Even more dynasty rankings

A few weeks ago, Josh Shepardson, Paul Singman and I put out our lists of our top 25 fantasy players under the age of 25. Last week, Paul took a second look at his list, reworking his rankings and expanding the list to 32. In a petty attempt to one-up Paul (to pay Peter), here is some insight into my top 35 or so dynasty players under the age of 25 when the season starts:

+-----+---------------------+----------+
| New | Name                | Old Rank |
+-----+---------------------+----------+
|  1  | Evan Longoria       |  1       |
|  2  | Felix Hernandez     |  2       |
|  3  | Carlos Gonzalez     |  4       |
|  4  | Stephen Strasburg   |  3       |
|  5  | Jason Heyward       |  7       |
|  6  | Justin Upton        |  6       |
|  7  | Clayton Kershaw     |  14      |
|  8  | Mat Latos           |  5       |
|  9  | Jay Bruce           |  8       |
| 10  | Carlos Santana      |  9       |
| 11  | Domonic Brown       |  10      |
| 12  | Andrew McCutchen    |  11      |
| 13  | Desmond Jennings    |  12      |
| 14  | Tommy Hanson        |  N/R     |
| 15  | Jeremy Hellickson   |  13      |
| 16  | Mike Stanton        |  15      |
| 17  | Buster Posey        |  16      |
| 18  | Yovani Gallardo     |  17      |
| 19  | David Price         |  18      |
| 20  | Colby Rasmus        |  19      |
| 21  | Gordon Beckham      |  20      |
| 22  | Billy Butler        |  21      |
| 23  | Jesus Montero       |  22      |
| 24  | Brett Anderson      |  23      |
| 25  | Madison Bumgardner  |  24      |
| 26  | Pedro Alvarez       |  25      |
| 27  | Jhoulys Chacin      |  N/R     |
| 28  | Mike Moustakas      |  N/R     |
| 29  | Kris Medlen         |  N/R     |
| 30  | Neftali Feliz       |  N/R     |
| 31  | Elvis Andrus        |  N/R     |
| 32  | Daniel Hudson       |  N/R     |			
| 33  | Jordan Zimmermann   |  N/R     |			
| 34  | Matt Wieters        |  N/R     |
| 35  | Mike Minor          |  N/R     |			
+-----+---------------------+----------+

As you might notice, almost all of the top 25 guys on this “redone” list were on my original top 25 list. The exception is Tommy Hanson, whom I just plain forgot about (oops!). I still believe these 25 players (plus Pedro Alvarez) represent the best current dynasty players in fantasy.

I emphasize the phrase current for two reasons. First, a major league read player with statistics under his belt is more proven and less risky for the short term, in my view, than a player with no major league statistics, let alone a lack of Triple-A numbers. Second, I include each player’s expected 2011 value in his ranking. Playersd are penalized if they are not expected to play in 2011. This is why guys like Jesus Montero, Mike Moustakas and Kris Medlen are ranked so low.

Stephen Strasburg is the exception because if he is truly progressing back from injury as positively as reports indicate, his talent is just too superior to ignore. He is the kind of guy worth paying a premium for to retain in the future, despite limited expected 2011 contribution (pitching 40 innings down the stretch, however, might make some nice quality reliever-equivalent production).

Some very talented players who are unlikely to play much, if at all, in 2011 (I’m looking at you, Mike Moustakas) are not on this list this year, but will likely creep in to the top 25 in coming seasons. If you want more information on why Moustakas is not on this list, consult the original rankings post comments section, which beat the topic like a dead horse. I’m shocked no one gave me any flak for my man-crush on Gordon Beckham (a .285/20-plus/10-plus capable second base talent on par with Rickie Weeks, but with more batting average).

The notable changes to the original top 25 rankings regard a slight bump down for Strasburg (from No. 3 to No. 4 because I just love that CarGo guy), a jump up in position for Jason Heyward, who now rounds out the top five (because he is just that good, walking more than 90 times in his age 21 rookie year), Clayton Kershaw moving up from No. 14 to No. 7 (because I did not realize that Kershaw is younger than Jeremy Hellickson, bumping Latos down a few slots to make room for Heyward and Kershaw, and Alvarez getting kicked off the top 25 to make room for Hanson. If anyone has further questions about my updated top 25 rankings, please post them in the comment below. The rest of this post will focus on the new names, players ranked No. 27-35 (note that Alvarez, originally in my top 25, is ranked No. 26).

