Maury explains the challenges that MLB faces in attracting young and minority fans.
Whether it was the release of the movie“42,” the anniversary of Hank Aaron surpassing Babe Ruth as the all-time home run leader, or one of many articles each year telling baseball it has an “issue,” Major League Baseball decided recently it was time to create a task force to deal with the decline of African-Americans at the highest levels of the game. Baseball, like other professional sports leagues, likes to create this type of task force. It shows that the league cares, and well meaning be damned, is often stocked with people that likely aren’t difference-makers. Recommendations will be made, but they will be around things that don’t get at the heart of the matter, because those things are difficult—if not impossible—to fix.
The “problem” isn’t really a problem in the way that MLB’s task force is likely to look at it. It’s about the change in society, the growth of other sports, the power of television, the internet, how fast players can transition, the growth of other minority groups now playing the game, and, yes, marketing.
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NFBC mock drafts appear to paint a more realistic picture than those at Mock Draft Central.
On the most recent episode of the Towers of Power Fantasy Hour (or 2),Paul Sporer and I had the opportunity to interview Greg Ambrosius of STATS LLC. Ambrosius runs their National Fantasy Baseball Championship (NFBC) events, which feature the all-stars of high-stakes fantasy baseball. While the industry may not be as lucrative as the World Series of Poker, NFBC’s top players have made a rather nice living though the competition. The most famous of the players may be Lindy Hinkleman, a pig farmer from rural Idaho who was featured in a USA Today article last season. A few years ago, he pulled off an improbable sweep of both the live and online events, and earned a check for $241,500 from NFBC.
Kurt Suzuki and Manny Machado join the VP crew for the stretch run in this week's edition.
Since the last Second, Short, and Catcher Value Picks article (on break last week for Labor Day), Zack Cozart(Yahoo! 23%, ESPN 22%, CBS 59%) has slumped, and more importantly, he has been bit by the injury bug. A strained oblique has Cozart riding the pine, and it's unclear when he'll return. A player can't accumulate stats if he isn’t on the diamond, so cut bait with Cozart.
R.J. examines the movement to alter September roster rules.
Every September 1, teams across the league call up a myriad of players: some top prospects, some fringe specialists, and the occasional organizational soldier. They all have different purposes leading to one main goal: improving the big league team over the season’s final five weeks. This year looked to be no different approaching September, then began a wave of arguments against the practices of September roster expansion. Historians will identify Joel Sherman of the New York Postas the first writer to shoot. Sherman’s article offered strong language, supporting quotes from those within the industry, and, in a clear act of aggression, a Three Stooges reference. Sherman concludes like so:
Do teams like the Orioles that excel in one-run games do so out of skill, or have they just gotten lucky?
A few weeks ago, the topic for the BP Lineup Card was "Unanswered questions for the second half." I noted that at the time, the Cardinals were several games behind both the Pirates and the Reds in the NL Central standings, despite the fact that they had a better Pythagorean record than either. In theory, the Cardinals should have been atop the NL Central.
Inspired by the top-heavy Tigers and Dodgers, Brad investigates how well NBA-style roster construction works in MLB.
Since the NBA playoffs are currently going full throttle, this seems as apt a time as any to explore a basic concept of roster construction from that league to big-league baseball. Of course, many of you will disagree with this necessity of this because you don't like the NBA. Some of you will deny the very existence of professional basketball. That's okay. Trust me, this is a baseball article.
The Inside the Park series is about stories, but sometimes there in no particular story angle to what otherwise seems like a fun idea for an article. That's the case here. During the offseason, and after the Prince Fielder signing, I read a number of analyses of the Detroit Tigers that described their roster as top-heavy. Insofar in that there is criticism in that observation, the issue is that such a team is going to be more vulnerable to an injury to a key player. When Victor Martinez was injured, Detroit was able to throw the GDP of a good-sized nation Fielder's way, but such an option doesn't exist once the season begins. If Fielder or Miguel Cabrera or Justin Verlander were to go down, the Tigers would be perhaps be sunk even give their tepid competition in the AL Central. They would likewise be more exposed in the event of less-than-elite performances by any of the aforementioned trio. In fact, that may be happening already.
Capuano, Bass, McDonald, and Wei-Yin Chen join the VP ranks this week
Another week has gone by, and we have flipped the calendar over to May. We’re reaching the point where even the fantasy managers who try to practice patience with their rosters begin to feel comfortable making a decision on a guy who is off to a slow start. If your league is populated by these types of managers, you will start to see more activity on your waiver, forcing you to act more swiftly when you see someone who strikes your fancy. Without further ado, let’s dive into the week’s value picks.
Michael looks at several keepers to be handled with kid gloves, or not at all, including Casey Blake, Jesus Montero, Edwin Encarnacion, and Mark Reynolds
Keeper debates are some of the best discussions in fantasy, livening up the offseason and revealing the strategies—and possibly the personalities—of owners and analysts and the leagues we play in. For example, I tend to stick with more established players rather than hot young rookies, but my keeper leagues have shallow keeper rosters to improve year-to-year parity.
But I know other owners who love to take long shots and deep cuts, just so they can brag about the depth of their baseball knowledge. Other owners use keepers to anchor in-season strategy, locking up certain categories before Draft Day even begins. This week I’ll look at a few players that appeal to various keeper strategies, starting with the one signing of note since my last column. If you’ve got a keeper you’d like to hear about, leave your suggestion in the comments section.
We familiarize ourselves with the media's offseason thinking thanks to a source with knowledge of the terminology.
Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.
Prospect action in the Dominican, Mexican, and Venezuelan winter leagues.
With the offseason upon us, prospect hounds shift their attention to the winter leagues and primarily the Arizona Fall League. That's for good reason, as it is the best collection of prospects in an environment that major league clubs prefer, as they control the rosters and playing time. That said, leagues are playing throughout Latin America as well, with the Dominican, Mexican and Venezuelan leagues being the most prominent. While mostly seen as a chance to keep young players in shape to go with the opportunity for them to earn some extra money, the leagues can be challenging to use for developmental purposes. With no official affiliation to the majors and gigantic, fluid rosters (one Domincan team used 24 pitchers in their first 13 games), playing time has to be earned, and winning is priority one for some rabid fan bases. Still, that environment can be of value. “We have some players, who because of where they are from or their developmental path, are better suited for those leagues,” said one American League front-office official. “Plus, I love the environment, as they get big, loud crowds while Arizona has more of an instructional feel.” In addition, the style of play can be of developmental value. “We've sent player to Mexico in the past because they struggle against breaking balls,” said a National League counterpart. “With the altitude and they style of play there from the Mexican League veterans, that's all they will see there.” Here are ten players in those lesser-watched leagues that are worth paying attention to.
Whether you're competing for a championship or out of contention, Jason has a few strategies for you.
I am going to go out on a limb and say that if you are taking the time to read this article, you are either in a keeper league of some sorts or that you despise the completely luck-driven fantasy football game and ride your fantasy baseball teams out until the end of the 26th scoring period no matter how well or how poorly they are doing. If so, kudos to you for sticking with your team and not putting it into auto-pilot as others often do this time of year.