The Astros aren't exactly a success, but they certainly aren't a failure. We bet you didn't see that coming.
Last season, the Twins won 63 games and were widely acknowledged to be a total disaster. But the Twins were baseball’s second-worst team. The Astros were on another level of awful. They won only 56 games, the lowest total of any team since the 2005 Royals. They were the NL’s worst pitching team and the NL’s worst defensive team, and they weren’t much good at offense, either.
That level of futility wasn’t foreseeable. In order to be as awful as they were last season, the Astros had to decline by a whopping 20 wins. In the 1982 Abstract, Bill James observed that a team that declines in one year is likely to improve the next. He called it the Plexiglas Principle.* In most cases, we’d expect a team that fell off by as much as the Astros to bounce back the following year. But the Astros weren’t most cases, and they weren’t supposed to bounce. They were supposed to break through the glass and fall even further.
Ron Washington isn't ready to say his team is the best in the bigs, and a chat with Jose Altuve.
Ian Kinsler is not a sabermetrician, but he is a heckuva baseball player and a logical enough guy. So, it only seemed natural to ask the All-Star second baseman if he thinks his Rangers are the best team in baseball.
Espinosa, Altuve, Alcides, and Kipnis join Preseason VP this week
As we keep rolling along in the 2012 Preseason Value Picks season, the authors of VP will have their eye on injuries, position battles, and all the goings ons of spring training. Unfortunately, not much movement has happened up the middle, as many players are well established both with their real teams and in fantasy. Still, there are some names of interest to discuss.
A look at how the MLB.com Fantasy411 mock drafters strayed from ADP values and what that means
It started with Matt Kemp and ended with Chase Headley, but the regular phase of the Industry Mock Draft sponsored by our friends over at MLB.com’s Fantasy411 crew is finally over. It took 13 teams, 299 players, and what felt like 29 weeks, but the draft is completed. While anyone can go to MockDraftCentral.com and pull up the most recent ADP reports that show aggregated results for nearly 800 mixed drafts, the expert drafts have appeal because, as one of my friends put it, “Experts don’t follow trends, they set them.”
The Tigers have talent, but a thin farm system leaves little room for error
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.
There's hope in Houston, just not for next season (or the one after that)
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.
A pair of rookie middle infielders come off the DL and rejoin VP this week.
Departures Tyler Flowers, Chicago White Sox (Yahoo! 1%, ESPN 0%, CBS 8%)
Flowers was not completely terrible in his final week as the starter, tacking on another home run en route to a .118/.200/.353 week. Unfortunately, it was his last week as the starter in Chicago as A.J. Pierzynski returned from the disabled list and was reinstated as the primary catcher. Without playing time, Flowers will have to wait until 2012 to see if he can earn significant starting time to show off what he displayed this season.
A look at the new-look Astros and the many unknowns currently inhabiting Minute Maid Park.
Since July 1, the Astros are 9-23 and have been outscored 109-163. At the trade deadline, they traded away their two most recognizable offensive stars, Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn. Even before the deadline, Jeff Keppinger was sent packing. The Astros were probably the worst team in baseball before the deadline and were certainly that after it. The obscurity of the Houston lineup caused Larry Granillo to ask how the team would stack up against the Peanuts gang. That may be a stretch, but it seems fair enough to ask how they would stack up against a middling Triple-A team. Given how long Baseball Prospectus authors and our fellow travelers have been calling for rebuilding in the Bayou City, however, it seems unfair to criticize their current futility. Instead, let us provide this introduction to the new-look(-away) Astros.
Mike welcomes an under-the-radar middle infield prospect and a finally-healthy catcher to VP this week.
Departures Mark Ellis, Colorado Rockies (Yahoo! 4%, ESPN 2%, CBS 11%)
Ellis is hitting poorly (.179/.200/.179 since the start of the last road trip on July 22) and, more importantly, is ceding playing time once again to bench players in Colorado's never-ending quest to find a consistent player to man second base. Ellis lost two recent starts at second base in favor of Chris Nelson, and if he continues to struggle, expect Jim Tracy to make a change yet again.
Michael welcomes the incomparable, 5'5 rookie sensation (thus far), Jose Altuve, to VP.
Chase d'Arnaud, Pittsburgh Pirates (Yahoo! 0%, ESPN 0.1%, CBS 2%)
The Pirates made me look foolish last week by promoting and starting Pedro Alvarez after I submitted my article regarding Chase d'Arnaud's last chance at a major league starting job in 2011. It did not help that he went on the disabled list with a fractured right little finger on July 27, dooming any remaining chances of him putting up fantasy numbers for the foreseeable future.