First, the nine names that just missed the cut for my top 35 list. These include Brandon Beachy (like his potential, but I have no firm indication as to his future role and full-time major league ETA), Starlin Castro (loads of defensive talent, but his offense needs more proving before I am convinced he really is 15/30 capable), Aroldis Chapman (his lack of control and below-average change-up will limit his value, as will his short term role as a reliever), Travis Snider (I love the potential, but he needs to prove some production first), Eric Hosmer (too far away), Bryce Harper (even further away), Pablo Sandoval (again, love the potential, but his body type will not age well and he needs to prove that 2010, not 2009, was the fluke), Logan Morrison (the White Sox should have traded Ozzie Guillen for him) and Freddie Freeman (others love him, I want to see what he does first). These players all have high ceiling and could vault up the value chart in 2011, but there are too many question marks surrounding downside, role, playing time, etc. that limit their prospective value.

Of the newly ranked names, Jhoulys Chacin is my favorite. He is only 23 years old, but has struck out 23.9 percent of the 631 batters he has faced in his brief major league career (148.1 innings, 151 Ks). Chacin also profiles as a solid groundball pitcher (46.6 percent GB, 32.2 pedrcent fly balls), which should play well at Coors Field.

Though his control, like that of teammates Ubaldo Jimenez and Jorge de La Rosa, is well below average (bottom quintile among all pitchers to toss 10-plus innings last season), it is not entirely unbearable in light of his strikeout and groundball rates. Chacin posted a 3.54 FIP and 3.74 xFIP last season, which squares nicely with, though slightly higher than, his 3.28 ERA mark. I expect a mid-to-high 3s ERA, an average WHIP (around 1.32, according to the xWHIP calculator), and a bellyful of strikeouts with wins upside. Chacin could be a second-tiered ace in the making.

Moustakas is a big talent who, despite suspect defense, might stick at third base if not Ryan Braun-bad due to a glut of first base/DH types on the Royals’ 40-man roster (Billy Butler, Kila Ka’aihue, Eric Hosmer, etc.). Moustakas will likely change positions eventually, however.

Oliver thinks Moustakas is capable of hitting .280 with around 30 home runs and a handful of stolen based in the immediate future, and, assuming the Royals bring Moustakas up in 2012, he will provide great fantasy value at third base. Moustakas is certainly a player worth owning now in keeper leagues, but I think he is not yet a top 25 talent under the age of 25 because he is at least a year away from full-time play.

I love Kris Medlen. I think he is a top 25-capable starting pitcher with strong strikeout upside. He is ranked so low only because he will be recovering from Tommy John surgery for most of 2011. Medlen should return in the second half, and, assuming he is not too rusty, should provide 50-90 strong innings for the Braves. Keep him on your radar.

Like Paul, I really have no interest in ranking relievers on my list. That is why I did not create a top 40 list, which would have undoubtedly included Chapman. Neftali Feliz, however, is an exception for two reasons. First, Feliz was raised as a starter throughout most of his tenure in the Braves/Rangers minor league systems and was quite successful in that role before being converting into an emergency reliever in 2009. There is a realistic chance that the Rangers convert Feliz back into a starter in the near future. Second, even if Feliz is not re-converted into a starter, he established himself as one of baseball’s premier closers last season, striking out more than a batter per inning, keeping the walks under control (6.7 percent BB rate, 2.34 BB/9), and setting the rookie saves record (40) in the process. Feliz is something special.

According the Bill James 2011 Handbook, Elvis Andrus was baseball’s fastest baserunner. He was nothing short of elite in getting from first to third on singles and scoring from both first and second base. Unfortunately, raw speed does not always translate into smart baserunning and instincts.

While Andrus stole 32 bases last season, he was also caught 15 times and Ron Washington, taking notice, often gave Andrus a red light. Andrus could easily steal 40-plus bases, but to be given the opportunity, he will have to be more efficient. That is not to say that he won’t be in the future, only that, as a largely 2.5 dimensional player (runs, stolen bases, mediocre batting average), he is going to have to prove he is capable of remaining “elite” in at least one of his production categories before I am going to rank him higher.

In short, the White Sox got (pale) hosed when they traded Daniel Hudson, a No. 2 type with upside, for Edwin Jackson. Hudson has good strikeout stuff (22.6 percent strikeout rate last season) and slightly above average control (2.55 BB/9), but the groundball rate (only 35.2 percent last season) might be an issue at Chase Field. A concert of Hudson’s groundball rate and home park is the only thing keeping him outside the top 25 list.

