FanGraphs Fantasy Baseball


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  1. Great article. Might I suggest that it would be even better if you threw up a quick AL and NL only diagram as well…?

    Comment by alskor — October 29, 2009 @ 8:45 pm

  2. ‘Round about Oakland here, Zukes (Kurt Suzuki) is considered to be a pretty reliable leader, every day catcher (147 games), led the team in 2Bs and RBIs. And he ran a pitching staff as young as they come, and brought them through a tough season, one in which the As managed to win 75 games with perfect crap, which is better or equal to 10 other lousy teams. He’s the only current As player expected to be in the 2012 line-up, depending on how fast some other guys move through the system.

    Yes, I know the As sucked (I know, believe me), and yes, I know there’s no such thing as a “clutch” hitter, and that RBIs are useless in predicting or evaluating performance, but…

    4th tier? Bottom tier?

    Makes me wanna cry. Are things really that bad?

    Comment by paris7 — October 30, 2009 @ 12:00 am

  3. none of that applies to fantasy….??

    Comment by R M — October 30, 2009 @ 2:27 am

  4. Napoli needs to be dropped down. Scioscia hates playing him over Mathis and he didn’t get enough playing time once Vlad took his DH spot.

    Comment by Ray — October 30, 2009 @ 5:18 am

  5. About Suzuki, his real life value is better than his fantasy value, imho. Even his modest power last year was a big leap forward and can’t be counted on. He has less dependable speed than Martin, too.

    I could see dropping Napoli down to the next tier, maybe I had my rose-colored glasses on. I think he deserves more playing time, but with the way Mathis played in the postseason, and the points you make about his coach, I can see that he may have trouble getting as many ABs next year… unless Vlad leaves.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 30, 2009 @ 9:32 am

  6. Would you please slip Carlos Ruiz in the second tier….embarrassing how he get’s under appreciated cinstantly. He is a solid defensive catcher, calls a quality game, sticks pitches to both sides of the plate, and is one of the more clutch postseason hitters currently in baseball!! I’m not a Phillies fan but I can tell you at least 20 teams that would be upgraded by him being the starting catcher!

    Comment by Chris — October 30, 2009 @ 9:35 am

  7. He may be a decent real life catcher, but he belongs in that bottom group for fantasy. His lifetime batting average is .259 and he has 22 home runs in two and a half years worth of at-bats for a catcher. Seems like John Baker-lite for me.

    As the offseason progresses, I’ll do some analysis pieces that will include AL-only and NL-only values at each position, maybe he can sneak in there.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 30, 2009 @ 9:44 am

  8. Ahhh, this is the first time I’ve slipped from fangraphs over to rotographs. I hadn’t realized I was in fantasy, though I should have. Sorry for the inappropriate emotional response above.

    Anyway, glad to have Zukes behind the real plate, glad to get some positive feedback from you’all supporting that, and sure, I can see why the fantasy values are low, and not likely to improve a whole lot.

    Comment by paris7 — October 30, 2009 @ 10:26 am

  9. Chickity-check yourself before you wriggity-wreck yourself Sarris:

    John Baker gets more AB’s: back on the radar? He didn’t seem to play too poorly when he got a chance to start.

    Comment by Big Oil — October 30, 2009 @ 11:35 am

  10. Will Vlad be back?

    Comment by Bill — October 30, 2009 @ 2:07 pm

  11. Re: Iannetta

    I invested heavily in him this year and, of course, was disappointed in his fantasy production. I have not given up on him yet, and do expect he will play better if he is given time to produce.

    The question I have is this: are there other players whose history mimics Iannetta’s? By that I mean

    (1) excellent power (.240 and .232 iso last two years), should continue.

    (2) poor line drive rate last year, 3% below career average – bounce back coming?

    (3) poor contact rate but has increased consistently in Majors . Up to 76.5% which, as a power hitter, puts him approximately between Votto and Fielder…

    (4) very very good plate discipline (career 13% bb, 16.8% o-swing).

    Is he a candidate to “put it all together”: keep laying off outside pitches, keep hitting the ball hard, and eventually driving it with better contact rates?

    I know one could be “hopeful” about any player, but I’m wondering if Iannetta really does fit the profile of someone who might be on the cusp of success. The numbers listed above would put him in elite company if his BABIP was even league average.

