The tater trots for April 18: Hanley Ramirez continues his assault on la máquina jonrón and Kevin Youkilis proves how his head isn't in the game.
I was at the Brewers/Dodgers game last night, watching from above as Don Mattingly brought in a fifth infielder to try and prevent a second consecutive walk-off win for Milwaukee. Sure, Nyjer Morgan really should have been called out at the plate (a terrible slide and a terrible tag add up to some umpire confusion, I suppose), but it was an incredibly exciting game. I was glad to be there.
Which teams are likely to see significantly more production from their new players at positions in need of improvement?
Teams don’t always have to make a major move in order to improve over the winter. Sometimes merely subtracting someone who played poorly can affect our expectations for a club. Occasionally, a series of seemingly minor moves can make a major cumulative impact. And at other times, there’s an obvious in-house fix for a roster’s flaws in the form of a player returning from an injury, being promoted from the minors, or switching to a position where he’ll be of more use. The Rays went from last place in 2007 to first place in 2008 without acquiring an outside player more accomplished than Troy Percival. Some off-season overhauls don’t start making headlines until the regular season is well under way.
Still, the moves that make us dream about how good a given team can be when players report to spring training tend to be the ones involving established talents. When we’ve already seen what a player can do, it’s easy to picture him doing it again in a different uniform. Naturally, the more a team struggled at the new player’s position last year, the more exciting the upgrade. But it’s easy to get carried away and overstate the improvement. Assessing the impact of a high-profile player addition requires more than a little imagination and mental arithmetic.
Roundtable discussion of the pressing questions facing the NL East teams as we approach the start of the season
1) After a disappointing sophomore campaign, what can we expect of Jason Heyward going forward?
MJ: Jason Heyward had an injury-riddled sophomore season in Atlanta, but there is a lot to like about his chances at a rebound campaign in 2012. His offensive line was deflated by a .260 BABIP, but his peripherals were once again stellar. His 11.6 percent walk rate represented a regression from 2010 but cannot be considered poor, and his .162 ISO likewise dropped from the previous year but did not experience a precipitous fall.
Hanley Ramirez, Brandon Phillips, Alexei Ramirez, and Ryan Doumit highlight the first middle infield/catcher Preseason Value Picks column
Value Picks returns this week for another exciting season of Baseball Prospectus Fantasy. As mentioned yesterday by one of my Mike partners-in-crime, Michael Street, we will be taking a look at a few players we believe will see a hefty increase in fantasy value and how they can help you in 2012. In order to determine projected 2012 value, we will be using the Player Forecast Manager backed by the power of PECOTA.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria would like to make a smash as the Fish move into their new park, but the team would be better off making only minor moves.
Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria wants people to forget about the Florida Marlins, forget about Sun Life Stadium, and forget about a miserable year that saw the team spend 92 of the final 105 days of the season in the cold, dark cellar of the National League East, only its second last-place finish since Loria purchased the team, unopposed, from John Henry in 2002.
A low payroll and thin farm system do not bode well for the opening of a new ballpark
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.
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.
A look at the conflicting seasons of Dan Uggla and Hanley Ramirez.
Last night, the Atlanta Braves beat the Florida Marlins 6-2, completing a three-game sweep of the Fish. With both teams in close proximity, the story of two players who once shared a bond in Florida as one of the best offensive double-play combinations in baseball came to mind. One player, former Marlin and current Braves second baseman Dan Uggla, is redeeming himself with a 31-game hitting streak that has brought his season line from “atrocious” to “below average.” The other, Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez, missed his sixth straight game with a shoulder injury and has yet to decide whether he is healthy enough to play or should go on the disabled list.
Recent performance plays a strong role in how a player is perceived. The recent 30-game surge by Uggla has brought his season line right in line with Ramirez's.
Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, both in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that has been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.