The “R” in WAR
How a person can be a hero by being a zero.

Jordan Zimmermann. He throws hard, strikes out a good number of batters, and has good control over his pitch mix. Zimmermann is an exciting talent to watch in 2011 as he removes himself further in time from Tommy John surgery. I expect big things from him, but his injury past forces me to temper expectations.

In light of impressive Double-A numbers entering the 2009 season, Matt Wieters was once touted as a premier hitting talent capable of sticking at catcher. Two seasons later, like Alex Gordon before him, this Double-A wonder has been a large disappointment, hitting only .266/.328/.393 with a mere 20 home runs over his brief major league career (226 games).

For a guy once projected to easily ding 20-plus a season, Wieters’ 98 RBI for his career to date has to be slightly underwhelming for those who have had him in keeper leagues for the past two seasons. Nonetheless, Wieters is only 24 and has the upside/pedigree such that we don’t want to give up on him yet. I am expecting a .280-plus batting average with 17 home runs from him next season, but do not hold me to it. This is a case of perceived downside canceling out upside.

What is Mike Minor‘s role in 2011? Like many a Braves prospect (like Brandon Beachy and Julio Teheran), Minor is a talented pitching prospect with a lot of strikeout (9.00-plus K/9) and control (sub-3.00 BB/9) upside who could make a huge impact for both the Braves and fantasy owners. Minor seems to be both the closest to the majors amomg him, Beechy and Trout and also the likeliest of the three to round out the back of the Braves’ deep starting rotation in 2011. If Minor accumulates 150 or more innings next season, I will kick myself for not ranking him higher.


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Jeffrey Gross is an attorney who periodically moonlights as a (fantasy) baseball analyst. He also responsibly enjoys tasty adult beverages. You can read about those adventures at his blog and/or follow him on Twitter @saBEERmetrics.
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ez-e
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ez-e

The name that jumps out at me is Melden … I agree he is a fine pitcher, but Top 35 under 25 coming off both TJ and a torn labrum in his hip? He is lucky if he pitches this year at all … and I don’t see his upside being equal to the other pitchers available (while I am not as high on him as most, I would rank Pineda above Medlen for one).

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

Because upton is still like 7 years old and proven enough to be 280+/20+/20+ capable.

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

I realize the argument,but you must understand my Man Crush on Medlen. I’ve been in love with his stuff since before either he or hanson got the call up. I’ll admit his ranking here may be bias.

timber
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timber

Moustakas is not a year away.  Per Dayton Moore, Moustakas will be in the majors by sometime this summer – my guess would be after the Super Two deadline.  Not 2012.

ez-e
Guest
ez-e

Re: Medlen … It’s one thing if your admitted bias allows you to elevate one player over another in a close call, but here you are flat-out ignoring Medlen’s injuries keeping him out of the bulk of 2011 despite relying on the very same argument (albeit timing of call-up) to keep Moustakas down.  Plus, Cahill is 22, the under-rated Jaime Garcia is 24,  Hughes is 24 and while each may be a candidate for regression, all should be above Medlen in a Dynasty format as well.

mike trout
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mike trout

First off, I am not a braves prospect, I am an angels prospect and many believe I will make my major league debut this September despite never playing Double A. I should be on this list ahead of some of the scrubs you have on here.

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
@ez-e, 1) I have Moustakas ranked above medlen because of the injury risk, BUT i do not agree with yuor assertion. Medlen is a semi-proven major league talent with a strong pedigree, which is inherently more valuable than prospects in my eyes. It is rare that I’d rather have a highly touted prospect over a major league ready, effective talent with high upside. The kid has good stuff and control over it. I like that a lot in a pitcher. I think he has a more effective mix with control over that mix than Hughes and while I do like… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

Again, before the debate starts, I do not believe Moustaka plays full time or even 200 AB in 2011. Why would the royals start the service clock on their young stud hitter when they wont be competitive until at least 2013

Braves Fan
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Braves Fan

Imagine if the Braves hadn’t given up Andrus and Feliz for Teixiera…

The Baltimoron
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The Baltimoron
A few quick points: 1) A little too pitcher heavy for my taste.  I think you have the right names in the right order, but I’d slide most down a few slots in deference to position players. 2) Your argument to include Strasburg and Feliz but ignore Chapman is ridiculous.  The soon-to-be 23-year-old is MLB ready, is a lefty, and throws 106, for cryin’ out loud.  He’s a better bet to start than Feliz at this point, but even if he remains a reliever (which I doubt), you HAVE to include him in a list of this sort, where he’s… Read more »
Michael Smith
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Michael Smith

Just curious on why you’re still so positive on Upton at this point.

