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White Sox Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

One of the position groups with sneaky potential this season is the rotation of the White Sox. Not only is the unit anchored by a pair of stalwart lefties in Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, but the mid- to back-end of the rotation is filled with potential high-ceiling options — even if they do have some question marks.

As a team the White Sox ranked firmly in the middle of the pack in starter ERA last year at 4.12. That mark was seventh among 15 AL teams, though the six ahead of the Sox were in a different class, one could argue. The next ERA up the list was the Angels at 3.98, while the Twins and Mariners each trailed the Sox by five points or less. Essentially, in terms of raw production they were far closer to the bottom one-third than the top.

But in terms of secondary stats, the White Sox were pretty dang good. They ranked fourth in FIP (3.82), fifth in xFIP (3.87) and threw more innings than any other team. As a result, they accrued an AL-best total of 17.4 WAR — more than a full win better than runner up Houston (16.0). The Pale Hose rotation was among the best at striking opposing hitters out (8.3 K/9, third), didn’t walk anyone and for the most part kept the ball in the ballpark.

Most of the key cogs from a season ago are back, with one notable omission: Jeff Samardzija, who jumped ship for the NL with the Giants. Replacing Samardzija’s nearly 5.00 ERA could seem easy on the surface, but he threw a team-high 214 innings. That’s less easy to replace.

As of this writing, the depth chart would seem to look like this in the rotation:

Carlos Rodon
John Danks Read the rest of this entry »

Twins’ Playing Time Battles: Hitters

After last week’s gigantic breakdown of the Twins’ position battle breakdown pitching-wise, the offensive one is going to be brief, and probably a bit of a letdown. Despite having a glut of similar players returning from a middle-of-the-pack offense — they finished eighth among 15 AL teams in runs scored — there aren’t many position battles after a pretty quiet offseason as far as the Twins of 2016 are concerned.


Despite coming off a poor season in 2015, Kurt Suzuki basically enters this season as the starter behind the plate. However, a wrinkle has been added, as the club added John Ryan Murphy from the Yankees in an offseason deal for centerfielder Aaron Hicks. It has the chance to be a signature move from Twins GM Terry Ryan, as Murphy is coming off a .277/.327/.406 line in part-time duty with the Yankees behind Brian McCann. If he can come anywhere close to replicating that, he’ll take a big chunk of playing time from Suzuki and probably quickly. My immediate vision is that it’ll be a timeshare of a 5-2 or 4-3 platoon with the Twins giving Murphy as much as he can handle provided he hits at least at the league average — not a high standard behind the plate — and handle a staff that for some reason raves about Suzuki’s receiving. The Twins also have to keep Suzuki under 485 plate appearances — he didn’t reach that mark even last year with Eric Fryer and Chris Herrmann behind him — to keep his 2017 option of $6 million from vesting. Odds are, he won’t come close. Read the rest of this entry »

Twins’ Playing Time Battles: Pitching

The Minnesota Twins were surprisingly in contention until late in the 2015 season, but a quiet offseason mixed with an entire league that is up in the air has most projections down on them again heading into 2016. The Twins largely return an offense that was 13th in baseball in runs scored, but to their peril also returns pretty much an identical pitching staff to the one that ranked 19th in ERA and dead last in K/9 for the fifth straight season.

And quite frankly it’s easy to see why projections see a backslide. That strikeout rate streak hearkens back to the four-year dark period in which the team lost 90 games in each season, but did manage to significantly restock a farm system that’s starting to see the fruits of its labor. In the grand scheme of things a small step back doesn’t hurt if it means the club gets more production out of Byron Buxton than 2015 — that isn’t much of a hurdle to clear — and if it can get some clarity on the pitching staff moving forward.

Today, that’s what we’re going to try to do for 2016.

The Rotation

The top four spots are pretty much nailed down for the club. In some order, it’ll be:

Ervin Santana
Phil Hughes
Kyle Gibson
Tommy Milone Read the rest of this entry »

A Late Inning Perk? Perhaps.

For the second straight season, Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins suffered a second half swoon. This one was more pronounced, as the left-hander carried a 1.21 ERA into the All Star Break and a 7.32 mark afterward.

The decline came in pretty much every facet of Perkins’ game. He threw 37.1 innings in the first half but just 19.2 after the break due to neck and back issues that led some to question his conditioning. Nevertheless, even when he was healthy enough to pitch, he was getting blasted. Check out his opponents’ hitting splits:

First Half: .188/.217/.246 (.206 wOBA)
Second Half: .356/.394/.674 (.447)

They slugged .674! SIX. SEVENTY. FOUR. That’s 25 points higher than what NL MVP Bryce Harper slugged. Of course, any kind of physical issue dealing with the core is going to sap a pitcher’s effectiveness, and make his stuff much worse than it’d usually be. Read the rest of this entry »

Draft Robbie Ray? In a Deep League, You Just May

Happy holidays and especially a New Year! I just wanted to swing by quickly and drop some thoughts on a back-end arm I’ve been keeping an eye on for fantasy drafts next season.

