Staying healthier helped the Padres achieve their surprising success in 2010, but will they fall back into old habits this season?
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.
Kyle Blanks may harbor prodigious power in his frame, but it was nowhere to be found in 2010. Was his elbow to blame?
Kyle Blanks had a horrible 2010 season. There isn't any other way of describing the result of his year with the Padres, as he hit .157/.283/.324 and struck out in 38 percent of his plate appearances. There are, however, reasons for why that was the result he ended up with, and those may turn out to be far more important than the campaign itself.
Questions about a young Brave, a towering Friar, a slumping Athletic, and more answered in today's by-request offering.
Free associating today, I realized that Jason Heyward wasn't even in grade school when I was a colleague of Rob Neyer's, back in the early days of STATS, Inc. Ah, how time flies. I am not the first, nor certainly will I be the last, to wish Rob well. It's been a long time since those days sitting in the next cube over, and playing together on the company softball team, yet in some ways, Rob's still the same: still a fan of the game and still a "fan" of good writing—and still a great guy. As the most visible “evangelist” for sabermetric writing over the past 15 years, all of us in this field owe Rob Neyer our professional thanks.
Making some tough choices doesn't have to mean being non-competitive.
So, the Padres came up short, if only just, and the legacy of their big finish in 2009 just heralded a nice surprise and second-place irrelevance in 2010. That's the heartbreak of transient happiness for you, but with a roster stocked with plenty of passing fancies and the clock ticking on most of the club's big-name ballplayers, there are few one-day fixer-uppers more challenging than trying to sort out what to do with the Padres.
The Mets center fielder, out all season while recovering from microfracture knee surgery, begins a rehab assignment Thursday, along with other injury news from around the majors.
Carlos Beltran (arthritic knee, ERD 7/15) In what is sure to be a continuing series, the Beltran watch is now headed for a rehab assignment, which will start tomorrow at High-A St. Lucie. Beltran was watched by the Mets' top brass, including Omar Minaya, during an extended spring training game on Sunday and they felt the center fielder was ready to start his 20-day rehab clock. I've pushed the idea that Beltran needs to be up in Flushing as soon as he's physically able, but several people inside the game have told me that while there's merit in the concept, Beltran is human and needs a "spring training equivalent." The downside here is that he's going to be taxing the knee during that time. Of course, that's what rehab assignments are for. They'll be very controlled, perhaps not so much as the simulated games he's been in, but Beltran will have very specific steps and tests at each point. He'll have the DH option in most games as well, something he won't have when he makes it back to the Mets. Watching how often he needs to play there is going to be a big tell for his progress. The key will be how his knee responds and the Mets' ability to manage the inflammation and bruising that will inevitably occur inside the knee. The brace he is wearing is helping, but the continued idea that he's a center fielder is not. I'm most curious to see when that will be abandoned. One interesting concept that was tossed out by an MLB athletic trainer was the idea that Beltran could hit well enough to be in the lineup every day, but not play the field consistently. He wondered if there's a level and a cost where Beltran might make sense for an AL team. If Beltran were to show that, the idea of him being a modern-day Harold Baines would have to be intriguing for some teams as well as for the Mets escaping at least some of Beltran's contract. It's very equivalent to what the Twins did with Jim Thome, though he was a free agent.
Kyle Blanks can't stop striking out, but is it time to panic?
Things have not gone well for Kyle Blanks to begin the 2010 season. The 6-foot-6, 285 pound left fielder has hit just .180 to begin the season and has struck out in 46 percent of his at-bats. Dating back to his debut in 2009, Blanks has whiffed in nearly 41 percent of his at-bats, so even when he was successful to start the strikeouts were a serious issue.
At the same time though, Blanks is doing plenty of things right. He's walking in 14.2 percent of his plate appearances (11.9 percent since 2009) and has still shown plenty of power: his Isolated Power for 2010 is .191, and it's .236 over his 237 major league at-bats. Overall, his line in those at-bats is .224/.338/.460—that's the kind of line that needs some more batting average tacked onto it, but is otherwise solid, especially when you consider he plays half of his games at Petco Park.
Rob McQuown wonders if there's a "Curse of the Value Picks", as Carlos Guillen makes the 3rd outfielder to hit the DL after being featured. Two new players join the list and risk the curse.
