this year.
Plenty of weak-hitting players from baseball’s past and present have gotten by on good gloves alone. Most big-league benches boast a part-timer whose sole strength is an ability to play capable defense at premium positions. But despite Brendan Ryan’s best efforts, relatively few players become stars unless they can combine good gloves with big bats.
Fortunately, not every good-field, no-hit player is destined to stay that way. Legendary glove man Ozzie Smith was a good player who turned into a great one when he learned how to hit in his late 20s. Defensive players of Smith’s caliber are few and far between, but some of today’s finest fielders could follow a similar trajectory. This season, the following five defense-first players who entered 2012 with reputations as easy outs have become much tougher to retire, transforming themselves (at least temporarily) into all-around threats instead of one-dimensional talents.
Counting on a player to transition from teeny bopper to Bash Brother at age 27 isn't a good fantasy strategy.
Twenty-seven. Oh, the age of 27. As you might be aware, age 27 gets a lot of attention in fantasy baseball circles, often cited as a “magic” number when a hitter reaches his physical peak and is most likely to break out. It doesn’t take much effort to stumble upon a fantasy writer who discusses this theory, heraldingtheupcomingseason’scrop ofage-27ers.
The theory goes that because a player is reaching his physical peak, he is most likely to have a career year during his age-27 season. Unfortunately, most of the support offered for this theory comes in the form of conjecture or anecdotal evidence. I wrote an article last offseason at THT that examined whether age 27 actually is the prime age for breakouts. Unsurprisingly, I found that it wasn’t. Of course, this won’t stop people from continuing to write about it, as they see a player like Rickie Weeks post a 29-home run season in 2010 at the age of 27 and assume that the age is somehow magical. But these people ignore the age-27 players who stumble, such as Adam Lind in 2010, and the players who break out at other ages, such as Jose Bautista at age 29. Anecdotal evidence is never sufficient and can often lead to season-sinking assumptions.
A humor-tinged recap of one of the most exciting World Series of our generation
Track #1: Iron Maiden: “The Duelist” “Ready to start the duel begins the best man wins in the end.
A lunge and a feint, a parry too late
A cut to the chest and you're down
Seeing the stain then feeling the pain
Feeling the sweat on your brow.”
Albert Pujols makes history in the process of putting the Cardinals up 2-1.
"When you have the bat in your hand, you can always change the story," said Reggie Jackson years ago. Mired in the controversy regarding a post-Game Two no-show following his ninth-inning relay flub, Albert Pujols changed the story on Saturday night, becoming just the third player ever to hit three home runs in a World Series game and collecting five hits en route to a Series-record 14 total bases. Before hitting his first home run, Pujols had already collected two hits while helping the Cardinals build an 8-6 lead; his three-run, sixth-inning homer off Alexi Ogando broke the game open en route to a 16-7 rout and a 2-1 Series lead. The Cardinals' 16 runs tied the 2002 Giants and 1960 Yankees for the second-highest single-game total in Series history.