Bob Miller
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Bob Miller

Jordan Zimmermann – the Nationals pitcher – has two n’s at the end of his name.  Ryan Zimmerman spells his last name with one “n”.  I hope it doesn’t seem too picky to point this out, but it can be confusing.  Especially if you ever write just the last name in an article.  Then the reader will think that you mean the 3B (Ryan).

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
@The Baltimoron, Thanks for the feedback, let me address in kind— 1) 100% ok. I admit routinely that I overvalue pitching. I realize pitching is more fungible and unreliable, but rather than discount pitching because of that, I put a premium on strong, “reliable” pitching. 2) I know chapman throws 106, but Daniel Cabrera used to throw >100+. Speed isnt everything. It’s also about semblance of command. That is what separates Ryan and Johnson from Cabrera, Matt Lindstrom and Kyle Farnsworth. Chapman also has a terrible change up. He has too much to prove between control and a third pitch… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

Thanks for pointing that out. I will correct it!

The Baltimoron
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The Baltimoron
1) Chapman looked pretty darn good last year. I think if you’re talking prospects, a tall, young lefty who’s already reached the bigs on a playoff team, with once-in-a-generation heat, deserves respect until he proves he’s not worth it.  I suspect if he’d played his formative years at UNC instead of in Cuba, the story would be very different. 2) Zimm only threw 70 innings last year split between the minors and the Nats—I need more than that to rank him on a list like this, especially compared to the other players I mentioned who are younger and already have… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross
1) Let’s talk Chapman after 2011. I think he’s too much upside/downside, no consensus at this point 2) Stats are MLB career, and % are as a function of TBF. Each, except Hughes, has comparable TBF totals. http://www.fangraphs.com for K, BB, TBF, GB%, velocity. 3) Let’s again talk about this after 2011. I think we’ve reached an impasse in the argument and I’m not budging. Sorry. 4) I hope Ike Davis is more what I peg and less of what you peg. I drafted him in a mock tonight to fill out AVG, not HR, and that’s how I’ve been… Read more »
TheHotCorner
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TheHotCorner

@ The Baltimoron

I have to agree with Jeff on Chapman.  Being able to throw 106 miles per hour doesn’t guarantee success.  I like Chapman but I think he could go either way.

And as for Delmon Young.  I get to watch him all summer her in Minneapolis and in my opinion after watching him, he is what he is.  Don’t see a lot more upside to him.

Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
Alright, I’ll throw my two cents in on the Jordan Zimmermann conversation, and say he’d probably rank in the 26-30 range on my list if I were to extend it.  I fail to see how he’s NOT a better pitcher than Hughes, Garcia and Matusz.  In looking at him directly compared to Hughes and Matusz, the first thing that stands out is league they pitch in.  Follow that up by batted ball profile and that’s two checks in favor of Zimmermann.  In comparison to Garcia, his K/BB rate gets a huge check mark in the positive ledger for Zimm, who’s… Read more »
The Baltimoron
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The Baltimoron
Josh, you’re insane!  For starters, Hughes had a far superior minor league record and has always been an elite prospect.  He pitches for the Yankees, while Zimm is with the lowly Nats.  Hughes won 18 games last year—when was the last time ANY Nationals pitcher did that?  Then there’s the fact that Phil is actually YOUNGER than Jordan.  Zimmermann has a 4.71 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP.  Yes, he throws strikes, but those strikes get hit a ton, with more hits than innings pitched and 18 dingers in 122.1.  There is no intelligent argument that can be made for taking… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

Baltimoron,

I disagree with your assessment of Zimmermann. Zimm has the better profile and track record. Less of a pedigree, yes, but remember Albert Pujols was like a 9th round pick. Pedigree and early scout reports are less important the peripherals and underlying data, which I have shown all swing in favor of Zimm.

