Monday is the start of our positional series at Baseball Prospectus, and we’re going to give you a lot of information, opinions and strategy tips. In fact, we laid it all out for you here. But before we get into the nitty gritty, we thought we’d have a little fun with some quick-hit questions that we answered as a team. Some of these were questions we got from you, the readers. Some were just interesting discussion points. But here are 14 opinions on 20 questions:
Craig doesn't like being wrong, but he doesn't mind owning up to it about the Pirates outfielder.
This won’t come as a surprise to most anyone, but I thoroughly enjoy being correct. My default form of conversation is argument/debate, and I’ll generally play devil’s advocate even if I agree with someone, as a means to ferret out why I agree, or why that point is worth making. Basically, if I’m talking to you or at you, it’s because I have a vested interest in making a point that I want you to agree with. I’m a terrible person.
What sucks (for me) is I’m wrong a lot. I don’t think the percentage is particularly egregious, but as with anyone who puts their opinions on record, those opinions are going to be wrong with some regularity. I’ve accepted that as a part of life, but it’s still hard to swallow. I often think my reasons at the time were justified, and that just because it didn’t break my way, doesn’t mean I was wrong, just that it turned out differently. This is hiding behind “the process.” I was wrong, and good reasoning at the time or not, that needs to be owned. I was wrong about Starling Marte.
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Headfirst slides are under fire (perhaps for good reason), but they aren't without their virtues.
Someday, when you’re telling your grandkids about baseball in your day, you might have to explain what headfirst sliding was. Whether a player will continue to slide head-first now qualifies as a low-grade controversy (at least if the player is good enough). The Astros reportedly outlawed it for their minor leaguers for a time, pulling players from the game if they led with their fingers instead of their toes. The Braves teach their prospects not to slide headfirst, and the Indians lecture theirs. “I don't like headfirst slides,” said Houston manager Bo Porter last week, perhaps unintentionally putting a spotlight on headfirsting prospect George Springer. “I really don’t like headfirst slides.”
A look at the players who could outperform their PECOTA projections when it comes to crossing the plate.
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 provide the top overall production in one of the standard five-by-five categories. We’ve all picked one player currently projected by PECOTA to fall outside of the top 10 and one longer-shot player currently projected outside of the top 25. We’re taking a look at offense this week and pitching next. To read the earlier editions in this series, click below:
Starling Marte makes Bobby Parnell throw 13 pitches.
Last Friday, I started a new series in which I'll be breaking down, marveling at, and ruminating on the longest plate appearance of the preceding week. This is the second installment of that series. The inaugural edition featured a 12-pitch showdown between Mike Moustakas and Chris Sale that remains exactly as interesting as it was when it was published, so if you want to watch that plate appearance, click this link. If you’ve already seen it, or you’re interested only in the latest longest plate appearance, read on.
Josh looks at a few players whose bats have sizzled out of the gate and explains whether you should sell high or look to acquire them.
Selling high on fast starters is largely a myth these days. There is simply too much information available for fantasy gamers. Not all fast starts are created equal, though, and sometimes it pays to inquire on the availability of some of these players. Occasionally, owners will feel like they are selling at peak value, and now is the time to make a deal with them. In other cases, those owners are selling a player at peak value, and it is best to avoid acquiring him now. The key is determining which hot players are likely to sustain their high level of success.
There were quite a few players for me to pick from, and I opted to eliminate superstars from the discussion. Superstars do great things, and telling you that Miguel Cabrera will continue to play well and is worth acquiring isn't terribly useful. With that in mind, I selected four hitters that had an ADP outside the top 100 at the end of March for NFBC leagues.
Can Pittsburgh make Starling Marte more selective without hurting him in other areas?
Ask Clint Hurdle about Starling Marte, and the Pirates manager with tell you that he’s an “electric player”. Marte, the first crest in the wave of Pirates farm system depth, reached the big leagues last year at 23. On the first pitch he saw, he homered into the left field seats, announcing his presence with authority.
Will putting Starling Marte at the top of Pittsburgh's order pay off?
Neal Huntington has taken a curious approach over the past year to fixing his lineup. At the trade deadline Huntington netted a collection of irksome veteran hitters with uses during their upswings and too many downswings to overlook. The rationale explanation—and an understandable one, at that—was Huntington had no desire to spare his best prospects while chasing fleeting odds at the postseason. The offseason has since come and gone and few positional player additions were made. Two new faces are expected to make the opening day roster in Russell Martin and Brandon Inge: veterans known for their gloves. Pardon Pirates fans for not sitting rapt in anticipation to see the same group that has scored the fifth-fewest runs in the league since 2011. What makes Huntington's gambit riskier is the status of the one pure upside play in his lineup: Left fielder Starling Marte.
Though Marte predates Huntington in the organization—having been signed by the previous regime months earlier—the Dominican Republic native is a testament to the Huntington regime's patience, and one of the first big-league-ready talents emerging from Pittsburgh's praiseworthy international efforts. The tools-laden perpetual breakout candidate broke out and appeared three times on Kevin Goldstein's prospect lists on the way to making his big-league debut last season. Even now, as a 24-year-old, Marte remains a fascinating talent.
Which Dominican Winter League prospects should we expect to see making major contributions to big-league clubs next season?
Limited action again on the Caribbean Winter League schedules, so I'll take this time to tell you about the five Dominican Winter League prospects most likely to make an impact in the majors next season. No surprises here. These are pretty big names in the prospect world, and all but one spent time in the majors last season. All five maintain rookie status, however, and don't necessarily have clear paths to regular playing time in the majors. So how will this quintet make an impact?
The ultimate showdown of premier outfield prospects in the Dominican Winter League happened on Wednesday night when Starling Marte's Leones del Escogido faced off against Oscar Taveras' Aguilas Cibaenas. Of course, neither player disappointed. The 24 year-old Marte had three hits, including a double and a three-run triple while the 20 year-old Taveras had a double, two singles, and a walk. What? You want to know who won the game? It doesn't really matter. Every fan who was in the stands wins because they got to see Marte and Taveras before they were stars on the same field as former big league greats Manny Ramirez and Miguel Tejeda. Incidentally, the two veterans who have 18 All-Star selections between them, each had a pair of hits.