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.
Ryan Braun and Mike Trout top a list that is teeming with high-upside talent.
The Baseball Prospectus fantasy team has been rolling out its positional rankings over the past couple of weeks, and will conclude the process next week. Each team member assigned to cover a position will create an initial top 15 (more for outfielders and starting pitchers) on his own. He will then send that list to the rest of the team for discussion, at which point we will debate the rankings, both in terms of each player's specific placement and the merits on which he was included in the top 15. This back-and-forth debate will yield the final list, which will be presented by the original author with notes on the pertinent players. We encourage you to bring your opinions into the fray using the comment section below.
Today, we continue the rankings with a look at our top 25 outfielders. Comments on the outfielders ranked 26-50 will follow on Friday.
The makers and promoters of the patronizing "Baseball Boyfriends" app have an appreciation of women and baseball that apparently froze in the 1950s. Donna Reed is dead—long live the female stathead.
Baseball has always had an ambivalent relationship with its female audience, often assuming they had to be catered to or patronized to stoke their interest in the game. For those marketing the game, it often seems as if the idealized image of the distaff fan is not the modern woman, whose adherence to received, stereotypical notions of gender roles erodes by the day, but Ruth Ann Steinhagen, the schizophrenic who, obsessed with Phillies first baseman Eddie Waitkus, lured him into a trap and tried to murder him in 1949. Women, in their view, see ballplayers as sex objects as much or more than they do as athletes involved in a competition that can hold their interest for its own sake. This seems to be the reasoning behind Baseball Boyfriends, a “fantasy” game aimed at women and girls in which participants “pick a new hottie or hang onto you hunk.” [sic]
Steinhagen, 19, had been fixated on Waitkus since seeing him play for the Cubs in 1947, making a shrine of his pictures and clippings and conducting an imaginary relationship with him. She had no interest in the game, she said, until she began to focus on Waitkus. “I just became nuttier and nuttier about the guy,” she later testified, “[I decided] if I can’t have him nobody can. And then I decided I would kill him.” On June 14, 1949, the Phillies were in Chicago. Steinhagen took a room in the Phillies’ hotel and had a note delivered to the first sacker: “Mr. Waitkus, It is extremely important that I see you as soon as possible. We're not acquainted, but I have something of importance to speak to you about.” After calling and being put off for half an hour, Waitkus appeared at Steinhagen’s room. According to her own testimony:
At the time I had a knife in my skirt pocket and was going to use that on him. When I opened the door he came rushing past me. I expected him to stand there and wait until I asked him to come in and during that time I was going to stab him with the knife. I was kind of mad that he came right in and sat down and didn’t give me a chance to stab him. He looked at me surprised and said, “What do you want to see me about?” I said, “Wait a minute. I have a surprise for you.”
We use expert boyfriend criteria to pare down the list of possible Baseball Boyfriends and arrive at the only possible selection.
Yesterday on the Twitters, word spread like wildfire of Baseball Boyfriends, a new CBS Fantasy Sports app that “is a single draftee fantasy sports mini game designed for girls. Pick your boyfriend for the season, dump him if he can't perform and pick up a new BBBF. Boyfriends [sic] earn you points daily. Girl with the most points at the end wins.”
I was disappointed to find out that men, gay or straight, did not seem to be welcome in this fantasy league. Also, as the father of a very young girl, I was a more than a little concerned about the way that the stats are presented to women, as if they assume that the women who play their game can’t handle statistics that aren’t on crumpled notebook paper covered in hearts. After all, there are women who play in my leagues, which tend to have a very stark presentation of the players and relevant stats, and these women regularly kick my ass. What a shame that the opportunity to pick a baseball boyfriend wasn’t afforded to me as well.
One slugger arrives as another departs Michael's Value Picks list, where third basemen, late-season call-ups, and keeper options abound
Owners go two different directions in the final weeks of the season (actually, three, if you count those who are now obsessed with fantasy football, but they’re unlikely to be BP readers). One, they can throw in the towel and look to the future in keeper leagues; two, they can press on and try to finish in the money. You’ll find players for both directions in this week’s Value Picks list.
Nyjer Morgan and Alex Rios join the outfield VP ranks this week.
Arrivals Nyjer Morgan, Milwaukee Brewers (Yahoo! 18%, ESPN 18%, CBS 27%) Value Picks has shunned Nyjer Morgan for most of the season—not for lack of faith in his abilities but because so many early raves were written about him that readers were expected to know the opinions on the ballplayer. With the season winding down, it's time to revisit an old friend. Nothing about his skills has really changed, and here's what was written before:
While Dexter Fowler gets another shot, Dominic Brown has seen his last, and Rob teases a Brandon Belt writeup.
Many fantasy owners have gone fishing the past couple weeks, with Mike Trout's promotion and all. Trout's value to fantasy teams will depend entirely on how much playing time he's able to “earn” while Peter Bourjos recovers. It's not clear where he'd fit on a Value Picks list (since he's so hyped, it's hard to believe he's a “value” in many leagues), so he'll be skipped for now. But don't take his omission as any sort of knock against Trout. He's a dream fantasy prospect. He has blinding speed that should translate into many steals, good power, and should contribute in batting average as well. Hanley Ramirez hit .313/.385/.521 from ages 22-26, stealing 196 bases in those five seasons. Nobody would be surprised if Trout posted stats like these, nor if he got started at as early an age as Hanley did. That being said, his 2011 value is hard to determine. Don't expect full-blown stardom in August and September, even if he keeps the job. And since we’ve seen Vernon Wells start some of the games while Bourjos has been out, it seems that the Angels are serious about throwing Trout back in 2011.
Taking a trip through time to discover how the game you play today took shape.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
R. Emmet Sweeney is a film critic and fantasy baseball player who writes a weekly column for the official blog of Turner Classic Movies, Movie Morlocks. He has also contributed to Film Comment, Time Out Chicago, IFC News, The Believer, Moving Image Source and the Village Voice. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and the Ford at Fox box set. You can follow him on twitter at @r_emmet.