The Baltimoron
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The Baltimoron
This all reminds me of the poo-pooing of Blake Griffin as an NBA prospect.  People thought because he didn’t make the leap from high school to the NBA, and had the misfortune to play not one but two years in college, that we knew all there was to know about him.  It was more fun to discount him as a safe, solid pro and try to find the “next big thing” than it was to realize we had a stud in the making right in front of us.  Could Chapman fail?  Of course.  But to not rank him as a… Read more »
Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ Baltimoron Hughes had a tremendous 2006, and opened 2007 on fire in the minors as well, admittedly.  That said, his best minor league season came 4 years ago.  Jordan Zimmermann posted a fantastic season in Double-A in 2008 as well, albeit not as impressive as Hughes 2006 campaign, more recent.  As far as prospect status, Hughes was the top prospect in the Yankees organization in 2006 and 2007, but what of Jordan Zimmermann?  Well he was the #7 prospect in Washington in 2008 and #1 in the organization in 2009, so not exactly a slouch himself.  As far as… Read more »
The Baltimoron
Guest
The Baltimoron
Yes, Hughes best minor league season came way back in 2006…because he’s been pitching in the majors since.  Hughes was not only the Yanks top prospect, but a top-5 prospect overall.  Yes, they are similarly aged, but Hughes has been pitching in the bigs for years—that’s the point.  He has 57 MLB starts to Jordan’s 23.  I’m confused why you can cite some of Zimmermann’s stats that paint him in a favorable light, but I can’t mention his H/9 or HR rate?  Why, exactly, are considering those stats a foolish mistake?  Throwing strikes means nothing if you’re getting clobbered.  And… Read more »
Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ Baltimoron I chose to cite stats Zimmermann has control over.  Once a flyball leaves a player’s bat, it is out of the control of a pitcher, thus expecting a pitcher’s HR/FB rate to hover around DOUBLE the league average IS foolish (not to be confused with calling you a fool, because your posts are well thought out, just to be clear).  I would expect Zimmermann’s h/9 to be higher than Hughes, as he induces more GB’s, which have a higher average in play than FB’s due.  That said, he hasn’t thrown enough innings to expect him to continue to… Read more »
The Baltimoron
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The Baltimoron
Using your logic, the guy who throws BP is the most valuable pitcher on the team, as he throws nothing but strikes and can’t be held accountable that they all get crushed. Interesting that, when it suits you, you’ll use the favorable stats for JZ, but when the stats go against your argument, you cite a small sample size and the likelihood of a return to the MLB average.  How, exactly, can you expect his other stats to hold up while discounting his HR, BABIP, and hit rates as products of the fewer innings he’s pitched?  And isn’t this the… Read more »
Josh Shepardson
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Josh Shepardson
@ Baltimoron I too like Volquez because of his elite strikeout ability, but his control issues go back to prior to having TJ surgery, thus I don’t believe that to be the issue at hand.  I also strongly dispute Hughes has had better results at the major league level, as I pointed out, Hughes best xFIP at the major league level came last year, after all of his major league seasoning and experience, and was a mediocre 4.33.  Zimmermann’s best mark came as a rookie and was 3.39.  Even looking at last year’s post TJ xFIP for Zimm, it would… Read more »
Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

Baltimoron,

I say we challenge-bet again on this topic.

The Baltimoron
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The Baltimoron

Well, the tough part of any bet would be finding agreeable terms, right?  I mean, I’d measure success by crazy outdated means like winning games, or strikeouts, or WHIP (you know, fantasy categories), while you’d be dropping some crazy xFIP knowledge on my butt…

I will ask one more question: is there a recent major leaguer you’d compare Zimmermann to?  Ignore size, handedness, and pitches, I’m just talking a guy who would produce similar numbers.  If you deem him better than Hughes or Danks, I’m curious what the comparable upside example is.  Thanks!

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

I’d be willing to go by end of season Yahoo player rater.

When I see a Zimm comparable, I do not look at handedness or size, etc., but in terms of peripherals, he reminds me a lot of vintage James Shields. Maybe Ryan Dempster with better control or a young Zack Greinke?

The Baltimoron
Guest
The Baltimoron

Those are three very different pitchers.  Interesting.

Jeffrey Gross
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Jeffrey Gross

Just thinking of WHIP/ERA/K comparables….
Plugging the numbers into my ever evolving xWHIP calculator:

expected tERA: 4.08
expected xFIP: 3.62
xWHIP 1.4.3: 1.237
xWHIP 2.0: 1.206
qXwhip: 1.207

Yeah, I’m riding the Ztrain

Jeffrey Gross
Guest
Jeffrey Gross

Using 4-year outs-numbers:

4.21 tERA
3.64 xFIP
1.243 xWHIP 2.0

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