There aren't many high-end fantasy assets in Queens, but a youth movement could soon change that.
There hasn’t been much to get excited about in Queens over the past five or six seasons—unless you get joy out of watching the franchise greats take the field day in and day out. Of course, there was also the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner who captured the hearts and minds of those paying attention—though he was traded a couple of months after receiving the hardware. And then, when there is an exciting young attraction worth watching, of course he ends up undergoing Tommy John surgery before the end of his breakout season. However, the roster has been improved through trades and free agency, adding a little extra fantasy relevance to what has been a pretty stale roster in the recent past. Though, as you’ll see from the rest of this preview, high-end talent is still severely lacking.
News and notes from around the league for May 30, 2013.
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Roundtable discussion of the pressing questions facing the NL East teams as we approach the start of the season
1) After a disappointing sophomore campaign, what can we expect of Jason Heyward going forward?
MJ: Jason Heyward had an injury-riddled sophomore season in Atlanta, but there is a lot to like about his chances at a rebound campaign in 2012. His offensive line was deflated by a .260 BABIP, but his peripherals were once again stellar. His 11.6 percent walk rate represented a regression from 2010 but cannot be considered poor, and his .162 ISO likewise dropped from the previous year but did not experience a precipitous fall.
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.
The noise coming out of Miami only rivals the shuffling market for closers. What are the fantasy implications?
Jose Reyes | Miami Marlins | SS | Signed as Free Agent Few would have predicted Reyes signing with Miami even a month ago, but the newly relocated Marlins are making big waves in the free-agent market this winter. In Miami, Reyes's value will likely rise a bit, but his ultimate fantasy value will be heavily tied to how many games he manages to stay on the field for. He'll bat leadoff for the Fish as he did for the Mets, but he'll have some much bigger bats behind him to drive him in; once you get past Emilio Bonifacio, who will bat second, he'll have Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton.
Reyes has averaged just nine home runs per season in Citi Field, so you might expect his power production to improve now that he's leaving (after all, he had a couple of 15-plus homer seasons in Shea Stadium). That is, until you realize that the new Marlins Ballpark has deeper fences than Citi almost the entire way around. The good news is that Reyes will recoup some of this value in terms of his steals. Ozzie Guillen is one of the most aggressive managers in terms of attempting steals, so Reyes could find himself back up over 45 or 50 swipes in 2012.
Injuries to David Wright and Ike Davis start a Mets infield shuffle, the Red Sox rotation gets rejiggered, the curse of the Rangers outfield continues, Aroldis Chapman exeunt, and familiar faces resurface in the Cubs rotation and Braves bullpen.
Should these Pluto-cold under-performers from the NL stay or should they go?
After I expressed impatience with Miguel Olivo’s slow start in yesterday’s column, he muscled up and laid a 3-for-4, all singles, performance on the Tigers in the Mariners’ 10-1 victory. He now carries lofty .217/.263/.290 rates into his next start. The most horrifying thing about those rates is that Olivo is now just .019 away from his career on-base percentage. Imagine Ted Williams having a bad year and reaching base only 46 percent of the time instead of 48 percent. That’s Olivo now. As such, it is probably no longer fitting that we retain Olivo on the list of springtime slumpers, as by his own standards he’s just a little bit off. Unfortunately, we still have several ice-cold players to be frustrated with, among them this group culled from the National League.
Chris Johnson, Astros-3B: .190/.238/.278
There is a famous moment in Casablanca when Claude Rains says, “Round up all the usual suspects.” Johnson is one of the usual suspects. He was an over-age rookie at 25, had hit .277/.315/.429 in the minors, and benefitted from a .387 average on balls in play in the major leagues. His regression was among the most predictable developments of the past offseason.
Trading an immediate post-rookie like Johnson on the basis of a statistically- or scouting-based intuition would be dangerous for most general managers, but I wish there were more examples of this kind of trade, in which the selling GM gambles that the Latest Fashion is a flash in the pan and the acquiring GM bets that he is not. I’m sure there have been such trades in the past, but I can’t think of any. Walt Dropo won the 1950 Rookie of the Year award for the Red Sox hitting .322/.378/.583 with 34 home runs and a league-leading 144 RBI, but he was 27 and his minor-league numbers weren’t nearly that good. What if they had dealt him then? In 1984, Dan Gladden came up to the Giants when Jack Clark got hurt and hit .351/.410/.447 in half a season. He was 26, and though he had hit .300 in the minors, he did it in the hothouse hitting environment of Phoenix. He wasn’t a bad player in the long run, but he also didn’t come within 50 points of that average over the rest of his career, hitting .264 from then on. What if the Giants had moved him for the best possible return that winter, when someone might have perceived him as a star?
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.