How do industry insiders (and BP readers) view Tanaka relative to other right-handed starters?
In December of 2011, shortly after the Rangers submitted a winning $51.7 bid for exclusive rights to talk to Yu Darvish, then-BP prospect writer Kevin Goldsteinsurveyed 10 industry insiders to see how good they thought Darvish was going to be. Instead of asking for physical comps or statistical projections, Kevin stacked Darvish up against a selection of five other right-handed starters and asked for each insider’s one-on-one pitcher preference. In retrospect, some of the responses seem silly—three people took Ian Kennedy over Darvish—but the consensus wasn’t far from the mark: Darvish, the insiders said, would be worse than Justin Verlander, roughly as good as Zack Greinke, better than Matt Garza and Kennedy, and much better than Ricky Nolasco. Sounds about right.
Last week, the Yankees signed Masahiro Tanaka, the best Japanese starter to cross the Pacific since Darvish, to a seven year, $155 million deal (plus posting fee, luxury tax, and the priced-in expense of the opt-out clause) that will make him one of baseball’s 10 highest-paid players in 2014. The next question, naturally, is, “How good is the guy they just got?”
A look at players who might be available to help your fantasy team, depending on the format in which you play.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres
A June groin injury followed by an awful July caused a number of standard mixed-league owners to run for the exits, as Gyorko is only owned in about 29% of ESPN leagues. If he’s available in your mixer, snatch him up. Even without taking the injuries into account, since May, Gyorko has been an offensive force. His ISO in May, June, and August has been no lower than .242. In other words, Gyorko is a legit source of power at a middle infield position. Unless you’re in a points league that penalizes severely for hitter strikeouts, there’s no way Gyorko should be a free agent. —Mike Gianella
Paul helps you decide which two-start pitchers are worth using this week and which ones you should avoid.
Welcome to the Weekly Pitching Planner. Each week I will cover the pitchers are who slated to make two starts and help you decide who you should start and who you should sit. Sometimes guys will be in the “consider” where they might have one good start, but a second tough one and then your league settings might determine whether or not you should go forward with him. The pitchers will be split by league then by categories:
Auto-Starts – These are your surefire fantasy aces. You paid a handsome sum for them either with an early draft pick or high dollar auction bid so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can emerge onto or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many – if any – notes associated with these groupings each week. We are starting them automatically so why do I need to expound on how awesome they are and will be in the coming week?
Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks
Cahill showed up to camp svelter than usual. The offseason work paid off with a strong April, as Cahill averaged more than seven innings per start while striking out about 2.5 batters per walk issued. He saved his best for last: throwing eight innings of one-run ball on Tuesday against the Giants. The bread-and-butter of Cahill's arsenal remains his sinker. His secondary pitch of choice has changed, however. Cahill threw his cutter 26 percent of the time in April, compared to 11 percent in 2012. Increased confidence in the pitch gives Cahill a fourth option, or at least a backup plan on nights when he cannot find the feel for his changeup.
Patrick Corbin, Diamondbacks
Yes, another Arizona starter acquired through an earlier trade. Corbin allowed one home run in 33 innings after allowing 14 homers last season in 107 innings. A considerable difference, and one that allows for improvement even after regression. There are two encouraging signs from Corbin so far: 1) his velocity is slightly up, and—more importantly—2) his command has been better. Corbin must stay down in the zone in order to be effective. He's done just that early this season.
Updating the Glavine Line and looking for the next immortal.
It's spring and that means feral optimism is available in bulk. Soon a barrage of articles proclaiming any and every team a potential surprise contender will surface, and so will pieces predicting big seasons out of players young and old alike. There will be articles like this one, too, which deals with the next 300-game winner. There's no real science to it. Pick a youngish pitcher with a track record of success and build him up. By the time that pitcher fails to win 300 nobody will remember anyhow. Still, pieces discussing the next 300-game winner can be fun.
Take Mike Fast's debut article at Baseball Prospectus, from October 2010, in which he introduced the Glavine Line. Fast's creation was based on the idea that its namesake took the slacker's route to 300 wins by doing the minimum required and no more. The measure deals in simplicity instead of complexity and allows you to get a feel for a pitcher's pace relative to Glavine by comparing his actual wins with a crude projection (15.5 wins from his age-22 season onward). It's a clean, tidy, and ineffective way of identifying the next 300-game winner—as Fast admitted in the original piece.
Stephen Strasburg faced the Pirates for the first time since his major-league debut, and he reeled off a similar line.
The Thursday Takeaway
Merry Strasmas, Nationals fans. With the team coming off a disappointing three-game skid, Stephen Strasburg took the mound against the Pirates and played stopper with results strikingly similar to his major-league debut.
Back on June 8, 2010, Strasburg surpassed even the loftiest of expectations by striking out 14 batters without issuing a walk over seven innings in his first career start. Strasburg’s victims that night were the Pirates, who managed only two runs on four hits, one of which was a Delwyn Young homer.
Trevor Cahill becomes the latest beneficiary of Billy Beane's extension-happy behavior, but will he find the same success as his predecessors?
When a musician uses another’s work within his own song, it’s called sampling. When a musician flips his own work, it’s called a remix. Billy Beane is doing a little of both by extending Trevor Cahill.
Throughout the early 1990s, Cleveland general manager John Hart locked up as many young players as he could, including Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez. Beane and his younger disciples have since made pre-arbitration deals sexy, but locking up talented youth isn’t just for the progressive these days, as even the old fogies have gotten in on the act. Whereas Hart mostly focused on positional players (although he did extend Charles Nagy), Beane is quite accomplished in the fine art of starting pitcher extensions. Talented starting pitcher trios and contract extensions have come in cycles for Beane since he became Oakland’s general manager.
Does Billy Beane's sh*t work in the trainer's room?
The Team Injury Projections are here, driven by our brand new injury forecasting system, the Comprehensive Health Index [of] Pitchers [and] Players [with] Evaluative Results—or, more succinctly, CHIPPER. Thanks to work by Colin Wyers and Dan Turkenkopf and a database loaded with injuries dating back to the 2002 season—that's nearly 4,600 players and well over 400,000 days lost to injury—we now have a system that produces injury-risk assessments to three different degrees. CHIPPER projects ratings for players based on their injury history—these ratings measure the probability of a player missing one or more games, 15 or more games, or 30 or more games. CHIPPER will have additional features added to it throughout the spring and early season that will enhance the accuracy of our injury coverage.
These ratings are also available in the Player Forecast Manager (pfm.baseballprospectus.com), where they'll be sortable by league or position—you won’t have to wait for us to finish writing this series in order to see the health ratings for all of the players.
Starters you might want to get rid of while getting rid of them might make for good returns.
Last week we took a look at some pitchers that were excellent buy-low candidates, so today we will study the reverse situation. You are going to want to sell on many of these pitchers as soon as you can, before reality sets in and they remember they are not actually top-quality fantasy options. These are the pitchers who have outperformed their ERA by the largest margins this season, relative to their QuikERA, or QERA for short.