Michael Jong covers the Angels' and Rays' catching tandems and the situation at shortstop for the Mets.
Any time Mike Napoli gets a bump in playing time in Los Angeles, it is a time for celebration for fantasy fans. Napoli is a good hitter in his own right (career TAv of .287 in 1294 PA), but he is even more highly considered given his status as a catcher. PECOTA is projecting similar rate stats to his career numbers (career slash line of .256/.358/.493), meaning once again that Napoli will be among the most wanted fantasy catchers in the game. With a projected BABIP in the .280-.290 range, Napoli will be only passable in batting average, though his ability to draw walks (career 12.3% and projected 10.7%) should make his OBP solid. Power is where his game shines; how many other catchers could give you an ISO above .230 and almost 33 HR/600 PA?
Of course, Napoli would never garner anything close to 600 PA. Angels manager Mike Scioscia, a former major league catcher, does not tolerate Napoli's sloppy defense and game-calling behind the plate. The concern is not without reason; BP's own FRAA measures Napoli as 17 runs below average in his career, and other measures are similarly unkind about his defense. As a a result, despite the fact that both Jeff Mathis and Napoli are right handed and show similar platoon splits, Mathis will still sap playing time from a superior hitter. However, with Napoli receiving some PA at DH as well as a 60% share at catcher, 460 PA seems very likely. At that PT, Napoli should still be an excellent option for both AL-only and mixed leagues. Mathis is the typical real-life backup catcher: good defensive reputation, but a black hole on offense that should be avoided by your fantasy team at all costs.
The Cubs shuffle through pitching options, the Brewers have one of the most interesting rosters in the game, and the Dodgers fight through injuries as they try to stay in the race. This and much more in Transaction Analysis.
Let's compare J.J. Hardy and Bobby Crosby:
Player Age EqBA/EqOBP/EqSLG
Hardy 20 .240/.316/.380
Crosby 23 .273/.356/.490
Adjusted for park and league context, Crosby's numbers were much, much better. How to balance that against the age differential? I think the question becomes: How likely is it that Hardy will post a line of .273/.356/.490 or equivalent by the time that he's 23? It's possible, certainly, and it's also possible that he'll post a line even better than that. But I don't think that it's *probable*. That's a lot of improvement to make. PECOTA would put the possibility at somewhere around 25%, I'd think, and I think that's enough to render Crosby the stronger prospect.
In preparing the annual top prospect list for Baseball Prospectus 2004, BP authors participated in the annual extended roundtable discussion of baseball's top prospects. The ranking and review process balanced translated statistics, scouting reports, and injury reports with the strong personal opinions of BP's finest…all with the goal of putting together the "best damn prospect list the world has ever seen." In Part I today we'll listen in on the discussion of the top prospects among pitchers, catchers, first basemen and second basemen. Parts II through IV will run Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. We'll also unveil the final list Tuesday, with the Top 50 prospects (we've expanded from prior years' Top 40) revealed. Rany Jazayerli will be along to discuss the Top 50 list and the process that went into compiling it in Tuesday night's Chat.