I did write this player up for numberFire recently, though circumstances around him have changed a little bit. That is, his rotation spot has become a bit murkier. That pitcher is Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray. On the surface, Ray’s numbers aren’t overwhelmingly impressive for 2015: 5-12, 3.52 ERA, 8.4 K/9 and a 1.33 WHIP. There are a couple stats individually that provide a bit of hope, but still maybe nothing more than a possible pop-up guy with little evidence he’ll actually get that chance. Read the rest of this entry »

Kyle Gibson’s Ceiling

Kyle Gibson ranked 64th in Zach Sanders’ end of season rankings, which in terms of real-life utility puts a guy somewhere between Nos. 2-3 starter territory, but depending on the league, on the back-end or streamer landscape based on how many teams you play with or format.

The names Gibson finished in front of aren’t particularly impressive, nor is the fact that he threw nearly 200 innings while many of his contemporaries threw far fewer than that in the 60-69 range. But it’s not like Gibson is certainly a finished product; maybe there’s more than meets the eye?

There are a few inalienable facts about Gibson:

  1. He’s incredibly tall
  2. He’s older than most think
  3. He throws a bowling-ball sinker
    a. It gets a ton of grounders

On the age thing, he’s two years older than Madison Bumgarner and has thrown more than 700 fewer big league innings. And clearly there are mitigating factors here, such as Bumgarner being a high school draft pick and Gibson spending significant time at Missouri. Besides that, Gibson missed a large chunk of time due to Tommy John surgery, so it’s not terribly surprising that he’ll spend his final pre-arb season at age-28. In fact, Gibson was born on the day between Games 5 and 6 of the 1987 World Series — which his Minnesota Twins won. Read the rest of this entry »

Buy or Sell: Ben Revere’s 2016

Apologies on this being late as my day job has been swamped in recent weeks, but I promised a breakdown of Ben Revere’s 2016 season to come, so here we are, making up for lost time. I liked Revere as a fit in Toronto for a number of reasons during the 2015 season, but some of those reasons have become muddled as we get ready to flip the calendar over.

From a natural fit standpoint, it’s hard to imagine a better place for Revere to play his home games than on Astroturf, at Rogers Centre where his game of speed, ground balls and contact plays up about as well as one could imagine. For his career, and granted it’s a terribly small sample size, the numbers bear it out:

Turf (167 PA): .331/.348/.376
Grass (2,493 PA): .292/.327/.347 Read the rest of this entry »

Stick With Hicks: Examining Aaron Hicks’ Future Stock

As a random side note, Paul Sporer reached out to me when he saw that I was going to write about Aaron Hicks to make sure we weren’t going to step on each others’ toes. In the spirit of preserving his and my work, here’s a link to what he wrote — which I have not/will not read until after this is published.

As a Twins reporter and low-end minor league junkie, I’ve been a Hicks advocate since his 2012 season at Double-A New Britain. Hicks hit .286/.384/.460, which to me is a triple-slash with some inherent aesthetic beauty. Hicks had 116 strikeouts that year — high, to be sure — but backed it with 79 walks. I had read reports on him that said he was ultra-disciplined to the point of almost being too passive at the plate. Could that even be possible?

I was about to find out. Read the rest of this entry »

Dozier Closure: A Second Baseman’s Second Half Woes

The numbers on the surface tell a really good story for Minnesota Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. Just one of his contemporaries was even within 10 of Dozier’s MLB-high — among second basemen — 28 home runs (Robinson Cano, 21). Similarly, just one player was within 10 of his MLB-high 101 runs scored (Ian Kinsler, 94). His 77 RBIs (No. 2, Cano) and 12 steals (tied at No. 8 with Jace Peterson) were nothing to sneeze at either, and he was sixth (of 20) among qualified second basemen in walk rate as well at 8.7 percent.

It’s pretty clear to see why Dozier jumped to No. 6 in Zach Sanders’ end-of-season second base rankings with a value of nearly $18 in a $260 auction, 5×5 format. He was a four category stalwart who only really hurt owners in batting average, where his .236 mark paled in comparison to the MLB mark of .261 for second sackers. Read the rest of this entry »

Scoresheet Retrospective and Keeper Help

Last week we took a look at my Ottoneu build, and this week I’d like to take a look at the recap from another successful season in Scoresheet.

I play in the BP Kings league — which has Baseball Prospectus roots — and have put together some pretty solid seasons. Here’s a look back at the season-ending standings for as long as I’ve been in the league.

2015 – Wasted Aces – 95-67 (tied for 1st)
2014 – Four Aces and a Nolasco – 95-67 (2nd)
2013 – new Warne order – 76-86 (tied for 2nd)
2012 – Warne – 76-86 (3rd)
2011 – Warnhardt Dynasty – 68-94 (last) Read the rest of this entry »