With all due congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, it is now time to fully look ahead to the 2013 baseball season, and perhaps just as importantly, the 2013 fantasy baseball season!
• Rumors are swirling about what the Los Angeles Angels will do with one of — or both — Dan Haren and Ervin Santana. Despite having a down season by all accounts, Haren was an elite pitcher as recently as 2011. The primary cause for concern regarding Haren is his slumping fastball velocity. For the first time in his career, his four-seamer averaged less than 90 mph. Or even 89 for that matter. In fact, his velocity on all of his pitches was down across the board. Pure speed isn’t the absolute critical factor in pitching, but it certainly does help. Santana has been more consistently inconsistent. Given that he posted his worst K%, BB%, ERA, FIP, and xFIP in five years, it is highly possible that Santana might not see his 2013, $13 million dollar option exercised. Santana’s biggest issue was that he always seemed to give up a home run. He actually lead the league in home runs allowed, despite making half of his starts in a home park that suppresses home runs from both left and right-handed hitters. At this point, it seems most likely that the Angels will pursue Zack Greinke and not Santana nor Haren for next season, let alone the long term.
• Since shortstops always seem to be a premium position to find decent offensive stats, it seems relevant to discuss the Oakland Athletics declining the $10 million dollar option on Stephen Drew. I’m aiming blindly here, but I figure that the A’s will try to sign Drew to a multiyear deal with a lower AAV. Drew might not be the player that he was in 2008 when he his 21 dingers, scored 91 runs and hit a clean .291, but he is still a decent option. From 2007 to 2012, he has the 11th highest wRC+ among shortstops (minimum 2000 PA’s).
• In a move that should surprise absolutely no one, The New York Yankees picked up their option on Curtis Granderson. It’s hard to predict a “bounceback” season for a player to hit 43 home runs, drove in 106, scored 102 runs, and stole 10 bases, but I truly anticipate a season as good, if not better, from Granderson next year. His home run total might be down, but I feel like his average will regress closer to his career norm and I anticipate more stolen bases from him. I know that he isn’t a spring chicken any more, but I still think that he has at least one more great fantasy season in him. His O-swing% was the highest of his career and his SwStr% was the highest that it has been since 2006. Taking those at face value, I’m wagering (my fantasy leagues and my pride here) that Granderson will post an average north of .260 (not exactly a lofty goal, I know) and that will boost his on-base percentage back to the .360 range.
• Someone who I feel isn’t getting nearly enough press is Hiroki Kuroda. Sure, he is 37 but he just posted K/BB better than 3 and a strong ERA with an okay-if-not-great FIP and xFIP. He’s coming off of a career high in innings pitched, ground ball rate, and strikeouts. Putting up those impressive numbers in a tough pitchers park while in arguably baseball toughest division is deserving of more attention. For those of you who prefer the LIMA plan, guys like Kuroda is where you win your leagues.
• On a different — albeit still baseball related — note, I’d like to extend a formal congratulations to Susan Slusser on becoming the first female president of the BBWAA. As an A’s fan, I’ve had the privilege of admiring her work from afar. Although she might not be 100% saber inclined, seeing strides like this is certainly something that we can all celebrate. Congrats Susan.