Looking at the players who should be in the MVP conversation who have never been in the MVP conversation.
A thing I do is steal from my betters. Two of my betters, Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller, spent some time a few months ago on Effectively Wild discussing the idea of unlikely MVPs. Now that we're halfway through the season, let's pick that up and bring in a quasi-formal definition that will get us a pool of interesting players to look at. What follows are the top five players by WARP in each league who have never received an MVP vote and (here's where some squish comes in) who are not very recently megaprospects. (The latter may be displeasing to some, especially Orioles fans, but if the point is "genuine surprise," then it would be weird to include Manny Machado, who was, after all, a no. 3 overall pick—that's the spot of Paul Molitor and Robin Yount and Matt Williams and Lonnie Smith. There's no pick from which you are "supposed" to get an MVP, but there are picks from which you are less surprised when you wind up with one.)
Alternating by league, then, from "bottom" to top:
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A league-wide decrease in stolen bases has left some fantasy owners, like Paul, scrambling for help in that category.
I’m not big on mantras. Catchphrases are way cooler. But if there is one mantra/axiom/adage/proverb I espoused this draft season, it was, “Focus on power, there is tons of speed available in smaller chunks.” In 2012, there were 1.33 steals per game. That was down slightly from 2011’s 1.35, but both were up markedly from the 1.22 that held steady from 2009 through 2010. In 2011-2012, there were about 300 more steals in the league than there were in 2009-2010. Plus, they were more evenly distributed.
The 2009 season saw Jacoby Ellsbury lead baseball with 70 stolen bases, and Juan Pierre was just two off of that mark when he led the majors the following year. Michael Bourn and Carl Crawford joined Ellsbury at the top with 61 and 60, respectively, in 2009, before dropping to a trio of 42s (Nyjer Morgan, B.J. Upton, and Matt Kemp). Pierre was the lone member of the 60-steal club in 2010, but Bourn (52) and Rajai Davis (50) were still great, followed by Carl Crawford and Brett Gardner at 47, and then another trio of 42s (Upton again, Ichiro, and Chone Figgins) bringing up the rear of the 40-plus club.
This week's mailbag includes a question about trading for Stephen Strasburg, among many other topics.
Writing to you all the way from Ghana, and although I have to watch games on tape delay and have ABSOLUTELY no one to talk ball, with there are some perks. For instance, I just picked up Jose Valverde on waivers right after Leyland said that he would be the closer as the rest of my fantasy league mates drifted of to a West Coast sleep. Always give me half a day where I know the rest of my league will be sound asleep, and I can pick apart the waiver wire in peace.
This position has an obvious one-two punch at the top, but there are plenty of counting-stat bargains available late in drafts.
Today we continue our positional tier rankings. Last offseason, Derek Carty tackled the tiers by himself; this spring, we've decided to attack them as a team. Players at each position will be divided into five tiers, represented by the number of stars.
Five-star players are the studs at their respective position. In general, they are the players that will be nabbed in the first couple of rounds of the draft, and they'll fetch auction bids in excess of $30. Four-star players are a cut below the studs at the position. They will also be earl- round selections, and they're projected to be worth more than $20 in most cases. Three-star players are the last tier in which players are projected to provide double-digit dollar value in auctions, and two-star players are projected to earn single digits in dollar value in auctions. One-star players are late round sleepers and roster placeholders. As was the case with our positional rankings series, the positional tiers aren't simply a regurgitation of the projected PECOTA values.
My pet peeve as a consumer of writing on and analysis of baseball is a failure to properly employ a sensible baseline. This frequently occurs via the writer not applying any baseline at all, instead presenting statistics or other performance indicators denuded of context. In Hall of Fame arguments, what does it mean that Bert Blyleven won 287 games? Is that a lot, given the era he played in, the teams he was a part of, the number of games he started? What about Fred McGriff's 493 home runs? What do these numbers mean?
Or think about the ways MVP arguments sometimes proceed, where one candidate has a .390 on-base percentage and another has a .580 slugging and a third stole 42 bases at an 82 percent clip and a fourth had a 2.30 ERA in 210 innings. Do you know who to vote for in this scenario? It depends on what year it is, right?
Jed Lowrie is healthy and Gordon Beckham is hot again, leading to stretch-run VP stints for the pair of middle infielders.
If he played a different position, Manny Machado(Yahoo! 29%, ESPN 38%, CBS 67%) would be an easy departure. Shortstop is a wretched offensive position this year, though, earning Machado a bit more leash as the season winds down. He recorded zero extra base hits this past week but did manage to steal a base. His strikeout rate is down this month, and his line drive rate is up. He has enough thump in the bat to put a charge into the ball, so deep mixed leaguers and AL-only owners should refrain from dumping Machado.
A look at Soto, Aybar, Norris, and Everth in this week's VP
The Pirates backstop, Rod Barajas(Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 0%, CBS 17%), has felt regression, and it has been swift and unkind. At this point in the year, though, his slash is similar to his career line. What you see is what you get.
The trot times for 6/8-6/10. Harper's sprint, Martin's walkoff, Cabrera's inside-the-parker.
I was out of town this weekend, busy watching some low-A baseball, Star Wars Night fun up in Appleton, Wisconsin. Sadly, Minnesota uber-prospect Miguel Sano didn't actually walk up to the Imperial March. He did, however, get a nice Darth Vader headshot up on the video board.
Plouffe, Barajas, and Drew join the VP ranks this week.
It brings a tear to my eye to bid adieu to my first two Value Pick graduates, Jarrod Saltalamacchia(Yahoo! 59%, ESPN 51.7%, CBS 79%) and Gordon Beckham(Yahoo! 23%, ESPN 50.2%, CBS 72%). Their continued strong play has pushed their ownership above the self-imposed soft cap for inclusion. May both turn into fantasy roster mainstays.
Do early-season phenoms fade once the rest of the league learns to stop giving them pitches to hit?
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