Some late season performance shifts that fantasy owners may have overlooked.
Hello. Remember me? I’m fantasy baseball. I know it is September and now that college football and pro football are both underway, I am like the forgotten leftovers in the back of the fridge. With just two and a half scoring periods left, there is not much you are going to be able to do with your roster, but there have definitely been several interesting statistical stories happening over the last few weeks that may have been overlooked by most of you. The correlation between late season success and the following season’s success is not terribly strong, but before Jose Bautista became Joey Bats, he was hitting home runs in September of ’09, and nobody noticed because they were watching football. Before Ben Zobrist had his breakout 2009, he had an excellent September in 2008 to help push the Rays into their first ever postseason berth while nobody noticed. With that in mind, did you know….
The rest of this article is restricted to Baseball Prospectus Subscribers.
Not a subscriber?
Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get access to the best baseball content on the web.
While some teams still have playoff spots at stake, those that have already secured them needn't stress about their September records.
While looking toward the future with our comprehensive slate of current content, we'd also like to recognize our rich past by drawing upon our extensive (and mostly free) online archive of work dating back to 1997. In an effort to highlight the best of what's gone before, we'll be bringing you a weekly blast from BP's past, introducing or re-introducing you to some of the most informative and entertaining authors who have passed through our virtual halls. If you have fond recollections of a BP piece that you'd like to nominate for re-exposure to a wider audience, send us your suggestion.
While the Braves and Phils are playoff-bound, the NL East's other three teams will use September to evaluate potential roster moves.
Last week, we looked at the immediate future of the playoff-bound Atlanta Braves and Philadelphia Phillies and their possible matchups in the first round. But the other three NL East teams are not going anywhere after September; they will be packing it up for the long winter months and awaiting the 2012 season. So what do these teams have to look forward to as they approach the last month of the 2011 season?
Florida Marlins: Hanley Ramirez and His Health It is no secret that Ramirez's season has been a disaster. The highest-paid Marlin has had a 0.6 WARP season through 385 plate appearances, and he has missed playing time due to two separate DL stints for different injuries. Those two stints represent the first and second trips to the DL in Ramirez's brilliant career, though he did miss much of the last month of 2010 with soreness in his left elbow.
Some prospects seemingly destroyed their stock with poor first halves, but these players have resurrected their seasons after the All-Star breaks.
Prospect stock can have wild variance, and while it is wrong to react too much to one bad start or one hot streak at the plate, a good or bad month or two—along with corresponding scouting reports—can impact how the industry views a player's future. Every year, there are hundreds of players who fail to live up to expectations. Here's an all-star team of players who hurt themselves early, but have regained their prospect status.
Nolan Ryan opens up about the Astros potential move to the AL, and a look at some reinforcements on the way for the Rangers' pitching staff.
Before the Texas Rangers collected a narrow 3-2 win over the major league-worst Houston Astros on Wednesday night and earned the right to proudly hoist the coveted Silver Boot—awarded each year to the winner of the six-game season series between the Rangers and their intrastate "rivals" down at the other end of Interstate 45; yes, it's just as thrilling for the victor's fans as I'm making it sound here—above their heads, the traveling delegation of Rangers beat writers asked team president Nolan Ryanif he wantedthe Houston Astros to make the rumored league-to-league jump from the NL Central to the AL West.
His answer—an emphatic "yes"—cited the potential benefits of more normalized start times and added fan interest within the state (read: extra gate revenues, which have historically followed the Astros' visits to Arlington), but one has to think that the recent one-sidedness of this matchup made it at least a skosh easier for Ryan to endorse an Astros transplantation. From 2009-present, the Rangers have compiled a brilliant 14-3 record against Houston, and just as their 5-1 run against last season’s 76-win Astros helped power the Rangers' run to their first division title in more than a decade, four victories in five tries against Houston this season has also served a very important function: keeping the Rangers' slim first-place margin intact.
At the dawn of the posting system, the arrival of the unique Ichiro Suzuki would forever change the player market between the U.S. and Japan.
Last month, I traced the early history of Japanese-American player traffic, from the Pirates’ sly attempt to sign Eiji Sawamura in the 1930s to the loophole-leaping of players like Hideo Nomo and Alfonso Soriano in the 1990s. To close that voluntary-retirement loophole and to prevent trading players like Hideki Irabu without their permission, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) and Major League Baseball (MLB) agreed on the current posting system in 1998. The system was designed to allow MLB teams to sign NPB stars without turning the NPB into another minor league, by forcing MLB teams to pay twice for NPB players, with about half of the total fee typically going to that player’s club.
During the leagues’ offseason, NPB teams can choose to post players who want to test the MLB waters. Once a player is posted, any MLB team has four days to submit a bid to the MLB commissioner for the right to negotiate with him. The highest bidding team then has thirty days to sign a contract. If they succeed, the team pays the posting fee to the player’s NPB club, but if they can’t come to an agreement, no fee is paid. The winning club thus pays for a player twice, with a portion going to the team as a non-negotiable sealed bid. This kind of blind bidding can easily lead to overpaying, benefitting the NPB club, but not the player.
Jose Bautista's turnaround has continued despite doubts, plus other observations from the Bronx.
Twenty-six players have hit at least 50 home runs in a single season. Only nine of them have done it twice, and only five—Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez—have repeated the feat in consecutive seasons. Jose Bautista is not in that group yet, but with an AL-high nine homers through Toronto's first 28 games, he's on pace to hit 52, two shy of the 54 he posted last year, when he stunned the baseball world. Bautista had never hit more than 16 homers in a season during his six-year major-league career, and had totaled just 59 in 575 games to that point while playing for four teams (Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Pittsburgh) prior to Toronto.
Lance Berkman reminds Astros fans that he wears big shoes, but Brett Wallace may be capable of filling them; Alfonso Soriano rarely gets on base but often drives himself in.
It was an eye-opening week in Minute Maid Park, as Zod and the other residents of Planet Houston were treated to superb performances from first basemen of the Astros' past, present, and—perhaps—future.
Lance Berkman, the twelve-year Astros veteran who was traded to the Yankees late last year before signing with the Cardinals over the winter, made his return to Houston as a visiting player on Tuesday. He was well-received by the fans, who gave him an extended standing ovation in his first at-bat. When he laced a single to right field off of an inside fastball from Bud Norris, the crowd erupted into more cheers. Needless to say, the man with the second-most home runs in franchise history is still very popular in the Bayou City.