Given the roster of talented baseball researchers and essayists here at BP, most of whom pen 1,500-word theses on this inefficiency or that, there would seem to be an opportunity for some counter-programming—something more bite-sized and consumable. A piece to balance out the menu, to diversify our portfolio.
From Buster Posey to Christian Bethancourt, this list is loaded with both big leaguers and high-upside prospects.
Because dynasty league rankings are relatively league dependent, I set up parameters for ranking the players below (and the ones who will follow at other positions). The list here presupposes a 16-team standard dynasty format, in which there are no contracts/salaries, players can be kept forever, and owners have minor-league farm systems in which to hoard prospects. Feel free to adjust this as necessary for your individual league, whether it’s moving non-elite prospects without 2014 ETAs down if you don’t have separate farm teams or moving lower-risk, lower-reward players up in deeper mixed or league–only formats.
The catcher position is a tricky one, as there are a lot of players at or near the top of the list who may be playing another position in three or so years. That, plus with most leagues using one active catcher, prospects are featured a little more prominently due to both the major-league depth right now and the fact that there are diminishing returns to carrying too many backstops.
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Creative arguments in favor of several players whom the courageous writer can support.
If you’re one of the 60 writers who get to vote on the MVP award this year, then by all means, take it seriously and vote in good faith for the player you think was most valuable. If you’re one of the hundreds of writers who don’t: Man, I feel for you. This all over again.
A video walkthrough of framing technique with two talented receivers.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a feature on framing for Grantland. I also spoke to Pirates catcher Russell Martin and Reds catcher Ryan Hanigan for a pair of Q&A companion pieces in which I showed the two catchers GIFs of borderline pitches that they'd caught over the past few years, and they explained their strategy for getting extra strikes. Martin's is here, and Hanigan's is here. The conversations ran so long that much of the text was left on the editing room floor. Rather than let it remain unread, I've collected the best previously unpublished excerpts below, omitting any material that appeared at Grantland.
My pet peeve as a consumer of writing on and analysis of baseball is a failure to properly employ a sensible baseline. This frequently occurs via the writer not applying any baseline at all, instead presenting statistics or other performance indicators denuded of context. In Hall of Fame arguments, what does it mean that Bert Blyleven won 287 games? Is that a lot, given the era he played in, the teams he was a part of, the number of games he started? What about Fred McGriff's 493 home runs? What do these numbers mean?
Or think about the ways MVP arguments sometimes proceed, where one candidate has a .390 on-base percentage and another has a .580 slugging and a third stole 42 bases at an 82 percent clip and a fourth had a 2.30 ERA in 210 innings. Do you know who to vote for in this scenario? It depends on what year it is, right?
The catcher position is no ally to the human body.
On Sunday, the New York Times published an article by David Waldstein chronicling Russell Martin. Waldstein profiles Martin’s rise, from pudgy Canadian teenager to All-Star backstop, while dishing out some numbers on the physical debts paid by the catcher. Even for those without interest in Martin, these tidbits should justify the read. Here is a teaser:
The trot times for 6/8-6/10. Harper's sprint, Martin's walkoff, Cabrera's inside-the-parker.
I was out of town this weekend, busy watching some low-A baseball, Star Wars Night fun up in Appleton, Wisconsin. Sadly, Minnesota uber-prospect Miguel Sano didn't actually walk up to the Imperial March. He did, however, get a nice Darth Vader headshot up on the video board.
Presenting the three filthiest pitches from the first week of the season.
If you followed any games last season on MLB.com’s Gameday application, you saw “Nasty Factor,” which assigned a number to each pitch based on its perceived nastiness. If you have followed any games this season on Gameday, you’ve seen “Scout,” which describes the action like this: “Sergio Romo is having trouble locating his four-seam fastball” and so on. We’re about to watch the three best pitches* thrown in the first week of the season, and, frankly, Nasty Factor and Scout can’t do these pitches justice. So enjoy the moving pictures, and then read the expert analysis provided by some MLB.com apps that are still in development.