Archive for February, 2016

The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 315 – OBP v. AVG Leagues

2/29/16

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

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Moves

Strategy Section:

We have a new email address for questions: sleeperpod@gmail.com. Send your fantasy-relevant questions. You can send keeper questions, but those are much better for Twitter. Questions most likely to get selected are those that apply more broadly, as opposed to specific trade or keeper queries. However, if you do ask a league-specific question, please include the league size and categories.

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Special Cloth Alert: Two Power-Speed Guys Ready to Explode

I don’t even know what “special cloth alert” means, but I do follow DJ Khaled on Snapchat so I say it a lot to Charlotte. And she’s just all like, wtf are you talking about now? OK then, jeez. Anyway, I’ve interpreted it as a positive based on the many special cloth alerts that Khaled has issued in 10-second bits of majesty. So now I’m offering up a special cloth alert on two power-speed hitters who have a real shot at improving upon their 2015 seasons and exploding into early-round assets.

Odubel Herrera | PHI | OF

Did you catch Herrera’s 2015? It’s easy to miss good-not-great seasons on terrible teams. Plus, he was a Rule 5 pick so he wasn’t super well-known coming into the season. He came up through the Texas org. as a light-hitting speedster with a .294/.354/.377 line, 3 HR, and 30 SB per 600 PA. He was given grades of 40 hit, 50+ speed, 50+ defense, and 20 power (35 raw). So how did he pop 8 HR – 60% more than his previous career high? Must’ve been a bunch wall-scrapers.

Orrrrr… he was a monster?

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MASH Report (2/29/16)

• I am not sure if Anibal Sanchez’s shoulder tendinitis will delay the start of his 2016 season. He is throwing off the mound right now with the possibility of returning in a week.

Carter Capps chances of closing increased some with A.J. Ramos dealing with a strained calf. I still think Ramos has the inside track to be the closer if he can get back on the mound soon.

• I have been reporting that Tommy John surgery returners should be in the majors in about 14 months. It seems like the Braves are now looking at 16 months.

Instead of aiming to have Simmons back pitching on a rehab stint in about 12 months and back in the big leagues in 13-14 months, as they would have in the past, the Braves are aiming to have him back in the majors in May or June. That would be 15-16 months after his February 2015 surgery.

“I guess technically I’m healthy,” said Simmons, who has thrown a few times off the bullpen mound recently. “But they want to take me a little slower. They’re doing the new protocol that they’re going by, so we’re looking at about 14 months (before beginning a rehab assignment). I guess they just want to test it and see the success rates compared to the past.

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Dodgers Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

We’ve started our annual Depth Chart Discussions, re-branded as Playing Time Battles for 2016. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in the Playing Time Battles Summary post or following along using the Depth Chart Discussions tag.

For most teams, the offseason loss of a superstar pitcher like Zack Greinke would be crippling. The Dodgers are not most teams. After posting a miniscule 1.66 earned run average in 222.2 innings in LA last season, Greinke headed within the division to Arizona, with $200+ million coming his way over the next six years. Despite his departure, the Dodgers are the favorites to take down the NL West again this season, holding a six-game advantage in our projected standings.

Obviously, the Dodgers still have Clayton Kershaw. Most teams are not blessed to have even one true ace, not to mention two of them. Still, instead of standing pat, the club reloaded, adding Scott Kazmir and Kenta Maeda to bolster the rotation. After four disastrous seasons that led many to consider Kazmir’s career essentially finished, the now-32-year-old resurrected his career in a big way, delivering three consecutive solid campaigns. While he’s not the strikeout machine he was a decade ago, Kazmir provides a steady veteran presence in the rotation, averaging over 30 starts in each of the last three years.

The right-handed Maeda is an unknown quantity heading into his first season in America, which led our own Eno Sarris to search for a comp. If Eno’s analysis is sound — and I’ll go ahead and trust that it is, seeing as Eno probably knows approximately 5,386 times more about the game of baseball than I do — the 27-year-old Maeda looks to be an Aaron Nola type. There’s plenty of value to be found in a steady mid-rotation arm with upside, and that’s what he seems to be. (In an interesting twist, Maeda is the only righty expected to make the Dodgers’ Opening Day rotation.)

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2016 Impact Rookies: Outfielders (2 of 3)

We’ve been running a series looking at the potential top rookie producers at each position around the baseball diamond for a few weeks now. This series should be valuable for anyone participating in a fantasy league that allows keepers. It could also help anyone playing in more traditional formats who may need to fill holes throughout the season or may be in need of a little spark.

The outfield freshmen class has a chance to be a really strong group this year, although there are a lot of questions marks in terms of playing time. Last week we looked at the players with the best shots at regular playing time. This week — in two parts — we’re looking at the bigger questions marks — although they’re outfielders that could still have a fantasy impact in 2016.

Previously:
Catchers
First Basemen
Second Basemen
Third Basemen
Shortstops
Outfielders (1 of 3)

Names to Know:

Anthony Alford, Blue Jays: With Jose Bautista rumored to be after $150 million over five years with his next free agent contract, Toronto will likely be looking for a new right-fielder in 2017. Alford, an outfielder just so happens to also be the Jays’ top prospect and finished last year in Double-A. With a little more seasoning at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, he could be ready for some time in the Majors before the year is out. And with the breakdown of a deal that would have seen oft-injured Michael Saunders leave town (for Jay Bruce) the Jays will no doubt have to tap into their outfield depth in the coming year. Eventually, Alford could be a four- or five-tool talent — and should easily top 30 steals in a season.

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Experimental League: Utility Wars

On New Years Day, I promised I would create a number of experimental leagues. Today I’m unveiling the first – Utility Wars. There is a method to my madness when designing these experimental leagues. In recent seasons, I’ve been unable to keep up with the sheer volume of industry leagues I get roped into, so I’m cutting down on most of them.

I plan to play a dynasty, ottoneu, sim (2005 season), home, college, and MLBTR league. The latter is my only redraft. But I love draft season way too much to have only three normal leagues. These experimental formats will combine my love of drafts with a minimum of in-season management.

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Reds’ Playing Time Battles: Hitters

A few weeks ago, we introduced depth chart discussions in the form of playing time battles. RotoGraphs staff have discussed and assessed noteworthy battles for playing time and/or starting gigs for position players and, separately, pitchers, and such analysis will continue until the season’s commencement. Here, specifically, this author will investigate the Cincinnati Reds’ position player situations.

The Reds don’t expect to contend, but it doesn’t mean you can’t! Actually, the Reds aren’t that bad. They have a sneaky-good, or at least a sneaky-upside, rotation alongside some interesting bounce-back candidates and buried prospects.

Catcher

The Reds expect Devin Mesoraco back for opening day, but reports indicate he’ll be eased into spring training. The former is a big deal, given Mesoraco missed almost the entire 2015 season due to a hip injury that eventually required surgery. He had a monster 2014 season, making him one of said bounce-back candidates.

Should he come close to 2014’s production — a 40% fly ball rate (FB%), a 15% HR/FB, a 35% hard-hit rate (Hard%) — puts him right at Steamer’s projection of 16 home runs in 400 plate appearances. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he pushed his playing time closer to 500 PAs given a clean bill of health and solid production, and robust playing time ain’t easy to come by from a signal-caller.

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Steamer and I: Michael Conforto

Welcome to the return of the Steamer and I series. I debuted Steamer and I last year and have decided to bring it back for an encore performance. In the series, I pit my Pod Projection against Steamer, comparing wOBA forecasts for hitters and ERA for pitchers. I’ll choose several fantasy relevant players to discuss on each end of the spectrum – those I am far more optimistic on and those I am more bearish on.

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The Sleeper and the Bust Episode: 314 – Fowler to the Cubs

2/28/16

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

Follow us on Twitter

Moves

Emails

  • Post-Break Players (20:02)
  • NFBC First-Timer (33:20)
  • Keeper Depth (40:04)
  • OBP/SLG Leagues (46:26)

We have a new email address for questions: sleeperpod@gmail.com. Send your fantasy-relevant questions. You can send keeper questions, but those are much better for Twitter. Questions most likely to get selected are those that apply more broadly, as opposed to specific trade or keeper queries. However, if you do ask a league-specific question, please include the league size and categories.

Read the rest of this entry »


White Sox Playing Time Battles: Hitters

We’ve started our annual Depth Chart Discussions, re-branded as Playing Time Battles for 2016. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in the Playing Time Battles Summary post or following along using the Depth Chart Discussions tag.

No offense in the American League scored fewer runs than the White Sox last season, and as a result it stands to reason that the bats couldn’t support what was one of the finest starting rotations in all of baseball last year. The Pale Hose scored 22 fewer runs than the next worst (Rays, 644) team, and were also among the AL’s worst in walk rate (14th, 6.7%), isolated power (.130, last), batting average (.250, t-10th), wOBA (.300, last), wRC+ (86, last) and pretty much any other offensive statistic that one could muster.

It’s not hard to find the culprits.

Among the 11 White Sox hitters to accrue at least 200 plate appearances last year, just two — Jose Abreu and Adam Eaton — posted wOBA marks above .320. Geovany Soto checked in at .311 with an uber-weird .219/.301/.406 line, but he just barely cross the threshold in terms of PA. Melky Cabrera snuck in at .307, and everyone else was worse than the .300 AL average in 2015. Between those seven other players, the White Sox gave just under 3,000 plate appearances to below-average hitters last year, including 600-plus to Avisail Garcia and Alexei Ramirez, and nearly 500 to Adam LaRoche.

For a second it’s worth focusing on Cabrera and LaRoche, considering they were the two big-ticket items brought in to help prop up an offense that, quite frankly, was in the same position the season before. Instead, they combined to nearly 1,200 plate appearances of below-average production — all at a cool cost of $25 million, by the way. But while those two are still essentially promised full-time playing gigs in 2015 — Cabrera is actually probably the lesser of two evils in the outfield with Garcia — the team didn’t take upgrading the offense lightly. Read the rest of this entry »