Counting on a player to transition from teeny bopper to Bash Brother at age 27 isn't a good fantasy strategy.
Twenty-seven. Oh, the age of 27. As you might be aware, age 27 gets a lot of attention in fantasy baseball circles, often cited as a “magic” number when a hitter reaches his physical peak and is most likely to break out. It doesn’t take much effort to stumble upon a fantasy writer who discusses this theory, heraldingtheupcomingseason’scrop ofage-27ers.
The theory goes that because a player is reaching his physical peak, he is most likely to have a career year during his age-27 season. Unfortunately, most of the support offered for this theory comes in the form of conjecture or anecdotal evidence. I wrote an article last offseason at THT that examined whether age 27 actually is the prime age for breakouts. Unsurprisingly, I found that it wasn’t. Of course, this won’t stop people from continuing to write about it, as they see a player like Rickie Weeks post a 29-home run season in 2010 at the age of 27 and assume that the age is somehow magical. But these people ignore the age-27 players who stumble, such as Adam Lind in 2010, and the players who break out at other ages, such as Jose Bautista at age 29. Anecdotal evidence is never sufficient and can often lead to season-sinking assumptions.
Following up on Chris Heisey, at present there's no real competition for a starting spot, and unless that changes, he should get about 90 percent of the playing time, which would be almost 600 at-bats, given his low walk rate and where he's likely to bat in the lineup. He hasn't been labeled a "proven veteran" yet, so there's always that chance that he could wash out, but Dusty Baker is loyal to players and sticks to his opinions, so it's more important that Heisey impress his manager in spring training than it is for him to post a 1.5 WARP in the first half.
The Pirates inflict plenty of pain on their fan base, but injuries can't be blamed for keeping them from contention.
The Team Injury Projections are here, driven by our brand new injury forecasting system, the Comprehensive Health Index [of] Pitchers [and] Players [with] Evaluative Results—or, more succinctly, CHIPPER. Thanks to work by Colin Wyers and Dan Turkenkopf and a database loaded with injuries dating back to the 2002 season—that's nearly 4,600 players and well over 400,000 days lost to injury—we now have a system that produces injury-risk assessments to three different degrees. CHIPPER projects ratings for players based on their injury history—these ratings measure the probability of a player missing one or more games, 15 or more games, or 30 or more games. CHIPPER will have additional features added to it throughout the spring and early season that will enhance the accuracy of our injury coverage.
These ratings are also available in the Player Forecast Manager (pfm.baseballprospectus.com), where they'll be sortable by league or position—you won’t have to wait for us to finish writing this series in order to see the health ratings for all of the players.
The Pirates are encouraged by the performance of four youngsters in their lineup, along with other news and notes from around the major leagues.
The Pirates are approaching the end of another dismal season. They are assured of finishing below .500 for an 18th consecutive year, extending their North American major professional sports record. They find themselves 33 games off the pace of the first-place Reds in the National League Central.
Things are changing for the Pirates, and you should take note before you miss out on the booty.
If you had to pick one club who consistently failed to produce much of value on a fantasy baseball level the last decade, it would be the Pittsburgh Pirates. Oftentimes, they have one or two players who are worth snapping up, but they aren't star players, and are almost never starting pitchers either. You get occasional pieces like Freddy Sanchez, Adam LaRoche, Mike Gonzalez, Octavio Dotel—useful players for filling out your roster or racking up saves, but that's about it.
Things have changed in the second half of 2010 though, as the Pirates have opened the gates to their future by bringing up Pedro Alvarez, Neil Walker, and Jose Tabata. Last year we got Andrew McCutchen, who has potential to be a fantasy stud if he hasn't already hit that point, and thanks to a nifty trade with the Dodgers, the Pirates may finally have a starting pitcher worth paying attention to in James McDonald. That's five Pirates who may make an impact in 2011, and not in the "Well, maybe he'll break out" style of Lastings Milledge or Ryan Church, or the "maybe he'll keep it up…" Garrett Jones model.
Rob McQuown discusses the OF Value Picks, and who might surge if trades happen.
A Royal Pain: In a foreshadowing of the events to soon take place, a reader asked about the Royals situation last week. Since the Royals most-frequent DH is Jose Guillen, who can also play the outfield, this opened up discussions of several positions. Little could anyone have known that within a few hours, two of the candidates for playing time would be gone – Alberto Callaspo to Los Angeles, and David Dejesus to the disabled list. The Royals wasted no time installing Rick Ankiel back in center field, with Alex Gordon patrolling right field. For now, consider Ankiel recommended, based on his huge power potential. In many ways, Rick Ankiel is much like Tyler Colvin as a hitter, now that Colvin is walking a little more than he did in the minors. Ankiel's career ISO is over .200, even including his years as a pitcher. And against righties, he's hit .255/.321/.471 for his career – and he has played his home games in two parks which suppress power. Keep an eye on Alex Gordon, but just not on your roster (yet).
A Failed Experiment: Michael Brantley should have a future as a major-league player, but its resumption will be sometime in the future as well; he was demoted after a week in which he went 1-for-10 with 3 walks. By comparison, Trevor Crowe is hitting .256/.314/.356, with 10 SB in 250 AB. Grady Sizemore will be a welcome sight in Cleveland next year.
Self-Congratulation: As frequent readers of this column know, mistakes sometimes get made here, and they get exposed so that fantasy owners can hopefully learn from them. By the same token, it's sometimes good to remember how useful such recommendations can be. Week after week, Delmon Young kept producing the same tepid stats, and was receiving numerous days off... yet he kept appearing as a “Value Pick”, week after week. Now, it appears he might make it to 20 HR and 100 RBI while hitting .300 – all this despite missing almost 100 possible plate appearances in the early going. Not quite on that lofty level, but VP mainstays Drew Stubbs and Andres Torres graduated and continue to represent well. Stubbs went from .213/.300/.373 in the May 26 edition (when he was added) to hit .286/.343/.484 (with 7 SB and 8 HR) since, and he's dramatically improved his defensive metrics in keeping with the commentary at the time. Torres was added the same week and has hit .264/.358/.489, with 11 steals and 6 homers since. Even Mike Stanton has lived up to his billing, hammering five home runs in his past 79 at-bats (with the expected batting average problems). With that history in mind, onward.
Keep the Faith: Michael Brantley hit .292/.370/.333 the past week, picking up two steals and generally doing what was expected, though more runs and RBI would be expected with all the winning Cleveland has been doing lately (maybe this is some sort of Lou Brown memorial push for a Hollywood ending? R.I.P. James Gammon, 7/16). Jose Tabata is getting hot, hitting .348/.348/.522 with a steal. For perspective on how Tabata's been doing, only three outfielders have more steals than Tabata over the past 30 days: Carl Crawford, Coco Crisp, and Michael Bourn (plus Ben Zobrist, who qualifies in the outfield, of course).
A look at the who's who of the first winter league to begin play down in Venezuela.
We interrupt our Arizona Fall League preview series to take a trip even further south, as the Venezuelan Winter League-or as it's knows to the locals, Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional, begins play tonight. The political situation there, as well as fears of crime, has kept many teams from sending many American players there lately, but there are still a number of outstanding prospects who will get some more reps in when they go home for the winter.