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.
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A closer look at the impending free agents who have the most riding on a return to form or a return to health in 2013.
Before last season, no one would have predicted that fragile White Sox starter Jake Peavy would earn a bigger contract at the end of the year than Angels workhorse Dan Haren. Peavy, entering his age-31 season, was coming off three injury-plagued and ineffective seasons in which he’d thrown a combined 320 1/3 innings with an above-league average ERA; Haren, also entering his age-31 season, was coming off his seventh consecutive 200-plus-inning campaign, having led the AL in starts and strikeout-to-walk ratio and finished seventh in Cy Young voting the season before.
But 2012 proved pivotal in determining the size of the contract that each impending free agent could command. Peavy picked the perfect time to find his form, avoiding the DL, topping 200 innings, and making the All-Star team for the first time since 2007. Haren had back problems and saw his sinker lose speed and his stats decline across the board. As a reward for his resurgence, Peavy got a two-year, $29 million extension from the Sox, while Haren had to settle for a one-year deal with the Nats at a slightly lower annual value.
Injury disappointments Jacoby Ellsbury and Jayson Werth highlight this week's Reaper.
Jacoby Ellsbury| Boston Red Sox
Shallow (30 Keepers): Fringe Medium (60 Keepers): Yes Deep (90 Keepers): Yes AL-only (60 Keepers): Yes Super Deep (200 Keepers): Yes
Ellsbury followed up his monstrous 2011 season with a shoulder-subluxed and ineffective 2012 that burned those expecting a repeat. All told, he played 74 games, batted .271, hit four homers, and stole 14 bags. Now that the price has come way down, a healthy Ellsbury is an intriguing asset for 2013.
Before we can talk about what the Red Sox can do, we must figure out what the Red Sox are.
By July 31st, teams usually have a good sense of how their season is going. Some are doing well. Some aren’t. In either case that certainty, unwelcome as it may be in the latter case, makes decisions easier. First place teams are “buyers,” last place teams are sellers. As a GM you know that it’s time to bolster the major-league roster, or conversely, that it’s just not happening this year. Time to sell off some pieces and live to fight another year. Things are easy when it’s that simple.
It gets stickier when teams are in between those extremes. This is a land where cogent arguments for both buying and selling exist. You could even argue coherently for doing nothing and not be burned at the stake. Mostly though, it’s a dangerous land, one where the wrong decisions can haunt a franchise for years.
Jacoby Ellsbury, bunting a baseball, into his face
Is there an expiration date for a blooper? Do bloopers go bad if they're not used frequently, or do they gain fullness and flavor if properly stored in a cool, dark place? Does Jacoby Ellsbury bunting a baseball into his face seem any less peculiar to a baseball fan in 2012 than it would have in 2008, when it occurred? Can the 2012 baseball fan relate to a 2008 blooper, or do we merely see it as a relic from a different age, from a different political climate and different economy and different culture? I guess what I'm asking is, do you find this as funny as I find this funny?
Fourteen days of futility in Boston is more than some reasonable fans can take.
The Red Sox this year were expected to compete with the Yankees and the rest of the American League. They have instead imploded as much as any team can within the constraints of 14 games. The starting pitching has been monkey-with-irritable-bowel-syndrome putrid, the manager’s in-game decisions haven’t backfired so much as they’ve taken their weapons and joined the other side, and to see the relief work as remotely viable one must hearken back to a time before people could read and write and therefore did not know what “remotely viable” means. But the bench has been decent. So there’s that.
While they don’t have the worst record in baseball—that belongs to the Royals—they are third. That would have shocked the projection systems. Our own PECOTA had the Red Sox at 89 wins. My projection system, IMADETHISUP, had the Red Sox winning 120 games. Instead, the team is on a 46-win pace. The difference between PECOTA and the Red Sox’ actual pace is equivalent to the difference between last year’s playoff Rays and the 1962 Mets.
Now that the regular season has wrapped up, here's a look at who BP staffers think should win the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff choices for the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results.
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, Rookie of the Year, and Manager 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.
Two top basestealers, one in the majors and the other in the minors, talk about the running game.
Basestealing is an art, and two players who excel at it are Jacoby Ellsbury and Ben Revere. Ellsbury has done it the highest level, having pilfered 70 bags last season while establishing a Red Sox record for thefts. Revere, a 21-year-old outfielder rated as one of the top prospects in the Twins organization, swiped 45 last year in the High-A Florida State League. In separate spring-training interviews, the two speedsters discuss the art of thievery.
The AL Central will be a dead heat, according to the BP staff, with the East and West showing more separation.
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 League. The National League predictions will follow, along with the staff picks in some fun miscellaneous categories.
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, plus the results of our preseason MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting.