Archive for February, 2015

RotoGraphs Audio: The Sleeper and the Bust 2/27/2015

Episode 199

The latest episode of “The Sleeper and the Bust” is live!

In this episode, Paul Sporer and Eno Sarris discuss Adam Wainwright, Michael Saunders, and Homer Bailey injuries, the Johan Santana signing, Jonathan Papelbon’s desire to go to Toronto, and Chris Davis playing some OF this spring. Then they discuss the strategy behind trading including some real life examples that Eno is currently mulling over, and finish up by previewing the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Quick Looks: Henderson, Walker and Chen

This will be the last week where I will look back at 2014 starts unless something comes up which requires going back. Since I am not 100% sure I will have games to watch week, I will publish all of the Quick Take Final Thoughts before the upcoming season. I plan on giving some pitchers a second look if they need it.

Note: I usually try to pick the most recent game the player pitched. Sometimes the MLB video has issues and other games are picked. Also, if a say a pitch moves 11-5, it is from the pitcher’s perspective.

 

Henderson Alvarez

Why I watched: About no strikeouts with a 94 mph fastball.

Game(s) Watched: 9/28/14 vs. Nationals

Game Thoughts

• Everything the 25-year-old righty throws breaks down. This downward action has him at a 55% GB% for his career. Of those pitchers with 400 IP thrown over the last three seasons, his ground ball rate is the fifth highest.

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Jose Abreu and Friends: the 2015 Chicago White Sox Infield

Despite going on an acquisition binge during the offseason, the Chicago White Sox did little to alter the overall landscape of their infield. All five presumed starters were in the organization last year — if you count designated hitter, Adam LaRoche is a newcomer — though there is some new blood among the secondary faces.

To get a feel where the White Sox could use some improvement from last year, here are their positional ranks by wOBA:

Catcher – .304 (13th)
First Base – .359 (6th)
Second Base – .275 (25th)
Third Base – .320 (11th)
Shortstop – .314 (t-6th)
Designated Hitter – .312 (8th in AL)

As a team the Pale Hose were 12th in wOBA at .312 — just a percentage point behind the Indians and Brewers who tied for 10th. For all the perceived hand-wringing about the White Sox’ offense, the additions to this crew could take it from ‘pretty good’ to ‘among the league’s best’ in a hurry.

Anyway, what we care about today is the infield. I’ve enlisted the help of esteemed White Sox beat reporter Dan Hayes from CSN Chicago — follow him — to get the inside scoop. Let’s take a peek:

The Locks

1B Jose Abreu
SS Alexei Ramirez
3B Conor Gillaspie
DH Adam LaRoche

Abreu outperformed even the wildest expectations last year — .317/.383/.581 — and will no doubt be among the first few first baseman off the board in your draft. For all the worry about his plate discipline, Abreu fanned in just 21.1% of his plate appearances last year — below the 21.3 percent league-average mark for first basemen. As long as he hits he’ll draw walks out of respect, and pretty much everyone is forecasting another solid season from him. Maybe not quite a .400-plus wOBA, but on the cusp. Read the rest of this entry »


The Seattle Mariner Outfield Revolving Door

It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.

It’s a little jarring to run a report from the Fangraphs leaderboard on the Mariners outfield in 2014. It seems like it must be a mistake, because just one name appears – Dustin Ackley. Indeed, if you use the “qualified” filter, they had one solitary mainstay in the outfield in 2014 due to what was mostly a disaster of experiments in center and right field for the better part of the season.

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Who is the Safest Hitter in the First Round?

It’s Mike Trout. The safest first round hitter is Mike Trout, and that’s boring. You already know this. I tried many different ways of looking at it and it all came back to Trout.

Trout isn’t the perfect fantasy baseball player. His strikeout rate took a big jump last season and his stolen base attempts dropped considerably. I’m not worried. He’s been so good that the natural inclination is to try to find problems with his game or reasons why he might become less good. He’s 23! What if he gets better? If you take last season’s 36 home runs, add a dash of 2012’s 49 steals, toss in a career .305 average and his usual awesome run/RBI totals, you have an absolute fantasy monster. Trout isn’t the perfect fantasy baseball player, but he’s the closest thing there is.

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Puig, Pederson, & Scarl Van Slawford: Dodgers Outfield

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

The Dodgers made a lot of moves this off-season. Exciting, savvy moves. One of the biggest shipped Matt Kemp and a bunch of cash down the Pacific coast to San Diego, reducing some of the outfield clog. Joc Pederson, most assume, will assume the starting centerfield role, while the one newcomer, Chris Heisey, will serve as a defensive specialist.

So, the Dodgers outfield is comprised of one of the most athletic and electric young players in the game today (PUIG), a top prospect seemingly handed a starting job in his age 23 season, and a potentially very interesting platoon in left field.

Pos. Starter Platoon/Backup Depth
LF Carl Crawford (v.RHP) Scott Van Slyke (v.LHP) Chris Heisey
CF Joc Pederson Chris Heisey Andre Ethier
RF Yasiel Puig Andre Ethier Chris Heisey

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The Padres Bullpen: Who’s Your Daddy(‘s Relievers)?

This post continues our Depth Chart Discussions. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, rotation, and bullpen) and will continue to break them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find the Depth Chart Discussion posts gathered here.

The San Diego Padres’ bullpen lacks name brand appeal, but it’s glorious. Friars’ relievers ranked just 14th in WAR (3.4), but boasted exceptional ranks in other categories ranking tied for third in SIERA (3.07), third in WHIP (1.14), and second in K-BB% (16.4%) and FIP (3.09). Those numbers are partly inflated by the brilliant 33 innings thrown by former closer Huston Street, who was dealt in July, but even in his absence this is a fantastic group. Read the rest of this entry »


Dealing With the Unexpected in Drafts or Auctions

Last Sunday, the FanGraphs Ottoneu League #2 did our auction. Chad Young, Brad Johnson and Scott Spratt have each given their thoughts on it. It was a unique auction (most are in some way) and by making a few early adjustments I was able to come away from it better than I expected.

To begin with, I hate to start any fantasy season in complete rebuild mode. I want to have a chance to win if everything goes right. Before last season was half way over I had about zero chance of winning so then I started a rebuild. I had the most free agent dollars, I picked up some $1 players (Harrison, Petit, Boxburger, House) and waited for a team to drop a high dollar player to free up some cash. The plan worked great by getting Joey Votto and Brian McCann. Also, I like prospects, even if they have limited upside, near the majors and picked up players like Matt Wisler, Carlos Rodon and Ty Kelly.

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Top 5 Prospects for 2015: Kansas City Royals

This 30-part series will look at the projected Top 5 freshman contributors for each big league club for the year ahead. The rankings take into consideration a mixture of ceiling, readiness and potential playing time allocation, which is to say some players with lower ceilings may be ranked ahead of others with higher ceilings because they project to have a greater impact in the coming season.

In a Nutshell: The Royals were a surprise team in 2014 but they have the talent coming up through the pipeline to help them sustain that success and avoid becoming “one-year wonders.” The young pitching depth is especially impressive.

The Top 5 Freshman for 2015

1. Brandon Finnegan, LHP: This young lefty went from college student to first round draft pick to MLB playoff pitcher in the span of a few months. Despite his success in 2014, Finnegan is earmarked for the minors to open the 2015 season after the additions of the likes of Kris Medlen and Edinson Volquez. It’s possible that the southpaw will earn a big league bullpen role but he has the potential to develop into a mid-rotation starter. Keeping him stretched out in the minors would allow him to serve as the first man up in the event of an injury to the Top 5.

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No Surprises in the San Francisco Giants Outfield

It’s time for our Depth Chart Discussions to begin. In an effort to suss out every team, we’ve divided them into four parts (infield, outfield, bullpen, and rotation) and will begin breaking them down for you over the next few weeks. You can find them gathered here.

Eight different players saw time in the San Francisco Giants outfield in 2014 with most at-bats dedicated to Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, Michael Morse, Angel Pagan, and to a lesser extent Tyler Colvin and Juan Perez. Out is Colvin and Morse, Pagan now returns ostensibly healthy after back surgery, and in is free agent acquisition Nori Aoki. All three outfield positions seem to be pretty well locked down, assuming good health, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you ought to pencil them into your fantasy lineup.

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