    Comment by divakar — October 30, 2009 @ 2:52 pm

  12. Well, his top 3 ZiPS similar batters are Del Rice (a mediocre player at best), Tom Wilson (who entered the majors at age 31 and lasted only a couple of years), and Jerry Keller (a career minor leaguer). So…. not so good.

    Comment by David — October 30, 2009 @ 3:26 pm

  13. He is a huge injury risk, but if you can put Ryan Doumit in the final tier, why not Jesus Flores? At least in a keeper league, he’s the better late round flyer. 4 years younger, a pretty steady path of improvement as a hitter. If he hits 6th behind Dunn and Willingham, or even 7th behind those two and Elijah Dukes, there should be a lot of runners on ahead of him for RBI opportunities (and since this is fantasy, RBIs are good things). If you see him playing in March, don’t you have to think about drafting him as a long shot, late and low, like your last tier?

    Comment by JCA — October 30, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

  14. I can see the argument for Jesus Flores over John Baker. Baker is 28 and has 600+ ABs of mediocre power (.140ish ISO) and a bad platoon split (.630 v lefties) that seems entrenched.

    I guess the reason for my wait-and-see approach with Flores is the fact that he has never shown the walk rate or power that he showed in 2009. Also, the 2009 sample size was so small, and if you take it out, the career progression isn’t as clear.

    I figure Flores and Baker could be in that final tier, depending on how you feel about them.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 30, 2009 @ 5:22 pm

  15. I’m surprised to see montero so high, I picked him up in the 2nd half and loved what he did for me but he really only had one good month, one white hot month and then back to average. I caanot gleam it from his MLB record, what categories are his strength? I can see Avg only. 15-20 HR I guess is good for a C, but he’s no slugger. I guess I just can’t identify his underlyng skill set. Who is a good hitting comp for him (ignoring position), Eno? And are you not scared off by the return of pretty solid young-ish platoon partner looming in c.snyder for ’10.

    Comment by B.A. — October 30, 2009 @ 6:39 pm

  16. To me Kurt Suzuki and A.J. Pierzynski are basically the same player, so it surprises me to see them in different tiers.

    They both have borderline-elite contact-skill (87.5 % vs 88%). They both have mediocre power (.147 vs .125 ISO). They both refuse to take a walk (4.7% vs 4.5%).

    You might argue that Suzuki’s power is a fluke. However, that is not entirely true. In his minor league career he hit .136 ISO. In ’06 and ’07 at AA and AAA hit hit .114 ISO. In 213 AB’s in ’07 at the major league level he hit .160 ISO. To me this suggests that his power is definitely better than what he showed in ’08, where he ISO’ed .091. How much better? To me somewhere in the .130’s sounds right. This means that he will probably hit a couple fewer home runs. However his power still compares favorably to Pierzynskis, whose has been declining for the last four consecutive years.

    There are two reasons to be bullish on Suzuki for next year. Firstly, he is much less of a hacker than Pierzynski. His swing rates are league-average across the board. This means that his walk rate may improve in the future leading to more runs scored. Secondly, while his steals may be a fluke there is no denying that he has much more speed upside than Pierzynski or any other catcher not named Russell Martin.

    For these reasons I believe that Kurt Suzuki belongs in the third tier of catchers.

    Comment by Bas — October 31, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

  17. Nice post.

    I’m leaning your way after you put together a nice defense of his ability to repeat the power. You do want to give guys credit for doing what they do year-in and year-out (AJ), so sometimes you give the veteran a little tick above a young marginal player if you have your doubts. But if Suzuki can keep his power from last year (and you made a good case), then his extra stolen bases put him over AJ easily.

    Still, I don’t think Suzuki has the upside to jump more than one tier really. I think Martin is much more likely to put up a 15/15 season next year, for example.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — October 31, 2009 @ 5:57 pm

  18. First and foremost in this reply, I am a big rockies fan.

    I will say this second as well. Chris Iannetta’s skill set does not project well for a 5 cat fantasy league with Avg/HR/RBI/R/SB. He produces in at best two categories, HR/RBI, and not so much in the second one, or for that matter the first with the ridiculous idea of benching Iannetta for the (ever clutch -.-) Torrealba, who may have a better AVG but thats it, and not much.

