The last piece of the Yankees' Tyler Voltron has arrived.
The Situation: Starlin Castro tweaked a hamstring, so the Yankees have called on their swiss army prospect, Tyler Wade, to give them some additional flexibility in the infield.
The Background: The Yankees selected Wade in the fourth round of the 2013 draft as a SoCal prep shortstop, signing him for a little over $370,000. He got a somewhat aggressive assignment to Charleston in his first full pro season, considering he wasn’t a highly-touted prep pick, and both his raw athleticism and his general rawness showed up there. He progressed to Tampa in 2015 and prospect team member Jeff Moore saw a future big leaguer whose “contact skills, left-handed bat and ability to play two up-the-middle positions [gave] him a chance to play a nice role on a big-league roster.” I got eyes on him in 2016 in Trenton and saw much of the same, although I thought his athleticism was starting to show up more in the baseball skills now. He faded a bit down the stretch in Trenton, but overall put together a solid performance for a 21-year-old in Double-A. With the acquisition of Gleyber Torres at the trade deadline, the Yankees sent Wade to the AFL for the second straight season, this time to get some reps in the outfield. This year in Scranton he has played all three outfield positions in addition to shortstop, second, and third. He’s in the midst of a bit of a breakout season, adding a bit of pop to the profile and improving his efficiency on the bases.
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Hitters like Miguel Sano, Marcell Ozuna, and Starlin Castro refuse to make things easy on pitchers.
We are, inarguably, living in the Golden Age Of Offensive Platitudes. Russell A. Carleton tossed out several of them in one recent column: “Sit fastball. Swing hard. Strikeouts don’t matter.” The Pirates say “OPS is in the air,” which is really just the Cubs’ “there’s no slug on the ground,” but stood on its head. Josh Donaldson wants you to “just say no to ground balls,” which is unimaginative but clear enough.
Modern offense comes down to launch angle and exit velocity, and to maximizing extra-base power (especially home runs) in order to make up for an unabating upshoot in strikeout rate. To be a great hitter in the modern game is nowhere near easy, but it’s fairly simple. Most teams, and many individual players, have dedicated themselves to breaking down hitting to the simplest set of basic ideas possible, so that batters can adapt to the unprecedented velocity and sheer stuff of modern pitchers as deftly as possible.
Who comes out on top in the biggest intra-NYC showdown since the election?
In what’s surely the biggest intra-NYC-area battle since Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton, I have been tasked with measuring Yankees second-year 2B Starlin Castro against Mets second-year 2B Neil Walker. Which NL Central transplant will take the title of the Big Apple’s best? Read on to find out, if the prior battle didn’t depress you too much.
The Cubs have the luxury of getting creative in solving a problem other teams wish they had.
This piece originally appeared on BP Wrigleyville, Baseball Prospectus' local site for all your Cubs needs. And be sure to visit BP Boston and BP Bronx for Red Sox and Yankees analysis as well.
Through Monday, Javier Baez was batting .311/.388/.522 in his first 103 plate appearances of the season at Triple-A Iowa. Despite dealing with the tragic loss of his younger sister at the beginning of the season, and taking time away from the team to share in his family’s grief, Baez appears to have absorbed (and made solid, critical strides toward implementing) the changes in approach and swing mechanics that became obviously necessary during his difficult rookie season.
Good days at the plate are pretty easy to identify. If you’re looking for the best game any hitter had in April, you can look at total bases (as in Ryan Braun’s three-homer game) or at hits (as in Charlie Blackmon’s 6-for-6 game) or at win probability added (as when Kyle Seager hit two homers, including a walk-off, for a one-game .906 WPA); or, simply RE24, which would lead you back to Blackmon, who produced more than five runs all by himself. Similarly, for pitchers, pretty easy: Andrew Cashner’s 9/1/0/0/2/11 was the month’s best game score, though you might opt for Jose Fernandez’s 8/3/0/0/0/14 for dominance or Julio Teheran’s 1-0 shutout for value.
In the debut edition of this series, the fantasy team looks at players who could outperform their PECOTA projections in batting average.
One of the fun ways we all try to outsmart our opponents in fantasy is by searching for hidden value in players who, for one reason or another, we suspect have the ability to outpace their projections (and, relatedly, their draft cost). Our Darkhorses series features staff picks for players who could very well outpace their PECOTA projections for the year and finish at the top of one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall just shy of the top 10 (in the 11 to 25 range) and one longer shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’ll take a look at offense this week and pitching next. To kick things off here is a bounty of hidden treasure in the batting average department:
Rick Renteria's lineup has a few intriguing bats, but you'll probably have to look elsewhere for pitching.
Last year was yet another tough one for Cubs fans, even if the Epstein/Hoyer/McLeod-led front office continues to stockpile assets. The win-loss record is a nagging source of frustration for the fans, and the on-field lineup might just be as frustrating for fantasy owners. With the potential to sport a platoon in the outfield and a defensive specialist in the infield, as well as a patient front office that will keep its drool-worthy prospects at bay, this Cubs tree isn’t likely to bear much fruit in the early going.
A look at the players who should improve after the All-Star break and those who might go the other way.
Years ago, before analytics and baseball became acquainted, many analysts focused on first-half and second-half stats. For many good reasons that are too lengthy to go into here, this type of analysis has become dated and isn’t used in any type of serious study.
However, the All-Star break is still a good time in fantasy to take a step back, look at some poor first-half performers, and figure out who is due for a bounce back in the second half. Rather than analyze the types of players who “traditionally” hit well post-All-Star break, this is a look at players who have struggled so far but who should improve based either on underperforming their metrics or based on past historical performance, as well as players who either will slip or won’t bounce back despite a slow first half.