The easiest way for contending teams to get better is to start with where they've been worst. Here is where they've been worst.
As the trading deadline approaches, teams are open to any and all moves that might make them better. Some clubs have sought upgrades at positions where they’ve already received decent production, but the higher the bar that the trade target has to clear, the fewer the potential fixes, and the greater the price. The path of least resistance for a contender hoping to improve is often to patch a particularly weak position with an average player who can give them more than they’ve been getting, without costing too much in any other area.
The weakest performance by a collection of players at any position on a contending team this season has been at second base in Detroit, where seven players—notably Ramon Santiago, Ryan Raburn, and Danny Worth—have played at replacement level or below, combining for a total of -2.2 WARP. It’s no coincidence that the Tigers traded for a second baseman on Tuesday, filling what had been a gaping hole with Omar Infante, who should be at least average for them the rest of the way. We can see the same pattern on display in other acquisitions: the Dodgers traded for Hanley Ramirez because their shortstops—notably the injured Dee Gordon—had combined for -0.6 WARP.
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Proposing a new way to settle an old debate about which players get too much attention and which are overlooked.
Years of talking about baseball have taught me at least two things: it’s dangerous to shout “Francoeur!” in a crowded room, and it’s difficult to gauge a player’s popularity, especially outside of the sabermetric bubble. Unless you work for a club and have access to information on team merchandise and ticket sales—and maybe even if you do—it’s tough to know how high a profile a player has among fans. So how can we decide if a particular player is overrated or underrated, or whether he gets more or less attention than his play on the field might merit? Are we forever doomed to count google hits?
We can approach this problem in a number of ways. If I were Vince Gennaro, author of Diamond Dollars, I might spend several hundred hours developing a proprietary “marquee value” metric based on social media measurements and other components to assess the off-the-field value of star players. Then I’d write a book and a bunch of articles about it and consult with major-league teams. Well, here’s a blurry picture of me sitting at the same table as Vince Gennaro (also pictured: part of Kevin Goldstein’s fedora). I may look like I have one strangely-shaped eye and don’t trust Cory Schwartz, but do I look like I’m Vince Gennaro? Not particularly. So that’s not what I did.
While Tim Wakefield limped to his 200th win, Mariano Rivera continued his string of excellence.
Tuesday night was a momentous one as far as forty-something pitchers earning round-numbered career milestones of questionable significance go. In Boston, Tim Wakefieldwobbled but didn't fall down, earning career win number 200. Hours later and about 2,500 miles away in Seattle, Mariano Rivera earned his 600th career save. Wakefield labored to become the 108th pitcher to reach his plateau, while Rivera looked almost effortless in becoming just the second pitcher to reach his, but neither accomplishment changes how those venerable hurlers should be viewed in the context of history.
While in the search to upgrade his team's offense, our fantasy expert had to decide whether it was worth helping his primary competition improve.
This past week in the CardRunners Fantasy Baseball Experts League, I was extremely active on the trade market, making a total of four deals before Tuesday night’s weekly deadline, all involving elite players. Today, I wanted to discuss one of the trades I made, the alternatives I had, and the reasoning for making the trade, which I think will be applicable to all fantasy leagues.
This past Friday, I sent out a league-wide e-mail announcing that Dan Haren was officially for sale. I’d been shopping him a little bit, but I wanted the league to know that he was going to get traded and give everyone a chance at making an offer. Being that this is an AL-only league, it’s very difficult to find a starter as good as Haren this late in the season. Here’s what my e-mail said:
A sudden abundance of options doesn't always mean an abundance of talent, but Michael sifts through this week's news to find three new VPs, stealing only a few from Rob McQuown.
In the week before the trade deadline, fantasy moves and news usually come from pennant-race wheeling and dealing, but this week’s news consisted mostly of injuries, promotions, and demotions. My next column will undoubtedly reflect some of those yet-to-be-made deadline deals, but for now, I’ll look at some moves that have already been made while repaying my colleagueRob McQuown by poaching a few outfield qualifiers.
Rich Harden resurfaces at just the right time, Travis Snider getting off the schneid means bad news for Juan Rivera, the Dodgers' Dee Gordon fails his first audition, the D'backs lose their closer, the Yankees release some insurance, and more.
The tater trots for May 22: a perfect game in Cleveland while Juan Rivera and Curtis Granderson strive for their own forms of perfection.
The first weekend of interleague play is now concluded, and what have we learned? Players can hit balls just as hard off opposing league pitchers as they can off their own league's pitchers. It's pretty amazing, really. I can't way for when interleague arrives in June for real (for five series in a row instead of just one) so we can learn the same lesson again.
The tater trots for April 27: Andre Ethier inspires an odd call from someone not named Vin Scully while Juan Rivera shows Canada he wasn't kidding.
It was a slow day for trots on Wednesday (get it?). Even though only one game was postponed due to weather, there were only 21 home runs across the league. Five were hit in Arizona, though, which is quickly convincing me that there will be at least 350 home runs hit in Chase Field this year. Conservatively.