Carlos Gomez wasn't pushed off stage last week, despite being relegated to a platoon situation with Jim Edmonds. And anyone who “trusted the process” (or at least had a desperate “need for speed”) was rewarded with a useful .318/.423/.409 week with 3 steals and 6 runs scored. Of course, the historically epic beat down that the Brewers continued to put on the Pirates was responsible for these numbers being so fine in spite of Gomez being on the wrong side of a platoon, so he gets dropped this week along with Carlos Guillen, who fell prey to “Curse of the Value Picks” by hitting the DL shortly after being spotlighted.
Replacing los Dos Carlos, a couple platoon players join the list this week, Jeremy Hermida and Will Venable. Also noteworthy is the fact that Austin Jackson has not been featured here, as he has a .520 BABIP and 61% contact percentage (32 K in 83 AB/91 PA), suggesting he's soon to go off the precipice into a steep decline. He has a lot of job security, as he's a rangy center fielder on a team with old side outfielders and no other viable options for center field, but he's one of the best “sell high” candidates among outfielders now.
Everyone wants value, and Value Picks abound in the outfield, and Rob McQuown sorts through six of them this week.
Probably as an offshoot of so many teams being drafted and run in absentia, the ownership percentages of outfielders at ESPN.com have a sort of “cliff”, going from 84.4% ownership on Brett Gardner immediately to 68.4% ownership of Nick Swisher. The top 4 guys after this “cliff” are all must-own in any league larger than 10 teams: Swisher, Chris Young, Corey Hart, and J.D. Drew. They are good situational players, even in 10-team leagues with daily moves (and daily tips for good match-ups can be found at baseballdailydigest.com, though the site is currently being moved so there may be hiccups for a day or two). That makes the next batch of players good candidates for “Value Picks”, and many of them indeed are, especially in daily-move leagues where the park and pitcher matchups can be exploited.
Kyle Blanks can mash. If he didn't play his home games in Petco, he'd be a coveted young star, taken in the mid rounds by shrewd owners. But he does, and while the left field line looks inviting (and has even been shown to have a positive home run park factor in previous years by Greg Rybarczyk of hittrackeronline.com), other right-handed power hitters have seen their batting stats destroyed by the expanses in the alleys and center field. Khalil Greene has a career .477 slugging percentage in road games, while Kevin Kouzmanoff's mark in such situations is .480. Blanks, however, is a towering physical presence (for perspective, an announcer described an Everth Cabrera/Kyle Blanks collision as a “bug hitting a windshield”), and when he connects, the distance he generates is indicative of this fact. All but two of his homers in 2009 went over 400'. The bad news with Blanks is that he struck out about 130 times per full season in the minors, doesn't walk like Adam Dunn to make up for it, and while he's fast for his size, trains don't accelerate like sports cars and any steals he gets will be incidental. For teams that didn't draft enough power, Blanks could be an answer – just don't expect much more than the homers.
Marc takes a look at a few hot starts in order to throw buckets of cold water on them and temper expectations.
Every fantasy site has some sort of risers and fallers, hot and cold players type article, and they generally have names that reflect that type of thing. Since this is a brand new venture for us here on the blog, I need a title for the column. I went with Don't Believe The Hype, courtesy of Public Enemy and Flavor Flav. If you start to hear Chuck D in your head as you read about Vernon Wells today, then you're welcome. We'll cover hitters this week, then pitchers next week, and so on, in order to give the stats a little bit of time to add up in between entries.
Vernon Wells is leading the majors in VORP thanks to a .600/.692/1.800 line that includes four homers. Sure, Wells had offseason wrist surgery, so as long as his wrist felt fine there was a chance he would play better than last year (.260/.311/.400 with 15 homers), but this is obviously a little more than was expected. Wells was projected for a weighted-mean line of .276/.333/.453 with 18 homers—after his hot start, he may be able to cross the 20 mark assuming that projection holds, but then again, Wells has also been known to go through long stretches of inactivity at the plate that drag his line down.
The Padres make a run, the Astros name a scapegoat, will Tony La Russa become a free agent, plus news and views from around the game.
Sometimes it is easy to forget the Padres exist. They basically wrote off this season before it started as former owner John Moores, in the midst of selling the team to Jeff Moorad and going through an expensive divorce, lopped $30 million off of last year' s payroll and gave Kevin Towers, the longest-tenured general manager in the major leagues, just $43mllion to build a roster with.
The senior circuit's collection of talent on the rise, and the chances of each prospect to become his organization's best.
Prospecting is all about the future, so let's look deep into the coming year and try to figure out who might be topping next year's prospect lists in their respective organizations, as well as who could be moving up, down, or even out, beginning today with the National League. The American League version is here.