    I think that Iannetta has a very good shot at being a good player for a while. He has a very good eye, and good patience at the plate. With a low contact rate and an uppercut swing this year I can’t see him hitting above .280, and thats in a fluke babip year. I’d project him around .240-.260. However, I do think that Iannetta provides one of the best power threats at the plate outside of that top tier with Martinez and McCann. He’s not worth reaching for, but if he’s still around in a late round, and Jim Tracy pulls his head out of his ass and starts the better player, he might be worth a reach. Tracy: a .228/.344/.460 w/a .346 wOBA beats the pants off of .291/.351/.380 w/a .316 wOBA, and while neither Iannetta nor Torrealba are wizards behind the plate, Iannetta is more sure-handed and has a bit less of a noodle-arm. Also, Torrealba outperformed his career numbers this year, by quite a bit on the ba/obp front, while Iannetta is still young and likelier to improve by quite a bit. The .228 batting average is an eyesore, but when it comes with a .112 ISoD then it’s not that big of a problem.

    Comment by Bluecaboose — October 31, 2009 @ 11:49 pm

  19. Miguel Olivo had a higher wOBA than Bengie Molina this season and is 4 years younger (neither guy walks). He was also better (wOBA) than Pierzinski, Suzuki, Soto, Weiters and Russell Martin (all highly drafted guys). I finished first or second in every fantasy league I have playing in for 5 years (won 70%). I win with the likes of Olivo…. Overlooked, underrated guys on bad teams. Olivo ISO was .241 Mauers ISO was .222. Sure he doesn’t walk hardly at all, but Olivo hits homers and can be picked up off FA wire all season long.

    Comment by PhD Brian — November 2, 2009 @ 4:45 pm

  20. That was Olivo’s career-best ISO by a good margin, and he’s more likely to hit 13 homers next year than he is to crack 20+ again. A .230-hitting catcher with 13 homers probably won’t win you too many fantasy championships.

    If your point is that you can win by skimping on catcher and finding guys on the wire with a little bit of power whose batting averages won’t hurt as much as regular players because they don’t play as often…

    well then you’re right. I usually draft my catcher in the final rounds. I’ll probably own Iannetta and Doumit a lot next year, and if I’m lucky, Montero and Soto a couple times. (and yes I usually medal in my leagues too, lol)

    Comment by Eno Sarris — November 2, 2009 @ 4:50 pm

  21. How is Kurt Suzuki ranked higher than Yadi?

    Comment by gnomez — November 8, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

  22. This is a fantasy list and Kurt Suzuki steals bases.

    Comment by Eno Sarris — November 8, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

  23. Sarris – You’ve been hanging around 11 year old girls for too long. “IMHO” ??? You do aim for some shred of credibility don’t you?

    Comment by Jesus — November 14, 2009 @ 7:51 am

  24. 11 year old girls use the acronym for “in my humble opinion”? I think that is more just standard internet posting shorthand. I have seen 80 year old men use it.

    Comment by wobatus — November 17, 2009 @ 9:13 am

  25. Seen, or read?

    Comment by Big Oil — November 25, 2009 @ 2:40 pm

  26. no but matsui will be

    Comment by cc2 — December 25, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

  27. Absolutely. Of 15 NL catchers with 300+ PA’s, he had the 4th highest OPS. From Aug 1 through the end of the postseason, he had the 2nd highest OPS on the Phillies, behind only Howard. The same is true for Aug 1 through the end of the regular season. All of which is just gravy on top of very good defense and game calling.

    Comment by schmenkman — February 5, 2010 @ 6:27 am

  28. Seeing other comments made me realize this is Roto and not “real life”, in which case I guess I can understand the (non-)ranking until he shows he can deliver more substantial numbers.

    Comment by schmenkman — February 5, 2010 @ 6:31 am

  29. Flores is kind of a dick.

    Comment by FireOmar — February 5, 2010 @ 4:17 pm

  30. slide posely of the list, as molinas blocking him now

    Comment by will — February 16, 2010 @ 12:43 pm

  31. posely?

    Comment by SF 55 for life — February 21, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  32. He’s the Gliants’ catcher of the future, don’t you know. ;)

    Comment by Jim — February 26, 2010 @ 9:15 am

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