Archive for Team Joy Squad 2011

Team Joy Squad 2011: #5 – #1

Introduction
#25-#21
#20-#16
#15-#11
#10-#6

#5 – Conor Gillaspie, 3B, San Francisco

Nominally, Gillaspie joins Team Joy Squad because, despite being considered only a marginal prospect, he was the only batter in the Arizona Fall League to match his strikeout total with his home run total (recording five of each). What that means, specifically, is that he was first overall on the SCOUT leaderboard — that is, the method this author devised for attempting to say something about a player’s performance in the absence of large samples. So, effectively, Gillaspie’s success would be my success; his failure, my conspicuous failure. Gillaspie was 19th on John Sickels’ top-20 Giant prospect list in 2010; he (i.e. Gillaspie) doesn’t appear to’ve made the 2011 version. Still, he’s only struck out in 14.2% of his minor league at-bats and has walked in 8.9% of plate appearances. Really, the thing that he hasn’t shown is power. But, at only 23, it’s entirely possible that his power could arrive — and that his AFL performance is an indication of that.

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Team Joy Squad 2011: #10 – #6

Introduction
#25-#21
#20-#16
#15-#11

#10 – Yunesky Maya, RHP, Washington
#9 – Ivan Nova, RHP, New York (AL)

I’ll say this about Maya and Nova: there’s a good chance that neither becomes a particularly excellent major leaguer. They’re not totally devoid of promise, of course: Nova appears likely to induce ground balls at an above-average rate, if nothing else, while Maya won the Cuban version of the Cy Young award even while Aroldis Chapman was pitching in the league. As opposed to other players on this list, however, whose inclusion is largely a function of being underrated (not that I would dare say it so plainly), Maya and Nova are here primarily for aesthetic purposes. Specifically, each throws a pitch (or, in the case of Maya, pitches) that’s captured the imagination of this author.

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Team Joy Squad 2011: #15 – #11

Introduction
#25-#21
#20-#16

#15 – Juan Francisco, 3B-ish, Cincinnati

Francisco was on last year’s iteration of this Team, and has really only become more like Juan Francisco in the meantime, slashing .286/.325/.565 (.332 BABIP) in 329 Triple-A plate appearances last season and posting a 4.9 BB% against a 26.3 K%. It’s pretty clear that Francisco’s hold over the strike zone is tenuous, but his power is real and his swing exudes unbridled enthusiasm for swinging. (I’ll direct your attention to all of these videos, but especially this one.) Bill James has Francisco projected at .280/.313/.513. Brian Cartwright’s OLIVER has him at .273/.308/.513. I’d be surprised if Francisco batted as high as .270 in the majors, but I wouldn’t be surprised — at all — by an ISO north of .230.

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Team Joy Squad 2011: #20 – #16

This is Team Joy Squad for 2011. The introduction and #25-#21 appeared here yesterday.

#20 – Chris Iannetta, C, Colorado

I believe the reader will agree immediately that, should we endeavor to compose a brief list of Modern Catching Greats, it would be difficult to exclude from said list the names Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo. So it makes sense, then, that Rockies coaches Clint Hurdle and then Jim Tracy would limit Iannetta’s major league plate appearances over these last two-plus seasons in favor of aforementioned Greats. This year, however, only Jose Morales and a cadre of prospects stand between Iannetta and starterdom. Accordingly, the 27-year-old Iannetta will be given at least some kind of opportunity to build on a 2008 campaign that saw him post a 3.6 WAR. Has Iannetta struggled at times? One-hundred percent yes. Might he have defensive deficiencies? Possibly. Has he also displayed power and patience not commonly found at the catching posish? Also affirmative. Also, he’s Italian — which, that counts for something.

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Team Joy Squad 2011: #25 – #21

This is Team Joy Squad for 2011, introduced a mere two hours ago.

#25 – Robinson Chirinos, C, Tampa Bay

Chirinos was one of five players who went Tampa-ward this past offseason — along with pitcher Chris Archer, outfielder Brandon Guyer, shortstop Hak-Ju Lee, and Smartest Guy Sam Fuld — for Matt Garza and two prospects. If you ask this guy, the trade was a no-question win for the Rays. Archer and Lee are the prospects, but Chirinos’ story — combined with his talent — makes him the most notable. Chirinos converted to catcher in the middle of 2008 after stalling out as a middle infielder. For reasons that only Nostradamus and/or Robinson Chirinos know, the latter’s bat has been revived by the move. He posted a ZiPS Major League Equivalency (zMLE) of .271/.347/.451 (.289 BABIP) in 318 PA last season and, by conservative estimates, will be the best player in history.

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Team Joy Squad 2011: Introduction

Many people in my life (and by “many people,” I mean these three interns at FanGraphs who’re paid by David Appelman specifically to keep my self-esteem afloat) have riddled me a question this offseason about Curator of Cosmoses Colby Lewis. These guys have said to me, they’ve said, “Cistulli, with regard to Colby Lewis, are you pee-your-pants excited to watch him pitch this year, or pee-someone-else’s-pants excited?”

It’s a reasonable question, this, on account of how I made my affections for Mr. Lewis quite clear last year — starting with a declaration about his greatness during an opening-day live chat and ending sometime around one of those absurdly successful postseason performances of his.

The answer I’ve given is one that I’m almost totally sure will shock the nation. The answer is this: “In fact, no, I’m not particularly excited at all.”

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