Author Archive

The Case For Doug Fister

Doug Fister had a bad season in 2015. His 4.19 ERA was half a run higher than in his worst season between 2011 and 2014, and his FIP and xFIP were even higher. His best seasons with the Tigers featured close to seven strikeouts per nine and a groundball rate over 50 percent. Last year, he struck out five and a half batters per nine and induced under 45 percent groundballs. That is why Fister had to sign a one-year, $7 million contract with the Astros.

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Reds’ Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

The Cincinnati Reds got a jump start on their rebuild during the 2015 season by trading away starter Johnny Cueto, and they were not afraid to give their prospects a chance. Cueto was one of 11 Reds starters to reach 20 innings pitched last season. Of the other 10, eight were rookies, and Mike Leake and Jason Marquis, the two non-rookies, are neither still with the team.

If you’re looking for more playing time discussions, check out our summary page.

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Give Joe Ross a Chance

The Nationals have been attached to rumors for a variety of the top free agent starters this offseason, most recently with both Mike Leake and Scott Kazmir. Perhaps those rumors come from a genuine interest, but I speculate that at least a part of them stems from the star power that already exists at the top of their rotation. Last offseason, the Nationals had four excellent starters with Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister, and then they added Max Scherzer on top of them. That rotation and not Bryce Harper was the reason most analysts believed the Nationals would win the NL East. If the rich could get richer last year, perhaps they could again this year.

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Can Defense Save Samardzija?

After David Price’s and Zack Greinke’s $200 million deals, it is easy to treat the $90 million contract the Giants gave to Jeff Samardzija as simply the price one pays for an average starting pitcher these days. Of course, looking at 2015 alone, it may be a stretch to call Samardzija an average starter. As Jeff Sullivan detailed, Samardzija led baseball in both hits and runs last season. His 4.96 ERA bested only Alfredo Simon and Chris Tillman among the 78 qualified starters.

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Deep League Outfield Platoon Bats

In deeper formats, it can become difficult to find quality fourth and fifth outfielders because of how many players at the position are used in the league. Fortunately, outfield provides the most opportunities to mix and match in leagues, especially in daily games or in leagues that allow daily lineup changes. Much like the teams themselves, taking advantage of players with extreme platoon splits can provide the line of an expensive outfield for cheap, as long as you’re willing to put in the managerial work. Here are some platoon options I plan to use to help me fill out my deeper rosters next season.

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Justin Turner, The Forgotten Dodgers Star

When the Dodgers traded Juan Uribe on May 27, long-time super utility player Justin Turner finally became a full-time starter. In the months since, Turner’s performance earned him praise, including from Dave Cameron on JABO, but it didn’t quite click for me just how good Turner had been until I looked at his offensive numbers from the past two seasons. Among hitters with at least 500 plate appearances since 2014, Turner has the 11th-best wRC+ (148), just behind Anthony Rizzo and ahead of players including Nelson Cruz, Jose Abreu, Michael Brantley, and the likely first selected fantasy third baseman in 2016 drafts, Josh Donaldson.

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Caleb Joseph Could Be 2016’s Francisco Cervelli

Matt Wieters is a free agent, and as Mike Podhorzer explained, the Orioles appear unlikely to extend him a qualifying offer. The team could still bring Wieters back on a new contract, but I expect them to move on in part because of the less-expensive in-house option, Caleb Joseph.

Joseph does not fit the mold of a prospect who would inherit the job of a departing veteran. In fact, he is less than a month younger than Wieters. However, because of a lengthy minor league career, Joseph has just two years of major league service time and remains under team control with the Orioles in 2016 for very little salary. Meanwhile, while Joseph does not share the offensive potential that once made Wieters such a prized prospect, he does offer the team enough defensive value to merit a full-time job.

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Reviewing Scott Spratt’s 10 Bold Predictions for 2015

I fell half a win shy of my goal of two correct bold predictions this season, but the good news is that I get to watch my one major success lead the Cubs on an exciting postseason run.

Previous bold prediction reviews: 2014

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Scott’s Miscellany – More on High-Stress Pitches

The title of the article is an allusion to Schott’s Miscellany, which you should definitely check out if you never have and feel compelled to know that a group of larks is called an exaltation or that a member of the 32nd degree of Freemasonry is known as a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret.

— More on High-Stress Pitches —

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about Matt Harvey for which I did some research into how frequently he threw pitches this season in high-stress situations, which I defined as pitches during plate appearances with a leverage index of 2.0 or more. The inspiration for the article came from concerns over potential injury for Harvey, but as I reflected on the approach I took, I started to wonder whether high-stress innings might have implications on pitcher performance separate from injuries.

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Scott’s Miscellany – Matt Harvey and High-Stress Pitches

The title of the article is an allusion to Schott’s Miscellany, which you should definitely check out if you never have and feel compelled to know that a group of larks is called an exaltation or that a member of the 32nd degree of Freemasonry is known as a Sublime Prince of the Royal Secret.

Matt Harvey and High-Stress Pitches–

Like most of the baseball world, I’m fascinated by Matt Harvey and the question of whether it is worth it for him to exceed his surgeon-prescribed innings limit because of the Mets’ place in the standings this year. To start, let me stress that I have absolutely no medical training. As a layman, I find it interesting that we rely on innings pitched as the barometer of stress for a pitcher. I expect the reason we do that is because innings pitched is the most accessible measurement of how much pitching a pitcher did. Innings pitched no doubt correlates well with total pitches thrown, so there is little lost by relying on the easier stat to find. Still, would pitches thrown even be the best way to capture the stress a pitcher faced?

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